A Welton Academy problem
Letter to the Editor | Friday, August 26, 2016
If anyone reading this has never seen the movie, Dead Poets Society, I recommend you stop here, find a copy and watch it because the movie speaks volumes to an issue I have noticed here on campus. In the movie, Welton Academy is a place where students come for secondary education, to be taught what is expected of high-class youths during the late 1950s. Many of these students are Ivy League-bound, to fulfill their parents’ wish for them to be successful with careers such as doctors, lawyers, and bankers. When they come to school, they are simply content to learn what is required, never asking questions or thinking for themselves. This is the problem I have seen in my short time here at Notre Dame.
For a school that seems to pride itself on having the perfect balance of student population with attention towards undergraduate education, I see the undergraduate population falling into this Welton Academy mindset, pushing further on in the goal of personal success. From what I have seen, what is missing here is the kind of passion for learning for the sake of learning, rather than for the sake of money. That problem is extended to the larger sphere of elite institutions that we have in the United States, which are increasingly becoming the stepping stones for financial and other personal means of success.
Elite institutions like Notre Dame should be focusing on creating an environment where students don’t accept what they learn as fact, but rather ask questions and contemplate the larger concepts. I am in no way saying this is universal, but I am disappointed that there is a lack of interaction in the small classes Notre Dame takes pride in. We are too focused at being successful in the traditional way, and it is causing us to perpetuate the sad fact that college is becoming more and more a business, a transaction between students for a guarantee of what is needed to get a job, rather than exploring the world and its profound questions and obtaining real knowledge. Get out there, ask questions and focus less on the next ladder-rung and more on being in a place where you can develop most as a person.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.