It happened again today.
"What?" You may ask.
Well, you, someone asked me what I plan to to with my major. I suppose it is a legitimate question. Every other major seems to have some "do" involved. And even philsophy, as a major, is used as a springboard to seminary, law school, and the like. Everytime i try to be realistic, every time it try to tell myself that i should perhaps get a more applicable, useful, tangible field of study, something in me will not allow it. Over the last 2 weeks i've begun to realize a bit more about just why that might be.
National Student Leadership Conference was an incredible weekend full of thoughts that needed to be manifested into word form. But, the thoughts and words i would most like to recall for you are the ones spoken by a Dr. Paul Spears, protege of the ever-loved J.P. Moreland. I sat in Dr. Spears workshop "The Curse of Cursive Writing, and other Myths that Shaped our Education," and drank in every word. He relayed the common idea of education today, and it went somthing like this:
-Edcation is about job-getting, not about flourishing.
-Students need to start thinking of themselves as what they can produce, not in terms of what they can know and understand.
-Education is a monetary end, not an interaction with the world around us.
We are keenly cautious and aware of the fact that there are standards (A's & B's) that must be met and that are, for all intensive purposes, our primary goal. If we are, in some way, unable to meet these standards, we are deemed unfit for the intellectual realm and pitied for what we can never become. (For afterall, we have learned that our ability to do intellectual work directly relates to capitol). We have been so brainwashed into thinking that meeting these standards is the goal, that we have forgotten to pursue education that we may become "better men." The sad thing is how entrenched we are, and how unaware.
Not only in at National Student Leadership Conference, but also in my studies for class, i have read things that shed further light on the point of education.
In Technopoly, Neil Postman points out an important shift in the way we see achievment in the realm of education: "I refer to the seemingly harmless practice of assigning marks or grades to the answers studnets give on examinations. This procedure seem so natural to most of us that we are hardly aware of its significance. We may even find it difficult to imagine that the number or letter is a tool or ,if you will, a technology...I shall not argue her that this is a stupid or dangerous idea, only that it is peculiar. What is even more peculiar is that man of us do notfind the idea peculiar. To say that someone should be doing better work because he has an IQ of 134...or that this man's essay on the rise of capitalism is an A- and that man's is a C+ would have sounded like gibberish to Galileo or Shakespeare or Thomas Jefferson. If it makes sense to us, that is because or minds have been conditioned by the technology of numbers so that we see the world differently than they did. Our understanding of what is real is different."
The idea of quantifying intelligence is just an example of how education is now viewed. Studies are a means to something else, be it a grade, law school, or the perfect job (perhaps all three). And thats fine, its just not really going to be satisfactory in the end. Many of you have heard me talk of the cyclical nature of this view of education, but here it is again: Why do we work hard in high school? To get into college, of course. Why do we work hard in college? To get into Grad school, of course. Why do we work hard in Grad School? To get a good job, of course. Why do we need a good job? To make money, of course. Why do we need to make money? To put food on the table, and to put our kids into good schools, of course. Why do we make our kids work hard in school? So they can get into college, of course. Why do they need to do well in college? To get a good job, OF COURSE.
Of course, I realize this isn't the stated motive of most, but I would be willing to guess, judging by the questions i recieve so often concerning what i will "do" with my major, that a majority of people see education in this way--as a means to an end.
Well, I think its an end in itself. So here I am, a philosohy major, quite unsure of what i want to do with my life, and thoroughly at peace about it.
And here is a little something from tonights Heidegger reading: "It is absolutely correct and proper to say that 'you can't do anything with philosophy.' It is only wrong to suppose that this is the last word on philosophy. For the rejoinder imposes itself: granted that we cannot do anything with philosophy, might not philosophy, if we concern ourselves with it, do something with us? So much for what philosophy is not."
And here i am, back up on my soapbox, begging for a reorientation in education. Its not about what we do with education, its about what it does to us. (This does not mean that there is no need for doing, just that education is not something that ends when a job is ascertained, nor is it job-training. It is, itself, an end.)
And this too, is an end. (of a long post)