What D’Ya Know

Swinging on a Star
Dave Van Ronk

What D’Ya Know

The song suggests that it is important to get an education; that going to school is a valuable thing. But what does it mean to go to school, to get an education? When we call a person educated what does that mean? Is there value in learning for the sake of learning or does the material we learn and study have to have a practical application; must it be “good for something”?

When I was young I was curious. I wanted to know about things, to think about things, and that curiosity affected the choices I made. It didn’t help me stay in college when I left high school because I had difficulty with the discipline of studying things that did not particularly interest me at the time. I was madly curious about what interested me but had little interest in learning what did not interest me. In my first years of college this lack of interest often had more to do with presentation than with the content of the discipline. I have always been curious about physics, for example, though not particularly good at it; my father after all worked in the aerospace industry and I looked at speculative NASA drawings of spacecraft from a very young age. Granted this had more to do with science fiction perhaps than with actual physics but the science behind those drawings fascinated me as well. Why was the lunar module shaped the way it was, why did the early space capsules return from space “backwards”?

College physics, though, did not capture my interest, in large part because I had difficulty following it. Still, later in my college career I took a course in physics that used science fiction to teach physics and I had a much easier time, though the course did not have nearly the depth of the more traditional physics course I took earlier. I grew up a bit in the few years I spent away from college. I stayed curious, I found things out on my own, and learned quite a bit, some from travel and some from reading. When I returned to college I was more disciplined and had an easier time managing courses I had to take but did not want to take.

Painting of Averroes

Averroes, detail of the fourteenth-century Florentine artist Andrea Bonaiuto’s Triunfo de Santo Tom├ís.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AverroesColor.jpg

So, what is the point of this? Only that there are some that delight in scholarship for its own sake, a perhaps intellectual variation on the “art for art’s sale” movement, though both art and study involve the intellect. The painting above is of Averroes, an Islamic scholar of the 12th century. He is among the Arabic philosophers that are responsible for preserving the work of Aristotle that had largely become lost to European scholars. The work of Averroes and his Jewish contemporary Maimonides were largely responsible for reintroducing Aristotle to Europe. Averroes was, it appears to me because of the depth and breadth of his interests, a man who took a certain delight in scholarship and study. I cannot know this of course, but he wrote on issues of psychology, music, philosophy, law, politics, physics, well you get the idea. If he did not enjoy study he was probably not a happy man.

Title Page to Guide for the Perplexed

Title page The Guide for the Perplexed by Maimonides
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Guide_for_the_Perplexed_by_Maimonides.jpg

Averroes’ contemporary Maimonides also was a man greatly devoted to learning, but I find him attractive largely because of the name he gave his most well known book The Guide for the Perplexed. It is not an easy book to read, or at least it wasn’t for me, but because I identify so well the state of perplexity I found the title quite attractive. Like Averroes he wrote mainly as a religious writer, Averroes was an Islamic thinker and Maimonides a Jewish thinker. They lived at a time where philosophers of both faiths influenced each other’s thinking. Scholars can be as competitive as athletes when it comes to ideas and their development so it would not be fair to say that a shared commitment to thought can overcome the violent urges some cultures have to eradicate each other, but I like to think shared pursuits, like study can alleviate cultural hostilities.

Omar Khayyam was a Persian and lived about a century before Averroes and Maimonides and is known mostly as a poet of four line poems called rubaiyats (his book of poetry was translated as The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam). He made significant contributions to the study of Algebra but what I like is his story. He and two of his friends had a teacher who went on to a position of leadership in the government; he became Vizier. Omar and one of his schoolmates wanted their teacher to share his good fortune with them. Omar’s friend was given a position of leadership in the government. This friend’s ambition got him in trouble and he was eventually executed. Omar on the other hand just wanted a stipend so that he could devote his time to study. He received his stipend and free from ambitions to power lived out his days rather peaceably. Though the story is probably not true, I like it because the life Omar chose in the story seems desirable to me.

All of these thoughts about scholars and scholarship were provoked by a blog article I read this week “Oh, and You Have a Degree Too” by Will Richardson. The article debated the importance that today’s culture places on getting a college education. The ideas expressed and the concerns that are at the heart of the article are, I think, legitimate but it also suggests that college is largely a place students go to learn a valuable trade, a skill that will provide a meaningful income, certainly not something to be discouraged in these economic times.

