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Postgrad or not? – the value of education to answer real problems. January 4, 2011

Posted by @Karen_Fu in Architecture, change, education, environment.
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I have just received an email invite to attend a talk for postgraduate studies by an American professor. Honestly I had thought the college would not call me up anymore because I get the sneaky feeling they may not really like the way I think. On the other hand, I don’t have the time to attend as I happen to work at that time slot and the time is really pretty much fixed. I don’t know if I want to study any more. I have been catching up with some of the best professionals and many ironically do not hold a postgraduate degree. It seems to me that my motivation for postgrad appears to wane over the years after talking to too many people. I seem to have an impression that education does not breed the ideal graduate who could genuinely contribute to society in a sustainable and healthy way. Maybe its due to the people whom I talked to but I didn’t really think they were exactly nice people.

I was particularly ‘pissed’ by a few academics who seem to think that postgraduate education provides the ultimate skill. Not that I disregard the fact that advanced skills contribute to a far higher quality of solutions; but more of the fact that it was delivered in arrogance. I don’t like pompous, matter of fact answers. I often find humility in the most intelligent people and that group of smart people aren’t exactly all from postgraduates.

Some time back, I was talking to an academic who claim to say that better buildings are made through more years in the university. I know Tadao Ando, a famous Japanese architect, didn’t attend any professional architectural school at a university. He was entirely self-taught. By self-taught through travelling and working, he formulated his own ideas which invariably meant that he was creating fresh ideas/methods away from the convention. Le Corbusier was another famous architect who did a similar way. Perhaps some people may argue that these great innovators were such because knowledge then wasn’t as diversfied and in depth, which makes self teaching possible. But somewhat I feel that postgraduate training is unlike undergraduate. The latter offers a base. If you have a good base, you could extend and multiply off your knowledge later. If you had a lousy base, you can’t do postgraduate anyway ‘cos it wouldn’t be effective.  A good foundation is one that allows one to form ideas and method to learn, apart from skills.

I also question about the true value of a college education for we have problems that are not exactly being solved. Its more morphed than being answered permanently. Looking around at the changes in science and tecbnology; language and humanities; can anyone truly claim that the worlds problems or rather on a microscopic level, a society’s problem be sorted sustainably? We may be living longer but we may not be necessarily be living healthier. We seem to sort problems partially, and leaving another part of the problem to mutate into another new set of problems.

I wonder if we have really learnt our lessons inside out. Over the course of history of seveal thousands of years, human deceit has never been really eradicated. It appears that people of lesser formal education appear to learn more at times when disasters come. The only downpoint of these people are that they lack impeccable verbal skills. Language skills appear to dominate in the area of intelligence. It really shouldn’t be this way. I have learnt a great deal everywhere from everyone. I wouldn’t have the guts to claim I know it all. Neither would I have the might to say I am perfectly educated. I often feel that many around me have taught me a lot. Hence I am now questioning the true value of education. We should humbly take cues everywhere from everyone. The direction we are heading may well be wrong.

Simply because we have an impending global disaster — both physical and metaphysical climate. — Karen Fu