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Another kind of narrow…

I came across an article the other day that queried the relevance of degrees in the modern job market. This annoyed me for two main reasons:

1. The notion that education can be measured by economic impact, something which is not constant in terms of what defines it.

2. That this was a good guiding principle for shaping the education system.

Not everyone fits into this mould, and just because this is what a society seems to prize right now, it does not mean that it always will, nor that it should.

A mind that is grown and nurtured by a good education will be adaptable, but not one grown, chiselled, and moulded to a perceived relevance defined by a narrow view of importance.

Another article said the ‘old’ narrow system needed replacing with more relevance entrepreneurial qualities that were more modern. Two objection: firstly, not everyone will be en entrepreneur, society cannot be healthily or naturally composed of one type of individual; secondly, the qualities described, creative, critical, reflective, and adaptive thinking, were hardly exclusive to the entrepreneur. Whilst I agree that these could receive greater emphasis in education, I strongly disagree that this is about channeling economically impactful individuals.

I think these skills matter because that it what enables humans to flourish: to grow in their ability to enjoy learning, reflect on what matters, interact respectfully with their fellows, and be ready to deal with a highly changeable world, yet discover their own talents, be proud of these, and develop as adults with a sense of inner confidence, calm, kindness, and tolerance. Surely, that matters more than economic impact?

What is sad (and, yes, here comes the Classical message) is that this mistake has been made over and over again. Why? Well, that is the subject of another article, but one reason is I think a mistaken belief in improvement and advancement that just creates a new ‘narrow’ guiding principle masked with the label of ‘moving on’. Nor is it necessarily deliberate. Human beings have often fallen into this trap.

A very wise thinker once warned his fellows that they should take care of their own selves and souls; to discover what truly mattered and love accordingly to the best of their ability; to learn that true happiness lay in discovering this, not in crowns and glory. He meant of course wisdom and goodness, cutting out the narrowly conceived ‘importance’ that tore societies apart. Helping them see this had become his life’s work. Sadly, he was given a cocktail of hemlock for his efforts.

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