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FinnWing's picture

Justification in Education

For a class in which there are so many diverging views ,and so much nuance to sort through, I am continually impressed at how much I agree with what so many people say. What I mean by that is simply, someone makes a comment, I make a note on how I feel about that comment, and then somebody else says what I was thinking. It really is quite a pleasure to feel that you have come up with an original, thoughtful insight and then have somebody think the same. It leads me to believe that this class will continually and collectively go to higher levels of conversation and I am psyched about it.

            There was one comment toward the end of class that kind of caught me off guard and I have been thinking about it this week. The comment was made by Lin Kai and it pertained to “things that don’t need justification.” I interpreted this to mean things that we just do for the pleasure of them and nobody questions why we do them. His example was enjoying a cup of tea at the end of a long day. I contrast things that don’t need justification with our education system, which I feel is constantly being justified; for what reasons I am not certain. 

I remember first hearing education justified when I was talking to my dad when I was in eighth grade. I questioned why it mattered if I worked hard, essentially because I perceived that there were not any long-term consequences if I did not. Colleges do not care about a student’s marks in eighth grade, I certainly did not care about my grades or work very much, and so school became something that needed justification, and lacking it I did not care. My dad justified the need to work hard then by saying that the study habits I learned at this early stage would help me to learn later on (which he was correct about, for what its worth). I did not work hard in eighth grade, I often skipped classes, and really did not respect the process.

Then I wanted to know what the point of working hard in high school was to go to college, if in college one just needed to work hard again to get ready for a career or more school. Then you have to work hard in more school, or in your career, so that you can advance. For what? Money, power, status? I became very disillusioned with this system, and I guess that I still am, although I have reconciled myself to it to some extent. My disillusionment stems from the fact that I do not believe that education needs justification, it is a beautiful thing in its own right, but when something is justified it somehow is viewed differently and becomes more negative somehow. Ideas why? 

The bright side is that I enjoy my education for what it is.  I enjoy reading, learning and memorizing shared subjective ideas and equations, debate, and writing. I don’t always agree with how the system works, but I find that much of the time I enjoy what I am doing so the justification is less necessary. Nonetheless, I think the need to justify actions can be a good barometer for whether one is doing what they want to be doing, in education and elsewhere, and so I appreciate Lin Kai’s thought-provoking comment. 



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