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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    Some of what you learn in a liberal arts or broad education is how to think about what you are doing and why.

    With that in mind, I think everyone should be asked to do this. Physicists should learn something about poetry and vice versa.

    But! Why not reverse the natural order of things if people want to treat college as an elaborate vocational school? Pick your field first with all of that pragmatic eye to the job-type attitude people want, do your major and *then* do the broad part of your education.... the one that asks you to take seriously just what you want to do with your Big Pharma major, or how much science you might want to learn if you wish to discuss GMO threats with friends and elected representatives.
    Interesting idea. Perhaps with a few more years' maturity, those "gen ed" courses that are usually looked down on can become more of an exploration of what's out there, how to think about it and where one can go from there.



  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by S1969 View Post
    How can we help our high school kids to choose? As a parent I'm all for this idea, but I also know that at 17 I had no idea what I wanted to do...

    Seriously, I am running a career exploration class this spring so I would love any ideas about how to help kids think about this.....
    IMO, the folks talking about what the Sophomore in High School wants to do as a job (so that he can pick the right major, so that he can pick the right school that is excellent in that field) are Absolutely.Nuts...... and fooling themselves.

    My plan, however, was premised on the Nutters continuing as they are since it seems so important to them and also does not disrupt our intention to make college into vocational school.

    I know I'm wack, but I think that we should insist on a year off between high school and college. The quality of that year would be included in admissions decisions. So.... did you hang out at your parents house (and on their nickel playing World of War Craft, or did you do something useful/enlightening? At the very least, we'd have kids graduating from college who had held an actual job before.

    Heck, I'd haul off and fix many social ills as Isreal does: Everyone does a stint in the military, growing up some but also getting a chance to see the good, the bad and the ugly of their country.
    The armchair saddler
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  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    I know I'm wack, but I think that we should insist on a year off between high school and college. The quality of that year would be included in admissions decisions. So.... did you hang out at your parents house (and on their nickel playing World of War Craft, or did you do something useful/enlightening? At the very least, we'd have kids graduating from college who had held an actual job before.

    Heck, I'd haul off and fix many social ills as Isreal does: Everyone does a stint in the military, growing up some but also getting a chance to see the good, the bad and the ugly of their country.
    I'm wack too, then, because I have often thought that a military or other compulsory service experience would be good for a lot of young people. It ertainly wouldn't hurt them, I don't think.



  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by jetjocky View Post
    I'm wack too, then, because I have often thought that a military or other compulsory service experience would be good for a lot of young people. It ertainly wouldn't hurt them, I don't think.
    Neither would a JOB. I laugh at those who say that living at college is a good transition from living at home, etc. How many of those college kids will end up living back at home?? LOL Seeing it far too often. A job as early as possible will give them all the knowledge and skills they need to become independent.
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


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  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eclectic Horseman View Post
    Neither would a JOB. I laugh at those who say that living at college is a good transition from living at home, etc. How many of those college kids will end up living back at home?? LOL Seeing it far too often. A job as early as possible will give them all the knowledge and skills they need to become independent.
    True. Hopefully there's one available, although I do think the economy is on the mend, slowly, but on the mend.



  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by jetjocky View Post
    I'm wack too, then, because I have often thought that a military or other compulsory service experience would be good for a lot of young people. It ertainly wouldn't hurt them, I don't think.
    Yeah, how about Military meets the Depression's WPA meets Teach For America? You have to do *something* for a year or two before college. Perhaps, then, you earn both money and a voucher for a reduced rate tuition?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eclectic Horseman View Post
    Neither would a JOB. I laugh at those who say that living at college is a good transition from living at home, etc. How many of those college kids will end up living back at home?? LOL Seeing it far too often. A job as early as possible will give them all the knowledge and skills they need to become independent.
    Me, too. By the time I got to college I had had a job-- the actual fill out at application, pay income taxes type job. If I understand the Modern Abyss correctly, kiddies have never had so much as an after school job by the time they graduate from college. Is this right?
    The armchair saddler
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  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    By the time I got to college I had had a job-- the actual fill out at application, pay income taxes type job. If I understand the Modern Abyss correctly, kiddies have never had so much as an after school job by the time they graduate from college. Is this right?
    From what I see, that is correct. Parents want their kids to have "a better life" than they have, so they do not have to work before they finish college.
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller



  8. #48
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    While I am always supportive of someone who wants to "go to school", higher education,particularly liberal arts, are just not appropriate for a large number of people. These people might be much better served by a technical/vocational training or apprenticeship. Many kids are sold an idea that an education will pay off, but really, if you are going to be a welder, or a mechanic or similar trade, you do not need a four year liberal arts education, no matter how broadening it may be. I've got two masters and a doctorate, so obviously I love school, but see my step kids struggling with school/no school and actually think they would be much better served by a trade school.

