Robert recently me a gentle note chiding me for silence. Being a lifelong academic, I used a tried and true response: “I am off for the summer.” Intellectually, I shut down from May to August–even if I do pick up a class or three over the three month hiatus.
The question sounded something a bit deeper. And the sounding was reinforced by an article he included in the note:
Link discusses his loss of faith in academia. The implied metaphor shook me. Teaching has been a vocation for me. And I have always considered myself lucky to have been able to make a living off of a passion and a vocation. (As a friend once told me, “It is always better to be lucky than smart. And I have always been smart.” )
In some part, my loss of faith is based in the very thing that has made my vocation a viable livelihood: the commercialization of higher eduction.
Michael Rowe, the Dirty Jobs guy, has made a strong created a foundation addressing what he terms “Profoundly Disconnected.” He “challenges the absurd belief that a four-year degree is the only path to success.”
At first glance, the movement would seem to be an assault on higher ed. In reality, though, it is an affirmation.
Equating success with college degrees is a form of reductionism that has cheapened skilled labor and higher ed alike.
I wonder if, like Oliver, my faith has been lost as well.
At the end of The Mission–a movie I have always wanted to live up to–one priest decides to follow his face and face death with the host. Another embraces his roots and battles overwhelming odds. I had always seen this as the two responses to that sort of injustice: embrace with love or battle for what you love.
What I failed to notice was the third option: the Indians, the believers, who melt quietly back in to the forest rejecting the options offered by the Church, Spain, and Portugal.