Reporting: Summary

Exercise 2

Sum up in one sentence the author's feelings about the value of his education, according to the passage.

School and life

In my experience the problem of what to do in life was not made any easier by those who were entrusted with my education. Looking back, it seems most odd that never once in all the years that I was at school was there any general discussion about careers. As presumably the main object of going to school is to prepare for after life, it surely would have been very easy and relevant to organise lectures or discussions designed to give boys a broad view of the enormous variety of occupations open to men of average intelligence? Of course many boys were destined from birth to follow their fathers’ careers, but even these would have benefited by glimpse of a wider horizon. Often and often in after life I have come across people doing jobs that I had never dreamed of before, and which would have thrilled me had I been told about them at school. I suppose the reason for this extra-ordinary omission is that so many schoolmasters had themselves such a restricted view. Spending all their time working to a rigid curriculum, the passing of examinations by their pupils gradually became the whole object of their working life. I recognize the importance of being made to learn things that one does not like, but surely it was not good to give the young mind the impression that all education was a form of mental gymnastics. For example, I used to find geometry rather fun, and, when I still had the naïve idea that what I was being taught might have some practical value, I asked what geometry was for. The only answer I ever got was that it taught one how to solve problems. If, instead, I had been told the simple fact that the word was derived from the Greek ge, the earth, and metron, a measure, and that the meaningless triangles that I was asked to juggle with formed the basis of geographical exploration, astronomy and navigation, the subject would immediately have assumed a thrilling romance, and, what is more, it would have been directly connected in my mind with the things that most appealed to me.
My experience in this connection may have been unfortunate, but it was by no means unique; many of my friends who went to different schools confess to a similar experience, and complain that when they had completed their school education they had not the remotest idea of what they wanted to do. Moreover I do not think that this curiously detached attitude towards education was confined to schools. It had been intended that I should go to one of the great universities. I was tepid about the idea myself, for I had developed a dislike for the very thought of educational establishments. However, the prospect of three extra seasons in the Alps was a considerable incentive, and by dint of an enormous mental effort I succeeded in cramming sufficient Latin into my head to pass (at my second attempt) the necessary entrance examination. In due course I went to be interviewed by the master of my prospective college. When I was asked what subject I propose to take when I came up to the university, I replied, somewhat diffidently, that I wanted to take Geology - diffidently, because I still regarded such things as having no reality in the hard world of work. The answer to my suggestion confirmed my fears. ‘What on earth do you want to do with Geology? There is no opening there unless you eventually get a first and become a lecturer in the subject.’ A first, a lecturer - I, who could not even learn a couple of books of Horace by heart! I felt that I was being laughed at. In fact I am sure I was not, and that my adviser was quite sincere and only trying to be helpful, but I certainly did not feel like arguing the matter. I listened meekly to suggestions that I should take Classics or Law, and left the room in a state of profound depression. ‘Oh Lord,’ I thought, ‘even here I won't be able to escape from Kennedy's Latin Primer,’ with which I had been struggling for ten years.

(From Upon that Mountain by Eric Shipton)

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