This is truly a thought-provoking piece, James Knight.
I know many good people who don’t have a college education but are immensely wise, but they’re all Europeans. In the US, the compassionate ones I know are all college-educated in fields as varied as pharmacy, performing arts, psychology, nursing…
Those who aren’t, on the other hand, don’t possess the critical thinking faculties you think of and their mind is on the closed side. Perhaps because they’ve been held back and suffer from some inferiority complex, they tend to be susceptible to a fault, unable to entertain feedback, and often harbor a persecution complex of the “life is unfair” or “the world is out to get me” kind and it is truly, truly terrifying to me. Those folks generally dwell in echo chambers and are incapable of dialogue with anyone who doesn’t think like them.
Of course I’m well aware that the above sounds like a sweeping generalization and it bothers me but I led a very isolated life in America and know very few people as a result. The US friends I’ve known since high school are college grads and sound, well, just like you.
I cannot help but be disgusted by how commodified education is in the US. Surely the more educated citizens are, the better for society and the economy so making education accessible to all is a no-brainer…
I cannot imagine how difficult your job is, James. I’ve worked with many educators from across the US and Canada when I was an educational tour director in Europe and all human life was there, from capitalistic bullies who were only in it for the free trip to teachers who made lessons come to life every single day.
As you can see, America still confuses me no end and becoming a citizen did nothing to help, alas. I got the sanitized, idealistic version of America distilled in 100 factoids I had to commit to memory.