Shawn Klein, one of the editors of the Harry Potter and Philosophy volume to which I contributed, has some interesting comments upon the myriad complaints about “consumerism” in education. The problem, he observes, isn’t that students regard their education as a service for purchase, since it obviously is just that. Rather, the problem is that students are often confused about what they’re purchasing: they’re not purchasing the diploma or good grades or even the education. Instead, they’re purchasing an opportunity to educate themselves, just as a person who buys a gym membership or personal training sessions is purchasing an opportunity but not a guarantee of getting in shape.
If that sounds interesting, I’d recommend reading the whole post. It’s interesting enough that I’d love to see the future Dr. Klein publish a revised version as an op-ed in the Chronicle of Higher Education or somesuch.