January 31, 2014

The teachers who feel disrespected by what the President said in Waukesha.

He was here in Wisconsin the day after the State of the Union. Spot the offense. It will be easy. Obama sees it too. He knows when he's stepping in it and tries to scrape it off, laugh it off:
A lot of parents, unfortunately, maybe when they saw a lot of manufacturing being offshored, told their kids you don't want to go into the trades, you don't want to go into manufacturing because you'll lose your job. Well, the problem is that what happened — a lot of young people no longer see the trades and skilled manufacturing as a viable career. But I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree. Now, nothing wrong with an art history degree — I love art history. (Laughter.) So I don't want to get a bunch of emails from everybody. (Laughter.) I'm just saying you can make a really good living and have a great career without getting a four-year college education as long as you get the skills and the training that you need. (Applause.)
Oh, you'll be getting emails. You'll be getting emails and letters and all forms of expression of hurt from the art history sector of the education economy. And let me play the gender card, because if this were not a President with gender immunity — that is to say, if this were a Republican President — the coded sexism would be translated and bruited about everywhere.


Linda A. Downs, executive director and chief executive of the College Art Association, says:
I was very disappointed... Critical thinking, an understanding of different cultures, a tolerance for diversity, understanding and thinking through values—all of these things are considered extremely valuable in the workplace, whether you’re a tradesperson or you’re a corporate head. Over and over again, you see where corporations have hired humanities graduates because of the various problem-solving skills they have and their knowledge of the world. If all the emphasis is going to be put on specific job skills, we’re creating future citizens that are only half educated.
Do you hear the gender? The President was talking about trades and skilled manufacturing and the voices of women come back at him praising the workers with interpersonal skills in handling matters like diversity, skills somehow honed by spending the college years gazing upon and contemplating art.

Flashback to candidate Obama in the summer of '07, when he got the idea of stimulating the economy with money for infrastructure jobs that would fit with the way "guys... define themselves as men." Shovel-ready jobs, restoring masculine pride. And then the women pushed back. You'd better see to our needs.

88 comments:

Skeptical Voter said...

I have an adult daughter who has an art history degree from UCLA. She has a fairly successful career as an interior designer for wealthy people.

But while she was in school (twenty plus years ago) I worried that she would never find gainful employment

But let's go back to understanding diversity and cultural differences and all that. If your job is programming a CNC machining tool or a 3D ptrinter, the machine doesn't give a rat's patoot about your "diversity skills". It's an equal opportunity employer for all who have the requisite numeracy.

Christy said...

I'll see your sexism and raise you two. Tom Wolfe explained in A Man in Full that an Art History major is for pretty girls who go on to become the trophy wives of wealthy older guys who buy art.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

. . . you see where corporations have hired humanities graduates because of the various problem-solving skills they have and their knowledge of the world

Sorry, but I don't 'see' that, at all. And I bet neither do you. But if you claim to, let's hear the logic, with credible examples, that show that a degree in Art History implies "problem-solving skills" of use to businesses. I see no connection at all.

Shouting Thomas said...

The Diversity Industry is a make work job program for useless women.

Every HR Dept. inflicts these non-working scolds on their workplace, in a vain attempt at lawsuit avoidance.

In the early days of the Diversity scam, the useless women were often pretty young things recently out of college hired by some middle aged HR exec who hoped to play the White Knight, and maybe get some action by displaying his sensitivity credentials.

Men are always pulling that shit on one another.

One of the best aspects of retirement is that I don't have to put up with those Diversity women any more.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...


Often, a claim of respect for diversity is just a cover mask for what is really going on - cowardly anti-judgementalism.

Ralph Hyatt said...

"Critical thinking, an understanding of different cultures, a tolerance for diversity, understanding and thinking through values—all of these things are considered extremely valuable in the workplace, whether you’re a tradesperson or you’re a corporate head."

Actually, to plumbers and electricians and tool and die makers and auto technicians and carpenters and diesel engine mechanics those "things" are not considered "valuable" if by valuable you mean actually increasing your hourly salary.

Paco Wové said...

"Sorry, but I don't 'see' that, at all."

Agreed. There are three big leaps that Ms. Downs wants us to make here: one, that "Humanities" == "Art History"; two, that companies do in fact, for whatever reasons, hire either Humanities or Art History majors in any sort of large numbers (let's see some data, please); and third and biggest of all, that a Humanities degree actually teaches "Critical thinking, an understanding of different cultures, a tolerance for diversity, understanding and thinking through values..."

rhhardin said...

Critical thinking gets you banned from annual mandatory diversity seminars.

Anyway in my experience.

Scott said...

Obama is a progressive, so it should really be called the State of the Unicorn address.

The Drill SGT said...

In the case, I think by "problem-solving skills", she is referring to the ability to see any symbolism in a piece of abstract art.

sometimes that is a huge problem...

ddh said...

Now, nothing wrong with an art history degree — I love art history.

The LGBT community will be displeased by that Seinfeldian echo, which the audience picked up. Art history majors will be displeased being stereotyped as LGBT. Art history majors will be displeased that the President implies that they feel entitled to more pay than plumbers and electricians. Plumbers and electrians will be displeased that the President implies that he should spread some of their wealth around to more deserving art history majors.

There's hell to pay in the winter of our discontent.

SOJO said...

I always saw the art history majors that survived as basically servants of the rich until they became well off themselves ... Kind of like realtors. A lot of butt licking going on. Some gay guys from the wrong side of the tracks, often European, have really pimped the gallery and decor thing into a high lifestyle.

Kind of like Obama ... Though he wasn't particularly poor, he was still relatively unconnected.

tim in vermont said...

I agree that if your daughter is empirically pretty, art history is a fine degree to leverage that asset. So is nursing.

Was that sexist?

EMD said...

Hey wait, isn't Obama correct, though?

Rusty said...

My father insisted that his kids not only went to college , but learned a trade as well.
It's worked out nicely.

Henry said...

Ms. Downs describes the Enron approach to employment. All you need to do is give bright people with no real experience or expertise an open portfolio and they'll magically create value.

It's a very appealing idea to young bright people; to businesses, not so much.

SOJO said...

In the earlier days, the trades and art intersected. Watch the movie Freda and compare her husband's art with hers. Then think of Michelangelo working on his back "getting paint in his eye". Art isn't divorced from the need to build and craft things or "have a trade." It's when you turn it into a study of history, rather than a practice, that you get involved in the need to go into academia or commerce to survive.

If a majority of females ran the world, I do think the military, gun running, gambling, drugs, and hookers would receive less funding. At the very least females would then be in charge of those enterprises, but more than likely, different values, both good and bad, would dictate where the money went and who and what skills were considered 'useless' and not worthy of payment.

Tangential Trivia : In Brazil's Bolsa Familia, they started allowing benefits payments only to the mother since it was 'more likely to be spent on the family'. It was a very effective program as suddenly the funds started being used for milk instead of liquor or whatever. I do not consider this assumption on their part to be anti feminist, though some would on the basis that females are free to be assholes, too.



harrogate said...

Now look at the curriculum where his daughters go. That's the first thing I do anytime a politico says that everyone must do STEM to the detriment of the arts and humanities.

The STEM worship that infects our conversation about education is also disingenuous in terms of the pretentious job-training-our-way-to-prosperity argument. The fact of the matter is blue-collar jobs that pay a living wage are a scarcity now, and that's a problem that has a whole lot more to do with labor law and the decline of organized labor than the training gap our media and politicians prefer to focus on, when this subject comes up.

Tina Trent said...

The trades have been destroyed by illegal immigration. Ditto restaurant and other service industry work. Drywalling, pipefitting, HVAC, factory work, industrial cleaning, some freight -- you can't make a living at these jobs and scores of others without government aid because we have a glut of illegal workers. Now outsourcing manufacturing is joined by outsourcing pink- and white-collar jobs from customer service to accounting to lawyering. Obama says nothing about that because he's radical scum. So why don't more people on the Right say it? Where are the Austrian economists playing put-upon intellectuals in the faculty lounges? Where are the libertarian think-tanks that refuse to crunch the government dependency realities arising from their Randian open-borders rubrics? And how could Obama find this so amusing that he giggles about it?

RecChief said...

funny thing is, that might have been a grain of truth from the Emperor.

I have a couple of friends who work as residential HVAC technicians, both make a 6 figure income, neither has a college degree, and neither has been in the business longer than 10 years.

Rusty said...

harrogate said...
Now look at the curriculum where his daughters go. That's the first thing I do anytime a politico says that everyone must do STEM to the detriment of the arts and humanities.

The STEM worship that infects our conversation about education is also disingenuous in terms of the pretentious job-training-our-way-to-prosperity argument. The fact of the matter is blue-collar jobs that pay a living wage are a scarcity now, and that's a problem that has a whole lot more to do with labor law and the decline of organized labor than the training gap our media and politicians prefer to focus on, when this subject comes up.

1/31/14, 7:47 AM
Blogger Tina Trent said...
The trades have been destroyed by illegal immigration. Ditto restaurant and other service industry work. Drywalling, pipefitting, HVAC, factory work, industrial cleaning, some freight -- you can't make a living at these jobs and scores of others without government aid because we have a glut of illegal workers. Now outsourcing manufacturing is joined by outsourcing pink- and white-collar jobs from customer service to accounting to lawyering. Obama says nothing about that because he's radical scum. So why don't more people on the Right say it? Where are the Austrian economists playing put-upon intellectuals in the faculty lounges? Where are the libertarian think-tanks that refuse to crunch the government dependency realities arising from their Randian open-borders rubrics? And how could Obama find this so amusing that he giggles about it?


Oh.
You two are being serious.

harrogate said...

Rusty,

Let me guess. You didn't look at the curriculum did you? That's ok.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...


So I got my degree in Art
Expecting a lucrative start
But they said "Go away,
We've no use for Monet
Perhaps you can try Kwik-E-Mart"

Inga said...

I have a daughter who has an art history degree and she's a stay at home mom. I have a son who is a millwright journeyman who works full time and overtime in the Milwaukee Waukesha area.

Both love what they do, both get plenty of work.

Unknown said...

-----The fact of the matter is blue-collar jobs that pay a living wage are a scarcity now,

Your 'fact' is no such thing.

There are many very blue collar jobs that are unfilled because of lack of skills. My wife works at a small manufacturer where machinists are needed. These jobs will pay $50K and up. They can't find the workers.

You are probably referring to unskilled jobs - for which the market has been flooded with illegal aliens.

Inga said...

Oh yes and my son the millwright belongs to a union.

Rusty said...

harrogate said...
Rusty,

Let me guess. You didn't look at the curriculum did you? That's ok.

Don't really care.

Tarrou said...

For a long time, the richest guy I knew personally was a banker I'd gone to school with. He invested in real estate and got cleaned out in '08. Now the richest five guys I know personally are a security contractor (old army buddy), three contractors and a plumber. My next door neighbor in high school, ex-Amish, 8th-grade education. Started a company building log homes with his brother when they were 18 and 16. Makes hundreds of thousands a year. Not a one of these guys has a degree.

MayBee said...

He should have said "women's studies " degree.

harrogate said...

"Don't really care."

Spoken like a real authority on the value of a degree in the humanities. Or in *anything* for that matter.

Rusty said...


There are many very blue collar jobs that are unfilled because of lack of skills. My wife works at a small manufacturer where machinists are needed. These jobs will pay $50K and up. They can't find the workers

Exactly.
In any skilled trade. Notice I said skilled. The more you know the more valuable you become.
The apprenticeship for these jobs is often longer than getting an undergraduate degree-tool and die 5 years plus- but the rewards are worth it.

John said...

Skeptical voter:

Congrats to your daughter for her success and this is no way meant to diss here.

I can see where an art history degree might be useful background for interior design. Learning about what goes together, thinking about how things look, textures and colors and so on.

On the other hand, it seems like all it does is provide a stepping stone to becoming an interior designer. It does not, of itself, teach interior design.

It seems like a program more aimed at interior design would be a better choice for someone who wanted to go into that field.

OTOH, many of us have no idea what we want to be when we grow up. I still don't and I'm 65.

When in the Navy I was a mechanic. I wanted to get out of that and into something cleaner and easier so got a business degree hoping to get into marketing. When I could not get a job in marketing, I went into manufacturing, just to put food on the table til something turns up. Been doing it ever since.

Many other twists and turns in my career along the way. I love the way it turned out but it is nothing at all like I expected.

Anyway, glad it worked out for your daughter.

I think she was one of the lucky ones. I suspect that the majority of art history majors are working in jobs where their degree has no relevance at all.

John Henry

Rusty said...

harrogate said...
"Don't really care."

Spoken like a real authority on the value of a degree in the humanities. Or in *anything* for that matter.


Tell me. How many humanities graduates are working in their field of study?