Portrait of Cardinal Newman

John Henry Newman, when he preached his first sermon in Over Worton Church on 23 June 1824
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:J-h-newman.jpg

This discussion of what a university should be is an old one. John Henry Cardinal Newman and T. H. Huxley articulated two views of the university and the kind of education it ought to provide; Newman seeing the university as a place where students pursued a wide variety of academic disciplines while Huxley argued for an institution that offered more specialized training. Newman defended the traditional liberal arts education. Newman thought:

In the combination of colours, very different effects are produced by a difference in their selection and juxtaposition; red, green, and white, change their shades, according to the contrast to which they are submitted. And, in like manner, the drift and meaning of a branch of knowledge varies with the company in which it is introduced to the student. If his reading is confined simply to one subject, however such division of labour may favour the advancement of a particular pursuit, a point into which I do not here enter, certainly it has a tendency to contract his mind. If it is incorporated with others, it depends on those others as to the kind of influence which it exerts upon him. (Newman, The Idea of a University)

He thought that our understanding of a subject was shaped to a certain degree by the other things studied alongside that subject. That for him was the value of the liberal arts education, that no discipline was studied in isolation. The scientist was also well schooled in music and poetry and the poet was also well schooled in science. As a result both the scientist and the poet saw the larger world that lived alongside their specialized pursuits. This knowledge enriched, enlarged, and shaped the understanding of each for their chosen discipline.

Caricature of T. H. Huxley

Chromolithograph of Thomas Henry Huxley in Vanity Fair
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TH_Huxley_41.5_KB.jpg

Huxley on the other hand felt that the general studies were the province of a student’s secondary education; that students entered the university with a basic foundation in the liberal arts and that the university was the place were specialization should take place. Huxley was not bothered much by the university as a technical school and saw that as part of its mission, though his idea of a technical school and ours are very different creatures.

It is obviously impossible that any student should pass through the whole of the series of courses of instruction offered by a university. If a degree is to be conferred as a mark of proficiency in knowledge, it must be given on the ground that the candidate is proficient in a certain fraction of those studies; and then will arise the necessity of insuring an equivalency of degrees, so that the course by which a degree is obtained shall mark approximately an equal amount of labour and of acquirements, in all cases. But this equivalency can hardly be secured in any other way than by prescribing a series of definite lines of study. This is a matter which will require grave consideration. The important points to bear in mind, I think, are that there should not be too many subjects in the curriculum, and that the aim should be the attainment of thorough and sound knowledge of each. (Huxley, “Address on University Education”)

Huxley does not think there is enough time in the day for students master both a discipline that will become the cornerstone of a career and to learn anything significant about the other disciplines that form the program of studies offered by a university. The purpose of a degree is to verify that a discipline has been mastered and that someone holding the degree whether it is in English or Mathematics has mastered that discipline.

I have always been most attracted to Newman’s idea of a university education but, especially in these times where the body of knowledge that can be learned is so large, Huxley’s view is certainly not without merit. It was said of John Milton that he read every book that was available in print at the time he lived. I do not know if this is true, and I imagine if it is that it was probably only true of books available in Europe. Still, the story illustrates how the body of available knowledge has grown. That the story was told and believed suggests that for Milton the story was credible. Could such a story be seen as credible if it were told of some scholar today? Probably not.

Not on the Test
John Forster and Tom Chapin

This video captures what I think is a problem with the focus of much of modern education. Whatever the limits to what we are capable of learning may be, those limits cannot be tested by an educational system that places more emphasis on rote learning than on understanding concepts and developing the minds ability to understand and solve problems. The song suggests that all standardized tests are more concerned with what can be remembered than with what is actually understood. As an English teacher it is more important to me that a student can use an adjective properly than be able to tell me what an adjective is. Obviously, there is value to being able to do both, but it is more important to be able to write a good sentence than define the parts of speech. I am not sure all standardized tests are limited in this way, though I do think many are.

Tests, no matter how well they are constructed, rarely provoke in students any enthusiasm for learning; they are something that must be gotten through. On the other hand a test does measure how much has been learned and mastered, even if what the test measures is not always worth measuring. They can also help students identify where their interests lie in that those tests that test a content area that captures the student’s interests are usually the easier ones to prepare for.

