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Regit
12-29-2006, 09:57 PM
I have lately been struggling over an issue that may seem somewhat silly to some people. Being a University student nearing graduation, one of my main worries is, naturally, how to approach the pursuit of a professional career. The struggle is not only 'how', but also 'why'. I can't help but think that most students enter University purely in order to make a living, seeing the very high number of purely vocational courses and the number of students attending them (including myself:) ).

The steps of life that most of us have taken for granted seem so logical: Highschool - University - Masters(?) - Profession (at least it seems conventional in my mind). Perhaps it is only for my misunderstanding, or my lack of understanding of the system that I think this system greatly misunderstood. I have at times, in contemplation, refused to spend my education as only the step-ladder to a professional career. I identify the more important (overwhelmingly more important, in fact) tasks of a University career, tasks that would also be passed on to the later stages of life, as trying to understanding the world better and gathering more knowledge with the help of academic tools: to feed my curiosity more systematically and is not to get a job. Is this a misunderstanding? It probably seems an extreme point of view, but I think the problem is much clearer in some of the developing countries, where universities are almost like factories producing made-to-order workforce by the demand of the labour market.

Thus, the main question that I pose to the forum is: Considering the factors that I mentioned, what is, to you, the main purpose of the University education; and why?

I realise that I have provided no evidence for some of my claims and many of my points are arguable. Admittedly, this is a matter that I struggle with and sincerely hope to hear different oppinions on and be enlightened. Thanks.

Virgil
12-29-2006, 10:56 PM
I think the University is a place for three things: a place to learn, a place to prepare you to earn a living out in the world, and a place to help young people mature, which I don't think most do at all. Regit points out the two extremes and there are camps who will argue for the the two extremes, idealists versus the realists. I think both has to occur. The real world doesn't demand a philosopher to for the functioning of society; but learning enriches our culture, and so there is a need for learning for it's own sake. When they get out out of balance i think the university suffers, and I think the students themselves suffer.

On another note, grad school isn't all that it's cut out to be. I advise people to get out into the world, get a job, live a little, and then in a couple of years test the grad school world with a night course if available. If you like it then you can fit it into your schedule or even go full time. But it's got to be either for your personal enjoyment (and then you can do as I did by taking a class here and there as fits your schedule) or to help your career.

Jean-Baptiste
12-29-2006, 11:05 PM
I understand your concern for the purpose of education, and your wish for an assurance that it is not merely a tool for materialism, but I think that perhaps the problem is you are looking at it from a materialistic perspective. I don't mean that you're being materialistic; I don't mean an sort of insult to your integrity, which is obviously in abundance, or you would not be posing the question. I simply feel that you may be overlooking another major possibility for the purpose of education. I've been concerned with this very thing, of late, and came to the conclusion that the procurement of a career and the satiety of a thirst for knowledge are both extremes on the scale of purpose, and both lead only to selfishness and materialism. But the point of balance is found in the realization that you have taken on the fundamentals of a valuable tradition that must be preserved and passed on. This is what I consider the highest purpose, and it incorporates both extremes while subjecting them to its rule. You shouldn't feel any sort of guilt for pursuing a career in your chosen field, nor in acquiring exorbitant amounts of knowledge that pertains to your interest--so long as you are willing to have both of these options work for the good of the tradition of knowledge. If one were to plan merely to go to work and claim a pay check, without concern for the tradition, then that would indeed be a travesty; if one simply absorbed all the knowledge, to hoard it away and let it die with her or his body, that would also be totally improper. So long as you realize the value of the knowledge you've been given (and I say given no matter what price you paid for your education) and sincerely intend to become a link in its procession, I see no reason to feel a tinge of guilt at capitalizing on it.

Redzeppelin
12-31-2006, 10:50 AM
Many books in the last decade or so have lamented the almost "mercenary" attitude of many university students - the idea that college is a means to an end (a larger salary) rather than an end unto itself. A university education's most significant advantage is that it changes how one looks at the world; I believe it gives you a "frame" for procesing the world around you, allowing you to "connect the dots" and make meaning that may be less apparent to those who did not choose such a path.

Somewhere I read this quote: Educated people are easy to lead, but hard to manipulate. I like that.

