Friday, December 2, 2011

Are We Too in Love With the Past?


It's been a long week and I'm a bit sleep-deprived so it may not be the best time to blog, but I've been wondering whether we depend too much on the past to evaluate what is good for the present or future? 
I recently read a report claiming the BA degree is still the best path to middle-class jobs and earnings (Georgetown University). 
Is a BA degree still the best predictor of future earnings because of the value of the BA degree or because of past trends? Does that mean we can't change the system? Based on a comment once by Henry Ford, a typical headline in 1904 might have read, "Horse and buggy still the preferred method of transportation." Does that mean folks back then should have invested in more horses and buggies instead of the new-fangled motor car?


If higher education proclaims, "You need more of us to get where you want to go," is that any reason to jump on that bandwagon? What if horses could communicate? Do you think they would have been saying, "You need more automobiles to get where you want to go?" Probably not. That'd be kind of self-defeating, don't you think? We can only expect that colleges will proclaim, "We are the portal to a better future," whether it's accurate or not. After all, no one has been to the future to see if that's true. It's all measured by a past that's no longer here.
What about schools and our insistence that we hang on to the old traditions of the graded school system and other structures? Is it because it once worked so we should simply have more of the same? And then there's the pseudo-reformers who want to hang on to the vestigages of an era when they went to school, while expecting schools of the past to do a better job of educating students for the future. Didn't Einstein hint that could be a sign of mental illness?
I'm not sure I've made much sense with this, but we seem to be stuck looking in the rear-view mirror, nostalgic for what once was.