Mike Kueber's Blog

May 8, 2014

David Brooks and a philosophy of life

Filed under: Education,Philosophy — Mike Kueber @ 5:43 pm

I recently blogged about NY Times columnists David Brooks and Thomas Friedman locking horns, or was it crossing swords, over the role of a college education, with Brooks in favor of a broad liberal education and Friedman in favor of job training.  Brooks has now drafted a related column that suggests Friedman is winning the war.

Brooks’s new column is based on an annual UCLA survey of college freshman.  According to the survey, 42% of the college freshmen in 1966 felt that being financially well-off was an essential or very important life goal, and this number had increased to 75% by 2005.   By contrast, 86% of the freshmen in 1966 felt that developing a meaningful philosophy of life was essential or very important, while less than 50% feel that way today.

Not surprisingly, this increasingly materialistic attitude is taking a toll on our youth.  Whereas in 1985 only 18% of the freshmen felt overwhelmed, today that number has increased to 33%.

I am hopeful, however, that eventually our youth will see the light, adjust their attitude, and rearrange their priorities.

Incidentally, the survey reveals an astonishing amount of grade inflation since I was in high school.  Today more than half of the high-school kids have GPAs of A or A-.  By contrast, in 1966 only 19% did.  Based on my experience, that grade inflation applies to colleges, too, because my college required only a 3.2 GPA to graduate cum laude, whereas one of my son needed a 3.5 GPA to graduate cum laude from UTSA.

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