I also agree with Virgil's advice about graduate school. I went back about 6 years after I'd gotten my undergrad degree and had been teaching for a while. Going back was a great experience - and I had a clearer idea of what I wanted my education to do; some of the master's candidates that were going straight in from their undergrad program looked tired, burnt out, and (understandably so) more focused on simply finishing up their long years of school than in the material they were learning. Those of us who were the "middle agers" returning to the university after an absence in the "real world" were motivated, fresh, and excited about being back in class.

Tasartir
01-01-2007, 11:40 AM
I go with the Frank Zappa quote here:
“If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.”
I agree with this quote.
Even though I go to university and do receive some of my education there, I think most of my education and knowledge comes from my own experiences outside of the university campus. Therefore, I agree with Regit, university seems just like one of the steps in the ladder for me, even though I plan to become a bum after it.

Orionsbelt
01-01-2007, 01:14 PM
For the most part, I agree with Virgil. I have raised two sons, so I pondered this issue during the process of their adventures. I have some things to add. These are just thoughts. I was out way too late last night to claim any cohesion.

As a result of the masses of people, the university has become a producer of what I call the great pecking order. HR departments, filled high with applicant data, need some way to be able to favor candidate A over B. In the old days it would have been a bit easier since A and B would Likely have grown up somewhere nearby. So it is correct to say that schools have become "performance oriented". Parents, aware of these things, have helped in that process.

Having said that is not to say that it is worthless. I don't believe that for a second. The best escape from the mayhem may be your ability to think. I think that you need to understand why you are enrolled. School is not the secret path to success. If it was there would be many more beemer's parked in the university faculty lot. If you are looking for points on the salary scale you will have a different approach. Learning something is learning something. In the end it suits your own purpose anyway.

I am extremely concerned with the non-gotta get ahead folks. It seems there are fewer and fewer paths for people who cannot or do not want to go through the great educational separation chamber. School is not for everyone. Saying this out loud usually get lot's of horrible looks.

I think most high school graduates have a great deal of maturing to do so the university setting allows for some needed social development. The down side is that the lack of social development (understanding yourself) also is cause for lots of people to make poor choices. Hence you have lots of people mis-directed. Then, they have spent "their time" and move on into some random place that they find.

I think a better approach would be to have eighteen year olds to move away from home and do some kind of civil of military service for a few years before electing to go to some kind of school. A taste of the world if you will.

Nothing is perfect however. The very rare someone who knows that he/she was made to be a ...... whatever could be held back in this case.

I have to go with "Find something you love to do.... then go do it with abandon." --- I can't remember who said it originally.

Happy New Year everyone. I'm going to refill the coffee mug.:D

Redzeppelin
01-01-2007, 03:57 PM
I go with the Frank Zappa quote here:
“If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.”


I like Frank - he's got some very "Mark Twain-ish moments" and this quotation is one of them. But I can't fully agree. Reading can educate you, but I think it is in interactive discussions (like Lit Net provides) where you learn how to process, evaluate and apply what the books tell you. Ideally, college should engage thoughtful creative minds in intellectual dialogue.

Regit
01-01-2007, 09:33 PM
Thank you for your responses.

Firstly, I will explain my views in a macro sense. I heard somewhere in an interview once, where it was said of the contemporary employment market that when firms require new graduates to have at least two years of working experience, it is almost like, in the process of seeking a wife, to require that your prospective betrothed must have at least two years of experience with men (I know that's actually hard to avoid nowadays :P ). It points at the priority that is given to immediate productivity and at the lack of long-term investment in people. The vigorous labour market does not allow knowledge to be nurtured and develop - it barely allows the education to finish peacefully in the first place. (Admittedly, it is a phenomenon more present in developing countries). I read an article in Jstor yesterday about the abuses of the PhD and, to a lesser extent, other post-graduate degrees. Academic status adds so much to the bargaining power in the employment business that people are simply buying qualification. Not only by literally purchasing it, which is a real problem, but also by being willing to pay for the education and, in effect, increase demand for it. Naturally, Universities supply that increase in demand; and an inevitable decrease in quality of the education follows the increase of the number of students. Like Orionsbelt said: school is not for everybody; yet without going to school, one has less and less chances of getting a job passes each day. So, people who can't go to school, or is less able (referring to the desire to learn as well as capacity for learning) to go to school, must still go to school; and the programmes and requirements are changed and lowered to accommodate such people. Purely vocational courses appear and grading systems are standardised for the purpose of employers. I can't believe that there is no official distinction between a 70% and an 80%, when I know that the difference between them is a mountain of reading. Plato's Academy, arguably the first University in the world, was only for the great minds; and now, a huge percentage of the populations are students. This is for many reasons including the rightful spreading of knowledge to all of society; but one obvious reason is also that the courses have become easier. The education system has become, or has been almost completely consumed by the labour market, serving simply as one of its many suppliers.

