Re: Economist essay contest on 2050

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Tue Aug 01 2000 - 07:03:07 MDT

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.

> > > 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.

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