Following on my previous post on the “We are the 99%” people who seem to view education as more ritual than the acquisition of practical skills or knowledge, it occurred to me that many of these young people may not understand that they aren’t really, despite the time and money spent, actually educated.
The liberal arts of today are those fields with little or no empiricism. In other words, if the field doesn’t have a lot of math, the information it deals with is subjective and untestable. Even supposed “soft” sciences in the liberal arts like sociology or psychology lack true scientific rigor. Given that, how do liberal-arts graduates know that they’ve really been taught something worthwhile? How do they know they haven’t been loaded up with gibberish?
For example, I don’t know much about music, so someday I want to take some courses about music. How would I know whether any particular instructor was teaching me anything valid? Since I have no real knowledge about music, how would I know if I was paying someone to fill my head with nonsense?
Some music education would teach concrete skills, e.g., reading music or learning to play an instrument, so I could evaluate whether I had been educated by my ability to read music or play an instrument.
How would I ever know whether I was taught anything remotely true and, more important, of practical use? If I want to be a musician will a degree in either actually help my career or am I better off spending more time practicing in the garage studio?
Most of what is taught in the liberal arts does not equip the student with objective skills. Instead, most of what students learn are elaborate hypotheses validated only by a popularity contest among the professors themselves. Most of those hypotheses will end up judged by history to be gibberish — e.g., Marxism.
Most degrees in the liberal arts, especially the advanced degrees, really just equip the student to become a liberal-arts professor. Given how few professorships open up, most liberal-arts graduates don’t actually end up with marketable skills.
I think a lot of liberal-arts graduates have been convinced they have learned something of great value. Why should they believe otherwise? We are taught since childhood how wise and wonderful all our teachers are. We are told how uplifting and ennobling education is. Why would students question whether their trusted professors are teaching them anything true and/or valuable in the future workplace?
What a horrible realization to find out that you haven’t actually been educated. What a horrible realization to find out you owe tens of thousands of dollars and you don’t have any skills to compensate. What a horrible realization to find out you are no more employable than someone who never went to college in the first place.
These kids feel cheated and they are right. They were told they were actually getting “educated” but they weren’t. They borrowed tens of thousands of dollars for nothing.