What to Teach: and Why

English: John Purdue (1802-1876)

English: John Purdue (1802-1876) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday,  Jess gave us an overview of a few of the problems in education. This was part of a series on education we are working on because if we are to go forward as a free people, there is nothing more important. Jess has written about it here, and here, and I have written about it several times as well. Nobody in their right mind is ever going to accuse either of us of being anti-education, Jess has at least one degree, I don’t, but we are both quite widely read, which you’ve figured out if you read our work. I’m going to expand a bit on her themes.

First she talked about the expansion of higher education (University level) in the UK. Well, we’ve done that too. In fact, we have a president that thinks everybody should go to college. I enjoyed college, I learned a lot, especially I learned some limits, which I will be talking about later in this series.

BUT, I read a report the other day, sorry I can’t find it now, that said that the University of California, which used to be one of the best in the country, is spending half of its budget now on remedial work. That means that half of what the University spends is teaching kids things they should have learned in high school. I really do agree with Jess, I know quite a few classroom teachers, and they are very dedicated but, their union and administration are not getting their parts of the job done. It’s not a new problem either, when I was a kid back in the stone age, I wanted to be two things, and engineer, and an Air Force pilot.

Well, the Air Force wouldn’t waive my history of hay fever, the Major instructing my class was kind enough to explain it, which was kind of him, one dream gone a-glimmering. The engineer part though, well from seventh grade on, my school was teaching the nonsense called “The New Math“. In my considered opinion, it was two lies for the price of one. Using that curriculum, they couldn’t teach me the basic stuff I needed to know. My brother-in-law was exactly right, I could, and can, do the work, but I couldn’t make it through school. There you have it 2 for 2. Thanks high school. It was actually a pretty good high school though, so this is not really a knock on it.

The other thing is, the nonsense we teaching now in the liberal arts, Jess has talked considerable about that and it’s going to come up again and again. I’m decidedly not anti-liberal arts, they are the foundation of society. The real ones, that is. History, Ethics, Philosophy, Languages, maybe economics fits here. Too often we are teaching the hobby horses of the professors now, you’ve heard many of us make fun of ‘Women’s Studies’ and the like. Useless crap, designed to make victims. We need, especially in the University, to teach people to think, not regurgitate the nonsense some professor stuffed into their head.

And so many go on when they find they can’t get a job with their BS (or especially BA) degree. Law school is popular. Why? I suspect because we have all heard how much lawyers make in our litigious society. Well, you had better.

Bethany Stotts, Monday in an article entitled Why Not to Go to Law School, spoke of the cost, and ensuing indebtedness of going to law school, here is a short excerpt:

“Now, 90% of law students finance their education through debt,” said Tamanaha at a recent Cato Institute event. “This because they’ve already spent a lot of money going to undergraduate institutions, and the rise in tuition has been reflected in a remarkable rise in debt.”

“So if you want to get an accurate picture of the real debt situation carried by recent graduates, we’re talking $150,000 and up,” said Tamanaha. He explained that that someone with a debt of $150,000 has a $1,800 monthly payment, and those with a debt of $125,000–the average–have a $1,400 monthly payment. These figures are astronomical and most law graduates can’t pay them.

I strongly recommend her article which is here.

Jess also spoke of her sister, who is a nurse. When I was at Purdue, the School (or Department) of Nursing, was a degree program, and a tough one, it shared a lot of courses with what was called Pre-Vet, the undergraduate program for the School of Veterinary Medicine (Purdue had one of the best Vet schools, probably still does), a good many of those graduates also ended up at IU’s School of Medicine. But you didn’t need that degree to be a nurse, even an RN which is what you came out as. RNs in those days were often administrators, nurses aides did a lot of the work. I don’t pay all that much attention to the field but I suspect that Nurse’s Aides have changed into the LPN‘s, most likely for reasons having nothing to do with patient care. Is care any better? I have lots of doubts that it is, I think it depends mostly on having people there because that’s what they want to do, not just for the paycheck.

And Jess also spoke about how it is becoming difficult to find skilled tradesmen in the UK. You, and I, know it is no different here. Why? Do high schools still teach Industrial Arts? I don’t know but I know it doesn’t take an associate degree to be a residential electrician, or a plumber, or a carpenter, or even a HVACR tech. These thing can just as effectively, maybe better, in fact, be taught in high school. I doubt it would even cost much, it is getting so difficult for those of us in the trades to find new people, we would probably be quite willing to help, although we would run headlong into at least one (and probably more) union buzzsaws, but they are not getting the job done either. Like Jess also referred to. there is far too much regulation involved these days but, that’s a subject for another day.

It’s your turn to tell us what you think, and where do you think we should go. This is a fundamental problem in our countries; we need to fix it.

About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

5 Responses to What to Teach: and Why

  1. I always remember an Old Gregorian friend of mine who was studying “Liberal Arts”at Cambridge. It was PPE, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, known by the undergrads as “Pretty Poor Education.”


  2. sheafferhistorian says:

    Reblogged this on Practically Historical.


  3. mtsweat says:

    Neo, I am cautiously coming to the conclusion that our nation’s leaders (and Jess’ also it seems) have no intention, and maybe no desire, to fix any of the country’s problems. Surely, the education system could be repaired if anyone… anyone really wanted it fixed. Now I’ll get off my anger stool and speak of your direct focus.

    I was very fortunate to gain a trade while serving my country in the Army. I have made use of that trade for over thirty years now. My college experience was gained going part time and paying as I went. Here’s the kicker… my degree has nothing to do with my trade. I chose to work toward a degree in education, desiring to someday after retirement teach for the benefit of maybe influencing lives. I’m not so sure that’s a realistic desire anymore.

    The price of an education today makes me really wonder why so many would want to strangle their entire life with its debt. I see so many never be able to even work in the field of their study. College is of course a great tool for the committed, those who are focused and with the ambition to pursue and persevere their goals to the bitter end. But does that sound like the majority you know today?

    Looking forward to yours and Jess’ touch on this. Blessings.


    • NEO says:

      I pretty much agree with you, I was that rarest of the rare, a history major at Purdue, I was already a journeyman in two trades, which is how I’ve always earned my living. I don’t think college is anywhere nearly worth the money now except for the fact that high school graduates tend to be illiterate as well as innumerate.

      My experience is that my father with his early 20th century 11th grade education was better educated than most today with master’s degrees.

      The fix I think involves devolving education back to at least the county level and even lower would be better.

      We both (or at least me) have much more to say about it, so stay tuned.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.