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The way most people value education is wrong.  In this post, I argue that the "useless" and "impractical" humanities degrees are actually some of the most valuable for our society.  They are a public benefit to everyone, even if the person with that degree never earns any money from it.  Therefore, society should pay the cost of higher education.

One of the most important concepts in economics related to politics is the concept of externalities.  The basic idea is that an exchange can have hidden costs which are paid by 3rd parties, often without even realizing it.  The most common example is air pollution.  If you buy cheap electricity from a coal plant, you can save money and the coal plant makes a profit, but everyone around suffers from the air pollution of the burning coal.  This paper estimates the external costs of coal as "damages range from 0.8 to 5.6 times value added."  In other words, the coal industry costs society as much as 5 times more than its profits!  The coal companies are earning money, but they're incredibly destructive to everyone else.  As I've said before, renewable energy is already cheaper than coal, if you look closely at the real costs.

Coal is an industry with negative externalities, but there are other industries which have positive externalities.   Any nonprofits will (in theory) externalize all their benefits.  A highway or railroad allows travel, without which many cities wouldn’t even exist.  Farmers typically get paid very little, but without them everyone else would starve to death.  These are all examples of industries which benefit the rest of society more than they benefit themselves.

In the same way, education should be thought of as an industry with positive externalities.  Most people agree with this concept for public K-12 schools, but they balk at the idea of publically funding all secondary education.  They say, "College tuition should be paid by college students!  If they can’t afford it, they can take out loans."  What’s the problem?

The problem is that the cost of a college education keeps increasing at a tremendous speed.  The average student loan debt at graduation is now $25,000, and six-figure debts are not uncommon.   The cost of education is rising far more quickly than inflation, even faster than healthcare.  Taking out six figures of debt for a degree might actually be reasonable if it gets you a high paying job.  The problem is that so many students these days are taking out large amount of debt, and then getting stuck in low-paying jobs, if they can even find a job.  And since they are legally not allowed to discharge student loan debt through bankruptcy, this debt will weigh them down for their entire lives.  It's terrible.

Many people look at this situation, and understandably start to wonder if it's still a good idea for every young person to go to college.  The poster boy for this is Peter Thiel, who is actually giving out scholarships to young people who don't go to college.  More commonly, we hear people deriding the value of a humanities degree.  Philosophy, sociology, and race/gender studies are the most common targets.  And, admittedly, there are no jobs that explicitly require these degrees, except for (extremely rare) positions as a college professor.  So does that mean that these degrees are a waste of time and money?  Ryan Swift does a good job of presenting this sort of argument:

    To put another way, after shelling out four years of over-inflated tuition, devoting the time and energy, and struggling to live with little or no earnings while in college, as much as 40 percent of college-educated workers make less than the top 25 percent of high school graduates. Hmm. If you’re a wunderkind in high school, or have a valuable skill, maybe college isn’t the best route...

    My fear is that instead of changing our formal education paradigm, we’re simply digging in and moving the target. The master’s is becoming the new bachelor’s, which will only exacerbate all of the discussed trends. The answer is not more formal education, financed by the government. Children should be encouraged to go to trade schools, learn marketable skills as children (computer programming whiz perhaps), be entrepreneurial, and take alternate routes then just going into debt to get formally educated.

If the only thing we pay attention to is how much college grads make compared to high school grads, and the interest they have to pay on student debt, then he's right. Many college graduates, especially those with degrees in the humanities, would make more money if they went straight into the work force after high school, or took only a quick trade school course.  The finances simply don't add up for humanities degrees.  Humanities departments usually answer that they teach broad, general skills like writing and critical thinking that can be used in any job.  There's some truth to that, but it seems to dodge the real question- is the actual content of the courses valuable?.  It seems like an excuse for the fact that no one will ever pay you anything for the actual knowledge that you learn from humanities courses.

The correct way to see the value of the humanities is as a positive externality, a public good, which produces more value for the rest of society than for the people getting the degrees.  It's true that it's very hard to find jobs that pay for knowledge of the humanities- but that's the problem with our economic system, not with the humanities!  I, for one, am very glad to live in a society with advanced knowledge of, say, sociology.  It's interesting, and it has improved society quite a lot over the long term.

If you don't think that humanities can improve society, consider this: we live in a democracy.  All the important decisions in our society come from a democratic process (or at least, they're supposed to...), and therefore we all benefit from having voters that are more educated.  It's a very good thing that we have so many political science majors who can educate their friends about the political system works, not to mention history majors to study what happened in the past, and literature majors to examine our society through fiction.

Or how about film studies?  That's a "useless major" if there ever was one!  And yet, the average American watches over 4 hours of television each day.  Television and movies are a huge part of our lives!  By all means, let's study it!  I always enjoy talking to people that have studied film about their major, especially if they can give me good recommendations on things to watch.  Admittedly, it's hard to quantify this as a dollar figure, but if we had more film studies majors, I'll bet that we'd have more Arrested Development and less Jersey Shore.

So I say we need more humanities degrees!  Subsidize them- they're a public benefit, with a positive externality.  A degree in something like finance or petroleum engineering will pay for itself, even if the student has to go deeply in debt.  But a humanities major should not have to do the same, because it's highly unlikely that a humanities degree would lead to such a high-paying job.  Not that's impossible for humanities majors to get high paying jobs, but the degree itself doesn't lead them there directly.  We should value education for more than simply how many dollars it brings that person in their career.  Education is a public good, and it should be funded as such.

Originally posted to luddite314 on Fri Dec 02, 2011 at 08:40 PM PST.

Also republished by Education Alternatives and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Many Humantites majors *are* useless. (4+ / 0-)

    I'm not saying the knowledge is useless. Art, Music, and History are probably the most valuable things humans do. I will even go so far as to say that the only reason to do Business or Engineering is so that we can have the time and resources for Art.

    The knowledge isn't useless. The system that delivers the knowledge (our bloated university system) is.

    It should not take 4 years and $100,000 to learn Art or Music. These things are best learned with practice, in the real world.

    It should not take $100,000 to learn History. Get a reading list, meet with a professor a few times a week, have some discussions, write some papers, and e-mail them in. Get critiqued. Then go read some more books 'till you get it right.

    I can understand if you are:

    - Studying Sociology and doing field work among an exotic tribe (in Borneo or Brooklyn, take your pick)

    - Studying History and needing to access rare  documents or traveling to get interviews with famous people.

    - Studying Film Production and using expensive technology.

    - Getting a Ph.D. in anything.  

    ...then there will be a big price tag that should be paid by society.  But as a Taxpayer, I'm not interested in paying for a 20-year-old undergraduate to spend $100,000 to read poetry or play the violin.  He can do that in his mom's basement.

    Here in NYC we have thousands of unemployed actors and musicians. They learned their craft at taxpayer-subsidized schools. I never hear them sing, not see them act because we already have enough actors and musicians to last 100 years. As a taxpayer, the only benefit I get is that when they read me the menu specials at my favorite restaurant, they can "project" their voices very well.

    The corporations that make movies and own theaters also benefit because the high unemployment reduces their labor cost. They don't pass that savings on to me, though!

    The Humanities are very important -- we need to find a way to teach them using fewer educational bureaucrats, fewer fancy buildings, fewer $200 textbooks, and fewer years in school. $100,000 is too much, we can't afford it.

    •  I disagree (8+ / 0-)

      That you get no benefit from an actor or musician unless you see them perform.  You do, occasionally, see movies or listen to music right?  There's no way for the movie or music industry to flourish without thousands of young people devoting their life to the craft.

      And, yes, some of them will inevitably fail along the way.  There's no way to predict, in advance, who will be the next great actor/musician and who will burn out.  All we can do is keep funding the arts, and accept that some of that tuition money will be spent on people who don't become a wildly successful professional.  Besides, like I tried to argue in this diary, even people who don't become a professional their field of choice can still use that knowledge to benefit society.

      I do agree though, that higher education is far too expensive as it is.  It's a wicked combination of schools competing for higher rankings by building extravagant buildings, overpaid administrators, and easy credit through non-dischargeable student loans.  But that's a topic for another diary.

      •  Obviously we benefit from entertainment but (0+ / 0-)

        it doesn't follow that every film studies major can or will turn into a competent actor, filmmaker, etc.

        Justified anger does not grant you unrestricted license.

        by GoGoGoEverton on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 05:41:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  An example of where you don't notice it (5+ / 0-)

          I work at a non-profit science institution.  

          We have had a few people on staff who have had degrees in film.  They don't make movies in the industry, but they apply the skills from their film degree in creating vibrant science education that then reverberates with the general public.  

          Many of the people we have had on staff over the years have degrees in theater.  

          They apply their theater skills to the teaching of science in an informal setting.  When these informal science teachers do their work, they are three things at once- teachers, scientists, and performers.  

          I think we should consider that all paths do not lead to a formal job in a field, but the skills are still applied in much the same way.  

          There is a lot of behind the scenes application of education that we may not recognize immediately.  

          Would it benefit a bank teller to have taken speech courses as part of a communications degree?  Do we lower the respect of a position like bank teller by claiming that it is not worth a college degree?  

          Wouldn't you like a formally educated person to be dealing with you in public settings?  

          I am an atheist for moral purposes. Seriously.

          by otto on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 06:07:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Don't move the goalposts. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ManhattanMan

            Supporting a well-rounded formal education is not the same as saying we should specifically shove more education money to film studies majors.

