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.
I tend to agree with George Leef in that debate, but of course I think anybody ought to go if they want to. Some of my points, as readers know, are these:
- college does not equal education - very few people are natural scholars - for many people, it is just an extended adolescence, with credential-buying, beer, and sleeping til noon - many young people would rather work than study
Some attempt should be made in high school to identify the talents and preferences of students before college.
There are thousands of types of jobs, most of which students know nothing about.
Would save a lot of time and money, and prevent a lot of existential misery.
I could say the same thing about the UK. Various governments have pushed University's & degrees for all, to the point that degrees are devalued & a minimum of a 2.2 degree is required for many jobs that would have accepted "O" or "A" levels in the past. As well as the creating of degrees in media studies or aromatherapy!
However, not enough students are in college studying engineering and other useful things.
In the case of engineering, college does equal education. I don't know anyone who understands the Second Law of Thermodynamics who didn't study it in college. (Of course, as a professor who teaches thermo, I sure know a ton of students who went to college and still don't understand the Second Law.)
Back in the 50s and early 60s, Colleges were poor, not all professors had PhDs, and the curriculum at small liberal arts schools was focused on traditional excellence. That began changing with the "new criticism" in the 50s. Then the world changed in the 60's when the growing mass of the baby boom began to hit higher ed from the earliest in '63 to the peak baby boom year of 1977, ending in 1982 (roughly) with the culture wars tucked in there.
The baby bust meant not enough kids to fill the expansion higher ed had gone through. That was, wasn't it, when the big push to get everyone to go to college started? Classes had to get sexy to attract students, black studies and women's studies and slapping names on courses to make them look really interesting even if they were somewhat content-free. Hook-ups and binge-drinking, politicized curriculum.
And the backlash is really starting, a result of the inconvenient timing of combining a recession and mass unemployment with obscene college costs
A marvelous book is Alvin Kernan's In Plato's Cave the autobiographical story of a WWII vet's adventures in becoming a professor at Yale and Princeton. His adventures in the WWII Navy Crossing the Line are enthralling. He managed to be involved in every major action in the Pacific. Dry wit and good humor.
The Elephant's Child
I left out the other big factor: all the ardent lefties who stayed on to get their PhDs — to get their deferments from Vietnam —and then flooded the universities, replacing the poor professors who just had masters' degrees. With declining enrollments, it was important for universities to brag that all their full professors had PhDs, even if the classes were actually taught by grad students who could barely speak English. If we don't look at the big picture, we get the remedies wrong.
The Elephant's Child