What Matters To Me Scholarship Application Video
Stefan Ramirez Perez

The student that prepared this video obviously has an interest in the subject he is studying. The video is an entrance exam of sorts, in that it was submitted to help him win a scholarship. But as a test it demonstrates by what it shows that the student has mastered the skills he needs to have in order to succeed. What I find interesting about this test is that it is a test the student created and gave to himself. Obviously before a test of this kind can work the student must already have a profound interest in the subject. Is there a way of testing that can provoke this kind of interest in science in students whose main interest is history. This to me is the real challenge of education. Where this succeeds the learning process is exciting for everyone, but this is a very difficult bar to reach and I am not sure it is possible to reach this goal with every student in every discipline. Perhaps this is a reason why some of the more traditional forms of testing will be with us for awhile.

Education Today and Tomorrow
A Byrd MS Production
Tom Woodward

This is the concern that confronts many teachers today. What kind of future are we preparing our students to enter? The rhetoric of the film shapes a view of the world that may be a bit overstated but certainly not entirely. As a teacher I want, on the one hand, for students to get the kind of thrill out of discovering something new that I get and have always gotten for as long as I can remember. But I also realize that not all students share my interest in this. As a teacher I also want my students to be ready for the world that will meet them when they leave my classroom for the last time. Part of the problem of providing this kind of preparation is economic, new technologies are expensive and by the time the costs come down to affordable levels the technology is on the verge of obsolescence, though the mastery of a soon to be obsolete technology may not be a bad place to start.

My heroes remain folks like Averroes, Maimonides, and Omar Khayyam not just because they were smart and well read but because they were curious about a wide variety of things. They also lived in a time when it was possible to master many disciplines; where one could be a musician, a lawyer, an astronomer, mathematician, poet and scientist. This does not seem to be possible any more. But it is possible for a well trained mind to entertain the itch to travel such a road.

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30 thoughts on “What D’Ya Know

  1. I think many students have troubles in college, because the classes may not catch their interest. Recently i read that of the class of 2000 from the entire city of Boston that went on to secondary education, only about one third ended up with a degree by 2007. Although some blame must be put on some students, it cant just be the students fault. Maybe their guidance councilor told them to pursue a course of study not fitting to them, or they could have been in a hard stage of life at the time. I think its gotten to the point where everyone believes they have to go to college, but for the wrong reasons. I believe a person like Thoreau would encourage anyone to go to college, but for the sake of learning, not money. But there is also a conundrum in this. If a person wishes to learn, they must go to college, but many times what they want to learn wont get them far in life. I wanted to be an Archaeologist for the longest time, but when i go to college, i am not going for archaeology. Its not because of a lack of interest, its because of a lack of job security. So although it would be best for people to only go to college for learning (not money), it is a completely transcendentalist point of view (that being ideal, not realistic).

  2. This essay, along with each and every included clip, deeply sparks my own personal thoughts in regard to the true meaning of education. Throughout my entire life, I have always pushed myself to achieve perfection in school for the simple fact of reaching prime success in life. What I have just completed reading and observing reminds me that there is so much more to acquiring knowledge in life. While being successful is crucial to earning an income in today’s world, learning for the sake of pure enjoyment is just as important. After all, life is supposed to be about happiness. Learning should not be a chore. However, this thought lends itself to the current educational situation in schools across the world today.
    Personally, I am bothered by the idea of standardized testing. I wholeheartedly agree with John Forster and Tom Chapin’s video “Not on the Test” in that standardized testing promotes memorization and not comprehension. Learning should test the capabilities of one’s imagination rather than how precisely they can memorize. With all the mandatory standards teachers are forced to cover, there is no room for students to think outside the box. Often times in a classroom, I feel that the teacher is so pressured to squeeze MCAS standards into the allowed time frame that there is no time left to reflect on the knowledge being thrown at us. We are stuffed with cold facts soon to be forgotten immediately after the exam.
    I feel as though education is changing in a negative manner. Philosphers of past times appreciated the education they received. Thoreau and Emerson, for example, attempted to learn from the world around them for their own simple satisfaction. They didn’t need a teacher to robotically drill information into their heads only for it to deteriorate shortly later. Individuals of today’s society are desperately far from taking advantage of these same opportunities still present today.

