Education is sought for by almost everyone in this world. The reason for this is that the majority of the people think that it is only through education that they can improve their lives, especially in the social and economic perspective. It is due to this perspective, however, that the real purpose of education becomes unrealized. This was the main theme of the seminar of David Helfand entitled “Undergraduate Education for the New Millenium: Starting From Scratch,” which can be viewed in YouTube. As I reflect on the said seminar, I have felt a certain degree of guilt, and at the same time a new goal for my education.
Analysis of the Seminar
In the said seminar, Helfand discussed how the modern university is becoming endangered due to the divergences from the proper perspective of what universities should be. He explains that all educational institutions, such as the Universities, must aim to educate their students. In other words the purpose of universities is to educate. At present, however, many students and even school faculties think that universities are there to give their students degrees. These degrees are not necessarily to attest that the students are better people, but they are simply commodities that need to be bought in order to get higher paying job compared to people who were not able to obtain any degree. In other words, the whole purpose of education has become more economical. This is the reason why, according to Helfand that the students are not learning what they have to learn. They even engage in multi-tasking, thinking that they are getting better by juts merely passing the exams given to them as long as they can pass them and do other stuff while the teacher talks in front to lecture.
As I reflect on the points raised in the seminar I came to realize that I am also becoming too economically oriented when it comes to acquiring my degree. I cannot be totally responsible for this perspective, because ever since I was a child, my parents and the people around me would always say that I need to have a degree in order to have a high paying job. So it became instant in my mind that the main purpose of obtaining a degree is not for education but simply for obtaining a high paying job. So perhaps, the real culprit with the disengagement of students to real purpose of education is the culture itself – or the way they are brought-up. When people around you keep on making comments on how your education will help assure a wealthy future, your mind will really be geared towards the economic orientation. Nevertheless, I realize that maybe this perspective is the reason why I cannot enjoy my studies so much. Sometimes I feel like I am forced to study because all the reason for doing it is to earn money in the future. I could just skip school and earn more money, then why should I go to college. I finally realize that a degree should be a symbol of learning – it is not commodity. It symbolize that we are a better person that we are more civil and we tend to contribute more to the knowledge base of the society. What education should do to a person is to mate the person improve. Economic improvement is the end; it can be the result of the improvement of the self. Perhaps one of the aims of students like I in obtaining a degree would be the improvement of the society where I live. This means that I must learn as much as I could so that I could impart the learning to my fellow beings.
With regards to the seminar or lecture of Helfand, I find it informative and at the same time insightful on how universities or any educational institutions can help students students appreciate education and aim for the proper goal. As I mentioned before, our environment determines, partially, how we think. While our outside school environment intentionally or unintentionally tells us that a degree is primarily if not entirely for economic purposes, the school of university environment should tell us otherwise – that a degree is a symbol of who we are as a person and we should live up to that symbol. I do not argue, however, that it bad to aspire for a degree for a better socio-economic status – there is nothing wrong with this in my opinion. What is wrong is when we think that this is how we measure the success of our education. Having a better socio-economic status is just one of the possible results of having a degree. There is nothing wrong with this because when we are in a better socio-economic status, we are more able to send our children or the future generation to school to learn, especially now that the price of education is becoming more expensive.
A degree is not a commodity it is symbol. Hence, students must strive hard to learn, not necessarily to obtain a degree. A degree should not be the end of goal of education but the improvement of oneself and the society.
Helfand, D. (2012). Leading Voices in Higher Education. Retrieved from: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76VHf4guGNo>.