“Education” as a commodity

Posted on October 8, 2008. Filed under: Culture, HowTo, Music, Philosophy |

Is it just me feeling weird about all the references to the ability to “send your kids to college” I’ve been hearing vis-Γ -vis discussions about the economy, US Presidential debates, etc.?

As is the case with many children of immigrants or people of modest backgrounds in my country, I was the first in my family to graduate from college. My parents did not. My only sibling did not. However, I chose this myself, because I enjoy the process of education, not just the product. I didn’t expect my parents to pay for it, either. In all fairness to them, they would have done; they would have been proud to contribute to what they perceived as the advancement of their child towards “the American dream”.

I chose to leave home at an early age—barely 18—for a variety of reasons, and in order to do that, I took the first job I found that I was qualified for. I didn’t even know how to look for a job; I’d seen in the newspapers something called “Employment Agencies”, and there was one whose ad seemed friendly and helpful, so I went there. This probably sounds naive, but, in fact, they were friendly and helpful: they helped me evaluate my few “skills” (running a calculator by touch, and indifferent typing) and craft them into a package that would look good to an office manager. I think if I hadn’t been so shy at the time, I might have worked in food service or as a shop assistant as many my age had done; but I was reluctant to telephone or apply for jobs in person, so the Agency seemed like a place where they’d do all that for me. And they did. And therefore, I became an office worker in the financial district of San Francisco.

I could go on about what I liked and didn’t like about that, but the point I’m making is that, at the time, I had no college degree, and while the pay wasn’t spectacular, it did allow me to rent my own apartment, and live my own life, without being beholden to my parents. Had I demonstrated an aptitude and interest for the insurance business in which I worked, I could have gone on to learn from in-house courses and trainings to become a successful executive in that industry, without ever taking a “college” course. The most valuable things I did learn there were (most importantly) that I could support myself and be self-sufficient, and that computers were interesting and cool. πŸ™‚

Eventually, I did put myself through college—very slowly—and launched myself into an advanced degree program, too. It took years, because I was working at least part-time all the way through, but I gained so much self confidence and ability by approaching college as a working adult rather than a “college kid”.

I take issue with “ability to send your kids to college” as a huge economic issue for many reasons. One is that it denies and diminishes trades, crafts, and skilled work that does not require college. Where would we be without carpenters, plumbers, and highway maintainers, to mention just a few? Many skilled professions do require some kind of training or apprenticeship, but those professionals don’t have to set foot into Harvard or Oxford to accomplish it. Please know that I think a college or university education is a wonderful thing (or I wouldn’t have pursued it myself) and that parents who wish to assist their offspring in this way are to be commended. I just don’t think it’s required (on the part of said offspring) or obligatory (for parents to provide).

A question parents might ask themselves—or better, ask their child!—is “What would give my child joy?” If we could only learn to start from there, rather than from perceived status or pay rate, I believe both the workers and economy would be much better served.

Even in those professions for which a college education is available, it’s not always the best, happiest, or most successful route. We all know that Bill Gates, for instance, dropped out of college, but that of course doesn’t guarantee success. What did, with this gentleman and many others, is that he had an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for his dreams. In artistic pursuits, opinion seems to be split on how much a “proper” education helps or hinders. Many fine painters are self-taught, while many others have attended specialized art schools or major universities to hone their technique. It’s the same way with musicians. I used to be quite a music snob; I felt that if one were interested in music, one ought to learn the western system of notation and music theory, as I have done. While one could not get a job in a fine orchestra as a player or conductor without this grounding, I’ve noticed that music is so much more than that. I got an inkling during my second music theory course where I learned things like “spelling” and “proper voicing” (This refers to how to write chords; not necessarily having anything to do with singing.) It was actually physically painful for me to be confined to western musical “rules” which, when examined, are no more than cultural conventions. Much, much, much World, Indigenous, and independent music doesn’t follow these conventions at all. I believe a great deal of creatively might be lost in imposing rules upon music which, after all, lives more in the soul than in the head.

