Monday, April 11, 2011

Still Questioning My Education

Hey ya'll (I can say that now, I'm legally a Southerner). Though in some ways this is a continuation of the thought I was working out last October in this post, I read a great article this morning that put another spin on the issue of the value of higher education.

Sarah Lacy profiles Peter Thiel, Paypal co-founder, who offers some profound insights on what he perceives to be the "bubble" of higher education, transferred most recently from the housing market. Lacy argues that the almost sacred power of our belief in higher education stems from a sort of pact we make with the universe, one which is ultimately based on our need for safety: "Do this and you will be safe." 

I couldn't agree more with Lacy and Thiel. I think they identify a potent root of my current vocational disorientation. I worked hard. I went to one decent school and one great school. I am entitled (another concept she argues is the result of our incorrect thinking about higher education) to some sort of meaningful work. Of course, we know this isn't true. No one is entitled to anything. But this is a middle-class American ideal that I find hard to shake. 

I think it also has to do, philosophically, with a love of causality. I want the universe to operate by rational principles, cause and effect. I have worked hard, therefore opportunities should miraculously present themselves. I know cognitively that this isn't true, but it hasn't reached my gut yet. I still feed on the illusion that my "hard work" should matter to others, and not just myself. I need to kick the habit, but it's ingrained pretty deep. 

Yet reading articles like the above help me to deconstruct the half-truths that can result in one's own person "stagflation" scenario. Whatever that means. It's a cool word, right? 

Anyways, check out that article, and comment on your own thoughts/feelings of entitlement and causality, and how you combat them. Happy Monday!

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