Trouble in River City

Perhaps my favorite philosopher, Giambattista Vico, explained it best:

"Noble students, you are to bend your best efforts toward your studies,

  • not surely with such an end in view as the gaining of riches, in which the low money-grubbing crowd would easily beat you out;
  • nor for high office and influence, in which you would be far outdone by the military and by courtiers;
  • and still less for that which leads philosophers on, namely the love of learning itself, enthralled by which almost all of them pass their whole lives withdrawn from the public light in order to get the full enjoyment from the tranquil working of their minds and nothing else.

Something far more exalted than this is expected of you.... it is expected of you that you exert yourselves in your studies in order to manifest the heroic mind you possess and to lay foundations of learning and wisdom for the blessedness of the human race; by this course of action, not only will riches and wealth, even while you disdain them, accrue to you, but also honor and power will come looking for you, though you care for none of these things..." *

   Vico recognized in the early 1700s that education was shifting. He vainly tried to promote the classic education of dialectic, rhetoric & aesthetics during the Enlightenment period when science promised a solution to all problems. Well science hasn't solved everything yet, and the students aren't getting it. We really are in trouble.

   People in the general population...

  • cannot do math
  • cannot express their ideas articulately
  • do not understand the reasoning under their deepest beliefs
  • do not know the history of their own nation
  • don't understand politics or economics
  • do not understand compounding interest rates
  • don't understand the stock markets
  • never heard of a derivative
  • and don’t know their musicals!

   It’s this last one, (thanks Maryann) that ironically may be most important.
Somehow I got lucky, or I might have turned out like the “money grubbing crowd” with no sense of a wider world. My father is an artist and jazz musician. We were not rich, but our home was filled with art and music. My sister (also an artist) still quips that it was tough growing up there—bringing friends over to hang out where there are naked pictures of your mom on the wall.

   Dad valued education and sent me to a small private college at age 18 where I studied science, lifted weights and goofed off. By the end of the year I had applied and was accepted into an electrical apprenticeship. I joined the blue-collar world instead of staying in that other place I had been living.

   The gap between being a construction worker and an artist’s kid in college was expansive. Cognitive dissonance soon led me to embrace the ethic of my peers and desire the things they valued. So, I got into debt. Soon thereafter, I began to despise getting up each morning, sweating my life away on construction sites in the Arizona desert. All of it got me wondering if I should have stayed in school. But I was a debt slave, working for Bechtel, and could not go back to college easily.
     Yet all things are possible with God.

   Eight years later I was handed a PhD diploma and I went to work in the academic system with the intent of teaching classes that taught practical job skills along with a broader perspective. There I found much resistance to true education built right into the system.
Practical skills! Most of us already know that our high schools do not prepare us for much more that the ability to fill out forms for bureaucrats and bankers. We were betrayed and now our children continue to be sold out. But we think that college will remedy the failures of the public K-12 system. I am not convinced.

     The problems in education began with the rise of Empiricism (scientific method) to the top of the educational system. In today’s world, if you cannot prove it with empirical research studies and statistics, then it is just hearsay, myth, anecdotal evidence, and Empiricists reject it. Our degree programs emphasize the ability to do research—because that is all that most professors know how to do. We read research studies, learn about research philosophy, teach empirical methods, and teach statistical analysis. The problem here is that most of our graduates do not take jobs as researchers—these require a Master’s degree. It is commonly said that people really learn their expertise on the job. And frankly, I still have not seen more than a handful of BA or BS graduates who can run a simple t-test to compare the means of two groups of subjects.
But we claim we have taught our students “critical thinking.”
What we have cut out of the curriculum are the humanities—philosophy, art, rhetoric, argumentation, history, language, literature, culture, the classics, etc.—the broad based education that many employers want to see. THIS is where I argue the seat of critical thinking resides. But the Humanities have been replaced with empiricism.
What is typically required for a college degree is this:

10 classes in the basics: science, math, writing, history, ethics, public speaking, and of course gender studies and diversity. We are just scratching the surface in all these disciplines.

10 classes in your major: a mere 10 courses in the heart of your discipline? Some degrees require as many as 20—but these tend to be very specialized like nursing, elementary education, and business and they specify electives to meet their own needs​

20 classes in whatever you want! You pick! These are some selected electives.

  • LGBQT in society
  • Zombies in Popular Media
  • Alien Sex
  • Cyberporn and Society
  • The Adultery Novel In and Out of Russia
  • Those Sexy Victorians
  • The Phallus​
  • Sex and romance in the media
  • And of course, Sex, sex, sex, sex, baked beans and sex.


And many, many more courses—often with a titillating title to lure enough students so administrators don’t cancel the classes.

     Even in college, our advisers push students to select a major, then run them through a template of popular and required classes to produce graduates who…

…cannot do math—we teach Excursions in Math 100 or some equivalent class where students learn about the various kinds of calculating, what we use calculus, trig, geometry, algebra for, but really don’t solve equations. The exception are science majors.