That said, having the ability to notate music does come in handy. I have a friend who occasionally calls and tells me “I just wrote a song!” I tell him to hang on while I get my music notation paper, and he sings it to me, and I write it down. He could just sing it into a recording device to be transcribed later, but he doesn’t do this; for some reason that makes him feel self-conscious, but singing it to me doesn’t! So, I am of use to him. He loves to sing, but will not sing in the chorus with me as he doesn’t enjoy the discipline of rehearsals and the music-reading skills needed. Does this make him any less a musician, though?

The prejudice against “skilled trades” as being somehow less worthy or less “intellectual” than other pursuits is belied by this very medium in which I communicate to you. Writing, like music, is another endeavor where too much “education” may be a hindrance, or may be the making of the writer. Either way, when I look at the blogs I read here on WordPress and elsewhere written by truck drivers, mechanics, and brick layers, it’s apparent that there is poetry in many souls.

So, should “sending the kids to college” be a primary focus of economic planning? I’d be very interested in what you think!

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30 Responses to ““Education” as a commodity”

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Interesting post, Muse. I know many parents that just cannot afford to pay for higher education for their children. Many of them work to pay for it themselves. I know back when, paying your children’s way was just a part of life and it was expected. I think things have changed and a lot of young adults realize if they want to go they will have to help out.

There was no way my parents could have afforded it and I never expected them to. I could have gone. I worked and could have payed my way. But when I was younger, I was not in the least bit interested in it. I didn’t really think ahead. I just thought things would work out in whatever way they do. Oh boy, not that I don’t enjoy what I do. I am in a skilled trade. And there really is money to be made in it too! Lots of it if you are a go getter and want it.

Some of the best conversations I’ve ever had have been with other trades I work around. I don’t associate what a person does for a living with what ‘type’ of person they are or aren’t.

I also know parents who have forced their offspring to go and told them what they would be taking because they are paying for it. Unfortunately, two of them are family members. That is so sad to sit back and watch. These are jobs that have been chosen for them and they don’t want to do that for the rest of their lives. I won’t get into it, but I feel for people like that.

I think you make your own lot in life in the end. Would I have liked another path? I could think of a few more adventurous jobs I would have liked. All in all I made my choice. Besides, my lfe isn’t over just yet. πŸ™‚

Argh! ‘life’

I agree wit Bead – interesting post.

My view is this, and not many I know agree with it.

A country is a community – it is society, and as so we are in the midst of a social communion. As part of that we are all intertwined, until the latter part of the 20th century. Then society took on a bold new vision that it was a matter that we are all individuals living among each other.

What that did was open up the needless need for what you correctly call, commodity education.


Well because the economy demanded that we all work in a service economy where qualifications are deemed more than the education you get – we are at a point now where tests are more important than education. So it is the qualification that is the real commodity rather than that which it is supposed to replace.

Every country that has turned toward a service economy needs to get back, or create, a manufacturing base – that will lead to more social and community cohesion plus it will mean education will be need rather than just testing and worthless paper qualifications.

Just my 2 cents. πŸ™‚

i agree parents are not obligated to pay for their children’s tertiary education. my college education was funded by a study loan, which i will have to pay on my own. i guess the fact that many kids are supported by their parents when it comes to finance for college that other children think they’re entitled to it. i certainly feel a teensy bit like that πŸ˜› , even though i don’t blame my parents for not being able to provide in that aspect.

and i definitely agree that there are other ways to go than the college route. i enjoyed being a student, so it was a natural path for me. if i had a kid who rather travel the world, i would let him/her go provided it’s something s/he really wants to do and can provide for him/herself for such a journey.

i guess parents want the best for their children, which is why sending kids to college is one important factor in family planning, finance-wise.

woot, no typos! :mrgreen:


I have been organising Avant Garde Bloggies awards on my blog: http://alchemistpoonam.wordpress.com/avant-garde-bloggies-awards/.

I want to speak to you about it. Could you please write an email to me (as you would see my email with this comment) so that I can write back to you what I want from you? Please write soon.


