Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Thought of the Day: would we be better of if everyone went to college?
Of course we would. And yet ... As I was chewing on this NYT piece and this e-mail from the prof who runs the History News Network, I started thinking about some of the contrarian talking points. I believe it was Ellul who said the problem with higher education is that rather than creating the most well-adjusted citizens, it can become a detached elitist left-wing subculture. Indeed, if you're interested in the most extreme left-wing groups, look at the student organization bulletin board at a college campus, not the lunchroom at the factory or other places the educated look down their noses at. College faculties are collections of 60s holdovers, often liberal with blinders. As a liberal myself, I'm not completely disappointed by this, and I'm grateful to my college for taking me beyond simple-minded conservatism. But at mainstream state colleges and universities across the nation, students are gettting their supposed wisdom filtered through very narrow channels.

We'd have at least two other major problems if everyone went to college. First, alcoholism would go up, as America's otherwise potentially useful underclassmen would continue to drink themselves stupid every weekend. This is enlightenment? It's bacchanalia behind the ivy. And then there's the mind-numbing success narrative--many colleges breed in students the belief that people are there just to sit, take notes and tests, receive a formal-looking piece of paper, for the sole purpose of getting a high-paying job. Fewer schools inspire students to love learning more than money, to be promiscuously curious about the world, to become not just a learned but a perpetually learning adult, interested in the fullness of life. Sometimes I wonder if you learn the most, and the best, outside the classroom. That's why I'm shelving my graduate school plans for the time being to be a journalist, where I get to actually go out and see the world and talk to people, rather than just read about it in a dorm room or library.
What do you think?
Previous Thought

No comments: