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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Universal Education: A Utopic Venture

In her feminist-utopian novel, Mizora, Mary E. B. Bradley Lane makes the claim that universal education is the key to creating a more iddlic society.  She mentions this in the beginning, middle, and at the very end of Mizora. The penultimate paragraph is as follows, "The future of the world, if it be grand and noble, will be the result of UNIVERSAL EDUCATION, FREE AS THE GOD-GIVEN WATER WE DRINK" (Lane 147).  If you educate people you raise people up.  Lane argues that the future of the world depends on education.

Earlier in the book she states that education is what will destroy any structure of caste or socio-economic class (67).  I would like to argue that this might not be true.  Humankind is far too prone to competition as it has a compulsory need for hierarchy.  Create a society that is egalitarian, but aparatchiks will still weasel their way out and up.

Hypothetically, let's say that everyone is educated and we have no need for manual workers because that kind of work has been completely mechanized.  A hierarchy will still exist because even among all the different types of "brain" work, as Lane calls it, there is a hierarchy of values.  One might make a ranked list: 1. Doctors 2. Professors 3. Lawyers 4. Engineers, etc.  But then again, aren't professors more important than doctors for doctors would not be able to practice without the higher education granted them by professors? On the other hand, professors would not be able to educate future doctors if their health was not maintained by doctors? What is more important? The chicken or the egg?

One might argue that all of these are equally as important, but yet hierarchical values in a world in which everyone is educated would still be highly subjective.  These "brain" workers would have an inherit bias informing the importance and status of a certain field, likely their own.

Universal education would engender a new hierarchy: one in which the educated formed ranks and rule over the less educated or the equally educated in fields of lesser societal value.

Ask yourself if you know a doctoral or master's degree student that holds a great deal of reverence for an undergraduate student.  

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