Education


18 Nov 2010

I hate public education, but I love college football on fall Saturdays.

When I was at OSU, I think it’s fair to say that most of the bureaucrats aka. “educators” there hated the football program. “Here we are providing enlightenment to young minds and, alas, our public face is a most distasteful, crass game with young men smacking each other around.” Of course, a cash cow isn’t going anywhere with the brass.

I suspect that professors seethe about the football program to this day. If so, it’s a feather in the football program’s cap.

Still, while we all have to swim in the cesspool of an intrusive state that is hard to bypass, I wonder sometimes how many people would be outright hostile to universities if it weren’t for college football (and basketball). College sports advertise to conservatives almost as effectively as the military. Sean Hannity, who is on the radio when I drive home, rails about federal spending and then in the next breath is upset at how Obama is gutting the military (which isn’t true, but what kind of sense does that make anyway?).

If it weren’t for the military, the endless wars, the Pledge, etc., more people would be wholly alienated from the predatory Federal government.

If it weren’t for college football, wouldn’t the image of universities be much worse? The military, college football… these are the things that lend credibility and warm feelings to the state.

Even though I fully support the elimination of all public education, I still watch the games and love them. I’m trying to stop buying the merchandise, though. Little steps.

22 Mar 2010

As a side note to the “Pharisee” post from a few days ago, I’m thankful for pastors like Matt Timmons who engage the culture where it is. The majority of people aren’t reading N.T. Wright. However, lots of people are reading The Shack. They’re slyly being indoctrinated in feminism and homosexuality. They have a poor understanding of why doctrine matters. They’ve bought the Church Growth Movement’s ideals hook, line, and sinker. And so on.

Peter Brown said this in his biography of Augustine:

His letters are marked by an inspired fussiness, and by a heroic lack of measure when it came to the care of endangered souls… [They] catch the barely suppressed sigh of a tired old age, characterized by constant quiet acts of self-sacrifice as Augustine lent his pen, again and again, to the defence of his Church, at the expense of intellectual projects that engaged him more deeply.

28 Nov 2008

Returning from a wonderfully pleasant Thanksgiving gathering, my lovely wife and I discussed something Peter Schiff wrote in his The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets. Namely, the basic uselessness of most college degrees. Liberal arts degrees are little more than an expensive job screening mechanism. A huge education bureaucracy benefits while countless middle class families take on a boatload of debt.

We lamented how much useless stuff was involved in our own education. The typing and computer classes were certainly useful, but we sure spent lots of time learning junk like social studies instead of dirty-fingernail things like home repair, construction, appliance repair, car repair, hunting, gardening, survivalism, etc. Why aren’t practical things considered part of education instead of just theoretical (and perhaps effeminate) pursuits? The practical stuff will prepare people for any economic environment, including a forthcoming depression that appears more likely with every massive Keynesian attempt to avoid it.

Schiff is blunt. As a liberal arts major, I have to say the “ouch” that one says when the truth hits close to home:

In the past 30 years or so, our government and business leaders collectively shot the U.S. economy in the foot by encouraging a major transition from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based one. Today, more than two-thirds of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is produced in the service sector.

Many U.S. residents see this as a good thing, and no wonder. A service economy has many lifestyle advantages for the people living in it. There are no smokestacks to interfere with the view from million-dollar-mortgaged homes, and no need to follow a demanding factory schedule. College graduates with useless humanities degrees can always find work pushing pencils in an accounting, legal, or financial firm. Best of all, no more calluses on hands or aching muscles from the physical labor many factory and agricultural jobs require. Plus production jobs are capital intensive, requiring major investments in plant and equipment; service sector jobs, by contrast, require relatively little in the way of capital– perfect for a nation devoid of savings. It sounds like a good deal, but there’s a basic problem. Just as an individual can’t survive by only consuming and never producing anything, so the United States in the global economy must produce as well as consume. The only way to do this is to export, and services, for the most part, can’t be exported.

… As Americans are forced to curtail their spending, demand will fall sharply for services like manicures, therapy sessions, and legal advice. p.189-191

During the years that the United States was dominated by a service economy, it didn’t really matter if students graduated with degrees in political science, communications, or other liberal arts. There was always some sort of clerical or administrative work to be found. With the service economy withering and the US. job market shrunken, those options will not longer exist by the time today’s students become graduates. For some, trade school might offer a more useful– and much less expensive– alternative. For others, a degree in a practical field such as engineering, geology, animal husbandry, or computer science will provide a fighting chance at a good job in the tough years to come. In addition, don’t neglect the foreign languages portion of your education. p. 202

02 Nov 2007

We’ve all heard pretentious talk (usually from public “servants”) about the wonders of “higher education.” It may indeed round some edges, but I think college — at least the public, liberal arts variety that I’m familiar with — is a colossal waste of money.

The workforce is where you will really learn a trade that people will pay you to do. I think of a college degree as a piece of paper that opens additional doors to employment. Many employers — often for no good reason, in my experience — will simply not hire those without a degree. Therefore, a degree is wise for many people. Just keep in mind that after you’ve been employed in the workforce for a few years, most employers will only care about your job experience and aptitudes (the best job training is a job).

Therefore, I have counseled several kids to simply go where they can afford a degree. It is absurd to go $100K in debt for a bachelor of arts. Does it really matter if you have a BA from Ohio State after a stint at a community college versus a similar degree from an expensive small college? It may not be exciting, it may mean classes in big barns with projectors, but in my opinion the cheapest route is generally preferable to many years in debt. You won’t miss dragging that ball-and-chain around into your thirties. (Does it make any sense for a young woman in particular to go tens of thousands of dollars in hock? When a young fellow meets that lass, is he going to be thrilled to take that debt into a marriage?)