Tuesday, December 21, 2004

College For All? No!

Much talk about education, and college education for all in particular. I'm skeptical of the college for all mantra. While it has its appeal -- who doesn't want everyone to have the wonderful elitist experience I'm having? -- I don't quite see how it's practical or even desirable. There is a lack of clarity about, what exactly, a college education is for. If it's for enhancing the skills level and economic prospects of students, then the current elite model is quite flawed and it's unclear that it's even effective. We'd have to move to more technical education. But I don't think that the university (or community college) system is necessarily flexible enough to teach useful skills if what skills are needed keep on changing. Subsidize industry training programs, either on the student or the institute end, sure, but make everyone go to college, no. If education is for making thoughtful individuals and better citizens, then maybe college for all makes sense. But I don't think that it actually accomplishes that. It only helps people who want to be helped. College for all is one of those things which sounds nice and happy, but until people are clear on what, exactly, they think it can accomplish, I'll remain a skeptic.

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