  3. So.. in the opening of your blog i do like the song becuase i do believe it is important to get an education becuase it is the key to success. When talking about interest in education college/school, i think if people are not mainly interested in school they still have to require disipline if they want to pass. Some people apply it to something that the love to do or inerested and others apply it to like every area of life. I hope that when i go to college i dont lose lack of interest becuase im all about success for my future… not saying if someone doesnt go to college won’t be successull that is just what i expect of myself. I thought Andrews responce was very interesting how he read about students who went to college who lost interest and dropped out. I dont know what i would do if that was me. Getting and education in America is the first step.
    Also in the blog you made a comment of how if he did not enjoy study he was probably not a happy man. Everything that was found educationaly or can be used for educational purposes on purpose was from someone who enjoyed that study. I think that it would be better today if from a young age like you developed what you liked in school and ran with it and did not have to learn anything else that way people have a higher chance of success. People learn alot of things that they dont care about or will not use in the future.
    Talking about” Oh and You Have a Degree” my opinion on what you wrote… i should read the blog becuase i find it interesing but i agree society forces and education. The thing is when everyone has an education you future depends on your personality to get a job. So many people apply for the same thing have the same stuff on their resimae and they have to stand out. I think that if your one of the smartest people graducated from Harvard and cant communicate right you are hindered from doind what you want. I dont know thats my opinion.. like i said i should read the article to get more on his insight on the issue. Overall i thought this was a good blog this is the most ive ever written so it shows and i was very intersted.

  4. I feel that in today’s society a college degree is a necessity, unless one has already acquired some sort of trade. I believe that these days the commonwealth is mostly concerned with becoming prosperous. Everyone wishes to be wealthy. Unfortunately the majority of decent paying jobs require a college degree. Most students are flustered when it comes to deciding what field or career they want to pursue. Many have this notion that whatever they go to college for they must continue to do for the rest of their lives. But that is not the case. A large amount of college students do find that they have little interest in what they chose to pursue. This is not the end of the world though. With time many are able to grow and mature out in the real world and do find what it really is that interests them. With this realization one can then follow whatever path they found that sparks their curiousity.
    I feel that in an ideal world one should be able to go to college for the sole purpose of learning. I feel that people would greatly benefit through exploring all the subjects that caught their attention. I believe that this would lead to a wider range of knowledge.

  5. I often find myself questioning the lessons being taught in the classrooms. I just can’t see myself applying some of these skills to real life situations. I honestly believe that its not the material thats hard or boring but the way its presented. I think that if things were presented in a different manner or if a lesson was being taught through a spark of interest students would learn easier. Do the things we learn guarantee we will have a good life? Is it true that our knowledge of other things makes it easier for us to understand others? The fact that there are so many tests there is no time to understand information. Its almost like some teachers shovel information into the students just so they can perform the task but not understand why or how. In reality if you want to live a lavish lifestyle you’d probably have to take a trip to college to get a degree to make a good paycheck. If you aren’t happy with specialty do you stay just for security or do you travel down the once hidden path?

  6. I believe that what is typically considered “educated” is probably someone who has a lot of fancy degrees or has ‘doctor’ in front of their name. But I don’t think that’s all there is to being educated. My father, for instance, never graduated college, but he is one of the smartest men I have ever met. He found something that he loved and he’s able to do it as a career without needing a single degree, and he does it exceptionally well.
    I also agree with your point about tests. Personally, I find myself dreading tests, even if I know the material on the test. I think and hope once I find something that I am genuinely interested in, I won’t have to be afraid anymore.

  7. I agree with the idea that if you are interested with something, you will work harder, put in more effort, and perform better. On the other hand, if you loathe a certain thing, for example a class at school, you won’t have the desire to work as hard. Your feelings toward a class or subject, whether you enjoy the class or dislike it, will effect the amount of effort you give. Interests fuel your motivations. Students strggle with classes that don’t appeal to them or catch their interest.
    These days, most people believe that in order to pursue a carreer and make money, a college degree is a necessity. Most people have been caught up in earning money and becoming wealthy. They often forget the importance of knowledge, learning, and pursuing a carreer for something you love. When I go to college I hope to not loose a lack of interest because of being caught up in becoming successful and wealthy. I agree with when you said that Averroes wouldn’t have been a happy man if he didn’t enjoy what he was learning.
    I agree with the part about standardized testing and how it truly does emphasize more about what can be remembered that what can be understood. I feel that standardized testing is more about memorizing thing rather than the comprehension side of it. When it comes to MCAS and other tests, it seems teachers are pressured to prepare their students alot for the tests. The information is sometimes forgotten immediately after the test.

