As a college graduate, what is your responsibility in the world?
Graduate... responsibility? Wait a minute, I paid for that education. That's like the guy at the McDonald's drive-through asking me to pledge to use that hamburger and fries for good in the world.
Well, I just read something I want to pass along. Now, what I read was interesting but it has little to do with the question I posed -- what responsibility college graduates have in the world. The article in the New York Times was by Grant Hill, a rebuttal to some things Jalen Rose said about Duke players in his ESPN 30/30 documentary on the Fab Five. You will want to hear this discussion of the controversy by Chris Broussard who just explodes on the subject on ESPN. Damn!
Hill's rebuttal is even more strongly worded and fiercely illuminating. But, in talking about Duke graduates around the world, and about the charter school Rose has started in his home town, Hill said this:
Just as Jalen has founded a charter school in Michigan, we are expected to use our education to help others, to improve life for those who need our assistance and to use the excellent education we have received to better the world.
That paragraph impressed me. Could I say this to my students? Could I tell them with a straight face they owe the world something for the gift of a college education?
I don't know. I'm not sure graduates look on education as a gift. It costs too much and is too hard fought for them to see it as a gift, I'm afraid. And those of us in academia have participated in the cheapening of a college education by promising to educate people anywhere, anytime, with minimum inconvenience ... not unlike the promise of the drive-through window. Should people really be grateful for the sort of torture good teachers put them through?
That's really a tough question, isn't it?
Grant Hill talks about education as a privilege. I wish I could find the words to explain that to my students.
Image courtesy CBS Chicago / Doug Pensinger, Getty Images