To look at all this from the student's point of view; the student is the learner and therefore concerned with the process of learning. And Isn't the ultimate purpose of learning, for the learner, to understand? Why do I learn about the Laws of the UK? Ultimately, so that I can understand the Laws of the UK; not so that I can become a lawyer. I try not to get that mixed up. It is the process of learning that is in question. Similarly to what Tasartir suggested; most people who has finished a degree would know that much more will need to be learnt to have a real understanding of the subject. I am studying Law; last year we had two weeks to cover "US Constitutionalism." It takes me longer than that to read a long novel. I understand that we need to cover many things; yet, the understanding that we gained from those two weeks is so little, it is useless. Some students got by by reading the two-page chapter in the text book, little more than 4 paragraphs. What understanding? What learning? And we have 2 weeks to cover most topics. Yet, work-experience will not compromise. That is one of my problems with the system. It is not that we must also be prepared for employment; it is that we enter and leave the University with it as the only overriding purpose. And governors or education seek to accommodate such mentality. In fact, I will bluntly express my view, without much backing evidence, that most students understand nothing as they leave University. Their functionality is gained from training and work-experience, not their University education. I see students begin applying for jobs in the first summer of their studenthood, when they have barely started their education.

And as for the view that you should know what you want to be before going to University: I don't think that should be expected of the new student. If you force upon a student entering a University the burden of meeting the demands of the labour market or to understand his role in society, you are, in effect, forcing him to choose what to learn and to fully understand the motive of his education before he even starts it. How can a student choose something before learning what it is? Of course, the student can choose what course to take; yet that is very different from choosing what to learn; it is merely the process of narrowing down the options, choosing a direction in which he would pursue his search for knowledge. The job of the teacher is to present him with the source of knowledge and guide him on his quest of exploring its potential; the job of the teacher is not to teach a student to be what he has already chosen to be. I think a student is equipped, through his education, with knowledge, organisation and communication skills, and other tools to help him make better choices.

bo bara
01-13-2007, 11:41 PM
hullo.

my first post so i'll try to make it reasonably good. The role of the university can only be visible if we place it in the context of a society based on wage-labour with a workforce differentiated along many lines, particularly skills. University is a way of reproducing part of the workforce, a skilled section who can ultimately sell their labour power at a greater price than the bulk of the population who aren't able to go to university. (The class divide in access to university is starkly evident in Ireland, even with public third-level education and much more so in countries like America).

As for maturing, well universities are home to some incredibly immature, sexist and homophobic institutions, student societies and so on, which promote a sort of selfish hedonistic lifestyle.

So I'd see students as workers, producing their own labour-power to sell it at a greater cost when they finish. Someone with even an Arts degree is more likely to get a job then someone without, and Science, Business, Law, Engineering etc., all lead to pretty good careers.

In less deterministic terms, I think the questioning in your post is symptomatic of the effect of all of this on individual people. After all, no-one like to think of education as being reduced to a career qualification, it just seems wrong... Education, in theory, affords us infinite possibilities of development, but is quite clear that universities, with their need to attach a percentage to your education do not. But universities are great opportunities as well as all this, they occasionally have smart and interesting people, and have nice big libraries. I guess its just a matter of finding these things in the sea of conformity and careerism. After all, its a hell of a lot better than working :)

Virgil
01-13-2007, 11:53 PM
(The class divide in access to university is starkly evident in Ireland, even with public third-level education and much more so in countries like America).


