Musings from George

March 26, 2006, 3:10 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Only half of the country goes to college at all, and only half of those will finish four years and get a degree. So how is it that almost everyone I know (including the homeless folks I talk to when I’m serving dinner) has a college degree? Is my world that rarified?

 At dinner the other night some friends were debating the value of a college education. Being a nerd, I spent some time online looking for research … and the value depends a lot on what education you get. Engineering, medicine, sciences, law … all of those ensure you will make good money all your life. Not every degree is worth putting your life on hold for four or five years, and getting a degree from some schools won’t open very many doors. So how do we as a society enable everyone to gain the skills necessary to succeed, even if they are poor or even if they have to work to support a family while they gain those skills? That’s the challenge our society faces, I think.

Mandatory national service — military, Peace Corps, or national social service — would be a great way to force the entire country to give back, and to meet people that they might never otherwise meet, here and abroad. Imagine the change in our collective opinion about the world if we all had to meet with and live with the rest of the world? Someone pointed out to me that only 25% of the people in the US have passports, and that when we travel it’s odd how friendly people are even when they hate the US government. The truth is, those of us who want to travel to Athens or Prague are NOT the ones who re-elected Bush, and many of us are sorry we’re pinned down in Iraq right now. Side note, my nephew is back after three tours and will be moving into the active Reserve in July — below EVERYONE else on the roster of who has to go to Iraq unless we reinstate the draft. I’m betting against a draft…look for increased salaries for the military to compensate for the absolute destruction this war has caused in their personal lives, across the National Guard and the Reserves. Who will sign up who has any other options?

I read somewhere else that fewer than half of the people leaving the military take advantage of the educational assistance that they are entitled to (latter-day GI bill). Ties in to my earlier question … how do we make education (or more accurately, gaining skills) something that doesn’t require that you have money and no personal obligations?



3 Comments so far
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What is your definition of skills or what are “skills needed to succeed”? If it includes critical thinking (maybe that should just be thinking) and learning how to learn then we are in agreement. I would like to think that college is more than just job training. Being able to regurgitate the steps to determine if a link list has a loop in it may help you get a software job, but I would much rather hire\work with\know the person that has never been taught the problem, but can figure a solution out themselves. I feel, thinking is a skill which our education system does not put a priority on. But then again, education isn’t something this country values either, see Teacher salaries, class sizes, college tuition assistance, etc. But man we can spend $200B to kill and maim. Ok I’m rambling now, I’ll stop.

Have a good one,

BTW: Cute kid, congrats! 🙂

Comment by K.C. Morgan

I’ve never left a comment on a “stranger’s” blog before, but your post compelled me to change my path… at least for today. I’m very interested in this discussion. I also agree that higher education should not be about job training and that it has become so much so that we are driving ourselves towards a necessary “enlightenment” to turn this boat around (I’m in Canada and I think it applies to both). I was also particularly intrigued with your notion of a national public service, likening it to mandatory military service. I’ve been talking about this for years, mostly to people’s laughter-ridden response, and think that it is essential not just for the economy but for politics and governance. My concern is that voters have the power (well, more some than others) and are directing governments with limited to no knowledge of the policies they’re voting on – be they social service, healthcare, foreign policy, economics, etc. A mandatory public service across all sectors would build an enlightened, compassionate, responsible and reasonable electorate. I for one, would be thrilled to see this.
Just so you don’t feel invaded, here’s my blog which waivers from political to nothingness… I think tomorrow’s entry will be about the national public service however!

Comment by freshfish

I’m flattered to have a visitor who doesn’t know me, no need to apologize here.
National service is a real concept in many societies that strive for, and survive by, a sense of national belonging (oh yeah, the French too :^) I do believe that the world would be a more peaceful place if we had all fired a gun in anger, and that the nations of the world would cooperate more if every citizen of the world had lived in another country for a period of time. You cannot hate the Iraqis if you share tea with them, and you cannot fear the Chinese if you have visited their homes and heard their hopes.
I volunteer with Habitat for Humanity on a regular basis, and the Americorps volunteers that I have me through that organization are some of the nicest people you could ever hope to share lunch with. I was in the Youth Conservation Corps too, wide variance in where we were all from, and it really helps expose youth to nature and to each other.
We could all do some good, and together we could change the world. Many people need a good kick in the pants to do so, though.

Comment by George

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