  8. I agree that not every aspect of education will catch every person’s attention. I also believe that even if someone is not interested in a topic they still need to learn it. Many school subjects are connected, math is needed to perform some science experiments, and history is needed to fully understand various works of writing in English. Every topic that is taught is designed to better help a student in the real world outside of school. Some topics might have less significance then others but every topic is chosen for a reason.
    Sadly, public school’s tend to pick topics based on the reason that students have to be prepared for tests. While the topics still hold some importance, many subjects are stressed for the sole purpose of improving a school’s scores or improving the image of teachers. As the song “Not On the Test” said, students are forced to spend more time on topics that will improve their test scores rather then spending time on topics that will come in handy later on in life. Testing should be used as a tool in school to understand what students are learning and grasping. Nowadays, school is used to only prepare students for tests.

  9. Looking into college majors i have come across the difficulty of trying to find the right educational path for myself. As the essay states it’s impossible to engage oneself in all the different courses provided. I agree with the fact that, “The purpose of a degree is to verify that a discipline has been mastered “.
    As for the way that classes are taught I would also have to agree with the text. From a student’s point of view I can say that it is not a highlight to be tested on material. On the other hand it is evident that the test have a significant purpose of displaying whether or not a student is adequetly devleoping the skills that they need. Although I have come to find that shortly after the test are done the information gets pushed off to the side and easily forgotten. Maybe it’s just me or the nature of time but I have come to find that shortly after tests all the information studied disappears from my thoguhts and mind. This may show that maybe the material we think we’re learning isn’t sticking to our minds, maybe we really don’t know the material and have just adapted to quick memorazation before tests.

  10. I feel that it is always important to get involved with something that catches your eye. MAny students go to college with an idea of what they want to do, but often times it may not be their main interest. For whatever reason, i feel that many students and young adults go to college and pick majors that they think will surely make them rich and wealthy in this world. For some this may be high paying jobs such as doctors or dentist but in reality they are only taking the course becasue they know if successful it will provide alot of money. However, the reason so many students are dropping out is for lack of interest. They are getting involved in things that they do not love. Students need to experience different subjects and choose their favorite. If you go into a topic which is boring then students will drop it and decide failure.
    I also feel that teachers are only there to provide their students with the proper information to pass the MCAS tests. =Why prepare all year for one test to just forget everything when all is said and done? Instead we should be learing of our interests. The entire time frame of one school year is based on one test. That is not a fair situation.

  11. I believe in both Huxley and Newman’s views to some extent. As argued by Huxley, a secondary education gives you the necessary exposure to many different subjects that help us to identify our areas of interest and areas that we should probably stay away from when it comes to a rigorous education like that of the university. However, I do not think that we should pursue only one subject, because if we should change our minds or dislike the path that a particular subject takes then there is very little breathing room. Also, Huxley’s view on education could be very dangerous during an economy like the one we are currently facing. Maybe in 5 or 10 years there will be very few jobs for those pursuing history and a surplus for those pursuing math. Then what will those who have only mastered history do? will they go back to college to only master math and risk facing the same problem all over again? the costs of college will undoubtedly be more expense the second time around. Newman’s belief that it is better to master all subjects is more safe for an economy like ours where there is no set length of time before things get better. But it can be terribly tedious if you are not interested in all subjects. I believe that in times like these students should consider pushing themselves not to be successful or rich, but to actually get jobs that can provide for a family. It’s a tough economy and it’s only going to get tougher. The person who sticks it out to get their Bachelor or Master’s degree will certainly get the job over the person who dropped out. My aunt has had a very very difficult time trying to find a job so she can pay for heat, warm clothes for her and her son, food, and her monthly morgage on her house because most businesses have frozen new employees that they have hired because they can’t afford to pay them. I don’t say this because I enjoy all subjects, because I am not a fan of Math and Science bores me. But sometimes you have to push yourself whether you like it or not. I like understanding and having things click in the subjects that I am not overjoyed with because I just like learning in general. I guess I’m just lucky that I can make sense of subjects when I do not particularly like them.

