Monday, 29 September 2014

Off to university? Why?

I'm not asking 'Why go to university?'. I am asking 'Why does one choose to go to university?' It is about this time of year that students in Britain are returning - or going for the first time - to university. (I would have put the less cumbersome '...are going up to university' but sadly that isn't phraseology that one tends to hear these days. I say sadly because there is a sense of gravitas in 'going up'.)

My question is prompted by something I remember Rabbi Lionel Blue saying many years ago on a television programme about his life. Reviewing his student days at Oxford, he said...

'I went to university seeking wisdom but all I found was cleverness.'

In going (up) to university, is one seeking wisdom? Will cleverness suffice? And if one is seeking neither wisdom nor cleverness, what else is there? Then perhaps one might legitimately ask 'Why go to university at all?'