The Borg Cube is an interesting case study in that it is filled with people who are either Accountants by training or they are not. Those who are not fall generally into two categories: those who have college degrees in something interesting and those who have none. Of the three other people in my immediate pod, two are high school graduates and one has degrees in Economics and Public Administration. Over the wall is someone with a degree in Piano Performance. There's a bass player down the aisle, and in the aisle nearest
the windows is an honest-to-God self-confessed English Major. (Over beyond the atrium is a guy who has the Opera News cover with Ambrogio Maestri pinned up on his wall -- I haven't figured out his deal yet.)
|They don't teach Platonic solids in Accounting either.|
Except, K, you are that guy. Which is to say not Widget Guy, but the Mythical Creature that looms so huge and pale in your imagination, standing in a corner with a sign around its neck that says Widget Guy: Humanities Major. Let's examine:
Widget Guy has two lives: one where he has started, grown, and maintained a successful business for at least the last decade, and one where he's kept up with developments in Physical Anthropology (and there have been a lot since he walked off the podium with a sheepskin, so this isn't just reading the latest outdated Missing Link Discovery! Weekly Report on Yahoo News).
K, on the other hand, has one life, comprised almost entirely of work and family. And much of what he experiences with family he grouses about later at work. We can only hope he grouses about work to family on the flip side, because fair is fair.
Conclusion: K, you don't get out enough.
Widget Guy is naturally gregarious, which is a benefit when working in retail, particularly in an independent business where the owner is doing most of the customer service and all of the business networking.
K is also naturally gregarious, which is not a benefit when you're supposed to be hunkered down in your Borg subcube doing Borg subwork.
Conclusion: K, you are trapped in a tiny cube.
Widget Guy has kids. One is in an Architecture program at a major tech school. The other is looking at Classics programs at the dreaded Expensive Liberal Arts Colleges. Widget Guy doesn't seem worried about them. He says that Classics Department chairs have made a point of asking him, the parent, if he supports his kid's interest in majoring in Classics. Of course he does. Why? Because in his other life he is not Widget Guy but Romano-Dacian Tomb Excavation Guy.
K also has kids. K worries a lot about them. They're out of college, struggling as kids in their twenties usually do. He's not sure they've chosen wisely or well in their college careers, and he wonders how long he will have to support them.
Conclusion: K, not only are you trapped in a cube, but you have convinced yourself you cannot afford to leave. Ever.
So while we allow the public discourse on higher education to make bogus and weirdly manichaean divisions between the Marketable and the Non-marketable, maybe we should also recognize that we are tending to confuse the concept of Education with the concept of Training. Education is about developing habits of mind. Training is about learning how to do a job. K's inherent assumption, the thing that made him laugh, is as common to the Borg Cube as it is elsewhere: that Humanities people are losers who wasted their college education in frivolous pursuit of useless knowledge, while the smart ones had the foresight to dedicate their undergraduate careers to something perceived to be useful, practical, lucrative (maybe), and...finite.
What's the bottom line, then? Consider the examples above, then extrapolate. If the educational agenda you promote results in the collective habit of mind being able to reckon only in terms of Profit and Loss, what more does that create than a culture of impoverishment?
|St Jerome sez: Whatever you do, it will surely end in Hell, so smoke 'em if you got 'em.|