College Education: More than a Means to Making Money

People are shocked. How could Andrew Luck, quarterback for Stanford and the presumed first pick in the NFL draft if he left college early, decide to forgo around $50 million and stay in school?

In Western culture, we have warped view of college education. We think it is for the purpose of learning skills so that we can be a marketable commodity on the job market. We think that the telos (final goal) is to graduate into a money-making career so that we can live the American Dream (owning a large home, accumulating wealth, freely participating in the consumer marketplace unencumbered by limitations in our spending power).

So, if a student is offered millions if he leaves college early, the thinking is that he has already achieved that which college is there for – to make tons of money. Why does he need to continue?

So here is Andrew Luck, inexplicably deciding to stay in school and finish his degree. As Michael Rosenberg writes at Sports Illustrated,
“There has to be a reason. Andrew Luck doesn't want to be a Panther. Andrew Luck is crazy. Maybe Luck, who went to high school in Texas, cannot bring himself to switch to Carolina barbecue. Maybe he is scared of the NFL, delusional, socialist, getting bad advice, hanging with the wrong crowd, a flake, a geek, thinks he is invincible ...
With the first pick of the 2011 NFL draft in his grasp, Andrew Luck selected college. His Stanford coach, Jim Harbaugh, has been telling people for months: I think he is going back to school. He wants his degree. He loves his teammates. He loves college life. Nobody believed him. There has to be a reason.
This says so much more about us than it does about Luck. Thirty years ago, opting for life over money was perfectly acceptable social behavior. You used to have to explain why you went for the cash. Now you have to explain why you don't.
Andrew Luck just doesn't get it, and good for him. He is rejecting two American articles of faith: You always go for the money, and the NFL is king. He is just a college kid who is freakishly gifted at football, and that's all he wants to be right now. He is secure enough in who he is to say no to the world and be happy about it.”
Neil Postman wrote,
“(Modern education) does not put forward a clear vision of what constitutes an educated person, unless it is a person who possesses ‘skills.’ In other words, a technocrat’s ideal—a person with no commitment and no point of view but with plenty of marketable skills.”  
Steven Garber adds,
“The shriveled visions of universities under the impact of modernity…seem more concerned to produce people who are technically competent but who have little interest in the whys and wherefores of the competencies.
“Education must be oriented to preparation for a calling and not just training for a career. Walker Percy’s memorable metaphor captures the irony inherent in our individual and social expectations of the meaning of education when he writes of ‘the one who gets all A’s but flunks life.’”
Andrew Luck gets an A in life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We've also gone overboard with the idea that education can only take place at a college or university.