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Sharon Turner

EAP Teacher (English for Academic Purposes), Sabanci University


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What is the value of gaining a higher education?

I was reading an article today in the Guardian about the consequences of higher education. The writer's premise was that if graduates could not be guaranteed entry to the job market, higher education was meaningless. Does higher education have value beyond economic/ business needs?


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    Sep 1 2011: Value is in the eyes of the beholder.... Does a bottle of water have value to a fish? Does a bottle of water have value to a man crossing a desert? If one makes the values of another one's own, then the answer is determined by taking a poll.... If one creates ignores the values of others, then one needs to look within..... If you find money or 'success' or status are important to you, then the value of formal education lies in its ability to generate these outcomes. If you seek other things, then economic and business needs become secondary (or totally irrelevant!). One can survive (billions do) without any guarantees of entry into job markets. They marry, have kids, make do, find ways of providing value to others by imitation or experimentation, and are happy enough. Others are 'successful' in business and commit suicide.... The meaning of education is not found in any 'marketplace' but inside one's head. Many a poet (e.g. Constantine Cavafy) has fed body with a pedestrian job but created value far from 'the marketplace'. Question: If no one had ever read Cavafy's poetry, would his life have had value? That's an open question.... and there's no one giving a 'correct answer' to this question....
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      Sep 3 2011: I agree Thomas that value is in one's head when it comes to education and it is down to each individual to decide it's value. However, within education and as an educator sometimes you are forced to promote a value in the syllabus, curriculum or certification aspect that you might not agree with. This is where education has to reconsider what that word actually is in our current world and whether our systems are really about education or producing employable people.
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        Sep 3 2011: Some would say education is about producing employable people. Others think it's about other things. And if an educator feels forced to promote a value that he/she does not agree with, that educator needs to decide what's more important: his/her value or 'going along'. Sometimes (perhaps in a choice of fiction works to be included in a course on English Literature) a person decides to 'go along'. Other times (perhaps if faced with issues of truth versus lying about 'our Islamic enemies' in a course on Comparative Religion) a person may decide the time for 'going along' is over. These choices have always been the burden borne by educators. Remember Socrates?

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