illogical things are happening everyday

A college dropout – me? The National Merit Scholar, the one who dreamed about higher education?

problemThat didn’t make any sense.

Yet the first go-around, that’s what happened. I took on too much and burned out. Few close to me disputed the wisdom of my choice, but all agreed I should try again when I was ready.

It took three years to be ready, but when I was, I was. The second time, at a different university, was the charm, and when it comes to charm, no one had more than my ultra-geeky Logic professor.

Many of my fellow students foolishly and vocally didn’t see the need for Logic 101.

Actually, he wasn’t even a professor at the time; it was his first teaching experience after graduating with a doctorate in Philosophy.

He faced formidable odds. This was before today’s plethora of news programs with self-proclaimed experts whose statements deserve challenge at every turn. Many, if not most, of my fellow students foolishly and vocally didn’t see the need for Logic 101.

For me, initially it was a requirement to plough through, rather than something to grab hold of and internalize.  It turned out I couldn’t wait for the each class and the concepts I would take in. Today, I consciously apply what I learned on a regular basis.

You’d be surprised when you listen how many “experts” seem to forget, or perhaps ignore, logic.

For those unclear about what you learn in a logic course, it starts with this: “All cats are animals, but not all animals are cats”. You’d be surprised when you listen how many of the aforementioned “experts” seem to forget, or perhaps deliberately ignore, that logic.

To take the cats-animals-cats thinking a bit further, something like “Most (specific political party devotees) believe this…but not everyone who believes that is a (specific political party supporter)” escapes them.

Or, for sports fans, “if we’d scored that touchdown in the second quarter, we would have won.” Nuh-uh. Any real fan of football knows each play builds on the previous one, and scoring that touchdown would have created a different game. (Scoring a field goal without penalty in the last second, I’ll give you that one, even though technically the rule of logic wouldn’t).

So when you hear the pundits say, “my candidate in the last election never would have created the mess we’re in,” that simply is poor reasoning. You don’t know what your candidate might have done. But all sides smugly say it, or something similar, on a regular basis.

I’ll give you, in this last election, and after the last year, it’s hard to imagine any other candidate would have created the mess we’re in. But that’s speculation based on facts, not an absolute truth. It can’t be. It never happened.

That sort of simple logic is violated on a regular basis. Other practical elements are equally good to know.

Okay, I can’t necessarily apply anything I learned in that course to the logic of my decision to drop out the first time. Yet it clearly was the right choice. Or was it? I’ll never know, logically speaking, because I’ll never know what would have happened if I stuck with it.


image credit: Question marks © tiero – Dollar Photo Club; Black Hole © vchalup — stock.adobe.com

 

Education for Education’s Sake (rev.)

I have what some would call one of the most outdated degrees available today: news journalism, formerly called print journalism. We were groomed to work for newspapers.

I’m gueNews text on typewriterssing current journalism majors get a good dousing of social media education as well, but the reality is, by the time today’s graduates with any sort of journalism degree are my age, their degree will also be outdated.

Which leads to this question: why do we go to college if everything we learn, all the knowledge we gain, becomes yesterday’s news in light of greater innovation, broader (or narrower) thinking, changes in what the workplace values?

Because education in and of itself has value.
book and background Graduation
I went to college twice. The first time I dropped out before graduating, something, quite frankly, I’ve never really regretted. I got what I wanted out of that experience, and if I had graduated, I never would have gone back and completed my education in a field for which I was far better suited.

It wasn’t easy, however, to go back, and when I dropped out, I had to explain my decision to several people in my life who knew that would be the case. Some understood, some did not. One friend was more upset than most, and when I told him I simply couldn’t pursue a degree in something I had no interest in vocationally, he asked me this: “what about education for the sake of education?”

The fact was, it wasn’t a well-rounded learning experience at that college, at least, not for me. I needed something more. But he was right about the inherent value of education.

Today in our country a college education is often maligned, as if learning and thinking turns us into pontificating fools with no idea which way the wind is blowing. People wonder why they should bother to learn something they’re “never going to use.” Yet how do you know what knowledge you will need, and how you will use it?

