Building a Practical College Degree for the New Economy: “”
Related: The End of Higher Education’s Golden Age (h/t Sean for the link)
“Many of my colleagues believe that if we just explain our plight clearly enough, legislators will come to their senses and give us enough money to save us from painful restructuring. I’ve never seen anyone explain why this argument will be persuasive, and we are nearing the 40th year in which similar pleas have failed, but “Someday the government will give us lots of money” remains in circulation, largely because contemplating our future without that faith is so bleak. If we can’t keep raising costs for students (we can’t) and if no one is coming to save us (they aren’t), then the only remaining way to help these students is to make a cheaper version of higher education for the new student majority.”
What can’t go on forever, won’t. Promises that can’t be kept, won’t be. Prepare accordingly.
Go Ahead, Let Your Kids Fail:
“The other day, after one of my talks, a 10th-grade girl came up and shyly asked if I had a minute. I always have a minute to talk to shy high school sophomores, having been one myself. And this is what she asked me: ‘I understand what you’re saying about trying new things, and hard things, but I’m in an International Baccalaureate program and only about five percent of us will get 4.0, so how can I try a subject where I might not get an A?’ I was floored. All I could think as I talked to this poor girl is ‘America, you’re doing it wrong.’ I was 15 in 10th grade. If you can’t try something new in 10th grade, when can you? If you can’t afford to risk anything less than perfection at the age of 15, then for heaven’s sake, when is going to be the right time? When you’re ready to splash out on an edgy assisted-living facility? Now is when this kid should be learning to dream big dreams and dare greatly. Now is when she should be making mistakes and figuring out how to recover from them. Instead, we’re telling one of our best and brightest to focus all her talent on coloring within the lines. This is not the first time I’ve heard this from kids and teachers and parents. But I’ve never heard it phrased quite so starkly.”
Thank God I wasn’t college material | The Matt Walsh Blog:
“whatever society says, and whatever direction the schools push our kids, one fact has always remained: if you want to be successful at something, you must do it and do it well. That’s what I’ll tell my kids when they’re old enough. That’s what I’d like to tell all of my fellow young people. It’s not enough anymore, and I’m not sure it ever was enough, to simply follow the well-traveled roads, accumulate your grades and your degrees and then emerge into the world, waiting for wealth and prosperity to rain down upon you from heaven.
You have to put some skin in the game. You have to find your niche and master it. You have to be the best. Conquer it, whatever it is that you want to do. Be better than everyone. Be a visionary while everybody else is checking the handbook. Take risks while everybody else stays cozy and comfortable. Be good at something. Then, once you’re good, become great.”
A really good short essay on the continuing self-implosion of our higher education system. I’m completely in agreement* (especially with his postscript where he says he’s not anti-learning, just anti-current-busted-system-that-indentures-people).
I have friends who have proudly never cracked a book since college that I do not understand. I spent five years in college (5 1/2 actually), and if I haven’t learned at least as much in the ensuing 20 years since then I am not living up to my potential. Read. Read everything. Then think. About everything. Find connections. Explore new areas. See where disparate fields connect. Life is way way way too short to spend it all in mental stagnation.
*obviously this doesn’t include fields that really do require a degree, like doctor, pharmacist, engineer, etc. There’s an argument for the importance of a liberal arts college degree for general well-roundedness, but the people that espouse this unconditionally have a hard time defending it when it comes at an ever increasing cost. Should you pay a million dollars for “well-rounded?” Well, of course not! Ten thousand? Yes! Somewhere in the middle that “yes” starts to become hard to defend.
The future of education is rushing at us at the speed of, well, the future. Interesting times…
Is the American School System Damaging Our Kids?:
“As a society, we tend to shrug off such findings. We’re not surprised that kids are unhappy in school. Some people even believe that the very unpleasantness of school is good for children, so they will learn to tolerate unpleasantness as preparation for real life. But there are plenty of opportunities to learn to tolerate unpleasantness without adding unpleasant schooling to the mix. Research has shown that people of all ages learn best when they are self-motivated, pursuing answers to questions that reflect their personal interests and achieving goals that they’ve set for themselves. Under such conditions, learning is usually joyful.”
