Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The World Needs Ditch-Diggers, Too

I don't agree with everything Camille Paglia says, but here she's dead right:
But then I gulped when Obama also pledged educational reform by putting state-of-the-art computers in every classroom. Groan. Computers alone will never solve the educational crisis in this country: They are tools and facilitators, not primary conveyors of knowledge. Packing his team with shiny Harvard retreads, Obama missed a golden opportunity to link his public works project with a national revalorization of the trades. Practical training in hands-on vocational skills is desperately needed in this country, where liberal arts education has become a soggy boondoggle, obscenely expensive and diluted by propaganda and groupthink.
This country needs to get over the idea that the ultimate achievement is to go to college. College is fundamentally wrong for some people, and not the best idea for others. The world needs mechanics, electricians, air conditioning technicians, plumbers. Just ask anyone who has recently gone through a renovation or construction project how hard it was to get qualified, talented help—and then how much harder it was to get them to schedule time to do the job around all of their other projects.

Meanwhile, spending on education has gone up and up, while student performance has declined or at best stagnated. Technology isn't the solution. Teaching kids the basic building blocks of education, then helping them apply them to an appropriate career goal is.

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