Monday, October 14, 2013

Higher Ed

FLG read this article about higher ed with interest.  There's lots that FLG agrees with.  He is on-board with concerns about using graduates' earnings to determine the quality of a college degree because, as that article states, "Setting students up for immediate careers and giving them the intellectual tools that will serve them best over a lifetime aren’t necessarily one and the same."   In fact, if FLG were ruler of the world, then he'd seriously consider eliminating all undergraduate business schools.  (He's conflicted on undergraduate engineering schools.  On one hand, he wishes engineering schools had more liberal arts requirements.  On the other hand, he wants the people designing our bridges, buildings, and planes to have the knowledge necessary to do it well and that means a lot of technical course requirements.)

But Whoa, Nelly! here:
"The notion is, let’s transform higher education into job training,” Bruce Ackerman, a professor of law and political science at Yale, told me disapprovingly. That sort of sentiment, he said, was detectable in President Obama’s recent remark that it might be wise to shorten law school from three years to two.

Um, uh, FLG might be confused, but law school is a professional school, which wikipedia defines as "a graduate school level institution that prepares students for careers in specific fields."   Sounds pretty much like job training to FLG.  Granted, it's very high-level job training, but fundamentally job training.

FLG must admit that he considers law schools a special case, for the worse.   Medical schools teach future doctors.  Dental schools future dentists.   Law schools often operate under the conceit that they don't train future lawyers so much as teach students how to think.  An advanced, glorified continuation of undergrad for really smart students, which to some extent is true, but FLG also believes the model would fail if it were for the self-selection of students.   Take the entering class at any top law school, lock them in a room for three years, and when they come out they'd still be successful in most any field that requires thinking.  But if it were about just training future lawyers, which is what it really should be, FLG seriously doubts three years would be required.

Takeways here:

  1. Concerns about measuring college effectiveness based on salaries is a concern.
  2. Law school is job training.
  3. Professors are a deeply interested party whose opinions should be taken accordingly.

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