The Thinking 
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The Magic Spell of Useless Education

August 22, 2009


In a follow-up to my post The Parental Serf, I wrote:

The enormous sums spent on higher education don’t represent adoration of youth so much as adoration of institutions and a superstitious belief in their magical properties. I don’t mind selling out to the future. I do mind selling out to colleges which offer little of value that cannot be obtained for much less.

James M. writes:

Surely, the “magic spell” can only be sustained within a healthy job market? Recent college graduates know or will come to know what little they received for their parents money, and many are having trouble finding employment. Tens of thousands of dollars were spent on each so that they could be taught by unintelligible immigrant TAs while playing in a richly populated hook-up hunting ground. If the economy continues its downward slide, how will a matured reflection upon these memories affect decisions made regarding the schooling of these graduates’ own children?

As a supplement to this issue, we have the mass-dismantling of vocational technology programs in high schools across America. Tradesmen are retiring much faster than they are being replaced. Everyone is getting funneled into college, and the attitude is that kids who don’t go to college are failures; they got “left behind”. Working with your hands is for lower class people who “weren’t suited” for higher education. There are hordes of College Engineering students who can’t actually make anything. White-collar husbands can’t fix a leaky faucet, change their wife’s brake pads, or make a birdhouse.

So, if there is a depression in our future, I hope that positive side-effect will be a disenchantment with unnecessary higher education and a re-invigoration of the trades.

Laura writes:

I also hope for a re-invigoration of genuine learning. I did fairly well in college but I barely learned a thing. Virtually every scrap of higher learning I possess was obtained on my own.

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