I agree that arts, crafts and skilled trades are important and honorable ways to earn a living. But..with our flat world and what’s left of a global economy, I think many of today’s toddlers are facing a life of sweeping floors without a college degree.

I wish more grade schools offered Chinese. I wish more plumbers and carpenters (and I’m thinking of the several I know beyond a business relationship) would sock away money for their kids’ educations instead of assuming the kids will just get loans if they go to college at all. I wish unions were still strong too and that people who need them most, such as supermarket and walmart employees, weren’t among the first to say they would never want a union.

So yes, I think it should be one focus of planning. What applies today won’t apply in 20 years, I fear.

To be honest, this attitude isn’t something I’ve really been aware of, other than the fact that my school expects the majority of us to go to university once we leave, and pressures us into writing university applications. A lot of my classmates wnet to uni, but there were quite a few who didn’t.

Incidentally, I thought you were recommended to take a degree, or at least a GCSE and an apprenticeship, before becoming a plumber. But then, I know nothing about plumbing; it’s never been of particular interest to me.

I wasn’t really aware of this attitude as well, but, quite simply, it’s very, very hard to get by when you don’t have anything but a high school diploma in this country.

The main problem, though, is that this sort of attitude is self-perpetuating: as more and more people get college degrees, it becomes harder for those who don’t have said degree to get decent-paying jobs because the college kids are more “qualified”, and as a result, more people strive to get into college, and so on. I don’t think this holds true for the people who work in “crafts”, but for the vast majority of the so-called “old” middle class jobs, it does (in my opinion).

A question parents might ask themselvesβ€”or better, ask their child!β€”is β€œWhat would give my child joy?” If we could only learn to start from there, rather than from perceived status or pay rate, I believe both the workers and economy would be much better served.

Can’t agree more with the above. That’s what I think everyone should be asking their children, and themselves. I think the world would be an infinitely better place if people actually liked what they get paid to do.

Personally I dislike the fact that someone with a degree might be picked over someone that has experience in a trade. Every single job, whether it’s a learned trade like carpentry, plumbing, etc., or a job that does in fact need schooling, is important. And if you choose the path of not going to college, that certainly isn’t the end of the road.

I also don’t like how many people expect their parents paying for their college to be a requirement in order to attend. If they can and want to help pay for it, great, but if they cannot and you need to go for the job you are pursuing, I feel that you should make whatever sacrifices are needed in order to attend.

Writing, like music, is another endeavor where too much β€œeducation” may be a hindrance, or may be the making of the writer.

I hated writing while in school. I think that was because of being forced to. I like to write when I have something in my mind to say, and in doing so, I believe that it comes out in words so much better than if I were required to write something at a certain time.

Rather than searching for a job by the amount of pay, which I’ve seen my old friends do, I think you are much better off in the end to choose something that appeals to you and makes you happy. Otherwise you are stuck clocking the 9-5 each day, dreading each and every upcoming day.

It’s a very interesting question you pose, Muse.

The thing is, not everyone is academically inclined. My oldest son was “made” for school. His learning style fit perfectly with how school is done. He cruised right through. We are paying his tuition to attend UCLA for a degree in bio-chemistry. He is paying for his living expenses living in Los Angeles. Our daughter struggled in high school. She hated it. However, she did find that she loves to take pictures. So, she is taking classes at a community college to earn a certificate in photography. She loves it, but could care less about taking all the other general ed classes required for a degree, and that’s ok! My youngest son is a Senior in High School. He has to work a little harder for his grades than his brother did. He wants to go to college and earn a business degree. This does not surprise us. Even as a little kid, he was the one buying and selling things, trading with his friends, etc.

In general, I think parents do what they can for their kids. Although, you don’t want to make it TOO easy on them. There are trade schools out there, but most of them are so expensive! Learning a trade is an honorable thing to do. You can make an honest living that way. We should support that. I wish there were more opportunities for people who are interested in learning a trade.

