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Questions on Formal Education's Impact

 
 
Khethil
 
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2009 05:03 pm
I just ran across a quote that I thought might make for some good discussion fodder; from one of my personal favorites: [INDENT]"Natural ability without education has more often raised a man to glory and virtue than education without natural ability." - Marcus Aurelius
[/INDENT]1. To what extent is formalized education essential for whatever guidepost of success you subscribe to?

2. Does having a degree make as much of a substantive difference (in development or through vocational opportunities) as the time and resource expenditures suggest it should?

3. If we acknowledge the significance of the contributions made to humanity by the "drop-outs" of the world, does this in any way diminish the value or quantifiable worth of any education system?

Thanks
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Fido
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2009 05:36 pm
@Khethil,
The Penguins gave me a good start at formal education... Public school did less so... College, one year was too expensive since it also meant absence from a good money job... If you are me I recommend an uninstituional education...
WithoutReason
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 12:27 am
@Fido,
In my case, I am in college primarily because I was promised it would result in my finding a better job that would pay more, and the implication was that more money would allow me to find happiness. Given the time I will graduate and start looking for that job, in just a few months, there is certainly no guarantee of finding any job, let alone a quality job that pays well.

I hope I do find that happiness I was promised when my degree finally lands me a job that offers a high salary.

Given that I have not yet entered the work force, I cannot say whether having a degree will acutally allow me more opportunities in the world of employment. I am, however, getting mixed messages from the people I've spoken to on whether my lack of ever having any sort of official job will affect my chances of securing a decent job immediately upon graduation. Some say that employers understand that a full-time student may choose to devote his time to his education rather than working, but others say that even with my college degree, I will not be able to get a good job until I have flipped burgers or stocked shelves for a time.

If the latter group is correct, then clearly the presence of a degree does not result in any meaningful vocational opportunity until one has the experience (i.e., a work history) to supplement it.

The way I see it, it is up to each indivudial to decide what he finds necessary to accomplish with his life. If formal education is a part of that plan, then for him it is necessary to achieve success. Some, however, will not view formal education as necessary for their own personal success, and if they can find alternative means to happiness, they have discovered the success they seek. As we have seen when it comes to certain dropouts, some people can become successful as we would traditionally define it without higher education. But no, this does not diminish the worth of education because not all will find the same success these dropouts were fortunate enough to find without it. For the majority of people, making more money requires a college degree, and financial status is how the world typically measures success.

In my case, I regret entering college immediately following high school. I wish I had taken some time off to discover what success is for me. If I had, perhaps by now I would have discovered what path I need to pursue in life. But as of now, I have not made that discovery.
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 10:46 am
@Khethil,
Without Reason... Money may not make anyone happy, but the want of it makes everyone miserable...Which sort of presents a problem since so many with limitless money feel the want of it as severly as those living in cardboard boxes... We have to understand that money is a form, and only as good as it serves our relationships, and it is healthy relationships that lead to happiness...
What ever the form, when we are educated in it we get the form, and the knowledge is incidental... If you are trained in formal economy, well you should be able to turn it toward your benefit; but mostly you get the form as a paradigm through which you view all of reality... If you cannot see through your form, you are blind... And there are a lot of blind people out there...
0 Replies
 
rhinogrey
 
  1  
Reply Fri 20 Mar, 2009 04:19 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
1. To what extent is formalized education essential for whatever guidepost of success you subscribe to?

Formalized education arms you with the tools necessary to convince others you know what you're talking about. This isn't a good thing, but if you want to make a splash inside a certain intellectual tradition it is best to know the tradition before you can subvert it.

Khethil wrote:
2. Does having a degree make as much of a substantive difference (in development or through vocational opportunities) as the time and resource expenditures suggest it should?

Time? Yes. Resource expenditures? Absolutely not. It's highway robbery, frankly, and most of the money paid to universities by students seems to go to shining the prestige of the school/attracting more students and not to paying professors a better salary or improving research opportunities.

Quote:
3. If we acknowledge the significance of the contributions made to humanity by the "drop-outs" of the world, does this in any way diminish the value or quantifiable worth of any education system?

Thanks


No. I think a formalized education helps give you more advantages towards going where you want to go. The "drop-out" syndrome is more of a serendipitous case of being in the right place at the right time, while an education can help a person PUT himself in the right place at the right time.

It just seems more proactive to me.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 08:16 am
@rhinogrey,
rhinogrey wrote:
Time? Yes. Resource expenditures? Absolutely not. It's highway robbery, frankly, and most of the money paid to universities by students seems to go to shining the prestige of the school/attracting more students and not to paying professors a better salary or improving research opportunities.


