Susan D. Blum


On her book “I Love Learning; I Hate School”: An Anthropology of College

Cover Interview of September 03, 2017


This book—the inception, research, writing, conversations, reception—has completely changed the way I think about my profession. I had become disillusioned and cynical, mostly about students. Now I’m more disillusioned with the entire conventional model of higher education (and other levels as well). But I’m hopeful too; there are great ideas about how to work with the inherent curiosity and need for meaningful engagement that just about everybody has. I’m not focused on merit, or sorting, or intelligence. I focus on, fixate on, obsess about meeting each student where they are. That is my responsibility. Just as in traditional societies everybody has to learn to weave or cook, so in ours everybody has a right to expect to be aided in their learning.

If I could have a wish, it would be that students, parents, the public, administrators, and faculty would focus on how to get students to plunge into meaningful learning when it matters to them, and to work with them to define their goals and then help them realize them.

If you want the full picture of what I envision, read the appendix where I compare education to permaculture, the approach to working with the environment to minimize waste, to produce in accord with natural tendencies, and to create a livable planet with livable lives, where we maximize harmony and efficiency without trying to overcome nature. Humans are by nature learners; surely, we can work with that in our schools if only we try.