Tag Archives: student life

What students say education is for

Sometime earlier this spring I asked the students in my Digital Cultures class to each write down a sentence (on a post-it) about what education was for.

“Education is intended to improve people’s intellectual ability. What it really does is create arbitrary competition among people.”

“To gain knowledge, $$, and power.”

I thought their answers were quite interesting, partly for the interrupted way in which a healthy cynicism makes its furtive appearance, and partly because I suspect that my students largely fed back to me the stock narratives that the college was always feeding them (about critical thinking, opportunity, etc). In other words, the students always tell you what they think you want to hear. Or rather, since they rarely know much about you individually, what they think a generic professor would want to hear.

At the same time, perhaps I should give them credit for being quite idealistic on the whole about the value of education. Here’s what they said.

  • Education is for students to learn how to critically think. Being educated helps you understand the world and aspects within it.

  • Education is supposed to be for the expansion and knowledge of all people regardless of age, race, gender, or religion. However, education has become a privilege to those who can afford to pay for it and the access to resources.

  • Education is for the purpose of creating an elite status. Education (for the most part) accelerates an individual to success + subsequent wealth (usually). I think this is the motivation to pursue higher education.

  • To provide us with options, expand our perspectives & increase understanding/empathy. Also, to let us know how little we really know.

  • To learn – learning fosters personal & societal growth. So essentially education is for fostering growth.

  • To gain knowledge, $$, and power

  • Upward movement/mobility + to extend the mind

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The art of the student toilet

This post will make for a strange contrast with the last one, since we move from looking at the most noble of French spaces to the most profane. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had the privilege and burden of living in a number of short-term apartment situations here, and in the shared student apartment where I lived last month, I was amused to discover that the tiny room housing the toilet had become the most elaborately decorated room in the house.

This ought to give you the general idea. The other wall and the inside of the door were no less decorated.

Beside the chain that flushed the toilet tank, there was a little user’s guide. “Please flush the toilet with the softness of an old lady. Thanks!” (This incidentally is also a fairly characteristic example of French cursive handwriting.)

A lot of the decoration was concert announcements and seemingly random images.
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