“Your sister is given to government.” “Given to government, Joe?” I was startled, for I had some shadowy idea (and I am afraid I must add, hope) that Joe had divorced her in favor of the Lords of the Admiralty, or Treasury. “Given to government,” said Joe. “Which I meantersay the government of you and myself.” “Oh!” “And she ain’t over partial to having scholars on the premises,” Joe continued, “and in partickler would not be over partial to my being a scholar, for fear as I might rise. Like a sort of a rebel, don’t you see.” —Great Expectations
For the “average student,” education means rising but not rebelling. From one or another elitist viewpoint, “rising” is a priori illusory: our best students today see themselves as being “beyond” or above aspirations that authentically motivated their elders. The average student is admittedly a somewhat fictive character, but since the elite student is getting so much attention in the mass media and highbrow journals, it may be worth recalling what the average student is like. He usually stays near home and attends a public college, though he can sometimes be met at Harvard too, where he will be a stranger. He justifies his experience in terms of vocational goals—and he has to do that because of his parents’ relatively inferior education. Unfamiliar as he is with the life of t...
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