We've all heard the JW claim that a lifetime spent reading the Awake! magazine is equivalent to a college education. Is this really true?
First, let's consider what you'll get from a typical mainline course at your local community college. In most college courses I've taken, the following were pretty standard:
- A 200-300 page primary textbook.
- Many hundred pages of supplementary reading (in one 10-week course I read about 3000 pages once!).
- Weekly "seminars," which are moderated class discussions of the material. Kind of like the WT study, but in a circle, and you can express views that don't agree with anyone else's. Just be prepared to back them up with references.
- Weekly response papers and essays to show that you understand the material fully.
- In science classes, weekly labs to prove the material experimentally.
- Daily lectures.
When I took my first college courses, I was totally blown away by how much I learned. After one short quarter, you will know immensely more about a subject than you knew just 10 weeks before. And you will be a stronger, critical thinker, since you will be expected to provide convincing arguments in your discussions and essays.
In the space of a 10-week college course, you would read about five copies of Awake! How does that break down?
- 160 pages (= 5 x 32).
- Some brief overviews of various African animals.
- Perhaps a 4-page history of the Fur Trade in North America.
- Five cover stories about current events, which will be almost exactly the same as every other cover story you have ever read in Awake! before. They will be replete with references from "a newspaper in Ukraine," "one famous actor," and "a Christian youth named Tony* (*names have been changed)."
Don't get me wrong - I always liked the articles in Awake! that contained real content, like the ones on the animals. But the fact of the matter is, reading a 3-page gloss about cheetahs is nothing, nothing like taking a zoology course at your local college. By design, articles in Awake! must start from a position that the reader knows nothing on the topic. Therefore, no depth can ever be achieved, because you're starting from scratch every time.
This is the precise opposite of college, which focuses on giving you depth and clarity regarding a single topic of interest. If you take a biology course, then you are going to learn a lot about biology, my friend. And this is something that Awake! can simply never give you, no matter how long you read.
Anyway, I just thought the comparison was interesting. Comments, anyone?