Over at First Things, my Tuesday Column is looking at our mania for credentials and how it closes doors, narrows minds and holds wonder at arms length:
He has authored over a dozen books, written a syndicated newspaper column and countless essays and articles covering a broad range of subjects—sports, politics, mobsters, union thugs, cultural touchstones, booze, and blades of grass—all of it written in a smart, literate voice of the casual sophisticate who takes his subject, but not himself, seriously. And in the summer of 2010, Pete Hamill finally received an honorary graduate’s diploma from Regis High School, a Jesuit-run prep school from which he dropped out 59 years earlier. “It was the last period when you could do that and still have a life,” Hamill told the New York Times. “Try getting a job on a newspaper now without the résumé.”
[. . .]
I wonder if that’s really good for America, though. To become educated is a marvelous thing; to have the opportunity to study is a privilege too many take for granted. But have we become a society that places too much weight on the attainment of a diploma, which sometimes indicates nothing more than an ability to keep to a schedule and follow a syllabus, and underappreciates the ability to wonder, to strike out on an individual path, and to learn on one’s own? When did non-conformists become so unromantic and undervalued?
I hope you’ll read it all – I bring faith into it in a way that surprised even me. I think we could have a lively discussion on this!