20 February 2016

Leveraging Contemplation

(with apologies to W.H. Auden, The Musee des Beaux Arts)

About education they were never wrong,
The crafters of strategic plans: how well they understood
The human condition; how it must be celebrated
While someone else is leveraging technology or enabling potential partners or just
Doing some civic engagement;
How, when the citizens of Illinois are reverently, passionately waiting
For a state budget, there always must be
Corporations who are happy to build their headquarters elsewhere, sipping coffee
In the innovation food court.
They never forgot
That students must get something in return for their tuition dollars
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the instructors flash Powerpoints on a wall and grade papers
in the glow of laptops not paid for by the university.
In The Public's University: A Framework for the System Strategic Plan, for instance: How everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the citizen may
Have heard the system power off, the final "ping,"
But for him it was not an important failure; the lights stayed on
As they had to in the rooms where economic growth gets
Stimulated; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, the life of the mind as a public good,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

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