Good news! According to the U.S. Census Bureau, college enrollment in America (when last they looked) was down to its lowest point in 20 years (https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2021/decline-school-enrollment.html).
Fewer students in college means fewer unemployable ninnies with big chips on their shoulders. Overall, enrollment is down by about 30%. This would be a serious problem if young people in college were actually learning anything. But I’m sure we can get by with no degrees in Gender Studies, Queer Black Studies, Cisheteronormative Pashtun Studies, etc., etc. Even experts at playing “Battleship” contribute more than those.
We have it stuck in our heads that Everybody Has To Go To College. This has proved to be one of the worst ideas in world history.
I wonder if we’re slowly coming to our senses.
15 comments on “Lonesome in the Ivied Halls of Ignorance”
Real, meaningful, useful education is invaluable. By education, I mean the real transfer of useful, real-world knowledge and skills, not some degree that has little, if any, real-world value.
Over 30 years ago, I took some strictly technical training, which has stayed with me ever since. These were applied skills; in other words, not just certain types of math, but how to apply this math.
Even in the technical fields, what I see in many people entering the workforce, is a distinct lack of practical skill. Perhaps some sort of apprenticeship is needed. I’m not talking blue collar work; I mean apprenticeship in white collar fields
It would be too bad if there were no more “education” for literature, art, philosophy, etc.–but those liberal arts are not for everyone. It’s not wrong for the university to serve as a repository for pure scholarship. But if that’s what’s going on in our colleges, I’m a Scythian.
I think that there should be education in those areas, but it has to be secondary to education that will be meaningful in the real-world. The education system has a confirmation bias which makes it especially well suited to creating graduates who are in the model of their professors. Actually, I wouldn’t want to hire a professor to work in my field. They are not always able to actually make things happen.
You don’t really have to make much happen when you’re teaching Dante. But making things happen is not the purpose of such studies.
If I need to hire someone, it’s amazing how little weight is given to their knowledge of Dante. I am all for history, arts, etcetera, but these subjects are not in high demand, among employers. I keep my job, because I know data communications and security. If I went into a meeting and tried to bluff my way through because of my musical knowledge, that would not go over well among my peers.
I would certainly agree that it’s important to read some great literature, understand a bit about the arts, etc. but, as valuable as these things are in rounding out one’s education, they don’t do much in the reality of today’s workplace. Even more problematic, is the criteria used to select which works a college student should be assigned. It’s very easy to advance an agenda when making such assignments.
Once upon a time these things would have all been lost, had universities not preserved them. College was not created to be a vocational school. Other institutions can do that much better.
Could I write my books if I’d never read others? No. Do we want national leaders who know nothing of history–oops, we’ve already got them.
Plutarch has a vast amount of keen insights into history and politics–should we take the risk of losing him?
It’s not for the sake of any scholarship that “college” has metastasized into a malignant growth that eats up money and turns out ninnies.
The problem is, we can’t have a functional world made up only of academics. My sense of this is that education should not be single tracked. One has to be well educated to function as a pilot, for example, and capable of understanding mathematical, scientific and engineering principles, but arts and literature are of virtually no value, when flying an approach to minimums.
IMO,mwe need both, but when the colleges spit out graduates in technical fields with inadequate skills, that’s a problem.
“A whole world” is not a department in some podunk college somewhere. And even pilots don’t work all the time. It wouldn’t hurt to know some of the things that have been preserved as valuable over the centuries.
I’ve never suggested that it isn’t good to have an understanding of history and literature. I feel strongly that these are important. My objection is that the bias of modern education has allowed people into the workplace that lack the basic skills required to do that which degree is supposed to prepare them. I’ve seen BS and MS people in IT fields that had no idea of the basics. If you are going to hand someone a degree in a technical field, it would seem that it would be a good idea for them to understand the role a router plays in a corporate network.
We seem to be talking past each other.
I’m thinking of people whom I know who have never, ever read anything outside their own specialized field–nursing, for instance–and have no grounding at all in the humanities. As the dean at Rensselaer Poly once said to me, “They’re good kids… but they’re such stiffs.” He wanted me to loosen them up a little.
If The University isn’t going to preserve this heritage, who will? As I see it, they haven’t the slightest interest in carrying out that mission.
But somebody ought to.
In a sense, the gender-studies and CRT degrees now represent highly employable skills, since so many companies are going woke and needing more and more diversity-and-inclusion officers along with those officers’ ever-increasing “need” for assistants and agents and enforcers and educators, etc., etc., etc.
Besides, as I’ve said so many times before, the liberal arts are in fact “real-world skills,” in that they provide a context for evaluating what’s going on around us in society and even in our workplaces. History gives us examples of what’s worked and what’s failed in the past, as well as how different peoples think and act. Literature does the same, especially on the individual level, as do the arts and music. All of them give us perspective on life — even when our “practical” skills become obsolete or we just get laid off because the economy is tanking.
Thanks, Phoebe, that’s pretty much what I wanted to say (and should have).
This is the best definition of education I have ever read.
“Education is the acquisition of true wisdom and true knowledge.”
Thus, there is not a lot of education being offered within most college courses today.
I can hardly believe I’m sitting here defending college today. How in the world did that happen? I just thing “The University” needs to be cut way back (say, 90%), with classic arts restored and Far Left BS chucked out, and other institutions created for advanced training in practical skills. I mean, come on–you don’t want C.S. Lewis for a grocery clerk.
(You’re digging yourself deeper and deeper, Lee…)
Martin Luther declared universities not based on the Bible were portals of hell.