In our day, interest in getting a higher education is almost universally connected to getting a job. Magazines and newspapers rank colleges and universities according to their ability to increase the earning potential of graduates. Large marketing budgets are spent to influence the decisions of future students. “Come here our job placement is the best in the nation!” “Join our vast ranks of higher wage earners!” “Our graduates are among the nation’s top income producers!” With all these messages being shoved down our throats it easy to miss a more fundamental purpose for receiving an education, to become educated.

In his book A Thomas Jefferson Education, Oliver DeMille states that there are three types of educational systems. While none of them are desirable in the exclusion of the others, he does note that there is a desperate need for one specific type of education, a leadership education. The three types of educational systems that DeMille mentions are the conveyor belt system, the professional system and the leadership system.

The most common form of education currently in our society is the conveyor belt system. The system is designed to teach people what to think and to supply businesses with loyal workers. Imagine the factory worker. In order to improve efficiency certain steps must be repeated over and over again. Teaching somebody to follow orders and not to think outside the box is pretty important to the stability of many business operations. DeMille also states that the system is designed to cater to the lowest 15% of any population. In this system no child is left behind.

The next system of education is designed for the top 15% of the population. In this system people become highly specialized and professional areas. They are treated much like the conveyor belt system only on a higher level. The system includes many higher forms of education and requires a lot more work on the part of the student, but typically still teaches someone what to think, not how. It’s only in the last form of education that somebody learns fully how to think and it’s in this last form of education that DeMille argues people become true leaders, not merely workers or managers.

A leadership education consists of a prospective student evaluating their desires and pursuing a course of education tailored to what they feel is their specific calling in life. Education is more than income potential. It is a path to a vocation or ones mission in life. A leadership education takes a study of classical works, the involvement of mentors instead of teachers and other components to create and foster an environment of true education.

So in our urgency to go to college online & snag the next hottest job, let us not forget the deeper purpose of education, which is to make a man into what he is meant to be, and not to place him in a cubicle as a cog in a machine to which his only contribution is the creation of wealth.

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