Painful—not pleasant—to see and to understand
That what I took for education in America
Is not worth much at all, much of it an empty show.
Even worse, my “education” was not worth much,
Although I had some good teachers and professors.
Were we deceived, or did we deceive ourselves,
Thinking that we were “educated,” had some learning,
But in reality, we are clever fools and often scoundrels?
Having graduated from high school, from undergraduate university studies, from “earning” a Master’s and then a doctorate (Ph.D); and having studied in the monastery and an additional three or four years of graduate work in theology for ordination—I must ask: Was it worthwhile? How much money was spent on this “education”? More importantly, how many years of my life were to some degree wasted being “educated,” but not truly becoming educated in any real sense of the word? What could I have done with my life that would have been more worthwhile than “earning degrees,” especially in so-called “political science”?
“There’s no use crying over spilled milk.” Now in my seventieth year, I surely cannot redeem so much lost time, or make good on this so-called “education.” On the other hand, I am genuinely thankful for some things I learned, and for some of the good teachers who sought to inspire, instruct, guide me in learning. My mind often returns to Miss Bradley and Miss Stevenson, grades 5 and 6 at P.S. 15 in Crestwood, New York. These two matronly, unmarried women were genuine teachers, and surely helped to educate me in a good sense. And I had other teachers in school, high school, at in the universities at which I studied who were educators, and not mere instructors. And I studied a number of works that were well worth my time—Greek tragedy, Shakespeare, Aristotle’s Ethics, Plato’s dialogues, the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, some other works of philosophy and theology. The study of classical Greek was some of the most useful learning I did (as well as studying Latin, Spanish, French, and German). So not everything was wasted by any means.
What is it I missed? Growing up. I missed the development of practical skills, and learning common sense through physical work and dealing with people outside of “academia.” I learned virtually no skill with my hands, other than typing, and a little keyboard work. What I really missed was a solid personal, emotional, moral foundation from home life, and then opportunities to develop “life skills” learned. My early life and upbringing were so disordered and often painful that it nearly guaranteed that anything learned would be “bookish,” and not of much use to one so stunted within. I could say, “I tried,” but as one hears in AA, “triers are liars.” So I shall not claim that I actually tried. On the contrary, often I wasted time and “goofed off” in my “education,” and rarely was I challenged to work hard, truly to apply myself to studying. Hence, overall, much of this “education” was for me a waste of time, and much of that is my own fault.
More than this I need not write at this time. Anything said about education in America may be painful to hear, so I limit myself now to a few sentences:
Much of what is offered in our schools and universities is propaganda and a con game. Why do so many students attend colleges and universities, and learn so little? What they receive is very expensive brain-washing, and a removal from the kinds of work in life in which young people might properly grow up and mature. Education in America is largely a vast effort of malformation. Enough said for the present.
Wm. Paul McKane
17 February 2020
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