…cannot express their ideas articulately—We teach English 101-102 & Public speaking. Our writing labs nearly write papers for students, or they can just buy one online. Plagiarism is common. And then there is powerpoint.

do not understand the reasoning under their deepest beliefs. We teach Philosophy 101 or Ethics 101. But two problems plague these fine classes. First, they overwhelm the kids with 2500 years of deep thought in one semester. Second, religion has been tossed out of the teaching of ethics.  Not even Socrates managed to do that.**

do not know the history of their own nation—we teach History 101-102 from sanitized history books that are silent on the real struggles that prior generations have lived through— (insert your favorite conspiracy theory here—it is probably true and the history books will not touch it. (I will admit that I am impressed with students who major in History, as well as the professors who teach upper level classes.)

don't understand politics or economics—we teach Political Science 101. But the problem is that we divorce it from economics and do not recognize that big money is underneath politicians and political systems. We offer Economics 101 subdivided in macro & micro, but iis not required. Students roll their eyes like Bernanke looking at a silver coin in Ron Paul’s hand.

do not understand interest rates, the stock markets & derivatives—We do teach this, in upper level Finance programs. But you and I don’t have the pre-reqs to take these classes unless you major in Finance. This is secret knowledge and commoners like us need not apply. (I am curious, some of you here have a Finance degree. Did you get the education you needed?)

and who don’t know their musicals! Sadly, we do teach this! We teach it well, for those who want it. Here we find the elements of what it means to be human. Poetry, music, dance, the spectacle of location and set design, the central ideas of humanity, set down in an abbreviated, memorable, beautiful form that you can take with you, whistle while you work, and teach your children. Here we find embedded arguments for what is right, true, ethical, dealing with life, death, love, family, war, politics, economy, and even an appreciation for diversity! Musical theater celebrates the pinnacle of human thought and action and combines all the Arts & Humanities in a single form
 

   All is not lost. If a person wants a good education, you can find it in college. Save philosophy for your senior year and take more than one class. Take math seriously! Take upper level sociology courses. You want to lean how to think critically? Study rhetoric—especially argumentation! Take classic literature courses. Take Abnormal Psych so you learn that everyone is screwed up—deal with it! Take all the history you can. Study anthropology & culture. Learn a foreign language, take a trip overseas and speak that language. We don’t need no stinkin’ diversity classes when students learn about another culture. Study fine art, music, take an acting class.

   The education is there for your kids, but they need better guidance than the “professional” advisers in the office can provide. These good folks are undereducated and overworked.

   And if you are out of college, or it is not possible to attend, keep reading sites like this, read the books our fine members recommend, watch the documentaries. Study basic Latin vocabulary so you can understand educated English. Learn new vocabulary. Read the classics. Read mythology. Read about world religions. Pick the best one and live it! Read the “Great books” series. 

   And watch a musical this weekend.
 

* Giambattista Vico 1668-1744. 
** In The Gorgias, Socrates (Plato, rather) relies on “punishment by gods in the afterlife” to counter Callicles argument that “might makes right.”
 

80 Comments

Buckets o Plenty's picture

One

One and done

metalsbyamile's picture

Could have met Dr J

on first but 2nd it is.

How true Dr J. Your life path took you away from the illiteracy that plagues societies in general.

My peeve, along with rampant misuse of language skills, is the lack of  grammar in the extreme.

IE They're they go.I'd like a pear of new socks. There friend is funny.Can you please ty a not. I now the difference.

Just a few basic examples.

wouldyoubelieve...'s picture

I want a tenured pfofessorship....

in a newly created dept, " How to get 6 figure tenured position teaching absolutely nothing of any use to anybody" seriously, reading a course catalog these days it's no wonder it takes 6+ yrs to get a 4 yr degree, all to keep useless depts. filled with students who have to pay real money for a fake education, oops, nevermind, just realized the money is just as fake, carry on, nothing to see here.

P.S. my 1st "Turd"

Hammer's picture

Just watch

and for those who need pictures

boomer sooner's picture

A math problem.  4% less due

A math problem.  4% less due to stopping payments at 2 banks.  If I'm not mistaken, Mastercard is the processor for EBT.  Even with the expansion of food stamps, Visa and Mastercard down 4% means economies cannot be getting better.  Wonder if cards are maxed, bank accounts are drained (debit cards) and being used less.

Ever been to Sams club?  Discover is their credit card of choice (only reason I have one, besides cash back for free shiney) and you can get cash at checkout by pressing a button.  A fee is added to cash advance (?$ on amount).  I asked clerk if many get cash and she said many do.  Bet they have no idea what this service costs, short term and long term.  I damn sure do not!  Would use silver dollar in pocket before being that stupidcrying​.

