Rousseau, writing in Emile, observes,
"There is much discussion as to the characteristics of a good tutor. My first requirement, and it implies a good many more, is that he should not take up his task for reward. There are callings so great that they cannot be undertaken for money without showing our unfitness for them; such callings are those of the soldier and the teacher.
Plato records the Stranger in Sophist,
Then now, Theaetetus, his art may be traced as a branch of the appropriative, acquisitive daily - which hunts animals, - living - land - tame animals; which hunts man, - privately - for hire, - taking money in exchange - having the semblance of education; and this is termed Sophistry, and is a hunt after young men of wealth and rank - such is the conclusion.
Or as Aristotle recounts in On Sophistical Refutations,
...the art of the sophist is the semblance of wisdom without the reality, and the sophist is one who makes money from an apparent but unreal wisdom.
School is expensive and why wouldn't be seeing the Federal government wants a piece of that pie along with things like finance, healthcare and housing. The government's portfolio is "well diversified" shall we say. Everyone "deserves" a house. In 2007, we found out that probably was not the best piece of worldview advice. In 2020, everyone "deserves" a college education and the quality of the advice hasn't changed, but the cost of college has.
In fact, one observer notes that the cost of college has increased eight times faster than wages. And up and up it goes. In order to sweeten the deal, in this COVID season prices have not gone down though many school have opted for an online learning environment. So while the cost of college goes up, the quality of the service goes down. Sounds like the scheming of Professor McMonkey McBean and his now famous Star-off Machine.
But wait there's more. The schools and universities themselves are, on the point of virtue, voracious dumpster fires. Anthony Esolen writes in Out of the Ashes, "There are two things wrong with our schools - everything our children don't learn in them, and everything they do learn. Public schools are beyond reform; we have to start over." Regarding Universities he writes, "Our universities ares as bad as our schools. A few can be saved, but for the most part, we must build new ones." Think safe spaces, trigger warnings, and micro-aggressions - 21st century sophistry.
Still the price goes up as we make our way to be Starbelly Sneeches.
But what of the relationship between money and education. The Ancients would have us believe something crazy like, education is meant to shape the soul, shape the affect. Nowadays education is all about jobs and how much money you can make with that job. It stands to reason that if money is the goal then perhaps money (i.e student loans) is also the means to that goal. But if education is not about jobs or money, but about the formation of the soul, about the increase of virtue or human excellence, then the focus on money poses something of a problem.
The Scriptures tell us that the love of money is the root of all evil. "Love" here is derived from "fila" which has the connotation of "fondness". Similar language is found in James where he writes that love of the world (fondness of the world) is enmity with God. What is more, don't you find it interesting that of all the things Scripture juxtaposes God and mammon in that no man can serve two masters. To serve money precludes one's inability to serve God.
Education concerns the good, true, and beautiful. Educational institutions which seek the bottom line above or equal to being physicians of the soul corrupt, contaminate, compromise the very nature and quality of that for which they exist - to educate. What is more, given the reputation of money, even if the good, true, and beautiful are dispensed without corruption, the charge clearly remains.
For example, such an arrangement is something akin to bribery. Say some incredulous mobster has some unscrupulous judge on his payroll. The judge is on the take. Say further that on some fateful day the mobster must appear before said judge and on that day, while the judge is on the take he dispenses his verdict and say the verdict goes against the mobster. What does the verdict say about the unscrupulous judge?
Well it says a lot of things, and one of those things is that the judge takes money from criminals for the expressed purpose of subverting the truth. Did the judge subvert the truth in declaring his verdict? Does it matter? Perhaps he took a greater bribe from a different mob boss. Maybe the judge has some axe to grind. Maybe the judge was promised a seat on a higher court in exchange for a miscarriage of justice. The point is, the reputation and declarations of the judge are suspect because he is regularly paid to judge concerning what is true and he is often beholden to his crooked financial handlers.
The same goes for school teachers and professors. At the time of writing this post I count myself among the latter. If we fail students then parents gripe and enrollment goes down. Enrollment is king. At my school I suppose the professors are relatively free to state their convictions and opinions. Still, in other school we know this is not the case. A quick search of the mighty Google and you can easily find professors being fired for all kinds of supposed sins and transgressions.
"You better not use a word that sounds like a forbidden word."
"You better use everyone's preferred pronouns."
"Remember white skinned people are bad, the only purveyors of racism. In fact, nothing is worse than a straight white educated Christian male. I mean, if Satan were real he would be a straight white educated Christian male."
So professors kowtow. They bow the knee, and teach horse crap in the place of what it good, true, and beautiful. They destroy and malform souls for that almighty paycheck whether it pays in prestige, grants, or USD.
For those who don't play the role of surf, their message falls under suspicion. Suppose a successful president of a college goes off the rails and compromising pictures and stories start to surface. The board knows. Faculty knows. They knew before the pictures that the president did not embody the character and mission of the school, but said nothing. Why? I hope it wasn't for that prestige or grant or paycheck. Whether it was or it wasn't the message from the board and faculty now comes under suspicion. What else were they too afraid to tell us?
What if we were free from the oppression and suspicion that comes with being paid in dollars to be truth-tellers? Maybe we shouldn't be paid in dollars to be physicians of the soul. My grandmother once said while looking at the brood of children the Lord blessed me with, "Some people are so poor all they have is money." Maybe the truth-teller's wealth should never be in acquiring grants or tenured paychecks. Rather, might it be that the truth-teller's wealth comes in the formation of souls, in the propagation of the good, true, and beautiful, and the change that such things bring to the world.
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." - Matthew 6:19-21
There are all kinds of ways to be rich. Perhaps it is time the truth-tellers of this world seek their riches in other places than those inhabited by marauding moths and the langolier.