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Old 10-31-2013, 07:34 PM   #41
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With the rapidly-changing employment landscape, versatility and adaptability are key skills, and these are the kinds of skills that one develops at a liberal arts college. I think colleges have gone too far in training students for a specific occupation, and often by the time they graduate, the job opportunities in that area have dried up, and they don't have the skills to adapt and quickly pick up something different.

I hit the sweet spot with a technical degree from a liberal arts college. The critical thinking, writing skills, etc. that the liberal arts gave me often put me a step ahead of my peers in the workforce, even though many of them were as strong as, or superior to me, in the technical aspects of the job.
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Old 10-31-2013, 07:36 PM   #42
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If one views a college degree as something to be used in the service of capitalism and/or the global economy,
But why view it that way? Isn't it a two-way street? The student gets a job, receives compensation/benefits, and the capitalist is able to use the employee's skills as a resource to provide 'stuff'/services that people want. One can't really do w/o the other.

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It seems our culture is transforming into one that places little value on intellectuals who are fashionably scorned in the mainstream media and made to feel out of place in a society that only values ideas that serve the interests of the markets and the wealthy.
Well, we were talking about business. I can't really see any reason for business to be very involved with 'intellectuals', other than for some forward thinking ideas for their products.

But 'our culture'? Who is to say we value intellectuals less today than in the past? I sure don't recall my elders quoting Keats or Shakespeare. How would you measure this?

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Have we arrived at a point where we only value those things that have dollars attached to them and provide some sort of measurable economic gain? If so, what does that say about us as a people and our culture?
You are asking this on a forum of people dedicated to Early Retirement? If all we valued was the $, we'd all still be working!

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Old 10-31-2013, 07:39 PM   #43
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In short... I do understand that times have changed.
As to advice... I have 2 grandsons both of whom are in accelerated programs... one in IMSA, and the other at NC Illinois... both science oriented. Careful mentoring by their dad is directing them into balanced courses and providing opportunities for educational travel and exposure to the arts.
If I were to be starting again, I would definitely be looking for security first... you are correct!.

I have never regretted my broad based education... Inspiration for lifetime curiosity and satisfaction.
The Humanities make life richer and more rewarding IMO, but it's only gotten harder to build a career outside medicine, science/technology, legal. Non-technical learning probably requires self-study nowadays, much more than prior generations. And I don't actually know, but I get the sense developing countries are steering their kids to science & technology too. IOW it's almost worldwide, for better or worse.
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Old 10-31-2013, 07:40 PM   #44
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If one views a college degree as something to be used in the service of capitalism and/or the global economy, then it stands to reason that an education in the liberal arts and humanities is unnecessary. It seems our culture is transforming into one that places little value on intellectuals who are fashionably scorned in the mainstream media and made to feel out of place in a society that only values ideas that serve the interests of the markets and the wealthy. Where would our nation be without intellectuals like Martin Luther King, William F. Buckley and Dubois who challenged convention and the status quo along with precipitating social and economic justice? Theirs is a dying breed of intellectuals who were willing to take risks and fight for matters of freedom, justice, transparency and equality. It is in fact the arts, literature and music along with critical, intellectual thought that separate us from the barbarians. Attempting to quantify the value of the arts & humanities in any culture is difficult, however, investing in them is not always intuitively obvious like investments in finding cures for diseases or advances in things like engineering. Just because something can't me measured doesn't mean it is without value. Have we arrived at a point where we only value those things that have dollars attached to them and provide some sort of measurable economic gain? If so, what does that say about us as a people and our culture?
While this is a perception shared by many, and with which I'd largely agree, still I have hope and a belief that science and humanity can and will coexist.
...That wisdom and technological skills are not mutually exclusive, and that we are not bound by historical experience as we explore new vistas.
As we look to the past for truths gained by experience there are positives yet to be discovered.

The days of Benjamin Franklin, Aristotle and Thomas Young are long past, and it will take the combined intelligence of all to go forward in a world that moves faster in a year, than what once took centuries.
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Old 11-01-2013, 07:15 AM   #45
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No statistics here but I see quite a few young people (friends of my daughter, nieces and nephews) and while they tend to focus on slightly more practical majors than my generation did they read widely. Bottom line they seem as well rounded as my cohort. Lets face it, if you are interested in the humanities the great works are freely accessible - you don't need to spend a fortune on a literature degree to study them. Get your degree in something practical and mix in the great books to taste.
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Old 11-01-2013, 07:27 AM   #46
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When I was getting my engineering degree in the 1970s, I took two freshman english classes, psychology, art history, scandinavian literature, english literature, economics and some business classes. I wrote for the college newspaper (easy money) for two years.

I've always tried to read a non-fiction book every month which tend to be historically oriented and I sprinkle in a classic now and then.

