Thinking about the current election and the obvious division in our country has me pondering higher education. The truth is all higher education has two purposes. The first is to educate a person in a specific skill set to be able to effectively enter a career field. Most people would agree, once entering the career field far more is learned doing the job than was ever learned in school. The education is meant to be foundational, but it is no substitute for the real world experience gained in the trenches.
Not all foundational education is created equal. The benefit is multiplied by the student’s passion, individual effort and desire to learn. Two students of equal aptitude can take the same course, with one working for a sheepskin and the other working to learn all they can and the outcome will be vastly different.
It is my opinion, that all schools of higher learning also desire to indoctrinate the students with the school’s particular world view. This is often passed on to students in philosophy courses and other courses not specific to the main topic of study. This part of the “education” is not education at all but rather indoctrination. The proof of this can be seen when opposing views, open discussions, intelligent debate are not welcome. This can be seen in nearly every school. Private universities to state-run universities have this trait in common. For example, to graduate from the school I went to, I had to sign a doctrinal statement showing I lined up with the schools belief system. I remember irritating more than one professor by challenging their views on various topics. When indoctrination is the objective, debate is not welcome. Go to a state university and say you don’t believe climate change is destroying our planet or you are pro-life or don’t believe gay marriage is beneficial to society. At that point, logical, friendly debate goes away and name calling begins. Why? Because at this point education is no longer what is at play. Education is always willing to debate, discuss and entertain contrary views and theories. Indoctrination, on the other hand, does not want to have debate, it desires conformity. When conformity is challenged, shaming and shunning begins to bring the person into lock step with the accepted views of the group.
All the hateful name calling we see in our society comes from groups of people who have been indoctrinated and don’t believe it is possible to hold a different view than their own. With 322 million people in our country, that is an untenable view.
Unity, acceptance and mutual respect can only come when we acknowledge we don’t know what we don’t know. None of us has perfect knowledge of our world. We all are somewhat a product of our education and our indoctrination. We need to listen to each other and attempt to understand. Our country is divided and I believe this is a significant reason why.