I am thankful we have the means to help our kids with their college education, but it did not come without sacrifice on our part. We saved for it. Perhaps we could have had a bigger house in a nicer neighborhood, more expensive cars, a boat in the driveway. But we chose to save. But, sometimes it seems as if we are being punished for being responsible. We get no help from the government. We know people who did buy all the nice things and they get aid to help pay tuition. We also know a very wealthy family whose kids attend private college for free just because they are African Americans. It doesn’t seem fair.

But, I digress. I’ve gone on too long already. Lots to think about though.

To everyone: THANK YOU! Your thoughtful comments have made my day, and you’ve given me much to think about!

My preference is that your life is far from over, beadden, and you make an excellent point about how we can learn new skills and take college classes at any age. Particularly now, when one can complete an entire degree online, or part time through night/weekend classes, there are always wonderful options. I believe some government programs are trying to make the college experience accessible to as many people as they can through tuition grants and loans, but, at least in the US, a full-fledged degree from a solid bricks-and-mortar university is exorbitantly expensive, and I think it would be great to invest in assessments, internships, and work-study programs to make sure the student is suited to the program and vice-versa. I’ve known more than one attorney who was miserable in his work, but would not try something else after all the time and money invested in schooling.

That’s fascinating, Will, that you think the type of economy drives the perceived need for a college education. It’s as if it’s the reverse of what our societies were like during the industrial revolution, when most people labored in factories (or on farms) whether that suited them or not. The educated really were an elite, then. I must think upon this some more!

Certainly parents want what’s best for their children, sulz, (in most cases), and I’m proud when I see parents helping to provide for their childrens’ future, and making that a priority. You make some of my case for me when you say you enjoyed school, and so, just naturally made that opportunity for yourself. Again perhaps a post-high school (or your country’s equivalent) work-study-assessment opportunity would give students more chances to explore what they’d love to do! —Interesting about the typos! I was going to fix them for the first two commenters until your comment. Perhaps the topic of “education” makes people nervous! πŸ˜›

Hi, Poonam! I’ve seen your comments over on sulz’s blog, and I took a look at your project. I will email you shortly. Thank you! πŸ™‚

You make some excellent points, ella, and I’m glad you did. Perhaps we could look at college funds differently and call them something like “future funds”. I think it’s most commendable for parents to invest in their childrens’ future, and while we’ll always need people to sweep floors πŸ˜‰ I agree that it’s not what most people aspire to or what touches their hearts. It’s our job to help them find out, and somehow (I believe) find a place for those dreams in whatever economy we’re faced with. You also point out that it’s not just college planning that makes a difference for future generations, but LIFE planning. Thank you, very much.

Sounds like people where you live take a more balanced view of these things, B0bby. I know you are weighing your own options at the moment, and it seems you feel free to make whatever choice is most appropriate for you. πŸ™‚ I didn’t know what a GCSE is 😦 but I looked it up, and over here in the states most plumbers complete apprenticeships approved by guilds and unions. There are vocational training courses available, too. A Plumbing Contractor is one who has a contractor’s license…which leads me to my favorite plumbing joke: “An executive at a large office building notices that the pipes are making an alarming and unpleasant noise. He calls his local plumber who takes him down into the basement and carefully examines the labyrinth of intersecting pipes. After 10 minutes spent this way, the plumber removes a small hammer from his tool belt, and gently strikes one of the larger pipes. ‘That should do it,’ he said, ‘Problem fixed. That’ll be $400.00.’ ‘$400.00 dollars! All you did was hit a pipe with a hammer! I want an itemized bill!’ The plumber agreed to mail the executive such an invoice, and the next day when he opened his mail, the executive found this notation: ‘For tapping with hammer: $0.50. For knowing where to tap: $399.50.'”

Very true, leap, and the majority of skilled trades have some kind of apprenticeship plus trade or vocational school available. I think this is the equivalent of a college education, just channeled in a different direction. My father was a skilled craftsman and small business owner, and provided a very good living for our family. Thanks, yes, in my ideal world, everyone would love their job! πŸ™‚

Yes, indeed, Shane, every job is important. There are those who say that, regardless of which career you pursue, a college education is valuable because it gives you balance and cultural knowledge. This could be, but I believe it’s possible to have quite a joyful life without knowing literature or calculus. Those of us who are inclined that way tend to read about these things anyway, and if we’re motivated to take classes, so much the better because it is our choice. As for writing, I agree with much of what you say. I did enjoy some writing in school, but not when it seemed confining and riddled with nonsensical rules. Most of us know how to speak coherently, and writing is just writing that down. No big mystery there. Anyone who wants to should certainly feel encouraged to express her/himself this way. There is no denying that skill and technique can add a great deal to writing, and it is the masters of these techniques who are often successful professionally.

