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An A4 of Honesty: Perspective

There’s a strange beauty to being stuck in city traffic on a rainy day. You’re suspended in a moment as the world bustles by. You give in to your inevitable lateness and find a curious tranquility. Your mind is massaged by raindrops, stroking down your window; jostling with each other like racehorses.

That’s a nice way to think about being wet and late, isn’t it? I don’t stop myself enough. We’re so carried away by our own lives and understandably so. The world travels so fast, information shared so quickly, it’s almost becoming a cliché. Perspective is everything. Perspective is one of the many brain functions that separate us from other species. Our housemates on this floating rock called home.

I often debate the value of university education. Despite having never been through it myself, it seems to light a fire in me, spark an interest, provoke a reaction. Is it fair to say that a university degree is devalued when so many have the opportunity to attain one? Expectant graduates saturate job markets. Some of them will succeed and some will fail. Such is life. So often I hear the argument that a university education is pointless, with job prospects thin, it’s simply a costly way of plunging yourself into a life of underachievement.

The issue with this argument, while reasonably well founded, is that it fails to use the very skill a university education is most useful for. It gives you the opportunity to better yourself, to open your mind to new ideas, new ways of thinking, new cultures and new people. It teaches you to search beyond the surface, not to stop at face value. It’s more than a certificate; it’s perspective.

Perspective is everything. An inability, or indeed refusal, to see the world from a different viewpoint is what leads us to war, injustice and poverty. Society has a responsibility to equip the next generation with the tools they need to aid their social mobility, to give even a glimmer of hope for a progress and, heck, maybe even a peaceful future. The very existence of radical, destructive terrorist organisations like ISIL are built on a refusal to see the world from beyond their blinkers.

Here at home, the rise of UKIP is a troubling example. At its core is an intolerance of people different to their own while a disillusioned working class has peddled their growth. This band of misguided troops, lead by a banker no less, support a policy that wants to scrap the nonsensical target of making 50% of school leavers go to university.” Is this an elite protecting their knowledge?

Access to education is a fundamental human right. Access to university education is the same. Never again should it be reserved for those who can afford it. Ambition, determination and hard work are our currency.

There needs to be changes, granted, and vocational options and the value they hold should be celebrated (I don’t doubt this is where UKIP’s policy stems from). Furthermore, the way we judge our students is wrong. The old saying goes, … judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”, and it has never been more relevant.

But we mustn’t underestimate the benefit of seeing the world differently. 85% of the world lives in knowledge poverty and that is unacceptable. We have the tools to change that and we owe it not just to the next generation, but also to ourselves.

  |  2 Comments
By darrylmorris
  • http://www.poeturbanistethnographer.wordpress.com Takeshi (Liam)

    Hi Daryl, you say ‘ 85% of the world lives in knowledge poverty’. This kind of reminds me of when Paul McKenna says the only reason you are not already a millionaire is because you have not installed the ‘millionaire’s mindset’. I think is disregards the rampant ‘structural’ inequality in the world. Whilst I agree that having a wide perspective can help you achieve in life, part of the reason that there is such rampant inequality in the UK is because our political masters have made a conscious choice to follow this path (for analysis on this look at http://www.chomsky.info).

    Also not all university education can lead to high paying jobs. I imagine you are fairly well paid as a radio presenter. I also work in radio but don’t make enough money to pay tax. However last year I produced a network documentary for the BBC. I also speak 4 languages, have a passion for poetry, anthropology and urbanism. There are struggles in my life but I feel my life is very rich culturally. I am constantly working on interesting stories (for example tech stories) that expand my awareness and understanding of the world. Does this mean I earn lots of money? No. As the well known anthropologist Dame Marilyn Strathern said we should have a right to produce useless knowledge because its out of the useless knowledge that the truly great discoveries come. I haven’t found a way to make money out of my interests. That doesn’t mean I won’t someday or that i’m not enjoying the journey. Sorry if this is slightly off topic but I think we should accept some people either can’t work or contribute to society in other ways.

    • darrylmorris

      Hello Liam.

      Indeed, you make a good point. I agree with regard to the structural inequality and I’m certainly not suggesting the 85% living in knowledge poverty are there of their own making, quite the opposite.

      I also agree a University education (or any education for that matter – from simply reading a book to attending university) doesn’t guarantee job prospects – indeed it’s that element of perspective and cultural enrichment that are the real benefits of an eduction.

      It is refreshing to see that your main focus is your happiness and fulfilment – this is all too rare and a fine outlook to have.

      Best of luck to you, Liam.