Thanks for the response. This (quoted above) is such an issue; I SO wish it were more accessible and less expensive. So many more could enjoy education - it makes me wonder how many folks, who never could go, would have and have made such a greater impact than they did.

Thanks again
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 02:11 pm
@Khethil,
It would be cool if knowledge were more available...If it were more so, not to say that it is not available, but more available at a better price people would respect it less... As I will say again...I am uneducated, and some times it is a point of shame and at other times a point of pride....With a formal education you are institutionalized...What if that limits your creativity or insight??? What if that makes you think within a box you may forever be trying to get your thoughts out of??? Among some of the ancients, certain knowledge was reserved for intimates, and not written out or talked about..In this fashion it was kept from corruption as a source of personal advantage in business or politics...In treating knowledge as a tenant of religion and a gift of God it was often lost to mankind... We have but hints and scraps of certain scientists and mathematicians who were once on the cutting edge of science, because their words were not widely dispersed, but shared only with the initiated... A modern education is just such an initiation... For example, the degree is more important than the field of study because it shows the person can learn and accomplish something...In all fields of business and commerce, the great cost makes it both inaccessible, and heart breaking, since those burdened with debt must abandon their freedom, and some times their morals to pay the debt...Why???Is an educated man only a asset to himself??? The educated should be a blessing to society, and we see what loading the cost of education onto the individual does to their morals... Everyone should graduate knowing this is a cost society has afforded to me, as all knowledge is in fact.... Anyone who wants to trouble to learn and can support the body to do so should have it.... Having to learn ino rder to profit is still a corruption of knowledge....My education, as weak and as faulty as it is, is the best sort... First of all, I owe only those who wrote the books and the one who taught me to read... Since I paid little but time and patience for it, and need little from it... In fact knowledge like virtue is its own reward... But it is false knowledge that makes men slaves...
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 02:28 pm
@Fido,
Khethil wrote:
1. To what extent is formalized education essential for whatever guidepost of success you subscribe to?


Formal education is not essential in any way. However, chances are that formal education will be immensely useful for achieving said success. The drop-outs can make it, and do quite well, but having a degree can only help.

Khethil wrote:
2. Does having a degree make as much of a substantive difference (in development or through vocational opportunities) as the time and resource expenditures suggest it should?


Having a degree makes a huge difference. College graduates typically earn a great deal more money than high school graduates. That degree will open doors.

As for development, while a degree is not necessary, being in a classroom with expert teachers is also beneficial. You could study a subject for years and get as far as a student does in a semester.

Khethil wrote:
3. If we acknowledge the significance of the contributions made to humanity by the "drop-outs" of the world, does this in any way diminish the value or quantifiable worth of any education system?


I do not see how the success of drop outs could diminish the worth of the educational system. That some "succeed" with a lesser degree of institutional education than others is no reason to think less of the institutional education received by others.
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 02:47 pm
@Khethil,
There is nothing like formal education for speed...If you want to say: I be edjified and get on with your life, go to college....I hammered through books in a few weeks, that I kept and re-read only to do them justice... There were times during my college year when I read books from the back... Most professers I had expected certain knowedge on certain subjects...If covered in class, I reviewed from the index... Knowledge is the most wonderful thing but until people have it they never know the value... Forcing people to pay up front is one way of giving them the sense of the value, but what if they do not know enough of the value to seek it out or simply cannot afford it???

DT..I think in looking at some one like Mr. Obama we can clearly see the drawback of a formal education... People cannot escape the form only by escaping the institution...The formal approach gives people the ability to work through the form, and not to see through the form to a better form...
Some executives had a contract to get bonuses... So they give the institution money knowing it will give over a hundred million to people who ran an institution into the ground... It is immoral, and the people know it, and in this conflict of law with morals, law won out because he is institutional...The willingness to support immorality only because it is legal is not a recommendation but an indictment... People have shown they can often live without law, but the want of morality is deadly...
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 02:50 pm
@Fido,
Fido wrote:

DT..I think in looking at some one like Mr. Obama we can clearly see the draw back of a formal education...


Dude, he is POTUS. How does President Obama highlight the drawback of formal education?
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 07:50 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Dude, he is POTUS. How does President Obama highlight the drawback of formal education?

