Monday, May 10, 2010

The Value of Higher Education?

(I'm noticing that my daughter is the only one regularly commenting on my blogs these days . . . perhaps you all are busy? . . . or I'm less interesting? . . . whatever . . . just hinting)

Just skimmed an article about Obama speaking at a Hampton University commencement. About how in this day and age, in our economy, a high school diploma just isn't enough. About how education is the door to success, especially for minorities. About how we "must offer every child in this country an education that will make them competitive in our knowledge economy." All nice words -- I don't suppose I can disagree with any of them.

But I keep thinking . . . if we really educated every child to the max, gave them the best we had to offer, so that every single kid has a bachelor's degree and a "competitive edge" in our international knowledge economy -- well, to be blunt, who's going to be the custodian at the neighborhood school? Who's going to ring up my rice and beans at Fareway?

I know that comment can be taken very wrongly, but I do think it is something we need to consider. Such jobs do not require a college degree, but they have to be done by somebody. There are a lot of jobs like that. The ones we think teenagers and college students should be doing until they are out of school and get a "real" job. (Only teenagers and college students these days don't want those kinds of jobs . . . )

But really, what's wrong with someone just loving being a cashier at the grocery store? You can usually tell which checkers really enjoy their jobs and which don't -- and wouldn't we all rather be in the line of the chick who lives for getting your food through her line efficiently, bagging it up safely and compactly, and just generally making the whole experience a pleasant one for you? They add value to our world in a very real way.

I think my point is, although we do well to encourage people to get an education and strive to reach their fullest potential, we need to recognize when someone's calling and potential have no connection with educational attainment and get off their back. I bet there are thousands of kids in college right now who, if we really knew the path that God has laid out for their lives, we would see have no business wasting their time and money on a college degree.

And for Pete's sake, let's stop making them feel like lower class citizens for that. My checker at Fareway seems much classier -- and happier -- than many folks I know with graduate degrees and fast-paced careers. We should all be so lucky.

5 comments:

Vianelli and Eastin said...

Higher Education? No way thats happening on my account!

chief320 said...

Yes - we are still out there reading your blog. I keep up... I just don't have much to say.

Some lady from Pittsburgh said...

Did you see this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/weekinreview/16steinberg.html?pagewanted=1

Very thought provoking.

GJK said...

Hey, 'Burgh lady -- that is a great article! Says a lot of the stuff I'm thinking. Thanks for calling it to my attention!

Keith said...

I'm just trying to figure out when you've ever bought rice and beans!! If you had said "Pizza Rolls" then I'd be with ya!