Abstract

In the short space allowed me here, I want to share some of my thoughts with you in response to "Another Brick in the Wall." Time will not permit me to qualify my remarks, to explore other important dimensions of the issue, or to acknowledge contrary viewpoints as much as I would like to. Please do not judge me harshly for what I have had to leave out. Alas, I do not have time to ponder the exact meaning of "brick" and "wall," least of all the meaning intended by the songwriter. I do not have time to acknowledge adequately that "bricks" and "walls” are surely in some sense good and necessary, as I imagine some in this audience would like to insist. I cannot even explore the question someone like George Carlin would ask--if the purpose of education is not to produce bricks, then why do we require teachers and students at commencement to wear hats called "MORTAR boards"?

Instead, I will do just two things. First I will describe what I take to be the fundamental purpose of higher education which is precisely the opposite of what this song suggests. And secondly I will consider how such an education can or cannot equip a student to fit into the "wall" of gainful employment he or she will face upon graduation.

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