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Joyless culture of work weighs on college students’ mental health

In Laura Krantz’s article on the suicides that have taken place at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (“A campus in mourning,” Page A1, De. 19), Andy Li, a senior studying mechanical engineering and and fire protection engineering, put his finger on the problem: “Part of the culture around WPI is people are talking about work, work, work.” No wonder. The American university has become a training ground for, almost an appendage of, the corporate-tech world. What has been lost in the process is something the ancient Greeks understood well: There is a deep link between education and play. In fact, the two words are related: “paideia” and “paidia.”

Somehow play has to be brought back into the classroom. Students need to be reminded that at its best, learning is both engaging and enjoyable. Given the subservient worship of achievement and productivity that dominates campuses, this will be no easy task.


David Roochnik


The writer is a retired professor of philosophy at Boston University.