What are you talking about? Everyone in America has the opportunity to go to college. If you can't pay for it, there are very inexpensive colleges funded by government. And there is all sorts of financial aid that is given to people who can't afford it. If you're not from America, you shouldn't be so presumptious to think you know what it's like here.

bo bara
01-14-2007, 12:18 AM
this is from Americans who I've talked to, career guidance people and so on. How much is inexpensive? I was told that the only way it would be remotely feasible would be through a scholarship, but that these are scarce and difficult to get. I don't think you can pretend class divides in education don't exist. From my own experience, it costs about 800 euro per year in 'fees' to go to 3rd level in Ireland, but that's not the real cost. Accomodation, books, food etc. add up considerably. Certainly in my ex-uni, you rarely heard an inner-city Dublin accent. Then before all that you have to take into account the class differences in secondary level (high-school) and before that.

I think making a blanket statement like 'everyone has a chance' is pretty standard rhetoric which ignores the practical situations of people. If everyone had an equal opportunity, then the class composition would be very different.

Anyway, maybe it would be better not to de-rail. My point is fairly innocuous and simple materialism.

Virgil
01-14-2007, 12:31 AM
Well, the inexpensive colleges, paid for by American tax payer money, are for Americans. I wouldn't expect to get free college in someone else's country. Some tax payer is paying for the college if its free to students. Nothing comes from nothing.

Let me put it clearly: Everyone in America has an opportunity to go to a college. That's my rhetoric and that's reality. There are night classes and weekend classes in some cases. I worked two jobs while going to college full time. Then I got a job after I graduated and went at night while working full time for a Master's degree. Now I'm sure there are family situations which preclude some from attending. But that situation can't be forever. I knew people who worked full time and went at night for their Bachelor's degree. It took them eight years or so, but they did it. Colleges competing for students try to find means to accomodate them. That's called free market enterprise. You should learn about it.

bo bara
01-14-2007, 02:25 PM
hoho.
clearly there are no such things as class divisions, they are merely a figment of some addled brain. this of course is why the States has such massive rates of poverty and illiteracy. great social analysis there.:thumbs_up

you didn't answer my question: how much is inexpensive?

anyway, if you have a problem, try to deal with the most substantive points in the post, ie. the role of the university in wider society.

Jean-Baptiste
01-14-2007, 02:54 PM
I think Virgil is right on this for the most part. Rampant illiteracy in this country is not necessarily the fault of the system; there are numerous no-cost adult-literacy programs available. As for accessibility of higher education, if one goes without it is only because they haven't made the slightest effort to procure the funding and enrole in the programs. You would not believe the amount of advertising that inundates the airwaves here on the topic of education. It seems that everyone wants to educate someone. And the Federal Aid available for such endeavors is certainly sufficient for the demand. There are many low-cost (which I will define as anything that can be afforded by someone with a minimum wage job) financial aid programs. The no-cost programs are somewhat less advertised, but are none-the-less common. Basically, if you go without education in this country it's nobody's fault but your own. The primary school system is a good example, being free/tax supported, and enjoying ridiculous rates of drop-outs. It is the view of education as unnecessary that causes the low rate of literacy--and I don't know how that got into vogue, but it's not the fault of the education system.

Bii
01-14-2007, 04:59 PM
The struggle is not only 'how', but also 'why'.

I see your struggle here but perhaps your problem is not about whether you want a job or to continue your education, but more about the difficulty in taking a step forward in your life. As you are getting closer to graduation it is probably quite natural to become anxious about the future. Having been in some form of formal education for, what, 17-18 years, it is, effectively, all you have ever known. It makes sense that you may experience a degree of fear and trepidation when the time comes when you have to move away from the life you have known, to a life which you don't. The question is, will you be ruled by your fear and remain in your comfort zone (education), or will you take the next step forward and become a contributing member of society?


The steps of life that most of us have taken for granted seem so logical: Highschool - University - Masters(?) - Profession (at least it seems conventional in my mind).

True, it seems logical. Ask yourself this, did you ever consider doing it differently? Are you happy to be lead by social expectation, to follow a path that has been set by others? At what point will you stop following the 'steps' and make your own choices? If education doesn't serve to make you ask these kind of questions then it has probably failed in it's task.


I have at times, in contemplation, refused to spend my education as only the step-ladder to a professional career. I identify the more important (overwhelmingly more important, in fact) tasks of a University career, tasks that would also be passed on to the later stages of life, as trying to understanding the world better and gathering more knowledge with the help of academic tools: to feed my curiosity more systematically and is not to get a job.

