I’ve been reading Wendell Berry lately. If you don’t know Berry he’s an american writer/farmer who is neither liberal (he hates big government), or conservative (he hates big corporations and loves the environment), not libertarian, but is very sharp and funny.

In his book Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community he opens with a bit of a diatribe against traditional education. At first this gave me an uneasy feeling as at the age of 37 I’m still going to school for yet another piece of paper that would give me a ridiculous title (for those who know me personally, the title received with this degree doesn’t fit me at all) and a knowledge about things that no else cares about). But in the midst of Berry’s semi-sarcastic diatribe on undergraduate/graduate/post-grad education is alot of truth.

Quoting Berry:

‘I’m more and more impressed by the generality of the assumption that human lives are properly to be invented by an academic-corporate-governmental elite and then either sold totheir passive and choiceless recipients or doled out to them in the manner of welfare payments.’

‘Actually, as we know, the new commercial education is fun for everybody. All you have to do in order to have or to provide such an education is to pay your money (in advance) and master a few simple truths:
1. Educated people are more valuable than other people because education is a value-adding industry.
2. Educated people are better than other people because education improves people and makes them good.
3. The purpose of education is to make people able to earn more and more money.
4. The place where education is to be used is called ‘your career’.
5. Anything that cannot be weighed, measureed, or counted does not exist.
6. The so-called humanities probably do not exist. But if they do, they are useless. But whether they exist or not or are useful or not, they can sometimes be made to support a career.
7. Literacy does not involve knowing the meanings of words, or learning grammar, or reading books.
8. The sign of exceptionally smart people si that they speak a language that is intelligible only to other people in their ‘field’ or only to themselves. This is very impressive and is known as ‘professionalism’.
9. The smartest and most educated people are the scientists, for they have already found solutions to all our problems and will soon find solutions to all the problems resulting from their solutions to all the problems we used to have.
10. The mark of a good teacher is that he or she spends most of his or her time doing research and writes many books and articles.
11. The mark of a good researcher is the same as that of a good teacher.
12. A great university has many computers, a lot of government and corporation research contracts, a winning team, and more administrators than teachers.
13. The main thing is, don’t let education get in the way of being nice to children. Children are our Future. Spend plenty of money on them but don’t stay home with them and get in their way. Don’t give them work to do; they are smart and can think up things to do on their own. Don’t teach them any of that awful, stultifying, repressive, old-fashioned morality. Provide plenty of TV, microwave dinners, day care, computers, computer games, cars. For all this, they will love and respect us and be glad to grow up and pay our debts.
14. A good school is a big school.
15. Disarm the children before you let them in.

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