            Justified anger does not grant you unrestricted license.

            by GoGoGoEverton on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 12:03:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  well yes, but (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Killer of Sacred Cows

            People often defend the liberal arts by saying that they bring unusual benefits to their job (like in your example).  I do think that's true, but I also think it's a somewhat weak argument.  I'm more interested in the benefits that education can bring which are not job-related, and usually not paid, but real social benefits nonetheless.

            •  But are they worth the costs? (0+ / 0-)

              Let's say you ran a business whose customers could get subsidized government loans for almost any amount of money as long as they used that money to buy your products.  Would you cut your prices?

              As long as students can get grants and government guaranteed loans to pay for colleges that they could not otherwise afford costs will continue to rise insanely.

              If you want to cut the cost of college add discipline to this market.

              How about allowing college loans to be discharged in bankruptcy and making the lenders and the university split the cost?

              I bet universities would discover the value of lower priced degrees with costs that students could realistically pay back, lenders would begin to pay attention to the track records of universities and departments and refuse to lend to students attending programs that did not deliver value, and that both lenders and universities would start giving students much more guidance about which programs they seemed best suited for, their chances of successfully building a career based on their chosen major, and whether their performance to date suggested that college was or was not a good use of their time and money.

              •  Your contention that grants and loans (0+ / 0-)

                balloon costs has been studied. It's not what's driving tuition and costs upward.

                There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                by upstate NY on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:35:45 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  By who and where? (0+ / 0-)

                  "upstate NY" on his own is not enough of an authority to convince anyone.

                  BTW, here's the quality of your unsupported claims:

                  http://www.dailykos.com/...

                  When you short CDS, you are betting the contract is not going to pay out, and you drive the cost of insurance UPWARD.

                  I assume there are plenty of people here who know that when you short a financial instrument you drive its price down, if anything, and that the CDS is the insurance, so you would be driving its price DOWNWARD.

                •  PS. Are you stalking me with stupidity? (0+ / 0-)
                  •  You don't even know (0+ / 0-)

                    the basic difference between cost per student and tuition. I mean, if you're going to take this so personally that you resort to insults, I'm going to say that you are an absolute idiot when it comes to this stuff, as I clearly laid out the links that prove your theories about grants and loans are wrong.

                    get out of here with your right-wing memes.

                    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                    by upstate NY on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 11:07:02 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed (6+ / 0-)

        ManhattanMan is being a little too literal with the benefits he expects to receive.  As though an educated populace is not a benefit -- he has to actually hear the educatedness or it has failed to be a benefit.  By his reasoning, clean water in AZ is not a benefit because it is not being drank by him.  

        The history and music majors are at least higher brow consumers of intellectual products -- choosier buyers help improve the market.  They are not creating babies at an unreasonable rate.  

        The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

        by not2plato on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:12:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So let me get this straight... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wham Bam, eigenlambda

          I'm to pay you to learn how to produce something that neither I nor anyone else will ever use.

          But you're not actually going to produce it! You're actually going to consume it.

          The act of you consuming it is supposed to benefit me -- because I'm not smart enough to consume The Good Stuff myself.

          We know that the stuff you choose is The Good Stuff because the people that I paid to teach you have assured us all that it is.

          Fantastic.

          And we wonder why we lose elections.

    •  If any major needs to be (10+ / 0-)

      jettisoned its the business major - according to your logic.

      The business school at major universities are nothing more that networking organs.  Course offered at these schools could easily be taught in weekend long seminars put together by companies.  Lessons learned could more cheaply be delivered through on-line classes or self-education (books).

      The Humanities REQUIRES human contact; face to face interaction.  Yeah, you can learn history studying away in our cave isolated and obscure, but the lessons of history, much like philosophy, do not truly reveal themselves until we come up out of our books, engage in dialogue and discussion, and connect the past to our present and our present to our past.  In so doing the student, the interlocutor, is enriched (in a non-quantifiable way) and is therefore better prepared to make decisions in a democracy.

      Business is more like a trade and offers society only limited benefits; how to fuck over your neighbors, how to steal from grandma, how to externalize pollution and debt, how to exploit your work force, and the holy grail of biiiiizzzzzzzzzznneesssssss, how to avoid paying taxes and avoid contributing to the common good.

      That is, people major in business in order to learn how to become a parasite on society.  To confuse what these people do with what entrepreneurs do is to confuse what actors that wait tables do with acting.

      •  I am a musician and a computer scientist (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        not2plato

        Music can be learned through self study.  In fact, I was mostly a self-taught gigging musician until I attended college.  I took music theory 101 as one of my humanities courses while completing my BSCS.  That course provided me the set of skills that I needed to pursue advanced study in music on my own.   On the other hand, there's no way on God's green Earth that I could have taught myself advanced mathematics and theoretical computer science.  Learning music theory may seem like a daunting task to someone with no background in music.  However, it pales in comparison to the difficulty of learning subjects such as combinatorics, abstract algebra, and theoretical computer science.

        In reality, most humanities majors end up as humanities majors because they could not hack their original major.   I witnessed this phenomenon many times while completing my BSCS.  

        The GOP has become the "Jerry Springer" party.

        by ConcernedCitizenYouBet on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 05:10:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm a good example of this. (8+ / 0-)

          Was an engineering major who originally wanted to be a biologist but couldn't get a scholarship in that field... ended up graduating as an English Literature major because I couldn't hack the calculus.

          Now I am teaching my kids mathematics at home and realize what a poor job our public school system does of teaching math. We teach people how to do math - we don't investigate, we don't explore, we don't attempt to understand what's going on behind the math facts we memorize. If we had more fun with math and explored it's applications beyond the most basic functions, many more of us would be ready to tackle the maths and sciences when we hit college.

          I think I'm going to tackle calculus again - with a joy and sense of discovery that I missed when I was much younger. But I also believe that our path to education never stops - we should always be learning, whether it is speaking new languages, acquiring new math skills, reading more literature, or discussing different philosophies, all adults should be on a lifelong quest to keep learning. Why is it that so many of us decide to stop? Probably because we don't see any 'practical' application (no money to be earned) to learning. What a shame that capitalism has succeeded in turning education into a commodity.

          •  I agree that math is a difficult subject that (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            northsylvania, linkage

            is made more difficult because of the way that it is taught in secondary school.  The emphasis on mechanics instead application is detrimental to learning.  

            I was fortunate in that I did not attend college until after I had spent five years as an enlisted computer operator and programmer in the Navy.  Due to the length of my active obligation, I had the great fortune of pulling the duty assignment of a lifetime after serving aboard a forward-deployed ship.  My second duty assignment was in an engineering group at the National Security Agency.   I was the only enlisted man in a group of senior civilian engineers and scientists.  They recognized my potential and pushed me to attend college.  Up until that point, I did not plan to attend college after leaving the Navy.

            Being from the working class, no man in my family had ever attended college (college was for rich kids).   Plus, I was in the Navy during the VEAP years; therefore, post-service educational benefits were thin at best (very few enlisted men and women who entered active duty between the 1/1/1977 and 6/30/1985 attended college directly after leaving active duty).   I worked full-time and attended school on a part-time basis.   I only enrolled in as many courses as I could afford to cover during a semester, which means that it took me more than four years to finish college.  

            In closing, completing college and graduate school was long and difficult struggle. However, I am living proof that a determined person can complete tough undergraduate and graduate computer science programs completely through less than full-time attendance.  My mother always used to say, "Where's there's a will, there's a way."  

            The GOP has become the "Jerry Springer" party.

            by ConcernedCitizenYouBet on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 07:51:29 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  In some ways, I think the less than full time (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              blueoasis

              attendance might have been a benefit. I think a lot of students would do better with a combination of work and school, especially if the work had something to do with the field of study they one day hoped to enter.

              I, too, was a first in my family to go to college. It definitely means there are more barriers to overcome. I've read studies that kids that come from families where no one has gone to college or perhaps even never graduated from high school have higher drop out rates in college. You and I are both success stories, at the end of the day. It can be done, but supportive families make a HUGE difference.

        •  Good points (0+ / 0-)

          A great many of our humanities majors would not be humanities majors if their pre-college education had been more effective.  

          The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

          by not2plato on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:20:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Interesting (3+ / 0-)

          Obviously you have a talent for music, as does my son. He also has a talent in art. He could draw better at age 10 than most of us can draw with advanced instruction. He is also quite creative. I know he doesn't get it from me. Some folks think I am creative, but I steal all my best ideas.

          Music seems rather easy to you and to him. Believe me it is not. And of course mathematics is not easy for those who don't grasp the concepts. Most of us having the ability to pick up the fundamentals and to grasp the applications, but many do not. To others math is easily understood .... a thing of beauty to some.

          The gentleman who taught higher math at our school was one of those who believed that only the most intelligent could master higher math. (To him higher math consisted of any class from Geometry on up.) He was the master of the mumbo-jumbo, the keeper of the great arcane mysteries that only the brightest could understand. In some years his entire class load was less than 50 - for five classes. 

          I taught lower level math in addition to social studies classes. We didn't get along very well.  He didn't like athletics and I was a coach. I also called him out on his pompous nonsense. I brought in a picture my son had drawn in junior high on a trip out west. It was Jackson Hole. It was very well done. I challenged my math colleague to duplicate my sons effort. Of course he couldn't. My point was that different people have different aptitudes. He insisted it wasn't the same.

          I pointed out that a computer had never created a great novel or a great work of art, but what computers could do well was math. I mentioned that mathematicians had devoted years of their lives finding the value of pi to the fiftieth place, and now computers could do it in seconds ( it might have been minutes back then ... the early 90s). Mathematicians, I concluded (tongue in cheek), were replacable.

