By Nathan Barton
What or who should control training and education? Especially technical education, such as science, engineering, medicine, mathematics, and related fields? What we have now is NOT working, and increasingly dysfunctional.
Lew Rockwell website has an interesting story telling us four reasons that college degrees are becoming useless. In reality, the headline does not accurately state the thesis of Jonathan Newman’s article. He provides four (of many) reasons that more and more college degrees ARE useless.
Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute, wrote in his blog a few weeks ago: In US universities, a divorce is needed. “If the worthwhile parts of the U.S. universities are to continue to thrive, or even to survive as serious endeavors, it would seem that a parting of the ways must come. The STEM fields must separate themselves from the bulls**t parts of the universities. The latter can then go their own way to fester in their nonsense until the general public awakens to the need to cease supporting such activities altogether. This divorce cannot come too soon.”
It seems to me that this has already happened. And it didn’t work. Which is why most college degrees today ARE useless – or more accurately, worthless. To the one that has it, to his or her family, and to their community and society.
In the major universities (for example, University of Colorado, Colorado State University, University of New Mexico, etc.), the STEM degree-granting programs have already been so highly contaminated by the transnational progressive agenda and the related concepts (truth is relative, etc.) that the graduates are seldom qualified to do the work for which they are supposedly educated. My opinion is that as long as these science and engineering programs remain in these institutions that are controlled by government and kowtow to political whims, they will continue to deteriorate. Even if the technical schools are split off, but still under government (political) control, they will not accomplish the purposes for which they were supposedly created.
Secondly, the sheer number of hours devoted to basketweaving and diversity and all the other touchy-feeley courses means that the actual hardcore math, sciences, and engineering classes are much less than what was done 30-50 years ago. This is happening even in the purely-technical universities, as well: Colorado School of Mines, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, New Mexico Tech, etc. Which brings us back to the first point.
Combined with the ever-growing need for remedial classes to overcome the fluff courses in high school (especially in math and basic science), the product of these universities (whether officially scientists, engineers, mathematicians, or various technicians) are increasingly incapable of performing simple tasks expected of BS graduates of the 1960s and 1970s. At a time when technical skills necessary are increasing, they are taught fewer and fewer skills.
This is hardly a new phenomenon. The disconnect of colleges/universities and reality was noted in Europe and Britain back in the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. One reason that Congress (legally or not) established the US Military Academy (West Point) back in 1803 was because while the States had lots of colleges providing a classical education (concentrating on Greek, Latin, and letters) or teaching theology, none were teaching much in the way of science, mathematics, and engineering, at least not “practical” sciences. Even then, more and more of the “upper classes” were not wanting to get their hands dirty.
(I don’t know about the bio-sciences/medical side of education. Funny how the aristos don’t want to get their hands dirty but don’t seem bothered by getting their hands bloody.)
But in today’s far more regulated world, where certifications and registrations and licensing are demanded so much, the situation is far more critical. A failure to provide highly trained and disciplined engineers, in particular, directly results in increasing risks to safety, health, and economic activity. Poorly trained scientists who substitute political beliefs and positions for scientific rigor and discipline have a more indirect but potentially greater negative impact – especially when stupid or power-mad political leaders adopt their “findings” and claims.
A poorly-trained scientist (or one who values loyalty and “professional advancement” over ethical and scientific principles) can cause death, destruction, illness, injury, and even cause the collapse of local economies. A poorly trained engineer does not understand the importance of significant figures, or the purpose and logic behind standard formulas, constants, and assumptions. Like scientists, these people can cause deaths and injuries and incredible damage. First by doing a poor job of calculating risks and loads and forces and strengths of materials, resulting in poor design. Second, by not being able to properly observe, direct, and evaluate construction, maintenance and repair.
So the damage caused by the “academic” environment – especially when that environment is controlled, arranged, and managed by politicians and political appointees and advocates of transnational progressivism and its relations – is significant. It is done in several ways:
- First, time wasted in useless courses, as discussed above. It is claimed that scientists and engineers must be “well-rounded” and so must be forced to take all these humanities classes and all the arts and literature appreciation and diversity-fostering classes. That is, frankly, garbage. Capable young men and women who do well in the technical fields are the very kind of people who will go out and learn about these things – and more, like music and fine arts – on their own. Of course, what THEY choose to learn and enjoy may not be what the powers-that-be want them to do.
- False information and concepts provided in technical and prerequisite courses, or Soviet-style “political science” – science constrained and controlled and designed to satisfy the political masters. Even when it is bogus. Yes, I am talking about topics and themes such as manmade global warming (or cooling), evolution and genetics, and psychology.
- Incompetent counseling and extraneous matters which distract and sometimes create major problems. “Professional occupational and social counselors” do not treat students as adults or competent, and try to direct their efforts and energies into socially-acceptable channels or demand meeting requirements that have nothing to do with competence in their chosen fields. All the “wonderful” parts of college life – the exploration of “alternative morality” and the partying (whether it is drinking or skiing or beaches or whatever extracurricular activities are popular in an area – especially sports (intercollegiate, intermural, and international/professional) – destroy much of the value of the college education they are supposedly being given.
- Politicization of college faculty and administration goes hand in hand with these things. The ridiculous actions (or lack of action) of the Evergreen State College “leadership” in Washington State this year are the poster child for academics who have abandoned all real attempts to educate students and serve as glorified nannies. Faculty which are driven away (or leave) because of political issues, not whether or not they are (a) competent in their fields and (b) competent instructors.
None of these things are really new, but they are at extremes, and more than ever scream for not just divorce of technical training from the rest of what passes for “higher education,” but the divorce of the institutions providing that technical training from the control of the state and government – at any level.
Mama’s Note: Unfortunately, what passes these days for “education” of those who claim to be medical “professionals” is no different than that for engineers or research scientists. The realities of non-voluntary government control was a terrible problem already, more than 30 years ago when I last taught nursing at a community college. All of the evils you point out here were present then, in some form or other. It has only gotten worse. Obummercare was merely the frosting on the turd cake…
Don’t get me wrong here… There are many fine individuals trying hard, working hard to fulfill the needs of their patients in all settings, but they are hampered by the poor education they received, as much as by the insane system of government control of what they are “allowed” to do… and what is mandated that serves no good purpose.