Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Of all my friends, 90% have a college education. Of those, perhaps 50% have Masters degrees. Of those, several have Doctorates. And of all my friends, four have what I would call truly academic minds. These are people who are so sharp. The depth of their training is broad and full, their acuity, open mindedness, interdisciplinary scope, and ability to express themselves is genuinely outstanding. Spending time with any one of them always makes me wish I was smarter. Four. Of these four, one never finished any kind of higher education at all.

Which should give one pause. Of all my friends who dutifully trudged through the system four emerged so well trained? Perhaps that sort of intelligence doesn't have all THAT much to do with training? Yes, surely everyone who goes to college is enriched somehow. I absolutely believe in college for everyone who wants to go. But only four? Can anyone still believe elementary school is necessary when the results are so non?

I was thinking about education while cleaning house this morning. And reminded again driving the children home from a programming class. Born To Be Wild came on the radio. "Like a true nature's child, we were born, born to be wild." Y'all know how it goes. Wildness is becoming more and more rare. I hope my children are born to be as wild, which is to say as well trained in the world, as any cub of the forest. Can you imagine if educators set curricula upon wild things to help them be wilder better or faster?

And what of the counter culture, that kind of wild? "Smokin' lighnin" is not so much what I want for my kids. And yet, it was my openness to  counter culture that led me to almost every important smart thing in my adult life: midwifery, farming, unschooling, craft. Funny what's counter culture these days, the places institutional education can't take you.


  1. well...the academy trains those in it, to it. i know several people who attribute to their education a "critical consciousness". but true critical thought is quite rare in the university system. to succeed as an academic, one must learn to parrot back the professor's theories in one's own words. then make small, incremental, and ultimately uncontroversial steps along the path of knowledge, always making sure to credit those who have gone before. many fine minds suffer trough this in order to have the certification. others are crushed beneath the boredom and frustration of it. and many other fine minds pursue their own agenda somewhere else.

  2. Oh most definitely. Academic success is not difficult, its rather average. And that's my point. I'm not really sure all this training accomplishes much. Not given how much emphasis and time we devote to it.

    Viva la resistance!

  3. Academic success is not difficult...says the person who hasn't yet finished college...