I don't think a technical degree is mutually exclusive of exposure to other subjects.
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Old 11-01-2013, 08:14 AM   #47
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The typical humanities classroom is filled with kids who are being forced to take the course. So, the professors need to make the classes an easy "A" so students will choose their course. If a kid is trying to get into med school, he's not likely to take a humanities course from a professor who challenges his students.
Quote from my father: "No one wants less for their money than a student".

Which was me in college. I was directly boresighted on the job I wanted and if a class didn't have anything to do with that objective I simply wasn't interested. Of course, to get the degree I needed some humanities classes and asked around which were the easiest and took those, learning only as much as was necessary to pass the exams, then promptly forgot about it.

And frankly I still wonder if taking those classes was worth my time. It's sort of like knowing the speed of light - interesting, but not really applicable to daily life.
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Old 11-01-2013, 08:44 AM   #48
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"Humanities" as a degree seems relatively worthless in monetary terms. Humanities as part of the curriculum, from elementary through bachelor level, is part of what I'd call "education". We're creating too many sheeple otherwise...
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Old 11-01-2013, 08:51 AM   #49
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While I totally agree that technology and humanities are in no way mutually exclusive, the educational process provides a discipline to understanding the basis and history of the arts/culture/philosophy et al.

A few instances...
The Middle East, and the part that religion plays in the difficulties, is more easily understood, from formal study of comparitive religion... Not that it can't be learned, but foundational depth broadens the outlook.

Art- As we are surrounded by examples, everywhere, the learned ability to identify artists, schools of art, historical periods and the background of more cryptic styles, makes for great appreciation.

Music... Many, many hours of sitting in a lab with earphones on, "parsing" Beethoven's Fifth Symphony etc. , left me with mixed feelings... Now, I instinctively look for instrumentation, counterpoint, anacrusic 5 or thetic 4,
and try to frame the structure. Not good... but doesn't apply to "Rap", so just old school.

Languages... Probably not very important unless one has involvement in different cultures, but on a personal basis, a matter for enjoyment. Just finished watching "Downfall", and enjoyed the movie, but only had to look at a few of the subtitles. Have had a ball in our Florida senior community, making friends and acting as interpreter for many foreign snowbirds, as almost all speak either French or German, no matter what their native language.

Philosophy and History... neither critical to lving in today's culture, but a wonderful background to my favorite hobby... "Being a Fly on the Wall of Evolving History".

So I DO agree that none of this is necessary, and all of it is there for free, for anyone to study, learn, or appreciate. Can I tell the difference between one who had a Liberal Arts background, or a person with a technical background?
Absolutely not!... Intelligence or dullness comes through without regard to Higher education specialization... and it really doesn't matter anyway.

Still, I hope that we can keep a balance in our system, and that the direct connection of income to education subsidy is not so complete as to harm the schools that were formerly considered to be "tops" in quality of education... ie, the US News Ratings.
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:12 AM   #50
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The ability to function in contemporary society requires both analytical and expressive ability. A well rounded study in the humanities and social sciences is essential to developing those abilities.

There seems a widely held belief that the primary role of education is to provide job training by teaching specific workplace skills that employers need but donít want to devote the resources to teaching themselves. Those entering the labor market can expect to undergo many shifts in jobs/careers. Education should equip a person to learn fast and well over a lifetime, to think critically and handle complexity in the many forms it will be encountered.
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:36 AM   #51
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Still, I hope that we can keep a balance in our system, and that the direct connection of income to education subsidy is not so complete as to harm the schools that were formerly considered to be "tops" in quality of education... ie, the US News Ratings.
Several of the above supporters of humanities have seemingly suggested that schools are de-emphasizing humanities/liberal arts for reasons of their own (not sure what that would be).

I alluded to this earlier, now I'll be more direct.

Are schools de-emphasizing humanities for their own reasons, or is it because students/parents/society are more interested in degrees that seem to lead to higher incomes?

I suspect the latter.

But I agree that education should expose students to science & technology AND liberal arts. I have known plenty of engineers and plenty of artists who could have benefited from a broader education.
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:40 AM   #52
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Where would our nation be without intellectuals like Martin Luther King, William F. Buckley and Dubois who challenged convention and the status quo along with precipitating social and economic justice? Theirs is a dying breed of intellectuals who were willing to take risks and fight for matters of freedom, justice, transparency and equality.
So intellectuals only come from liberal arts? Sounds like the flip side of an elitist coin?

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Old 11-01-2013, 10:30 AM   #53
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Are schools de-emphasizing humanities ... because students/parents/society are more interested in degrees that seem to lead to higher incomes?
Yes, I'm pretty sure it's this. Few people can afford a college education for its own sake any more, and employers are increasingly using their leverage (right now employers have almost all the leverage) to demand a very narrow but deep "training" -- paid for by others, of course -- as a prerequisite to being hired. That doesn't leave much room for philosophy, history, literature or music appreciation.
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Old 11-01-2013, 10:38 AM   #54
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I believe in the pre-great recession years, the big employers were more receptive to hiring liberal arts grads in entry level jobs and providing OJT. That path seems to have vanished since, as large companies want to hire specialists with experience, except for perhaps a few areas like engineering and healthcare where they take you right out of college. Even those with PhDs in some of the sciences are paid like clerks now a days, lawyers too.

