I came across this quote a few days ago from Alan Watts:
“Do you know what scholarship means, or what a school means? The original meaning of schola is leisure. We spoke of a ‘scholar and a gentleman’ because a gentleman was a person who had a private income and could afford to be a scholar. He did not have to earn a living and could therefore study the classics and poetry. Today, nothing is more busy than a school. They make you work, work, work, because you have to get through on schedule. There are expedited courses, and you go to school to get a Ph.D. in order to earn a living. So, on the whole, this is a contradiction of scholarship. Scholarship is to study everything that is unimportant and not necessary for survival, including all the charming irrelevancies of life.”
— Alan Watts
I've never read Watts in full; though I've read snippets of his thoughts and work.
I'd like to read The Way of Zen, especially now that I've seen the above quote.
Speaking of this quote, what do you think? At first I sort of balked because the quote seemed elitist, but then I thought about it and realize it's just, perhaps, the reality. For so long, the ability to study, ponder and spend precious time considering relatively obscure and murky philosophical issues was relegated to a certain class, a small one at that.
Now, more people than ever are attending college and other forms of higher education.
I was speaking with a friend the other day, and we discussed education. As any parent knows, the system of education is hardly recognizable for our kids compared to our school years. My daughter's teacher recently announced she's no longer 'teaching' but setting up stations throughout the classroom. The students work at their own pace and ask her questions as one of their stations. She's there to help but not to teach.
I heard on the radio that a DJs daughter came home with an official note from the school (high school) stating that grades could be inflated at cost. That is: students can now (at this school) pay cash money for higher grades.
The school was not without standards, however. A student can't go from failing to passing - just from a low C to a high C.
How discerning of them.
Back to speaking with the friend. He argued that kids shouldn't have to go to college and learn a bunch of stuff they won't use in their careers. Why does one need, for example, to learn sociology if he's going to be an engineer?
I nodded along because I don't know this man particularly well; I was tired and didn't want to get into it. I can see his point, anyway. College costs are shocking. Shocking. How can one possibly have enough money to go through four years and accumulate massive debt if not to come out with a well-paying, stable job?
I guess the elite among us. :)
Maybe nothing really changes after all. What Watts wrote seemed, upon first glance, a little archaic. Now, as I really think about the cost of education and the ability a person has to study subjects at leisure, Watts' comments seem quite modern after all.
It's a bright, hopeful, blue Saturday in these parts. Sandy is asleep still after a 4 a.m. potty break during which she chased a small animal at lightening speed. Can you imagine having that sort of wherewithal at such an hour?
Neither can I.