Simply enough, he cannot solve the problems we face except in a formal fashion...He looks at the boneses of the aig execs, and says: it would cost more to legally challenge or abrogate the contracts they legally made for their services than to deny them their due under contract... But the laws should always be moral since justice is moral and justice is the genus and law the species... Since the people can see beyond the form of law to the justice beyond they are nearly out of the form... Since he cannot, but calls the conflict a tizzie, he shows he is trapped by the form... To have a new paradigm, people need only see it... He cannot see it..His form blind him to the failure of the form...Like many; he believes a change of players will change the game... The game is the problem, and not the players...
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Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Mar, 2009 10:47 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Khethil wrote:
2. Does having a degree make as much of a substantive difference (in development or through vocational opportunities) as the time and resource expenditures suggest it should?
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Having a degree makes a huge difference. College graduates typically earn a great deal more money than high school graduates. That degree will open doors.

As for development, while a degree is not necessary, being in a classroom with expert teachers is also beneficial. You could study a subject for years and get as far as a student does in a semester.


I think you might have misunderstood the question. Rephrased, is what you gain justified by the time and resources you expend?

Khethil wrote:
3. If we acknowledge the significance of the contributions made to humanity by the "drop-outs" of the world, does this in any way diminish the value or quantifiable worth of any education system?
Didymos Thomas wrote:
Formal education is not essential in any way. However, chances are that formal education will be immensely useful for achieving said success. The drop-outs can make it, and do quite well, but having a degree can only help.
... I do not see how the success of drop outs could diminish the worth of the educational system. That some "succeed" with a lesser degree of institutional education than others is no reason to think less of the institutional education received by others.


The success of drop outs; their acknowledged contributions to everything we have, know, enjoy and extol is relevant when examining the cost associated nowadays with a formal education. If a prime motivator for receiving a formal education is success, then acknowledging that success gained by others who didn't follow that regiment can quite legitimately call into question the needfulness of such.

I'll admit here, I'm more calling out an inconsistency than anything else. This isn't a subject I'd take a hard stand on - just good fodder for the conversation mill. Still, I do see a bit of an irony when I behold many of the arguments for 'higher' learning and see those, without it, excelling by leaps and bounds. I think it's a good trigger point to examine traditionally-held notions, nothing more.

And yes; I'd agree with your point on the experience itself. While I'm not sure it's justified wholly, proving that one can 'survive and succeed the process' does have some worth. However, take away a proportionately-justified likelihood for success (by acknowledging the potential for contribution and success with out it), add to that the resource and time expenditure and suddenly that ability to finish something is all it exclusively gives.

Thanks for your response
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 22 Mar, 2009 10:17 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
I think you might have misunderstood the question. Rephrased, is what you gain justified by the time and resources you expend?


Typically, yes. No absolute, generalized answer would be accurate, but we know that most college grads earn more than non-college grads, and when you ask college grads, they tend to describe their college years as some of their best. It's a fun time.

Khethil wrote:
The success of drop outs; their acknowledged contributions to everything we have, know, enjoy and extol is relevant when examining the cost associated nowadays with a formal education. If a prime motivator for receiving a formal education is success, then acknowledging that success gained by others who didn't follow that regiment can quite legitimately call into question the needfulness of such.


And I would never argue that college is necessary for material success: there are far too many counter examples. But generally, college makes material success more likely for any given individual.

Khethil wrote:
I'll admit here, I'm more calling out an inconsistency than anything else. This isn't a subject I'd take a hard stand on - just good fodder for the conversation mill. Still, I do see a bit of an irony when I behold many of the arguments for 'higher' learning and see those, without it, excelling by leaps and bounds. I think it's a good trigger point to examine traditionally-held notions, nothing more.


And I'm with you on questioning those traditional notions. The trouble is that the data seems to support those notions. Where those notions fail is when they are taken to an extreme: "you must graduate college to earn a good living". That's bunk. It just so happens that college tends to be useful for that particular end.
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 05:09 am
@Khethil,
If one were to take a liberal arts education as an example, one should learn enough to be critical of ones learning, to hold a reasoned opinion on any subject, and to understand its weaknesses...I like my education because it is the one I could afford...Incaparably better would be my education on top of a formal education, which is where most people stop...The autodidactic suffer insecurity and doubt. ..The Formally educated are often just ignorant....I owe much of my security with my thought to these forums, which offer insight and challenges...They make me feel more educated than I am...
0 Replies
 
Caroline
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 05:23 am
@Khethil,
Formal Education gives you the necessary tools to enable you to get on the world,ie, reading,writing and maths.
Higher Education can release you're potential which carries on to employment.
It makes no difference on you're background regarding your contributions to society, just because a great leader for instance has no degree does not make the people with a degree no less, all people are different and you cannot judge a person by comparing them to the next. Besides some vocations require and is necessary to have a more intense edcuational background such as doctors and lawyers.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 06:00 am
@Caroline,
All good points

