The Academic Attitude

So often I hear of people going to school to get a job. This, to my preternaturally liberal arts mind, is grossly perverted. Ever since my disappointment that skipping kindergarten did not release me into a world of deep learning and discussions, instead confining me to redundant arithmetic drills and the vacuous domesticity of Dick and Jane, I had longed for college. In my dreams, I gave not the least consideration of its commercial advantages. When, after a delay of twelve years, I finally attended college, it was the academics which appealed to me. Indeed, I remember my friends and I talking about how we would love to stay in that environment, going to the guest lectures and engaging in late night discussions without the pressures of required courses, labs and exams, without any career or salary in mind.

Most of all, we longed for a life in academe, far from the crass appeals of commercialism. After all, most of us were the sort of children who cherished books above toys or clothes. Many of us had to devise our own toys and games, while dressing ourselves in hand-me-downs. Food from scratch was what we knew, restaurants being places of grand ritual to which we would never dream of compelling our parents to go. Yet we felt ourselves princes and princesses, ennobled by books.

By the same token, we were made uncomfortable by the trappings of wealth. Money was filthy lucre, a necessary evil. To do anything for money was akin to prostitution. My inability to sell anything is rooted in this childhood attitude. It is an attitude I have never found a good reason to put aside. Wealth corrupts. Living for wealth corrupts absolutely.

There is in our academic minds, however distant from the college campus, a dichotomy bordering on opposition between learning and wealth. To go to college or university with schemes of profit would be personally vile. To require a generation of students to profit from their schooling is wholly corrupt.

Copyright © 2015 by C. P. Klapper