Inflation   
David Streifling

 


How Managers Judge Whether or Not They Want
to Report a Peer's Unethical Behavior  

Randy K. Chui & Allen F. Stembridge

The Theo-scriptura Worldview: A Viable Option for 21st-Century Educators
Adelino T. Libato

Job Satisfiers and Dissatisfiers Among the Employees
of Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies: An Analysis   

Nimrod Limbong & Eric Y. Nasution

Distributed Learning: New Horizons for Higher Education
John Wesley Taylor V

Principle-Centered Leadership
S. R. Covey
Reviewed by John Marter

Networked Learning: The Pedagogy of the Internet
M. Haughey and T. Anderson
Reviewed by M. Jean Streifling




    

Inflation


       David Streifling Inflation is good news and bad news, depending upon one's perspective.  My Grandfather used to tell the story of a personal friend who had lived in Russia prior to the Bolshevik Revolution.  This poor man had fallen upon hard times financially.  Living in a serious economic depression, he had been unable to find work and had been forced to borrow money from anywhere and everywhere, just to keep his family from starving or from freezing to death during the cold Russian winters.  So bad did his financial position become that those who knew him best declared unequivocally that he would never be able to re-pay his debts in his entire lifetime.

       But depression was followed by inflation -- so severe that for some fortunes were lost almost overnight.  Workers spent their pay on the day that it was earned, because it would be worth only a fraction as much by the next day.  A sizeable purchase might require a wheelbarrow full of cash.  This situation, it seemed, produced extreme hardship for the entire nation.  And then it was that this friend was able to pay off that entire debt by the sale of a single chicken!

       And in a more contemporary setting, here in the Philippines, inflation is a reality.  Since coming to live here about four years ago, we have watched as the  exchange rate of 26 pesos to the US dollar has approximately doubled.  That would be bad enough, except that the USA is experiencing inflation of its own, which would compound the problem for Philippine residents.  For a single example, the price of diesel fuel has more than doubled in four years.

      It is not the purpose of this editorial to analyze all of the forces underlying economic inflation, nor all of the implications of the phenomenon.  We will leave that to governments, to economists, or to the Business Department -- among whom there is a notable lack of consensus.  In practical terms, "inflation" means paying more for less, and in the process, the "more" becomes worth less.  Or, another way of looking at it is that if a desired object has a fixed price, one is actually paying less for the same thing.  And that leads to the real question of interest here: "If there is such a thing as inflation in the economic realm, could there be something similar happening in the sphere of academics?"  One of my good Filipino friends has claimed that there is.

      In his draft of a brief but well-written article which for technical reasons we will not be able to publish in InFo, this friend laments the erosion of academic rigor and hence quality specifically in the degrees being offered by universities.  His comments were derived mainly from his observations within the Philippines, but just as economic inflation seems to be a world-wide phenomenon, I believe what he has observed within this country is not unique to this setting.  And, I would go one step farther than that -- to grade inflation, possibly just as globally generalizable.  Some may argue that grade inflation is really a part of the general inflation of academic degrees, and although I do concur, I also believe that it deserves mentioning as a separate contributing factor.

      The real question is this: "Are we developing or encouraging a system where desired degrees may have a fixed price (in terms of academic credits), but in which "buyers" may "purchase" using "inflated currency" -- resulting in degrees that are worth less?  (Note that I have stopped short of saying "worthless.")   My Filipino friend would answer "yes."  And the answer lies partially in the human tendency to want more for less.  (Don't we all love to find a "bargain" when shopping?)

      However, there is an even more important philosophical reason which may be contributing to the inflation of academic degrees.  Judging from words and actions of some individuals (not in AIIAS, of course!), to too many, it would appear that education is like a goal.  It is a target.  It is a destination to be reached.  It is as if they believe that once they have that graduation certificate in hand, then and only then may they be considered educated.  And if that concept of education is valid, then any short-cut in reaching the destination is well justified!  Indeed anyone who might take a longer route, would be foolish.

       But I would prefer to think of education as a "journey."  Education is a journey, not a destination.  In business terms one might say that education is a process, not a product.  Those who would see education as a destination would view the graduate as one who leaves the university with the answers to all of a pre-determined list of problems neatly tucked away in his mental "briefcase;" while those who view it as a journey are more concerned with the experiences and skills that will equip the graduate to solve whatever problems he may encounter.  Those who would view education as a product tend to see academic degrees as the means of obtaining positions of great responsibility with commensurate salaries; while those who see it as a process tend to be more concerned with being able to fulfill the demands of a responsible position.

      When it comes to education, there is really no such thing as getting more for less.  There are no short-cuts.  One can never pay off the debts accumulating from semesters of lethargy with the sale of a single "academic chicken."   If by our teaching and example we can demonstrate that education is indeed a journey or a process and not a destination or product, then we will have taken the first giant step in reversing the inflationary trend in academic grades and degrees.  What a great day that will be for academia!


 

David Streifling
Editor, Info Journal
Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies
Silang, Cavite , Philippines