More College Does Not Beget More Economic Prosperity: “Hordes of academically weak and disengaged kids have been lured into college with the idea that getting a degree–any degree, from anywhere–means they’ll enjoy a hefty gain in earnings. Unfortunately, many of them coast through without adding anything to their human capital. They may have a degree, but that and $3 will get them a coffee at Starbucks , where they’re apt to work.”
Everything you always wanted to know about music theory. Well, at least everything you’re probably ever going to need. In Theory V in college we got into Shenkerian Analysis and other 20th century arcana that I’ve always thought of as an unnecessary analysis imposed from the outside. Outside of extended theory classes and dead 20th Century composers, not too many people still use that silliness. Gratefully forgotten.
Still, the YouTube classes listed above are a great place to start if you want a clear and step-by-step introduction to real music theory. It goes fairly deep, too– probably covers 99.9% of popular, non-symphonic/movie music nowadays.
Plus, it’s narrated in a dulcet British accent, so there’s that.
Consider alternative schooling: Column:
“Back in the 19th century, when Massachusetts Board of Education Secretary Horace Mann toured Europe looking for models of public education to import to America, the one he chose came from Prussia. Inflexibility and uniformity were Prussian specialties, and when Mann brought Prussian-style education to America, those characteristics were seen not as a bug but as a feature.
School was practice for working in the factory. Thus, the traditional public school: like a factory, it runs by the bell. Like machines in a factory, desks and students are lined up in orderly rows. When shifts (classes) change, the bell rings again, and students go on to the next class. And within each class, the subjects are the same, the assignments are the same, and the examinations are the same, regardless of the characteristics of individual students.
This had its advantages back during the Industrial Revolution, an assembly-line era where uniformity was more important than anything else, when Henry Ford was happy to sell you a car in any color you wanted, so long as it was black. But this is the 21st century, and now times have changed. You can buy a thousand different kinds of shampoo, so why should your kid have only one kind of education?
Many parents, thus, are embracing alternative education — like homeschooling or online school — not only as a way of escaping the often-poor instructional quality and questionable discipline of public schools, but also as a way of escaping the rigidities they bring.
It’s easy to miss just how much inflexibility is introduced into American life by the traditional public school approach, but those rigidities are legion.”
Read the whole thing
I’m very excited about the future of education. As the current system continues to creak and groan at the seams, turning out subpar students and abysmal thinkers, we have witnessed a flowering of alternatives. It is the normal occurrence to meet a student from these alternatives and find them much more eloquent, relational, and educated than the average public school student. Here’s hoping that alternative choices– and the improvements they bring– continue to flourish.
Your Camera Doesn’t Matter: “When it comes to the arts, be it music, photography, surfing or anything, there is a mountain to be overcome. What happens is that for the first 20 years or so that you study any art you just know that if you had a better instrument, camera or surfboard that you would be just as good as the pros. You waste a lot of time worrying about your equipment and trying to afford better. After that first 20 years you finally get as good as all the other world-renowned artists, and one day when someone comes up to you asking for advice you have an epiphany where you realize that it’s never been the equipment at all.
You finally realize that the right gear you’ve spent so much time accumulating just makes it easier to get your sound or your look or your moves, but that you could get them, albeit with a little more effort, on the same garbage with which you started. You realize the most important thing for the gear to do is just get out of your way. You then also realize that if you had spent all the time you wasted worrying about acquiring better gear woodshedding, making photos or catching more rides that you would have gotten where you wanted to be much sooner.”
12 Things Only Music Majors Understand
Ha! This nails it. I can relate to just about every one of these.
“If I depended on a skilled work force I would not depend on a public education system to provide it for me”
Don’t miss interview with Mike Rowe about the state of work in America:
The Most Important Question You Can Ask Yourself Today:
“So I ask you, ‘How are you willing to suffer?’
Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns.
Choose how you are willing to suffer.
Because that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have the same answer.
The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?
Because that answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life.”
Wow, this kid is going places. A High School student nails it:
What Would an Ideal College Look Like? A Lot Like This:
“A second component of Champlain’s undergraduate education comes through its required ‘Life Experience and Action Dimension’ program, which has two parts: (1) some real-world education, emphasizing financial literacy and sophistication (developing a budget, making sense of credit cards, understanding how employee benefits work and why they’re important, etc.) and job skills (marketing oneself, negotiating business contracts, and developing skills in interviewing, networking, etc.); and (2) a community-service element that puts students to work helping Burlington’s needy and simultaneously broadening cultural awareness and a sense of engaged citizenship.”
