A few days ago
Tahini Classic

Should your degree teach you how to think, or should it train you for a role as a specialized professional?

My secondary educational background is European, and I remember distinctly being highly irritated at the North American notion of tertiary studies being about “teaching people how to think”.

In Europe, university is about being taught the nuts and bolts of ONE profession for which you train up and become a specialist.

Now, which should it be? Which model is better? Can you give me reasons?

Top 4 Answers
A few days ago
Dave K

Favorite Answer

I think it’s a little of both. Of course your major is going to give you the smaller details of your studies, but most schools make you take electives that have nothing to do with your major. Really… I have a degree in geography… I don’t need trigenometry (I know I spelled that wrong). But classes like that teach you to disect and study a subject. Just like English classes prepare you for future writing, whether it be a presentation or a letter to mom. I love maps, and geography… but I’m glad I was able to learn other things in college too, that may or may not help me in the future. I’m a believer in a well-rounded education.

A few days ago
My degree taught me to teach…

I guess the kind of education you get in Russia provides students with solid theoretical knowledge and thus it teaches you to think. For example, we are taught mostly not how to apply a rule in practice but rather how you should deduce it from other theories.

This kind of education obviously has its drawbacks but I guess it is what is really vital to survive because it provides you with more opportunities in a fast-changing environment – you can quite easily change your profession and not end up unemployed with 2 university degrees…


A few days ago
Dear Tahini, this your question really deserves my very best star I’ve ever given!

Of course a degree should train students well, providing all necessary knowledge to them. They must be enabled to form a view on a problem for solving it. So that’s already the answer to your question: teach them all knowledge and responsibility for their decisions you can, and enable AND encourage them to make up their minds. Don’t let them follow any doctrines, but teach them to keep asking (also themselves) about anything questionable. Teaching only any doctrines isn’t good at all: you will get narrow-minded specialists who are unable following further developments in their field.

Okay, I admit that I’m a naturalist scientific, but questioning doesn’t harm research – in many regards it has a positive effect on it.


A few days ago
Should, but mostly doesn’t. ~