I'm probably just as much an authority as you are.

John said...

On the theory that this can never be recommended often enough, here is Jay Leno on welding as a career:

http://youtu.be/cfbwrL42Wxc

I suspect that a good welder will do better careerwise than most art historians (Unless they also go to welding schools)

John Henry

Lyssa said...

There are certainly employers out there looking for a degree, any degree, so an Art History one is fine. But those employers aren't looking for the understanding of different cultures, tolerance for diversity, understanding and thinking through values learned in a humanities education - they are looking for a screening mechanism to keep out people too flaky or dumb to make it through college.

Rusty said...

John
Back in the early "oughties" big construction companies were scouring welding programs for graduates to work in Iraq. The starting pay was $89,000. to start all expenses paid. Pipe welders in N. Dakota are making six figures to start.



harrogate.
What blue collar skills do you bring to the table?

John said...

Unknown said:

There are many very blue collar jobs that are unfilled because of lack of skills. My wife works at a small manufacturer where machinists are needed. These jobs will pay $50K and up. They can't find the workers.

Amen, amen and amen.

I will be in New Richmond in March at WITC (witc.edu) guest lecturing. I hope global warming kicks back in before then.

They have a lot of 2 year programs teaching skilled trades. One of the programs is automated packaging machine technician.

Their graduates usually have jobs (not just offers but jobs) sometime in their first year.

These are summer, nights, vacations and so on. They are not unpaid internships, they pay $25-35m per year (annualized)

Minimum starting salary for their 2 year graduates is about $45,0000/yr. For those who don't mind traveling as a field service tech, pay is around $100m/yr to start.

I've talked to a lot of people in manufacturing about WITC grads. If they could triple throughput, I doubt the numbers would change. Everybody wants them.

If you have a kid who likes working with their hands, check this out. I'll be happy to talk to them if you like. The US packaging industry is starving for good technicians and mechanics.

I suspect that graduates of their machining, motorcycle repair, auto mechanic and other courses have similar experiences.

John Henry

Michael K said...

Rusty said...
"My father insisted that his kids not only went to college , but learned a trade as well.
It's worked out nicely."

There's a very interesting book titled Herman the German , about a guy with an amazing history. He was a Jewish kid in 1930s Germany, not a great place to be. His father insisted he do an apprenticeship with an auto mechanic before going to engineering college. At the time, German engineering colleges required such an apprenticeship and his father chose the best garage in their town, Frankfurt, which was in the east, not the one we know.

He had an amazing life and ended as the head of GE's jet engine division after working in China during the war for the Flying Tigers. Great book.

BrianE said...

Wow. I actually agree with President Obama on this one.

I feel for all those parents whose kids racked up $100K in debt majoring in marginally productive studies.

The manufacturing company I work for can't find enough welders right now. I think they all went to North Dakota.

The country would benefit from more manufacturing jobs-- skilled workers make good money.

John said...

Rusty,

In 1979 I was still employed in a Pharma plant and we installed a "Water for Injection" system. Basically very high purity, sterile water used to make an injectable product. Very critical specs.

Our contractor brought in a father-son team to do the specialized pipe welding. The son in his 20's. We paid them a crazy amount of money.

They had just come back from Saudi Arabia (or somewhere over there) where they had been welding in a new dairy plant.

So they worked 8-12 hours a day for their employer and got paid pretty well for that.

The son went out and got some moonlighting work. The father told me that he came home with $25,000 extra. Cash, unreported.

In 1979 you could still buy a reasonably nice house for perhaps twice that.

John Henry

TosaGuy said...

<----has MA in history. Works as an architectural historian in the private sector. Makes a good living with that job. Makes a better living by supplementing with other income based on business and trades knowledge.

Recommendation to today's youth: Have some tangible trade skills that employers value or you can make work for you.

Hagar said...

"Well, my mom said there are two ways to get ahead in life; you can be smart or get an education, and, son, now you be sure you get an education! You hear me?"

That said, I do not understand the either/or usual in this kind of discussions.

But the disdain in Obama's comments for the "uneducated" is unmistakeable. It is of the "some of my best friends are Jews/Blacks/whatever" variety.

Brennan said...

I would like to see Ms. Downs present some evidence of corporations hiring humanities graduates for their problem solving skills.

Meade said...

"Oh yes and my son the millwright belongs to a union."

Impossible. Walker destroyed all the unions.

