College and Mental Illness

William Deresiewicz, a former Yale English professor, argues that the elite education system and the rise of adolescent "busy-ness" can lead young people to a cycle of grandiosity, depression and constant comparisons.

He asserts that as religious beliefs have become less common, especially among educated people, students have started to turn to their educational systems for the big questions. They interpret art, literature, music, theater, and philosophy in figuring out their personal meaning of life. 

This is essentially what "the humanities" college education has historically tried to provide. It gives students the opportunity to self reflect and to answer larger questions around humanity and the world we live in. It's not as specific or skills-based like other parts of a college education quite properly should be. 

Deresiewicz's take away message is that personal time, self reflection, and the humanities help students know themselves so they know what they want in the world. They decide on the careers, the rewards, the values that they want. And maybe it's being wealthy or comparing themselves with others. But at least students will act based on their own initiative instead of unconsciously accepting the values of others.

In the end, "Education should be an act of liberation. We need to make a better system but ultimately everybody has to claim their freedom for themselves." 

 

 

Posted on September 8, 2015 .