  12. I am not sure that Newman believed one had to master all disciplines, just receive depth of education in each. He thought both a scientist and a poet would be better human beings for knowing in some depth what the other does and appreciating what is involved in what the other does. He would not argue that you need to know a diversity of subjects to be better prepared for the job market but because knowledge in and of itself is a good thing and should be pursued for its own sake. I think Newman expects that most people would not like the broad liberal arts education but that, like vitamins that many do not like either, it is good for you.

    Cordially,
    J. D.

  13. I think you touch on something about a liberal arts education that is important to consider. Many students are not sure what they want to pursue for a career and a liberal arts education exposes students to many things and can enable some students to make more thoughtful decisions about their futures.

    Cordially,
    J. D.

  14. I think your experience with tests is most people’s experience with tests. I do not think most people will remember what does not interest them. There is value to cultivating a diversity of interests in that the more that interests you the more that you learn that is likely to stick with you. Sometimes it is the teacher and not the subject that is interesting, but whatever the case students have to have a reason to remember something, as is the case with most of us.

    Cordially,
    J. D.

  15. I agree that most academic disciplines do not live in a vacuum. And even though it may be true that you do not need much math to understand a poem by Keats, I found in my education that understanding how proofs are constructed in Algebra and Geometry helped me with the analytic essays I had to write in college because these subjects forced me to think logically and to construct arguments logically.

    Cordially,
    J. D.

  16. In my opinion, it is extremely crucial to get an education in today;s society. There is not much that can be accomplished if you do not have the proper education. On the contrary, there are exceptions to this such as Bill Gates who did not complete college yet is one of richest men in the world. Besides that, any other successful job, whether it be a doctor, lawyer or even a fashion designer requires much knowledge and much education on the subject. In today’s world, becoming successful on only a high school eduction tends to be somewhat difficult.

  17. I agree that the culture in which we live is very competitive and that education often gives a person an edge when it comes to looking for a job. Even with a degree in theater I got hired for a job in banking over others because I had a degree, not to mention that the starting salary was better for those with a degree even though the job for those with and without a degree was the same job. Even though Bill Gates did not have a degree he was accepted into Harvard and was a student there when he began what became Microsoft. Obviously he was highly educable, even if he did not ultimately get a degree.

    Cordially,
    J. D.

  18. I find the debate over the liberal arts and the very ‘strict’ discipline quite interesting. It reminds me of my summer this past year spent at Carnegie Mellon. I went there for a summer program to learn about design. I was excited, but I had very little knowledge of how the classes would be taught and so forth (except from what information they had provided in the student handbook). The first week was spent dwelling over gruelling questions such as “What is a designer?” and while pointing at a statue that loomed over the Dean’s office “Who made that? The architecht, designer, engineer, or fine artist?”. The next week was spent creating our own shoe boxes and deconstructing existing models (I have learned that the Nike shoebox is quite incredible, there is no use of glue!). Yet as I was ‘learning’, I was not enjoying myself. I would go to my dorm room frustrated because I had been so excited to be there, and once I got there it was not ‘fun’.
    As much as I wanted to at times, I did not quit the class or transfer out, I stuck with it. At the end of the six-week program, The teachers asked us to write two brief essays, one about “What a designer was” and another about our personal growth throughout the summer. As I wrote my essay on my personal growth, I saw how much I truly learned, even though I did not want to learn it at the time. Now I even want to learn more about the subject of industrial and communication design more.
    I think the beginning of the class was just so startling and new because I hadn’t experienced anything like it before.
    My point to this story is that I believe that one has to seperate their emotions from their studies. Perhaps the person can not handle a very straightforward sort of defined major (purely because they know they are in the wrong classes), but if they simply want to leave because they are not having fun, I think that that student should stick it through and see what they can learn from it at the end.

  19. I think you raise an important point. I think that many of the things I find most interesting did not interest me when I first encountered them. I think in part this is because it is difficult things that hold our interest over time and they often require some acclimation. Some things are acquired tastes in that they require exposure over time before they begin to attract us.

    Cordially,
    J. D.