Inga said...

He's not a public employee Meade, lol.

MadisonMan said...

I hope global warming kicks back in before then

I'm afraid Wisconsin is cold UFN.

Wisconsin is not the Globe, of course.

Brennan said...

2011: 600,000 manufacturing jobs are unfilled.

http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2011/10/17/600000-manufacturing-jobs-unfilled.html

There are many very blue collar jobs that are unfilled because of lack of skills. My wife works at a small manufacturer where machinists are needed. These jobs will pay $50K and up. They can't find the workers.

Ditto. Finding reliable, punctual, skilled laborers for the trades is very tough in the Midwest. The firms I know are always looking to hire new people. A lot of them time they just rely on temp firms just to see what kind of candidates they would receive. If the candidate is punctual and can be trained they'll hire them full-time.

virgil xenophon said...

My father was a professor in our small midwestern college town in the 50s. Our garbage man who picked up our cans bought his own truck, hustled his own contracts and became a millionaire (when a million meant something--beer was $2.75/case in those days and E-Type Jags went for six grand and change) before I graduated from college in 1966.

John said...

Lots of great success stories out there and I have been privileged in my career to personally know a lot of these folks.

On the other hand, it doesn't always work out.

I knew a guy in a small town in the south. He was a high school dropout and got a job with the city polishing the cannon in front of the courthouse.

He did this for years until he finally saved up enough money to buy his own cannon and go into business for himself.

It just didn't work out, though.

(I'll be here all week, folks. Try the veal)

John Henry

Peter said...

Lyssa said, "There are certainly employers out there looking for a degree, any degree, so an Art History one is fine. But those employers aren't looking for the understanding of different cultures, tolerance for diversity, understanding and thinking through values learned in a humanities education - they are looking for a screening mechanism to keep out people too flaky or dumb to make it through college.

This may have been true at one time, but in an age where almost half the population goes to college, a college degree (as in, "any degree") is not a very good differentiator. Or perhaps it is if you went to an elite college, but even there the supply of humanities majors seems vastly greater than the demand.

Interior design? Well, such jobs require a good deal of soft selling skills, at least as much as any talent in color palettes, etc. Someone who's good at selling will always be valuable- although that art history degree may well provide an entry point, or at least a differentiator between others doing interior design. Or at least that proverbial "foot-in-the-door."

There's also the design of commercial space as well- retailers are very, very interested in using lighting, music (and sometimes smell) to define how customers experience their retail spaces.



And, oh- teachers feeling disrespected? Well, don't they always?

Original Mike said...

"Over and over again, you see where corporations have hired humanities graduates because of the various problem-solving skills they have and their knowledge of the world."

Problem-solving? Give me a break. If I want a problem solver I'll hire a STEM graduate.

virgil xenophon said...

Funny about Art Hist. It's also very limiting if one is serious about it. When stationed in the USAF in the UK I dated a gal from Boston doing really serious post PhD Art Hist studies in England and Europe for major US museums . Only problem was that if we had gotten married and my civilian calling had required that we live in, say, Elizabethtown, Ky, Houma, Louisiana or Dinuba, CA, it would've not only negated everything she had been trained for, but a psychological mental death sentence as well..

Boltforge said...

I actually give a lot of welcoming talks to incoming freshman about the importance of their general education. But, another truth about their degree choice should be made realistically.

And the university structure has STRONGLY dumbed down the critical thinking courses for the soft majors. You are not going to see an art history, english, history, communications, pre-law, (etc) major taking calculus, calculus based physics, or mathematics proof courses. They will take courses below algebra in difficulty (usually with names like "mathematics in society") and have almost NO critical thinking skills.

They are being trained to be verbal-ists not critical thinkers.

MadisonMan said...

My daughter's Major is pretty useless. But I think she'll be able to find a job for two reasons: She's smart and beautiful (says Dad!), and because she has a particularly useful skill: the ability to discern a connection between two people. They might have a friend in common, have grown up near the same place, have the same hobbies, whatever: the daughter will find it out.

Hagar said...

I am with Boltforge - except that the courses he mentions should have been covered in high school. College should be for higher levels.

William said...

I knew a woman with an MA in art history. She gave guided tours at the museum. It's been some time since I knew her, but I think she got paid for doing that--although it might have been some kind of volunteer gig. Anyway it didn't matter because she married well. In her youth she was highly decorative and that art history crap added an extra layer of sheen. Decorative women probably do better in a field like art history than in welding.

tim in vermont said...