          When I started teaching the Geometry and Advanced Algebra classes, the numbers went up dramatically. (This was before these were required classes.). Though my math background certainly didn't match his, in my classes the concepts were presented so they were understandable.  

          Math majors too often believe that their intelligence is superior to others. In my experience that is not the case. Many math majors are quite dull and not very creative at all. Many lack the ability to empathize with others. I realize that I am painting with a broad brush just as you were in your comment. Perhaps my experiences are not typical. But then, your experiences may not be typical either.

          A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

          by slatsg on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:42:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Computer science is a little different (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slatsg

            There are far more creative people in computer science than there are in pure mathematics.  It appears that the same set of intellectual faculties that allow one play an instrument are the same intellectual faculties that allow one to succeed in computer science.  Both disciplines requires one to be think in a structured, abstract and creative way.  Both disciplines require one to use both hemispheres of the brain fairly equally.

            Most of the math used in computer science is of the discrete persuasion. I mentioned combinatorics and abstract algebra earlier.  An area of combinatorics that most computer scientists must master is graph theory.  For example, graph theory is used heavily in the algorithms that route traffic through the Internet.   A basic knowledge of abstract algebra and number theory is required to truly understand the protocol behind websites that are accessed via "https" instead of "http."  These websites use public-key encryption.  Public-key encryption is based on exponentiation and modular arithmetic within a finite field.

            As an aside: musicians also tend to make very good cryptanalysts (i.e., code breakers).   The U.S. Navy discovered this talent during WWII when musicians from the U.S.S. California were pressed into service helping to decode Japanese message traffic.

            The GOP has become the "Jerry Springer" party.

            by ConcernedCitizenYouBet on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 11:27:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I'm a mathematician (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slatsg, Chitown Kev

            Since you teach mathematics, I hope you count yourself among those who consider math a thing of beauty.  

            Mathematics is the art of determining what is true and then explaining why those things are true.  Finding the best, most beautiful explanation is an inherently creative enterprise.

            Perhaps it would be best if everyone accepted that there are different forms of intelligence and different modes of creativity.

        •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          musiclady
          "Music can be learned through self study."
          Well, I was gonna call bullshit, but you are so right -- music can be learned through self-study -- if one wishes to learn it wrong and most likely remain a hack at it. Of course, there are exceptions -- few and far between. VERY few and EXTREMELY far between.  
          " I took music theory 101 as one of my humanities courses while completing my BSCS.  That course provided me the set of skills that I needed to pursue advanced study in music on my own."
          So, how did Theory 101 lay your groundwork for Schenkerian analysis, non-western compositional models, and aleotoric improvisation? How did you do with Baroque performance practices on your own?

          "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." - Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées, #894.

          by maf1029 on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 12:41:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have no interest in classical performance (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cartoon Messiah

            I know plenty of classically-trained musicians who would not make it through a set with my jazz quartet or my fusion quintet.  However, that fact does not diminish their skill level or talent.  Jazz takes a tremendous amount of skill, talent, and ability to dynamically interact with other musicians.

            The GOP has become the "Jerry Springer" party.

            by ConcernedCitizenYouBet on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 04:10:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Having taught most (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              maf1029, MichiganChet, musiclady

              of my life things which very few in my field are interested in, I can legitimately explain to you why you are wrong. I say the topics are uninteresting, but they are still understood by most functioning professionals. I know nothing about music, but I hear people make the same statements daily about my field that you are making about the fields mentioned. The reason "uninteresting" topics are included in formal education programs is not because the programs are designed by misinformed people with no sense of what is important or interesting. Yes, "interesting" topics -- which are often popular topics -- are easier to learn. Even with no knowledge whatsoever of music, I can tell you the topics which are normally included in formal study programs are there for a reason, and the reason often cannot even be comprehended or appreciated until the topic is fully learned and mastered, and sometimes not until a number of associated and related "uninteresting" topics are mastered. After that critical mass of information is fully integrated into the person's knowledge, their views often change dramatically. That is the essence of the difference in most fields between a true professional or academic and what the previous commenter called a "hack." You have to understand what you disagree with in order to legitimately criticize it. Often people who learn those "uninteresting" topics find that their overall view of the field is changed and improved afterward; and, strangely, their "interests" often change.

              I deal daily with people who failed to learn the "uninteresting" topics in my field, and who are left searching for a "consultant" to make up the difference between their work and the work of a properly trained professional. Often, they do not even comprehend that their work is deeply flawed, and can't be "fixed," because they lack fundamental knowledge which they would have gained through "uninteresting" topics.

              Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
              Mark Twain

              by phaktor on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 06:56:42 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I wish.... (0+ / 0-)

                ... that I could like your post 1000 times.

                You have to understand what you disagree with in order to legitimately criticize it.

                That says it all. Thank you.

                "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." - Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées, #894.

                by maf1029 on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:12:55 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Your alleged and convenient... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              musiclady

              .... "lack of interest" is irrelevant to the topics in music theory and history which INFORM performance practice in any genre. You would do well to analyze some JS Bach. Whatever you're attempting to do, he did it first (think conceptually, not literally).
              As for your disparagement of trained and educated "classical" musicians upon whom you need to look down to prop up your own performance and choices -- however many of those "not good enough for me" players you know, I know that same amount + 1 who can meet and exceed your arbitrary "standards." That's why anecdotal evidence is a fallacy.  
              Now, how did Theory 101 lay your groundwork for Schenkerian analysis, non-western compositional models, and aleotoric improvisation?

              "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." - Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées, #894.

              by maf1029 on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:09:39 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Opposite for me (4+ / 0-)

           I majored in political science fresh out of high school. The knowledge came in handy in volunteer political work but I never actually worked in the field.
            When I was middle aged I decided to go to grad school and study economics. I taught myself the relevant calculus.
            The fact that someone pursues a strong interest in the humanities doesn't mean that they can't hack engineering or computer science. And, on the other hand, I've met engineers who are completely uninformed about anything outside their fields.

      •  Went to a restaurant (6+ / 0-)

        in London where they had singing waiters...that sang opera! I have never seen such a room full of people of all ages, races, and nationalities having such a good time simultaneously. They were pretty good waiters too.
        I agree with the above poster that humanities courses such as sociology or philosophy can't be learned in solitary pursuit. Dialogue is the most important part of critical thinking. We already have too many autodidacts who think their opinion is the most informed.

        "Bootstraps are a fine invention as long as they are attached to boots." blueoasis

        by northsylvania on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 05:50:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You are right, mostly. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        not2plato

        I agree that learning "business" for 4 years is a waste. It should also be one of the cheapest things to teach, since it doesn't require test tubes, concert halls, or supercomputers.

        Investment banks routinley take kids with no business training at all and give them a few weeks of cram courses. That's all that's needed. Unless you are to be an Accountant or Actuary, your B.S. in "Business Administration" was a waste.

        (I don't agree that it offers "limited benefits". It has it's pluses and minuses just like anything else).

        Like I said about the Arts, my problem is not with the subject matter. My problem is with the fact that we take 4 years and $100k to teach it.

        •  $100,000 is some private school, (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maf1029, ManhattanMan, blueoasis, phaktor

          when a state school would have been cheaper.  The problem is people who think that a private school automatically has more value than the state school by virtue of being a private school.  Going to Harvard is worth it, going to SMU in Dallas isn't.  Not all private universities are created equal or have the same value.

          It is the same as buying $100 pair of jeans when you could have bought a $30 pair of jeans.  But people who buy the $100 pair of jeans think that those jeans must be very superior to the $30 pair of jeans, because why else would it cost so much?

          •  State schools are cheaper because taxpayers (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ManhattanMan

            are footing the difference.

          •  There is also the (0+ / 0-)

            minor fact that employers have caused this preference to evolve. Traditionally, an employer is hiring a university graduate into a position where the individual's character or personality is more important than technical skill details.  A degree from an exclusive private school is a good proxy for socioeconomic status. It means the person probably grew up in the presence of wealth and won't soil carpet, so to speak. They may not be wealthy, but they are probably not antagonistic to wealthy people. For many employers, this is the most important criterion in choosing an employee. This is especially true for employees who are above the level where technical skill is more important than social skill and comprehension of wealth.

            Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
            Mark Twain

            by phaktor on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:01:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Business schools are the cash cows for colleges.nt (0+ / 0-)
      •  I never said... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        not2plato

        ...that no interaction was needed. But you write:

        "...the lessons of history, much like philosophy, do not truly reveal themselves until we come up out of our books, engage in dialogue and discussion, and connect the past to our present and our present to our past."

        Yeah, sure. I believe you. But I am not paying people $100,000 to, "engage in dialogue and discussion". No. Never. And I'm tired of giving tax money for it.

        Would you be willing to hold discussions for $5000?

        •  I guess we all have our priorities (3+ / 0-)

          My view is that learning how to communicate might be a good idea. A little more dialogue and discussion might be helpful.

          On the other hand, my tax money goes to fund schools of business at our state universities and I see it as a waste of my taxes. We should teach those who are interested in business a couple of courses in ethics. It would be less expensive and of much greater value to them and society as a whole.

          And as far as the STEM courses are concerned, when discussing value we could get into the whole progress or process discussion. But I don't have that $5,000 discussion fee you mentioned.

          A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

          by slatsg on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:23:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Its not the 100k (3+ / 0-)

          that you think it is.  