For the first time in more than four years Visa’s quarterly revenue growth declined to single digit percentages amid a strengthening dollar. In the second quarter ended March 31 it was 7 percent, down from 11 percent in the first quarter. The company projects revenue growth to slow further this quarter.

In March Visa and another US-based payment system MasterCard suspended services to two Russian banks

http://rt.com/business/154780-visa-suffers-russian-sanctions/

Another great read, thanks Dr J!

Add - sorry tablet

Hammer's picture

(No subject)

geFNPNM.png

Dr Jerome's picture

Amazing

Hammer,

That is an amazing video. Thank you.

Hammer's picture

No no, thank you Dr. :)

No no, thank you Dr. Your posts are always thoughtful and well thought through

:)

I would click on both videos as the talks are by the same person but with different deliveries.

Hammer's picture

Here's a pop version of the

Here's a pop version of the drop out tune in from the 60s and I think they might just be smarter than us........

https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=RDX0gtzHJphVg&v=X0gtzHJphVg

227's picture

Education?

Kids don't get an education, they get a schooling. A schooling that can be summed up in two words: Pavlov's Dogs. "It is a mistake to suppose that the whole issue is how to free man. The issue is to improve the way in which he is controlled" ~ B.F. Skinner

BagOfGold's picture

This has got to be one of the most terrifying...

but real discussions with Dave Hodges & Steve Quayle...& I urge everyone to listen to this...so you can make preparations for what is coming!!!...

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cfp-radio/2014/04/22/dave-hodges-on-with-steve-quayle-on-the-hagmann-hagmann-report

Bag Of Gold

HeirHelmut's picture

Empiricism?!

Wrong. It's Marxism! Why does nobody have any clue what is behind all this insanity? Has no one of you ever read Marxist literature? Studied the Frankfurt school?

Scientific studies that do not fit into the politically "correct" picture, simply are ignored! Is that empicisim?!

For example: long ago it was shown, that Multiculturalism creates tensions, while homogenous societies are peaceful. Nevertheless the Marxist regime supresses all these extremely important studies and pushes on with it's agenda.

The same is true about education of children. Every objective study shows, that children without learning discipline later have more problems in their private life.

So why is this happening?

Well, there are true Marxists. They believe in this bullshit. It's mental illness. Just like Marxist "artists" exist, that bite the heads off from mouses. Why? When European culture was not yet totally perverted and destroyed, this kind of mental illness was well researched: people with deficits are out of the norm. Therefore they tend to identify with other people or behaviours that are out of the norm. Some carry their being different silently, but there are many, who have anger against the majority which has no defect.

The above mentioned "artist" Joe Coleman described his personality very good himself in an interview: the first time he saw modern art portraits of freaks, he immediately identified himself with them. That's one group. The freaks themselfes with their hate against the healthy norm and majority.

Or like I found it summed up in a beautiful question on www.heretical.com: Could it be that the people who stridently demand acceptance do so because at core they are not happy with themselves?

But then there is another group, which uses these freaks to destroy the culture and traditional values of the majority!

These forces share the hate with the abnormal against the majority. Therefore George Soros, for example, sponsors campaigns for the legalization of Marihuana. The more than 80 year old, who still has an excellent brain, who never poisons it with synapses- and brain-damaging Marihuana, supports it's legalization.

For the same reason Rothschild and Warburg in 1924 sponsored for many years Coudenhove-Kalergi, a bastard of European and Asian origin, envisioning a genocide against the White race with colored mass immigration from Asia and Africa with the "Jewish master race" ruling the resulting rootless mass, in his book "Practical Idealism (while on the other hand they supported the Zionist's plan of a pure Jewish state)! That's what hailed Kalergi wrote and this genocidal view is the foundation of the EU. People just can't believe it, if I tell them about it, but this book can be found on the net and everyone could and should read it.

That's how this system works. It has nothing to do with empicism! It uses universities, finances institutes and studies to camouflage the agenda while scientific studies that show the opposite, are ignored and with help of MSM and the power of the money masters, even silenced (watch the movie Genetic Roulette to get an impression, how even one single company, Monsanto, can silence researchers).

But back to the intentional dumbing down with cultural Marxism: The 1% keeps it's private schools! They keep their performance oriented schools and education system! They send their children even on the most reactionary Swiss schools, where they must wear school uniforms, learn (self) discipline, behaving well, greeting and all the usual civilized and traditional ways to behave - while their cultural Marxism prays to the masses that they should demand everything and that immediately and if they don't get it, they should "rebel".

I'd highly recommend to read Charlotte Iserbyt The Dumbing Down of Armerica (http://www.deliberatedumbingdown.com/): Working in the education sector, she stumbled upon documents, while the cold war was still raging, and the US sheeple were made to believe into two hostile systems, that show, how the Orange Globalists in New York and Washington were collaborating with the Red Globalists in Moscow, to reach their "educational" goals. At the height of the cold war! Like in WW2, the Globalists were on the same side.

