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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Reflections on Graduation and our Mess

There come times when I get too sick of the news to comment, give my use of the internet a rest, and focus on things that might have no great importance to the outside world, but which provide the humble Diplomad some peace of mind, an escape . . . sort of.

I attended the graduation ceremony for my dog, Hartza, at the local obedience school. This happy occasion--that's his picture down there, the cap making him looking a bit like an inebriated Soviet sailor--was joyfully marked by not having to sit through a Valedictorian speech, and not having Joe Biden as the keynote speaker. Hartza got a very nice diploma, an official picture, and a treat. The ceremony for me was marred, however, because I knew Hartza did not deserve that diploma. He, in essence, knows nothing. He could barely execute the "sit" command while other dogs were auditioning for gigs with Cirque du Soleil, doing high-wire acts, juggling three burning soccer balls, jumping backwards through blazing rings, pulling children from sinking boats, and . . . OK, I might have exaggerated a bit . . ..




When I told her that my dog seemed, ahem, not quite up to standards, the very nice trainer told me, "I never fail any dog!" This, of course, led me to think about our abysmal universities, in particular, and our abysmal education system, in general.

Everywhere I seem to see the recent products of our universities. Many of them have jobs as "baristas"--used to call them waiters--at Starbucks, Panera, Peet's, etc. My son has a friend who works serving bitter, burned, overpriced coffee to pompous Prius drivers in Southern California. She feels bitter and burned because on graduating from an overpriced university she found herself with bazillions in student debt (FAFSA Loan, Killer of the Dream) and only can land a close to minimum wage job, serving bitter, burned, overpriced coffee to pompous Prius drivers in Southern California. Her degree? Sounds made-up but . . . "gender studies with a specialization in feminist literature." As I told my son, his friend should feel fortunate that somebody, Starbucks in this case, would hire a person with zero qualifications for anything real, train her, entrust expensive expresso machines to her, AND pay her. She complains, and moans about her lot, but will she consider moving somewhere other than Southern California, somewhere cheaper with more job openings for the unskilled? No. Not clear what she thought she was getting with her degree, and is very vague about the job she would want other than, well, you guessed it, teaching gender studies with a specialization in feminist literature.

Like Hartza whom the trainer did not have the heart to fail, millions of kids emerge from universities all over the West, not just in the US, armed with a sense of superiority and entitlement, and prepared for nothing. One wonders how different things would be if many of those youths had resisted the progressive Siren song on the need to go to university, and taken the advice of one of my favorite public personalities, Mike Rowe, who has tried for years to get kids interested in real work, in learning skilled trades, in doing something that makes something. We, instead, have millions of children aspiring for the life and the status of the intellectual, but finding that universities cannot deliver those anymore. Universities have suffered the fate that all institutions suffer when they surrender to the progressives: quality declines precipitously, and the original mission becomes corrupted into something else.

Back to Hartza. I want to train him to operate a backhoe.

43 comments:

  1. Hartza doesn't have to do anything except be pretty - which he does very, very well.

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  2. Who TF in their right mind would think that 'gender studies with a specialization in feminist literature.' is going to provide them with an intellectual base on which to build a career? It strikes me as a course derived purely to separate the idealistic gullible from their money.

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    Replies
    1. G'day PF,

      If you trawl through what is on offer at the universities here in Oz you will find similar ridiculous and meaningless degrees which at the end do not even train you to ask "Do you want fries with that?". Now the so called National Curriculum wants to teach physics with an emphasis on aboriginal thought. That'll go a long way in the 21st century.

      Having graduated in engineering with a Post Graduate on top of it I sometimes lose my cool over the dumbing down of the West.

      Back to the fries. Fries? Chips you drongos, bloody chips. This is Oz and not the land of our American cousins.

      Sorry Dip. There is a lot to be admired about the US but calling chips "fries" is not one of them. And they are the thickness of a bloody shoe lace as well.

      Delete
    2. Wouldn't dare argue against any of your points!

      Delete
    3. I sense the steam is rising Down Under.

      Delete
    4. Having been raised in the land of chips (England), I can definitively tell you the difference between chips and fries. English chips-perhaps even Aussie chips-are usually an undercooked, oily, soggy mess, unimproved by the addition of vinegar, barely made edible by the addition of salt. Fries on-the-other-hand are usually cut thin, cooked until golden and crisp, drained of oil, and lightly sprinkled with salt, plus they are edible. There are many things wrong with the USA at present, their ability to make fries is NOT one of them.

      Regarding Hartza-he has the native intelligence to understand that a winning personality and good manners will get you far in this world, the feminist I am guessing failed to learn that during five years of unneccessary schooling, in fact, if my observation of feminists is anything to go by they actively avoid any attempt to be pleasant (thats another of those 80/20 issues, before any of the 20% vociferously complain.)

      Having incurred the ire of Brits, possibly Aussies and 80% of of feminists in one short post I consider this days work done.

