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Tuesday, September 27, 2011


"Carlota," you say,"shouldn't you be preparing for your workshop next Wednesday, October 5th, at the New York Public Library, on why artists are natural entrepreneurs? Should you really be blogging?"
Simma down, it'll be fine! Something happened to me in law school--how ominous does that sound?--and now I truly do my best work at the last possible minute.
To wit: last night, I was procrastinating, I mean reading, a fascinating, if highly disturbing article by Christopher R. Beha, in this month's Harper's Magazine, entitled, "Leveling The Field: What I learned from for-profit education." Oy. Excellent article about the dangers of for-profit education; how, in many cases, it manipulates and fails those lower-income students who most need a solid college or vocational educational experience. The author takes a series of classes at University of Phoenix and relates a grim story of how the American myth of a college diploma being a sacred stepping-stone to a better life is being used to manipulate those in the worst position to identify a scam.It is especially grim because nowhere within the U of Phoenix's curriculum is there demonstrated or the opportunity given for learning to be fun and exciting for it's own sake.
That really struck a chord with me. I was very privileged to attend Wellesley College, and in some ways, far more precious to me than the diploma, were the intellectual gifts Wellesley gave me. I started studying Russian  language and lit; took courses on everything from parallels in Jewish and Irish history to film studies...and engaged in countless, endless conversations with friends and class-mates about oh, everything and anything. The kind of conversations that now, as an adult, you sort of cringe to remember, but at 19, you're convinced you're the first person to ever think of this and oh my god, I'm so brilliant! (I also watched a lot of X-Files. Shut-up.) I was also a history major, so clearly I had no idea of the real world. Non, je ne regrette rien.
I do regret, very much, that so many people will never have the opportunity to have those experiences, to spend four years in an ivory tower, wherein truly the most important things in your life are learning, studying, and considering new, and foreign ideas. I regret very much that many people are led to believe that a certificate from University of Phoenix or some place comparable can take the place of true learning. Because college can, and should be, about so much more than just a piece of paper: it can and should be about the skills and ideas you learn, how these experiences change you and how you change your world...

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