Wednesday, January 12, 2005

From the Mail: A Point Restated

Andy Blumson writes via e-mail:

You wrote: "The widespread availability of educational opportunities is a value, both for students and teachers, but one in competition with the value of high standards."

But is that not just the standard confusion between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome? Everyone should have the opportunity to study (e.g.) philosophy if he wants to, but"wanting to", in any real sense, requires a willingness to devote the necessary effort. The goal of education should be to inspire that effort in as many people as possible. It should not be to make such effort unnecessary.

BV: Since I am the first to insist on the distinction between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome, I don't see how I am confusing the two. My point was simply that, although it is good that more and more people are able to pursue higher education nowadays, this comes at a cost, namely a certain erosion of standards. For example, the more people there are who hold advanced degrees, the the less those degrees are worth. The 'currency' has become 'inflated.'

By the way, I liked your post on Strunk & White and largely agree with it.