Lv 7
Lark asked in Arts & HumanitiesPhilosophy · 10 years ago

Do you agree with Helen Keller that "college isn't the place to go for ideas"?

She worked tremendously hard to persevere through the immense obstacles in her path and gain her admission to Radcliffe, the sister school to Harvard at that time, and become the first deaf-blind person to ever earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, so clearly she valued higher education, but perhaps she saw college more as a place to gather knowledge and experience than ideas. In your opinion, what is the true purpose of college, and do you agree with Helen Keller?

12 Answers

  • Greta
    Lv 5
    10 years ago
    Best Answer

    I think I do agree with her. From the way I see it, neither a high school nor college that is composed of a majority or all of one population is the right place to be exposed to a variety of ideas and insight. I obviously didn't attend Radcliffe or any all-girls school so I can't know if my thoughts are in sync with Helen Keller’s, but from what has been my experience, students that attend schools that consist of a majority population (like Radcliffe was as a sister school) don't have a large breadth of knowledge about an infinite number of things that they haven't been exposed to as much as students from a diverse school. I know you attended an all-girls school and I am in no way trying to offend anyone who does; I'm speaking rather generally here and this applies particularly to Keller because even though she attended a prestigious women’s college, she did so at the turn of the 20th century.

    I attended a small liberal arts private junior high school of 80-something kids. Everyone was super-quirky, a bit odd, and very artsy. I thought we were all so different especially because we were ethnically diverse. When I left for high school I realized that we had all seen been trained to see through a rose tinted lens. I went to a public high school which was 180 degrees in the opposite direction as my middle school. It was super conservative, preppy, people flaunted their wealth, and disliked anyone who stood out. That last one was hard for me to not do and I felt very isolated and lonely. Everyone seemed to think in the same way and no one was really interesting, or at least not apparently. I began to feel for the “others”. Our school database only accommodated these ethnicities which were filled in on each standardized test: Asian, Caucasian, Other. That’s listed in largest to smallest.

    Anyway my point is that I learned a lot at these exceptional schools but that didn’t change the fact that I was so unprepared to face “the real world” and I still felt so naïve and inexperienced as I left for college. The only thing that kept me grounded and thinking abstractly was travel. I couldn’t find myself gaining a different or more evolved perspective from my peers. Truthfully, I didn’t learn much from them and college is only somewhat shaping my character and allowing me to absorb more and just reflect. High school predominantly just felt like academic ennui and everyone was so disgustingly competitive; no one really “shared” ideas and those who did had to keep to themselves because others discouraged it. I completely agree with Troy. Education really does trump creativity hence hindering the capability to think outside the box. I wish more educational institutions would make more of an effort to find a progressive way to incorporate the two because in the long run I truly believe it would be much more beneficial than just simply learning about this subject or that career. Perhaps people are hesitant to deviate from the tried-and-true method of teaching and find it challenging and daunting to teach in such a non-traditional way. I find it sad that society is so adverse to anomaly and I commend Miss Keller for being such a transcendent, strong woman.

    Well that's just my 2 cents. Don't take anything too seriously from an undergrad who's trying to milk a lifelong valuable way of thinking from her college. C'est la vie. Maybe graduate school will be of more use in this endeavor.

    What about you? Do you agree with Helen Keller?

  • Troy
    Lv 6
    10 years ago

    I believe formal education, even at the higher level, is a tool both for innovation and conformity. I know it is contradictory but the curriculum universities follow are a reflection of the elite's take on science, history and politics. Students are given these valuable clues to understand their reality and it is up to each individual mind to accept them, and do what Helen Keller's quote says (lack ideas, imitate, recycle and shy away from originality) or it is also possible that once people understand the system they come up with a new angle or a new wave of social and political understanding.

    Education through institutions, even if it is not meant to do it, stifles creativity. People can revive it and use the knowledge to support new ideas, but it is easy to be numb. Some go to college/university to get a degree, that will get them a job, that will help them have a standard life. These people are not out to innovate and generate ideas. They are out to design a life style and that is respectable. Others acquire higher education seeking inspiration and wide horizons. If people stay true to that project, I am sure they can overcome the institution and go for the knowledge that empowers and drives new ideas.