          Part of that is for books in other subjects, such as chemistry or astronomy or something you respect.  Some of it is for fees for stuff like health care on campus -- which includes free contraception at public schools.  Part of it is for other costs outside of the philosophy degree.  

          I suppose you think that there is a degree that is worth exactly 100k?  

          In many cases, students are paying those high figures for things beyond their degree.  Huge building programs, sports programs, traveling professors, speakers fees, health care for non-academic staff, etc.  

          If you were consistent, MM, you would say that paying for all the extras is fine with you when the degree is.  You are willing to pay 100k for an engineer or physician's assistant.  But not for a philosopher.  

          The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

          by not2plato on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:30:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  We need to... (0+ / 0-)

            ...question all the expenses you mention. And there are probably more!

            I'm not saying an Arts or a Science degree isn't worth $100,000 to society. Giving a kid knowledge of the Arts and/or Sciences is priceless.

            I just think we can deliver this knowledge for much less than what we're spending now.

            The Diarist asks for more money for Arts degrees. I say not another dime until you show me what it's being spent on and why it can't be had cheaper.

            I'm willing to say the same thing about Defense Contracts, Wall Street Bonuses, Oil Subsidies, and Public Housing.

        •  Basic civics..... (4+ / 0-)
          "I am not paying people $100,000 to, "engage in dialogue and discussion". No. Never."

          You are not paying.
          Once you write the check to the IRS (or pay any of the other taxes we pay to live in civilized society), the money is NOT YOURS.
          It belongs to THE COMMONS

          "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." - Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées, #894.

          by maf1029 on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 12:47:13 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Business schools have caused a lot of harm (2+ / 0-)

        on campus and away.  

        They create an amoral parasite that wreaks havoc on the surrounding community,  

        On campus the business school and its charges practice humiliation and intimidation of other studies and students.  

        What business majors learn is unimpressive and could be packaged for consumption by the masses.  One needs no time on campus to learn it, one needs no contact with a trainer or coach in order to master it.    

        The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

        by not2plato on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:23:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree (2+ / 0-)

        A business degree is pretty much the exact opposite of a humanities degree- you get all the benefits yourself, in the form of money, and the rest of society often suffers as a result.  No surprise that it's the most popular degree these days, by far...

    •  Music is a bad example (6+ / 0-)

      I think you forget to recognize that learning music is a great way to "learn how to learn."

      I spend a lot of time with scholastic chess.  

      Those kids are not wasting their time, and they're not just playing a game.  They are learning how to learn.  

      Some kid might spend years improving, raising his rating, playing in national events...  But that kid is not wasting time.  

      The process of learning is valuable here.  

      Without the understanding of how to learn, then we are nowhere.  

      I do recognize, however, that a certain level of practicality has to be adhered to when going  to college.  It's most definitely an act that requires balancing the benefits and drawbacks of cost and application.

      I am an atheist for moral purposes. Seriously.

      by otto on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 06:02:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The positive effects... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        otto

        ...of music education are pretty well documented -- for K-12 students.

        I'm talking about college students.

        •  Why is that different? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Killer of Sacred Cows

          Like I said in another post, there is a lot of learned skill being put to use in ways that one might not consider to be the intended endpoint of an education in something like film or music.  

          I also think that while you may have had sufficient training and support to be able to develop yourself to the point that you have the ability to focus and train yourself independently, that is not the situation for the majority of people.  

          It is a common misstep of those on the right when they go on thinking that everyone has the same skills and abilities to be able to "pick yourself up by your bootstraps."

          I am an atheist for moral purposes. Seriously.

          by otto on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 06:53:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  How very republican of you. (2+ / 0-)

      You measure something's worth based on some monetary value.  I remember talking to another republican about relationships and she told me that money was very important and she would never marry a poor guy, no matter how wonderful he was.  Her advice on dating was to judge a guy's worth on his bank account.  

      I believe that the worth of some things in life should not be measured by money.  And that includes relationships and education.

       I myself don't want to live in a world where everything has a monetary value.  And I have known business and engineering majors with $100,000 in student debt and low paying jobs that don't require a college degree.  No degree today guarantees a job.  If you are really concerned about jobs, then network.  I have found that networking helps more in getting a job than a certain major.

    •  You are so right..... (3+ / 0-)
      "It should not take 4 years and $100,000 to learn Art or Music. These things are best learned with practice, in the real world."

      I agree completely.
      It takes about FOUR TIMES AS LONG and TWICE AS MUCH. Well, if one attends a less pricey school.

      Then we have this pithy wise-crack:

      "But as a Taxpayer, I'm not interested in paying for a 20-year-old undergraduate to spend $100,000 to read poetry or play the violin. He can do that in his mom's basement."

      I commend the author for cramming such a large amount of sheer ignorance, condescension, and disdain into so few words. The art of the concise lives on!

      I was going to create a well-written, perfectly punctuated metaphorical smackdown, but it got so long that I'm going to do a full diary about it.
      Special thanks to Luddite for the inspiration. {kiss noise}

      "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." - Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées, #894.

      by maf1029 on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 12:21:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I look forward to the Diary. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wham Bam

        I think it should include a detailed cost breakdown of exactly how the $200,000 would be spent.

        Please bear in mind, that for about $200,000  (I'm a landlord/renovator) I can house 4 homeless families for 5 years.

        Cost of an upstate NY foreclosure: $13,000
        Renovation costs: $100k
        5 years of repairs and property tax: $100k

        If you want to make a $200,000 claim on society's resources, please write in such a way that these 4 families might not feel so bad at having to wait for their home.

        Don't get me wrong, I'm not making the false straw man argument that "funding Arts causes homelessness". I am just using housing numbers to remind us all that these tuition fees are Real Money that can be used for Real Stuff.

        If the Arts Department gets $200,000 in tuition, somebody in America is not going to get $200,000. In a perfect world, that Somebody would be Donald Trump. But we don't live in that world...

        •  Bear in Mind (4+ / 0-)

          That $200,000 doesn't just "disappear" after it's given to the university.  The university uses it to pay its many employees.  Some are rich, but most of them are not, and they'll all go out and spend it on other things.  Some of them might even use it to pay their landlord! (shock!) Our economy is badly in need of more government spending right now.

          •  But why on art education instead of on (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ManhattanMan

            directly housing the homeless?

            Or if you think that spending money on art education somehow will house the homeless then why not take all the money we currently spend on the poor and redirect it to college loans and grants?

        •  Yeahyeahyeah... (0+ / 0-)

          Every internet conservative owns a business.
          The concern trolling about "you're spending my munny" is "touching," but irrelevant. It's not your money.  
          I think we all get the myopic LIEbertarian view that government funding of any type or amount should only go to what you want, so you can S-can that too.

          Oh, and before you gripe further and disingenuously about any subsidy for college tuition, quit taking our tax money for your dumb bigot, exclusionist, private schools, too.

          "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." - Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées, #894.

          by maf1029 on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 07:58:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You're asking... (0+ / 0-)

            ...the public to spend $200,000 teaching a person how to play music.

            If you want this to happen, you'll have to use some facts to justify it.

            Jimi Hendrix seemed to play pretty well, and he didn't need $200K.

            Lastly, I don't own any private schools -- but if they are using tax money, they need to get kicked around also.

            •  I ask no such thing... (0+ / 0-)

              It's all in your imagination.
              LIEbertarian/conservative thinking will create such conundrum.

              "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." - Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Pensées, #894.

              by maf1029 on Mon Dec 05, 2011 at 11:18:30 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chitown Kev, Cartoon Messiah

      There is value in discussion by peers and professors.  History is not spitting back dates.  Nor are any of the social sciences.  I think there is great value in a liberal arts education.  Quite frankly, I am appalled at how ignorant people are and that people cannot think through issues or events logically.  They are will to believe people who are not experts, propaganda and a lot of myth and fantasy.  

      You can't have a democracy with an ignorant and ill informed populace.  Liberal arts majors are easily trained to middle management jobs.  They can think, solve problems creatively and have a broad base of knowlege to draw from.  They can write well and they know how to learn.  God save us from the MBA's.

    •  Are you creating a 'career' student factory? (0+ / 0-)

      The argument on this comment thread seems to be a debate of the value of an education to business versus society (and the individual). If you leave it at that level, the educate everyone at any cost for 'free' will always win. Ultimately, we live in a society of limited resources despite the relative wealth of America so someone has to pay for a 'free' college education for all.

      If you take away the cost to the students it's only going to run the costs through the roof for society. Most kids don't have a clue what they want to do after high school. Tell them that government (that's you and me, folks) will pay for college so they can put off tough decisions for 4, 6, even 8 years becomes easy. Why save money going to a local college and living with your parents (that really sucks!)? If government takes the cost decision away, go out of state. Go private instead of public. Don't go to cheaper community colleges for 2 years then transfer (very popular here in Virginia because credits transfer to public universities).

      I'm not some right-winger saying give me my tax cut, screw the next guy. I benefited from an education at 2 public universities subsidized by taxpayers. States and the feds pump enormous resources into postgraduate education. Sure there have been cut-backs in this horrid economy but the opportunity is still there should anyone want to take advantage of it.

      Luddite314's argument begs the question who pays for 'free'? Tax the rich - I thought they were going to balance the federal budget? It comes down to priorities. Do we cut other social programs? Public safety? You members of the middle class want your income taxes to go up? Start a federal lottery?