Thank you so much for sharing about your children, teeveebee! You sound like just the sort of parent I’d like them all to be! You are able to see each child as an individual, and to encourage each to follow their dreams and develop their natural gifts. Good for you, and how fortunate for your children. I’m also moved that you chose a smaller house and fewer toys so that you could help your children where it was most appropriate. I am certainly for opportunity and pay equity regardless of gender or race or background, and I hope we may soon get to a situation in our world where unequal “equalizing” solutions won’t been seen as necessary. But, you are right, that’s another discussion. πŸ™‚

education – rather formal education is given a lot of importance in India. It is blasphemy to say I will take a break and get back when I feel like it. Parents pay for at least the undergrad. If at 32 I want to attend college here, I will be old; made fun of, looked at as a freak…hence people like me have to resort to distance education.
For a person like me who likes to be a student, who wants to get her masters done; it irks me that I cannot go to college here. Going to a different country that does not discriminate against age; well problems galore -visa, money etc..,
The fact that you mention about skilled workers disappearing is apparent here. Cobblers, silk weavers, potters…the list is long. In our country, with reservations based on caste on top of a huge population; and recession soon on top of us; there are way too many graduates with no jobs for all. Huge problem. Is skill or talent alone enough to land a paying job? In this competition, one needs those degrees printed on their resumes.
A pretty vicious circle I should say!
Don’t know if I have rambled on too much or even whether I have made my point.

So much here, so much! We tend to want to force people to a path and it’s tough to make choices at an early age. I know I would be a interesting case study – maybe only to me and that’s part of my problem, scratch that: issue/challenge. It’s finding what makes your heart sing and pursuing it to personal best with whatever education is ‘required’ or not. Excellent, thought-provoking post.

I wanted to mention that there are many trades that you do not need any schooling. Of course, to become an electrician, gas fitter, heating and cooling etc… do. It takes 7 years of school and apprenticing to be an electrician.

In the last few years other “training schools” have popped up for ones that usually people learned in the field. Many government sponsored. And they come out green. The ‘classes’ do not prepare them to walk onto a site and work. Most have to be re-trained by a journey man or women. Another waste of tax dollars. πŸ™‚

I am afraid to say but I do think we are more and more becoming a service country. I would like to see a better mix. I would love to see more production, manufacturing and scientific things popping up in Canada. So many immigrants send their children back “home” to get a better education and then come back to land a job.

As for the cost, did you know before the war, in Iraq all College and Universities were free to go to for both men and women? That they had some of the top micro-biologists and scientists in the world? It didn’t cost one red cent, no matter what you were taking. Here, people re-mortgage their homes and take out huge loans.

We should all incorporate ourselves, as individuals, become a company and get all the handouts and breaks that they do. πŸ™‚

Sorry Muse, I couldn’t help myself.

Apar, it sounds like in the environment you mention, it’s a good thing you can pursue distance education. I think there is much less prejudice here in the US against older learners. Which reminds me of…not so much a joke, this time, but a poignant anecdote: “A young man was waiting in line to register for classes at his university when he noticed an elderly man in line behind him. ‘Excuse me, sir, are you looking for someone?’ he said, ‘this is the line to register!’ The older gentleman looked the young student in the eye, and said, ‘I am here to register for classes.’ After thinking about this for a while, the younger fellow said ‘I’m sorry if I’m being rude, but may I ask how old you are?’ ‘Certainly, I don’t mind. I’m 84.’ ‘But…don’t you realize that by the time you graduate you’ll be 88 years old?’ ‘Son,’ he said, ‘I’ll be 88 anyhow.'” I’ll leave that story to speak for itself. Thank you, Apar!

