14.12.09

LET'S GET THE OBJECTIVES RIGHT. I start today's sermon with Berta Palitz Weiss's farewell talk to her students, when the Nazis resettled her.
If I am gone for some time, you are not to neglect your lessons. You will be better people for being educated, for knowing Shakespeare, and the Pythagorean theorem.
(Gerald Green, Holocaust, paperback edition, p. 322.)


I use that to recommend an observation by George Leef.

Slowly the realization is spreading: America has oversold higher education. This Time story quotes Marty Nemko, who says, "That piece of paper no longer means very much, and employers know that. Everybody's got it, so it's watered down."

My quibble is that the piece treats college education as a monolith. It isn't "the college degree" that has lost value. They're as valuable as ever for hard-working students who are focused on learning something. The trouble is that many college students these days simply coast along, accumulating the necessary credits in a jumble of courses that don't require much effort. We have a big oversupply of that sort of graduate.

I'll be more precise about it. The point of higher education is to develop a cohort of individuals who, if circumstances warranted it, could reconstruct their civilization from scratch. That point has been missed in the focus on inclusion (read: let the special ed students drag everybody else down) and on vocationalism, the latest fad. Here's an instructive error by Andrew Gillen at the misnamed Center for College Affordability and Productivity.
Students and legislatures need to know employment outcomes so they can properly evaluate the effectiveness of the billions of dollars we funnel to colleges.
Thus a degree program that is successful at obtaining entry-level placements is more effective than one that is successful at preparing graduates for leadership roles in industry, government, the law, and the academy, but only with a lag? We can do better.

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