I would like to introduce a concept that perhaps many have not given consideration. I would like to introduce post-schooling scholarship.
I think we have placed scholarship on a too lofty pedestal and in doing so we have placed it beyond reach or consideration. I want to suggest that middle class scholarship is reality that we all should consider as a friend to be embraced as our own.
It appears to me that we give this description, scholar, to the young student in an aristocratic English Academy and to the pipe smoking, dressed in tweeds, English professor or American equivalent.
The development of an economic middle class is the hallmark of success in any mature nation. I think it is possible that the development of a scholarly middle class could represent a similar development in the life of democracy of a nation.
I think that schooling in America has been given the assignment to prepare our young people to enter the work place. Our schools and colleges are required by society to prepare young people as efficiently as possibly to become troopers in the drive to maximize production and consumption. This assignment gives our teachers and professors little time to prepare individuals to become critical thinking mature intellects prepared to understand a rapidly developing reality driven by the technology these graduates are capable of producing.
I am a retired engineer with a good bit of formal education and twenty-five years of self-actuated learning. I began the self-learning experience while in my mid-forties. I had no goal in mind; I was just following my intellectual curiosity in whatever direction it led me. This hobby, self-learning, has become very important to me. I have bounced around from one hobby to another but have always been enticed back by the excitement I have discovered in this learning process. Carl Sagan is quoted as having written; “Understanding is a kind of ecstasy.”
I label myself as a September Scholar because I began the process at mid-life and because my quest is disinterested knowledge. I think of myself as a middle class scholar.
Disinterested knowledge is an intrinsic value. Disinterested knowledge is not a means but an end. It is knowledge I seek because I desire to know it. I mean the term ‘disinterested knowledge’ as similar to ‘pure research’, as compared to ‘applied research’. Pure research seeks to know truth unconnected to any specific application.
I think of the self-actualized learner of disinterested knowledge as driven by curiosity and imagination to understand. The September Scholar seeks to ‘see’ and then to ‘grasp’ through intellection directed at understanding the self as well as the world. The knowledge and understanding that is sought by the middle class scholar are determined only by personal motivations. It is noteworthy that disinterested knowledge is knowledge I am driven to acquire because it is of dominating interest to me. Because I have such an interest in this disinterested knowledge my adrenaline level rises in anticipation of my voyage of discovery.