Larry Summers: universities should create opportunity & offer scale + personalisation by using tech!

Here is the full transcipt of what Larry Summers said in his talk at the  @allin  Summit 2023: You were the president of Harvard. There was a very, let’s call it important divisive foundational case that just went through the Supreme Court on affirmative action. You wrote actually a pretty interesting op-ed about all of this. Give us your thoughts about what is working inside of higher education, what you think about that ruling. I wish that ruling hadn’t happened. I wish that great universities were in a position to set their course and to compete with each other and to admit students as they saw fit. But I think after that ruling, it is clear what the right theme should be. And that theme is opportunity, that the great strength of our universities should be that they make it certain everyone has an opportunity to succeed and get to the top, no matter where and what circumstances that they were born. And I think there’s much more that our great universities can do, and they’re things that are much more important than arguing about diversity policies that could get us there. Here are some of them: Whatever the right way to think about this was four years ago, the time for legacy admissions is over. If there are scarce spots in our great universities, having your father hire a fantastic coach. To teach you to play a Country Club sport at an extraordinary level should not be a path to admission to our leading intellectual institutions. Let’s end athletic recruiting for aristocrat, for aristocratic sports. It’s really a nice thing. It’s a nice thing, it’s a good thing. And it has a lot of good things for most of the people in this room that there exists early decision and early action, but it basically works to help the privileged. And it basically prevents the underprivileged, less privileged, from shopping their financial aid offers and getting the deals they should. We would not permit Goldman Sachs to make exploding offers to our MBA students. Why should great colleges make exploding offers to admitted students. I didn’t really know till I got involved with Silicon Valley that scale was a verb as distinct from a noun. I thought it was something you kind of stepped on in the bathroom. If you think about it, any institution, almost any other institution in the society, nearly a 10th of successful as Stanford or Harvard. They have far more customers today than it did 50 years ago. And yet, our universities have not grown their size of their students on campus, and they have moved only glacially to use the incredible opportunities that technology presents to provide education which, and this is what’s remarkable about educational technology, if you think about it, it can be much faster scale and at the same time be much more personalized. You can go at your own pace, you can hit, you can hyperlink it, go deeper into the things that you’re interested in. And so scale plus personalization creates incredible possibility and our universities have only scatched the surfuce of what is possible.

Larry Summers: From thinking selfesteem comes from achievement to thinking it comes from selfesteem.

Larry Summers , Ex Harvard President, stated in his  @allin  All in Pod Summit 2023 talk: We have gone from thinking that self esteem comes from achievement to thinking that achievement comes from self esteem. Full trancript of this part part of his talk: That doesn’t mean that I’m not fearful of so much that’s happening in our educational system and I think that we have in our educational system and this is true of our great universities and it’s true of our unionized elementary schools. We have gone from thinking that self esteem comes from achievement to thinking that achievement comes from self esteem. And that is a embarrassment. That the grade point average of the average student at Harvard University is above 3.7. That by far the most common grade is A, and that the big education reform idea of the moment is to eliminate standardized tests that actually measure what people know. And so this kinds of moves away from traditional values of excellence, achievement, the importance of learning is something I think is very much a problem. So, yeah, I worried about the national sociology problem represented by the fact that we used to be a country 60 years ago where 4% of men between 25 and 54 were not working. And now we’re a country where 14% are not working at any point in time and a quarter of them don’t work for more than three months within a two year period. Am I worried about that? Yeah, I absolutely am. Am I worried about the Finances? Am I worried about our inadequate investment in technology leadership? Am I worried about a kind of broad Constipation? There’s as many of you probably been to Harvard Square. There’s a bridge. The bridge goes over the Charles River. It’s 362 feet long. It had been around for 100 years. It needed to be fixed. It did need to be fixed. 62 months, five years and two months with one lane of traffic closed in order to renovate a 362 foot bridge. To put that in perspective, Patton built a bridge Over The Rhine 3000 feet in one day. But but there are better things about spending your life hanging around in the university. And so I wandered over to the classics department one day and I learned that Julius Caesar, Julius Caesar built his bridge Over The Rhine, 3000 feet, not 300 feet in nine days. And this is what it took us. So do we have huge problems? Yes. Is this the first time we’ve had huge problems? Hell no. Is there the prospect that we can solve those problems? Yes, I think there is. Do I think we, all things considered, have a more solvable set of problems and a more dynamic society for solving them? Yeah I do. And never forget this, Never forget this, even though we always forget it when we make policy in the relevant area. But the best, the best test is we are the place that people from every part of the world want to come to. That is 100%.

Larry Summers on free speech university campuses @allin Summit with transscript

Transscript of the Larry Summers talk on free speech university campuses @allin All In Podcast Summit.

Look vigorous argument in which all ideas can be put forward and in which no idea gains its authority from who said it or some fashion rather than its merit in open debate.

That is the essence of liberal society. That is the essence of great universities at their best. It is the essence of a great university at its best that when I was president of Harvard and I was teaching a freshman seminar, some freshman, some freshman could come in and read my paper and explain how it was kind of an interesting paper by President Summers, but it was really pretty completely confused. That was a fantastic thing. He wasn’t right, but it was a fantastic.

It was a fantastic thing. And yet, so much of what we should be able to argue about and discuss is off limits. Some of that is the speakers who get this invited, and that’s terrible. But much more of it is a culture that there are only certain views you’re allowed to have on questions about identity, that there are only certain question views you’re allowed to have on market and redistribution that there are only certain question views you’re allowed to have on how children should be raised. There shouldn’t be any views you’re not allowed to have.

Academic freedom should be an absolute.

But academic freedom does not mean freedom from criticism, freedom from debate, freedom from challenge. That is is the essence of the most successful human institutions.

And our universities should be modeling and demonstrating that rather than leading a charge as it too often seems they are towards an orgy of mutual selfregard, respect and care, rather than getting closer to the truth in the most excellent way.

Ladies and gentlemen, Larry Summers.