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The Decaying Evolution of Education...

philosophygirl78

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This can go in so many directions, so I will try to keep it on track in this way:

Since the dawn of man, education evolved from curiosity. Albeit, not well formed until cohesive social organizations gave way to widely accepted constructs, 'questioning' remained a main component in its progression and definition.

It would seem through its progression, a sort of refinement began to accompany the questioning, i.e. Magick (as in Egypt), Philosophy (as in Greek, Buddhist etc), and so forth.

AND THEN... Came Rome..

While Rome brought many contributions to the world of education, it also brought the idea of Profit. The Coin. The New Power. And it is with this addition to society that education began to take a shift away from humanity, still holding the search for understanding but with slightly different motives.

This can be tracked throughout the decades up until the Industrial Revolution. There were other factors such as religion, the appeal to modern advances such as plumbing, electricity etc that contributed heavily to this.

Bringing us to today, where while we still find disciplines in higher education that preserve the identity of what Education truly is, it inspires nonetheless a sense of melancholy that the baseline of education for our youth is no longer in the arms of human evolution, but in the progress of elite pockets....

"And so it goes..." - Sirens of Titan

Question: Will this evolution lead to progress and salvation or to the demise of humanity? Has it already in a sense?
 

LizzieMaine

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The democratization of education as something for all people instead of just a stuffy, cloak-wearing, air-sniffing elite has been essential to real human progress. Unless, of course, you're Ignatius J. Reilly fulminating about the lack of theology and geometry in the modern world.

But the prostitution of education to the service of capitalism -- in which "being educated" simply means having the qualifications for a particular job -- has not been a positive thing at all.
 

philosophygirl78

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The democratization of education as something for all people instead of just a stuffy, cloak-wearing, air-sniffing elite has been essential to real human progress. Unless, of course, you're Ignatius J. Reilly fulminating about the lack of theology and geometry in the modern world.

But the prostitution of education to the service of capitalism -- in which "being educated" simply means having the qualifications for a particular job -- has not been a positive thing at all.

'prostitution of education' HAH! It is that, isnt it?...
 

LizzieMaine

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Paul Fussell writes about this issue extensively in his book "BAD," a polemic written in the '90s attacking the American tendency to twist every nearly aspect of its culture into something more concerned with social climbing than with actual substance. He defines "BAD education" as being the sort of thing indulged in by people who attend business schools which pass themselves off as "Universities," or the kind of middle-aged strivers who still go around wearing college sweatshirts in their fifties. You're never quite sure if he's got his tongue in his cheek or not, but many of the points he makes are quite valid -- Americans, especially do tend to be more interested in the social/business benefits of "An Education" than with the intellectual stimulation gained by one.

Fussell presents this as largely a development of the postwar era, but I think he's showing his own upper-class WASP snobbery there: you'd be hard pressed to find a worse group of goldfish-swallowing pseudo-intellectual flibbertigibbets than that which infested the campuses of Our Better Schools in the thirties.
 

Inkstainedwretch

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In all the outrage over student loans in recent years, the thing I find most depressing is the seemingly unanimous agreement that the only purpose for higher education is a high-paying job. Do people who fail to obtain such a job actually regret that they are educated? Do they pine for their former ignorance? I can't say that my years of college ever earned me very much money (being an English major didn't help) but they made me the well-rounded citizen of the world I am today.
 

LizzieMaine

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The idea of higher education as the default is a very recent development -- in the Era less than four percent of Americans held a degree in anything, and even now only about 30 percent of Americans hold degrees of any kind. And yet, somehow, the nation continues to function -- sort of makes the whole "you've got to have a degree to get ahead" belief look like, I dunno, maybe a marketing racket of some kind?
 

Inkstainedwretch

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After WWII an uncle of mine went to UT Austin on the GI Bill. It paid full tuition for four years, books and school supplies issued free, plus a generous stipend. That's the difference between a popular war and Vietnam. When I got back from Vietnam and went to college I got a stipend of $250 per month. It would have soared to $275 when I got married, but they would never believe we were married no matter how many times I submitted the documentation. For some reason everyone seems to remember the civilian population treating the returning Vietnam vets like crap. What I remember was how the government screwed us at every opportunity.
 

Harp

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For some reason everyone seems to remember the civilian population treating the returning Vietnam vets like crap. What I remember was how the government screwed us at every opportunity.

