Once a month or so, I seem to stumble upon an article or something that is poo-pooing higher education. Well, at least poo-pooing our obsession with it.
Yesterday's deposit in that account was talking about how, in this time of great unemployment, there is a surplus of skilled trade jobs out there that they simply can't find qualified workers to fill. The implication is that we've pushed the necessity of a B.A. on everyone so much, that a lot of the people who probably should be doing these skilled trade jobs (and making boatloads of money doing it, I might add) instead are loading themselves down with college loans and academic loads neither of which are what God has called them to bear -- and society is suffering from this because we don't have the workers we need in the areas we need them.
The Bible addresses this principle in the metaphor of the Body of Christ. "If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact, God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be." We've spent decades comvincing everyone that the road to success in America is to be an eye, and now we have no hands.
I'm convinced this is true -- that we're pushing kids into college that would be much better served in some high quality technical training, and we're making kids who choose the non-academic route feel like second-class humanity. Shame on us. Yet, there is still some reluctance about this in the back of my mind.
I'm still an optimist about the ideal of liberal education. True liberal education, in its original sense -- education to cultivate the qualities necessary to live as a free man. This must not be neglected in our society. Our country is set up to be run by the people; it is necessary, then, to have a people fit to govern themselves and others. I am therefore reluctant to let go of the idea of encouraging every person possible to get that liberal education.
But I suppose I should be honest with myself: people aren't getting that in college anymore. And really, they should be getting that long before college -- that should be high school material.
My brain started tossing around the idea yesterday of ways to get people a liberal education without requiring classroom time. For the non-academic high school graduate . . . for the thoughtful and eager teen or pre-teen . . . for the late-blooming adult who suddenly realizes they missed something important when they zoned out in their Senior English and World History classes. Maybe something online. Hmmmm......