    So, sure, an education, at least K-12, should serve to provide basic survival skills (readin' , ritin, and rithmatic) as well as cultural norms, elements of our history that binds us and social skills (sharing, negotiating, waiting for ones turn, self soothing, etc).

    i would be supportive of a year off between HS and college, to mature,but I also hate to see people in totally dead end jobs when with a little training they could do much better. The military can provide great training.


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  9. #49

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    As promised: http://youtu.be/DdNAUJWJN08 The Purpose of Education//Noam Chomsky

    and

    Another one of my favorite people - John Taylor Gatto :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8cr0p9HaG8
    “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
    Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night



  10. #50
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    I have a liberal arts education, as does my DS22 and that's my plan for DS10 as well. It's important. I actually don't consider it a luxury. No, it doesn't get you a big paycheck right out of college, but it does give you the tools to be flexible enough to change careers as many times as you have to to be employed in a job you enjoy and can make a living at. That's if employment were all that mattered, which it isn't. I've been gainfully employed my whole life, but I got much more than employability out of my education.

    This article is several years old, but it's good.
    http://harpers-archive.s3.amazonaws....upVeNa%2FS8%3D
    Last edited by Canaqua; Dec. 31, 2012 at 09:56 PM.


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  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eclectic Horseman View Post
    From what I see, that is correct. Parents want their kids to have "a better life" than they have, so they do not have to work before they finish college.

    And that's so crippling! Getting a job is scary, so you might as well do it while the stakes are low and the 'rents are still paying the rent. I can't imagine wanting to have my kid lose her Job Virginity when she needed to get a Big Job that would pay her bills and student loan debt.
    The armchair saddler
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  12. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by lilitiger2 View Post
    Many kids are sold an idea that an education will pay off, but really, if you are going to be a welder, or a mechanic or similar trade, you do not need a four year liberal arts education, no matter how broadening it may be.
    Yabbut, this was how things went for ages and it really didn't serve the laboring classes well. Access to higher education was a truly great accomplishment of the 20th-century in the US. We should not take it for granted.

    It produced a more literate, better informed (voting) public. It went a long, long way to dissolve racism, sexism and religious bigotry.

    IMO, the huge problem now is that we in the US don't want to address classism. And lo! If you make sure that po folks never get to become influential intellectuals, or value that at all, we get to continue being classist. That's a huge step backward and a "punt" from the progress that academic types who objected to granting all power to a few white males have made in the last 50 years. IMO, we take that for granted to the point that we don't realize what we would lose had we not continued to insist that people like women, blacks, Jews and even Catholics might have their share of worthwhile brain power.
    The armchair saddler
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  13. #53
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    Has anyone ever read/listened to David Foster Wallace's commencement speech at Kenyon?

    If not, do. It's wonderful: http://moreintelligentlife.com/story...-his-own-words

    It's about why (particularly, a broad, liberal arts education) is important (and I agree, there is a co-existing grand debate here about practicality, cost, et al).

    This is what I explain about the value of education to my students: We've all had this happen-- you learn a new word and SUDDENLY, you see it EVERYWHERE! Amazing coincidence, right?

    No! It was always out there, you just never noticed it.

    That's the value of (any) education--teaching you not only about--but more importantly how to see and find, many great things in the world that will expand your existence, make your life larger and more meaningful.

    Wallace's metaphor "this is water, this is water"-- is one of my favorites.

    Here's his story: "There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says 'Morning, boys. How's the water?' And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes 'What the hell is water?'

    ...'It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

    "This is water."

    "This is water."

    It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out.'



  14. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eclectic Horseman View Post
    From what I see, that is correct. Parents want their kids to have "a better life" than they have, so they do not have to work before they finish college.
    My so-called genius cousin asked me about going to college (he failed out & is in community college) and nearly fell over when I told him what my class load was & that I worked at the same time and finished in 4 years. Needless to say, he didn't get the advice he was expecting. He was slightly shocked to hear that taking the MENSA test really wouldn't pad his resume.

    I took the hard science route. I don't think that a liberal arts degree is useless; I do think that in many cases it is overpriced or that many of those getting a liberal arts degree really don't grasp how much they are paying and what the expected rate of return is.