This isn't an earth-shaking topic. But I think it warrants some attention. I think about my boys:[INDENT]My oldest is 26, he's in his 3rd year of a four-year college. He's just joined the Military Reserve and has been living on his own for quite some time. He left home; at about age 20, by one day packing up and catching a bus across the country. He slept in his girlfriend's living room until he had enough money for an apartment. In a bare apartment, he worked part time jobs until he could pay the bills and eventually buy 1 piece of furniture. He refused help. He's since moved again and now is a master at federal and state funding grants. He feeds himself, has friends, enjoys sauntering through the world of feminine charms and is enjoying life like a starving refugee at a feast.
[/INDENT][INDENT]My youngest has gone the opposite direction. He's still living within a block of his mother and - though recently married - works 2-3 part time jobs at a time at cafe's, sandwich shops, etc. He wants to go to school (neither his mother nor I have any way to pay for this) but is caught up in working these "no future" jobs in order to pay the bills. He tried to join the military but was refused because of a physical condition (from an earlier injury).
[/INDENT]The reason my oldest will succeed at the 'career' game isn't because he's going to school, it's because of his drive and thirst for independence. The reason my youngest will have a tough time is (unless he gets lucky), because investing for the future is tough when you're struggling just to pay the rent. This calls to mind the disproportionately-high value we're still - as a society - placing on that diploma.

The point: Higher Education has numerous benefits; training the mind, disciplining the habits, establishing new ways of thought and multiplying those new neural pathways. But this isn't why he went nor is 'college' needed for this. Young college graduates emerge from graduation proudly wearing their diploma as a perceived 'pass' to independence and success. They do this because we (culture) have inculcated this fallacy. The degree, while still of great worth, hasn't the 'kick' it used to have.

... and at what cost, what loss of years, what measure of disappointment when youngsters realize they'll likely still have to run a paper route or make burrito's or sell flowers on the street corner to pay the rent. I think it's worth pondering; and being mindful of over-rating the utility of degrees. Years from now I'd wager that both my sons will be at about the same economic level; one having somehow innately gained the requisite personality 'enablers' while the other having clawed his way up through the School of Hard Knocks.

wow.. I just realized I can rant all day without any real point at all. Haha

Thanks for your indulgences.
0 Replies
 
Caroline
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 06:24 am
@Khethil,
It is hard to get into Higher Education, in the Uk it was argued that it could only be accessed by the privaleged elite, however the government did offer laons to poorer students on the agreement that the student would repay the loan when he/she had a job earning above the average national wage but you do have to read the small print! The loan is not substantial enough to support one but I had at least two other jobs and managed ok.
Yogi DMT
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 May, 2009 08:27 pm
@Khethil,
I actually agree with this. I think a person without natural ability has to of course try harder in school and will only make it so far, probably not to acheive anything amazing. A person with natural ability is more likely to really make a different and it depends on the type of education to decide whether it has been helpful or not.
0 Replies
 
Fido
 
  1  
Reply Sat 9 May, 2009 10:14 pm
@Caroline,
Caroline wrote:
It is hard to get into Higher Education, in the Uk it was argued that it could only be accessed by the privaleged elite, however the government did offer laons to poorer students on the agreement that the student would repay the loan when he/she had a job earning above the average national wage but you do have to read the small print! The loan is not substantial enough to support one but I had at least two other jobs and managed ok.

Excepting the Catholic Church, which has always been a meritocracy, the British government, and much of their society is that...The best have opportunity... Everyone else can stew in their own crap... All you need to hold power is brains and guns, and if Capitalism will last for ever that is the reason in a nutshell...They can afford both...
0 Replies
 
nameless
 
  1  
Reply Sun 10 May, 2009 12:10 am
@Khethil,
Here's something relevent that I stumbled upon while netsurfing;

Doing Well v. Doing Good

An article in the NYT today looks into the question of the purpose of higher education. Is it simply a matter of producing individuals who will go out into the business world and amass large personal fortunes, or should there be more encouragement of giving something back to society? This quote seemed to summarize the issue:

As Adam M. Guren, a new Harvard graduate who will be pursuing his doctorate in economics, put it, “A lot of students have been asking the question: ‘We came to Harvard as freshmen to change the world, and we’re leaving to become investment bankers — why is this?’ ”

Of course the first answer to his question is rather obvious: it's all about the money. People want to get rich, they pursue careers that they believe will bring them lots of material wealth and stuff. Our cultural revolves around the pursuit of wealth, which we so often mistake for the pursuit of happiness. Not much surprising there.