      Delete
    5. G'day Dip and Whitewall,

      Four members of my family are secondary school teachers. One a Principal [also a Lt Colonel in our Reserve], two are Vice Principals and the fourth a Maths/Physics teacher at years 11 and 12. Makes for interesting conversations around a family dinner table when matters of curricula arise. The general disgust at the airy-fairy notions being pushed so that no one can fail is palpable.

      Whitewall I have managed to reach 72 after spending 34 years in HM's Service and then 20 years in private practice as an engineer and I no longer suffer those I consider fools gladly. [SWMBO says I never did and I gave up trying to argue with her years ago] I am happy for the "fools" to have dissenting opinions but when those opinions have the effect of glorifying stone age societies against the achievements of European enlightenment my safety valve pops.

      Having had my little eruption I feel much better.

      I trust the Jewish followers of "the Dip" had a good Passover and to the Christian followers I trust your Easter passes well.

      Delete
    6. Gender studies has supplied careers for the ten of thousands in diversity workshops, diversity offices in universities, studies departments, diversity consultants, etc. It is held in high esteem in universities.

      Diversity study in its various guises has supplied lucrative employment for decades. Who knew under Obama there’d be a temporary slump in demand?

      Delete
    7. ay Dave, when I was at Sydney Uni centuries ago in one of the dunnies there was some grafitti above the toilet roll dispenser reading 'Arts degrees, please take one' which I have always found hilarious.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for mentioning Mike Rowe Dip.

    Send Hartza over to his regimen and I'll guarantee ... well I'm comparing "major educational places" to his - Hartza at least will be sufficiently trained I'd stand next to the dog on the backhoe digging alongside a, for instance, natural gas pipeline.

    Thing about Hartza being in Rowe's class gives me the confidence is, Rowe (apparently) doesn't grade on the curve. Thus Hartza will at least be qualified.

    Arkie

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  4. Is there remedial obedience training?

    LibertyGrace'sGrandma

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  5. Diplomad Sir, your Hartza just needs to find something to excel at. Here's what can happen:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGODurRfVv4

    Ahem, I have an old German Shepard, whom my youngest daughter had hopes he would become a rescue dog. He wasn't cut out for that, but he's a wonderful, loyal family pet and I wouldn't trade him for a dozen "talented" dogs.

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  6. I've got to say Hartza is one heck of a fine looking dog, obedient or not!

    Love the comment about Mike Rowe, he's my absolute favourite as well, real people making real things!

    I did mechanical engineering, despite really wanting to do toolmaking. There is one thing I remember my solid mechanics lecturer saying: "When I went to university of Prague (1948ish), the end of the first year 50% FAIL and never do engineering again because they could not keep up with the mathmatics!"

    Presumably the 50% who failed went on to do important, useful and fullfilling technical / hands on jobs.

    The current education system is currently failing pretty much everyone. Those that get a "Hartza" pass can't get work, and if they do, it's unfulfilling and well below their potential. Those who did genuinely pass were probably not as challenged and expanded by their course as they could have been, they then need to fight their way through the graduate chaff to find employment.

    My two girls are currently in primary school, I teach them more maths and english in a 30 minute car trip than they seem to learn in a week at school. The rot starts very early.

    Rickw - Australia

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    Replies
    1. I went to Virginia Tech 1980-85. Aerospace Engineering. Freshman losses were 50%. Sophomore losses about 30%. It wasn't easy.

      Delete
    2. Cal Poly SLO, started Engineering school 1965.

      First day of school the Chair of the School of Engineering met with 1,500 new freshmen. We expected to hear "Welcome to Cal Poly, we will give you the wisdom of the ages." Instead, he came to the podium, stood for about a week staring at us and said, "Gentlemen (there was only one woman in the room) look around. This time next year half of you will be gone. The following year half of those will be gone. One in five will graduate. And we (gesturing to the various Department Heads) will make sure of it." And he walked off the stage.

      He was right, one in five survived.

      Just to rub it in, if you asked for help in a freshman or sophomore class, the instructor handed you a change of major form, filled out for the Business School, with the charge, "If you can't do this you'll never survive when it gets hard. Get out now, save yourself the trouble."

      Most did.

      Poly's graduation rate is still about 28% but the business school is bigger so I'm guessing that while I can't imagine the Engineering Chair would give that speech, they still practiced what he preached.

      Delete
    3. Michael, I would pay good money to watch a roomful of Gen Y students listen to that speech.

      Delete
  7. Congratulations, with some reservations, to Hartza.

    Happy Passover to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Michael,

      I "suppose I might've" er, messed up? Anyway my reply and Happy Passover to you too is somewhere shortly below around April 17, 2014 at 1:31 AM.

      In Common Friend,
      Arkie

      Delete
  8. Hartza will take to the backhoe. He will enjoy the hard hat, safety belt and operators cage. Get him a CAT heavy equipment patch for his collar and a Pabst Blue Ribbon.

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    Replies
    1. Behind the times Whitewall,
      These operators today are more likely sucking up some meth and dulling it with whiskey.
      James the Lessor

      Delete
    2. Happy Passover back at you Michael - although I noticed my receptioned comments below might not be taking me so ... er, heck, I dunno.