Many educated and hard working people from the middle class cannot understand why things are happening, why their children do no longer learn correctly. Already four decades ago Iserbyt under Reagan found the documents, that discussed how the differences of the children could be eliminated and the more intelligent and capable ones not make stand out! Reagan, your "patriotic", "conservative" president...

But back to empiricism: There are countless of studies showing the differences between races, their different IQs, their different behaviour, even racist drugs are developed with great success, using the genetic differences! Marxism just ignores that and forces the northern blond haired child with the evolution of the ice age in his genome together with the black child, which has an optimized genome for surviving in warm climate! It simply would be counterproductive to World Government and the to let people separate according to their natural needs. Do White people feel well in New Orleans? Do black people feel well in high power White societies? No, everyone is suffering, science shows that but Marxism doesn't allow it!

So Marxism is the ideal tool to destroy the natural order and suppress and destroy the middle class. Why? The 1% does not have to fear the dumbest parts of society. It only has to fear the middle class, which is as intelligent as the 1%, but does not have the power. Therefore if their traditions and roots are destroyed, it will sink down to the proletarian level. Do not care about god and fatherland, value and culture but consume, consume, consume. Do not learn self discipline and become well educated, but egomanic and only a useful nerd.

To bring up an example of modern technology and how Marxism rules over empiricism: the next big dumbing down step is being achieved with e-reading. It is sold to the masses as big progress. But countless studies already show, that e-reading leads to worse remembering of what was read! Therefore it will be pushed. Do not be surprised, if "experts" will suggest politicians to give e-readers for free to school children! At least the poor ones! Ofcourse childs are happy about every gadget. But how many people know, that empiricism already knows, that these tools do the opposite of what is claimed?

There are also enough studies that show, that children educated in religious christian families are less susceptible to drug use and other modern mental illnesses. Or that single children have higher divorce rates than children with brothers and sisters. Or that children grown up anti-authoritarian much more often have big personality problems.

That's what empiricism says!

Jerome, what you are writing about has NOTHING to do with empiricism! If it would be empiricism, then the Marxist developments that have been destroying Western nations (since the Frankfurt school started the final attack on all traditional values), would be put into question with the numerous studies showing the awful results. But this discussion does not take place. NOT because the established dogma would be empiric! But because it's a totalitarian regime that does not allow the free and open debate! Because it's the opposite of empiricism. It's Marxism barely camouflaged as science and with the MSM on the forefront of the totalitarian tought control called politicial "correctness", the public does not even know, that there is a whole different EMPIRIC world, that clearly shows, how bad this pseudo-science affects society.

In fact it's the opposite of empircism: it's ideology and dogmatism that can be hardly covered as scientific. But the problem is, it's not transported to the passive mass. One must actively be interested in the topic and actively search the suppressed or tabooed information.

Turlock's picture

Dr. J...inside the beast report

Thks. for your cogent observations. My wife was the VP for finance for a 55K/yr high class small college. Over 25 years I witnessed the rejection of the "core of humanities" in favor of racial and feminist studies. Whites get a steady dose of cultural hatred and males endure constant criticism. Education has been largely supplanted with political ideology. The worldview provided by Western Civilization and Christianity is under relentless attack. Nature abhors a vacuum and the emerging culture does not reward the traditional virtues. The new order seems to be envy based. I shudder.

Keg's picture

Great post Dr. J

Says many of the things I have been trying to express for years.

Somehow I was very fortunate.  I had a few bad teachers along the way but most were good and many were outstanding.  In my high school the math department created a way for students to move at their own pace.  My American history teacher made you select something from the period we were studying, research it, and present it to the class.  We had a great drama teacher.  And we did musicals.  "My Fair Lady" one year and "Camelot" the next.  I was lucky enough to get a scholarship so I could afford to go to a small liberal arts college.  Freshman English was called "Communications."  Much broader in scope than the traditional freshman English.  Everyone had to take 2 semesters of "Ideas of Man" which was basically a combination history, philosophy, and religion.  And my accounting professor was much more concerned with teaching you to be a good accountant than passing the CPA exam.  The one common thread in this was challenging you to think and reason.  And agreement with the professors' opinions was not required.

silver66's picture

Dr J

I would very much have liked you as a teacher. I think your students are very fortunate to have you teaching them.
I have sent this essay on to my daughter who has just finished 2nd year

Silver66

Stack till it hurts

linz47's picture

Naive Solution

It is easy to concur with your observations of the problems in our education system. Teaching humanities, however, is NOT the solution.

Please do not infer from the opening paragraph that this writer is opposed to teaching humanities. My opinion is that students should be provided exploratory exposure to humanities and allowed the freedom to pursue as their interests and aptitude lead. Forced mass study of humanities is NOT the solution. The suggestion of such rings as "grasping at straws."

