Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Does Gov. Haslam Want Dumb Workers or An Educated Society?

In recent days our esteemed Governor Bill Haslam has been holding meetings with folks from a wide range of business and university officials to talk about education with a particular goal in mind - that higher education must work harder to train people for jobs.


"Tennessee does not have enough qualified workers with specific skills, a high work ethic and critical thinking abilities, local business leaders told Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday.

College and university leaders, meanwhile, said they need more resources to adequately educate and graduate more students to fill those jobs.

"We're trying to have those conversations around the state to make certain we're providing positions that will train people for the jobs that are there today."

And while I certainly agree our state and community needs critical thinking skills, I read no mention of just what "specific skills" are being cited here, other than mentions of welding and engineering. And we certainly need to discuss and debate the role and the enormous impact which education has on our world at nearly every level.

The optimist in me wants to believe the driving forces for these Haslam-led meetings will lead to a better understanding of what the functions higher education should serve.

The pessimist, however, sees a day when higher education is either about technical services or football and other sports.

Reading the comments to the KNS story (often a grueling descent into nonsense) I noted the following one:

"We don't need any more fluff degrees.
No more philosophy, theatre, arts, sculpting, dead languages, mythology, psychology, library science, interpretive dance, music, music history, Greek literature, roman literature, American literature type degrees.
I could go on but why the state continues to fund universities that pump out not only worthless degrees but degrees that put their constituents into crushing debt with no real hope of finding a decent job in their field is beyond me.
If someone wants to get a degree in one of these areas its fine but why encourage it by offering scholarships to it?
China does it right. Scholarships and state funding only in areas that produce jobs in fields of study."

What kind of world will we have should we remove knowledge of history, science, the arts, language, libraries, music, literature, etc etc. Is emulating the nation of China our best option?

Is the sole purpose of attaining a college degree merely to obtain a high-paid job? Is there no value left in education if it does not lead to a giant paycheck?

Once we eliminate the areas of study the commenter suggests - critical thinking skills will likewise vanish. Absent ethics, philosophy, communication skills, understanding of history, the ability to express ourselves and our thoughts about our world, ignoring the past or ridiculing those who excel in all these areas - what kind of world would we have?

Humans are not meant to simply serve a machine of industry ... are they? 



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