Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Sat, 8 May 1993

Well, it's real early in the morning. It's starting to get humid and warm down here in south Georgia, even at 5:00 in the morning. As I was walking the quiet streets, I was thinking again. This time it was about a discussion, a vigorous discussion, I had yesterday afternoon with a colleague from the School of Business at a TGIF (thank God it's Friday) faculty get-together. She had come up to me and started talking to me about my character-based approach in my classes. I was in an excited mood. I felt that I had a good week in my classes. There was that one class had learned a dramatic lesson in applied ethics over the cheating incident. Another class had kicked me out of class so that they could have what one student called some "honest truth talk."

"I'm no Sister Teresa, " my colleague proclaimed. "We are here to send the students out into the work place with a degree that will give them a better job. And that's all my job is!"

"Is that what an education is all about," I replied, "just to get a job?"

"Yes, and the student should have to take only those courses that they need," she asserted.

"Why, then, are we in June becoming a university--at least, in name," I asked.

"It will give our students more prestige. They'll be more marketable if they graduate from a university rather than a college," she replied with assurance.

"Sounds like packaging to me, marketing if you will," I retorted to my colleague who was from the marketing department. "Pretty glitter that's more show than substance."

While the conversation ended without any minds being change, it was my colleague's word, "need," that continued to haunt me this morning. What does a student, any person, need? A student needs to be independent; a student needs to be able to think for him- or herself; a student has to believe in him- or herself if he or she is to struggle to reach his or her potential; a student needs to be able to control the forces swirling around him or her rather than let them control him or her. To put in other words, give me a person who believes in himself or herself and can think for him- or herself, and he or she can learn to be anything at any time.

I think those attributes are especially "needed" in these turbulent times. We see all around us that we are living in a world of rapidly changing job skill requirements. We are seeing what happens to people when the particular job skill they are learning or have practiced is no longer needed. It seems to me that my colleague's myopic definition of an education would not offer people the personal life-skills that they "need" in order to be independent of, flexible in, and adaptable to such dramatically changing situations.

Moreover, it seems that such a narrow definition of an education is limited to the work place and preparing students for a single career. But, what about the rest of their daily lives? There is life before a job, aside from a job, and after a job. What will prepare them for life outside the work place? The truth is that students will become more than just bread winners. They will become friends, spouses, parents, and citizens. No, an education is about far more than just getting a job. It is about learning how to live, as well as learning how to make a living. The primary goals of an education should be to encourage our students to strive for their fullest potential as whole individuals and contributing members of society. And, we as their teachers "need" to commit ourselves to developing not just the brains and hands of our students, but their minds and hearts as well.

Make it a good day.


Louis Schmier  (912-333-5947)
Department of History                      /~\    /\ /\
Valdosta State University          /^\    /   \  /  /~ \     /~\__/\
Valdosta, Georgia 31698           /   \__/     \/  /     /\ /~      \
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