Monday, March 25, 2013

Get a Job

There is an article on today's NY Times regarding the value of an engineering education. As usual there are the liberal arts types telling us we should be broadly educated as a citizen first and then be productive second.

Their definition of being educated is being told by them what they believe is correct. One can read Locke by one's self, and one does not need some Marxist Professor telling us of the oppression of the working class by the capitalists. After all it was Locke who identified ownership in property with labor.

One Professor of poetry writes:

You are asking the wrong question. Today’s students should not be chasing “return on investment.” They should be considering a different “R.O.I.,” over the longer term: return on the individual. That means a lifetime of skills, like learning how to learn, adapting to a changing economy and society, expressing oneself clearly, solving problems creatively, and acquiring the civic skills to contribute to our democracy. 

Colleges and universities want graduates to thrive in their lives, to see the value of the degree. But we must enlarge and enrich our definition of “value” beyond the purely monetary. Students must be prepared for a lifetime of engagement, not for specific jobs that may change or even disappear. The need to innovate goes deeper than the job market; it reaches into how we organize our social and political interactions.

How in God's name can you "thrive" in your life if you cannot support yourself. And your offspring.

 Once you have a good job, a sustainable profession, and hopefully independent, then you can be free to do whatever you want. I read philosophy, literature, history, but these became so much more critical when I lived them in my business life. The Thirty Years War became real when the Swedes tried to crush my business and I was saved by the French, despite the fact that I was in Prague but the business was in Poland! Catholics versus Protestants, the Thirty Years War in real life. My ancient Greek became current Greek, since I had to do deals in Athens.

The critical skills to contribute to our democracy is not spending one's life reading poetry but in contributing first hand to is economic survival, and that is done by producing.

Again I recount my road to MIT was from a trash can working as a part time maintenance worker at a New York City school, finding the MIT catalog, and from there the tale is well known. If I did not have my hands in that trash can emptying out the old catalogs perhaps a different life. Perhaps. It was not the poetry, it was not Yeats, it may have been Homer.