aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Ars longa, vita brevis

There's a lot of buzz about the bubble in higher education these days, where the price far exceeds the value and students are going too far into debt to get it. There's a lot to that. The part that intrigues me is the value part. Price and debt are what worry many people, but I think that the real tragedy in American education is that the worth of what you get -- no matter what you pay for it -- is often pretty poor, even at elite schools.

I went to Indiana State University in the 1970s. I wound up with a Bachelor of Arts in English, with minors in Political Science and History. I can't say that the course presented to me was excessively challenging, but there were remnants there of the old liberal arts curriculum. I learned some important things, and my natural curiosity has kept me learning. I know far more about English (and Political Science and History) now than I did when I graduated, but that's okay. I got a good foundation at ISU.

No doubt a non-teaching degree in English is not much of a job ticket, but then, I wasn't looking to acquire job credentials. And despite my intention from the start to go on to graduate school (law school at first, but I changed my mind and went to seminary), I never thought of my degree as just a stepping stone, either. I saw myself as joining the society of educated -- or, I should say now, of learned -- persons.

What is sad is that few people today can get even as good a college education as I got. I meet people today with advanced degrees who are basically ignoramuses with diplomas. Some of the worst run our public school system: the degreed dullards, I call them. Others are very proficient in their own area (often one of the much-vaunted STEM fields), but don't know any Humanities. Without a knowledge of history and literature and so on, they are cultural orphans, which is very sad.

When I went off to ISU, my mother said to me, "Never let college interfere with your education." Now, more than ever, it's important to realize that chasing a degree isn't all it's cracked up to be. And while I congratulate all the graduates this year, I would also remind them that the real test of life is What You Have Learned, not What Hangs on Your Wall.

  • Did I mention that I used to counsel Pioneering Merit Badge?

    I spent the day raising upper wall sections, using a contraption of my own design. The contraption in action To review, I finally had to give…

  • My 2p worth

    I realize that I don't have a dog in this fight, but allow me to express my bewilderment at the Scottish independence movement. The SNP likes to…

  • In memoriam Margaret Shirley Collins

    Today would be my mother's 100th birthday. Born Margaret Shirley in Smithville, Indiana, she went on to serve in the WACs in New Guinea during WWII.…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 1 comment