The bulk of that general education should have taken place in high
school, but now we have kids doing AP Chemistry in HS and learning many
equations without having had a background in general descriptive
chemistry. Perhaps this is an overreaction to the state of affairs I saw
described many decades ago in _Reader's Digest_: much of what Americans
are not studying until they are at university was already studied by UK
students in high school.
I interviewed many very intelligent people with good grades from top
Few of them could "think".
I could teach 'em engineering.
I was never successful teaching anybody how to "think".
Being able to solve complex equations is useless if you can't
figger out which equations to write.
They had zero real world experience. "Whaddayamean that pot has
a 30% tolerance??? My calculations say it needs to be 10K."
The ones I hired were those who had designed and built something
on their own, outside the classroom. Didn't matter whether it was
a computer, model airplane, house, something....anything!!
And there's no substitute for a GOOD mentor. Nobody mentored Joe,
so Joe never mentored Bill who didn't learn how to mentor Jane...
Pretty soon, the whole place is a bunch of ineffective people.
But that's ok, 'cause they've all been promoted to management!!!
All the real work is being done in China or India or....
Likewise so many other cultures. India, China, Japan.
Over 25 yrs, I worked my way up from a ditch digger to design engineer
(mostly promotion and ojt), but I had a great K-12 education (50-60s).
Most of the foreign engineers in our Silicon Valley company could not
"think". Given A and B, could not come up with C. They could do rote
math like crazy, but didn't have the common sense god gave a peanut
butter sandwich. Worse, it meant little. HR hired based on the paper
trail alone. I was fortunate, as our hi-tech company also promoted
based on ability/merit and was willing to train promising employees.
I finally went back to college to get my degree, but by then the
industry had collapsed in the US and thousand of jobs evaporated into
thin air, putting legions of engineers on the street. I jes threw up
my hands and retired.
I kinda miss it, but then I really don't. Seriously stressed out, I
was. Now I watch the river flow past my window and am happy. ;)
This discussion is entirely OT for this group, but interesting nonetheless.
The controversy over the utility of humanities versus sciences (also
referred to as liberal vs. technical education) is not new. One of the
most thoughtful discussions of this issue was C.P. Snow's "The Two
Cultures", originally published in 1959 and his additional thoughts on
the subject written 4 yrs. later called, "A Second Look". I recommend
both books to all who find this an interesting topic.
Some may dismiss those discussions saying that times have changed and
there has been a paradigm shift that make the old arguments irrelevant.
However, times have been changing since the Big Bang. It is a facile
argument but not necessarily a valid one.
My view (as one who majored in sciences at a liberal arts college,
obtained a post-graduate degree in one of the sciences, and made a
career in science) is that except for the rare true genius, no one can
become competent in a technical field without rigorous formal education
and training in that subject area. Even if one can self-teach, society
has imposed formal licensing and credentialing requirements that almost
always preclude a successful career. One can always cite the
exceptional few, e.g. Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates, but I'm talking about
the typical person of college age in our society.
In the humanities, I believe that there is an entire spectrum of
personality types. Some have latent abilities that only flourish when
exposed to an academic environment; for others, their creativity flows
spontaneously. You can create lists of highly regarded authors,
composers, artists, musicians and others who make the humanities their
life's work and find many examples of those who never had a "higher
education" as well as those who only blossomed after their studies were
complete. (And there are those who trained in one field but excelled in
an entirely different one for which they received no formal preparation.)
As for the value of the humanities, I believe that there are adequate
examples, just in the 20th century, of how re-empowered societies
responded when their government had deprived them of their
humanities-related freedom to see the plays, hear the concerts, attend
the museum exhibits and practice the religious belief of their choice.
I believe that just as almost all of us need both social interaction and
the privacy of solitude, we need the societal contributions of both
technology and the humanities to live an enjoyable and comfortable life.
Well, with all work being outsourced overseas the only jobs left here
are business management, accounting, and the service sector. Colleges
are going to have a problem when potential students realize this.
Probably a better future for them to learn auto repair or HVAC.
My daughter tried rattling my cage by telling me she had decided not
to go to college, she wanted to be a plumber. I surprised her by
telling her I was fine with that and then told her how much a good
plumber could make.
On Thu, 20 Oct 2011 21:17:37 -0400, "Stormin Mormon"
Number 2 daughter couldn't motivate herself to go to college. She did
well enough at school, but didn't have a real vision for what she
wanted to do or what she wanted to study, but she was fortunate enough
to be offered a summer job in her second last year of school in the
general insurance business. She enjoyed it and was offered part time
work through her final year of high school - and full time work after
graduation - and all of her tuition payed for any courses she took and
passed while in their employ. She very quickly progressed through the
training for her proffessional designations, and at age 26 was named
assistant operations manager of one of the largest general insurance
agencies in the tri-cities / golden triangle area. She owns her own
home, drives a new car, and enjoys travelling and an active social
Number 1 daughter has/had a burning desire to study international
development and make a difference in the world. She went to University
for 4 years, spent the better part of a year in Southern Africa, came
home and worked menial jobs, as well as a few short contracts with
World Vision, went back to East Africa for 6 months, came back and did
the menial jobs and short contracts again for a year and paid off all
her student loans.
She then went off to University again to get her Masters degree and is
currently back in Eastern Agrica (Rwanda) doing research for her
masters thesis. She's accumulating more debt, and has no assets - and
is HOPING to get a job in her field.
As far as I'm concerned, BOTH have made good choices - and they are
both happy with their lives.
On 10/20/2011 9:57 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
That's the bottom line, they are happy. It is their life after all.
Our role as parents is to protect them, guide them, and nurture and
support them while they are minors. Part of guiding them is letting
them make mistakes that won't endanger them. However, once they are of
legal age, our role changes. We should be sympathetic ears, providers
of encouragement, and offer advice only when it is solicited.
The roles can't change as fast as you imply. They have to start changing
several years *before* "legal age" and often doesn't stop on a dime after.
Very few, anymore, are independent at the "legal age".
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