Recently, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg made a comment about whether or not there is value for all people to seek higher education. He used the example that for some, a better choice might be in the trades, like plumbing. Needless to say, the Twitterverse lit up with comments both negative and some with support for the idea. And, as an observation, I agree with the basic premise that not everyone needs or should saddle themselves with incredible debt from educational pursuits in a rapidly changing world because it is expected.
Somehow over time, the four year degree has become the “brass ring” that had some assurance of success in the career of choice. But, it really does not take long to realize that this is simply not true. There are many individuals who have a degree and are not working in their field of choice, not working at all, or have never used what they learned in college, and yet have still spent a lot of time and money to “become educated”. So, maybe we should look at what learning is and how to best prepare each of us in an appropriate approach to education.
In my opinion the only real value in education is learning how to learn! Once the concept of acquiring new information has been assimilated, the doors to the world are open. Recall that prior to the internet the information that we needed was to be found in books, journals, and libraries of our local community. The Encyclopedia Britannica was the Wikipedia of today. But all of that information was already out of date with long publishing times, and changing information. Now we can access current information as it is published. But, we have to learn how to use this new technology before we can really profit from the abundance of quality knowledge. In the next post, Part 2, we will look at alternatives to the four year degree including community colleges, online education, and the trades that are so desperately needed.