Tuesday, November 10, 2009

To seek higher education

After being in and out of school, since I was 5 years old, and working as a teacher in some capacity or other for most of the last decade, I assert;

Education will benefit you; A particular college diploma, not so much. What's the difference?
If you are willing to work and really want to know, if you are truly curious about what you are studying and like spending time with other people who 'geek on' your area of study, you will benefit from the opportunities. If you have those qualities, your success will reflect on your efforts, regardless of your educational credentials.

"Most college courses teach few useful job skills; their main function is to signal to employers that students are smart, hard-working, and conformist. The upshot: Going to college is a lot like standing up at a concert to see better. Selfishly speaking, it works, but from a social point of view, we shouldn't encourage it."
-Bryan Caplan, associate professor of economics at George Mason University
When BA's were rare, and demanding, they signaled a useful set of liberal arts skills; reading, writing, critical thinking. They also typically involved a high degree of collegiality- team building- as well as intellectual discipline and motivation. However, the calibre of students is declining because those qualities are assumed, institutionally, and not intrinsically developed. However, anyone who reads a large number of student essays knows those qualities are lacking in about half of the students.
"Research shows that there generally is a negative relationship between state support for higher education and economic growth. Sending marginal students to four-year degree programs, only to drop out, is a waste of human and financial resources, and lowers the quality of life for those involved".
- Richard K. Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and professor of economics at Ohio University

Skilled trades pay as well or better than all but a few jobs supplied by a BA education. A BA is, after all, really preparation for grad school. It was supposed to mark a stage in education, that would lead to the holder to write books that would be read by high school graduates, so they could learn something without having to devote the time to research. Of course those were the days when public high schools imposed discipline, and their graduates could perform higher maths, read Latin, speak intelligently about history and geography in both their own language and another modern language. The article that got me blogging this morning, "Are Too Many Students Going To College?" seems to overemphasise the necessity of a college education and assume that high school would achieve little.
"Rather than proclaiming College for All, we should be stressing High School Completion for All, emphasizing that such completion requires either college readiness or readiness for sustained employment—or for the combination of the two that has become so common."
- W. Norton Grubb, professor of policy, organization, measurement, and evaluation at the University of California at Berkeley's Graduate School of Education

I am happy to have sacrificed the money, time and energy I have into my education. Probably in the same way as in Buddhist countries, people leave their jobs for a time, don the robes of a monk, and walk around begging, praying and meditating. It may benefit their minds and souls, but it is not a good way to make money.

"Employers are accelerating their offshoring, part-timing, and temping of as many white-collar jobs as possible. That results in ever more unemployed and underemployed B.A.'s. Meanwhile, there's a shortage of tradespeople to take the Obama infrastructure-rebuilding jobs. And you and I have a hard time getting a reliable plumber even if we're willing to pay $80 an hour—more than many professors make."
-Marty Nemko, career counselor based in Oakland, Calif.
I guess much of the problem in framing this debate is that educators, social scientists and policy analysts are typically college educated, so it is difficult for them to conceive that trades people, small business owners and those educated other than in four year colleges could be happy and/or prosperous.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now ya know…as someone who has hired seasonal employees, I can tell you first hand that a college education does not an employable individual make.
I have had students work for summer seasons and stages that I have to ask myself how they even function in daily life, let alone how they will fare in the career area of their choice.
Sadly, there is a work-minded mentality that needs to go along with the education.
I have known a lot of driven individuals, who have not had the opportunities for education that some have had, who have made excellent employees, able to apply logic and reason to particular work place scenarios…skills that I have seen lacking in many of the college students that I have employed.
Now, not to categorize, or lump a group, saying that all college students lack a certain common sense…not at all.
I have had the pleasure of knowing many goal-oriented college grads who show much promise for success in their chosen fields. However what I AM saying is that some things just aren’t taught in school.
I agree with old school. Many people weren’t fortunate enough to be able to continue their education after high school, and those who were, were usually driven to work long and hard to get themselves there. Work ethic already established.
Sadly, today, we seem to be turning out a whole lot of well educated, unemployable individuals while the plumber types still get stereo-typed and given a bad rap.
But at least he’ll be able to put his kid through med school and our toilets will always flush. :)

"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."
-E.M. Forster