      A better question is why does it take $100,000 to get a degree in history or even engineering? Tuition is grossly inflated. Colleges are notoriously inefficient with an emphasis on 'research' for research's sake. In my day back when dinosaurs walked the Earth college libraries were stuffed with dusty peer review literature nobody reads but professors need to pump out to keep their jobs. Open one and the spine would crack because it was opened for the first time. I can recite more than once being put off by my professor even during their office hours because they were too busy working on a research project to help me with a class.

      I feel for college kids graduating into a world that, in many cases, will pass them by because the economy sucks so bad. I know some of them. Drowning in debt while working at counter help somewhere. If I were them, I would have picked a field like health care which has better prospects. The great thing about America is there are plenty of opportunities and you don't know where you will end up 40 years down the road.

    •  perhaps the words of our 2nd president are apt (0+ / 0-)
      I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study paintings, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:15:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This music major disagrees. (0+ / 0-)

      I assume you won't be attending the Hatemail Musical we are putting together for NN. Clearly, it was too expensive for your taste.

      Capitalism may be our enemy, but it is also our teacher. --V.I. Lenin equalitymaine.org

      by commonmass on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:32:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I know that the cost of higher education is (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northsylvania, bnasley, ManhattanMan

    increasing more than inflation and more than healthcare is even rising, but I have yet to understand why.  Why is college getting increasingly expensive?

    I understand that university's costs are going to be affected by helath care cost increases since they are mainly a human services situation, but how could costs be on a steeper curve than health care costs?  What are schools spending operating money on that is inflating costs so much?

    Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

    by bkamr on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 03:53:43 AM PST

    •  The reason why tuition is going up at public (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bnasley, northsylvania, bkamr

      universities is because higher-education is discretionary spending.   States are having to make the choice between funding higher-education and non-mandatory social services.  Guess what revenue sink law makers prefer to cut?

      Public universities are having to generate a sizable chunk of their operating budgets via research contracts and grants.  For example, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (i.e., the campus that is home to Maryland's law and medical schools in downtown Baltimore) and the University of Maryland College Park (home of the Terps) would have to shutter their doors without research funding.   he University of Maryland, Baltimore generates over $600M from research.  The University of Maryland College Park generates an additional $500M from research.

      The GOP has become the "Jerry Springer" party.

      by ConcernedCitizenYouBet on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 05:23:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right, but (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        northsylvania, ManhattanMan

        this does not explain rising costs.  At best it tells us that the student is paying a larger share of costs due to states cutting back on their discretionary contributions to the costs of tuition.  

        It does not address how the costs of operating colleges themselves rise faster than the inflation of of their components (i.e., faster than health care, wages, energy, etc)

        The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

        by not2plato on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:44:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Where do you see costs are rising faster? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ManhattanMan

          Can you cite a study?

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:59:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  There are many showing that college costs (0+ / 0-)

            are rising ~ 4 times as fast as inflation.

            •  Can you show me one? (0+ / 0-)

              Because I just looked at U. Cal. where the tuition has risen exponentially over the last two decades, by 300%.

              Costs there are not rising faster than inflation. And yet you have costs rising 4x as fast, which I find very hard to believe.

              This is what I posted in another post about info found on U. Cal's page. I also wrote a diary citing a national study that determined schools were more efficient than businesses. But according to the rise of the Cal-Berkeley budget since 1997, it's risen 1.8% as a yearly average. That's BELOW inflation. Full-time faculty salaries are up 2.8% yearly from '85 to 2001 but again, there are far fewer full-time faculty:

              Cal-Berkeley:
              In 1990, the State contributed $16,000 per student.
              In 2007, it was $9,500.

              By 2010, another $1.15 billion had been cut from the state budget. Current state budget is now $2.6 billion.

              Average salaries for faculty have gone up from $51,000 in 1985 to $79,000 in 2001.

              Cal-Berkeley's total budget went from 1.224 billion in 1997 to its current 1.59 billion in 2010.

              When you look at the increased costs of new technology, new buildings for new research, much higher health care costs for employee insurance, coupled with deep slashes for state funding, you realize that this accounts for the fast rise in tuition and fees.

              So where's the savings?

              In 1990, 76% of faculty across the nation were full-time.
              In 2010, 34% of faculty across the nation were full-time.

              Then look at # of classes offered and class sizes. That's where the so-called" fat is being cut, though of course no one mentions that it's not 4 years of schooling anymore, it's 5 years if you're lucky.

              There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

              by upstate NY on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:13:34 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's amazing that someone who pretends to (0+ / 0-)

                follow this topic would not be aware of this.

                It has been a major topic in newspapers, on blogs, etc.

                Here's the first link a Google search (which you are apparently too lazy to do) found:

                http://inflationdata.com/...

                College tuitions soar each year, advancing far in excess of the inflation rate. The overall inflation rate since 1986 increased 115.06%, which is why we pay more than double for everything we buy. On the other hand, during the same time, tuition increased a whopping 498.31%
                •  Lazy lazy lazy (0+ / 0-)

                  I did a whole diary on costs, and you show me tuition rising?

                  Tuition is not cost.

                  You're not going to understand what's going on here until you understand the difference between cost and tuition. What colleges spend (i.e. cost per student) is not rising faster than inflation. Tuition is. Not because spending is out of control. But because taxpayer funding has vanished.

                  There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                  by upstate NY on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 11:04:38 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  PS. And why do they need new buildings? (0+ / 0-)

                When I went to MIT I took some classes in the 40 year old "temporary" buildings that were used to work on RADAR during WWII.

                They were just as good as the ones I took in newer buildings.

                But if your customers will get enough money to pay for your product no matter how high you raise the price then why not splurge for new buildings?

                •  I've got cancer causing open (0+ / 0-)

                  asbestos running through my office. Would cost more to remediate than to build new building.

                  Usually, they need new labs.

                  There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                  by upstate NY on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 11:03:00 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Operating costs are not rising faster than (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          upstate NY, bkamr

          inflation.  Tuition is rising rapidly because states have slashed funding for higher-ed over the last twenty or so years.

          One area where operating costs have gone up significantly is in technology infrastructure services.  Today's students demand a high-level of connectivity and other on-demand high-tech services.  All of those services have associated costs that technology fees do not come close to offsetting. Universities CIOs are struggling to staff their information technology service organizations because they can only pay 60% of the prevailing wage for many in-demand skill sets.  This situation has led universities to be heavily dependent on H-1B work visa holders who leave as soon as they receive their green cards.

          The GOP has become the "Jerry Springer" party.

          by ConcernedCitizenYouBet on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 10:49:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Some stats from a .pdf I was looking at (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ManhattanMan, Chitown Kev

          on U. Cal's page:

          In 1990, the State contributed $16,000 per student.
          In 2007, it was $9,500.

          By 2010, another $1.15 billion had been cut from the state budget. Current state budget is now $2.6 billion.

          Average salaries for faculty have gone up from $51,000 in 1985 to $79,000 in 2001.

          Cal-Berkeley's total budget went from 1.224 billion in 1997 to its current 1.59 billion in 2010.

          When you look at the increased costs of new technology, new buildings for new research, much higher health care costs for employee insurance, coupled with deep slashes for state funding, you realize that this accounts for the fast rise in tuition and fees.

          So where's the savings?

          In 1990, 76% of faculty across the nation were full-time.
          In 2010, 34% of faculty across the nation were full-time.

          Then look at # of classes offered and class sizes. That's where the so-called" fat is being cut, though of course no one mentions that it's not 4 years of schooling anymore, it's 5 years if you're lucky.

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 11:04:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I wrote a diary about your question (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slatsg, ManhattanMan

      Here is my answer:

      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      It's because of budget cuts on the state and federal level

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:09:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  pretty weak reasoning here.. (4+ / 0-)

    Sorry.  You didn't convince me.

    How about we address the high costs of education first?

    Do we need professors being paid $200k per year with extravagant pensions to teach undergraduate sociology?  Especially since said professor usually has his TA's do most of the work anyway!

    ManhattanMan above makes some good points.  You do not need a degree in Humanities to get a benefit from them.  We should be funding community colleges and internet teaching.  Bloated universities are dinosaurs.  Their time has come and gone, IMHO.

    •  What what??? (8+ / 0-)
      Do we need professors being paid $200k per year...

      Where is that? I need to apply for a job there. Most humanities profs I know make 25-50K, and the upper end is for department chairs. As a full time lecturer I made around 15K.

      "Bootstraps are a fine invention as long as they are attached to boots." blueoasis

      by northsylvania on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 05:53:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You can make $200k... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        theano, not2plato

        ...if you are a senior professor at an Ivy League school.

        But the problem is not overpaid professors. The problem is the "Assistant vice-Dean of Student Affairs".

        We need to fire all such bureaucrats who don't teach. Let students handle their own "affairs".

        •  Well then. (0+ / 0-)

          The people who get jobs at those schools are the best of the best and their salaries are paid primarily from the exorbitant tuition charged at them. Some of them in the sciences get federal research money, but once again they are the top of their fields. That would be saying all professional racing drivers are paid like Formula 1.

          "Bootstraps are a fine invention as long as they are attached to boots." blueoasis

          by northsylvania on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:40:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed (0+ / 0-)

          The bureaucracy is the probable source of the outlandishly rising costs.  

          Higher Ed is so bloated on middle management that it is surprising that they have not demoted everyone else to the lowest reaches of the pay scale.  

          Lecturers and adjuncts who take no office space, no office equipment and no benefits are being paid $1,300 to teach a 16 week course at the Community Colleges in Colorado.  