The solution(s) will be elusive as long as society focuses on level one problems such as the observations you aptly provided. The Japanese developed a method for root cause identification termed "5 Whys." The idea is that you must drill deeper asking "why?" as many as 5 times into the hierarchy of causes to reach the true root cause. A solution(s) at that deeper level will work.

Following the "5 Why" method, it seems to me that a key root cause of our decadent educational system is the refusal to decide and own up to what is truly important from the societal level. Our society has been degraded into an "anything goes" society which filters down to education.

It is appalling that our society pressures a CEO to step down due to an expression of his beliefs regarding marriage being between a man and a woman. [Anything is OK] It is horrifying that parents accept and even support "skipping school" for self-determined "valid" reasons (such as opening day of deer hunting season). [Ah, doesn't matter] It is disgusting that a well coordinated (good in sports) young person is heralded above the academic achiever. [Short term thinking] It is crippling that parents view learning only for students and do not set goals of continual learning throughout life. [Don't need no learnin']

Simply stated, we as a society have not determined what behaviors and learning are important. We are seemingly unwilling to state our position. How can we expect the education experience to produce excellence when we do not know what that is?

A paucity of true values exist in our society. Mendacity among leaders follows. Trust erodes. The true solution likely can be understood by studying the history of the Roman Empire, unfortunately.

Just as closure, I too have a PhD. Taught in a university for 7 years until the politics and lack of focus among peers prompted my leaving. Have taught seminars and consulted for many organizations the last 30 years helping them use data to lead to improvement. Yes, statistics. Good stuff and the masses can learn and appreciate statistics if taught in a practical way combined with focus and agreement of the need for such learning.

AlienEyes's picture

All things considered.....

Today, there are only two ways that you can complete a college degree.....

1) Knowing almost everything there is to know about practically nothing.

2) Knowing almost nothing about practically everything.

Colonel Angus's picture

Naive solution

I think you may be onto something. But it goes deeper than that. So many parents don't want to deal with the education of their own children, because they would then have to figure out what is important. And that might involve thinking...and then there are the headaches. (True story- a student of mine once complained that my class was giving her a headache. I said this is a good thing. You know you've had a good workout in the gym when you feel your muscles ache. This showed up on her student evaluation as a great injury she had experienced in having me say this. The Dean gave me a gold star for it.)

We homeschool because we see the BS that goes on in the community. I talk with teachers at times, mostly because I know them in our smaller town. And it helps that my wife's master is in education.

Actual complaints from students- This subject (differential equations) has been settled for 200 years, so you don't have to explain to us why things work. We'll take your word for it. Just tell us what to do and we'll do it. (My response: why should you be limited to the small amount that we egghead academics understand rather than going out and using the concepts for yourself? Eyes roll at that one...)

Dr. J, I teach at one of the top engineering schools in the country. Would you consider coming and joining our faculty? We need more like you. I know you just moved, but come back to the Midwest. We'd love to have you here.

I happen to do stats. And statistical work can tell us about trends that might have otherwise been hidden to us. Or it can tell us that there really isn't a trend where our minds tried to fool us. Properly used data can do a lot. And Amazon and Google and Wal-Mart, Obamacare, etc. know exactly how to use stats to their advantage. Therefore you ought to know hot to use data...

Maryann's picture

Thanks Dr J...

Your post really made me think about my own education, and maybe others can relate.  I went to a medium sized state school mostly because my friends were going there.  I had some excellent profs and some not so great.  But I did take a wonderful class in Sociology of Religion taught by a kind Christian man who was also a local pastor!  In fact I loved the class so much I wound up getting a second major in Sociology.  Sadly, my education in history was not so great and I hated history as I found it dry and boring. 

Now as an adult I love history as I have come to see the bigger picture from a different perspective and how it is part of God's design.  Part of the change has come from taking the free online classes from Hillsdale College.  I know I have mentioned them before but Hillsdale has expanded their offerings and have revamped the original Constitution class.  They have also added classes in economics and great books.  Good education is available now if you seek it out and is even free!

Maybe a good thing to come of the educational mess our society is in is that some parents are waking up and taking more control of their children's education.  I know I am trying!

And the musicals!  I was so fortunate in high school to be in a choir class that performed one every spring.  Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady, and of course the Music Man!  Again, thanks Dr Jerome! smiley

Dr Jerome's picture

Empiricism? HeirHelmut

Your comments about Marxism, HeirHelmut, seem on target. Thank you. I need to think Marxisn through more deeply. I have always considered it a knee-jerk reaction against the feudal-industrial-capitalist systems of Europe that brought us centuries of war and financial inequality. Marx was right about the evils he witnessed, but was unable to formulate a tenable system to replace it, though his followers have and are trying very hard. It was a reaction that became corrupt and could not survive long term. As a union member, I have seen the principles of Marxism work fairly well at a local level. but at the same time TFAs were in the highest union offices--the top local guy shot a regional VP in our local union office and the director of the apprenticeship was indicted for theft of CETA training funds. 