    I went to commuter college for 4 years; I was upset to hear that they have added dorms and have become a "real university". I think the overall value of their degrees has decreased. by "value", I mean strictly monetary value, not the intangibles. The addition of athletic facilities, student unions and other new buildings have increased the cost, but not necessarily increased the quality of the product. The new labs are spiffy, but the antiquated creaky facilities did tend to put the emphasis on theory rather than equipment.


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  15. #55
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    I understand that college costs are enormous, but I think that any education in a 4 - year college is very valuable. Will everyone like it? Probably not. But I think it is valuable for everyone. Liberal arts, the subject of this thread, is important, too. If anything, a liberal arts degree at a 4-year college "forces" people to live and deal with people they probably wouldn't in their lives - people of differing sexes, religions, philosophies, styles of living, points of view, etc. In a classroom setting, people must listen to each other and consider other points of view. People must learn about things they wouldn't have thought to learn about in the setting of their family culture, etc. And importantly, people must learn how to do research to find the truth about something - a newspaper story, a political ad, etc. Cumulatively, this leads to developed social and critical thinking skills. These skill sets help a person navigate life, not just get a job. Critical thinking skills, in my opinion, are severely lacking in our society.
    Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


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  16. #56
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    A 4 year college education is terrific if you are prepared to take advantage of it.If money is not an object, its a wonderful social experience, intellectually challenging and so forth. but it is a myth that "college is for everyone". It is not. Professional/vocational schools? Absolutely! People can learn graphic arts and culinary skills and so on. Become a lineman for the electric company. Those people hardly need to sit through a very expensive personal growth journey that is liberal arts-and I say that as someone who adored learning, had mostly good teachers, have taught undergrads while in grad school, loved philosophy and everything I studied (eventually psychology). Many MANY people with tough backgrounds do quite well with a liberal arts degree, no argument, and many with privileged backgrounds totally waste it.

    I am a GIANT supporter of public education K-12, huge! THAT is where I think people get their basic civics, cultural norms, and critical thinking skills. And that is where people can develop a love of learning, even if they do not pursue a higher degree.


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  17. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluesy View Post
    As promised: http://youtu.be/DdNAUJWJN08 The Purpose of Education//Noam Chomsky

    and

    Another one of my favorite people - John Taylor Gatto :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8cr0p9HaG8
    Great videos! Lots to think about. Slightly OT, but are you familiar with the TED Talks website? www.ted.com/talks Fascinating discussion about almost everything under the sun (a little like COTH Off-Topic Day).



  18. #58
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    There are lot of great responses, but this one says it best for me:

    Quote Originally Posted by cai View Post
    That's the value of (any) education--teaching you not only about--but more importantly how to see and find, many great things in the world that will expand your existence, make your life larger and more meaningful.
    I went to a small selective liberal arts college where I majored in English Literature and took courses like Ancient Greek and Mythology and Shakespeare I & II & Literary Criticism. It never occurred to me that one went to college to make money. I was raised to value education for the sake of education, and I'm embarrassed to say I was so sheltered in an Ivory Tower kind of way that it took me a long time to understand that not everyone was raised that way Eventually I went to grad school and law school, and have a career where I make decent money, but I wouldn't regret my liberal arts education even if I'd spent the rest of my life as a waitress.


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  19. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    And that's so crippling! Getting a job is scary, so you might as well do it while the stakes are low and the 'rents are still paying the rent. I can't imagine wanting to have my kid lose her Job Virginity when she needed to get a Big Job that would pay her bills and student loan debt.
    Not to mention the fact that when they do get a 9-5 job in the profession that they choose, they are totally unsatisfied because they have never had to do "scut work." They gripe, groan, screw off, and have all kinds of angst because they don't appreciate the difference between a good job and soul crushing menial labor.

    Many high tech companies these days would much rather hire new immigrants (notably Indians or Asians) because they have a much better work ethic!
    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


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  20. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Discobold View Post
    I went to a small selective liberal arts college where I majored in English Literature and took courses like Ancient Greek and Mythology and Shakespeare I & II & Literary Criticism. It never occurred to me that one went to college to make money. I was raised to value education for the sake of education, and I'm embarrassed to say I was so sheltered in an Ivory Tower kind of way that it took me a long time to understand that not everyone was raised that way Eventually I went to grad school and law school, and have a career where I make decent money, but I wouldn't regret my liberal arts education even if I'd spent the rest of my life as a waitress.
    I agree that one shouldn't go to college to "make money". But, feel that too many people endanger their financial future by going to college without a plan. If you were able to leave undergraduate school without a thought about how you would pay off the education you received, you were very lucky. I think those days are over for most college students, unless they have wealthy parents.


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