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Education Is Good for Everyone

At the time of this writing, there’s a big backlash forming against higher ed. America, the greatest land of educators in the world, has moved away from the push to get every breathing student into college and is beginning to embrace the idea that college is not right for everyone. (That’s true, by the way.)

But it’s true because college can be a God-awful waste of money, especially these days. It is absolutely not worth $200,000 to send little Johnny to school so he can come back and work on the farm for the rest of his life. No. Ditto with lots of the trades… no sense in paying so much money just to be an electrician that has a surprisingly strong grasp of contemporary English literature (though if such an electrician exists, I bet he or she is really interesting and probably a great tradesman). Plus, if you’re destined for a trade like that, college can be a waste of time too… that’s four years where you won’t be earning any money and your peers will be getting the skills they need to be better at their life’s calling.

All that being said, education itself — without its crazy costs and baggage — is a boon for every living person. That’s my belief anyway. Learning gives you a sense of… fill in the blank: identity, history, compassion, place, culture, and on and on. Plus, the broad goal of any institution of higher ed is to teach people how to think critically. I fail to see how anyone couldn’t benefit from that.

Not to mention, learning is literally good for your brain the same way exercise is good for body. That noggin of yours is a muscle, in a sense, that needs to get put through the paces often, lest it turns to mush. This is why people who watch too much television tend to intellectually fall behind, to put it nicely.

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© 2012, Ian Mathias

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