I should have found a college that was willing to pay me to play baseball on full scholarship; luckily I aced and received academic scholarships.
The Veterans Administration proved an incredible hassle with spools spilling red tape...:(
 

philosophygirl78

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Aventura, Florida
The democratization of education as something for all people instead of just a stuffy, cloak-wearing, air-sniffing elite has been essential to real human progress. Unless, of course, you're Ignatius J. Reilly fulminating about the lack of theology and geometry in the modern world.

But the prostitution of education to the service of capitalism -- in which "being educated" simply means having the qualifications for a particular job -- has not been a positive thing at all.


I would add that is it to the service of vested interest pockets of imperialism. Capitalism is just a tool that didn't have to be so oppressive... The real puppet masters are the imperialists...
 
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New York City
It's all a balance and a hard one. As Lizzie noted, democratization of education is a good thing - more people having the opportunity than just a select, well-connected "club." But as it opens up, we are faced with what "it" is - a means to intellectual enlightenment or a way to a better job or social rank or whatever.

My parents' idea was you go to college so that you can get a better job. Think what you may of that, they had had very tough lives in the Depression, weren't college educated and weren't thinking about "broadening your intellectual outlook," they were thinking about job opportunities, security and a bit better life. They also weren't thinking about "social climbing," as they had no tolerance for any of that either.

I, IMHO, think I was fortunate as college opened up a world of thought, of learning, of exposure to disciplines that I didn't know existed and a general love of discovering knowledge that I have pursued ever since. But I didn't even share this with my parents as they would have looked at me like I was nuts - there was a bit of anti-intellectualism in their outlook, which again, I'm not making fun of - if I had had their lives, I probably would have had the same outlook.

So what should it be for kids today? One mistake I think we make is assuming that the more kids who go to college the better. I notice that both side of our political divide cite higher incomes for college grads as a reason to pursue a more-kids-should-go-to-college policy. I think a better social goal would be "the more kids who want to / would benefit from going to college and can, the better." I also think technical and vocational schools are great avenues for many and should be structured to our new technology world. And even some things taught in college could probably be broken out into professional technical schools - for those that want a specific skill and not a more holistic education.

I don't have the answers (to pretty much anything), but I think the college-for-all policy is a waste of many kids' time, many taxpayers' dollars and many social resources. More effort should go into identifying how to align high school graduates with the next best step for them - work, vocation or technical schools, apprenticeships, junior or four year college - or some other avenue we need to create.

I benefitted from college in the traditional sense of expanding my "intellectual" skill set which has helped me succeed (modestly) in a career that has had many twists and turns. I am grateful for that and will gladly pay higher taxes to allow other kids to benefit as I have, but I would iterate that before that happens, we need to improve our guidance and options for high school graduates so that they, those paying the freight and society at large benefit.

Last thought (until my next rambling post): I don't think historically traditional higher education ideology - knowledge for knowledge sake - is impractical in a (somewhat) capitalist economy, nor do I think that wanting to leverage education to a more financially rewarding career is crass - it's all a balance both at the individual and societal level. We need to do a much better job of helping individuals make that decision so that everyone can benefit - the individual and society.
 

philosophygirl78

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445
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Aventura, Florida
Paul Fussell writes about this issue extensively in his book "BAD," a polemic written in the '90s attacking the American tendency to twist every nearly aspect of its culture into something more concerned with social climbing than with actual substance. He defines "BAD education" as being the sort of thing indulged in by people who attend business schools which pass themselves off as "Universities," or the kind of middle-aged strivers who still go around wearing college sweatshirts in their fifties. You're never quite sure if he's got his tongue in his cheek or not, but many of the points he makes are quite valid -- Americans, especially do tend to be more interested in the social/business benefits of "An Education" than with the intellectual stimulation gained by one.

Fussell presents this as largely a development of the postwar era, but I think he's showing his own upper-class WASP snobbery there: you'd be hard pressed to find a worse group of goldfish-swallowing pseudo-intellectual flibbertigibbets than that which infested the campuses of Our Better Schools in the thirties.


you said "flibbertigibbets" HAH!!!

ok... Lots in what you wrote.... First, 'pseudo business schools and the pseudo intellectuals they eject': Oh Dear Christ, Yes!!!! I worked my ASS off for my Bachelor's Degree and for the Graduate work completed as well!!! I HATE hearing these morons in the world of business who pay $30-$60k on online and weekend programs and prance around saying, 'I have an MBA... blah blah blah'... NO... What you have is a very expensive piece of paper... But Certainly NOT an education...

