Comments on Berry’s Modern Education

When Wendell Berry talks about the system of education used in universities, I very much understood the logic since I related very much to the dilemma about not knowing what to major in because I don’t know much about any one discipline to be in it from the very beginning. He explains that “freedom of choice” is a “limitation upon freedom”. Letting students pick the major of their choice without giving more information about the experiences older adults who went down that path had, or comparing to see how that career matches with the students’ strengths or interests, is very troubling. We’re afraid of failing in the sense of trying out a discipline with no particular intention of majoring in it, but not wanting to dig in too deep for fear of losing time and having to start on a completely new path midway through college. Something I have frequently observed from others is the notion that failure or falling behind in school equates to someone’s intelligence and capabilities. I strongly believe that some students are just suited better for the common method of teaching–lecture–and others have different learning styles and find it harder to adjust to the instructed way to learn the material. Berry notes, “. . . failure in school is not necessarily synonymous with and does not necessarily lead to failure in the world.” I think there are setbacks in place for students who want to fulfill the desire to take classes out of interest or concern for the topics covered. I believe the main issue, as Wendell frequently relates to, is the economy and how that is connected to education. If it weren’t for the need to pay for education, there wouldn’t be so much pressure to graduate in four years or less, strictly limiting one to stick to their major(s) in terms of course-load.


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