University as both vehicle to, and shelter from, the future

Research group member John Lowenthal’s latest blog post for the ‘Imagining the Future’ project on urban and rural youth transitions – this project also involves Humanistic Perspectives member Patrick Alexander. John is currently resident in the States but sharing his thoughts online…

Discourses of education are often centred around notions of investment and the future. Young people are encouraged, as well as threatened, to go further and further into their studies through an ideology of delayed gratification. By “sacrificing” the present and committing time, effort, and in the case of HE, a great deal of borrowed money then you’re in with a chance of great things. Whilst a lottery, the future is kept alive through the promise of possibility. Failure to strive within this forward momentum is depicted throughout schooling as dangerous, degenerative, and against one’s own future interests. Yet even then, education is framed across the life course as salvational and solutional. Adults without a degree may “redeem” themselves later in life; much like aspirational immigrants who “use” education to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps”; meanwhile, those already with a degree increasingly consider further, and yet further qualifications, trying to escape a dull or competitive present in the hope of something better.

For more see: https://urbanruralyouthtransitions.wordpress.com/

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