You learn a lot more than facts in college. You learn how to think.

Without an education, you are more likely to fall prey to con artists who play on people’s emotions and ignorance, spouting rhetoric not substantiated by the facts. They have always existed, and they aren’t likely to go away. It pays to have the tools to sort through the mire and gain understanding.

Today I no longer work in a field remotely related to my degree, yet having an education is an essential part of my success. You can tell the college graduates from the rest. Even those self-taught individuals, those who know lots of facts and can win any game of Trivial Pursuit, don’t have the polish that comes from the college experience. It is education; it is the process of learning, of deeper thinking, of using logic and research to reach your own conclusions that changes you.

Education for education’s sake.


This is a revision of one of my most-read posts, from April 2016.


Photo Credits: (typewriter) © GraphicStock; (Graduation Day) © carballo — Fotolia

Education for Education’s Sake

I have what some would call one of the most outdated degrees available today: news journalism, formerly called print journalism. We were groomed to work for newspapers.

I’m gueNews text on typewriterssing current journalism majors get a good dousing of social media education as well, but the reality is, by the time today’s graduates with any sort of journalism degree are my age, their degree will also be outdated.

Which leads to this question: why do we go to college if everything we learn, all the knowledge we gain, becomes yesterday’s news in light of greater innovation, broader (or narrower) thinking, changes in what the workplace values?

Because education in and of itself has value.
book and background Graduation
I went to college twice. The first time I dropped out before graduating, something, quite frankly, I’ve never really regretted. I got what I wanted out of that experience, and if I had graduated, I never would have gone back and completed my education in a field for which I was far better suited.

It wasn’t easy, however, to go back, and when I dropped out, I had to explain my decision to several people in my life who knew that would be the case. Some understood, some did not. One friend was more upset than most, and when I told him I simply couldn’t pursue a degree in something I had no interest in vocationally, he asked me this: “what about education for the sake of education?”

The fact was, it wasn’t a well rounded learning experience at that college to start with, at least, not for me. Turns out that’s true at many colleges and universities. But he was right about the inherent value of education.

Today I no longer work in any field remotely related to my degree, yet having an education is an essential part of my success. You can tell the college graduates from the rest. Even those self-taught individuals, those who know lots of facts and can win any game of Trivial Pursuit, don’t have the polish that comes from the college experience. It is education; it is the process of learning, of deeper thinking, of using logic and research to reach your own conclusions that changes you.

Education for education’s sake.


Newspaper


Photo Credits: (typewriter) © GraphicStock; (Graduation Day) © carballo — Fotolia

teach me to ponder

“You study, study, study, and at the end, you are lucky enough to discover the greatest gift of education: that you know nothing at all.” — EJ Koh

I’ve heard this thought, expressed one hundred different ways, a thousand different times since I’ve left college. It rings true if you’re an honest student of your chosen profession, assuming, that is, your chosen profession requires any depth of knowledge for expertise.

keyYet there are those who never cease to set themselves up as ultimate experts. I know one man who relies on Wikipedia for all knowledge, and we laugh at his “degree” from the “university of Wikipedia.”

It’s not my intention to disparage the information you can find there, because I reference it myself frequently, but it’s not always balanced and is rarely complete. It doesn’t even claim to be. It is, after all, an encyclopedia, and that’s a center of knowledge best known for abstract pieces of truth that ultimately teach you nothing.

A quality education, therefore, is not what you learn, but how you learn it. The value comes from leaving not with a packet of notes, but a mind that discerns and questions. The source of your knowledge is not your textbooks or reference material provided by a single professor, but by the world of information available to you.

If I had only one course to take in college, it would be Logic, for that was the course that taught me to think and sort through the drudge and mire that surrounds so much of the information out there today.

A pile of information makes you an interesting, albeit limited, conversationalist. The ability to discern makes you a greater mind than most.

Photo Credit: © Denis Razumnly — Fotolia.com