This is a bad trend in my opinion, and, unfortunately, I don't think the youngsters of today will have the same opportunities I had, unless they pursue a more technical or specific type of education or trade. Although I was an engineering grad, I saw many around me in my early career that had liberal arts degrees and they proved to be very competent and had great careers, even in some technical disciplines. As for me, I enjoyed the liberal arts content I received during my 4 years of college and feel it contributed positively to my career.
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Old 11-01-2013, 10:41 AM   #55
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I believe in the pre-great recession years, the big employers were more receptive to hiring liberal arts grads in entry level jobs and providing OJT. That path seems to have vanished since, as large companies want to hire specialists with experience, except for perhaps a few areas like engineering and healthcare where they take you right out of college. Even those with PhDs in some of the sciences are paid like clerks now a days, lawyers too.

This is a bad trend in my opinion, and, unfortunately, I don't think the youngsters of today will have the same opportunities I had, unless they pursue a more technical or specific type of education or trade. Although I was an engineering grad, I saw many around me in my early career that had liberal arts degrees and they proved to be very competent and had great careers, even in some technical disciplines. As for me, I enjoyed the liberal arts content I received during my 4 years of college and feel it contributed positively to my career.
Agreed. Part of the problem is that OJT requires that employers (a) pay someone while they are not yet productive and (b) have enough staff to devote the time of a more senior employee to train and mentor the new hire. That has pretty much gone the way of the dodo. Today's workforces don't have the staffing redundancy required to allow OJT to take place to a significant degree. More often than not the only OJT people get today is a couple of days in front of a computer watching training modules.
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Old 11-01-2013, 10:55 AM   #56
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I believe in the pre-great recession years, the big employers were more receptive to hiring liberal arts grads in entry level jobs and providing OJT. That path seems to have vanished since, as large companies want to hire specialists with experience, except for perhaps a few areas like engineering and healthcare where they take you right out of college. Even those with PhDs in some of the sciences are paid like clerks now a days, lawyers too.

This is a bad trend in my opinion, and, unfortunately, I don't think the youngsters of today will have the same opportunities I had, unless they pursue a more technical or specific type of education or trade. Although I was an engineering grad, I saw many around me in my early career that had liberal arts degrees and they proved to be very competent and had great careers, even in some technical disciplines. As for me, I enjoyed the liberal arts content I received during my 4 years of college and feel it contributed positively to my career.
Could you expand on why it's a bad trend in your view? Not to argue, but because I can't summon the logic on my own.

While I am sure there are liberal arts majors that would have been successful, they'd be the exception relative to candidates with the conventional credentials. And their chosen field of study would strongly suggest their interests lie elsewhere. Having hired at least a hundred people in my (technical) career, we screened for experience/education/credentials so I never even gave a liberal arts major an opportunity to interview - it seems completely counter-intuitive.

Again for the record, I support a well rounded education beginning with sciences & humanities for all. But it's easy to understand why students have to specialize later in their education.
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Old 11-01-2013, 10:57 AM   #57
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Could you expand on why it's a bad trend in your view? Not to argue, but because I can't summon the logic on my own.
I'm not the person you questioned, but I think society is healthier overall when its population has a well-rounded education. We are producing a society of specialists these days because employers are calling all the shots and that's what they are demanding.
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Old 11-01-2013, 11:16 AM   #58
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Agreed. Part of the problem is that OJT requires that employers (a) pay someone while they are not yet productive and (b) have enough staff to devote the time of a more senior employee to train and mentor the new hire. That has pretty much gone the way of the dodo. Today's workforces don't have the staffing redundancy required to allow OJT to take place to a significant degree. More often than not the only OJT people get today is a couple of days in front of a computer watching training modules.
Yes, although when I was a department head, even when I hired folks with extensive experience, I felt it would take them at least a year to become accustomed to how our company conducted business and to be effective in their jobs.
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Old 11-01-2013, 11:24 AM   #59
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Could you expand on why it's a bad trend in your view? Not to argue, but because I can't summon the logic on my own.
I see this as contributing to unemployment and income inequality. Also, I was in a specialized discipline and have hired many over the years with engineering/law/business/liberal arts degrees and saw little difference in their ability to become productive top performing employees. Also, all required OJT to become productive regardless of their past experience.
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Old 11-01-2013, 11:27 AM   #60
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I see this as contributing to unemployment and income inequality. Also, I was in a specialized discipline and have hired many over the years with engineering/law/business/liberal arts degrees and saw little difference in their ability to become productive top performing employees. Also, all required OJT to become productive regardless of their past experience.
Yeah, but once upon a time most employers hired people first and pieces of paper second. These days it's the other way around in many cases.
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