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By gzt (Mon May 13, 2013 at 11:03:59 AM EST) gzt, math, statistics, education, aims of education, exams (all tags)
long speech, I've linked it before, but I was reminded of it by a conversation here.

The Aims of Education

      Third and finally, this talk may seem to have given you an extraordinary charter of freedom. I have said -- and the studies show -- that what you do here has few clearly evident consequences for your future. To many of you, this may seem like a license to do whatever you damn well please for the next four years. In a sense, you do indeed have that license. Education is here to look for, but nobody can actually force you to find it. And nobody here can deny that the world is full of very successful people, at the highest places in our society, who have college degrees from eminent places and who yet lack even the most rudimentary forms of education.

      To put it simply, the system as it currently exists trusts you with the whole store. Education is the most valuable, the most human, and the most humane basis around which a person can build him- or herself. And you are here offered an unparalleled set of resources for finding the flash of enlightenment that kindles education within you. But it is in practice completely your decision whether you seek that flash. You can go through here and do nothing. Or you can go through here like a tourist, listening to lectures here and there, consulting your college Fodor's for "important intellectual attractions" that "should not be missed during your stay." Or you can go through here mechanically, stuffing yourself with materials and skills till you're gorged with them. And whichever of these three you choose, you'll do just fine in the world after you leave. You will be happy and you will be successful.

      Or on the other hand you can seek education. It will not be easy. We have only helpful exercises for you. We can't give you the thing itself. And there will be extraordinary temptations -- to spend whole months wallowing in a concentration that doesn't work for you because you have some myth about your future, to blow off intellectual effort in all but one area because you are too lazy to challenge yourself, to wander off to Europe for a year of enlightenment that rapidly turns into touristic self-indulgence. There will be the temptations of timidity, too, temptations to forgo all experimentation, to miss the glorious randomness of college, to give up the prodigal possibilities that -- let me tell you -- you will never find again; temptations to go rigidly through the motions and then wonder why education has eluded you.

      There are no aims of education. The aim is education. If -- and only if -- you seek it . . . education will find you.

There's a lot more in there. Another good quote: "Education doesn't have aims. It is the aim of other things."I later had a class with Abbott, but I was mostly a tourist. It was basically about the theory of American democracy and public policy - reading Dewey was fun, I'll admit.

Speaking of education, studying for the MS exam on Thursday. I'm perhaps not taking it as seriously as I ought to. I know I won't be the top scorer on either Theory or Methods (which would get me a prize) and I know I'll pass with my preparation, so, there you go. Coursework and exams "don't matter" as long as you pass, but it's also good to do well on them if the person in charge of the course or exam is somebody you would do well to impress (or, of course, if you need to know the material). Anyway, I'll be okay. Whatever.

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other news by gzt (2.00 / 0) #1 Mon May 13, 2013 at 05:51:58 PM EST
got my methods final back. did better than i recalled, got A in class.

worked on last year's theory exam with people. dear lord. there are a bunch of stupid tricks that i can just see they'll use that i don't have a handle on.

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