Individually education and entertainment have great value and a great place in American society. As Americans, we have an incredible love affair with education and entertainment. Each has a long and rich history that shows incredible progress and amazing ingenuity. Each has inspired us and taught us.
We have built our dreams on the foundation of education and on the wings of imagination of entertainment. It would be hard for us to live without either. Yet, education and entertainment cannot be interchanged. Education is hard work. It may be boring and tedious bordering on drudgery at times, but it is designed with the stirring goal of helping us to stretch and reach beyond our limited and biased view of the world. It is a friend for the long haul – each day, motivating us to be a little more about the world we live in; each day, challenging us to contribute a little more than we did yesterday, and each day inspiring us to enhance our intellectual, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Education is hard work – we cannot equate education with entertainment; educators cannot pretend that their primary goal is to entertain students – engage our students, yes; entertain, no. Unfortunately, some colleges and universities propagate the idea that education without entertainment will not attract good students.
One reason why the cost of higher education continues to soar is because of the increasing demand placed on campuses to entertain students – from athletic facilities that look like Jurassic Park to campus gyms fit for celebrities, from sophisticated computing facilities to fancy class rooms, and from dorms that are mini Ritz-Carltons to dining facilities that offer world cuisine.
When we direct precious resources to entertainment rather than education, we defeat the purpose of both. States from California to Florida are in trouble because it is difficult to sustain an education-cum-entertainment model. Like children on Christmas eve who want Santa Claus to bring them more and better gifts each year, students and parents want entertainment for the price of education. Unfortunately, it does not work that way!
Dr. Uma G. Gupta is the President of USAsiaEdu.com, a New York based educational consulting company that specializes in higher education in Asia.