What’s the point of going to uni?

11 10 2006

Here is a philosophy of education that you are unlikely to encounter in current debates, particular from those in the Bishop camp. It’s so old-school, it’s so Dead Poet’s Society and it’s so spot-on!

A job is nice. So is political power, a fancy chariot, hangers-on. But you can have all these things and still not be happy or fulfilled. And, if your happiness depends on having such things, you’re pretty vulnerable to sudden reversals.

So how can a human find fulfillment that isn’t all about having lots of stuff, or a high-paying job, or a top-rated sit-com?

Well, what do you have that’s really yours? What is the piece of your life that no one can take away?

You have your mind. You have the ability to think about things, to experience the world, to decide what matters to you and how you want to pursue it. You have your sense of curiousity and wonder when you encounter something new and unexpected, and your sense of satisfaction when you figure something out. You have the power to imagine ways the world could be different. You even have the ability (the responsibility?) to try to make the world different.

This is what I think a college education should give you: lots of hands-on experience using your mind so you know different ways you can think about things and you start to figure out what you care about.

The extent to which one can still acquire such an education in modern Australian universities is an open question. But curiousity, wonder, the ability to think, the power to imagine and effect change . . . can you really get all that “workin’ up th’ mines,” or climbing through the ranks of retail management?

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