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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Monday, August 10. 2009
We have frequently opined here that too many Americans go to college, wasting time and money and extending adolescence in those who could and should be doing real things in the real world, and getting life experience instead of mastering beer pong and Leftist theory about how to remain a dependent throughout life on the effort of others. A solid high school education was good enough for Bill Gates, and ought to be a good platform for lifetime learning for them as wants it.
Anybody can go to the library and find a free book to guide them through Aristotle, Plato, Aquinus, Locke, Burke, and Hume. Anybody who doesn't feel moved to do so does not belong in college anyway: for them, it's just expensive day care as it was for Sebastian Flight.
Knowledge is cheap and readily accessible these days for all (thank God) - but learning is never easy.
The smart people I know just used their silly academic credentials so they could get a good apprenticeship in some useful and profitable line of work. That's what I had to do. My fancy law degree (which cost me lots of money) just gave me the chance to learn law afterwards. It is a dumb and/or corrupt system in which academic credentials, however empty or enriching, are required. Monopolistic, I believe, on the part of the Big Academia industry/cartel.
I have no trust in Big Academia. Like the tort bar, Big Academia is bought off and in the pocket of the Lefties. Follow the money...
Reason agrees (with a Reason video).
Photo: Harvard Yard. They can give you a pricey credential, but what you can do with it or chose to do with it, in the end, depends on you.
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So where were you people 25 years ago when I figgerd this shiite out? It's been lonely out here in the wilderness. Cold too.
"...wasting time and money and extending adolescence..."
:) I have a pile of degrees and if I was not so busy doing nothing but playing on the computer, could get my second Ph.D. As far as doing it to extend adolescence, forget it. I intend to continue my adolescence until Hospice exceeds the morphine level for pain.
I wish you all would get it straight here. Education sucks in American. Teachers are stupid. Professors are all liberal jerks. Stupid people should not get a chance at college.
How about finding something positive to say about education for a change. There really are people who love to learn - though admittedly, they're probably not very grown-up.
Cut out the crap courses in college and increase the guilds.
And send every high school graduate to two years' civil/military duty before they're allowed anything in the way of higher education. (That would also take care of the liberal professors after a while.)
"And send every high school graduate to two years' civil/military duty before they're allowed anything in the way of higher education. (That would also take care of the liberal professors after a while.)"
I like that idea, a lot, always have liked the idea of national service. It would, I feel, benefit the country greatly.
Hmmm...how do you folks feel about engineering degrees?
The only courses that I took during my years at school that were completely worthless were from the College of Liberal Arts, and were required to fulfill that dream of "well-rounded" engineers.
Of course, those worthless time-wasting courses were taught by collectivists, so if you wanted your "A", all you had to do was sit in front every day, and then regurgitate their nonsense back to them, paraphrased to sound slightly different but spew back the same illogical garbage. The time (and money) wasted on those useless course could have been far better spent on productive things, but it's not like we had a choice.
Dynamics and Thermodynamics of Compressible Fluid Flow, on the other hand, required a wee bit more actual work.
The problem with those CLA courses wasn't that they were completely worthless, it's that once some professors sensed an engineer mindset, they treated you differently. Other CLAs (and going to school with those pursuing those majors) were a waste of time. What would have been better is if they forced as many CLAs to take Thermo or advanced math or basic CompSci with the purpose of producing more "well-rounded" flower-heads, we'd all be better off.
A good bit of CompSci can be a waste of time (much of it was for me, but that was way back when) as the profession re-invents itself every 2-3 years which is much faster than many universities can keep up with. The guilds are basically what we end up with anyway, but you still need that sheepskin to get in. Not sure if that would be better for other engineering professions, but wouldn't it be nice to be making a little money while you learn and being somewhat productive rather than paying through the nose for much of what you don't need? And wouldn't most people be better off learning in a mature envrionment rather than a perpetual party?
With the exception of using 'like' instead of 'as if', your writing indicates you aced English. Because of that, whatever you have to say gives you automatic credibility. What are the other liberal art classes you took that you found illogical?
I have checked out my daughter's courses regularly to see if any were 'collectivist' as you say. I didn't find any, so my question is sincere.
Some of those CLA courses were very useful. For instance, I took the elective course in classical logic taught by the philosophy Dept. I found it fascinating to learn all the logical fallacies. I also found abnormal psycology very interesting. We joked you had to take the course to find out how crazy you were.
