learn · pop culture

education for the masses


This is the real revolution, folks.

The idea of FREE education is not new by any means. From “ancient” times when kids would leave their homes at very young ages, like 12 or something (I mean as opposed to like 32 or something) and go be an apprentice at some shop to learn a trade, education is a construct that says you don’t know this and you should.

Some where along the line, education became this stuck-up pretentious treatise on what the high and mighty know as opposed to what real people with day jobs and night jobs and in between jobs know. Like OMG you don’t know who <insert snooty person’s idea of ultimate literary figure here> is? Were you raised in a <insert snooty person’s idea of a bad place to be raise here>… (i like barn because it makes me lol because it’s so ridiculous)?

I remember a book coming out oh eons ago now (actually when I was in high school which is slightly less than an eon) called CULTURAL LITERACY: What Every American Needs to Know by E.D. Hirsch, Jr.  The book was based on this idea that as a society, we have collectively gained this knowledge and through it we have created a better country and world and this equals “cultural literacy.”

This is just one small, very small, example of some dude (some old white dude I might add) telling us that this is the pinnacle of knowledge, in this area at least, and that a standard can, and probably should, be established.

Now I would venture to say, from what I’ve read and heard about Dr. Hirsch, that he wouldnt’ go so far as to say that if you don’t know every fact of his 5,000 facts that you are uneducated. He actually has written other works about education in our country and its failure to knowledgeable productive citizens – which is nothing short of irony from a professor at Yale.

To be sure, we have this basic idea that you need to read and write. You need to be able to count your money (unless you’re sittin’ at the table) and you should have a general sense of direction – not in life. Like on a map.

But beyond that, education becomes very flexible and therefore flawed. There was a recent study done by <insert name of journal I cant think of> which polled graduates of 2-year associates’ programs and 4-yr bachelors’ programs to see what they were doing and how much they were paid. The big surprise (to whomever it was a big surprise) was that many 2-yr graduates were making more money and rising up faster in their careers. They attributed this partly to the fact that the 2-yr grads had usually worked a day job or two while going to classes at night and gained more real world experience making them more desirable in the job market. Not to mention that grads from 4-yr programs came out with a *buttload of debt.

*Editor’s Note: according to Wikipedia: The butt (from the medieval French and Italian botte) or pipe is an old English unit of wine casks, holding two hogsheads (approximately 475 to 480 litres). Feel educated? (Personally I always thought it was some kind of cussword… now I feel all boring again.)

So though I don’t really have a very specific point to all this rambling, I do feel like the general process of education has turned on its head yet again, coming full circle to what it was once upon a time in a far away kingdom. Between homeschooling coming to the mainstream (it’s not just for the Amish!) and the plethora of programs tailored for “adult” education (it’s not just for the Amish either!) education is more available than ever.

Or is it?

Some, not just the upstanding citizens of the Occupy Movement, would argue that education is a major obstacle and that the exorbitant cost of a good education is prohibitive to the lower class who can’t even afford a good pair of shoes that will get them across from the wrong side of the tracks to campus.

On the flip side of that you have people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who never finished college (which just goes to prove it’s mostly an exercise in futility) and that you make yourself what you can on your own two feet.

Thing is for every person you mention who “made” it one way, you can name someone else who took the opposite path. I think the point is that there is no one path – no one size fits all – and that a society based on education “levels” and a canon of knowledge is just not the kind of society I really gel with. I wish there were more institutions that take this approach that hey, learn everything you can and we’ll help you learn. You don’t even NEED a degree from us. Just use what we can give you and try to make something of it.

aka live long and prosper. and stuff.

oh and try to use correct punctuation capitalize when appropriate. cuz otherwise you look dumb.


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