It's back-to-school season, and what better way to prepare for the academic year ahead than by reflecting on the ends of education and seeking practical advice from seasoned veterans? Whether you're an undergraduate just starting out, a grad student pursuing a PhD, JD, or MD, a first-time teacher or an old hand, Public Discourse has philosophical insight and concrete suggestions that will help you make the most of the year to come.
- Don’t delay your life. Don’t wait until you get a job, then tenure, to do the normal things that make life sweet, like marrying and having children. Remember the time-worn observation: “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Professors who build their career around their own ego and cutthroat ambition tend to shrivel into something you don’t want to be.
- As you enter into the medical profession, I encourage you to “start with the end in mind” by studying the Hippocratic Oath. The oath articulates the true aim of medicine, guiding physicians to provide treatments that align with the purpose of medicine and so are right for a doctor to do, and to refuse to provide treatments that go against this purpose and are wrong for a doctor to do.
- New teachers need concrete examples from their teaching communities to help them manage their classrooms well and begin building experience and expertise. Returning teachers need opportunities for discussion within their communities to help them reflect on the experience and expertise they have already gained.
- Law students shouldn’t be content with shallow conceptions of law. Instead, they should look deeper, asking questions about the nature and destiny of the human person, and the connection between our human nature and the legal enterprise.
- Some prejudices are good to have, some are bad, some are indifferent. Acquiring an education is learning to discriminate the good prejudices one carries about from the bad ones—to keep the former, as confirmed by knowledge, and discard the latter, as condemned by knowledge.