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View Diary: Is The Student Loan Debt Bubble Bursting? (updated) (334 comments)

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  •  What is not considered in these undervalued (17+ / 0-)

    degrees is what they contribute to society as a whole. Forbes recently published a piece on the losing-est degrees. Art, Music, Philosophy, History, English, Anthropology, Graphic Design and others in the humanities. Is this the society we want? Really.

    We should be spending the money we spend on war to educate our population. We need more artists, philosophers and critical thinkers.

    Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one. Marx

    by Marihilda on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 03:33:26 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Learning for learning's sake is over (0+ / 0-)

      It just is, there's no denying it. Being paid to think outside the context of business strategy just doesn't work anymore.

      I've been reading Nate Silver's book, and in it he mentions a bunch of prediction philosophers back in the 1700s and 1800s, and I wonder how did people back then afford to spend their entire lives researching and positing a single subject? Meaning, how did they tend to their daily lives like income for food, etc.

      I don't know what they did for income back then, but I know today you need to think about your income potential. As sad as it might be to recognize that we are becoming nothing more than highly-skilled worker bees, that's what it is.

      •  I think you are wrong. (20+ / 0-)

        Creative and critical thinking are necessary for much that runs the engine of society. We need the artists, the monks, the dancers, the thinkers or we will go the way of the barbarians.

        Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one. Marx

        by Marihilda on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 03:44:03 PM PST

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        •  I agree with you re: creative & critical thinking (0+ / 0-)

          I champion creative and critical thinking; it's what makes me a liberal. I'm just saying that people who have degrees that focus on creative and critical thinking need to think about their skills in the context of applicable jobs, of which there are increasingly few, sadly.

          There's a HUGE difference between someone with a history degree using his or her critical thinking skills to become a strategist at an Internet startup and that same person literally expecting a job to fall into place purely for having an education. That doesn't exist anymore, nor do I think it should.

          People must think about how their skills apply to jobs. There's no sense in having a PhD in history if you cannot apply your skills to a job. As I've said above, the number of academic positions is ever more finite, so academic purists need to open their minds to maybe working for an "evil company."

          •  God, who expects a job to just appear? (17+ / 0-)

            When I got my degree in philosophy, all I expected was to get a job where my critical skills were useful. NO ONE and I graduated with honors from Stanford in 1967 said I could expect a job. I went on to grad school and I ended up being art director first at an archeology magazine and then at American Scientist. Thing was I can draw and I could combine art and philosophy (which was philosophy of science and phenomenology). So I am a rabid advocate of the liberal arts education. It served me and it will serve others.

            You are just wrong about this.You know nothing of academics and frankly you need to change your view.

            Purist, shmurist--where did you get that idea?

             

            Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one. Marx

            by Marihilda on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 04:16:31 PM PST

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            •  Liberal teaches us how to think and use our brains (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Killer of Sacred Cows

              My child is learning music for facilitate concentration and commitment.  Beauty can inspire intrinsic motivation.  The learning for learning's sake is what make us adaptable and trains our minds for sustained concentration.

          •  Uhhh... (7+ / 0-)

            "There's no sense in having a PhD in history if you cannot apply your skills to a job. "

            Someone who's getting a PhD in History is getting that PhD to, presumably, get a tenure-track job teaching history, unless she or he is going the museum curator route (which is perfectly viable and I have at least three friends who've done it in the recent past).

            No one gets a graduate degree in the humanities or social sciences--especially a PhD--without expecting to remain in academia in one capacity or another.

            •  So? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              antirove, elwior

              What happens from a degree in the humanities is not necessarily to pursue a career in academics. Studying humanities gives a person insight into much beyond what the degree represents. If you don't know that--well--perhaps you haven't studied humanities.

              Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one. Marx

              by Marihilda on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 06:03:52 PM PST

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              •  Knee jerk response. (0+ / 0-)

                Exactly what is causing this hostile ad hominem about me not "having studied humanities" (ABD in English Literature from a UC, by the way)?

                •  Ad hominem--I think not. (3+ / 0-)

                  I rec'd your comment. I just don't agree that getting a Ph.D. in humanities necessarily means a person is seeking to teach.

                  Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one. Marx

                  by Marihilda on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 08:27:43 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Realistically speaking, it usually does (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Marihilda

                    if it's a Ph.D. properly. It is less likely at the Master's or Bachelor's level. I speak only from the perspective of English, mind you. In the field of English, I admit that I am in bold admiration of anyone who would pursue it just for the sake of pursuing it at a Ph.D. level, but practically speaking, it would be akin to pursuing a Doctorate in Medicine without the intent to "be a doctor." Which would be cool for someone, and I think someone probably has gone out and done something like that. The way that Ph.D. English committees select students is very much contingent on their prospective contributions to the academic field in the form specifically of research and teaching (which are generally interdependent).

                    So I so both sides of what's being said, readily: on the one hand, it's true that Ph.D. English majors really almost always do intend to teach, although sometimes only as a means to do research; it's also true that the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake is a goal so noble and beautiful as to outright be tantalizing to me. What does the freeing of the English Ph.D. look like when taken outside of its institutional context? That's the question here, yes? Like the quest for any other art! Inspired, inspiring, challenging, and a labor of love.

                    In terms of sheer utility, an MA in English is arguably far more versatile than a Ph.D., which tends to have a more narrow application. But I think many wind up teaching out of love of their topic more than because they want to teach, first and foremost. And for others, perhaps it's some of both.

                    Just to try to lend a third perspective.

                    "Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom" - Walter Benjamin

                    by mahakali overdrive on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:17:29 PM PST

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            •  That's quite a sweeping statement. (6+ / 0-)

              I know a few people with Ph.D.s in the humanities who have gone into other areas. The more I think about it, the more people that come to mind. Law, finance. I even know one woman who got her M.D. after getting a Ph.D. in Philosophy. Are you in an academic environment? That would shape your experience.

