Critical Analysis of Selected FablesThe Fable of Education as CommodityThe fable of education as a commodity is about Deidre’s experiences while directing a city wide volunteer agency. During his work, Deidre noticed the increasing number of people seeking voluntary work and most of them were from the middle class and well educated. However, along with those selfless individuals who want to reach out and help, there were some who volunteered with a different intention. According to Deidre, these people are either looking for work that can help them build their own businesses or enhance their curriculum vitae.
Others are using the agency as vehicle to obtain paid work or widen their contacts in the community. Far from the traditional notion of volunteering where individuals are highly committed to the welfare of others, Deidre’s noticed that a good number of people particularly those that are well educated view the agency and its work as a vehicle to success rather than a place to care for others. Education as a commodity seems to reflect the principle of ethical egoism where it is morally acceptable to be selfish and pursue one’s goal in the expense of others.
What Deidre had experienced is the sad reality that many view education as something they can trade rather than share. It appears that even in voluntary work, the notion of education as commodity encourages individuals to seek personal benefits that can enhance their career rather than actually being involved in promoting social welfare. Ethical egoism promotes the idea that one must act and maximize his utility (Osterberg 1988, p. 37) thus those influenced by such principle tends to seek something in return from their effort.
For instance, an educated individual seeking employment may consider a certain voluntary agency as a gateway to meet influential people or to earn a few months of experience he can use to find better paid employment. Although such intention is undoubtedly eroding the cultural value and nobility of voluntary work, many people tend to do so because of individual needs. According to Banks (2004, p. 255) although a person may appear selfless while doing volunteer work in a hospital or saving someone from a burning house, their actual motives may be different.
For instance, that person may be making amends for some wrong doings in the past or simply wants to be admired as a hero. Egoistic volunteers are often motivated by their needs (Van De Vliert 2009, p. 147) and similarly, the value of their work is determined by the value of the benefits they will get in return (Sciabarra 1995, p. 292). An egoistic individual may view Deidre’s opinion as absurd since such person may find pure commitment to social welfare fruitless and unbeneficial to oneself. The fable in general presented a noticeably selfish ethical doctrine but widely accepted system of morality in our society.
More importantly, the fable shows the extent to which such doctrine cloaked as altruistic deed harm the cultural significance of voluntary works. The Fable of Educational Contract