Then . . . What Would High School Look Like?
Do check it out. What came to mind after reading this article was not a question
about higher education, but this one:
If college wasn't the goal (or primary short-term goal), or the only "mainstream"
acceptable goal . . .
- How would K-12 be different?
- How would middle school be different?
- How would high school be different?
Would love to hear your thoughts on this - - -
Some excerpts and links below.
The University Has No Clothes
The notion that a college degree is essentially worthless has become one of the
year's most fashionable ideas, with two prominent venture capitalists (Cornell '89
and Stanford '89, by the way) leading the charge.
Pity the American parent! Already beleaguered by depleted 401(k)s and gutted real-estate values, Ponzi schemes and toxic paper, burst bubbles and bear markets, he is now being asked to contend with a new specter: that college, the perennial hope for the next generation, may not be worth the price of the sheepskin on which it prints its degrees.
As long as there have been colleges, there's been an individualist, anti-college strain in American culture - an affinity for the bootstrap. But it is hard to think of a time when skepticism of the value of higher education has been more prominent than it is right now. Over the past several months, the same sharp and distressing arguments have been popping up in the Times, cable news, the blogosphere, even The Chronicle of Higher Education. The cost of college, as these arguments typically go, has grown far too high, the return far too uncertain, the education far too lax. The specter, it seems, has materialized. . .
It's no surprise, given how the Great Recession has corroded public faith in other once-unassailable American institutions, that college should come in for a drubbing. But inevitability is just another word for opportunity, and the two most vocal critics are easy to identify and strikingly similar in entrepreneurial self- image. In the past year or so, James Altucher, a New York-based venture capitalist and finance writer, has emerged through frequent media appearances as something of a poster boy, and his column "8 Alternatives to College" something of an essential text, for the anti-college crusade. The father of two young girls . .(snip) . . "The cost of college in the past 30 years has gone up tenfold. Health care has only gone up sixfold, and inflation has only gone up threefold. Not only is it a scam, but the college presidents know it. That's why they keep raising tuition."
Like Altucher, Peter Thiel is a venture capitalist with strong misgivings about college. Unlike Altucher, he's a billionaire and Silicon Valley royalty. In 1998, Thiel co-founded PayPal, and six years later, he made the first angel investment in Facebook. (In The Social Network, he is the imposing figure who conspires to oust Eduardo Saverin from the company.) . . (snip) . .
. . . In higher education, he believes he has identified a third bubble, with all the hallmarks of a classic speculative frenzy - hyperinflated prices, investments by ignorant consumers funded largely by debt, and widespread faith in increasing returns. . . . (snip)
. . . .Their advocacy has made Altucher and Thiel no few enemies. Jacob Weisberg, of Slate, has called the Thiel Fellowship a "nasty" and narcissistic idea that will retard the participants' intellectual development and funnel whatever altruistic energies they have into getting rich, like Thiel. Altucher has received voluminous hate mail as the result of his media appearances and blog posts, including one from a fan who threatened to murder him and then eat his remains.
But the skepticism is spreading, even among foot soldiers on the academic front lines. In March, "Professor X," an anonymous English instructor at two middling northeastern colleges, published In the Basement of the Ivory Tower, an expansion of an Atlantic essay arguing that college has been dangerously oversold and that it borders on immoral to ask America's youth to incur heavy debt for an education for which millions are simply ill-equipped. Professor X's book came out on the heels of a Harvard Graduate School of Education report that made much the same point. The old policy cri de coeur "college for all," the report argues, has proved inadequate; rather than shunting everyone into four-year colleges, we should place greater emphasis on vocational programs, internships, and workplace learning . . .
Related articles The Daily Riff:
7 Reasons to Say No To College to Your Kids
College: Another Institution to be Wary of?
The Most Important Higher Education Study in Years: "Trust Us" Won't Cut It Anymore
Harvard: "A" Students Tend to Become Professors and "C" Students Wealthy Donors -