A tangential discussion from the Robert Dziekański thread about the (de)merits of a university education might do better in its own thread. So here goes.
People who work for the Crown graduated from high school, have an undergraduate degree, passed the LSAT, have a law degree, passed the bar exam and then articled. Their behaviour is overseen by the Law Society and, in general, they are capable and intelligent people.
The police, on the other hand, well, geez ... a family member taught philosophy in the criminal justice program for years and refers to them as "knuckle draggers."
Isn't it a tad elitist to consider that higher education, the path of which more often than not involves social privilege, is the gateway to some higher moral reasoning? The political class and the bureaucracy is chock full of lawyers and advanced degrees in various fields. Instead of carrying guns and flak vests though, they carry briefcases and wear suits and ties, and quite likely have, if the current crop of them is any indication, more blood on their hands than any cop could ever dream of.
Having gone to graduate school in the social sciences, I can tell you without a doubt that there are people in graduate school who have no connection to "the real world", could not argue their way out of a paper bag, and have no systemic analysis of the power of institutions that run our societies. I left the academy after I got my degree, but I would guess that most of my classmates went on and are now holders of PhDs, possibly teaching and molding young minds. *shiver* Lovely.
Education, including post-secondary education, is a fundamental human right...
I did not say that a university education is guaranteed to turn you into bell hooks. I said that a liberal arts or humanities education is likely to give you a greater understanding of social and economic forces. I also said that as an agent of capitalism it will also instill in you the ideology of the state. But that is a battle we fight against capitalism, not against education. We've come a long way figuring out this big problem we call democracy, and the modern university played no small part in that. So has the labour movement, the civil rights movement and the feminist movement--all of these things, in fact, interrelate, nourish and constrict each other. That's what bugs me about this enforced, symbolic separation of the university from the real world. It's all real, baby--well, actually, it's all an illusion. Do the police live in the "real world"? One that says since I have a gun and am authorized by the state, I am doing a public good? One that says I am an agent of social welfare and not of capitalist ideology?
Where we tend to disagree, I think is where you seem to place university aside as a different category of experience to your other experience. University has had a fundamental effect on my moral compass as has other influences on me.
I went from being a woman hating woman to a staunch feminist. I started to notice how people interacted and what cues were being sent based upon their conversational cues. I started to understand and emphasize with people. I started to speak out against racism, sexism and homophobia when I heard it. I started attending rallies and got involved with Socialist causes and groups.
For me, my education was invaluable, and that has a lot to do with the courses, the liberal profs I had (and that was all of them) and the teachers who took their time when I needed to speak with them and learn from them in regards to my personal life. I will never forget these profs and the lessons I learned at school. For me, university was a blessing.
Though it seems a general observation in nature, the question of education within a capitalist system is not at all a philosophical one. It is what rules, takes possession of, and with ample precedence, ultimately colonizes the most banal, personal, daily existence. Education is inseparable from the state. Thus it should come as no surprise that our political figures all emerge from the same system. We generally agree that our leaders are the root of our ills, to the extent that we like to grumble so much about them and that this grumbling is the consecration that crowns them as our masters. The life we invest in these figures is the same life that’s taken from us.