Live and Learn: Why We Have College:an Analysis of Louis Menand's New Yorker Article

Published: 2021-06-29 06:45:42
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Category: Social Issues

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Everything in the universe is fundamentally a small part in a larger system. This is including our educational institutions. One may say that in order to gain anything of value (such as a well-rounded education), you must first put something into that system before getting anything back. It is a 'you get what you give' type of situation. And you only get the education, back after you put in the effort, studying hard.
But, as Louis Menand pointed out in his article found in the New Yorker, "... how many [students] are actually learning anything?"
The article presents two different principals on the fundamental purpose of college.
The first principle (or theory as Menand refers to it) describes the main purpose of college as being able to define a 'universal' measuring tool, a tool used to weave out the smarter human beings from the majority. "In any group of people, it's easy to determine who is the fastest or the strongest or even the best-looking. But picking out the most intelligent person is difficult, because intelligence involves many attributes that can't be captured in a one-time assessment, like an I.Q. test. There is no intellectual equivalent of the hundred-yard dash. An intelligent person is open-minded, an outside-the-box thinker, an effective communicator, is prudent, self-critical, consistent, and so on. These are not qualities readily subject to measurement." [Paragraph 6]
College, in this case, acts as a mechanism to sort out the more intelligent members in society from the less intelligent ones. But why would we ever need to know who got the longer end of the stick and who got the shorter when it comes to brains? If we take an individual, at an early age, and determine how smart he or she is, we can then direct them into a career path that will maximize their talents and make our human resources as a whole much more efficient. In a way, college is used to 'dehumanize' people, looking at solely their GPA; you can judge that individual and rank them based on their represented 'intelligence level.' While this might not seem like the most pleasant of ideas, it can be a very useful one.
As humans, we are the most dominant species on the planet. We manipulate the natural course of nearly everything in our ability. With so many humans, it is hard to understand the need to 'maximize our human resources' as earlier stated. This gives the impression that we, as people, are just machines to be used, and when we sort out the more efficient ones, we can put them to 'better' use. In a way, by using college as a 'measuring tool', employers can determine which applicants will make a greater contribution to the work that needs to be done. When looking at different applicants, employers will be more likely to choose someone who attended a four-year college (receiving a good GPA) than someone who never went to college. College in this sense has just been used as a mechanism to determine who would work better in the orking world, ranking an individual's intelligence.

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