Education => .... => Happiness?

This subject is very, very, tricky. And I realised that only after I asked a class mate (Bachelor's degree in Economics and Management, Sorbonne Nouvelle University of Paris) why he was studying. I will let you read the extract of the interview and then I will try to analyse it. I would be greatful to see what your comments are.
Me: Why do you study?
N: (laughs) Well..because I have intelectual skills which give  me the opportunity to do further studies. I want to do that in order to have a Master or a Phd in order to climb up the social ladder. 
Me: And why do you want to climb up the social ladder?
N: In order to be better and to afford what I haven't afforded before. 
Me: So, in the end is this about you being better as an intellectual?
N: Well...actually, in order to have a decent job.
Me: what about happiness? Do you think that studying (and therefore having a decent job as you said, a decent income) can make you happy eventually?
N: Not necessarily. Because you can be very rich and still be unhappy. Why I do study is to show other people that I have a certain intellectual "luggage", to be acknowledged for what I'm worth.
Me: But you just said that you study because by studying, you are confident that one day, you'll afford what you can't afford today. Isn't that a question of happiness?
N: Umm..I don't jump with joy, but sometimes I wish my parents had more money to let me go on trips abroad or buy many things without always checking the bank account. Actually for me, higher education=good income. And with that, I could for instance buy myself a big house, where I feel good and where I feel happy.
Me: so is it a question of happiness or not?
N: It's more or less linked to it, but it's most of all a question of financial comfort. I could be happy in a 9m2 apartment but I could also be happy in a nice little chalet in the mountains too (laughs)
While I was translating the conversation, I noticed  how strong is N's need of being recognised as an intellectual or as a person who has climbed the social ladder. Stronger than mine, in any case. I uploaded Maslow's pyramid of needs in order to show you that N's esteem needs are probably more important than the basic ones: the psychological and safety needs. Does this come from an inner lack of confidence? Was he intimidated by the way that I lead the conversation? I agree that I might have slightly manipulated the dialogue in order to get where I wanted. What do you think?
After this conversation, I thought of Steve Jobs, for whom I have a deep sense of respect and admiration. He is one of my sources of inspiration and a model. He acquired very much and he seemed quite happy with himself, even though he hadn't graduate from college. Check this video: :) 

I thinks that’s fairly normal

Thanks for this, Florina. Actually, I think this is probably fairly typical. You tell children from a very young age that they are supposed to become adults with certain characteristics. You tell them “they must”, “it’s their duty”, because the seduction of money and power does not really work on young children, who don’t seem to be particularly interested in abstract things like net worth. Children generally want to be superheroes or circus artists, not investment bankers! So parents play the duty card. With time, most people internalize this duty as if it were their own wish.  So, your colleague is stuck in a pretty illogical chain of thoughts:

  1. I want to be happy
  2. therefore, I take higher education
  3. so I can have a good income and afford a nice house
  4. which does not really make me happy, as I can be happy in a tiny apartment too.
  1. educaton leads to income
  2. income does not imply happiness
  3. by transitivity, education IS NOT MEANT to lead to happiness, at least not primarily,
Your colleague knows this, and he has decided to prioritize income over happiness. Am I getting this right?

My opinion

I think you are somewhat right, but I think that my colleague was pretty illogical there, because he kept on saying that money doesn’t bring happiness, although during the whole conversation he talked about a good income, a big house, to feel pleased&HAPPY. As for the reputation, I was quite appalled… I mean…are there really any prople who study just to be recognized by other people for what they do? Isn’t this first a question of ME, do I  study for MYSELF first, or to be seen by others with a nice Sorbonne diploma? (btw I hope he doesn’t read this-although he could make things clear)

Sounds familiar

Hi Florina,

I’m glad this topic caught your interest! From what I understand for your mate the goal of education is a mixture of career advancement, income, success, all of these being related to achieving a certain status and prestige…

I have yet to hear someone saying they’re studying for the sheer plaeasure of studying, which is not to say that’s not part of the learning process. As a student, I loved studying and it made me proud of myself. My intimate goal of learning was and still is gaining knowledge, becoming better as a person after all…

But it would be hypocritical to say I went to university because of my love for studies. I went there because it was the formal path designed to study for a profession, and curiosity, and idealism of course. What I didn’t love was the environment and how the process was instrumentated by the university, the structure of delivering that knowledge and so many other things. So the experience actually managed to do some damage by taking away some of the pleasure of studying. And then of course if somebody like you would have asked me:

Why do you study? I would have bluntly asnwered: to get my diploma and get out of here… to have the minimum requirements to then be able to choose my next learning experience which doesn;t have to be through school.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it;s all context dependent. On one hand, the answer to this question may very well be eliciting a more complex response than the one we can imagine.On the other, it actually is not between choosing from the potential goals, it’s actually understanding the share of each in this.

That would be me

Excuse me, I am actually studying for the sheer pleasure of learning. Why else would I do it? I will be almost 50 years old when I finish my PhD. It’s not like you can call it an investment! :slight_smile:

Ok, but

Was this the same reason you were studying when you were 20?

That would be me TOO

I study in order to be prepared to face the world and of course, the word income comes along too, we can’t say that we don’t care about money, unless we are related to the Queen or sth.^ ^ But what I study, I study because I like it, I think I might be good at it and whatever comes to study next (I’m talking about the master’s, because now I’m doing a bachelor’s)… So yes, people should do it for pleasure too, it might make life easier.:slight_smile: