In a recent article for The Atlantic ("The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone") Bryan Caplan suggests a couple things: 1) that it might be better to prepare our kids for the workforce than teach them things they'll never use (like the great books, or chemistry when you're a psychology major); and 2) that students and teachers today are getting stupider, lazier, and less inspired.
The article is good and worth the time. Caplan is at once thought-provoking, incisive, and perhaps a little misguided in his suggestions. But he certainly diagnoses several 20th- and 21st-century educational problems accurately.
As you consider this article in light of an evolving (devolving) educational landscape, a few questions may help you prioritize your college planning, however distant:
- Is the purpose of education (and a university degree) to make oneself marketable, competitive, and affluent only, or is it to redeem culture for Christ via technical knowledge and moral wisdom?
- If the purpose of education is to "redeem culture for Christ," do we know what that looks like on the ground? Do we know what that phrase means for our educational choices? College choices? Job choices?
- If education should do away with whatever subjects are not later "used" or "remembered" (however that is measured), is it possible that an aspect of our humanity is lost? That we become, in a sense, more like machines? If so, how would we measure this?
- If the purpose of education is not simply glorified technical training, is it still possible that a liberal arts education, as it is understood and taught in our politicized, student-run universities today, is now meaningless?
- Progress is a virtue -- as long as the destination is good. In what ways can we continue to stand on the ancient promises of God, the timeless methods of quality classical education, and embrace the gifts within our increasingly modern technical world?