WSJ: “Higher Learning, Meet Lower Job Prospects”

Today’s WSJ Opinion section (dated February 5, 2013) has an article titled “Higher Learning, Meet Lower Job Prospects” by Jane S. Shaw. Early on in the article, ┬áthe idea is posed that “The problem, he suggested, might be that many academic disciplines have no real practical applications” and “…state funding incentives should encourage areas of study that align with the job market.” I can see how someone could think this…but they are way off the bullseye. One does not have to think hard to understand that yes, tertiary education involving practical training is needed BUT it should be in a separate stream from the high intellectual achievement institutions. Polytechnics are examples of institutions that serve the practical application market and it fits well with students whose strengths are in practical work. This concept has been around for decades but because of competitive fervor to get into a top ranked university or college, many students are finding themselves stuck in the wrong place partly because of a lack of options to suit their talent. But leave your top universities alone (and let them figure out how they want to address the market demand from both students and the workplace) and promote intellectual curiosity.

This article could be used to help reinforce the following YCISL premises:
1. find joy in learning – adults want to force youth to get as uptight and extrinsically motivated about money as they are – even before they start earning any.
2. embrace opportunity – universities are being held as scapegoats as secondary education continues to deteriorate.
3. focus on the now – universities’ performances are improperly measured in part by their graduate’s employment as well as starting salaries.

Undergraduate education (at least in the US) encourages exploration of new fields of knowledge and finding depth in the wells of knowledge (“Integration” in the YCISL framework). One just has to compare what students get out of high school (“Proof” in the YCISL framework) then are asked to do in college to realize that this is the main benefit of the latter. Graduate school is where critical thinking kicks in where ideas are extended, defended and tested; this is where expertise kicks in (“Propulsion” in the YCISL framework). Don’t complicate the “Integration” phase by introducing the distraction of the job market and careers – which is highly unpredictable. Integration is difficult enough to handle in a new learning environment (where suddenly most students find they are average).

Comments are closed.