Centre, Public Education, and the Death of Dumb

I rate Centre College as holy ground.  My four years there were without a doubt the most uplifting in my life.  The education I received there allowed me to do things later in life that I could barely have imagined had I not parked my body and mind in that wonderful setting three-plus decades ago.

Now I am on the other side of higher education.  I spend my time teaching students of varying capabilities and levels of motivation how to open and run businesses.  Occasionally I sneak in some lessons in economics and philosophy, courtesy of Centre.  My professional life is a combination of gratitude for my educational experience and frustration that not everyone has the opportunity I did.

Centre cannot be replaced by any other mechanism, but public education can and probably should be.  Sitting face-to-face with peers and an exceptional professor in groups of 15-20 to dissect Wittgenstein’s Tractatus or Marshall’s Principles of Economics gets right to the heart of what learning is all about.  Such experiences in public schools at any level are rare.  Centre’s mission will always be to enrich the individual lucky enough to attend.  Public schools’ mission is often lost in a forest of bureaucratic regulations and increasingly top-heavy administration.

Those days are coming to an end as state budgets implode.  We no longer have the luxury of asking whether the state should support education.  Rather we will be faced with the fact that it simply cannot.  This is a good thing.  Home-monitored education through technology may force us all to remember why we get an education in the first place–to enrich ourselves and our children, not to acquire real estate and placate teachers’ unions.











About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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