This seems a little like a naive point of view. Let me ask you, what is the purpose of knowledge, of gaining understanding, if you do not use this to the greater benefit? If you spend all your life acquiring knowledge or understanding, and it dies with you, what is the purpose of that? Not all jobs are about corporations, money making and greed. There are many, many career choices you can make which would both satisfy and support your need (to understand the world better, gather more knowledge, etc) as well as giving society the benefit of your education. How much knowledge and understanding do you think you will gain if you are always the observer, and never the participator. I appreciate it must be scary, but at some point you must join in, or you'll miss the point. Remember that, even when you have a job, you can still learn and educate yourself. You can return to education after a period of time with the benefit of some life experience, and you'd probably get more out of it then. The problem is, for many people, once they are working they forget, they get lazy and give up. Providing you don't allow that to happen you can have the benefit of both an informal education (life experience) and a formal education. This, in the end, is what will make you a more well rounded person.


Thus, the main question that I pose to the forum is: Considering the factors that I mentioned, what is, to you, the main purpose of the University education; and why?

This is an interesting question. I think there is a vast gulf between what university education should be, and what it actually is. What I think it should be is two-fold, firstly it is a stepping stone, between being a child and an adult. It is a necessary step to take in order to gain more responsibility for yourself, whilst still being in a supportive environment. At 18, I don't think anyone is really ready to decide what they want to do with the rest of their lives, university gives people that opportunity to grow, to learn more about life, and start making those kind of decisions for themselves. The other side to that is that it delays the time when people are ready/willing to make those decisions for themselves, and it makes it too easy for people to continue putting off the inevitible.

The second aspect lies around education, university should be there to provide people with the tools with which to educate and develop themselves. The best teachers are those which point the student in the right direction and let them do the rest. That being said, too often the student thinks the direction they've been pointed to is the bar and once they've found it they go no further than that.

Apologies if this comes across a little harsh, it's not intended to be. If you choose to continue your education then at least ensure you do so for the right reasons. And at least you're thinking about it and questioning, which is a sure sign you're headed in the right direction.

Jean-Baptiste
01-14-2007, 05:08 PM
That is a very insightful post, Bii--and I agree entirely. Nice to meet you. :wave:

summer grace
01-15-2007, 02:36 PM
I think that this is an interesting discussion. I do think that today, people see education, especially higher ( post-secondary education) as just a gateway to making more money. They don't care what they are learning, and don't remember it, they just care about getting their degree, and getting out of there. Granted, they may care about grades, but usually only for the purpose of grades. They don't care what those grades represent. They just think that if they get get good grades, maybe that makes them a better person, or makes people think more highly of them. T

hey just want to get into a job or career, and perhaps not one they even care about. Getting an education to pursue a career you want is one thing. Getting it to have a career that makes you more money is another. And of course, getting an education just for the sake of it is another, forgotten thing. Indeed, the reason more people go to college today as mentioned, is to make more money. Back when you didn't have to do that, or not everyone had the access to it, it was much more accepted to be self made, self educated. Now, whether you know much that you have taught yourself, or learned through life, you still have to have degree this, diploma that to get anywhere.

I see that it is practical, but as well there are other ways to learn things besides in school. Indeed, there are other types of intelligence than the academic, however no one accepts this anymore. But, think of how many well known, famous people in history were self made. Then think of how many idiots you know who have degree this or that. As well, the emphasis on education for money and career purposes only devalues education. People think of literature or history as boring, because they associate it with school. I am interested in both, and when people know this they seem to think it is boring, or they think it's just for school, if I check out some book about a serious subject from a library. I say no, I actually like to read this. They are surprised, especially when I was like 14 and checked out such books. I'm 20 now.

In short, I think that the role of the university is to give people some actual education not just a degree or whatever and that they need to look into what that really means. People should think about why they go to college, and come up with a better reason than they want to make more money, or everyone else is going, and there is nothing else to do, because it is only way to get a decent job. I do think universities are good places to grow up and mature, but if the education below that was different, maybe they would not be such idiots when they got to college. I think people learn more through reading on their own ( academic knowledge) or through life experience such as having a job
( practical knowledge) than they ever do in a classroom, unless they are there for the right reasons, and the teaching is good. I think the role of universities really needs to change.

