4/4/11

Lots of the undergraduates on campus really want to get married. They see other couples as happy, and many of them see schoolwork as meeting a bunch of requirements to get a grade and move on. I’m not saying they don’t care about learning: quite a few do. But I suspect it is hard to disassociate learning from the expectations of others.

Once one sees learning in that light, it becomes a path to honors of sorts. If you’re happy learning, then, you’re someone pining for a lesser good than ultimate happiness. Isn’t there something better than meeting expectations and being sort of happy doing it?

It’s hard to tell people to wait and slow down a bit. It’s hard because people their age do get married and seem very happy. Some actually are, even. And serious thinking and good ideas are obscured by the conventions used to bring them forth. Moreover, serious thinking and good ideas aren’t things you really persuade people of. As mystical and crazy as it is, at some point people have to think for themselves and realize what’s important.

If I had to do my undergraduate years all over again, I’d aim to master one or two books. It’s not a foolproof approach. Some students fall too in love with a book; many end up glossing it with no real conviction, with a sense of false mastery. But I know one of the most important things we do is give a sense of what credible opinions are and how they can be developed. That sense comes partly from learning to listen to another voice and trying to see issues as he might see it, trying to work out the limits and promise of a line of thought. The idea is that one is never speaking alone in the world. There are always other, concerned voices that know more precisely because they start from the assumption they don’t know.

5 Comments

  1. College-aged students have a lot of pressure to find somebody and get married- whether from family or whether it’s being generated internally. I know I’ve said it 100 times, but when I was in school the first time around I just wanted to make money and move out. I didn’t care about school at all, it was just what was expected of me. Many young folks are all anxious to grow up and they define that as being financially independent and/or married, not being in school. They’ve done that their entire lives. I didn’t learn the value of education until I was long gone. It’s kind of too bad most kids don’t get the opportunity to appreciate learning before they actually go into college. Maybe a year or two break in the real world after high school would be a good idea for most students (ah, but it is so much harder to go back when you get out of practice).

  2. I wouldn’t have thought that many young people in college were in such a rush to march down the aisle; not with such a tough economy nowadays and the costs associated with weddings…

  3. It was a bad day when progress in society – especially western society was tied with schooling. It creates these weird pockets of students, who really are unemployed workers looking for the next wrung. I don’t mean to sound idealistic – I just think learning and the quest for knowledge should be sacred, without muddled conversations about practicallity(which is a reality – don’t get me wrong) and the never ending chase for an A – without any value or apprication for the learning. Strange world we live in.

    The Southwest must have a different etho’s – out here (Northeast)speaking of marriage on a college campus can get up very strange looks.

  4. I agree, they do seem too concerned sometimes with what happens after college rather than focusing on the present. And as far as mastering books; we both know that at our school mastery of a single book is hard when you are thrown 50 books a class.

  5. Here’s on article on Glenn Beck’s recent fall:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/weigel/archive/2011/04/06/glenn-beck-will-end-fox-news-show.aspx

    The San Francisco Giants haven’t started the season well,JP Morosi believes that trend will continue:

    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/san-francisco-giants-slow-start-a-big-test-for-manager-bruce-bochy-040611

    Keanu Reeves, has announced plans for “Bill & Ted 3” (I expect Shakespeare to be in the running to write this one):

    http://www.contactmusic.com/news.nsf/story/bill-ted-3-confirmed-by-keanu-reeves_1211437

    A defense of NPR but not PBS, by slate:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2290357/

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