We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Wednesday, September 23. 2009
I agree with Kate that you can't make this up: Career Fair needs to include left out liberal arts majors. How many times does it need to be said that a liberal arts education is not job training? American Liberal Arts education was designed to be life-enrichment for the ruling class gentry, and job training for the clergy.
Do we now have the worst foreign policy ever?
More legal fun: Prof B on corporations as persons
Roughing up the middle class. Insty
Most recent polls: terrible news for the admin
Axelrod nixes medical insurance across state lines. Cannot give a reason, but we all know why.
The NYT aims low - really low. Am Thinker. A quote:
Who killed JFK again? And is he referring to internet hatemongers like us who had once wanted Colin Powell to run for Pres? The NYT is publishing trash. It is deplorable.
Photo: Tractor time from Theo
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There is a place for liberal arts majors in the business world (or there was when I graduated with a BA English in 1985), but it is up to the student to convince the employer or his value. Liberal arts majors have excellent research, analysis and writing skills, or they should. And those skills are necessary in the corporate world.
My first employer was an insurance company that recognized that there were a lot of bright liberal arts majors out there who could be taught insurance. Who majors in insurance, anyhow? They hired the history, music, English and poli sci majors and trained them. They also paid salaries far lower than what my engineering friends were getting, but it was a job.
In re that picture: I've never been a leg man but I am starting to reconsider my approach.
Of his value. We might have good writing skills, but our typing? Not so much.
Many of the commenters at Kate's seem openly disdainful of BA-degree holders.
I recall going to a job-fair as a 3rd-year undergraduate, and meeting an HR rep from a company who was almost explosive in her disdain for the B.A. I would get. "What use is that" she very nearly shouted at me. My response was truthful: I thought that the purpose of university was to get an education, and that if I wanted vocational training I had plenty of better and cheaper options open to me.
I have to take issue with the premise that Liberal Arts major gain no job training skills through their major. I majored in English Lit., and used the skills I learned in that area of study, in organized articulate expression, and knowledge of world history and familiarity with great authors and their literature, to make my living as an editor and writer all of my working life. One of my professors said, "College studies don't teach you a permanent reservoir of knowledge. You can forget facts over a long lifetime. College teaches you how to think -- how to find the specific knowledge you need to solve a specific problem. "
And that you don't lose over a long lifetime, as long as your memory persists.
Engineering majors, for instance, estimate that their up-to-date knowledge is outdated within a relatively short period after they graduate, and constantly must be renewed by additional study. But they have one constant, just as those with other areas of specific knowledge do. They know how to attack an engineering problem, where to go to find additional knowledge to solve specific problems. They know how to think.
P. S. I forgot to mention above that being an English major, I get to read, and remember great authors like Ogden Nash, who wrote: "There's something about a martini, A tingle remarkably pleasant, A yellow, a mellow martini, I wish that I had one at present. There's something about a martini, Ere the dining and dancing begin, And to tell you the truth, It is not the vermouth, I think perhaps it's the gin."
Very comforting in today's dire political situation.
I said this the last time liberal arts got dumped on, but it's worth repeating. From an article in U.S. News & World Report about specified educations and how damaging they are to an individual's comprehensive knowledge: Employers from large firms were interviewed about their employees' abilities, experience, general knowledge, specificity of that knowledge; all employers said their employees were competent and assets to the company. But everyone of them wished these highly skilled employees were able to be more than one-dimensional; that they could not talk about anything but what they were trained for and that it was a shame to waste such good minds by NOT having forced them into more liberal arts studies.
Even without that story, it doesn't take much common sense to note that a highly specified degree can leave you a positive bore to be around. Frankly, it leaves you uneducated, as well.
Meta and MM,
As you aptly note, it's not as cut and dry as it seems.
The first problem is that not all people have equal talent. It means outcomes will vary and the implications are obvious. (I am sure this will offends the affirmative action crowd and others.)
Secondly, learning to think is a valuable but intangible skill. Herein lies a problem. The manager of entry level positions has a job that needs to be done. Some, but by no means all or even half, will look for a smart, motivated kid who needs to be taught the fundamental skills for the job. The hiring manager really doesn't care if the candidate could be the next CEO 20 years from now.
I went through this with my father, who was all about learning how to think. In the long-term, he was absolutely right. In the short-term, it was difficult.
My advice, for whatever it may be worth, is an augmentation of what you have articulated so well. I would add that an education combining hard or technical studies (e.g. math, sciences, etc.) and liberal arts (e.g. history, literature, philosophy, etc.) would provide the best foundation for both short and long term success.
Learn to think in both broad and narrow terms. Be able to write and speak. Emerge with a curiosity for learning that will last a lifetime. Learn to draw conclusions from the facts versus fitting the facts to preconceived ideas. (It will be easier to change your views if you are intellectually honest with yourself.) But also be prepared to contribute something to a prospective employer versus giving that employer another problem to solve - which how do I train this smart person who really doesn't know how to do "anything."
As far as the highly specialized person who is a bore is concerned, all I can say is that society needs all types. I just would not be inclined to drink wine and converse too long with someone who was truly one dimensional.
I'd hire you in a minute. Here's why:
1. You can think in several dimensions.
2. You are fair. (I'd know that in the first five minutes of an interview.)
3. Your perception of the value of broad-thinking AND narrow-thinking is indicative of your acute understanding of human nature.
4. Your recognition that intellectual honesty allows one to adapt, accept change.
5. You make no assumptions. Depend on the facts - let your creativity flow from there.
Starting salary is $250,000.00. With health insurance.
Dick Cavett often quotes "It is not enough in life merely to succeed...One's friends must fail."
I suppose it would come as a complete surprise to Bob Herbert that he is an affirmative action hire and that is the only reason he keeps his job. It is certainly not for the quality of his writing and thinking.