Sunday, March 17, 2019

I found it!

Hi Eric,
Hope all is well with you, busy working on any new books or finishing off old ones? I'm currently finishing the last chapter in my Graphic Novel, Aurora BoreAlice - finally!!! I'd like to ask you if you would take a minute to answer a few questions about education? They don't have to be long answers and they could be point form... It sure would help me out. I'm working on a double page spread in my book where I have dropped out of UVIC and you're encouraging me to go back and finish... here goes.
Cheers :^)
1.Why would you encourage anyone to get a university degree and if so why or why not?
2. Is a University degree relevant? (My story takes place in the 90's so you'd have to consider the time frame)

Below is what Eric said...which I adapted to word balloon text, in a few pages of my book.

I'd encourage think in terms of getting the education, not necessarily the degree. But the courses put you in touch with trained minds (and a few dopes) from whom you can learn much about how to think and how to SEE. When you enrol in a course you have carte blanche to pick the minds of those charged with teaching. Their job is to save your time not feed you data (though few of them know this and sometimes you have to learn in spite of them and their idea of what they are doing). So your job is to be working on something for them to help you with. Read every book on the reading list. Come to every class prepared with questions you want answered (i.e., = how you prepare for each class). Exams are generally not much use--a way to keep others in line who are not working on anything for themselves. Writing papers can be a useful employment. Most of the time what you remember from a course years later is the papers you wrote. So write more papers than they ask for and maybe hand them in to the teachers you respect. 
Way back, a century and more ago, the course load was structured this way. Undergrads are allowed to take 5 courses (3 hours per week each) = 15 hours class time / week. It was assumed that the student would spend 2 hours on homework for EACH hour of class = a total of 45 hours = the same load as a full-time job of 40 hours / week. Nobody does this today, but that was the thinking. You do that and you'll sail through every course. The grad student was allowed to take 4 3-hour courses and (assumed) do 3 hours homework for each hour. And to work at a much deeper level than the undergrad. The restrictions (# of courses) remain but the rationale has been utterly forgotten. Undergrads party instead of study.
But the degree has its uses, as an indication to others that you have mastered this or that. I.e., its value is just public accreditation/acknowledgement; it is not a measure of what you know or have learned. There is no such measure except what you produce using what you have learned or gleaned.
Another use of the degree (not the piece of paper) is that it will force you to examine ideas and material that you would not otherwise look at: it broadens you. Here the survey courses are useful. Along that line, if you find a really interesting course being offered, ask the prof if you can audit it--sit in the back and just listen. You don't enrol in the course, you sit there and learn what you want. You don't write papers or exams (unless you want to write a paper or two). Some places charge for auditing.
The one thing a university is NOT designed to be is a job factory, though that is the usual way of "measuring success." -- I.e., they ask, "how many of the students got jobs in the field they studied?" Utterly perverse. But it is the way they measure and sell the idea of relevance. What a university education ought to be about is in the word universe-- It makes you capable of using your mind and talents universally, in any and every area and at a sophisticated level, the more so the higher you go. It opens doors in the intellect, helps the intellect and the spirit grow and mature and become strong. And daring. I often compare it to being locked in the bank vault over the weekend: you have complete access to ALL the goodies of civilization--take everything you can and ignore the restrictions.
Relevance? That's whatever you can make of it. The idea is not that the University will give you the goodies: it will give you the tools that you need to go anywhere and get the goods for yourself.
Is that any help?


No comments:

Post a Comment