Looking back I think that a sound/practical classical philsophy course would have been much more helpful than several of my CompSci courses and definitely more helpful than the other CLA courses I was required to take. At the time, my perception of philosphy courses was that they were where the pot-heads and anti-war nuts gravitated. Funny that we had so many anti-war nuts when there wasn't any war going on.
"Professors are all liberal jerks." As a former professor, I resemble that remark! (very old joke)
As an undergraduate, I went to an engineering school, which required a number of liberal arts course for graduation. One semester, I was able to take a reading course devoted entirely to Karl Marx. I read most of his tracts in English, and struggled through a few others in German. It proved worthwhile. By the end of the course, I was naturally sympathetic to the plight of the working man (which I was soon to become one) but thoroughly convinced that Marx had not a clue as to what makes people tick---all theory and no practice makes Karl a very bad source of advice on how to run an economy and a nation.
Today, as a much older person, I can say that my reading course proved to be every bit as valuable in life as my courses in complex variables and partial differential equations. The one made me a better informed citizen of our great country; the other, of course, a more competent professional. I'm happy I was fortunate to get an education in both.
"It used to be I cudn't spell "enjuneer", now I are one."
With only one or two exceptions, ALL of the liberal arts courses were taught by collectivist twits. For example, I took a course through the geography department, "Geography of Manufacturing". I thought (from the course description) that it would emphasize choices in manufacturing locations, optimization of transportation, raw materials, workforce, etc. Instead it turned into a daily Marxist diatribe. Those who couldn't stand the nonsense either bailed out (canceled the course, but still paying a portion of the fees) or spoke up...and in speaking up, got a "C" for a grade. Impossible to argue with a completely subjective set of criteria for grading in a BS course.
Follow the rules laid out by Heinlein (in "The Number of the Beast...") for how to ace a BS course and you're fine. Anything less than complete head-nodding agreement with the diatribes results in hit to your GPA.
Note that this was all 30 years ago. I understand that it's even worse now.
I'm not opposed to the idea of a "well rounded" education and honestly think it a tragedy when bright minds in engineering and science don't spend at least some time on studying the human experience in classics, etc. Using a degree program to expose hard science students to the humanities may not be evil in and of itself. However, discussion and readings of the canon and classics shouldn't be limited to a college course but an intellectual pursuit for its own purpose.
In the big picture I absolutely agree with KRW, above. As a student in the College of Science, I was required to take a rather diverse set of humanities, some of which contributed only to making me poorer and older (e.g. English 101). I would very much like to see the same exposure of other colleges to hard science. Studying the concept of trade offs in economics (guns 'n butter) is one thing, designing working systems where trade offs are necessary is another thing entirely. When English majors are required to demonstrate some competency in, e.g., optimization, our society could only be the better for it.
After I asked you, I emailed my daughter and asked what the worst class she took in undergrad. She majored in criminal justice with a minor in psychology with the intent to enter the FBI.
Here is her email:
"art history; negotiations
it [negotiations] was a justice studies elective and everyone thought it would be cool like on tv and that we'd learn how to negotiate. it was pretty much a class where we did arguments every class period with a group of people and saw how we talked it out and compromised and what techniques we used to get there. Very general, not specific to criminology. bo-ring."
I want you to pay special attention to her English grammar.. ie. capitalization. And her mom a career English teacher. :)
I think it is worse now as those classes tend to have up to 100 students in them. I recall art history and music appreciation as painful to have to sit through, myself. I guess that makes me a philistine.
Okay. I've been emailing my daughter who attends a large university in Virginia. She just sent the list of classes students choose from to fulfill the liberal arts requirement. (I've deleted the name of her school.)
"When I was a freshman.. (it's changed a little with the courses offered)
skills for 21st century
business decision making in a modern society
critical issues in recent global history
critical thinking (I TOOK THIS ONE)
-they offer 3 different public speaking courses, individual presentations, group presentation, then a "principles and practices" one.
-gwrit103- all students must take critical reading and writing.
Historical, Cultural Philosophical Perspective:
global culture to 1650 (took this one)
global culture since 1650
god, meaning, morality
foundations of western culture with varying topics
modern perspectives including enlightenment, romanticism, modernism
cross-cultural perspectives (east asian or west african)
intro to philosophy
religions of the world
art in general culture
survey of world art- prehistoric to renaissance ( I TOOK THIS ONE)
"" renaissance to modern
music in general culture
music in america
global music to 18th century
global music to present
restoration through romantic
victorian era through 20th century
studies in world literature
american lit up to civil war
american lit civil war to modern period ( I TOOK THIS ONE)
african american lit
great works (topics specified)
Then you have to take 2 of the maths offered, all from college algebra, discrete math, fundamentals of math (took this one) nature of math (took this one) and stats...