Hello, and welcome, bkclubcare! Thanks for adding to this discussion. I think I’d be interested in why you’d be a good case study! πŸ™‚ I really like your description: “…finding what makes your heart sing”. Exactly! Wonderful!

First of all, you’d needn’t be sorry, my beadie friend; your comments are always welcome here! You point out that electricians and many other skilled professions require a highly-honed set of skills, whereas other trades may not. Training courses can be part of the preparation, but I agree, there’s nothing like an apprenticeship to apply the skills. I’ve seen questionable training programs online and elsewhere that cost a lot of money, and may provide very little really useful training for particular crafts. It’s certainly best to check out trade schools very carefully. I heard a radio report that in countries like Sweden, most citizens don’t mind the very high taxes they must pay in order to have universal health care, because the Universities there cost about $200/year (if I remember that right), and that pensions for retirees are guaranteed. This would make a HUGE difference. Thanks for coming back, BD!

I was initially going to make a smaller comment on something else, but when re-reading your post before making a response, the following grabbed my attention:

“Does this make him any less a musician, though?”

Yes. I don’t know anything about your friend, and he probably is very musical, but it does make him less a musician than he could have been. Discipline of rehearsals and music notation are useful tools. The first is *essential* to any kind of music and the second is something even your friend recognises the value of, or he wouldn’t be calling you to have his music notated.

“Much, much, much World, Indigenous, and independent music doesn’t follow these conventions at all.”

True, but they have other conventions instead. Indian music, for example, has much stricter rules than western music. I don’t agree that education is opposed to creativity at all. Someone narrow-minded that can’t see further than some set of rules has not had too much education – quite possibly they’ve had too little, and maybe they’ve had bad education.

A small correction: “the Universities [in Sweden] cost about $200/year”. In Sweden, schools and universities are free to attend.

…one more thing: An important part music education is getting exposed to different kinds of music, sparking an interest in different things. That (hopefully) leads to the opposite of the loss of creativity you claim may come from education.

I wanted to say hello and tell you i am sorry for not stopping by 😦

Hi, Rikard. I was thinking of you as I typed the words “Sweden” and “Music”, and now here you are! In principal, and speaking for myself, I agree with what you say about discipline, rehearsals, and study. They are useful in other endeavors as well. I have very much enjoyed having that background in my own performing, writing and arranging. You may be right in thinking my friend could be a better musician if he would study and discipline himself; but he knows himself well enough to know he’s not going to. He’d been to choral rehearsals (before I knew him) and hated them. I did persuade him to sing in a small choir I directed, and he did it as a favor to me, but he didn’t like it, so when that group broke up I told him I’d not ask this of him in the future. He has a lovely baritone voice; once studied the trombone, so can read a little music, and has had some voice training—but, that’s as far as he’s willing to go. It’s clear to me that he gets sufficient joy from his own approach, and as long as he has me to write things down for him (and he only does this a couple of times a year) he is content. I have another friend who handed me a tune with guitar chords penciled in that he intuitively thought would be correct. (A lot of people write just a melody and chords). I arranged his tune into a full piano and choral score, and had a great time. He would have flunked out of a beginning theory class with this score, as it had very strange meter changes and asymmetrical lines (the notation of which I corrected as well). And while the finished piece probably wouldn’t win any prizes, it was quite pleasant and singable, and appropriate for the occasion for which he composed it. So, all this music wouldn’t exist if these two fellows had felt the constraints of a college education in music, first. The world would go on without this music, yet, it gave these people joy, and, really, that’s what I’m most interested in.

