November 5, 2017

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Why Haven’t You Left School?

Restless and anxious as a student of the No Child Left Behind-era in public schools, I wondered why we were spending so much time sitting in assemblies about the PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) tests and how to properly answer multiple-choice questions when that had no bearing on what I wanted to learn about. Why were we focusing on some ridiculous state-enforced standards that the teachers themselves admitted were totally arbitrary? Why did we take several weeks per year to do these exams? Why were the classes I enjoyed getting cut back for the ones that were enforced through testing regimens? High school became little more than jumping through hoops for state administrators.

School took me away from the learning I wanted to engage in and made me focus on things I didn’t want. I loved learning; I just hated school.

That was pretty much the Insta-Daughter’s story. The first semester of high school she tracked how they used her time and found that shockingly little of it — like 2-3 hours a day — was on actual learning. The rest was busywork, assemblies, etc. That’s why she quit and went to online (Kaplan) high school, graduating early at 16 after taking far more AP courses than her allegedly fancy public high school offered.

And this on college seems dead-on, too:

Universities and colleges weren’t causes of aristocracy and wealth; they were products of aristocracy and wealth. Aristocrats didn’t send their children to universities to make sure they got the tools necessary to stay aristocrats — they sent them because it was essentially several years of leisure and only the most well-off could afford such a lifestyle.

The university was never intended to train people for high-wage jobs or to lift them up the economic ladder. At best it was an institution to train the clergy in the Middle Ages and then academics in the industrial age. This is why liberal-arts schools place such heavy emphasis on academic subjects — they were designed to create professors.

As global wealth increased through the Industrial Revolution, aristocrats who were already comfortable in their wealth had two options for their children who were coming of age: A) send them to work, or B) give them some leisure among their same class. The university evolved into an institution to help young aristocratic men to transition into adulthood by moving away from home and studying subjects only the most well-off had the leisure to study. The backgrounds of elite American universities make this obvious. Princeton has “eating clubs”; Penn has “the Philomathean society”; and Yale’s secret society culture is a relic of this era.

This isn’t a conspiracy. It’s simply saying that the universities were never intended or designed for the use to which Americans of the mid-20th century put them.

Yep. Read the entire essay, which is excellent.

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