Regit
01-17-2007, 11:53 PM
I see your struggle here but perhaps your problem is not about whether you want a job or to continue your education, but more about the difficulty in taking a step forward in your life. Forgive me, but it appears not so. What I am concerned with in this discussion is not whether I want a job or continue with my education; nor is it about the personal difficulty in taking a forward step in the sense that you described it (I don't recall expressing such ideas). You seem to have misunderstood my post in this point. When I wrote "the question is not only 'how', but also 'why'; it was my intention by this to draw focus to the 'why' part in developing my argument. Be it that 'how' is indeed a personal struggle, yet not one that I wish to address here, as I hope my aforesaid explanations have made clear.



This seems a little like a naive point of view. Let me ask you, what is the purpose of knowledge, of gaining understanding, if you do not use this to the greater benefit? If you spend all your life acquiring knowledge or understanding, and it dies with you, what is the purpose of that? Not all jobs are about corporations, money making and greed. There are many, many career choices you can make which would both satisfy and support your need (to understand the world better, gather more knowledge, etc) as well as giving society the benefit of your education. How much knowledge and understanding do you think you will gain if you are always the observer, and never the participator. I appreciate it must be scary, but at some point you must join in, or you'll miss the point. Remember that, even when you have a job, you can still learn and educate yourself. You can return to education after a period of time with the benefit of some life experience, and you'd probably get more out of it then. The problem is, for many people, once they are working they forget, they get lazy and give up. Providing you don't allow that to happen you can have the benefit of both an informal education (life experience) and a formal education. This, in the end, is what will make you a more well rounded person. I find many points here useful. Thank you. I understand that my original argument neglected to mention the relationship between attaining knowledge and applying it, having only addressed the struggles of the former process. Yet this is because I feel it is a problem worthy of investigation on it own and because I try to make a clear distinction between the two. In this sense you have once again missed my point. You asked "What is the purpose of knowledge?", yet my arguments were in answering "what is the purpose of education?" (a question that you have later answered) Thus, it was inevitable that my arguments seemed lacking to your question. They are two very different questions. The purpose of knowledge is vast indeed, but different from the purpose of education. Do you deny that the process of education is, for the student, the process of learning; and thus, the purpose of education, which is for the learner the process of learning, is to understand? Thus the purpose of my education is to attain true, or at least in-depth understanding. But what the purpose of that understanding is is an entirely different discussion, one I would gladly discuss with you elsewhere. I hope I have explained myself clearly.


However, you have indeed addressed my main question:

This is an interesting question. I think there is a vast gulf between what university education should be, and what it actually is. What I think it should be is two-fold, firstly it is a stepping stone, between being a child and an adult. It is a necessary step to take in order to gain more responsibility for yourself, whilst still being in a supportive environment. At 18, I don't think anyone is really ready to decide what they want to do with the rest of their lives, university gives people that opportunity to grow, to learn more about life, and start making those kind of decisions for themselves. The other side to that is that it delays the time when people are ready/willing to make those decisions for themselves, and it makes it too easy for people to continue putting off the inevitible.

The second aspect lies around education, university should be there to provide people with the tools with which to educate and develop themselves. The best teachers are those which point the student in the right direction and let them do the rest. That being said, too often the student thinks the direction they've been pointed to is the bar and once they've found it they go no further than that.. I agree with many of your points; I think have expressed some similar arguments in my second post in this thread. There are a few issues that I feel are still mixed up with other matters, in the manner that I described above; but please give my second post a read; it may be explain more satisfactorily where I am coming from. Then, perhaps I can have the pleasure of discussing this with you further.


Apologies if this comes across a little harsh, it's not intended to be. Please be reassured that the intention of your reply was not misunderstood. I see the good will of your answer, as indeed the effort that you have put into it; I found it extremely useful. Many thanks.

subterranean
01-18-2007, 08:47 PM
I think the problem is much clearer in some of the developing countries, where universities are almost like factories producing made-to-order workforce by the demand of the labour market.

