On April 2, 2014 my brilliant friend Stephanie Lauritzen, who teaches English and Debate at Coeur d'Alene High School in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, posted a brilliant "rant" on Facebook. With her permission, I am reposting it in this space.
This will be an educational rant (pun intended) that has been brewing for sometime. I have been reading many an article about how a college education is not worth it, how particular degrees won't pay for themselves. I read one recently about a cost benefit analysis of certain colleges and universities where the average student will never recoup their money (or some similar conclusion). I need to say first that I do not think that college is for everyone and that everyone needs to find a way to make a living. That being said, when did education become "how much many can I make" or "what job can I get?" Education is about . . . (wait for it) . . . being educated. . . about life, the world, humanity, past and present. If all one is looking for is a job, there are few that need a college degree. There are faster and cheaper ways than any 4 year degree (I will save my rant on online classes and dual enrollment for another time). I am so tired of a culture that denigrates the concept of getting an education for its own intrinsic worth. There is nothing quantifiable about what I learned during my undergraduate years. I learned as much about myself, my beliefs and values as I did about economics, philosophy, history, music, science, etc. But all of that is part of my education. And it has never stopped. Granted I am in the field of education, but being trained for a job is only part of an education; it is a secondary result. Otherwise, we are going to end up with a very well trained work force (who saved a lot of money) but hasn't learned anything of value.
It's really no surprise that a country devoted to resurrecting the Gilded Age devalues the arts as not pragmatic enough for young people to value. In our world of reductionist thinking, the cha-ching factor matters more than the intrinsic, unmeasurable value of education.
An April 5, 2014 article Forbes ("Higher Education: Is College Worth It?) addresses the question by presenting an analysis of earning power among 900 colleges and universities via a PayScale analysis.
We are at grave risk of selling our collective soul to the highest bidder. I can't help but wander how our world might be more of a utopia than a dystopia had more people taken a Renaissance view of education, one similar to that of Leonardo Da Vinci.
- Would we have as much political corruption if we had more artists?
- Would we have a stock market corrupted so extensively (see Michael Lewis's Flash Boys) if we had more artists?
- Would we have as much abuse if we had more artists?
- How would our world look if we encouraged students to make a life by acquiring the kind of education Stephanie writes about rather than prodding them to make a living by getting a degree?
|A Sixteenth Century depiction of children being educated in runelore. via wikimages|