But what you say makes sense that the spirit of Marxism is behind the drive for diversity and the radical demonization of any impulse for people to be more comfortable living and working with others who look and think the same.  (Now Donald Sterling is feeling the heat.) Yes, marxism requires ethnic and people groups to lock arms as part of the proletariat in increasing numbers. Whether we call it socialism or communism is a mater of degree. A good education does not fit this model. Obedience to the leaders, who purport to represent the proletariat, is what is required.

I hope my post wasn't dissing empiricism too much--it has value, but not at the exclusion of the humanities like the situation we are seeing get deeper each year. Far too much grant money largely goes to science and social science departments to develop obscure research that leads to knowledge in areas that do not solve society's problems. I trust the statistics and methods of modern research. I cannot dispute their findings at the micro level. But researchers too often lose sight of the big picture that should be driving their efforts. Yes, they do ignore research for political and personal reasons. Many do not live by the pure principles they hold dear. Good research is suppressed for decades sometimes (plate-tectonic theory is the notable example) until some tenured professor dies who has been a gatekeeper for key journals. 

I think I can agree with you that only research that serves the political-economic system of the people in power (marxism?) will see the light of day, get funding, earn tenure for profs, etc.

Colonel,  I do value statistical analysis and agree with what you say. I started with a BS degree and my early research was quantitative. I converted to rhetoric and critical approaches later in grad school, but I still sneak descriptive stats into my publications. Family is what motivated my move back west. The bonds are too strong to leave again. But I gave up tenure and salary to make the move. Stacking has slowed to a crawl and I focus on prepping. 

treefrog's picture

education for everyone?

in the fifty or more years leading up to world war two, this was the pattern in most of american firms: a couple hundred (blue collar) guys in the plant, beating on hammers, pulling on wrenches, operating drill presses, loading and unloading trucks/trains and sweating. ...a couple dozen (white collar) guys up in the front office pushing pencils, overseeing ordering of supplies/shipping of product, sales/advertising, bookkeeping, and patting secretaries on the ass.

the guys in the front office were generally better educated than the guys back in the shop. they had had more formal education; a high school diploma at least, many had been to college. some even had degrees. it was commonly understood that there was a cause and effect relationship between education and getting a better (white collar) job. there was a relationship, but it wasn't as simple as it appeared.

the relationship was that the guys in the front office belonged to the same social class as the people who owned businesses. that class traditionally educated its children. thus,they had been taught to speak and write the english language in the same manner and with the same accent as the class of people who owned enterprises. they had manners which would not embarrass them when introduced to the boss' relatives. there were, of course exceptions, but it was a class difference. the blue collar workers worked for wages. the white collar employees were paid salaries. they dressed differently; they spoke differently; they came from different families, and often different ethnic backgrounds. it was a class difference as surely as the divide between enlisted and commissioned.

the difference in education was a result of a class difference. the difference in access to better jobs was a result of a class difference. one was not the result of the other.  this was not generally understood as our troops poured home from europe and the pacific. the general attitude was that if you got a degree, you were almost guaranteed a "good" (i.e. white collar)job.

this is a democracy, and with many thousands of veterans demanding education in order to get better jobs, the government provided the g.i. bill, and the masses (at least compared to pre-war numbers) arrived on campus. college administrators loved it. from a business point of view, their customer base was enormously expanded. in response, colleges and universities expanded. my alma mater (florida state), converted from a small women's college to a rapidly expanding co-ed university (ask burt reynolds, he was in the first class of returning vets).

this tendency of government educational subsidies to ever widening segments of the population has continued through the g.i. bill, the vietnam era g.i. bill, the peace time g.i. bill, pell grants, student loans, ad nauseum. there's even a local institution now offering a degree in theraputic massage. this has raised the percentage of college graduates in our population to giddy heights. has the quality of the education kept up? well, that's another question. now, to get a "good" job requires an advanced degree. can anyone spell "dilution?"

all this, however, has not produced a corresponding number of "good" jobs. i once built a house where all the crew had degrees. the guy who did the plumbing had a p.h.d! the roofer had a master's! nobody did as much as pick up a plank and carry it across the jobsite without at least a batchelor's.  i noticed this only after the job was over.

now in the typical american manufacturing company (a vanishing breed), there are still a few dozen guys in the office pushing pencils (more often keyboards) and discretely flirting with the secretaries (watch out for sex harrassment suits). they still socialize with the class of people who own enterprises. in the back there are still guys beating on hammers, pulling on wrenches... but a lot more of them now have degrees...

...and education is big business.

...and repayment rates on student loans are slowly eroding...

isn't progress wonderful?

edit:  a couple definitions which i think have been forgotten or blurred

training:  learning how to do something.  often related to employment

education:  making the inside if your cranium a more interesting place.

