Towards a reformation of education

In this time, you can forget college experience. The pubs may be open, but you cannot dance: we are in lockdown. The courseload is such that you won’t have time for the pub, and most teaching is done by distance. Local education costs: not as much as the USA, but it costs.

I am not a fan of untrammeled liberal education at the tertiary level: that should be done in high school. Consider the old idea — grammar schools teach you to read, write and do arithmetic, and high schools teach logic (via mathematics and philosophy), the natural sciences, theology — and its applied version, political science — and rhetoric.

Tertiary education is for the application of this. It is training in a learned profession, or advanced scholarship, or (if you are particularly cursed with the research disorder) both.
We need far more tradesmen, farmers and home makers than graduates and scholars: and we need very few people with a doctorate.

But now people need licenses and credentials to do almost anything. The days of apprenticeships have finished. So our young mortgage their futures, and at what cost?

You can do the education cheaper, even if you don’t have good high schools, which is now the usual state of affairs.

The average tenure hopeful adjunct makes $40 an hour. If you were to employ her as a private tutor at the cost of $60 an hour, and had four hours with her a week, and did that for 14 weeks (that’s the length of an average college course folks) that is about $3,400.

Were you to employ three such professor-tutors, that would be about $10,200, or a bit over $20,000 a year. In four years you would have racked up $80,000 in costs. But this is still $30,000 less than the total for the ‘cost conscious’ universities. It is a quarter of what you would pay for Trinity.

Remember: this $80,000 is for private tutoring, where individual attention would give you far and away a better and more thorough education than the 300-kids-in-a-lecture-hall style of classes that dominate undergraduate education today.

But it can get even cheaper. Let’s say you take the general principle of group classes from the university. Say you can find four other people to take all of these other classes with you. Just four. Well that equals out to $680 per class, or $16,000 a person for four years of classes.

To be fair, add in $1,000-$2,000 for textbooks and a subscription to JSTOR, for a total of about $17,000 to $18,000 for four years.

Modern universities are insane.

Yes, they are. Because they are not doing what they are supposed to do. The University has but three functions.

  1. Provide education for the professional class: Priests, Lawyers, Medicos and Engineers (the Scottish model)
  2. Preserve and maintain the knowledge of previous generations, and critique current thoughts that have not yet been tested
  3. Be a sheltered workshop for the very bright, who often are too impractical for ordinary life

That does not include the football team, the sororities, the parties, the halls of residence, and the generation of paper after paper which was peer reviewed by a harried scrivener between their increasingly long task list. It does not include administration, equity officers, or the marketing department.

It is much more important that we encourage men to be husbands and fathers, and women to wed and mother. For by such is the world peopled.

Therefore, young man, listen to my generation. A degree won’t help you unless you are called to a profession. Sadly, that includes pharmacy, nursing, teaching, physiotherapy and most trades. But this should not be. It is not the scholars who get ladies: it is the leaders and the tradesmen.

Get a skill, and pay as little for the paper you need to practice it.

And the arts? They are valuable. They should be preserved. But you will not make money doing such. Work your time, and have enough time for recreation. Switching the TV off helps here. You need a sport when young, and an art, for when you are old the habits of training, of practice, and participation — now bringing up the rear in veteran’s rank or the amateur arts — give much richness to one’s life.

But your most important job will be raising your children.