Well-known radio talk-show host and conservative pundit, Dennis Prager, has inaugurated an interesting, if somewhat offbeat, Internet educational experiment.
He has assembled a group of like-minded television and radio personalities in order to put together a package of short video lectures on a variety of topics from a conservative political perspective. The videos incorporate high production values.
Prager calls this endeavor “Prager University” (go here).
Although this “university” offers “course credits” that are supposed to lead eventually to a “degree,” Prager’s project ought not to be confused with a real online university. Each “credit” is earned merely by viewing a five-minute lecture. There seems to be no assessment of the student’s learning required in order to receive these “credits.”
From one point of view, this might look like a diploma-mill. But we think that would be a humorless way of looking at it.
Prager University is a university in the same sense that Steven Colbert is a political pundit. In both cases, to understand what is going on, you have to appreciate the intended irony.
One way of looking at Prager University is that it mimics the form of a real online university as a sort of send-up of what it considers (not without reason) the liberal domination of higher education in America.
What about the substance of the “courses”? The videos we looked at were variable in quality.
The lecture by radio talk-show host, Frank Pastore, called “The Four Big Bangs,” on arguments for the existence of God, was pretty good at condensing a lot complicated material into a five-minute format. However, we did notice that Mr. Pastore seems not to be very conversant with the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis, which he alludes to in a rather misleading way.
At present, the best thing on the site (which is still under construction) is the interview (go here) with noted popular historian, Paul Johnson, author of many books, including Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties (Harper Perennial, rev. ed., 2001).
Covering a variety of subjects in a very brief compass, this interview contains a number of interesting remarks. The one which struck us the most forcefully was this:
I think learning is the greatest thing in life.
Johnson made this remark in the context of discussing his own lifelong self-education. This topic (what the Germans call Bildung) is a very important one to which we hope to return soon.