Friday, April 23, 2004

The Cave

"Just like the People tied up in the Cave,
In the Alagory of the People in the Cave,
By the Greek Guy."
-They Might Be Giants

Ask a professor what the point of a bachelors degree is and he is likely to offer up the standard story. A bachelors degree shows that you have the base education, that you know the basic rules, so when you start to challenge the rules, people know you aren't doing it out of ignorance.

From there we can go on to say that a Masters Degree represents the time when you start challenging the rules with the critical thinking you already learned, and a PHD is when you start getting involved in writing new rules yourself.

That's all good and well, except that its a complete lie.

Critical thinking is not so much ignored in college, as it is ferreted out and destroyed. As anyone who graduated from a university in the last 20 years and returned to teaching will attest, the modern college curiculum is dumbed down to the point of no return. These two facts conspire together to form a terrible rot.

It is one thing to teach the blind chortle of facts. It's quite another to first blind a man, then teach him to chortle facts. When you graduate from a university today, you have shown a willingness to accept blindly facts and figures spoon fed to you by authority, as well as an ability to shape and mold yourself to that authority's will. Challenging authority in anyform is never tolerated.

Predictably as this system has taken its toll on post-grad students, post-grad programs have suffered. Rules and expectations are necessarily adjusted through-out, and the outcomes are just as predictable as the causes. You end up with PHD's who are more easily associated with a hostage who empathizes with her kidnapper, than a critical thinker.

It is the honor and the duty of the educated to lead the people from the cave. Sadly, today, it is the formally educated who are fleeing to the comforting shelter of the cave, and the deeper they go, the more they love the security it provides them.

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