Still, let me emphasize I’m with you in spirit, here. I have yet another friend who has sung in one of the choruses I sing in for years, and she loves Bach, Beethoven, and the Boys with a passion. She has never learned to read music though. She obtains recordings of the pieces we’re rehearsing and listens to them over and over and learns her part. This drives me a little crazy. I’ve told her that if she put the effort into learning to read music that she does into learning her part by ear, she’d would master enough skills in a year to cut down her music-learning time considerably. But, for some reason, she’s convinced she can’t learn this. Arghh!! Still, it’s her choice, her joy, her passion. It only came back to haunt her when she auditioned for a symphony chorus, and could not pass the sight-reading part of the audition. For that application, she did indeed need the skills she was lacking. I have no conclusion here, other than that people will do what they will, and attempting to force them into a position that robs them of joy is not something I favor.

As regards your second comment; you both make my point, and make an excellent argument against it—thank you for both! You mention Indian music as an example. Where I went to college, we did not study classical Indian music except in a “Music Appreciation” type class. We learned western classical theory, and some jazz (perhaps). When I lived in California I lived near The Ali Akbar College of Music, and often went to their concerts and knew some of the students. The instructors there said it takes about a year for classically trained western musician to begin to even be able to hear Indian scales. I know for myself, I couldn’t hear microtones for the longest time, since I’d been steeped in equal-tempered eight-note scales for my whole life. (And don’t get me started on tuning systems, or we’ll be here all day! πŸ™‚ ) So, at best, many of us have to “unlearn” things we were taught as part of our cultural educational system in order to be able to begin to understand systems different from ours. I’m pretty sure that’s true in writing and art as well.

Bottom line: I enjoy education; enjoy learning the many things my culture has to offer. I just don’t feel they are the only approaches to the arts or to life! Thanks for the correction about costs for education in Sweden. I tried to find the radio program I’d listened to, but I was driving at the time, and I didn’t jot it down. I don’t know what the commenter thought the $200 dollars was for; at first I thought for books and supplies, but Wikipedia says those are included in the education grants students receive in your country. Thanks, Rikard. As you often do, you’ve gotten me thinking!

Kaylee, it’s a no obligation blog here remember? πŸ™‚ However: HI, back! It’s always nice to see you!

I know I just wanted you to know i was ok πŸ™‚

As you said, a very poignant anecdote. It really is never too late to learn anything; just wish everyone realises that πŸ˜€

“It’s clear to me that he gets sufficient joy from his own approach”

Just to make it clear: I have no problem with that.

At least as long as no claim is made that lack of education is a good thing or something like that. Since the point of education is to (help someone) get better at something, and it’s always possible to get better at things even when you’re really good, education should always help people to get better at things. That that’s not always that case is a problem with the quality and content of the education, and not a problem with the concept of education in general.

To quote a song (which is in turn quoting a Swedish(?) proverb): “We learn as long as we live. We live as long as we learn something new.”

Regarding the $200, that could indeed be for books and supplies, as those have to be paid by the student when studying at university level. If Wikipedia says something different, it’s wrong. (Technically, at least. Or you misread the article. I haven’t checked what it says. Grants and loans is a separate thing… Explaining the Swedish education system completely would take a while.)

Excellent, thought-provoking post and comments.

Both of my kids are in college, but as a single mom, financially planning for it wasn’t possible. I did educate them about applying for grants, scholarships and work study, which is exactly what they’re doing. My son is twenty-one and he’s just now starting, but I knew he’d go when he was ready. One of the reasons he held off was because he rejected the idea of paying to take courses that wouldn’t contribute to the major he was interested in. I agree to a degree. Many core requirements (forced upon students to make them more “well rounded”) have nothing to do with what they’re actually planning to do with their lives. My stepdaughter took juggling to meet her PE requirement. Cha-ching!

I also think that more employment opportunities should be based upon skills and ability than on whether or not you have a piece of paper.

Not “a” piece of paper, THAT piece of paper. Y’know, the rolled up one that says, “diploma.”

Well, Muse, I agree with u that education isn’t the only way out..I attended both College and University and I have learnt more as a self-taught person than anything else…Sweeden free! Gosh! They are lucky.. Here in Canada education is expensive and u better have a very good job to pay it off…Anyway, I believe that the problem isn’t the ”education” as such but rather the way the education’s system is structured, so many flaws in it and conceived for the Mass..Mass=Money..

Hey there Muse! Great post, it has certainly hit home. I also started working straight after high school.

