Our formal education begins very early and can continue for a long time. They (a rather nebulous concept that includes parents or other caregivers and the government) get their hooks into us early with pre-school and kindergarten, and the process does not often end until a decade has past and increasingly goes on even longer. Why? To turn us into productive members of society, responsible, socialized adults ready to enter into a skilled profession. What follows are personal reflections on the attainment of this goal.
When I was in my junior year of high school and talk about figuring out what I wanted to do after graduating began to circulate (I always knew I was going to college), I hated the very idea of community colleges and three-year programs. There is far more to education than getting a job and beginning to make money. A person should have a developed appreciation for music alongside their understanding of accounting or geology. Besides, a weak worker is one who understands only their own trade and not the context in which it exists. Intersections between diverse fields are common. Engineering and art? English and history? Yeah, there is an entire world outside every individual field and to better understand that field, you need to understand the world. I knew I wanted to go to a liberal arts school and be forced to take classes that I would never normally take because there is a big world out there, and journalism offers only a solitary perspective on it.
Now I am at that liberal arts college, and my thoughts swing more in the other direction. Some friends were recently discussing their plans for grad school and dismissed their current undergraduate education as the opportunity to study what they enjoy. Four years of learning amounted to nothing more than a stepping stone to their real education for them. A great deal of money is going into this necessary passage, and an opportunity to postpone taking responsibility and become a producer and not merely a consumer is extended.
Freak, I am 19-years-old, a physically mature male and in good health. In most any other nation today or at any other time in history, I could very well have been working a farm, supporting not only myself but a family, likely including my parents, or be in the army or something. My peers are planning on extending the lack of true resonsibility for a few more years. This is unacceptable. Besides, what's stopping them from learnign law now. Are their capacities for understanding and memory going to increase that much more between their sophomore year of college and entrance into graduate school?
Ideally, I guess I want elementary and middle school and high school to more closely resemble the liberal arts education I am now receiving. Teach us to write and read and do arithmetic, yes, but also teach us philosophy and how to think critically. Show us the basics of physics and biology. Expose us to every manner of art and music. Catch them young enough and they will not blow it off as something that does not matter to them or their future. Then let us learn a trade.
3 years ago