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View Diary: Warnings From The Trenches (188 comments)

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  •  Thanks, teacherken. (32+ / 0-)

    This is extraordinarily important, as I can certainly attest (as one of the college professors you're reaching out to here). What is potentially really damaging is the increasing insistence upon a kind of set of numerical performance indicators that utterly belie the complex fields of inquiry that they supposedly measure. We are entering an era where all of us will be asked to juke the stats.

    The end result of this logic is not just the slow infiltration of performance targets into areas that resist any such facile measurement. It also legitimates the swapping out of entire fields of study that seem to inhibit the most directly pragmatic impulses of the contemporary workforce. I just about blew a gasket when I read this nasty attack on the continued viability of the liberal arts as a valued area of inquiry. Hopped up on its own self-importance, the article was full of little chestnuts like this one, which framed the liberal arts as something that could only be value if it were plugged into a largely vocational, business-centered rubric:

    [. . .] Importantly, I'm not suggesting we get rid of liberal arts departments -- I'm suggesting we create more employable English and film majors. "Well-rounded" and "self-sufficient" shouldn't be mutually exclusive concepts, and combining experiential learning with access to business role models and public/private partnerships can fundamentally transform the way we think about workforce development.
    Of course, what is especially hilarious/infuriating is that the author proceeds to lay the contemporary job crunch at the feet of college administrators, who have been insufficiently brutal in their dismantling of the humanities:
    Here's a thought: let's fire every college president with the means and resources to embrace entrepreneurship who doesn't explore, support or start an entrepreneurship education program or partnership of some kind. Sure, that idea is bound to ruffle some feathers, but forgive me if I don't shed a tear for those leaders whose outdated policies (and our tacit willingness to accept them) helped create the situation we're in today.
    The fault here, of course, could never be seen as lying with the subjection of all human activity to the logic of the market, and the creation of a situation where college students can only work in the financial industry if they hope to be able to pay off their student loans. No, clearly the problem is college administrators, who have not devoted enough attention to the pressing problem of how few little capitalists there are running around.

    As if that's a problem.

    The culture of rationalism, with its monthly performance targets, its reductively numerical mode of evaluation, and its celebration of the standardized test as the measure of all value -- all this only reinforces David Simon's argument that, with every passing year, "human beings... are worth less and less."

    Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of non-thought. -- Milan Kundera

    by Dale on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 02:26:05 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  education vs. training (27+ / 0-)

      I completely agree with you regarding the vocational-ization of college. I think much of this is due to a phenomenon where employers do not train employees to anywhere near the same extent they used to. That burden has been shifted from the employer onto the individual.

      When I look at my parents and grandparents, they earned a credential, be it a high school diploma or college degree, and completed training at an employer. Grandpa didn’t get a BS in engineering. He had a high school diploma and he took that to General Electric, where they taught him mechanical engineering. Nor did Aunt Linda get an MBA. She took her college degree to Bell Telephone and they taught her to be a manager.

      Question: Who is responsible for training a business’s employees?
      Answer: The business employing said employees.

      Wrong! The employees are to train themselves, on their own time, with their own money. You often hear this manifest on the news when Concerned Business Owner™ says, “We can’t find any qualified employees for our open positions.” Translation: “We do not provide on-the-job training. We want people to figure that out themselves before they apply for a job with us.”

      Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

      by Joe Bob on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 04:52:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  qualified employees at the price they want to pay (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        helfenburg, citylights, brae70, claude, Joe Bob

        compensation of the lower classes is to be considered immune to market forces.

        fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

        by mollyd on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 01:13:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I have heard it said that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joe Bob

        training is preparing someone to do something specific very well; education is preparing someone for coming to terms with an uncertain world.

        Working for a large vocational education and training organization, I can only concur that companies should be doing the training that they need for their employees, but it is much more cost effective to defer these costs to the individual. It's not just a matter of shifting priorities, it's a matter of shifting responsibility and ultimately blame.

        BTW, I live and work in Germany ... this is by no means just a US-domestic problem. The key word used here: employability (which quite frankly makes my hair stand on end).

    •  Liberal arts are the basis, the foundation of all (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, mollyd, lazybum, achronon, citylights

      specialized education.

    •  What they are trying to do... (7+ / 0-) make creativity development a precious educational commodity for the chosen few. Everyone else gets RADICAL Pavlovian behaviorism!

      Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

      by semioticjim on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 08:27:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  in other words, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the only metric of success is how much money a graduate can go out and earn,  which really means,  how much money can a capitalist of some ilk profit by the efforts of this graduate.

      The antidote, or opposite, to this crass metric is the old digger adage:

      "if it's not worth doing for love,  it's not worth doing".

      What's really sad will be the number of people who simply won't comprehend the meaning of that toss-off line,  who will need it explained in detail.  Thus enhancing Ken's crucial point.

      Face it.  Educated people with critical thinking skills are a pain in the ass.  They are especially a pain in the ass if they are brown of hue  and/or are of the working class and have the temerity to stand up on their hind legs and demand,  in articulate and well-reasoned speech,  their fair share of the pie and a say in how things are run.

      The flaws in our education system are a feature,  not a bug.

      don't always believe what you think

      by claude on Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 06:54:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  troo dat (0+ / 0-)

        "Face it.  Educated people with critical thinking skills are a pain in the ass.  They are especially a pain in the ass if they are brown of hue  and/or are of the working class and have the temerity to stand up on their hind legs and demand,  in articulate and well-reasoned speech,  their fair share of the pie and a say in how things are run."

        Time to stand up before the remaining stumps get ground down further.

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