Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Actually, as we know, the new commercial education is fun for everybody. All you have to do in order to have or to provide such an education is to pay your money (in advance) and master a few simple truths:

I. Educated people are more valuable than other people because education is a value-adding industry.

II. Educated people are better than other people because education improves people and makes them good.

III. The purpose of education is to make people able to earn more and more money.

IV. The place where education is to be used is called "your career."

V. Anything that cannot be weighed, measured, or counted does not exist.

VI. The so-called humanities probably do not exist. But if they do, they are useless. But whether they exist or not or are useful or not, they can sometimes be made to support a career.

VII. Literacy does not involve knowing the meanings of words, or learning grammar, or reading books.

VIII. The sign of exceptionally smart people is that they speak a language that is intelligible only to other people in their "field" or only to themselves. This is very impressive and is known as "professionalism."

IX. The smartest and most educated people are the scientists, for they have already found solutions to all our problems and will soon find solutions to all the problems resulting from their solutions to all the problems we used to have.

X. The mark of a good teacher is that he or she spends most of his or her time doing research and writes many books and articles.

XI The mark of a good researcher is the same as that of a good teacher.

XII. A great university has many computers, a lot of government and corporation research contracts, a winning team, and more administrators than teachers.

XIII. Computers make people even better and smarter than they were made by previous thingamabobs Or if some people prove incorrigibly wicked or stupid or both, computers will at least speed them up.

XIV. The main thing is, don't let education get in the way of being nice to children. Children are our Future. Spend plenty of money on them but don't stay home with them and get in their way. Don't give them work to do; they are smart and can think up things to do on their own. Don't teach them any of that awful, stultifying, repressive, old-fashioned morality. Provide plenty of TV, microwave dinners, day care, computers, computer games, cars. For all this, they will love and respect us and be glad to grow up and pay our debts.

XV. A good school is a big school.

XVI. Disarm the children before you let them in.

[Wendell Berry, from Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community]

OU is certainly not immune to the new commercial education about which Wendell Berry writes. The school is more like a fine model of this "education". I put the word in scare quotes only because properly speaking much of what OU offers has nothing to do with education. The word comes from the Latin "educare" which means to "bring up, to rear, to train" and is analogous to Greek notion of παιδεία or to the Proverbs' injunction, "Bring up a child in the way he should go." Primarily education has little to do with resume-building or preparing for professional school, but rather it is "the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another," in the words of Chesterton.

Of course to mention these things to the administrators at a university such as this would garner little more than blank stares or disdain. This university is obviously interested in the efficient production of graduates who will settle into careers that fit the needs of those who keep our fine endowment growing. It is merely an added benefit but not the foremost goal if, alone the way, students ask important questions about life and receive some sort of culture.

A few observations: rules III, IV, and XV are taken for granted; rule X and XI are orthodoxy for this research university; rule XIII has taken over the library where more people stare at screens than read books; rule VII has set the agenda for English composition courses in which grammar is superfluous.


Post a Comment