Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Purpose of School

The following is the text of a FaceBook exchange earlier today which encapsulates in precis my view of the current state and status of the Academy:
Forest Taber (the son of a friend of mine in meat-space):
College .. as needlessly expensive as it is complicated. What a racket..
26 minutes ago via Android · Like · Comment

Kenneth Gervais (a friend of Forest): Amen.
23 minutes ago · Like

Woody Wiqiliques Konopak (Me): It's the consequence of the commodification of knowledge and the credentialization (they call it "professionalization," but that's bullshit) of employment. It amounts to the creation of artificial stratifications after the "natural" ones--race and gender, mainly--broke down...
9 minutes ago · Like

Forest Taber: And this coming from a Dr .. Man, the world sure seems broken to me
8 minutes ago · Like

Woody Wiqiliques Konopak: I'm as disgusted about it as you are...
There is of course, the other side of the coin, which is that, overwhelmingly (in my 15 years teaching in university), students come there looking for nothing resembling 'education,' but rather (only!) to have their prejudices ratified and their tickets to the middle-class stamped.

It is extremely difficult, unto impossible, to stress--to impress-- upon them that they are not at the University to GET an education; they are there to learn how to MAKE their education.

School doesn't--is not SUPPOSED to--teach you WHAT to know.
School IS supposed to teach you how to LEARN what you NEED to know.


Suzan said...

I'll probably be very unpopular for mentioning this, but . . . the above makes sense only if you're at the wrong school and/or you're doing it wrong.

There is still plenty of opportunity for people to get good educations if they choose wisely.

Even many community colleges have sterling courses (and professors).

The trick is understanding first that a university (including the community colleges, if preparatory) is not a trade school.

You are getting an education at a lower level so that your opportunity to continue to learn at higher levels whether in other school settings or while you're working is enhanced.

But many of today's students go thinking it's the sure ticket to riches - and they will not get their $100K investment back right away unless they work for the investment/banking/etc. concerns.

Instead, they need guidance to understand the purpose of education today and the real opportunities that are available - they may not like the answers but it will clear up the "game."


P M Prescott said...

Alvin Toffler broke education down this way:
It is to train students to show up on time. Obey authority and do a dull, meaningless, repititious task all day without complaint.

It used to be that a college education earned you much more than if you went to trade school or just had a high school diploma. The cost of college now is eating into that difference to make it not worth the effort.