Tuesday, March 11, 2008

University/College ...But I Digress

'Well another day, another dollar' (that's what I would be saying if I wasn't an university student). Seems like these days it is harder and harder for the university student to get his/her foot in the door of the 'real world' (unless that person is a business graduate or an engineering graduate).

Presently I hold a Bachelor of Arts Degree, and there aren't many opportunities awaiting if I choose to try and find a job. (I definately do not have any companies knocking on my door, offering me salaries with benefits after a year, and a raise after a probationary period.. but I digress) It seems that society has favored the business and technology sectors. That is, university/college degrees that you can obtain (such as a business degree, or engineering degree) mean a lot more to our world than say a history degree does, or an english degree.

Have we become too caught up in our modernization of the world that we no longer value the ability to think abstractly? I know plenty of people that are engineers, and they can quickly solve the Hamilton-Jacobi Equation (http://electron6.phys.utk.edu/phys594/Tools/mechanics/summary/jacobi/jacobi.htm)
BUT they cannot spell for their lives, or interpret a passage written by William Shakespeare! These notions of abstract thinking, as I have said, seem to have become 'passe.' BUT since they are not the 'in' thing, does it mean that they should be tossed into the dust-bin of society?

Personally, I don't think so! Lots of people I have talked to see no point to doing a degree in the Humanities because you cannot get a job with a basic Bachelor's Degree. To get a job you would have to at least earn a Master's Degree, to even have a chance of being hired. BUT, if you are an engineer, or a business student, for instance, all you need is a Bachelor's Degree and the world opens up like a book to you. I hate to be pessimisitc but it seems like society is still stuck in the scientific revolution, where the 'oooo' and 'ahhh' of science has become the sole focus of everyone. People see science and the 'certanities' it proposes as the only things that are concrete and thus are the only things that matter. This spells the end of abstract thought, as less and less is available for Humanities students.

However, I have to say that I am not against Science based degrees and business degrees because they are essential to society. Both have their benefits, such as helping to design new effective ways to harness solar energy, or help stabilize the economy, or run a company, but they are really BETTER than something based in abstractions? For instance, is Van Gogh better or worse than Albert Einstein? It's hard to compare the two isn't it! Van Gogh's paintings are inspirational and beautiful works of art. Einsteins theories were groundbreaking during their initial inception, and have influenced much of our modern day science. Both are great in their own regards, so wouldn't that make them equal?

All I am asking that society take a hard look at how it is created a divide between what is 'supposedly' based in fact, and what is not. Is a mathematical problem with a definate answer (2+2 = 4, for example) any better than a musical composition? I will let you be the judge of that....

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