Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sic transit ...

... The Last Professor.

I am not sure that it is an altogether bad idea for it to become evident to all that colleges and universities are no longer places of education, since this creates an opportunity for someone to establish an institution that is such a place. Those interested in genuine education - which is formative of character and personality (as opposed to training, which is instrumental and designed to provide skills needed for earning a living) - have always been and always will be a minority. Once the idea took hold that everyone should be "educated" (which meant that everyone should have the accreditation provided by a diploma), the dilution of education into mere training was inevitable. That it should have got its start in America, where the notion that what is good for anyone must be good for everyone also got its start, is hardly surprising. We all know that not everyone can be a violin virtuoso, but surely everyone ought to be able to get a bachelor of arts degree, right. Well, apparently, only if you water down the curriculum - get rid of those dead languages, skip the course in logic and rhetoric, make history fun, etc. (I might add that philosophy did itself no favors by ceasing to be focused on living an examined life and focusing instead on technical matters of epistemology and language.)
Anyway, there will always be some people interested in the real thing, so maybe it's time for someone to establish a school just for them - one specializing in learning and understanding as ends in themselves, rather than as a means to a choice entry level position somewhere.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:09 PM

    i used to fantasise about an alternate school, where those who were genuinely interested could go to learn without thinking about careers and so on.

    At my university i had the good fortune to have a really good tutor in my first year, who then became my friend; and also to meet david crane, a writer who had been fired from the English Depot in 1992: he gave lectures to a group of local toffs and would tape the proceedings - i absorbed a great deal by listening to these tapes. Much of my education was conducted in this way, outside of the official system, talking with my 1st year tutor (who became my friend), or listening to dc's tapes, or talking with Christians from my college, who were always much more literate and serious than the average English undergrad. The actual offical lectures etc. were often poor fare compared to a long talk with someone who had read The Bible looking for serious answers.