Too Many Professors, Too Few Plumbers?

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Is preoccupation with college a mistake? Frank DeFilippo at Splice Today thinks so. He argues that our collective obsession with higher education could use some review. "College today is little more than a finishing school, and a very expensive one at that." We're turning out more and more graduates, but what are they going to do? "The nation just might be over-educated," muses De Filippo, and "in today's work-a-day world, anyone who isn't afraid to get a little grease under his fingernails or luxuriate in the slime and grime of a broken pipe or backed up sink will take home a bigger paycheck than a college grad with a degree in literature or philosophy." Why not revive technical schools and apprenticeships rather than ramming low-income students with low test scores (or high-income students with low test scores) through a community college of questionable utility? Or, as DeFilippo more colorfully puts it: "Instead of dumbing down the system with all sorts of academic crutches and artificial remedies, why not teach people to do things instead of offering useless courses such as 'Lesbianism in 19th Century Literature.'"

The point, he explains, is that "America needs tinkerers as well as thinkers," and quality education is needed for both. Respect, moreover, is needed for both. In focusing on academia to the exclusion of all else, "educators and the educational system are missing a terrific opportunity to deal with the growing problem of school drop-outs, failures, the disinterested and the just plain don’t-give-a-damns or can't-make-the-grades."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.