Saturday, March 24, 2012

Excellent CounterPunch article: "The Myth of the Knowledge Economy"

Here, attacking the notion that more traditional college education is the way to go to improve life in the U.S. General education in the U.S. surely needs improvement, and we need a workforce that's technically skilled and educated to go with an increase in technical jobs, which we should be creating. However, the article makes the very good point that most jobs in the U.S. don't actually require a college education for people to know how to do them. Sure, the way things are, you need a college educations in order to be competitive, and are more likely to get a job when placed against someone without one, but that doesn't mean that it's actually necessary. In fact, in my opinion, with some jobs it's probably doubtful that it really improves performance, because they're fairly simple anyways.

Not only that, but as the article states, a hell of a lot of people in college don't care about actually getting an education but are instead are there just for the sheepskin, meaning they don't even have the putative skills that folks think they should have. In fact, they don't learn much. The notion some people have that college is split between virtuous science and engineering people and lazy liberal arts folks is false. Besides liberal arts folks coming out on top in critical thinking (according to the article), there's a third force in the college that alters the whole game: massive numbers of students who don't major in either the sciences or the liberal arts but in much less rigorous programs such as business, marketing, and communications. These folks are the lazy ones. They tend to be the people just looking for cheap degrees that will allow them to make as much money as they can as fast as they can, as opposed to either wanting to do research, creating something via science and engineering or doing something useful for humanity through the general application of, well, the humanities. Even folks in such mercenary fields such as pre-med or pre-law, not all of which are in it for the money, are more devoted to their studies than the third group, because, you know, they actually have to prepare for real schooling after they get their degree. The pseudo-students tend to not really care about the finer points of education.

This points to another weakness in American society: the notion that simply teaching everyone to be managers and "entrepreneurs" will save us. In point of fact, I think a lot of these folks would be better off learning a trade instead of trying to be unproductive free agents.

No comments: