Back to all news

The Usefulness of Useless Education

In the News | July 31, 2017

In his piece “The Usefulness of Useless Education,” appearing today in the Huffington Post, MƒA President John Ewing breaks down how industry and government are increasingly focused on practical research, meant to produce immediate benefits rather than intellectual pursuits of knowledge, which are essential to the human spirit.

Ewing cites beliefs and essays from American educator Abraham Flexner and mathematical physicist Robbert Dijkgraaf on how this concept about research applies equally well to education:  

“Like research, Americans today seem to favor practical education. They see education as career training. They view the process of education as labor rather than craftsmanship. They believe teaching is something done to children rather than with them. And they believe success can be measured by tests of facts and skills, emphasizing the immediately useful.”

Ewing stresses what we should all know – that education, like research, is more than just useful facts and skills. It is best driven by intense curiosity rather than utility and requires a thirst for learning:

“Here is where (these essays) are the most relevant, for when society is in tumult—when careers repeatedly change, new professions continually arise, and jobs are most unpredictable—creating curious, inspired, lifelong learners turns out to be the most useful education of all.”

Read the full op-ed here.