    Academia is a hard thing to go against. Keller spent her entire life being an exception to the norm, as a woman and as a person with disabilities. I am not an expert in her life (or anything close to that) but perhaps this comment is a reflection of her own experience, as a pioneer for disabled women who tried to change things and inspire change but was met with the apathy and comformity that characterizes those who are in positions of power. College professors and authorities are not above the influence authority and prestiege. They can and do prevent innovation sometimes, in order to protect their own research and positions. It is possible that she encountered a few of these people during her career.

  • 10 years ago

    "...what is the true purpose of college..." If anyone should know the answer to that I should, but I don't. I don't think there is a single true purpose to college. Different colleges have different missions/roles to play. And I've always said that like most things in life a person will get out of college what they put into it. Since everybody wants different things their college experience and what they get out of it will be unique to them.

    Not knowing the context of the quote I'm not sure I fully understand her comment. I think the biggest role any college education should play is to expose you to a diverse, even eclectic, collection of other people's ideas. It is then your role to investigate,synthesize and extrapolate from them. If you are lucky you will come away with not just a better appreciation of other people's ideas but the beginning formulation of a few good ones of your own. College should not be the end of your educational quest but the beginning.

    Your comment about Radcliffe brought a fond memory to mind. When I was in graduate school in the 70's I had a dear friend who was fiercely proud of the fact that she was a graduate of Harvard and not Radcliffe.

  • katty
    Lv 5
    10 years ago

    College teaches you how to acquire, collect and utilize information in a workable format. Even though you may be on a certain career path, the info is not yet usable in the workplace. Ideas are creative. College actually makes you fit in a box. Dot the I's and cross the T's. I think it can stump creativity. It takes time to acquire info and to absorb it. It takes more time to organize it in a work environment. Law or nursing the creativity comes after the nuts and bolts.

    Yes I do agree with Helen Keller

    Source(s): my opinion
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  • 10 years ago

    I can agree with her to a certain point. A college education is a solid foundation. In college students have intellectual professors that can challenge their minds and help them see/analysis information. It gives us new perspectives on how to see things.

    Furthermore, the college experience is deeply rich as well. A student gets to meet other students that come from all over the world. It is truly a unique experience.

    Moreover, a college education can give help stimulate one's ideas, but that is best left up to the individual.

    College can deeply influences people ideas because ideas/ creativity can come from anywhere.

    One of my drama teachers told me that many artists look at history for their influences.

    Also, the question that I have for Helen Keller is that could she have been who she is without a college education?

  • vj288
    Lv 4
    10 years ago

    It's a place to learn about other people's ideas. It's also to master skills and learn life lessons. Ideas may develop while in college, but I doubt is a direct product of the curriculum or life. I would agree with Helen Keller.

  • Nancy
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    The human brain is readily adapted to find correlations in behavior, experience, and observation and format them into abstract constructs that symbolize the phenomena. Helen Keller was no different in the context of having this innate virtue, hence the common philosophical reference to humans as "the rational animal". While undoubtedly at a disadvantage as compared to those of us with all the available sensory perception at our disposal, it still stands to reason that she would be able to find some system of communication with which to transmit her subjective abstract constructs into an objective medium of language. In formalized concepts of language a systematic method of abstraction is used to represent and identify objective states and phenomena of reality so that this information can be related coherently between observers. All that was needed for Helen Keller to think was her mind, and all that was needed for her to communicate was a language.

  • 10 years ago

    i dont disagree with her, but at the same time i think college really give you ideas about careers, life, and it's a great experience. So i don't completely agree with her either.

  • 10 years ago

    I disagree. Its a place for ideas because in university you get exposed to tons of information, philosophies, theories, beliefs, etc that you would not see if you weren't there. The exposure to these then begin to form ideas in your mind. You also gather knowledge there, yes, but you don't just sponge it all in and not filter and process it in your mind.

    Source(s): University student.
  • 10 years ago

    I believe that ideas are intimately related to what we see and hear, so being blind and deaf would be a major obstacle to getting ideas.

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