I work in the business world, one of the toughest in fact; Commercial Real Estate. And I have no formal education in business. All from experience. But I will add that my level of success at such a young age is based on my Philosophy degree, my literature and world studies and having traveled Extensively in my life. I wouldn't trade my 'worthless' college degree for the world, nor the 6 years I spent in my double major. Of course I had an advantage because of my math background to quickly adapt to finance, but still..

I am of the opinion that a Good Education prepares you for ANY future. The same way a Good Driver can drive ANY car....
 

philosophygirl78

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Messages
445
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Aventura, Florida
The idea of higher education as the default is a very recent development -- in the Era less than four percent of Americans held a degree in anything, and even now only about 30 percent of Americans hold degrees of any kind. And yet, somehow, the nation continues to function -- sort of makes the whole "you've got to have a degree to get ahead" belief look like, I dunno, maybe a marketing racket of some kind?


Yes, Elementary education has suffered the most.
In all the outrage over student loans in recent years, the thing I find most depressing is the seemingly unanimous agreement that the only purpose for higher education is a high-paying job. Do people who fail to obtain such a job actually regret that they are educated? Do they pine for their former ignorance? I can't say that my years of college ever earned me very much money (being an English major didn't help) but they made me the well-rounded citizen of the world I am today.


I like to think there is still some of that. I personally took 6 years my first time around with a double major in Physics and Philosophy in order to have the FULL college experience... I do not regret one minute of it. And yes, a true education contributes people as well-rounded and respectable citizens.
 

LizzieMaine

Bartender
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30,762
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Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
I don't have the answers (to pretty much anything), but I think the college-for-all policy is a waste of many kids' time, many taxpayers' dollars and many social resources. More effort should go into identifying how to align high school graduates with the next best step for them - work, vocation or technical schools, apprenticeships, junior or four year college - or some other avenue we need to create.individual and societal level. We need to do a much better job of helping individuals make that decision so that everyone can benefit - the individual and society.

I think the "college" model has gotten to be the default simply because it's been pushed so loud and for so long, and I'm the biggest believer there is in trade schools and apprenticeships. I think all of these options ought to come to mind when we think of "post secondary education," and all ought to be as supported as valid, valuable choices. Otherwise we risk becoming a society of flaccid PhD's up to our kneecaps in sewage because nobody thought there was any value in becoming a plumber.
 

philosophygirl78

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Imperialism is merely the highest --and final -- stage of capitalism.

yes, and it's a imperialistic struggle right now between giants and well funded extremists who hold no bars... what's interesting too is that social struggle is historically what has driven change. But with the progress driven / modern technology driven imperialists that change has shifted from being centered on social struggle to a struggle of the elite.

I am not sure we are experiencing capitalism... I think its something else. That hasn't been defined as of yet...
 

ChiTownScion

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The Great Pacific Northwest
I think the "college" model has gotten to be the default simply because it's been pushed so loud and for so long, and I'm the biggest believer there is in trade schools and apprenticeships. I think all of these options ought to come to mind when we think of "post secondary education," and all ought to be as supported as valid, valuable choices. Otherwise we risk becoming a society of flaccid PhD's up to our kneecaps in sewage because nobody thought there was any value in becoming a plumber.

The Ph. D. route has fallen victim to the economic reality known as the rationing function of price. College students today face costs that are brutal: $40k/ year tuition for undergrad studies is not unusual- and I'm not talking about Ivy League schools. I was the only one of six among the cousins in my mom's family who obtained a college degree, and I could pay my way through with about seven weeks of summer employment. Not so today- by a long shot. As far as the long and lonely road to a Ph. D., I can't see six figure debt for a career as a part time instructor job no matter how much I love history or philosophy.

My younger friends and colleagues are struggling with student loan debt that I cannot imagine. I dodged the bullet on undergrad student loans, but came out owing $15,000 in law school debt. I thought that I had the national debt on my shoulders with that-- but it's a pittance by today's standards. I've never regarded an undergrad liberal arts degree as vocational training- but it is a good way to go if you're thinking law, medicine, journalism or MBA grad programs. It's a good place to hone study, research, and writing skills. One friend of mine obtained his undergrad engineering degree after his liberal arts degree: since he has about 8 or 9 patents to his name, perhaps that liberal arts degree did him some good in some way.

I had one cousin who got into the trades by pure luck at age 18: he worked hard, earned well, and did well. There's nothing wrong with learning a good trade, but I would suggest that anything but a union apprenticeship to that end is a risky alternative.
 

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