Agree. These days, in my country, I see more and more commercialization of educational institution; universities offering degrees (esp. master degree) within short time of completion, very "affordable" tuition fees and flexible studying hours. Those things are trade off for the quality of the education given. Less number of people studying Anthropology, Criminology, or even Sociology because of the opinion that those subjects don’t give promising future (read: job with high salary). This is, of course, a dilemma as good education is not cheap and people who are willing to pay more expect that they’d also gain more after they graduated. I personally think that university should play the role as generator for improvement and development of the society. But somehow, university’s role got twisted like spending money to do research on stuffs with results that are impractical to be applied in society or even worst, doesn’t have any point to answers society’s problems. To make it worst, many students (not all) study for the sake of grades only, because companies love graduates with high GPA.


That is one of my problems with the system. It is not that we must also be prepared for employment; it is that we enter and leave the University with it as the only overriding purpose. And governors or education seek to accommodate such mentality. In fact, I will bluntly express my view, without much backing evidence, that most students understand nothing as they leave University. Their functionality is gained from training and work-experience, not their University education. I see students begin applying for jobs in the first summer of their studenthood, when they have barely started their education

I personally think that it is somehow depends with what type of education you choose. I mean, I won’t choose bachelor degree if I want to have practical skills and knowledge and I’d enroll to diploma program or technical school instead. On the other hand, if I want to be good in theory and more conceptual stuffs, I’d choose the bachelor degree path and then master degree, doctorate and so on. This is what my personal experience showed me, which align with your opinion. I studied International Relations, which is completely stuffed with theories and concepts, yet I end up working in multinational company. Yes, I can see that some of the concepts of political economy I learned are materialized, but they don’t have anything to do with my day to day work. I can’t use much out of them. All skills related to my work now are purely gained from self learning since I joined the company. But I personally don’t blame the university in this case.

AimusSage
01-18-2007, 09:05 PM
The thing I learned is that you can get by with minimal effort, but anything less will get you expelled.

Another factor I doubt is the whole educational factor, I learn more in one day at the job than I could ever learn while in a room listening to a professor talk about macro economics, or whatever would be the current topic.

Having said that, I quit enjoy doing what I do... somewhat... I guess... :) At least sometimes, but I still don't care about the whole graduation idea. That piece of paper is not going to make me smarter, the only thing it will do is show future employers I might have a little spark of intelligence.

So, I'm sure all of this has been mentioned before, but I don't give a hoot, not today I don't.

Bii
01-21-2007, 05:33 PM
Hi Regit.
I'm glad you found my post useful, even if I did slightly alter the focus of your original question! I think my confusion arises out of a difference of interpretation over the term 'education'. I am under the impression, perhaps wrongly, but based on the emphasis of your question, that education for you is something associated with a formal institution whereas this is not the case for me. From my experience, education extends beyond the boundaries of universities and, if anything, the potential for education becomes greater outside the university forum because, whilst universities appear to focus on the acquisition of knowledge, outside of university the focus is more about the development of experience, as experience is more likely to develop into understanding (this is a bit of a sweeping statement, I'm not sure everyone will agree with!).

I was interested in the following point which you raised:


Do you deny that the process of education is, for the student, the process of learning; and thus, the purpose of education, which is for the learner the process of learning, is to understand? Thus the purpose of my education is to attain true, or at least in-depth understanding.

I think you have a fair point here. I think the difficulty for me in this argument is that I feel it is unlikely that a university education can actually provide understanding. My perception of the purpose of universities is to develop knowledge rather than understanding, although in some cases knowledge will result in understanding. That being said, I do agree with you in principle, the purpose of education is to gain understanding, albeit that the way this is approached in formal institutions (school/university) often misses the point.

If it means anything, I believe you are already well on your way to attaining 'understanding' by the very act of questioning the purpose of what the universities provide. You are right in saying that most students approach university as something to get through on the way to a better job, regrettably that is what society at the moment seems to expect.

Unfortunately the failure to deliver an education appears to be increasingly prevalent in all educational institutions. It appears, for example, that the purpose of my sons school is to get him in and out with the minimal of fuss (he gets more rewards for quietness than for attainment), and with the ability to pass a specific exam, which will make the school look good in the league tables. The focus doesn't seem to be on giving him the knowledge, skills and experience which will help him gain understanding as he grows older. In fact, if anything, they prefer to quash children with questioning natures as they are perceived to be 'difficult'. This does not appear to be the fault of the teachers, but rather of the system they have to operate within, but that being said the point is still missed and the only chance most children have of gaining a decent education lies with their parents, assuming the parents have the skills to deliver it, which many don't.