              •  I come from a variety of experiences. (0+ / 0-)

                And I was very chummy with the history grad students--they were right next door to my office.  The vast majority of them intended to go into academia.

                Yeah, sure, there are a handful of people who get their PhD's "just because"--but it's not common.

                And, yeah, I'm in an academic environment.  That's how I know.

              •  I think it's more narrow in English (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mattc129

                honestly. I know that it is perhaps wider in the greater Humanities? But in English, the Ph.D. is regarded as a six-year investment where you wind up not necessarily teaching because that's your intention, because honestly, most English grads I've known have wanted to "research" and write on their topic. But to do that, you're required basically to teach basic GE along the way -- I think because writing is so central to University GE patterns, and because Graduate students are competent enough, cheap enough, and most Professors do not love teaching non-major basic-level skills courses that are labor-intensive. So this gets handed over, particularly in English (and Math too), to any Ph.D. candidates. And once they graduate, like any doctor, they will generally go into research in a University which does entail that they teach. Unless they just wanted to write? But that would usually be something like an MFA or even an English MA?

                I think a student's motivations can widely vary for why they pursue a Ph.D. in English. I cannot personally speak broadly to the rest of the Humanities since that's outside of my personal experience to some degree. Ultimately, most just want to study something deeply and at length. After that, they will be qualified to contribute to the greater academic discourse -- which means writing, and to fund that writing, teaching of some sort. Although an independent researcher with a Ph.D. can really go do all sorts of other things, naturally, if they aren't pegged as frankly overqualified. Some do remain outside of institutional settings... or teach high school or something like that. I know dozens upon dozens and dozens of English folks from my own academic situation, and this is the reality of the discipline. However, sometimes graduate students don't fully realize it! Which is fine, because again, one should be motivated by whatever it is that really is so enchanting to oneself. In my case, it was Theory. All I wanted was to study Theory. Whatever I could do to sate my fix, I would do it. So I stumbled into teaching like everyone else. Then I found I liked it, which was good. Otherwise, some Professors, usually old guard sorts, call it "the necessary evil" of the profession. Like a doctor who doesn't like working with patients, I suppose? :)

                "Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom" - Walter Benjamin

                by mahakali overdrive on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:26:58 PM PST

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                •  Studying something at great length (0+ / 0-)

                  and drawing an income for doing it are two monumentally different things. That's the entire basis of my arguments, which pretty much everyone here disagrees with.

                  I have zero problem whatsoever with people who wish to study at great length; in fact, I champion that. But the harsh reality is the ability to draw an income purely from the cycle of academia is growing increasingly difficult. And because of that increased difficulty, graduating high school seniors need to really investigate the career opportunities and earning potential if they truly wish to stay on a purely academic path (meaning, hopes of being a professor, researcher, writer, etc)

            •  That's a sweeping statement. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mahakali overdrive, qofdisks

              I know quite a few people who have Ph.D.s and who are employed in areas other than academia. Law, finance, business. I even know one woman who got her M.D. after getting a Ph.D. in philosophy.

              If you're an academic, that would influence your experiences.

              •  Yes, I know one as well, come to think (0+ / 0-)

                I just thought of this: I have an acquaintance who is a medical doctor who prior to that had gotten his Ph.D. in Literature. He was a bit older, of course. Each have six-eight years of advanced course work attached to them. But yes, I did meet a doctor like that once, and it was fascinating to me (and what a doctor he was).

                I can't begin to imagine the finances involved in that, but obviously he was highly passionate about both fields. And able to fund this, wow! But maybe he had good stipends along the way. Ph.D. funding can sometimes be quite fine. My husband came out owing nothing for his due to his combination of stipend and teaching. Then there are programs like Stanford where they are exceedingly generous as well in some Departments.

                "Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom" - Walter Benjamin

                by mahakali overdrive on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:33:28 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  And that's exactly the problem. (0+ / 0-)

              Even you used the word "expect." Expecting a job in academia. A number of variables have unfortunately decreased the amount of professorships, while also increasing the number of said academic majors. That's a formula for extreme competition, as these graduates are discovering.

        •  Totally agree (11+ / 0-)

          They are the innovators, the ones that come up with new solutions to problems. If we don't have the artists, monks, dancers, thinkers and others that are creative, all of society will stagnate and our civilization will go downhill.

          We need the creatives to point the way to better ways to live and think.

          Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

          by splashy on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 03:57:36 PM PST

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      •  Well, I guess we're doomed, then (10+ / 0-)

        I don't think a society where nobody is able to study liberal arts is going to be a very livable society.  I also agree with you empirically that it's getting harder and harder for people with liberal arts degrees to pay the bills.  Something's going to have to give.

        I totally agree that people should also get more employable technical skills at the same time.  But liberal arts are still important if for no other reason than critical thinking.

      •  If that's true then this country is over (9+ / 0-)

        If everything is based on the most efficient learning for the economy we have when the classes are designed then we'll always be behind the times.

        Frankly, it's idiotic and it's one of the reasons I desperately want to leave this country.

        The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 03:53:36 PM PST

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      •  I spent a couple of hours at MIT's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mahakali overdrive

        Media Lab yesterday. You are claiming the exact antithesis of everything they do there.

        The Media Lab is the place that the entire rest of the campus is now trying to emulate, due to the amazing technological discoveries that have poured out of it over the last decade-plus. They are saying that the key is to learn and do - for the sake of learning and doing. That's where innovation comes from.

    •  Funny... (6+ / 0-)

      ...a bunch of business major snobs declaring the humanities degrees "the losing-est degrees".

      This fails to surprise me.

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