By chance, this story comes just as the president of my college, and a rather large entourage of administrative and development staff, are making a visit to China and Hong Kong and Taiwan. One of the members of the trip stopped by my office the other day, wondering how Confucianism related to Chinese educational systems, especially the idea of a liberal arts college (which is what my school is). I was, naturally, overjoyed by the question because so much of what I understand about Confucian education (and by that term I mean the ideas that come from the Analects and Mencius, not necessarily the institutional practices that emerged later and dominated elite-level Chinese society) is so very similar to the ideals of liberal arts education.

Let me mention two points in this regard.

First, both classical Confucian education and modern American liberal arts pedagogy value exposure to a wide breadth of learning. In Confucius's own time, he emphasized the "six arts" - ritual, music, archery, chariot-riding, calligraphy, and computation. He expected the well educated individual to be familiar with all these areas but to be specialist in none. Something like the old British notion of the well-rounded amateur. Indeed, in googling around, I found an old article by one Rupert Wilkinson in the journal Sociology of Education (Vol. 37, No. 1, Autumn, 1963, pp. 9-26), entitled: "The Gentleman Ideal and the Maintenance of a Political Elite: Two Case Studies: Confucian Education in the Tang, Sung, Ming and Ching Dynasties; and the Late Victorian Public Schools (1870-1914)." Here's the link, for those who can access JSTOR. American liberal arts education is derived from the British ideal, and thus open to the same sorts of comparisons with ancient China. Wilkinson notes that the ideal of the amateur animated education in both Imperial China and Victorian England.

The author also makes the important political point that higher education in both times and places - and I would add in contemporary American elite colleges as well - was (and is) all about producing and grooming a ruling class. What I want to emphasize, for the moment, however, is the educational means to that end: exposure to a broad curriculum of various facets. Confucius captures the notion of the well-rounded amateur well in Analects 9.2:

A villager in Ta Hsiang said: “Great indeed is Confucius! His erudition is truly vast – and still, he’s lived without fame and renown.” When the Master heard this, he said to his disciples: “What shall I be – a charioteer or an archer? I’ll be a charioteer!”

Confucius is making a joke here. He is laughing at the idea that an educated man should be so specialized in one area that he would assume a discrete title. It matters none at all to him what his title should be; indeed, it is absurd to pick only one, so he just randomly assigns himself to be a charioteer. His point, however, is precisely the opposite. A man of truly vast erudition cannot be characterized by a single discipline.

And that is what is "liberal" about a liberal arts education. It is all about exposure to a wide array of ideas and arguments and images. It resists specialization and an overly narrow focus. Its purpose is to broaden one's mind, to familiarize the student with many different facets of human experience and natural phenomenon. A liberal arts education is not a business school; it is the living expression of the full range of human knowledge.

There is a second point of comparison, however. One that speaks more directly to the question of purpose.

It was very much the intention of Confucius that education should produce morally better individuals. He famously rejected the pursuit of profit and he equally famously promoted the ideal of Humanity: the daily conscientious effort to perform proper ethical acts in a way that cultivates the familial and social relationships that define any individual. Education, in short, is all about learning how to do good. Doing well, economically, is a distraction. His hope was that the morally good would then rule, a hope that was regularly dashed by the harsh political realities of his own time.

This sense of education as means of moral perfection is also a part of the American liberal arts traditions. Granted, we do not, these days, talk about quite this way. But I think there is still a fairly powerful, if often unspoken, assumption that liberal arts education at least has the potential to makes its students better people. Poignantly, while looking around for sources for this point, I came upon a letter to the editor of the NYT, written by a former president of my college, Hank Payne, a man I knew and admired. He died just this year. Hank's letter, from 1996, had a title that Confucius would have loved: "Liberal Arts, by Definition, Teach Morality," Here are some his words, which resonate with Confucian sensibilities:

One cannot underestimate the deep moral importance of the intellectual and character virtues instilled when we do our centuries-old job right. Strengthening intellectual virtues -- such as the willingness to explore widely, the ability to test one's ideas against those of others, the capacity to listen thoughtfully, the strength to adduce reasons for assertions -- has a clear relationship to strengthening character virtues like honesty, humility, integrity and independence.

Ultimately, it is about doing good, not doing well.

---------- Post added at 11:19 PM ---------- Previous post was at 11:10 PM ----------

Fido;62235 wrote:
Excepting the Catholic Church, which has always been a meritocracy

Hahahahahahahah!!!! Rich! hahahahahahahah!!! Really, thanks for the laugh! (wipes tear)
Catholic church a meritocra... hahahahahahahahahahahha!!! Ho...
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