There's a splendid piece by A.C. Grayling on the value of education. In an exchange of views with Adrian Monck in Education Guardian, Grayling writes:
Like any appetite, the appetite for finding out, and thinking about what is learned, grows by feeding; and with the nourishment it provides, come other goods of mind and heart.OK, so you would have predicted, given my background, that I'd like a column expressing sentiments like those. But if you're inclined to take such sentiments for granted, just have a look at what Monck has to say:
[E]ducation should be a lifelong endeavour. When it is, it is richly satisfying and keeps minds fresh and flexible, and maintains interest in the possibilities of the world.
Where will the advances that take us forward in this century come from? Will they emerge from study of the 19th-century novel, or being able to translate Hesiod, or from theology (I'm open to bets)? You know the answer, and yet we continue to subsidise 30% of our undergraduates to study these subjects in universities. Are we nuts?The premise there seems to be that the sole public benefits of education come from scientific, technological and business advances. Subjects not directly contributing to these... mere 'academic entertainment'. A narrow mind? You judge: education is about 'job prospects'; not amongst other things, just that. Or perhaps I'm being unfair. Monck qualifies it:
By all means let people study history, the classics, novels, the media. But let them do it in their spare time...Apart from the general philistinism of this, and apart from the impoverished vision of student life it entails, does it even make sense in an economist's terms to write as if there are no significant benefits from education in, broadly, the humanities?