Re: Economist essay contest on 2050

From: Adrian Tymes (
Date: Wed Aug 02 2000 - 10:32:31 MDT

"Michael S. Lorrey" wrote:
> Adrian Tymes wrote:
> > "Michael S. Lorrey" wrote:
> > > Adrian Tymes wrote:
> >
> > [from a future history essay]
> >
> > > > Although this may seem unfashionable at the midpoint of the 21st
> > > > century, I assure you that it is a practice that was quite popular up
> > > > until recently. Indeed, until the end of the 20th century, it was
> > > > possible for people even in the most technologically advanced nations to
> > > > learn only a few basic facts about how the world worked, stop learning
> > > > at around age 18, and live full and productive lives. Only the elite -
> > > > scientists, engineers, chief politicians and businessmen, and a few
> > > > others - needed much more information to do their jobs.
> > >
> > > THis is a pretty arrogant statement to make. The only people I know of who get
> > > by on only a high school education are burger flippers (and treating only formal
> > > accredited bachelor or higher programs as 'education beyond age 18' is even a
> > > higher level of arrogance). A larger percent of people WITH four year degrees I
> > > regard as not only having sub-average intelligence, but pathetically low
> > > interest in 'how the world works', where I know many less formally educated
> > > people who are not only well versed, but give a damn. These are postmen,
> > > mechanics, sales people, etc. I, for example, am a college dropout. Everything I
> > > know about what I do for a living (computer consulting) I learned outside of ANY
> > > accredited program. I also happen to read the newspaper every day, front to
> > > back. I've got a better idea of what is going on in the world and how it works
> > > than about 90% of the college grads I know (a large percent of whom work in jobs
> > > that have absolutely nothing to do with what their degree is in, jobs that
> > > frequently have no degree requirement, like waiting tables.)
> >
> > Ok...but I think you see the point I was trying to make here (that is,
> > that 90% don't bother learning things beyond formal education). Would it
> > work if I replaced "at around age 18" with, say, "by age 25" or "upon
> > entering the workforce full time"?
> No, because, at least in this area, at least 1/4 to 1/2 of the people I
> know obtain additional training after entering the workforce, on a
> continuing basis. Those that don't are not doing so out of ignorance,
> but because its not NECCESSARY.

Perhaps I could phrase it better, so "stop learning" is more obviously
"stop learning about the world", but the latter phrase seems rather
clunky in that context (since I just said "how the world works", and I'd
rather avoid repeating "the world" in such a short span). Can you think
of a better way to phrase it?

> > > > Even then, some people advocated lifelong learning as a path to a fuller
> > > > life, but this movement never really caught on until recently.
> > >
> > > On the contrary, lifelong learning is a pretty popular path today. More people
> > > earn bachelors degrees after age 30 than before it today (similarly for masters
> > > degrees).
> >
> > It's *gaining* in popularity, true. But from what I've seen, I wouldn't
> > call it "popular" among society as a whole just yet.
> Nor does it need to be. A better question to put to people is what
> percent of their current jobs is dependent upon training they received
> in college and outside a degree program. I take extension courses
> occasionally as the mood strikes. I am not interested in getting a
> degree, which I regard to be little more than a union card.

Err...why does it have to be "in college", if we're going for non-degree
education? Some of the most useful education I've gotten has been
completely outside of formal educational institutions.

BTW, since you're not commenting on the rest of the essay, does that mean
you do not see ways that it could be improved?

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