Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Been-a long, been-a long, been-a long time. . . .

In fact, almost a month since my last post. I have some good excuses, of course -- visitors, Passover, term break for the girls, holidays in Barcelona and Paris, a speaking gig in Liverpool. Nevertheless, I recognize I have failed my blogging responsibilities. I'd like to say I'll make up for it over the next month, but given that this is our last 26 days in London, that is a promise I'm very unlikely to fulfill.

Since this is admissions season back in the U.S. - at least if you are a traditional student, graduating from high school and transitioning on to college in the fall - I'm going to post about admissions here in the U.K. But before I get to that, I wanted to highlight a protest we came across when we were in Paris last weekend. One of the joys of living here in London is the easy access you have to other European cities. You can hop on a plane (or train, in the case of Paris), and in a little over two hours be in an entirely different country and culture. And the differences are of a magnitude much greater than when you take the train from New York to Washington, for example, or fly from Seattle to San Francisco.

So last week we took the Eurostar train from St. Pancras (a 5 minute bus ride from us) to Paris for a four day visit during the May Day weekend. We played tourist, doing everything from the Eiffel Tower to a daytrip to Giverny. On our last day there, before catching the Eurostar back to St. Pancras, we were walking from Notre Dame to the Pompidou Centre, and came across a concert behing held on the plaza next to the Hôtel de Ville (city hall, for those of you who are French-impaired as am I). We were listening for a few minutes, and then started to notice signs posted around the band. I believe this translates roughly to "The school (university) is not a business, knowledge is not merchandise" (those of you who are more French-literate please feel free to comment and correct my translation). We then noticed small groups of people marching around in circles, holding up more signs.

Many of the other signs were similar to those that showed up at the protest over tuition fees at British universities that I observed in February. The general theme was, commercial interests are taking over the universities, threatening academic freedom and the purity of the education received. Given the language barriers, I didn't have much opportunity to speak with the protesters. But it was an interesting parallel to the situation here in Britain.

No comments:

Post a Comment