In my last year of high school I had no idea what career path I wanted to persue, so I jumped into the job market with the hope of discovering my passion within my working experience. I first got door-to-door sales jobs, which I ended up spending more than what I received/made. And my first real job with a basic salary was data capturing in a finance company, and that’s where my career grew up to the realization of my passion. I grew from a Data Capturer, to a Claims Assessor, and then moved to the IT Dept, for a IT Assistant position. I then started experimenting with html, css and javascripting, and became a self-taught web developer/designer.

I then tried my luck at a web design company for a web developer post, and was called for an interview and given an assessment test to check my skills, and got it. I then learned programming in Ruby on Rails while in this company and actually advanced much further than I could ever imagined. And that’s what I’m currently doing.

In my first year of work, I took up a project management course, and would love to persue that too when the time is right. After enough experience in Web Develpoment, I’ll persue my project management career, as it doesn’t limit you to a specific industry, and that’s the path I’ll really advance in as I discovered that I love web development more as a hobby and not my sole career. I need something more generic and broader than that, Project Management.

Ok, I kinda shared my entire career with you, but what I was actually getting at with this is, that not going to college straight after high school gave me the freedom to discover what it is that really makes me happy in a career, and early independence. I would have probably went to college if my parents could afford it, but I reckon I would have taken something that I would discover is not me when in too deep and all the tuition has been paid and completed it just because my parents had already paid and end up in a career that frustrates me because it’s not of my interest.

So now I’m planning on advancing my Project Management to a Master’s in Project Management while working as a Project Manager. Still exploring, exploring… but that’s the adventure of life I guess πŸ˜‰

I believe all should have the freedom to choose what they want to do with their lives because some really don’t need college to do what they love.

Ps: Sorry for being such a stranger lately.

Take care Muse πŸ˜‰

I am glad to know that, Kaylee. You take care!

Thanks, Apar! I agree. We shouldn’t have to break life up into “learning” and “working” and “retiring”. We can do two or three of those at once!

Hey, we’re cool, Rikard. I would never make the statement that education is not good or useful. My wish is that people will be selective shoppers. Perhaps, if it didn’t cost a fortune in some countries, people could evaluate it more objectively. I like the quote/song very much and agree philosophically and from experience. As for Wikipedia, perhaps I did misread it or am confused πŸ˜• I wouldn’t take them as the last word on a topic. I do thank you for giving us the facts. πŸ™‚

Thanks so much for that response, Moonbeam. You sound like one of those excellent understanding parents. Some parents feel terrible if they can’t shell out $40000 a year to enhance their children’s learning experience. Juggling! Well…that could be a useful skill. I’ve seen street performers do that in San Francisco and Las Vegas, and they can make a good living! πŸ˜‰ I have mixed feeling about the “well rounded” thing. On the one hand, I never feel it’s a good idea to “force” students to study a subject they’ve no interest in; on the other, I will admit (reluctantly) that I’ve learned some fascinating things I never would have pursued other than in “required” courses. Just call me the Waffling Muse! πŸ™‚ P.S. I knew you meant “that” piece of paper. teehee. πŸ˜€

Interesting perspective, CV. Here I am waffling again. If a person is well-read, and curious, regardless of how much education they may have, they’ll probably naturally read about new topics and be moved to investigate them. You always sound like a very educated person to me, so whatever you’re doing, it works! πŸ™‚ You ask a good question about who is benefiting from all these tuitions and fees. What are the politics behind that?

Thanks for all that background, Tazzy! You have taken a fascinating path to get to where you are. I didn’t know that’s what you did—it seems that there will always be a need in society for a person with your skills. I so agree with what you said about having the freedom to discover what you like and are good at first, without the burden of repaying student loans, or disappointing parents who’ve invested X dollars in you, or feeling tied into a career that no longer interests you since you spent so much time and money getting there. And continuing to explore is what keeps it fresh and exciting. Project Management! all right! I send you much encouragement!!! It’s great to see you whenever you pop in. I’ve been a bit of a stranger myself. πŸ™‚

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