By Jill Dellamalva
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 17, 1998

College versus real world education


Arizona Daily Wildcat

Jill Dellamalva

This column isn't about politics. It isn't about race, class, or status.

It isn't about the media.

I just finished reading a chapter in my history book about why no one ever tried to stop Hitler, even though he made it perfectly clear what his intention of wiping out Jews and anyone else he didn't like. I had to read about the German point of view, as well as the Jewish and American sides.

It seems like a lot of my classes this semester have forced me to think analytically about a subject and made me develop my own opinions about it by carefully considering all sides.

This is college education, but it's not "the real world."

No, in the "real world" I only see people looking at things from limited points of view. Protestant, Catholic, Black, White, Republican, Democrat, Male, Female. Take your pick. Not satisfied? I'm sure you could think of more.

Trials, like O.J. Simpson's, that received national coverage are mirrors that show us how ugly and mean we are as a people. People said that support for and against O.J. was based on race. But it wasn't. I know, this is an old and obvious case; however, it's a good example of the point I'm trying to get across. Must every position we take on a subject be influenced by our race, party affiliation, ideology, sex, religion or even the section of the country where we reside?

Do all southerners belong to the Nataional Rifle Association? Are all blacks automatically in favor of affirmative action? If you live in the Northeast part of the country, does that mean you're a liberal? Is Kenneth Starr, whose popularity rating is 12 percent, really the monster the White House is portraying him to be?

In short, is everything so arranged that we need not do any analytical thinking on our own?

The answer is yes, yes, yes. College teaches us to think on our own, but I bet as soon as most of us leave, we leave what we learned behind.

You need only to take a break from studying to flip through some TV or radio channels or editorial pages to see some "experts" talking about some issue. You will, in a short period of time, get a much different lesson: Facts are irrelevant. It's the pitch that counts.

If the danger of smoking is the subject, the "expert" presses a "button," and like a recorded message, we get the story that 2,000 children start to smoke every day of the year, and that 1,400 of them will die of lung cancer or emphysema in 20 or 30 years. Then the next "expert" presses his "button." He says that we are losing our freedom if we ban tobacco. He says we are limiting our choices. He says that this is a democracy and the Democrats are planning to destroy the tobacco industry.

The truth is really somewhere in between. But they don't seem to see it and neither do we. And the beat goes on.

If the subject is guns, you have the same thing. One guy argues that guns don't kill - people do. And the other guy says that there are too many guns. In fact, he says, there are more guns than people. He says even the two boys in Jonesboro had five guns each and 10,000 rounds of ammunition. He says we have fought wars with less firepower.

And the beat goes on.

It all really makes me think about why I'm bothering to study different sides of a situation. Why, in the "real world," people might look at me like I'm a psycho if I tried to understand all that I could about a certain issue.

If I'm expected to vote, if I'm expected to be well-rounded and if I'm expected to be a productive member of society, then I want a reason.

This column isn't about politics. It isn't about race, class, or status. It isn't about the media. It's about looking at the whole picture. It's about us.

Jill Dellamalva is a junior majoring in creative writing and journalism. Her column, "Some might say," runs every other Friday.


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