Volume 96, Issue 62
Tuesday, January 21, 2003

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MIT not where it hoped to be?
Faculty fails to offer "real" skills

From the far lane
Emmett Macfarlane
News Editor

Western's promotion of the unique nature of its media, information and technoculture program is the reason many students currently enrolled in it originally decided to come here.

Unfortunately, the young program has thus far failed to live up to its hype.

Touted as "offering a critical, interdisciplinary analysis of institutions, practices and cultural meanings" associated with communication technologies, MIT instead offers a Marxist ideological stew. I once had am MIT class where left-wing thinker Naomi Klein's book No Logo was the course's one and only text. As a result, the only thing students learned from the class was the top 101 reasons capitalism is evil.

Without asserting that all MIT faculty members are pushing a socialist message – I obviously haven't had them all as instructors – it would not be stretching the truth to suggest many MIT courses are excessive in their anti-establishment messages.

But a political slant is not the only (if even the primary) problem with MIT. After all, one could call Ivey right-wing without suggesting it fails to provide a high-quality, substantive program.

In my opinion, MIT is guilty of providing a low percentage of course content that actually serves to provide students with usable tools in the "real" world. As already suggested, many of the classes could conceivably be offered out of the political science department.

Some tight-knit MIT students might angrily suggest I should know that abstract theory is an integral part of university learning. The department might argue its program focuses on teaching "critical thinking" (probably the most popular academic buzz-term), but that detracts from the fact that most MIT students are striving to be journalists, lawyers or public relations officers. Being experts on alternative media and knowing what the hell "cyberculture" means is fundamentally useless.

Of course, there are several valuable aspects to the program. The first-year prerequisites offer an excellent look at information retrieval, an analysis of mass media in general and important computer skills.

Sadly, for the most part, Western is guilty of false advertising when it comes to the MIT program.

Many students I've spoken to expected to be equipped with the tools and techniques of mass media, information and technology. With the exception of a couple of courses on HTML and multimedia, technology only comes to play when students learn about how no one in the Third World has access to it. Meanwhile, students are taught that mass media perpetuates capitalist evils and propaganda.

Maybe I'm just too much of a realist. At least with the advent of the joint program with Fanshawe College, students will have the option of learning something they can actually use.

Otherwise, students looking for MIT should check out a more famous program with that moniker. I think it's in Massachusetts...




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