Education vs. Work

The old general rule was that educated people did not perform manual labor. They managed to eat their bread, leaving the toil of producing it to the uneducated. This was not an insupportable evil to the working bees, so long as the class of drones remained very small. But now, especially in these free States, nearly all are educated–quite too nearly all, to leave the labor of the uneducated, in any wise adequate to the support of the whole. It follows from this that henceforth educated people must labor. Otherwise, education itself would become a positive and intolerable evil. No country can sustain, in idleness, more than a small percentage of its numbers. The great majority must labor at something productive.
–Abraham Lincoln
September 30, 1859
Address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society


This one, he DID say.  I happened onto it while searching for the quote in my last post, and found it quite interesting, in light of the books I am reading at the moment.  It certainly makes me think twice about the dumbing down of our schools, the increasing inefficiency of our school system, and the college degrees that do not actually prepare people for the workplace as well as did the teenage apprenticeships of colonial days. 

I wonder if these phenomena are a response to the problem that Lincoln outlined here.  Our people were too well-educated, so why not school them to think less, to follow orders, to not aspire to anything very great, to buy what we sell, to be more tractable?  In this way, we continue the illusion of being a well-educated nation, but we are putting our worker bees back where we want them. 

Of course, that does create some new problems…  Worker bees that think they have a superior education (even though practically everyone else has an equivalent one) are not likely to be happy with menial jobs.  Anyone following my thought processes on this?  I’m just brainstorming, but there are some fascinating possibilities!  Where does it take you?


About dayuntoday

I'm a wonderer. I spend a lot of time mulling, pondering, and cogitating. This is just a place to park some of those thoughts.
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2 Responses to Education vs. Work

  1. I think that manual labor is necessary in everyone’s life!  If a woman can’t can, sew, cook, clean, etc. then she is lacking in her education. If a man can’t do all those basic things that a guy does, then he’s lacking in his education. Of course, it’s great if the man can cook, clean, etc. and the woman can replace a toilet or whatnot.I am trying to make sure that my kids realize that algebra and literary theory and html code are only a small part of life.

  2. the_grat says:

    @TeacherPerson -actually, they are immense parts of life, if one wants to take ourlives further than our predecessors.  there are so many facetsyet unexplored and undiscovered.  mathematics for example, aretruly invaluable.  and our understanding of countless biologicalorganisms has only barely been tapped, and therefore therepercussions they could bear on each other and our environment islargely blank.  personally,i hope i live to see the day that aids and cancer are both solidlyunderstood and cured…   it may or may not prove to be the mosteffective method, but germany has been making headway in bothdepartments, and the repercussions could be cause for greatcelebration for the somewhat clearer understanding of CCR5 – the raregenetic mutation which is effectively resistant to the HIV virus, andcan be donated via bone marrow transplant, and is can effectivelytake over and cause a cure, to put it as best i can in layman’sterms.  ihope to continue to see lawyers effectively campaigning for theinnocent, making laws through precedence in the courtrooms.ihope to see alternatives for fuel and energy not just talked about,but effectualized and put in play throughout our communities.ihope i see people realize just how small they are.  ihope i see the people realize how much they are capable of.  ihope to see the day they care enough to want to becapable and responsible for much.  however,looking at the generation coming up, who would rather sit in generalmenial day-to-day routines that keep them and their own merelycomfortable, it saddens me.  THAT is the empathy so many doscorn, and yet embrace.   “here am i!  send him!”–g.

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