Then you have to take 2 sciences. any will work. one 3 credit and one 4 credit with a lab.
4 credit history or poli sci (i took poli sci)
The Global Experience:
geography (took this one)
social issues in global context
Wellness in the human community:
personal wellness (where you must have 20 hours in the gym) I took this one.
lifetime fitness and wellness
the wellness dimension, individual perspectives.
general psychology (took this one)
life span and human development (took this one, too as pre-req for other psych classes)
individual in society
the sociocultural dimension.
So you can see how __ does it. and most students take the science courses as seniors because they want to get the best teachers and best classes.. you work on these only usually your first 2 years... depending on availability, you might have a general education course every semester of your college career. I didn't... My timing was all right.. I even started taking criminology classes second semester my freshman year. my sophomore year was aaaaalllllllll gen ed classes. boo."
I'd take every one of those classes if I could. On top of every English course.
When I was in college, majoring in Agribusiness, I needed an hour to fill out my 'Humanities' requirement, so I signed up for a one hour 'human development' class. The first day of class, the prof told us that we would likely all get an 'A'. The course was geared towards elementary ed teachers and how to handle school kids. Ya know what? When I hit the real world and had hourly workers to supervise, that dumb little course turned out to be the most valuable course I took in college. Weird, eh?
Good story, Feeblemind. One of the best courses I took outside of my major, was Philosophy. The professor was decadent as hell, but somehow it worked well for his attitude for the course where I came to realize that philosophy begins with an attitude. Struggling through how the philosophers attempted to write out their philosophies only highlighted their attitudes about life, and from that I learned probably the best lesson of my life: Attitude means everything, and beneath every attitude lie a forest of psychological seeds of experience that determine the attitude. Best lesson ever to opening my mind about human nature.
What a great thread. I read an article in U.S. News & World Report a couple of years ago. A reporter set out and interviewed dozens of CEOs and asked questions about the newly hired employees and those employees of just a few years employment. The ONE thing he came back with was that the employers lamented that specialization in college turned out great employees, .... but .... those workers were single-minded and woefully lacking in knowledge. The general feeling of the CEOs was that college had failed these fine people who were working well and making money, but who were at a loss to carry on a conversation beyond their expertise. One CEO was quoted: "I'd like to have a conversation with these guys that involves something about the world they live in, and I can't because they can't." The reporter made larger observations on how this trend will affect our culture and how while producing excellent quality this method of learning dumbs us down. He blamed no one thing, and it's obvious the trend will not stop as we are all Red Queens running to keep up with the pace of new information. We will never catch up.
Heh, your CEO story reminds me of a problem a buddy of mine is having. He just had his mid-year "discussion" with his manager. While all those that have worked with him were satisfied with his work (supposedly, sometimes people lie when they tell you these things), his "functional" manager, who has spent very little time with him, gave him a low rating because the few times she talked with him, his input was too "technical"...It's and ENGINEERING company.
There are a lot of people in management (especially upper management) of major companies who don't understand the business they are in. They know "business", they just don't know any specific business. My previous (software) employer was run by people who came to us from a soap company.
shew... Talk about a disconnect. But it's universal in most things professional. I can't have a 'real' conversation about teaching with someone who hasn't taught, etc.
But the premise is sound. Your work is not your life, and if all you know is your work, your world view tends to be kind of narrow. oh well, I'm dreaming. No more Renaissance men or women. It's sad, you know. Nothing in the world is more stimulating than vibrant discourse on a variety of topics with a group of people who are just hanging out. To use Jephnol's term: It renews the mind.
Dear Barrister - after having watched the old BBC version of "Brideshead Revisted" numerous times, I finally read Waugh's novel this summer. It has some absolutely bewitchingly beautifully (written) passages. Et In Arcadia Ego, truly, Poussin in prose. I found Waugh's Roman Catholic/ Christian apologetics compelling which, as I understand, was completely missing in the latest film version. Oh, and just because...its Flyte.
I am a staff admin monkey in a humanities department at an R1 university, a holder of a master's degree, and a "lefty" - and I totally agree with you. Higher ed is a racket. I regret it, personally. Wish I'd become a carpenter.