Bourgeois Deviant

Monday, September 19, 2005

Incurious

This past weekend, the wife and I went to our alma mater’s homecoming weekend. Friends were well met, drinks were imbibed, food consumed, football watched and good times were had by all. Strolling around the bucolic campus, I marveled at how great the place looked. At that particular moment, I was walking with a member of my family and explored the question of whether the place matched the student body. Upon blue-skying this a bit further, I arrived at the logical but uninformed conclusion that the student body didn’t deserve the place. This is not to imply that there was a chasm of incongruity, but given the caliber of students that go there now, it really didn’t seem to line up.

I am no righteous tee totaling person that loves to point the finger at the (i or)amorality of young life. I threw down in my day and even threw down this last weekend (inasmuch as I still could). It is great to let your hair down. However, I couldn’t help but notice that the campus, for the most part, was devoid of student life despite a plethora of activity available. Sure it is a small school. Sure it is located in the middle of nowhere PA. And yes, it is a dry campus. That certainly adds to the lame factor. (Mind you, not while I was there) But the last time I checked, weren’t institutions of higher education supposed to be for and about the learning?

I have my various bones to pick with the current state of American higher education, but that is not the point I wish to explore. Of the dozen or so students that I spoke with, and of the many more college age people that I have encountered over the last several years, it has been my unsettling observation that most of these kids are incurious. They aren’t enthused about what they are studying. Granted, someone getting an accounting degree doesn’t have a heck of a lot to get jazzed over, but hear me out.

I rode out the first three years of schooling there maximizing on my strengths and dodging my weaknesses. The basic ethos was to get through and do well. However, despite finding at least mild interest in most classes and love within my major, living the life was the priority. I was amazed then, as I am now at how career driven University life was and presently is. It didn’t bother me until I did a year study abroad at a U.K. University. Not only were the students eating, sleeping and breathing their coursework, they loved it and it WAS their life. And we’re not talking about nerds here either. These were the cool folks.

Sure the academic structure of their lessons was a bit different. However, a professor I had said it best. When I asked him how he graded, he replied “What does that matter? Marks don’t mean anything.” He went on to impart that they were technicalities designed to thin the academic herd. If you were meant to be in University and you were dedicated to the learning, you would involuntarily do well. Grades were meant to be a test of your determination. This may be a bit idealistic, but I think that professor was right, for the most part.

How many people do you know that actually love their job? How many people do you know that went to school to get that job? Now, how many people out of that bunch just do it for the money? I know I am reaching, but try and leap with me here. These kids I have spoken with that love to party (as we all do) and are getting degrees to get jobs that facilitate that. There isn’t really anything blatantly wrong with this; however it speaks to shallowness within society. Maybe this is not widespread, but certainly an increasing trend. I don’t have access to the stats, but how many universities are increasing their amenities to appeal to and draw more students? How many colleges and universities have an ever present if not growing problem with alcohol? These are all loose points, but they suggest a trend to me that a college education is not what it once was. Indeed, it may have well been the latter for longer than we care to admit.

Are colleges and institutions aiding hegemony in America?

Think about it. Why do kids go to college? To get a good job. How difficult is that getting to be in our country? Darn'd difficult. What is more important to you: Aristotle’s Poetics or taking the CPA’s exam? Feel free to add similar and/or related questions.

I don’t write this to disparage anyone or anything. It is just something that has been stewing in my ever meandering mind. These are all just loosely strung together thoughts throughout my work day. Take them for what you will.

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4 Comments:

  • I’m 21 and have accumulated about 50 hours in college. The first 2 years of academics at college are all bullshit made to "weed out the weak ones" You wonder why people are incurious its because of this crap. By the time we get through the general education classes were sick of the school and the education BS they are feeding. My major is business management/entrepreneurship. Tell me why i need to take a principals of science, world literature music appreciation, intro to world civilizations and america since 1890. I learned all this in High School and frankly its a waste of my tuition money and time. Im finally in my major classes and lovin' every minute of it. If it wernt for those classes i would have my degree by now.

    By Anonymous Picks357 - Mike, at Monday, September 19, 2005 4:56:00 PM  

  • Dude, I'm with you. I just wrote about this myself, though I confess I did not give it as much deep thought as you did. Something is definitely going on with these kids today, eh? Your words "Devoid of Student Life" -- could not have summed it up better. It was good to see you and the missus at least.

    By Blogger Martha Who?, at Monday, September 19, 2005 9:23:00 PM  

  • I'm glad I got out when I did. The terms of my departure weren't quite what I had hoped them to be, but I know leaving was the smart thing to do. It took me 2.5 years to realize that I was wasting money and going to get very little in return for such an investment. My job now has nothing, NOTHING to do with what I was studying in school. And I love it. Wouldn't trade it for anyting but a pony. I don't think I would have been in the right place @ the right time if I had suffered through all the way to graduation.

    By Anonymous Dann Brown, at Tuesday, September 20, 2005 11:57:00 AM  

  • On a somewhat related note, perhaps you might be interested in this book.

    By Anonymous Dann Brown, at Tuesday, September 20, 2005 5:56:00 PM  

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