November 23, 2015
There is something to be said for how higher education and the liberal arts contribute to our understanding of man. But that antiquated notion”that man has a complex nature that begs understanding”is no longer taught in university. As Augustana College professor Jason Peters writes, “The people in charge of colleges and universities have no idea what education is or what it is for.” Many put an emphasis on graduation rates or earning potential. Others treat campus as a brightly painted bedroom away from home, stocked with juice boxes, crayons, Play-Doh, and comfort snacks.
Few universities teach the inherent dignity of work; of creating something with your own volition; of taking matter and forming it to something new and beneficial. Professors aren”t inculcating their students with an appreciation for mastering a craft that took centuries to develop, i.e., welding, carpentry, or mechanics. They”re creating supercilious keyboard warriors who look with disdain upon the working class. Ironically enough, these pompous nincompoops usually lack the very employment they mock.
Increased enrollment at university might be saving many from getting elbow grease on their designer jeans, but it has also made the millennial generation immune from painstaking effort. Philosophers will never experience what it’s like for their hands to be, as John Updike described them, “battered and nicked and so long in touch with greased machinery that they had blackened flatnesses like worn parts.”
It’s a shame, really. Marco Rubio understands that you can”t have philosophy without someone piecing together society’s infrastructure with their bare hands. Philosophers, for all their erudition, can”t seem to grasp that. When there is nobody left to fix the axle on their foreign-made, all-leather-interior car, all that useless knowledge on Cartesian dualism won”t get them to the classroom.