Learning As Freedom Analysis

Decent Essays
“Learning as Freedom”, by Michael S. Roth, is primarily a response to recent sentiments that higher education is a waste of resources. Roth states that his opposition frequently wonder why people who aren’t going to make lots of money in their future occupation bother with going to college. (1). According to Roth, advocates of this perspective see attending higher education as “buying a customized playlist of knowledge” (1), and nothing more. Therefore, if the knowledge gained will not insure the buyer great financial success, than why expend the resources to go in the first place? To counter this opinion, Roth reminds us of the past, where students were segregated into two groups, one that went to college and received a wide variety of education, …show more content…
Menand begins with a personal anecdote, about a student asking why he was required to buy a book for class. This question sparks Menand to contemplate the three fundamental theories on the role of college. Theory 1, Menand states, is the belief that college is essentially a “four-year intelligence test” (2). Subscribers of this theory believe that college weeds out less competent members of society and sorts individuals based on their skill set. Then there is theory 2. Menand believes that today, we are incentivized to only learn that which leads to direct success, and that college “exposes future citizens to material that enlightens and empowers them, whatever careers they end up choosing”(2). He believes that college gives students a wide breadth of information that will help them in ways beyond advancing their career. There exists one final theory that explains why college is beneficial. This theory revolves around the idea that, in our current economy, colleges exist to provide a specific skill set necessary for a select few jobs. Last, but not least, Menand discusses “Professor X”, an author and professor, who believes that students come into college not prepared or particularly engaged in learning. Menand sees this lack of true interest in college as a fundamental shift from previously engaged generations, and therefore considers the student’s question about the book important, as …show more content…
Giroux views colleges as a space of democracy and intellectualism, where democracy and individualism ought to be encouraged. However, he believes that university, and the democracy it supports, are being threatened by right-wing extremism and excessive capitalism. Giroux states that many individuals hold the idea that “education is now about job training and competitive market advantage” (3). He believes that educators see students as little more than cash cows, and that colleges have essentially become businesses, interested more with money than providing their students a decent education. As a result, humanities and other important classes are overlooked in favor of classes which provide raw economic value. Furthermore, Giroux believes the religious right and other conservative extremists have used fear and accusations of terrorism to criticize colleges for teaching anything that goes against commonly accepted conservative worldviews. As a result of this, colleges are no longer institutes of public democracy. They no longer teach students to think and critically analyze the society around them, leading to a lack of democracy and rising authoritarianism. According to Giroux, “academics will have to assume their responsibility as citizen-scholars, take

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