Is Higher Education a Waste of Time for Little People?
This is probably the wrong time to post this, but I just discovered this blog and the angry posts about education, employment and debt there. Don't get me wrong; I can wax plenty angry on those subjects and the way they interact today in this country. But I'm disturbed. It seems to me more and more people are giving up on the idea that education, the real and good kind, is of value in and of itself. I could never believe that. But clearly, I'm not typical, or at least I'm in a minority of people who believe that education = joy. Even given the terribly high cost of a good education today, I still think many people, if not most, would benefit from it. Does that make me some kind of freak, today?
What's really ironic is that I'm the type of person who has very radical opinions about what "education" should mean. I'd homeschool my kids, for example, if I had any. And I reject the idea that an online education is the equivalent of the meatspace kind. So I'm not typical of any particular education issue stereotype. Still, even so, I believe in it as a concept and I see the dissolution of it here as a critical step in the direction of a lesser, less pleasant to live in nation. And I don't mean to imply that people with "lesser" or no education have less value as people in our society. It's very simply that I think those who want a good one, should be able to have one, easily and at little cost. Why isn't that a core value we should uphold and defend? Yes, the higher education system in this country is somewhat fucked, but it's not worth totally giving up on and throwing into the trash. Right?
Here are my two lazy comments for those of you like me who are too lazy to click a link:
chicago dyke said...
if you think college is the same as sitting around for a few years and just reading books, then i feel sorry for you. it's not that i disagree with many of your points, but does the term "well rounded education" mean anything to you? or "Socratic Method?" the college experience should and can also include learning about and living things like highly competitive sports, political and social activism, exposure to the arts and experimental culture, and of course sex, drinking and doing good drugs.
i went to really good schools for most of my life as a student. i got the best education someone else's money could buy. i am not sorry. i'm not rich, but i am free, intellectually speaking. that is something that has no price i can name. completely worth it. if your college and grad school experiences were different, i am very sorry about that. but you'll never convince me that what i experienced wasn't good, or that everyone should not have a chance to try it.
chicago dyke said...
[inserting previous comment] the History and Discovery Channels can make you smarter than the average college grad.
i won't speak about the intelligence of "the average college grad," but watching TV almost never "makes you smarter." it's very sad that so many people in this country believe other wise. and jsyk: i know and worked with people who are on the HC and DC as "experts." trust me when i say you're not getting their actual expertise so much as you're getting something to entertain you. the good stuff they save for... well, the classroom.
cost is obviously the problem. a big part of that has to do with the way many schools have gotten addicted to the endowment game. there's a great piece by an econ prof at one of the california schools, sorry i can't find the link just now. but his point is this: "the cost of education" *has not* really increased by 8 or 11% or whatever over the last few decades. what has increased is the greed of the administrative class, and their corruption, at most big or good schools. stock market mania, and speculation and certain careers tied to certain endowments and the size of them... you get the drift. but the expense of running most schools really hasn't gone up that much, nor has housing, teaching and otherwise educating students, at least not more than ordinary inflation of everything else.
imho, the corporatization of higher education is the problem, like so much else in america. get the bean counters and suits out of the mix, and go back to good old fashioned inept intradepartmental wars over ideological fashion trends, and we can educate most people cheaply again. it's been done, so it's not a question of "can we do it." the original GI bill is a good model upon which we can start.
One of my 3.5 jobs is education related, so I'm pretty passionate about the subject. I just can't stand the idea that we're giving up on education in this country, even for the very few of the Little People who manage to fight the system successfully enough to have one. Trust me when I say: the rich aren't shirking their duty to properly educate their children, for all many of those kids are like Bush and just drink their way through it. But I was one of those "scholarship kids" sitting next to the Bushes of my generation, and I am not at all sorry that I got exposed to the best of higher learning. I work hard to make sure other kids without a pedigree get a chance to do the same. If we accept the idea that all a citizen really needs is to read a website or two and watch a TV show to properly function in society, well... that is so horrible to contemplate I guess I don't know what to say.