Are Colleges Supposed to Educate, or Do Something Else? 국민대 영자신문 4월호 3면 국민리뷰 보기

Are Colleges Supposed to Educate,


or Do Something Else?



Josh Sung-Chang Ryoo
Assistant Professor
Department of Education





It is quite understandable when companies, shops and merchants become worried about the low sales of their products. It is also understandable when the government is very concerned about an economic downturn and thus strives to encourage small and large businesses by handing out financial and tax benefits to the business sectors. Yet it is not readily acceptable when the government is so obsessed about low employment rates that it forces colleges to raise the hiring rates of their graduates and revamp the college curriculum so that students can be better prepared for their occupations. The purpose of tertiary education, which has been one of the most frequently studied topics in the philosophy of education and curriculum studies, does not seem to receive enough attention by our policy makers, and thus tends to be regarded as merely an idealistic notion that deserves to be ignored. Given the gloomy reality that our primary and secondary education systems are geared towards college entrance processes, colleges might therefore provide perhaps the only chance for our young minds to focus on genuinely human issues. Issues such as where their lives are headed, what the meanings of their lives should be and what noble ends they may ultimately pursue. As early as Ancient Greece, teachers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle already shared their common view on education; that it is to be cherished as a pathway towards truth, meaning, and freedom. They also commonly distinguished between ‘education’ as a means to fulfill ‘full’ humanity and ‘training’ as a method of obtaining job-related skills. If they were right about the difference between education and training; what the current government is trying to lay upon our colleges in their ‘specialization policy’ is an obligation for more training for our college students during the time when real education is possible (perhaps even for the first and last time in their lives). That is, the government is asking educational institutions not to educate, but to do something else. Leaving beside the fact that the government tries to solve an ‘economic’ issue (like low employment rates) by instituting ‘educational’ measures, certain aspects of the current policy hinders colleges to do what they are supposed to do, and discourages colleges to consider and realize the purpose of college education.
 Things would not have appeared this lugubrious if the minister of education did not major in philosophy in college or had never heard about what Greek philosophers said about life and education; but he did major in philosophy.


ryoo@kookmin.ac.kr


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