Thursday, July 26, 2012

Value of Education from offered their first Google Hangout on the Value of Education, aka is it worth it to go to college?

The discussion was wide ranging and had a good mix of speakers--a marketer, an economist and a school counsellor--though the moderator could have done a bit more to distribute time amongst all of the panelists.

A story from NPR about a high achieving student choosing the trades over college seems to echo some of the arguments made by the speakers, while also addressing the only the remedial student enters the trades argument. It's a shame that we are still dealing with that stereotype, but this weird belief that only the stupid, usually male, students become tradespeople just won't die in the minds of some parents--and kids.

One area they didn't touch on was when you needed a degree, or a graduate degree, to do the job that you want. For example, if your local authority only hires teachers with a graduate degree to teach in the K-12 schools, you can go to school for a year to be a Teaching Assistant--but that is not a Teacher. And without the four year degree you can never progress into higher level administration or even into instructional or curricular design. In some cases college is the only way to get into a profession, so suggesting that they just pursue the "lite" version of the career is also a waste of their time and money.

However, their point about taking the associate degree, getting some work experience and pursuing additional education with the assistance of their employer is one we try to impress on our students all the time.

There are also some cases where a trade and a degree can go hand in hand. For example, a person who pursues a degree in history but who also works as a carpenter--whether as a full-time worker and a part-time student, or vice versa--may be able to use their trade to leverage their degreed career. As a carpenter and a historian, they could work in a museum (or form their own company) to build and repair exhibits; they can work in historical interpretation as a carpenter; they can also use their skills and knowledge to preserve historic homes or buildings. I wish sometimes that people would consider how a trade and a college degree can enhance one another, rather than the liberal arts depriving our economy of a plumber. (In fact, a chemistry class would have helped the plumber who told me that I could boil lead out of my water--but I consider him to be unusual and not the norm.)

They are also trying to continue the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #valueofed, but they couldn't have anticipated the Twitter shutdown during their hangout.

Points to for using Google Hangouts. I'm looking forward to more of these.


Bridget said...

Thanks for writing up our hangout. I'm glad that you found it helpful. I was the moderator and would LOVE to hear more from you about how the time given to each speaker could have been better distributed to make the hangout better. That was my first time in that role and I would like to improve at it. - Bridget

Cris Gee said...

I felt that the marketer/parent was a bit too dominating in the discussion and during her more lengthy riffs, I tuned out the talk. You did a great job relating what they stated to one another and asking for supplementary comments.

But I also tend to prefer the facts and science--so an economist is my preference--to the anecdotal story teller. I realize that is sometimes unusual in business talks but I prefer the facts.