Florida Proves Higher Education Is No Longer about Learning

In Florida, legislation is about to hit the state floor proposing that college majors that are “more marketable” will get tuition discounts, while “less marketable degree programs” will see a rise in tuition. Officially gone are the days when students would go to college to gain a firmer intellectual grasp on the world they live in. With this, transactional, vocational higher education is being legally cemented into American society.

In today’s article at The Atlantic, Dale Brill, the head of the task force designing this proposition argues simply that Florida taxpayers need the most bang for their buck,

First, he [Brill] said, tax dollars are scarce, and the public deserves the best possible return from its investment in education. That means spending more generously on the students who are most likely to help grow Florida’s economy once they graduate. Second, he argued that too few young people consider their career prospects carefully when picking a major.

Brill and those like him clearly see college as nothing more than vocational training, going on to say, “the tuition differential will increase the probability that there will be some introspection about careers and livelihoods.”

Essentially, he is asking kids to commit to a career as early as eighteen years of age, without considering the possible damage that inevitable programs like this could do to the collective intelligence of our society.

The effect of the higher education formally becoming transactional will have grave effects on our people and our churches. I fear that people could become so specialized that they may neglect the discipline of critical thinking, making everything in life transactional, and leaving very little room for the transforming of the mind.

The intellectual pursuit of truth, beauty and knowledge that was pivotal in the founding of the American education system has given way not to poor scholarship (that’s another story) but to a radical commercialization. The intellectual sharpness of American society will be lost to the needs of the corporate system.

Christians must be hyperaware of the antichristian nature of this shift. The enlightened intellect rests itself upon Christ. The humble, desperate pursuit of truth may die soon in the western hyper capitalist culture, but it cannot be lost in the church. We have too much to lose in this regard. As Christians, we must cling to the words of Francis Bacon:

Certainly, it is heaven upon earth, to have a man’s mind move in charity, rest in providence, and turn upon the poles of truth.

Truth transforms, and the pursuit of truth must not be reduced to a transaction. “What must we do to enter the kingdom of heaven” must not be answered in a transactional list of tasks, even though “believing in the one whom God sent” will cost quite a bit extra.

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  • Steve S.

    Aside from the obvious objections to a plan like that, I would think that one serious problem would be the tendency to steer low-income students away from the humanities, thus making humanities the elite-rich-kid area. Variety of backgrounds, including socioeconomic backgrounds, should be a strength of large student populations, but this plan could result in a sort of de facto segregation by income level. I don’t think anybody really wants that. I sure hope not.