(from latin "education" - to lead out.  presumably from darkness or ignorance.)

Turd Ferguson's picture

This is terrific

MODERATOR

Thanks, DocJ!!

John Galt's picture

Good Post Dr. J

(my screen keeps freezing...am trying to repost this.....apologies in advance if a double post results)

The 'educashon' system does seem designed not to do what we would expect it should do.

My brother has a Phd and his lifelong dream was to teach at a university level. Once he started teaching he was appalled at how poorly educated the students coming out of high school were. He began to grade papers not only on content but spelling and grammar as well. Needless to say, students were not impressed with the lower grades they were getting in his class and complained to deans and department heads. He, in turn, got reprimanded many times. Some professors even advised him to go with the flow and not fight the system....just cash the check, get the tenure and float along until it's time to retire and collect pension. He couldn't do it and found himself quietly blackballed and sent off all over the country on nothing better than short term contract teaching positions. He was never offered an actual teaching position (only contract), and finally gave up on his dream and now works in the private sector.

One of my sons is now a doctor. He's a bright and well rounded kid who was always at the top of his class; school athlete of year etc. While doing his undergrad he was often frustrated at earning marks as high as 104% (perfect grade plus correct answers on bonus questions) only to get Bell curved into the low 90s so that kids with lower grades could score higher and (more importantly for the system) not fail. Despite being held back he finished undergrad with a top national academic award and applied to medical school.

To enter Med school you need high grades, a high MCAT score, and need to perform well in interviews. The rationale behind the interviews is that schools want well rounded applicants, not studious types with no social skills who have spent their entire academic lives with their nose buried in books. A low score in any one of these 3 areas is typically enough to prevent any applicant from entry into Med school. You can have perfect grades and an excellent MCAT, but mess up the interview and you're out.

After going through this gruelling process of applications and interviews the students waited for decision day, which was the one day when all Med schools announced who was in and who was out. He and his classmates had a huge party planned for that same evening, when everyone would gather to find out who got accepted and where everyone was going. At the party that night there were many people he expected to see, but was surprised at some who didn't show. Classmates with high grades and excellent MCATs in some cases did not get accepted, and he quickly figured out that anyone who didn't get in didn't want to show up at the party to mourn their failure while everyone else was celebrating.

What really shocked him, though, was one student who did appear. She barely made it through undergrad and were it not for the Bell curve she would likely have flunked out. He and others who were at the top of their class were deliberately placed with her in a study group to help her with her MCAT studies, but quickly grew frustrated with her lack of effort. (MCAT studies work better as a team effort, but she became a drag on their group's progress). It was common knowledge that in addition to poor grades she also had a horrid MCAT score. Either her poor academic grades or low MCAT score would have been enough on their own to keep a student like my son out of Med school, but she told him that she got accepted to the top Med school in the country because there was a different (lower) application threshold for particular visible minorities such as her.

(I won't elaborate further, lest I be branded a racist)

It was in that moment that my son earned his Phd in how the real world works today, and he realizes that one the biggest handicaps he is now saddled with is the fact that he is an intelligent, white, heterosexual male.

Dr. J is also correct about things that are not being taught, such as economics. In Canada the government is in dire need of more family doctors, and in Med school there is no teaching of the economic realities such as the cost of medicine, overheads etc. Students are told that a family doctor can earn an average of $250,000 to $300,000 a year (gross), but say nothing about what the net will be. I sat down with him and did the math of paying for student loans, office overhead, staffing, liability insurance etc and he realized that even with a high gross salary such as what his teachers were telling him his net income would be little better than what a high school dropout 'sanitary engineer' would 'earn' working for government. I am not exaggerating that last point, because I personally know of one individual who is making over $200,000 a year as a supervisor of 'sanitary engineers' for a government agency.

This system is f*cked, and it is by design.

Lintltj5's picture

As far as latin goes...

I teach an introductory Latin course at a small Catholic school. Nothing overly complicated, just the basics of the language concerning grammar rules, etc. The work does require discipline and memorization, but nothing terribly difficult for even the average student. You would not believe how many people are in awe when they learn that I teach latin. They think Im a genius. I'll stress the fact that its a basic course but it doesnt matter. I cant help but think on how low weve sunk as a society when introductory latin teachers are held in such high esteem(not that teachers should not be) for teaching a mysterious dead language.

There was a time when one needed to be proficient in latin and greek in order to enter university level education. Now, as witnessed by myself, some college level students have never heard of let alone know how to use the Dewey Decimal System in the school library.

elpicador's picture

Syria again

Just have a look at the front page of The Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

ouchtouch's picture

Carlin quote is inaccurate

Carlin said some of those words, but he was talking about big wealthy business interests, not government. http://americanjudas.blogspot.com/2010/09/problem-with-education-today-george.html

Colonel Angus's picture

Another thing...

