Education: To make a living or to make a life?

What should we learn?  How to make a living or how to live a life?  Where should we learn it?  Who should be responsible for us learning it?  Ourselves or the state?

Make a living or make a life?

In the case of universities – it it really to learn how to do something?  Or should it be about how to live? What is the ROI of making a living?  Just because it is difficult to calculate doesn’t mean that it is not a big or important number.

Perhaps in the case of vocational and technical colleges it is obvious – the education gives you a skill which allows you to make some money providing this skill to the market.  If you study to be an electrician, you don’t necesarily need to learn about philosophy.  Maybe you do need to learn about the implications of a career as an electrician and some idea of running your own business later on?
I have written about schools and education several times over the last 18 months:

What is an Education?

The verb educate comes from the root “Educare”.  Here is a comment my father made on a previous post about learning: “Education has two aspects; the first is related to external and worldly education, which is nothing but acquiring bookish knowledge. In the modern world, we find many well versed and highly qualified in this aspect. The second aspect known as Educare, is related to human values. The word Educare means to bring out that which is within. Human Values are latent in every human being; one cannot acquire them from outside. They have to be elicited from within. Educare means to bring out human values. To ‘bring out’ means to translate them into action.”

What can be cut, what must be kept?

We are at a time when big cuts are being made in “non-essential” services in all developed countries.  What counts as “non-essential”?  What is cuttable?  What is not?   How should we decide what should be taught or not?  How should we decide which courses should be free or not?

Should engineering, medicine, physics, maths be free and poetry, history, english and humanities cost money to do?  Or the reverse; given that you can get paid a good salary as an engineer, doctor but not so much as a poet or historian…

How should schools, colleges, universities adapt to a world of life-long learning?  Technical skills are out of date within 18 months…  so what I learnt in university 16 years ago about object-oriented programming in C++ and cognitive psychology is about as old as Socrates, Plato & Aristotle.   Will the degree of the future be something that goes parallel to life…  perhaps returning to college for 2 weeks every year to update my skills and knowledge?

Back to you…

This is not a post with any answer, just some questions running through my head as I reflect on how the world’s governments will allocate the reductions in spending that are forced by the current economic reality.  I welcome your thinking, comments, ideas, links to resources.  Have a great day.

One response to “Education: To make a living or to make a life?”

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