Now the motto at my college was always “Real World Ready.” And I’m ready to talk a little about thinking in the real world.
Now, I don’t see why you would listen to a schizophrenic about anything to do with the real world.
I remember in school, they give you the questions, then they give you a chance to solve them, then they give you the answers.
Now, it’s very common to mention that when you step out into the real world there is no one to give you the answers, and this is true.
A little less common to mention, is that not only is there no one to give you the answers, but there isn’t even anyone to give you the questions.
This is kind of funny because questions still exist, and answers still exist, but they aren’t necessarily chosen in any kind of coherent or systematic fashion, and I’m not sure I would want them if they were.
Instead, what you’ll see are many trends. Trendy questions and trendy answers. Questions that look good, questions that sound good, questions stemming from intellectual trends and fads, with their fashionable answers.
Whereas in school, its relatively clear how such matters come to be, there is a teacher or a professor, with some students, and it’s generally orderly. But the classroom hides how people really think, both about how they arrived at questions and how they decided upon answers. And this is very good, because it allows a safe place to develop one’s thinking about such matters until they can find their own footing.
But in the real world, you get to see the truth of people a little more, a little more of how people really think, even the intelligent ones.
You see both how people choose questions and how they choose answers.
And that right answer we all heard and accepted in the classroom, is very often the one that gets shouted down. And that one that was so obviously wrong in class, may be espoused by someone very charismatic, or skilled in rhetoric, and all of a sudden it has a lot of traction, and a following.
And someone may confront it, right or wrong, or they may not, but either way we all have to live with it.
And that intelligent person, who was always correct, may have chosen them mostly based on authority, and not much else, and made sense of the why because of the who, so that the work they do will at best always rest on the authority for whom they are speaking.
Which is why the academy is so extraordinarily important. An education familiarizes you with the common gamut of ideas, and gives you the means to evaluate them, and new ones.