      I just stopped awhile Michael aware we've a common able friend tho' our respective employments aren't so ... oh ... well Michael you'd know how me 'n Able'd put it.

      So here we three are.

      Arkie

      Delete
  9. It snowballs as well. I was *more* than capable of handling my undergraduate studies in physics, but I wasn't a particularly outstanding student. Why? Why should I? All I had to do was beat these people who obviously shouldn't be at a research facility. As a result, the whole department was swamped with students of various majors who weren't interested or weren't capable and staff was thus never able to show any leadership or inspiration. Basically, the tone in academia needs to change to one of sober pursuit.

    Then I did some graduate work at a state university, and it became quite clear to me. These schools weren't just 'good', they were *better* at actually educating. They were far more efficient at sorting the interested from the disinterested predominantly because they were hiring PhDs who wanted to *teach*.

    The standard for attending a research institution should be jacked up into the stratosphere, and instead those universities need to establish strong partnerships with state universities as 'feeder programs'.

    Okay.. not gonna solve all the problems by any means.. but getting people to the right institution is is basically a challenge of defeating spam.

    - reader #1482

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  10. When he's ready send him to me, I'll start him on of these.
    http://army-uk.com/stock/fotobig/982_IMG_3437-20101111-115622.JPG
    James the Lessor

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  11. What a coincidence, your dog wants to operate a backhoe while most "gender studies with a specialization in feminist literature" majors are only qualified to be back-hoes.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Bad, very bad . . . but very funny

      Delete
    2. at first it was just a low "heh heh" and then I realized I was finally "up-to-snuff" on what the kids acronyimize as ROFLMAO

      not that I've much of one - in the "accourterized plastic-surgery enhanced sort" of that - my belly is protruding more than my "Kard-ass-ian" (or Lardashian as the case may be)

      "And who might be," asks the General Contractor, "The Operator of that particular piece of equipment?"

      "Lardashian is the Chief BackHoe & Kanye the ..."

      I don't care who all comments here - everybody seems to wind up funny.
      _______________

      & maybe in poor taste but around my "cubicles" there's an explanation of sorts as to "why" MH-370 hasn't been found yet.

      Has to do with "only us US persons having access to the passenger manifest" & we note one passenger in particular being named:

      Jimmy Hoffa.

      Arkie

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    3. Sorry Arkie the Hoffa mystery was solved years ago. When Tammy Fae Baker finally took her make up off it was Jimmy!
      James the Lessor

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    4. Well then. I'll (Josie Wales -the movie-) "Endeavor to persevere."

      Comment in reply previous thread @ April 16, 2014 at 9:37 PM

      Arkie the Realest Hillbilly - not to be confused with Duff's HillBilly.

      Delete
    5. "Endeavor to persevere." A fine Cherokee you are?

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    6. Nope.

      Just the last time I actually sat in a movie theater & where I thought the line better than the shoot 'em ups.

      And Josie Wales being Clint Eastwood from Misery - though in the original damn book Eastwood based it on said it was Arkansas - I'll be going with a line rather than a shoot 'em up.

      I've survived a line and more as I've tried 'em, 'shoot 'em ups' I'd prefer to leave to the experts.

      In other words, I'd rather Obama send Clint Eastwood to Ukraine than me as I would prefer "endeavoring to preserve" rather than that warrior shit.

      Arkie

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  12. My youngest daughter graduated last May with a degree in French (Her favorite place) and hope of a job in France (Not likely). She does have a good job in Tucson with full benefits and is making more money to start than her sister is making. One help to her was working as a waitress all through college. Her politics are similar to mine although she might be a bit more conservative.

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  13. Well, did Hartza "try" when he was asked to sit, stay, or whatever? If he did, then who are you to say that he doesn't deserve the diploma? Please, try to move with the rest of us into 21st Century America.

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  14. Hartza's "job" is not to "sit." Hartza's job is to give you love and affection when you need it the most and to be smart enough to recognize when that is. He will perform his job with amazing valor and you will be the better for it.

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  15. But, and these are important questions, is your son's friend blonde with long legs who, shall we say, fills her uniform, which I trust comprises short shorts and a tight T-shirt, to perfection? If so, from what I hear 'over here', southern California is the very best, er, 'career' placement she could find. I have it on good authority that the 'zillionaire' count is good deal higher there than, say, Detroit.

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  17. Of course Mike Rowe himself does not work a backhoe for a living. He’s a TV pitchman and professional show host. His message is good, but he isn’t living his own dream. Were I 18, it’d be clear to me it pays better talk about hard work and dirty jobs than to actually do it.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Sorry, accidentally deleted my reply. You're right, but at least he uses his celebrity status for a good cause, one that could benefit a lot of kids.

      Delete
  18. When I graduated college, I knew of someone who graduated Magna Cum Laude, someone who graduated Summa cum Laude. But me....I just graduated Way too Loud.

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