Jeremiah hates literary references. We read recently about a zoologist studying tigers, “in the forests of the night.” No kidding. This was in Intelligent Life, the aspirational magazine for rich people who want to be smart.
The stilted reference to Blake reads like someone who has reached intermediate proficiency in French, and is suddenly full of je ne sais quoi – or the sophomore philosopher who knows a little of existentialism and not much about existence.
A liberal education should supply material for a career of original thinking, not ornaments for the banal.
Another of Jeremiah’s wacky ideas has gone mainstream. Here is the Pope Center’s George Leef discussing the “college bubble” on Bloomberg. He makes the same analogy as here, that government policy helped inflate both the college bubble and the housing bubble.
Any degree, from any place, at any cost [was] going to be a great investment
This contrasts with the view of College Board’s David Coleman that “a college education is the best investment a young person can make.” It’s worth four minutes to watch Mr. Leef. He is lucid, and sympathetic to the cause. He allows that college is a good investment for some people, but not all – just like buying a house.
The rest of the story, as you know from Amanda Ripley and Angel Gurria, is that many American students leave public school unprepared for college, and then they sit through four years of an overpriced diploma mill before finally settling down to work at Starbuck’s.
The whole process is reminiscent of Soviet factory production, in which products are churned out – college graduates, in this case – with no attention to quality or market demand.
See also: Poder a los Estudiantes
Dear President Bachelet, we read in The Economist about your plan to nationalize the universities and provide free education. This is a laudable goal, and we are writing to you with some advice based on what we have seen in the United States. Our educational system is very expensive, and it produces poor results. This is confirmed by international surveys.
If your government supports the universities directly, then you will see quality go down and expenses go up. In the U.S., we have seen this result in both primary education which is directly supported, and in universities which are supported through government loans.
The important thing is that the schools are paid only by the students.
If you want to provide a good education to your citizens, then the schools must be exposed to competition. Through competition, the students themselves will enforce standards of quality and cost. The way to do this is to provide financial assistance directly to the students.
Current payments are best. If you use loans, and the loans are below a market rate, then the universities will game them as they have done here.
You may distribute aid to the students using any criteria you wish. You may choose which taxes or efficiencies will fund it. The important thing is that the schools are paid only by the students. You might also want to encourage the development of vocational schools, like they have in Germany.
See also: The Education-Industrial Complex
Here is an upbeat article from Bloomberg about vocational education, echoing what Jeremiah has recommended apropos our trillion dollar student loan “crisis.”
America for too long has attempted a cookie-cutter approach to secondary education: stay in school, go to college
Bloomberg also refers to new research from the Gates Foundation. It makes a number of sensible recommendations, particularly for “Pell A” adult education – like paying for summer classes.
Jeremiah was asked to say exactly when Americans became fatally complacent. We produced this chart, below, using data from the Department of Education. It shows the number of English Lit and Psych graduates exceeding the number of Engineers, in 1962. How’s that for precision?
In the 1950s, bright American kids grew up to be engineers, much as bright Indian kids do today. You see an homage to this culture in Tom Hanks’ Apollo Thirteen. Then, in the 1960s, America was hit hard by socialist propaganda. Kurt Vonnegut ripped on engineers almost as hard as he ripped on businessmen.
The message was that money is only produced through exploitation, and you were being exploited beating your brains out in Physics 101. You would end up a tool of the military industrial complex. Socialists have dominated education ever since, with their curriculum of self-hating bullshit.
The liberal arts course cut down on computer-science theory in favor of practical tasks like using programming to manipulate photographs … since the switch, about 85% of students pass.
So, here’s what we need to do. We need to ramp up a propaganda campaign in rival economies like India and China, and suck the ambition out of their children. If it worked here, it can work there, too.
See also: Students Pick Easier Majors
In response to our recent post on FAU, a reader sent this photo from the web site of another Florida college. One of the perks of attending FGCU is that they have their own beach! We presume these kids are resting up for the LSAT, or – maybe Trevanian was right about “four year intellectual vacations designed to prolong adolescence.”
One of the best lawyers we know majored in math. Why math? What does that have to do with law? “Because it’s hard,” she said. When you interview with a big firm, they want to know that you worked hard in college – and everybody knows math is hard.
“We choose to … do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
Fortunately, we have President Kennedy on film. Note that he begins by praising America’s then strong capacity for hard science.
We have written before about the futility of America’s overpriced universities, and we offer this piece of advice to today’s undergraduates. If your coursework doesn’t feel like real work, then you need to change your major.
We understand there is a “university” in Florida granting credit for stomping on the name of Jesus. This is a real disappointment. Jeremiah’s kids were all stomping well before college age. Plus, we understand the job market for stomping on religious icons is pretty slim right now. Maybe class time would be better spent learning tax fraud, say, or urban camping.
Seriously, though, you spend good money to send your kid to college. If FAU is teaching a lot of bullshit, then you are wasting your money. Junior is not going to get a job in “Intercultural Communication.” Sorry. He is better off learning an honest trade than a four-year degree in bullshit.
See also: Don’t Go To College