Here I am, back to this, and apparently still yapping on about “the market”. It really is a bottomless well.
I had not really dug into this topic with an idea of an agenda of discussing the grand subject of “The Market” endlessly, as some people might put it. There are people who like to use the word “agenda” as often as possible, it would seem, with a high probability of being someone who also likes to talk about “the market”, along with all kinds of assorted buzzword lingo that some people like to toss around when they indulge in posing in a weird kind of pseudo formality that’s almost like some kind of theatrical performance intended to make them appear thoughtful and earnest without much thought, and informed, without really knowing what they’re talking about.
Sometimes you find people like this managing to get themselves into some sort of position of importance, as “superiors” over people who actually do know what they are talking about and doing, and can even speak and write properly.
You can frequently find this in action when people have a TV camera and microphone pointed at them, whether it’s some supposed Person of Great Importance or the proverbial “man on the street”.
It occurs to me that I could ramble on for a while about people who like to casually throw around the word “paradigm”. I’ll move on.
It also occurs to me that you might find the same people babbling some inanities about “the marketplace of ideas”.
It then occurs to me that I could find myself digressing quite a bit here.
Oh yeah. When people start babbling something about “the franchise”, about one thing or another, I sometimes find myself struggling with the urge to hunt them down and beat them for days with a baseball bat. Please understand, now, that I am really definitely not a “beat people with a baseball bat” kind of guy, but, sometimes, a boy has to fantasize a bit.
The Market. The Markets. The Marketplace. People babble about this all the time. What amazes and appalls me to no end, more and more, triggering this whole series of notes, is the way people bark away about all this even as we have ourselves surrounded with never ending displays of astonishing examples of people seeming to have profoundly warped notions about actual value of anything.
There are so many possible themes and subthemes to aim at and follow through that it really is almost too much. It has definitely been a recurring event here in my ignored little corner of the web to find myself looking at something and saying things like “but that’s a whole subject of its own” or “where do I even start?”. That problem is not going away, even when you try to narrow the scope a little.
I came across an article that raises an often ignored point about costs that get simply shuffled off and dismissed as “externalities”. This is a large item, not just about recognition of value, but of costs that are pushed off on to someone else, or, to maybe put it a little more accurately, pushed off on to no one in particular, and everyone in general.
As we come to the end of May, bringing with it the end of the traditional American school year, a wave of people, usually but not exclusively young people, graduate from an educational institution with a piece of paper of official record along with a freshly accumulated debt of loans to pay their school expenses accrued to get them to that point. These days, that debt is likely to be massive.
That fact, alone, is one of the virtual herd of proverbial elephants in the room being ignored and neglected, even with the simultaneous aburdities that come with that sort of thing happening while so many people of so aware of the plainly obvious. It’s not like nobody knows about it.
That burden on people, usually in very early adulthood sold the idea that they are now starting out on an exciting and lucrative new career path laid out before them (note another bit of popular lingo there), comes with the irony of the reality of what sort of working compensation they might be likely to be looking at in their near future.
There is more, coupled with the problems of tendencies of education being gigantically overvalued, in terms of the costs charged to students who then often find themselves profoundly undervalued after completing that education. The weird irony is what you seem to get in combination with the climbing costs to students of education, in terms of the actual real value of the educational program phase involved. TO be clear, I am not simply talking simplistically in terms of what there might be in “market value” for some fresh graduate and what they could expect, or be led to expect, as “starting salary”. I mean the actual quality and quantity of learning. You are a fresh new graduate of some program with a fresh piece of paper and have gone through the ritual with the gown and silly hat. What do you know? What can you do?
I should be very clear, at this point, that as is the case with damned near any subject these days, it can be awfully easy to be sucked into a trap of being extremely simplistic about this particular topic. But, then, that’s a running problem. I keep saying, to anybody who migt actually pay any attention, that one unfortunate negative and problematic characteristic of our time is, if I dare to simply summarize, vastly oversimplifying the extremely complex and vastly overcomplicating the very simple. The added ironic complication here is that I think you can make a pretty good argument that this is a running problem in education in general.
One obvious ongoing popular assumption that seems to be widely accepted, and either implied or explicitly stated, is that to be considered “educated”, this more often than not is taken to mean that a person has been granted a bachelor’s degree in something. The level itself seems to be regarded with more weight than the subject of study, with somebody with, say, a Bachelor of Physical Education degree regarded as officially “more educated” than some person with vast knowledge and skills whose formal education might have ended with their graduation from high school.
I doubt that I am completely alone in finding myself occasionally in appalled disbelief having encountered some character with an alleged college/university education, culminating in an actual degree of some kind, who offer all sorts of evidence that make it easy to wonder if they did, in fact, complete a high school education with passing grades. I have to wonder what some of these people do to degrade the meaning of a degree and make other people look at a degree and become wary of its face value. Some of the sort of people I’m talking about would not even understand that I had just used the word “its” correctly in the last sentence, and would type “it’s” instead, along with chronically misusing the apostrophe in their daily written communication.
We could have a whole discussion following this trail going on down the various paths of things that people seem to often not learn, what they do not learn, or forget and dismiss as insignificant. Part of that conversation would naturally lead to one particular aspect of all this that seems to dominate these days. I’m talking about the obsession these days in the United States in regarding education as being all about the basic starting step in “the job market”. How often do you hear about some platitudes and rhetorical noise pouring out of someone’s face about “the importance of education in building the skills needed for The New Economy” or something?