Wednesday, 11 March 2009

America, An Intellectual Paradise

There;s been a distinct lack of rambling topics from me, of late, so i thought I'd use the poor little neglected blog to discuss something I've noticed of late:
Being an academic has no worth any more in the UK. TimesOnline has a really good article about the current problem - which is worth looking at if you have a spare minute
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article5864546.ece

But it isn't actually that the subject is being dumbed down. Oh, every national newspaper rants about how we're all idiot schoolchildren from time to time - and to be honest, the fact that you can do a degree in looking after football pitches in some universities is a sign that there is some truth in this. It's more that academia doesn't have the respect and interest it used to spark. No one can quite get into the fact that you can choose to learn for the fun of it - the interest a subject can have for you if it's your particular passion. Unless there's a profitable career at the end of it, it doesn't work.
I consider this unfair (for all I guess I'm extremely biased as a Lit student amongst medics in my halls - when I'm asked what my chosen career path is, I'm met with gawping amazement when I confess I don't know). After all, since when is knowledge a BAD thing? For all I may not have a job open and waiting for me at the end of my Literature degree, I hope I'll come out a little wiser and more passionately interested in my subject than when I went in - and I'd like to think I'd be able to find a job where I can pass this interest on.
Alas, maybe not in England. It's interesting to note, though - that most critical essays and literary theory I've read that really communicates an enthusiasm for English Literature have been written in America, by American academics. Where would we be without the beautiful The Madwoman in the Attic - incidentally the best piece of feminist literature I've read so far? And my essay would be absolutely nothing without The Endurance of Frankenstein - a collection of essays written... guess where? America. America is a place where knowledge and enthusiasm is still a wonderful thing to have. There are still a few lecturers who can commuicate their interest to their students here in Manchester, but I won't say they're in the majority. Intellectual apathy is definitely setting in.
My mother (probably as a result of weeping with me over inspirational Mr Keating in Dead Poet's Society), has the idea of me in the future as a future "inspirer of the generations". I just hope she's right!

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