02 August 2010
Day 128: The Education of Bet
In this novel, Bet takes the place of Will who goes on to join the military. There's a lot of scheming going on basically so that both Will and Bet can pursue their dreams, and it involves Bet dressing as a boy.
When Bet finally gets caught, as we know she must, she shouts at the boys about taking their education for granted, that she would have to go to such extremes in order to even get an education at a "last resort" school.
I cannot tell you how many times there were at Antioch when I felt like taking hold of people and shaking them until they saw some kind of sense. I come from a privileged background, one where I am actually the fourth generation of women to go to college (my family has children late, so think late 1800's). And while Antioch was not necessarily the most rigorous of academic institutions, there were people who did not even bother showing up to class. What was more frustrating, is that it appeared that these were the people who were often receiving the most scholarship money.
Meanwhile, I could barely even find a job on campus because my mother "made too much money," and while she offered me an allowance, I wanted the freedom of earning my own money and spending it without having to think about how she would want it spent. So I worked in the cafeteria for part of my first semester and woke up at 6 in the morning most days. As you can imagine, I was not a happy person my first semester of college, adjusting to job, class, loud and violent next door neighbors who played video games and fought in the hall until 3AM, etc., etc.
But I showed up to class. Every day. I did my homework and did the reading, and read ahead whenever possible. I participated in social activities, as best I could, going to a dance here and there and getting together with a roleplaying group. So I really could not understand why other students who had jobs where they could do their homework and socialize with their friends did not show up to class. Especially since many Antioch professors had an attendance policy (four classes and you failed).
It seemed like such a waste when classes were pass-fail to fail just from not showing up. It did not make any sense to me at all. And then I got to graduate school and I saw the undergraduates who were graded on their work doing the same shit. And then it hit me. Consumer economy. People who pay for something expect to get it, when that's not really how education works. Oh sure, you can receive the piece of paper and wave it around all you want, but a piece of paper does not make you smarter or more prepared for the world. I think this is probably the biggest argument for free (or government provided) education.
People who do not pay directly to receive their education might actually work harder to get the most out of it. People who do not want an education, or who do not behave like they want an education, will get shunted out of the system because why provide free education to someone who isn't even going to show up? There just has to be a better way to provide education to those who really want it, while ensuring that those seeking degrees solely for higher paying jobs find other avenues of obtaining said jobs. Despite where I am now, I have never regretted my educational choices, but I am angered at the idea of people out there with library degrees who have no intention of doing right by the profession because to them it's just another job.