The use of “useless” education

As I was growing up, influenced by the charm and success of Indiana Jones, I wanted to become an archaeologist. Making my way through spider webs, mud and stale air seemed to be an injection of adrenaline that just the thought of it, made me day-dream and stay sleepless for nights and nights…Until I had to make the choice of University. Then logic, realism and focus on studying something “useful”, also known as “parents’ advice” kicked in and I applied and got accepted to a business School to study Business Administration. And surprise, I liked it! After 4 years of some brainwashing and a lot of theory I graduated aspiring to join a great multinational company. And I did. Just before though, I had the chance to dig a bit more to what drives me, what excites me and what I love. After a break, several doubtful days, stress and discomfort I found the place where I feel in peace. And I decided to study it, too. From BA to Educational Leadership, trying to combine my practical mind with these questions that have no single answer and probably the effort to answer them is more important than the answer itself.

Aristotle believed that the same ideas return in people’s minds not once or twice but over and over again. This explains not only that the same ideas appear in different areas of the world simultaneously but also that they recur. Like liberal arts education and the fact that they have returned dynamically in Colleges around the world. A brilliant recent article in Times Higher Education does a very interesting historical run through on how this idea has evolved over the past years. Connecting the usage of liberal arts education with the employability question, it mentions:

Is it really the case that employers recruiting for generalist graduate jobs seek subject specialist knowledge above all else? Or is it rather that they seek lively, enquiring minds, able to set out on yet-to-be defined paths, not knowing where they will lead but having faith in the process and having the skills to communicate this to others?

I would say that they may ask for both but in the long-run, the second one would become more “beneficial” for the organization’s purpose and plan. If you ask me, I would go with the second option straight away. In the end of the day, in my view, the ability to learn is greater than to know.

I could quote many more parts of the above article, but I will stick to the following:

Freedom is to learn. Meaning both that freedom requires open and unrestricted learning and that freedom always remains something to be learned.

…if we are asked who might want to study liberal arts, we do not think first and foremost of subjects studied at A level. Instead we believe that our programme speaks to the mind that hears the bigger questions that formal curricula and subject disciplines imply but often suppress; to the heart that cares but suffers in caring; to the activist who finds only political impasse; to the soul that knows there is something more but not where it is or how to look for it; to the religious mind that is not sure; and to the certain mind that is not religious.

Point is, there is not one way OR the other. Like all things in life, there are ways to mix, to put salt and pepper, to make it sweet and sour, to educate people to be knowledgeable, experts AND curious, caring and reflective on their role in the community.

What do you think?

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