          The teachers are not getting the largesse!  

          The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

          by not2plato on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:48:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Funding has been cut by a huge amount (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            not2plato

            If you look at the cost per student subsidized by taxpayers 20 years ago to today, you would see a huge difference, which alone explains the rise in tuition.

            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

            by upstate NY on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 10:00:56 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Right-wing meme (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Messiah

      Thanks

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:11:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, no, no, no, Jerry J (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      upstate NY, Cartoon Messiah

      You didn't read the talking points very well. It's high school teachers who are making $200,000 with the extravagant pensions.

      The college profs make more, do less, and spend most of their time brain-washing their students with left wing propaganda.

      If you're going to spout this stuff, please get it right!

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:51:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not just the profs.. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ManhattanMan

        it's the administration that has been bloated over the years as well.

        And, yes, funding has dried up some too.

        The bottom line is, as a society, we do not need tens of thousands of newly minted bachelor degrees in the Humanities.  

        •  it's not the profs (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cartoon Messiah

          Sorry but you're just dead wrong about humanities professors getting paid $200,000.  Most of them make very modest salaries.

          The real cost is the administration (which you mention) and all the extravagant buildings that are constructed in order to pump up their ranking.  

          But really, that's not the topic of this diary.  I just wanted to defend the humanities against all of the "everyone should only study engineering/trade school" people.

        •  OK (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cartoon Messiah

          If you don't think we need more degree in the humanities, just write that. It a legitimate POV. No need to denigrate the teaching profession.

          A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

          by slatsg on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 04:48:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Monopoly (0+ / 0-)

       I could imagine a system in which a student goes out and selects a professor from the phone book and signs up to study under that professor. The student could take each course in that way and finish up with a professional level education in whatever "major" she is studying.
        But how can she prove that she has the requisite knowledge?
        Colleges and universities certify that their students have the knowledge/education by awarding degrees. Because that certification is valuable to a student, colleges and universities are able to claim a large share of the expected value of a degree (in the form of tuition.)
        As long as govt and students are willing to pay the constantly inflating prices, colleges and university will continue to raise prices.  

  •  It's the longest running debate (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, ManhattanMan, luddite314

    I would guess that this is the longest running debate about formal education.  

    Is formal education a training ground for the workforce?  

    Is formal education a formative activity that creates well rounded citizens who are able to participate in a democracy?  

    I suggest to readers that a large chunk of people would be better served if they were part of a formal vocational training program, instead of a well rounded degree in humanities.  

    If a student leaves high school in 10th grade to begin some sort of apprenticeship in a trade, then we all benefit.  

    Raise the dignity of a career in some sort of trade.  

    Wouldn't you like to see bright, prepared, trained, and talented plumbers coming into homes?  

    Wouldn't you like to see what happens in a trade like auto mechanics when you spend 5 years with a student running through a formal education process that involves some sort of apprenticeship, and perhaps even some sort of required return to the general public like teaching people in poverty how to keep that old Toyota running without much cash?  

    In some cases, it's a disservice to tell a child that he or she will be best served by attending a 4 year university.  

    Isn't it highly likely that a significant percentage of those students would be better off with the training they need to be successful tradespeople?

    That's the debate.  

    I think it's something that we need to deal with in a careful manner.  

    I am an atheist for moral purposes. Seriously.

    by otto on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 05:56:10 AM PST

    •  The state of politics (4+ / 0-)

      in America is an argument for better education.

      "Bootstraps are a fine invention as long as they are attached to boots." blueoasis

      by northsylvania on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 06:24:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "better" (0+ / 0-)

        That's a qualitative judgement.

        The question boils down to this- "When I use the word "education," what do I mean?"

        I am an atheist for moral purposes. Seriously.

        by otto on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 06:36:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not sure what you mean. (4+ / 0-)

          What I mean is literacy, numeracy, critical thinking, an overall knowledge of history, both US and World History, a little economics, and probably a little sociology as well. People need to make informed decisions and understand when smoke is being blown their way and why. They need to see that human nature has been very similar throughout recorded history and how people in the past dealt with problems like those in the present. Understanding how a variable rate or interest only mortgage might not be a wise thing to pursue, and why others might want to sell you one....the list is endless. Quite frankly a lot of this knowledge came to me through the halls of higher learning, an endeavour I formerly thought was useless for a visual artist.
          I just began learning about Michel Foucault, Antonio Gramsci, and Theodor Adorno at the ripe age of 59, because they teach that sort of thing in England and they don't in the States. Talking it over with my much younger English cohort was invaluable as well. As a result I know much more about the subversion of the middle class by the upper classes, and the role of pervasive media in controlling a population. I could have used some of that knowledge 30 years ago!

          "Bootstraps are a fine invention as long as they are attached to boots." blueoasis

          by northsylvania on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 06:55:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  ??? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            northsylvania
            I just began learning about Michel Foucault, Antonio Gramsci, and Theodor Adorno at the ripe age of 59, because they teach that sort of thing in England and they don't in the States.

            Foucault, Adorno and Gramsci are taught throughout the US system of higher ed.  Indeed, they are over-taught if you ask me.  

            The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

            by not2plato on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:51:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well good. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cartoon Messiah

              I got an MFA in 1996 and they were teaching postmodernists. Period.
              That's why an occasional foray into academia is entertaining. The way people perceive the world isn't static.

              "Bootstraps are a fine invention as long as they are attached to boots." blueoasis

              by northsylvania on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 01:03:03 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Those people are (0+ / 0-)

                very powerful still, but their influence is beginning to wane, especially the image of them having superseded and subordinated all of intellectual history. The good ones are requiring more of their students because they have more students, and they are less of a haven for rebellious students who can't or won't learn anything, and who use postmodernism as an excuse for rejecting anything that requires work.

                Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
                Mark Twain

                by phaktor on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:14:12 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  No more trades (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      not2plato

      No one works the trades anymore unless you are willing to work for extremely low wages and speak Spanish. Been to a construction site lately? Often when there is a delivery truck or similar I'm the only one that can speak English on a site full of guys. I'm the only legal.

      You can start a small business and hire them, or work for a large company hiring subs, or be a driver of something or another job that takes papers, but there are no more sheet rockers, form setters, electricians, plumbers, framers, etc.

      This web site encourages that too. No H1 Bs taking yuppie jobs, but ag workers are just dandy.

      "Slip now and you'll fall the rest of your life" Derek Hersey 1957-1993

      by ban nock on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 06:40:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's part of the degradation of respect (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, Chitown Kev, ManhattanMan

        The degradation of respect for trades has been moving along at a brisk pace.  

        Part of the reason that you can talk like that about the trades, is that we've been conditioned to think that just about anybody can do those things.  

        The difference between a trained and an untrained electrician, plumber, or construction worker and an untrained worker is huge.  

        Being more formal in training for the trades leads to more respect for the trade which leads to more organized participation in the trade which leads to higher union representation.  

        I am an atheist for moral purposes. Seriously.

        by otto on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 06:47:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think we need to see a path to education that (4+ / 0-)

      encompasses both -

      Yes, we definitely need to reinvigorate "the trades" in the US. I've lived many places where carpenters, butchers, shoemakers, tailors, artisans of all types, make good and decent livings because the communities where they live appreciate them and their products.

      But I also believe that an education in the humanities makes all of us better at what we do and that those following the trades can benefit from discussing politics, philosophy, and literature. Why shouldn't a plumber have the opportunity to love Shakespeare or a physician's assistant understand the politics behind the health care system? Can't we find a better way to do this?

      •  One doesn't preclude the other (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        angelajean, marykk, ManhattanMan

        There is nothing in a vocational training program that prevents one from learning other things.

        It's kind of an interesting thing that educated people like myself are often unwilling to allow the possibility that their own children would not be in a formal academic setting as young adults.  

        This is one of those places where Americans don't recognize the classism at play.  

        I am an atheist for moral purposes. Seriously.

        by otto on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 06:50:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It precludes it because we don't allow the time (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          undercovercalico

          for it. We are so busy studying what has to be studied to get that degree or to finish a grade that we have no time left to learn other things.

          I am watching this with my 13 year old this year. We normally homeschool and he follows his own education path. I have been amazed at some of his choices but there has never been a year where he hasn't learned something new that he has chosen to follow. This year he is attending a school because our family has a temporary assignment overseas and we wanted him to learn a foreign language. By the time he gets home, he has no desire to follow any of his own learning paths. It's as if his brain has only so much room for learning and the teachers tell him what has to be learned and that is what gets learned. He just shuts down when he gets home. It's a completely differently type of learning going on and I actually believe it has changed his concept of how to learn.  It isn't necessarily bad but I find that he has lost a love of learning this school year. I am thankful that we will be homeschooling again next year and look forward to seeing if his old modality will return.

          I would actually like to see more opportunities for kids to learn in less formal academic settings so that once they are of an age to go to college, they have learned how to learn on their own without always needing a teacher to show them the way. That is what we are missing the most of in our education system - teachers who work as guides rather than teachers who impart knowledge. All kids have the ability to learn on their own but few kids ever learn how to do so.

    •  Gotta fix the economy first. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      not2plato

      I would love to have a job as a tradesman. But I won't do it because:

      1) The pay is low
      2) The prestige is low
      3) The job can be outsourced or automated
      4) I can't afford health insurance for my family with that job.

      If we could fix these things I would feel good about advising a young kid to be a carpenter. Otherwise, (sadly) my best advice to a 15 year old is to cram for that SAT....

