What Does Education Have to Do With Capitalism?

The English major, as a chosen specialty by an individual, is most of the time a deal breaker in many situations.  Like in the case when that person is asked, “What is your major?” or “What did you say your bachelor degree is on?”  Many people are actually scare to answer these questions.  It takes great courage to say, with the head up, “I am an English major,” or “I have a Bachelor’s of Art in English.”  Even if you give those answers, people will continue to question you and will pretend that your education has been a waste of time and money.  Education is very important for any given human being, but here in America, in the country of opportunities, we worry more about what people are useful for, instead of how intellectual they are.

While reading an article by Mark Slouka, I realized that what we do is mostly worry about how people are going to use their career and education to make money than anything else.  In his case, Slouka says that one day, when he was telling his soon to be mother-in-law, that he had a Ph.D, her response was the following question, “What’re you going to do, open a philosophy store?” Ha, ha, ha, I don’t know how I would answer that, but what I know is that this is the kind of thinking that we usually hear about, this is actually, “The essential drama of American Education today” (Slouka).  We don’t see education as something beneficial in any other sense, but the economical.  Our thinking has shifted from what education actually is, to what education should be.   It is always about, “the victory of whatever can be quantified over everything that can’t” (Slouka).  It becomes something in the lines of, if it is something, like the English major, please tell me that you will make money with it, or at least help the economic world we live in, or don’t bother telling me about it.

It is incredible how we, as human beings, have gone from the abstract, to the monetary.  Nowadays, “It’s about the quiet retooling of American education into an adjunct of business, an instrument of production” (Slouka).  Will we ever be able to change this trend and thinking?  Will we ever wake up and change our current situation?  Maybe someday we will be able to change this, but it will happen as Slouka says, “Only by attempting to understand what used to be called, in a less embarrassed age, the ‘human condition.’”  Once we understand that, we will know that “In a visible world, the invisible, does not compute” (Slouka).  And therefore we will be able to realize that if education is not visible, to the naked eye, we the English majors can make visible in many other ways, and not only in the economic sense.

We have to remember that, “What is taught, in any given time, in any culture, is an expression of what that culture considers important” (Slouka).  If we let our whole culture think that education is not important, that instead money means more than education, then we are basically letting Capitalism make education bend to its needs in order to find success.  When I was a young boy, my father said to me, “Son, I will never in my life be able to give money, but one thing I can try, and will try, to give you is education.”  This words came from a very poor person, who he himself never had a chance to education in Honduras, yet he wanted his son, me, and my siblings to be educated.  He fulfilled his promise up to the point I could make that decision my own.  And here I am writing, in a second language, and thinking about a different culture.  Money was not my father’s interest, not it is mine, but education has played a huge role in my life and will continue to do so in the life of an English major, even if that means to confront Capitalist thinking and oppression.  If we let capitalism control our thinking and our education, we are basically in the situation that Slouka proposes, “We’re well on the way of producing a nation of employees, not citizens.”  The choice is yours.

Works Cited

Slouka, Mark. “Dehumanized.” Harpers Magazine. N.p., Sept. 2009. Web. 03 May 2013. <http://harpers.org/archive/2009/09/dehumanized/&gt;.

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