Sunday, April 29, 2012
"The Usefull, the mechanic Arts, are those which We have occasion for"
Philosophy majors mull questions no more existential than the proper billowiness of the foamed milk atop a customer’s cappuccino. Anthropology majors contemplate the tribal behavior of the youngsters who shop at the Zara where they peddle skinny jeans.
I single out philosophy and anthropology because those are two fields — along with zoology, art history and humanities — whose majors are least likely to find jobs reflective of their education level, according to government projections quoted by the Associated Press. But how many college students are fully aware of that? How many reroute themselves into, say, teaching, accounting, nursing or computer science, where degree-relevant jobs are easier to find? Not nearly enough, judging from the angry, dispossessed troops of Occupy Wall Street.
I'll pass up the ignorant dig at #OWS*and just note that both NTodd and his Pa were Philosophy majors who ended up in computer-related fields: the former became a corporate and collegiate networking/infosec instructor; the latter, an IBM systems engineer with a patent to his credit. For 30 femtoseconds after my advisor had showed me stats that our major did extremely well on LSATs, I'd actually considered going to law school, but becoming a lawyer would've made it more difficult to be angry and dispossessed.
Is this, though, where we really have ended up? An epoch when we cannot afford to study philosophy and anthropology? It brings to mind what John Adams wrote to Abigail from Paris in 1780:
I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study...Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.
Apparently Adams' posterity didn't study enough to retain the rights and liberty for which he struggled so hard...
* OWS has every right to be angry and dispossessed, but is not universally unemployed, and our national problem is not of structural unemployment, but of a lack of demand to create jobs, which is why we still have 4 job seekers per opening.
PS--Something that helped me and Pa get into this field was learning critical thinking and symbolic logic. And I'd be remiss if I didn't observe that pretty much everything--politics, math, science, economics--is derived from philosophy. Ahem.
April 29, 2012 | Permalink
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Thanks for this post. Looks like John Adams had the right way of thinking on this. People can't write, and critical thinking is almost gone. But then, that is the goal of TPTB. An ignorant non-skeptical citizenry are useful for the new Oligarchic idiocracy. So depressing this new world we live in.
Posted by: lea-p | Apr 29, 2012 11:34:55 PM
It's interesting to me that our educational system has so some vestigal characteristics: summers off to accomodate our agricultural beginnings; an industrial design to produce workers with practical skills. And now we've got "reformers" who aren't doing anything but creating revenue streams for the testing industry while our children lack basic skills (which I see post-NCLB coming into the college level).
Posted by: NTodd Pritsky | Apr 30, 2012 12:24:47 AM