    •  It's supposed to do both (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Messiah, eleaba
      Is formal education a training ground for the workforce?  

      Is formal education a formative activity that creates well rounded citizens who are able to participate in a democracy?  


      There's no reason that higher ed can't do both.  Unfortunately, the current state of our economy is making it extremely difficult for young people to get jobs.
  •  you ignore the vast number of stupid lazy people (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ManhattanMan, not2plato

    with 4 year degrees. Why should I worry that up to 40% of them make less than the best 25% of high school graduates. Studies show there's no difference in IQ, the only difference I notice is after getting a degree people feel entitled to not get their hands dirty or work for minimum wage. If they are indebted to the government for the rest of their lives so be it, they made bad choices, so did that guy doing 10 years because he tried to sell some crack on the corner.

    When people with college degrees begin to worry about the export of jobs and the import of labor, I will begin to worry about their debt.

    "Slip now and you'll fall the rest of your life" Derek Hersey 1957-1993

    by ban nock on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 06:33:26 AM PST

    •  Links to these studies? (4+ / 0-)

      I've never heard these facts before and I'm curious.

      We are currently living in a country where university education is free. It's interesting to see the difference between the public universities and the private ones.

      BTW - I am a college educated person who is concerned about the export of jobs and the import of labor. I think many of us are... certainly the complaint about OWS is that they are all college educated kids. They seem to understand that part of the problem is the lack of decent jobs here in the US as well. Maybe it is time for you to start worrying about their debt... we will find fewer and fewer college educated adults in the US unless we start changing something very, very soon. And, I don't know about you, but I think an educated person makes a better citizen and better citizens make a better country to live in. I find the idea of free education through the university level to be very appealing.

    •  So you're equating a guy (even a lazy one) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Messiah

      who goes to college with someone who sells crack on the corner?

      As one who believes that the so-called War on Drugs should end and that guy on the street corner shouldn't be doing time, your analogy is still way off base.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 10:13:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  ban nock: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Messiah

       You are assuming that college graduates who are earning low incomes are doing so because they are lazy and stupid. That is not the case.
        Adjunct professors, beginning public school teachers, social workers, etc. all make relatively low wages compared to, say, professional plumbers.
        The problem is, the price of education for the lower paying jobs/careers is the same as for the higher paying jobs. Also, for many college grads the jobs just aren't there.
        But when the unemployment rate among college grads is 4.4%, a lot of them are taking jobs outside their fields for relatively low pay. Are they stupid and lazy?
        At least college grads have a reasonable chance to be employed in an economy in which 9% of the workforce is unemployed.

  •  We need more art, music and literature.... (8+ / 0-)

    Education is not just a trade school for the occupational flavor of the month. Nor should it be seen as  just the rookie league for corporate America, providing more obedient drones to administer an increasingly dysfunctional economy.

    Life is not only about toil and profit. We do need art, music and literature. Humans have been creating art and music since the Paleolithic period. They enrich our lives even if they don't usually enrich those who actually create them. People have been telling stories since then as well. Storytelling, because that is what literature is,  is one of the most powerful means for making sense out of life.

    These things should be seen as opening up our imaginations so we don't end up living in a gray dull world of Corporate Orwellism or its opposite, the cacophony of endless blaring corporate propaganda even worse than what we endure today.

    In a democracy, we need all of those things as well as more philosophy to boot. Given the amorality of the dominant political culture as well as the appalling ignorance that infects our public discourse, we could all use more philosophy. Everyday we are faced with societal challenges that do not necessarily have simple solutions. The 1% would be happy to make those decisions for us. We can see where that has gotten us.

    So as part of  our trade schools, apprenticeship programs, colleges, graduate professional schools and the like, we need the humanities. In fact I can't think of a single trade that couldn't use more humanity in it.

    A look at the desperate state of our labor movement should tell us that much. It seems that we as a nation  are surrendering to  dog eat dog competition and are forgetting such basic things as human solidarity and  concern for the greater society. Art, music and storytelling is critical for keeping  human values alive in our labor movement and in our other social movements as well.

    "Don't believe everything you think."

    by BobboSphere on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 07:34:01 AM PST

  •  Hey, with a good philosophy degree... (0+ / 0-)

    ...one is highly equipped to utter the words, "You want fries with that?"

  •  Great post (3+ / 0-)

    however, isn't the definition of a public good one which is both non-rival and non-excludable?

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 08:27:56 AM PST

  •  It never fails on Dkos (5+ / 0-)

    that a higher ed diary brings out the right-wing memes in full force, as though there is absolutely no interdisciplinary knowledge that flows between the various fields of knowledge.

    It's important to realize that when we think of people like Adam Smith, Heisenberg, Heidegger, Newton, etc., these people were philosophers, theorists, scientists, etc.

    Read Thomas Kuhn's books to get a sense on how knowledge flows between disciplines.

    A school without Humanities is a perverse creature.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:14:49 AM PST

  •  I appreciate luddite's diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northsylvania, Sarella Sand

    but on Dkos it's a losing battle and that's why I won't recommend it, because of the majority of comments.

    Too many have swallowed the rightwing swill.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:15:45 AM PST

    •  On the contrary. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      luddite314, Cartoon Messiah

      The diary should be recced and the discussion should take place. I doubt that it will cost the $5,000 that ManhattanMan mentioned above. In fact the problem as I see it is that we are not having this discussion in this country and we have conceded the field to the pragmatic utilitarian education crowd.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 10:00:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's not the diarists fault. (4+ / 0-)

      It's the fault of a society that doesn't value general knowledge. My grandfather said that every man should have a profession and a trade and be able to both think and do manual labour. The reason we live as well as we do is that I can do drywall and tile work as well as fine art, my husband can do plumbing and car repair when he's not designing aircraft. All of these enterprises take work and skill.
      It's just that the educated have been taught to dismiss manual labour and those who have not had a college degree have been taught to distrust people who think.
      I tipped and recced. It's a needed conversation, especially if the people involved get over their prejudices.

      "Bootstraps are a fine invention as long as they are attached to boots." blueoasis

      by northsylvania on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 10:01:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Forgot the apostrophe. (0+ / 0-)

        So much for that book larnin'.

        "Bootstraps are a fine invention as long as they are attached to boots." blueoasis

        by northsylvania on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 10:02:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It is the diarist's fault to the extent that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ManhattanMan

        he's framing the argument with broad generalities I don't buy. For instance, the idea that there is no direct use of knowledge of Sociologists is false. One of the biggest needs for evaluation of our economic plight right now is from Behavioral Economists who have been much better at analyzing macroeconomies than their counterparts.

        No one dismisses manual labor, but there is no doubt that in a world of increasing mechanization of labour and production coupled with massive information overflows, requires more education than ever before. One could easily argue that we are falling behind in Higher Ed., not that we have an abundance of it.

        Higher Ed. is dysfunctional in the way that so much of Secondary Ed. is, and to a large extent it's because standards and resources have been gutted. The President of Cal-Berkeley said to the incoming class a couple years ago: "You will pay more but you will not receive the quality of education of your predecessors."

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 10:22:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I certainly never said (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cartoon Messiah, upstate NY

          that there is no direct use of knowledge in sociology.  Where did you get that idea?

          I'm just trying to rethink how we should value education.  If the only way you "value" it is in how much extra money it adds to your salary, then of course the liberal arts will look bad.  You have to look a little deeper.

      •  The Diarist's Argument Was Weak (0+ / 0-)

         In an argument where the entire premise was that others benefit and there are positive externalities, the diarist only actually got around to even trying to describe some external benefits in paragraphs 11-12 of a 13 paragraph piece.  

        And frankly, the examples given were very unconvincing.  We should pay for other people to get degrees to tell us what movies to watch or how politics work?  Seriously? Neither of those tasks needs credentials or specialists....they are generalist fields.

        There may well be an argument to be made here....but this diary is not it.  Perhaps if the diarist had gotten a logician and an English major to edit the draft before publication....  ;)

        •  I can give you more examples if you want... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cartoon Messiah

          But I thought people could think of examples themselves.  Personally, I think living in a well-functioning democracy with a thriving arts culture is pretty important.  But apparently other people think it's more important to have lots and lots of plumbers.

          •  I Just Think We Can Have (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cartoon Messiah

            a well-functioning democracy with a thriving arts culture without spending a lot of money making specialists in areas that have a hard time supporting themselves.  A "well-functioning democracy" demands more widespread general exposure to the social sciences and humanities, NOT creating more narrow specialists in those fields.   And as for the arts part....I just think that is not an area where degree credentials really matter at all.

            Much better to use precious resources creating more engineers and scientists....but well-rounded engineers and scientists with more exposure to economics, history, philosophy, etc than they get now.

            •  This: (0+ / 0-)
              And as for the arts part....I just think that is not an area where degree credentials really matter at all.

              Is why the United States has never produced a Dali, a Van Gogh, a Michelangelo, a Rodin, etc.

              "Superstition, idolatry, and hypocrisy have ample wages, but truth goes begging." - Luther

              by Cartoon Messiah on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 08:41:13 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm not sure if you're serious or not. (0+ / 0-)

                Are you serious?

                There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                by upstate NY on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 05:51:24 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Like a heart attack... (0+ / 0-)

                  All of the great masters either studied at prestigious art schools or under a previous master as an apprentice. The level of skill necessary to produce a "Last Supper" or a "David" or a "Starry Night" requires rigorous training.