The only thing is that these numbers are about 20% higher than when this video was made… four years ago.
TaxProf Blog: Why Tough Teachers Get Good Results:
“It’s time to revive old-fashioned education. Not just traditional but old-fashioned in the sense that so many of us knew as kids, with strict discipline and unyielding demands. Because here’s the thing: It works. … Studies have now shown, among other things, the benefits of moderate childhood stress; how praise kills kids’ self-esteem; and why grit is a better predictor of success than SAT scores.”
Lessons in Manliness: The Hobbit:
“You can aspire to and achieve greatness no matter who you are and no matter your stage in life. This sounds extraordinarily like a cliché, but do you really believe it? Contrary to what the movies would have you believe, in the book, Bilbo was 50 years old when he set out on his adventure. (So was Frodo, in fact, in Lord of the Rings.) He had ‘little to no magic,’ and ‘didn’t like to be called audacious.’ He was a thoroughly middle-aged fellow who had no interest in spicing up his life. He lived comfortably, ate and drank much, and enjoyed his cozy home. He even said, ‘We are plain, quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!’
And yet, Bilbo ultimately becomes the hero of our story. He often complains and longs for home, but he keeps pressing on. He even gets to a point where he can feel the desire for adventure calling out from within him. We’ve written about the importance of taking full advantage of your 20s, but the potential of your middle and elder years shouldn’t be squandered either. Will you be an empty nester or retiree with a quiet, comfortable life? Or will you say ‘yes’ to whatever adventure or dream is trying to make itself heard from within your spirit? When you feel yourself trying to say that you’re not the kind of person to start your own business or that you’re too old to travel the world, harness your inner Bilbo Baggins. Say yes, take the first step outside your front door, and keep on going.”
5.Imagine your life as a story. Not too long ago, we even had a guest post about this — our life is a journey, and a heroic one at that. Imagine yourself sitting down with your grandkids and telling them the story of you. “Well, I made some money, bought a few cars, sat around and watched TV for a few hours every night, and that’s about it.” Pretty boring, isn’t it? Now imagine that you can start hours worth of stories with, “I explored…I traveled…I fell in love…I fought and won…I overcame…I sweated…” Not only would the story be better, but you likely would be far more satisfied with the course of your life.
J.R.R. Tolkien agrees. “Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyways.” He is saying that a life of good ease is a boring one. It’s often what the American dream aspires to, but the reality is that personal growth, and even enjoyment, are things that come out of some kind of challenge. Whether it’s huffing and puffing and groaning your way up a mountain for the view at the top, or getting laid off and finally realizing you don’t want to be in a cubicle anymore, joy is often found after a bit of trudging. Don’t shy away from challenge. Embrace it, and know that someday it’ll make for a great story.
What does the college of the future look like?:
“For some colleges, the future includes massive open online courses (MOOCs) that can free up students struggling to balance academics with work and also reach an exponentially greater number of learners. Other institutions reject the digital approach altogether, stressing hands-on experience over more theoretical coursework.
There’s no real suggestion that either online or experiential learning should completely replace the brick-and-mortar campus experience, which still provides students important opportunities for socialization and collaboration. The goal, experts say, is for colleges to blend crucial elements of the campus experience with new approaches, striving to capture the best of both worlds for students increasingly priced out by the cost of a traditional four-year degree.”
This is great news for those recent high school grads who want to fight back against the rising cost of higher education. It’s even better for those of us who just really, really enjoy learning and want to take advantage of the knowledge but don’t necessarily need the piece of paper. Yay technology!
School is a prison — and damaging our kids:
“As a society, we tend to shrug off such findings. We’re not surprised that learning is unpleasant. We think of it as bad-tasting medicine, tough to swallow but good for children in the long run. Some people even think that the very unpleasantness of school is good for children, so they will learn to tolerate unpleasantness, because life after school is unpleasant. Perhaps this sad view of life derives from schooling. Of course, life has its ups and downs, in adulthood and in childhood. But there are plenty of opportunities to learn to tolerate unpleasantness without adding unpleasant schooling to the mix. Research has shown that people of all ages learn best when they are self-motivated, pursuing questions that are their own real questions, and goals that are their own real-life goals. In such conditions, learning is usually joyful.”