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, February 18. 2015
From my perspective, a college degree is good for a few things. These are not limited to: expanding one's view of the world, improving one's own process of inquiry and learning (my father's old line is you go to college to get an education, not to get a job), and to become technically proficient in a variety of specialized fields where proficiency is otherwise difficult to achieve. I'd toss in that it's also a means of networking and learning social skills to improve future prospects in both life and work.
College is not the only place to learn these things, though it's probably one of the better places to learn them. You could say the same for the military, in some respects. Be that as it may, limiting one's view of a person's potential and capabilities to very specialized qualifications, such as college or military backgrounds, is a bit odd.
Mike Rowe explains why:
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You beat me to it. Lucky me, I am busy worker.
It's a really important these days. "Credentialism" is the name of it all, but part of it comes from the abandonment of many employment tests to avoid racial/ethnic discrimination. So employers are limited in assessment tools.
Part of my first interview was an IQ test.
I also like Mike's take on "follow your passion." As he points out, every time an Oscar winner holds up the statuette and says "I followed my passion and you should, too" they are ignoring 250,000 waiters and waitresses who are following their passion with less than stellar results.
His view, which I agree with, is at some point you need to figure out what you're good at, and maybe your passion isn't that thing.
It's better to do something you're good at and develop a passion for that, at some point.
Granted, I love physics and would've loved to be a physicist. But I really couldn't compete with the others in that department in any meaningful way. Instead, I switched to majors which centered on things I suffer weaknesses in - writing and socializing (TV Production and Political Science). I developed a passion for both, yet used neither.
Instead, I studied Economics and actually do use that because I have a real passion for the concept of Moral Philosophy (the original name of Economics).
My experience isn't precisely what Mike Rowe is talking about, but it's close enough. I can relate my own experience to what he is saying on things like this to know he's got it nailed.
"expanding one's view of the world, improving one's own process of inquiry and learning"
I don't believe that you get those things into today's colleges. They seem to go out of their way to prevent differing viewpoints from being shared. There is no interest in inquiry and learning. You are expected to parrot back whatever the instructor wants to hear. I spent two years in a California state college, and three years at community college. If I wanted to put in a few more years at a four year school, I could get a BA. I would have to spend more time taking a bunch of classes in things I'm not interested in. I'd be required to take more math, and no english classes. I got enough out of the community college to have a career in tech support. It doesn't pay well, but it pays better than the factory work I was doing. I want to spend the rest of my time, learning about subjects that interest me.
I'd be hard pressed to disagree with you, and I even wrote about parroting back what a professor wants to hear several years ago, using my son's experience at Miami.
However, even some colleges have professors who stick to the tried and true.
My younger son, at Syracuse, only in his second semester, has had a mixed bag. What impressed me? He took off, on his own, at the Met to go see Roman antiquities and art. Why? Because he'd developed an interest in it at college.
When he rejoined us in the Impressionists, he was back to his "when are we going to leave?" mode.
So yes, I agree, but I also don't. One thing I've told both boys is you get out what you put in. The college does not come looking for you, nor does it intend to teach you outside of the classroom - that's stuff you gotta do on your own, and the nice thing is most colleges provide plenty of stimuli for you to do it on your own.
My problem with college students is that they have mostly been trained in "parroting back" what someone wants to hear for sure. My students generally take a while to realize that I really want to 'hear' what they think and why. Most of them are amazed. They've been taught that the GPA is of utmost importance and that the way to get a high GPA is to parrot.
My student evaluations show this as I get regularly dinged for not "clearly articulating" what they're supposed to do. What I tell them is: Think the topic over. Tell me what you think. Tell me why you think that. I can see how that could be less than clear I suppose.
OTOH, those who "get it" tend to soar.