                  We still admire the Ancient Greeks, while discounting what made Greek Civilization so admirable: the sublimation of the human animal.

                  Beavers can build dams, but they cannot paint a still life or compose an opera.

                  Our culture is dying. Our civilization will soon follow.

                  "Superstition, idolatry, and hypocrisy have ample wages, but truth goes begging." - Luther

                  by Cartoon Messiah on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 06:34:57 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Your post gave me to think (0+ / 0-)

                    that training wasn't required. That all those people were self-taught. Because that's the gist of the person you were responding to. In other words, their training was subsidized. But the previous poster seems to be saying that it shouldn't be.

                    Obviously, credentials in the art world are irrelevant unless you want to become an art teacher, and those positions are increasingly scarce.

                    I agree with your general statement, I just thought you meant the opposite of what you intended.

                    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                    by upstate NY on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:05:21 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  What I comment against is the devaluation of (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Chitown Kev

                      the arts, something that I see as a symptom of our cultural decline.

                      I have a deep-seated admiration for anyone with a scientific bent. Some of the best scientists were also artists.

                      It is illustrative to remember that the theory or relativity was not developed in a laboratory, but in a flash of inspiration, while Einstein rode the train to his job as a patent clerk.

                      Goethe is perhaps the model (and on this I agree with the parent comment): well-rounded, whole human beings who are just as capable with regards the sciences as he/she is with regards the humanities.

                      The goal is to develop better human beings (the definition of culture, from the latin: to grow). This should always be the goal of all education.

                      I am convinced that education has declined to the degree that it has become more about careerists and jobbers, and less about individual and social refinement.

                      And I apologize that my post confused you: in retrospect it was a bit too glib.

                      "Superstition, idolatry, and hypocrisy have ample wages, but truth goes begging." - Luther

                      by Cartoon Messiah on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:48:38 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I agree with you. (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Chitown Kev, Cartoon Messiah

                        I think Thomas Kuhn in his book on Scientific Revolutions showed how the sort of insights gained through the humanities have impacted the scientists through history.

                        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                        by upstate NY on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:53:02 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

            •  You are wildly optimistic (0+ / 0-)

              about funding for the arts.

              There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

              by upstate NY on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 05:52:33 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  I think people on the right (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chitown Kev, luddite314, phaktor

    who critique humanities and social science derees as useless are really protesting the fact that people are getting some basic training in developing critical thinking skills.

    I am a nurse although I will say that I also have a degree in something unrelated. Nursing school is very challenging and my main beef with it is that it does not produce well rounded people because there is so a mountain of practical knowledge to be aquired. Hate to say this but many people in my profession are rather insular in their world view and at times disdainful of arts/literature/philosophy because they see it as somehow "less real", a piont of view I understand because we do deal with so many intense situations but I don't agree with it.

    •  by "less real" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Messiah, phaktor

      They just mean that it's hard to get paid for that.  That's it.  That's the only thing they care about.

      And yes, money is important.  But I don't want to live in a society where the relentless pursuit of money trumps everything else.

      •  Yes. The (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cartoon Messiah

        "real world" idea is used in marketing for students nowadays, as anti-intellectualism has succeeded in producing a generation who completely swallow that line. They want professors who work in "the real world", and they want the traditional requirements for academic achievement waived for them because they are "busy in the real world." They believe anything not related to an ongoing, successful business is "ivory tower fantasy" and of no value. It is hard for them to be creative because they cannot invest any interest in much of anything that does not already make money.

        Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
        Mark Twain

        by phaktor on Sat Dec 03, 2011 at 09:28:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I taught critical thinking and literature at the U (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Messiah, linkage

    University of North Florida for 11 years.  In the beginning of each course, I argued that these were the most valuable courses my students would ever take.  None agreed.  By the end of the course, more than 90% agreed.  These courses are not geared to specific information; instead, they are geared to understanding the world, people, and choices in general. The more we understand, the better we engage--with government, with our peers, and with our environment.  This is the argument that should be made every day; that is, if we do not want to become a society of automatons.  Of course, if that is our ultimate goal, a broad education is not necessary and may cause considerable frustration--as Orwell illustrated in glorious detail.  It all depends on what we want; the future is up to us.

    Old Hippies Never Give Up!

    by ravenrdr on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 02:41:04 AM PST

  •  If I may... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, musiclady, Chitown Kev

    I have a college degree in an extremely esoteric corner of the Humanities.  I obtained it through a program where I studied nothing but my subject, in intense detail.  I wrote weekly essays, which I debated one-on-one with tutors who were the best, worldwide, in their fields.

    Outside of my required class load in college, I immersed myself in music.  I have studied music formally since I was a child, at a quantifiable cost of instruction from the best teachers that could be afforded, instruction books, instruments, travel to group events, seminars, etc.

    After I graduated, I worked briefly for two different employers far outside my degree field before joining the military, in which I've worked ever since.

    People have often asked what "good" my degree was, because its focus was so exclusively esoteric.  When I was younger, I often questioned if the money I spent on my degree and all those starving years were worth it.  I've come to believe that they were.  Here's why:

    I learned how to generate well-researched, presentation-ready papers in just a few days' time.  The ability to churn out "final draft" written work so quickly has proved its worth again and again.

    I learned how to prepare myself to debate my ideas, without fear, with people at the top of their fields, people much older and more accomplished than me.  I use this skill frequently to my advantage when interacting with senior officials and have been able to effect noted change even when a very junior person.

    Much of the "background" humanities information I learned has proved useful when interacting with officials from other countries.  The arts are what Latin once was: a touchstone and lingua franca for different cultures.

    The information I gained from literature, history, and the arts has also proved useful in general management.  People are people, no matter the century or culture, and parallels can be drawn all over that save me from constantly trying to figure out what make people (subordinates, peers, supervisors) tick.  The arts are a magnificent form of expression, and much has been communicated through the ages via the arts that was not written down in a textbook or news story.

    The rigor of my college courses taught me to investigate primary and secondary sources, to question established procedure, to produce work of the highest quality, and not to rely on hearsay or opinion.  Needless to say, this has all been very useful on the job and has set me apart from my peers.

    While I did not obtain my degree through the normal (American) Humanities method, these are some very concrete ways in which my degree has benefited me in a decidedly non-"artsy" career.

    Personally, I believe in the European model, with higher education free or nearly free, and different "tracks" available for different students: trade school, apprenticeships, university, grad school, etc.  I definitely believe the education, regardless of type, needs to be rigorous.  It seems that much of what I learned for my BA is often not taught until the Master's level in the US.  Having helped several other military personnel with online or night school college courses, the academic level of those seems comparable to what I learned in high school.  No wonder people feel that diplomas sometimes aren't worth the paper on which they're printed.

  •  Nicely done, despite some of the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, musiclady, Chitown Kev

    trollish comments.

    Simply put, the humanities are what create, develop, and maintain CULTURE, and without them we are just a bunch of barbarians with bombs and guns.

    The humanities are what make us whole human beings. That in itself is worth more than all the filthy lucre generated by bridge-builders and potion-makers.

    The arts do not pollute or sully nature, but rather fortify it. The same cannot be said for say, engineering or chemistry.

    It really says a lot about our cultural flattening when so many people on a left-leaning blog complain about money being wasted on the humanities.

    Utilitarians: people who only see value in other human beings to the extent that they can benefit from them. But the value of human beings, according to the enlightenment values upon which our nation and culture were based, lies not in usefulness to others, but is rather inherent in our very humanity.

    If more people studied the humanities, perhaps the Palins and the Kardashians of the world would disappear.

    And the wreck list might improve in content.

    And here's another clue for you all:

    Art and entertainment are not the same thing...
    Art = sublimation
    Entertainment = distraction

    Art changes us, it takes us out of our comfort zones. Entertainment affirms our prejudices and encourages us to wallow in vicarious living.

    Perhaps a lot of the current antagonism against the arts is the fact that many people are no longer able to make this subtle but crucial distinction.

    "Superstition, idolatry, and hypocrisy have ample wages, but truth goes begging." - Luther

    by Cartoon Messiah on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 06:21:10 AM PST

  •  Reminds me of the comment: (0+ / 0-)

    'Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of society"

    Naturally it was a poet who said it. But I think it's true. It is ideas which push society much more so than the media, and certainly much much much more than our 'leaders', who generally twist with the winds of public opinion) and many of these ideas come from the humanities.

    It was one of the few really good ideas I learned from "The Fountainhead". Not that I am here to praise that work; more like you can get sound principles from the most unlikely of sources.

    An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

    by MichiganChet on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:36:38 AM PST

  •  Some schools are cutting tuition costs (0+ / 0-)

    by 10-20%.

    Love to hear from some of the anti-Humanities advocates about how this is done. Love to also hear from the people who maintain that loans and grants are pumping up costs.

    Guess how they will cut tuition?

    They will do it by still accepting loans and grants, but they will eliminate scholarships and need-blind admissions. They will cater only to upper middle class white students.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:38:21 AM PST

  •  As a K - 12 arts teacher (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chitown Kev, Square Knot

    I can confirm that arts classes are the few classes remaining in public education where students are truly taught how to think.  Everything else has been narrowed down to reading and math and how well students will perform on the standardized tests in those subjects.  If it weren't for the arts, kids would end up with no skills other than knowing how to pencil in test bubbles.  Most arts teachers are acutely aware that the responsibility for teaching kids creative thinking skills lies totally with us.  

    “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

    by musiclady on Sun Dec 04, 2011 at 08:42:59 AM PST

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