  20. Reading this blog made me truly think about my own opinions on education and how it affects everyone in some way or another. If you really think about it, your education in one way or another helps to shape and determine who you are as a person, not only as a scholar. My education helped me become the person I am today and I am thankful for every teacher I ever had the pleasure of learning from. Even thinking about college may seem a bit scary at this point, but it is something that we all must consider, and the sooner we come to a decision, the sooner we can begin our lives outside of high school

  21. I agree that the books we read as children infulence us as we grow older. Although we don’t pick up on the meanings hidden in the book as children, when we go back and read again as an adult, you pick up on the things that you didn’t notice before. As a child, you don’t pay attention to the meanings or what the story is trying to tell you, but as an adult you get to pick up on the little things. We never notice before what we missed as a child because we never payed attention to what anything meant. For example, in Alice in Wonderland, children don’t notice what the story is really about. They just think that it’s a story about a girl who falls into a magical land, while in reality it is based around drugs. This shows that we do not always see the real meaning of the stories we read as a child.

  22. I agree that our education and our response to the educational process does effect the people we become. I think attitudes are important for most things and the way we think about something can play a significant role in the success we have with that thing.

    Cordially,
    J. D. Wilson, Jr.

  23. I am not sure that Alice is about drugs entirely though they do enter into it and that aspect was picked up on by many in the 1960’s. But you are right that there are elements of social satire that are often missed by children. I remember watching a program called Rocky and Bullwinkle as a child and enjoying the humor. When I watched again as an adult I was aware that there lots of things going on that a child would not pick up on but were very clear to an adult viewer. Again it was usually social satire of one kind or another or puns based on famous books and the like.

    Cordially,

    J. D.

  24. I believe that getting an education is important. Having an education can later help you succed in bigger and better things in life. While some people go to college to get a degree in something general, others get one in something more specific. Those that attain an education in one thing shows that they are truly interested in whatever they got a degree in. No matter, whatever you ipck should interest you and should be somethign that you think you’ll be into for a really long time. Alot of people get a career in what they major in, or try to, proving that education helps you to succeed down the road. Many people are unsure of what they want to be when they get into college, but it would help to have some sort of idea. Getting an education in today’s society is one if the best things that you can do to help yourself, especially in getting a good job.

  25. I think your last point is a good argument for the liberal education because by exposing students to broad variety of subjects in a bit more depth than is found in high school it can make it easier for students to identify where there true interests and aptitudes lie.

    Cordially,
    J. D.

  26. i believe that education is important, but i don’t think it is so crucial to go on and get every degree out their. If someone is a wonderful self taught singer/song writer why should they continue an education when they have their on talent that could bring happiness and wealth to them. If someone knows they have talent and go out and pursue their career then good for them, but majority of people are not gifted enough to pursue their dreams. These people believe that education will help them find their calling, which in most cases it does. I believe that if someone does not enjoy the education systems of schools, and has a nice life with out all the exclusive degrees then that’s fine. As long as they live happily.

  27. I agree that everyone does need to find out what is important to them as individuals. I think that if college is a person’s choice that it is good to be exposed to a diverse program but there is no one course that fits everyones needs or interests.

    Cordially,
    J. D.

  28. I agree with the fact that you need to be interested in something in order to follow it in school. Being curious makes it easier to focus on something and that way you absorb more information. For instance, I’m very interested in marine biology and while taking that class I have absorbed more information on the subject than I would have if I were taking math class. Since I do not like math, I don’t take the time to study it much outside of class. Unlike marine biology where I do take the time because it interests me.

  29. My first experience with any college was a trip to Berkley. My brother is a virtuoso bass player, and wanted to go to a music school. He heard about Berkely from a friend, and we all took a trip there. I remember being told that the college had a 50% dropout rate. I was younger, but I knew that that was not so good. I think a lot of kids going to college are disillusioned to what they are going to find there. When you have half the kids realizing that a college is not for them, you are doing something wrong.

    Personally, though this is a bit off topic, i find the idea of a college that teaches music or any art form to be silly. Someone can be taught scales and theory, but all the musical knowledge in the world means nothing if there is no artistic capacity to back it up. Anyone who needs an example of this can youtube the band ‘Dragonforce.’

  30. Just viewed “Not on the Test” My kids are about that age and it was fun to watch this video. They went ice fishing today…I suppose that won’t be on a test. We are taking them to the Science Museum over the Feb. break to see the mythical creatures exhibit.. I am more excited than they are I think. Again, I don’t think that will be on a test either. Although tests are unavoidable, filling thier lives (and our own) with other interesting and fun things is equally important. This site is wonderful. I appreciate all the wonderful and interesting things found here as well!

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