Monday, April 11, 2011

Higher Education, Self Education & the Ultimate Equalizer

I just read a post by Race Bannon over on The Art of Self Education about the costs of higher education effecting the decision to attend college. I agree with Race's comment about the increased cost of college has resulted in many young people questioning whether college is right for them. My comment to his post started out as simply a, "thanks for pointing that out, can't wait to read more" comment but as I started to write I thought of the deeper meaning of his post and the discussion he started and how it relates to Sane & Satisfied.

Are Colleges "Too Expensive"?

I can’t say whether most colleges are “too expensive”; I’ve never run a college or researched how much it costs per student. I suspect that state funded colleges are “too expensive” only because, being funded by a government entity, they don’t have much motivation to keep costs down. But I think that if private colleges and universities have raised their tuition over the last years its because of a rise in supplies and other resources needed for the school to function and probably more so, from a rise in demands from the students and their parents. With so many more Americans going to colleges today than 20 plus years ago that brings with it more expense to the school. So while I agree that this increase has caused possibly a beginning discussion about the value of alternative learning I just wanted to point out that it’s not a mystery or conspiracy why colleges have gotten more expensive (as some people would have you believe.)
I also wanted to mention that the mentality surrounding college education changed drastically which resulting in an influx of young people attending college. Parents who wanted “better lives” for their children saw college as a way to get that better life. And then it became common practice to encourage every child to go to college no matter that child’s ability. Some people are not made for a college environment. Nor is everyone in the best position to go to college. Before, children stayed at home to take care of ailing parents and grand parents or to help on the farm or the family business. I’m not saying that I expect young people forgo a college education to help out at home but I think there has been so much expectation for young people to go to college that we don’t consider anymore if the child is ready or if the family can even afford it.
So I think all of these factors have resulted in people today realizing that they might not be able to afford going to college. But the other side to all of this are the businesses now who require a college education for a job that doesn’t really require one. I hope that with this rethinking of attending college comes a rethinking of the requirements demanded by employers.
I’m also thinking of this from a political perspective too. I’ve been hearing a lot about equality lately and of course I agree with equality from the standpoint of how the government treats a group of people. But equality does not mean that if someone has the ability to go to college then they have the right to go. I think we need to start recognizing that while we should all have the same freedoms to pursue the life we want we all don’t have the same talents, abilities, skills, motivation, money or luck to make those desires become a reality. And that brings me back to self education: In the end, the degree to which we have all those things I just mentioned doesn’t matter. If we have self education skills and knowledge we can create the life we want no matter where we started in life. The solution to most everything, at least for me, always comes back to self education. Self Education is the ultimate equalizer!

So what does Self Education have to do with Sane & Satisfied

I think that self education is a huge ingredient in being Sane & Satisfied. How can you possibly be happy, content and successful in life if you are ignorant about yourself, your history and current affairs?
The difference between self education and traditional learning (think about your public school education) is that in traditional learning you are reliant on an authority figure giving you the answers and facts and dates to memorize. This is not natural or true learning. It does not help you to develop an understanding about the subject. Self Education gives you that understanding.
The more you understand about yourself and the world around you the more happier you will be because you will have the skills and knowledge necessary to shape your world. You will no longer be someone's puppet and you will realize a lot sooner when someone is pulling the wool over your eyes.

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