Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Education & All That

A couple of days ago, I was in an online discussion about whether schools (colleges, esp.) should focus on transmitting the knowledge required to do a particular job, or strive to produce a well-rounded person who may (or may not) have a special skill. I reflected briefly on my own school career, and what I valued about it, and responded thusly:
In college I saw lots of smart, ignorant people (not excluding myself). College was more about training; less about education. The university was expected to produce money-makers, young energetic capitalistic chainsaws. Not citizens; not....human beings in the fullest sense of the term. I half-joke about my school career, K through Master's degree: I had one subject in K-12 that was about educating me, as a citizen of America, and the world: Latin. And in college I had one subject that did the same: Art and Architectural History. All the rest was training (I exaggerate a bit) to make money, to be productive in the ways that can be measured on a W-2.
It's true: all we need to be affluent is training. But I see that what I value more are mostly things that don't make money: Scrooge's change of heart in A Christmas Carol; Rembrandt's portrayal of forgiveness in The Prodigal Son; van Gogh's wheatfields; Dorothy realizing there's no place like home, because the people who love her are there; the selfless love of husband and wife in O. Henry's Gift of the Magi; the fact that I could say 'philosopher' or 'logos' to Socrates or Jesus, and they would understand me; that math shows me the Mind of God; the transcendence of Hagia Sophia; that Debussy stood on Tchaikovsky's shoulders, who stood on Beethoven's, who stood on Mozart's, that they each successively created what their musical predecessors could not have imagined; that God bursts out of his children, and in their own unique ways they express his creativity and love.
The difference between education and training: between living, and getting & spending; between citizens and consumers; between babies and masses of tissue; between a nation and a population.
I figure it's better as a society, a family of Man, to be less well trained, and better educated. That does beg the question of who is going educate whom in exactly what, but that'd require another post.

1 comment:

Home School Mom: Denise said...

I can completely relate; thus we home school :) And we do Latin! My oldest holds his BA in Art with an English Lit minor. I really think you have it right, that education today is more about training and dumbing down real education. It will be interesting to see where this all leads...O Brave New World!