Cornel West Education

“The Purpose of College Education” Cornel West, summarizes his views on what the purpose of a college education is, at speech given at Bergen Community College. Most people feel college is just about getting a good job or moving up in their current job. Cornel West sees college on a deeper level. He believes that the main purpose of a college education is to unsettle people and force them into mustering up the courage to think critically and for their selves. He also feels that college should teach us to become less materialistic and self centered, looking for the greater good for the community over the good for oneself.

Letting go of dogma and predispositions, so you can exam yourself is the most important part of education according to Cornel West. Although I do not agree with every one of West’s ideas on education, I do agree with the majority of them. West starts out his speech, saying that he hopes to “unsettle” people with it because education at its deepest sense is unsettling your believes and allowing yourself to think more critically. I have to agree with West on this perspective, thinking critically is extremely important.

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Thinking critically and freely allows us to better exam our world and not just follow what everyone else says. Without disconcerting people, they would be content continuing to not think critically. Thinking critically is the first step in coming up with new ideas and a better understanding of our surroundings. “Move from the bling bling, to the quest for wisdom”, meaning that college should shift us from the materialistic to the profound. West believes that college should make us think about the greater good of the community rather than the greater good for ourselves.

I completely agree with West on this point, although college for some pushes them more towards the materialistic. A large number of students attend college for completely superficial reason, to get a good job, to advance in their company, etc. We as humans are all innately altruistic; it’s through social influences that we become egotistical. West believes that a true college education should move us back towards our natural altruistic ways. If the community fails, so do you. What I found to be the most impactful part of his speech is when he says: “We must learn to die, in order to live. West believes that in order to see the world more clearly and live a “human” life, we must let go of our dogmas and predispositions. Letting unquestioned believes “die”, by questioning them or completely letting go of them will allow us to expand our minds and better understand our world. We all hold on to predefined ideas that we don’t allow ourselves to question, in doing this we shut ourselves off to new ideas. Letting go of our doctrines allows us to be more open minded and grow intellectually. Allowing yourself to be open to new ideas, allows us to live fully.

The purpose of college education is different for everyone. Some see it as being nothing more than a ladder to a better job; some see it with deeper meaning like West, while others view it with little importance. Although I don’t agree with every aspect of West ideas, I do agree with the majority of them. Through college we learn more than just what is on the syllabus. The growth we have in college is something that should never stop expanding and developing. The purpose of a college education is to incubate our mind and soul, so it can continuously grow and evolve.

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