At the Easter meal, we were with family for the first time in a long while. One of my brothers in law asked me, "Would you recommend that a kid go to college now?" I had to answer him honestly and tell him that it depends. If this kid is going to major in English or in transsexual left-handed Siberian studies, then it is probably a bad idea. I left a liberal arts school that was expensive, and most students came out of it with a six figure debt, or at least half of that. And many of them shouldn't be management material and many of them will probably ask if you want fries with that in their jobs. This is a shame. Education is important, but a piece of paper doesn't mean much.

So I moved to go to an engineering school. I teach math, and I'm actually doing some financial engineering. But before you tar and feather me, I'm the one who is always honest with my students, saying, "There is an implicit assumption in these calculations that we discussed two or three theorems ago. You should decide whether such an assumption is really a good one. HOWEVER, once *everyone* uses Black and Scholes to price derivatives, we find that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy." So learn the stuff and eat your peas. I want to say it but don't...

If you have a kid that is good with engines, encourage him in this. If she had academic prowess, find the best nearly free education for her. The name brand Ivy schools open a lot of doors for kids, but some of those doors are best closed. I worked in one lab where there were dozens of people from Ivies and then there were a couple from state schools. I was fortunate enough to have a free education at a top-notch non-Ivy school. And those of us not from the Ivies held our own and even did better than a few of the worthless, entitled, Harvard types.

I'll teach my kids work ethic first and foremost. And with that my son is way ahead of his peers in any subject you'll mention. My oldest daughter is amazing in what she does. And then the next daughter has a whole lot of "quit" in her. I've still got a lot of work to do...

realitybiter's picture

The problem with college

is it is just another State controlled, over regulated industry.

Like every other industry that is regulated and controlled, it has built barriers all around it, to stifle competition.  

Why must you sit in a specific classroom, listen to a specific lecturer, read a specific book , then pass their exam?  Why can't you just take the exam?

Is spending a $100,000 to get a business degree from a State University a wise business decision? - should be the first exam question.  Answering yes should deny your passing.  Most of what is learned could easily be taught for far less.

The internet should be the great liberator of higher ed, but because the State controls the diploma manufacturers, it is not.

I have been middle class my whole life.  I went to State Universities, degreed in engineering and MBA.  I have worked with folks that went to high brow schools, Exeter prep schools, Ivy League.....I have seen it all.  I have been at those parties and had my State education shoved up my butt.  Carlin was right.  There is a club.  What is going on in education today is just one more bodyblow to the middle class, pushing you away from the club....Saddle up folks that can't afford itwith more debt, on an education that won't buy them squat.  Jobs dropped out.  Dell, too.  Gates, hell yeah.  Zuckerberg....

Keep your $100k, stack it instead, go to the library for four years and read your balls off, then  get a shitty job at a great company, and start overperforming.  You will be amazed how far you go.

(unless of course you are studying a specific science....;) - and even then, look at all the lectures on youtube....it is ALL there.

Dagney Taggart's picture

Plagiarism

I took the day off since it's the first real springlike day we've had this year, almost 20.

Have you ever disciplined a student, DJ? What's the worst or most blatant instance you've dealt with?

Lots of plagiarism in my profession. Of course, it's encouraged since reinventing the wheel is a waste of money.

This is an excellent review of the state of education, DJ.

@reality: That is pretty sound advice and would be an awesome interview story.

Colonel Angus's picture

Plagiarism case...

As I was just beginning I had a case of plagiarism. A kid copied an article from someone else, changing a few words to try to get by with it. I caught him and withheld his grade at the end of the semester. He shows up at my office, and I said we'd have the discussion in front of my Department Chair or not at all. Long story short, the kid threatens to break my neck and my Department Head's. The secretary calls the police, and they come to calm him down. It gets to the administration and they ask me to go easy on the kid. I was gone from that institution as soon as I could be.

Second case- two soccer players took old term papers from another school off the web to pass them off as their own. I called these two women (and that shocked me) into my office independently and said I wanted us to discuss their papers, that some of the ideas were very interesting. I asked each if there was anything I should know about their papers, and each, independently, admitted to plagiarizing. Now one was the top scorer for the history of this school's soccer program. I was asked to just give these two zeroes on the assignment and not just fail them. OK, I was pressured to do it. I'm now at a different school.

From what I can tell this place takes cheating ridiculously seriously. Kids get thrown out of here regularly. And I want a place that values the development, growth in abilities, and preparation that this place does.

I also got a degree in France. On an exam another student asked me what the answer was, I very loudly responded that I didn't know, that I didn't understand, I'm just an American trying to make it through. The prof looked up from Le Figaro and then went back to reading. I called the director of the program at home on his cell to talk to him about this. He said, "Well, she will get caught not understanding in her job interviews." Sacre bleu!!!

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