“In debates here over teacher evaluation and the testing of student skills, what has been lost is the question of the very substance of education. I have long thought that there is a quiet conspiracy at work to reduce education to training—to generate students who have the skills to get a job rather than the historical perspective or theoretical detachment to criticize authority.It’s a commonplace that knowledge is power, and the emptying-out of classroom substance in favor of abstract and deployable abilities is a terrifyingly surreptitious way of shifting the balance away from the individual.” - Postscript by Richard Brody in Glad To Be Unhappy : The French Case
This is (almost) the exact sentiment I have about our college education. The university was founded upon the social sciences/humanities and yet we continue to spur them in favor of technical courses - and we are encouraged by our peers to do so. You’d often hear “What’s the point?” “It won’t even boost your resume…” “The minor doesn’t even show up on the transcript!” when it comes to taking a supplementary philosophy, sociology or history class. I feel this kind of education is invaluable for our lives and I encourage everyone to get out of this “technical school” approach to college. This might be a personal thing but, how can one do good technical work without seeking to understand it’s bigger implications on society?
Regarding the bolded text above, I don’t feel education’s sole purpose is to learn how to criticize authority, though it’s obviously really important. (It’s one of the main focuses in the linked article, hence its inclusion in the quote) I take courses in the social sciences to better understand humanity, our nature and the human condition. I am a firm believer that any solution I will have to come up with in the future will ultimately have to address, to a certain extent, the human condition. To do so adequately will mean I have to have a proper and thorough understanding of it.
In general, the social sciences and the humanities probe us to actually give thought about our work and our lives. Therefore, it supports greater meaning in our work/lives, supplements our reasoning and enables us to criticize authority. As humans, we are given this capacity. As students, we are given the resources. Let us not take it for granted.
AC (article credit hahah): Patricia Mou