Sincerely Flattered

Adele Horin had a piece in today’s SMH calling for more liberal arts degrees. I agreed with it, but felt like I’d heard the ideas somewhere before.

From the section of Imagining Australia on liberal arts degrees:

A broad educational experience is the ideal preparation for a life of active and productive citizenship in a rapidly changing world. Yet somewhere, this concept of education seems to have been lost in Australia. Our university system emphasises professional degrees, with many undergraduates proceeding straight from high school into degree programs such as accounting, surveying or physiotherapy. Indeed, almost a quarter of our undergraduates are enrolled in business degrees. Far from being a broad transformational experience, higher education in Australia increasingly serves a narrow instrumental purpose. The pursuit of knowledge is driven not by the desire to become a well-educated person, but by the goal of grabbing a high-paying job as quickly as possible.

From Horin’s piece:

It is time for Australia to rediscover the value of a liberal-arts education. For too many, a university education has become a means to grabbing a high-paying job as fast as possible, rather than a chance to broaden their knowledge about the world in which we live. A lot of young people leave school and move straight into a vocational program at university, such as surveying or marketing.

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10 Responses to Sincerely Flattered

  1. Mass-media needs to be taken out back and shot. The only thing keeping them alive is present (dwindling)circulation.

    Incidentally, I think tertiary education should be vocational. Let the Liberal Arts be done at the High School level. I believe that Years 11 and 12 should be a Liberal Arts degree where a student can major in Science, Arts, Mechanical Arts etc and leave high school with a degree.

    The vocational tertiary education can then become one year masters degrees of specialization. That will stop people being removed from the economy as an economic actor for three years while they do a degree. It will also stop students being subject to student poverty and lack of social mobility during that period (ie living with the parents, etc).

    Having one year tertiary vocational degrees will also follow the business investment cycle better. Currently in private industry, most people specialise for a project at a time. And once that project is finished (3 to 18 months), they then do another project and specialise in some other area until that project is complete; and so on. Having one year masters degrees will match that type of cycle more closely and allow people to retrain faster to meet the education challenges within short project cycles.

    Having one year tertiary degrees will also reduce the cost of retraining for many in the workforce now too. That will increase competition between public and private Universities.

    To be truthful, if I got told I *had* to do a liberal arts degree first before I could do science – I would rebel. I do not like people telling me I have to do that. It would be coercion through the monopoly on bachelor degree education the Universities (and by extension, government) hold.

    It is better in my opinion to make education faster, shorter, cheaper, and more vocationally relevant. It will improve choice so the user/consumer of education can make better decisions tied to what they want to get out of of education. Not what the University or Government decides they should get out of it.

    Best to do “improve the person” stuff when the student is captive and has no other choice – and that is in High School. In exchange for being a captive student, the student should get no less than an internationally recognized Liberal Arts degree when they leave Year 12.

  2. Martin says:

    Why, it’s the OLO piece! resurrected!

  3. Rex says:

    With all due respect Andrew, that technique is exactly the same one I used to pass high school English.

    One ask the class swot for their homework, copies it out at recess before class, changing the words a bit so as not to be too obvious, and hey presto, before you know it you’re a teacher yourself.

    Its a fine tradition and it’s the only reason our society progresses at all.

  4. Andrew Leigh says:

    To respond to a couple of points made by commenters, I don’t see this as a case of plagarism. It could be a coincidence, or it might be a case of having just read our chapter, and accidentally borrowed the language.

  5. dK says:

    Andrew:
    In my opinion, Its a fine tradition and it’s the only reason our society progresses at all. To respond to a couple of points made by commenters, I don’t see this as a case of plagarism. The pursuit of knowledge is driven not by the desire to become a well-educated person, but by the goal of grabbing a high-paying job as quickly as possible.

    Just kidding, buds. It’s late, and this is a bad attempt on my part at humor. I enjoy this site and stopped by to say hello.

    dK

  6. david Tiley says:

    She’s paraphrasing. In some ways, it illustrates the clumsiness of print compared to electronic media. In the blogosphere, you just dump in a quote and a link, that doesn’t interrupt the flow of the sentence; in print you have to set up an elaborate:

    “As andrew.. recently pointed out,… blah blah”, which is pretty messy when you only want a little bit and there are lots of sources. Or use footnotes, which newspapers don’t like. Personally I would go for a para at the end which says something: “this article is based partly on ideas from…. ”

    Without talking about Horin, who has been around the houses many times, some mature journos are saying that paraphrasing a press release has become a key sklll, even in our major broadsheet newspapers. In the serious bits I mean – it has always been around the advertorially bits.

  7. James Lee says:

    I think they should strictly limit the places for liberal arts at Uni. I studied at Latrobe University Victoria and it was totally ruled by marxists, feminist, and other left-wing old hippies. The only way you could get good grades was to pander to them and work your essays to their point of view and ideology. Any disagreement with their line of thinking, no matter how logical, led to being publicly scorning by them. At the end of my 3rd year in Uni, I realized I still hadn’t learnt how to do independent research and thinking.

  8. Andrew Leigh says:

    James, I feel your pain, but let’s not write off the liberal arts. A basic knowledge of philosophy, history and the sciences is essential to knowing how the world works, isn’t it?

  9. Evil Pundit says:

    Such basic knowledge is not available in liberal arts faculties, which are dedicated to spreading leftist propaganda.

  10. it might be a case of having just read our chapter, and accidentally borrowed the language.

    That was the Demidenko defence!

    Seriously, Ms Horin might have paid more attention to the strictures in liberal arts writing about acknowledgement of sources.

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