My brother runs a factory that pays a living wage, with benefits, to start. He often whines that he can't get help to show up and actually commit to the job. His factory is in an area where fracking is providing a lot of competition for labor. I am sure he would hire an art history major, if he or she would show up every day, on time, and put in a full day's work.

I think it is more than just the expectations that a college education creates in workers. These kids who won't commit to the factory also saw hundreds of workers who did commit to the work laid off in 2009. Now they are hiring again, but the jobs will never look the same.

Marty Keller said...

Barack Obama, State of the Union address: "blah, blah, blah."

Barack Obama, in Waukesha: "blah, blah, blah."

Rubes: "Oooo!"

Inga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shanna said...

There are certainly employers out there looking for a degree, any degree, so an Art History one is fine. [employers]are looking for a screening mechanism to keep out people too flaky or dumb to make it through college.

Indeed. I would say there are two schools of thought for college degrees. 1. Get something that is sort of upschool trade (engineering, accounting, maybe business) or 2. get a degree to fit the 'must have a degree' slot. In which case it can be in most anything. I think either way of looking at it is fine, as long as you aren't acquiring an insane amount of debt to do it and as long as you are actually going to finish school in a reasonable amount of time.

There are some people who shouldn't do either, though.

Inga said...

Botlforge, my youngest daughter was a Pre Law/ Psychology double major. She took calculus, I thought she was nuts, but she did well, she didn't really need it though as an attorney.

virgil xenophon said...

@boltforge/

Boy, have times changed. When @ LSU 62-66 as a Poli-Sci Maj in my first two yrs I took not only Algebra (NON remedial) calc, calc-based physics, Trig, both two semesters of Geology + lab, 2 semesters of cultural geography, two years of French, anatomy, 2 semesters of zoo, plus lab, and managed to shoe-horn in my Sr yr despite lack of pre-requisites both Endocrinology 101 and organic chem only because I found them interesting because my two pre-med roommates were taking them..

tim in vermont said...

You may not need calculus as an attorney, but it teaches you the difference between pre-modern and modern quantitative reasoning.

Before Newton, we were still in a mode of mathematics understood by the ancient Greeks. After Newton, we had enough math to get to the moon and back.

If you haven't taken calculus, this statement is hard to understand, if you have, it is self evident.

Shanna said...

I took Calculus in high school and college and the high school version was more extensive and difficult.

I was amazed at the low level of mathematics required by some of the other schools. I don't even remember what the math class was called, but it sounded really easy.

tim in vermont said...

In fact, we should probably say "Peace be upon him" every time we invoke Sir Isaac Newton's name.

Boltforge said...

Inga said...
"Botlforge, my youngest daughter was a Pre Law/ Psychology double major. She took calculus, I thought she was nuts, but she did well, she didn't really need it though as an attorney."

Physics/Mathematics majors score highest on the LSAT. And it isn't because you will find the kinetic energy of a bowling ball dropped from 10 story building on the test.

Critical thinking is seeing that problems are a composite of many smaller issues. How to tear the problem into those individual parts. Solve each of the smaller parts. And then reform them into a process to solve the given "problem".

There is no pat answer. Rather there is a mental process to develop answers. Calculus at least develops this mental skill.

Much of our modern education is: "see this? do this" and "see this? say this". It is regurgitation and not critical thinking.

n.n said...

Critical thinking, an understanding of different cultures, a tolerance for diversity, understanding and thinking through values

Engineering major.

Mitch H. said...

As Christy said initially, the art history major, done properly, is cracking good training for your well-educated courtier. Ever since we got rid of European-style courts, the courtier has been somewhat democratized - or, at least, privatized. But it's still a job whose scope requires a pretty rarefied environment. We are, no doubt, grossly over-producing would-be courtiers.

But that's the danger of an unregulated labor market - excess supply! This is, no doubt, why so many in the humanities are socialists - their market is in lives, and you can't just mark a box of English majors half-off and hope to clear your shelf before they reach their expiration date.

Rusty asks how many humanities-degree-holders are working in their degreed fields. I certainly am not, and most of my coterie from the early Nineties probably joined me in IT-related jobs during the Internet boom. I, personally, am doing much better than my one-time roomate - a brilliant comp sci guy who never managed to finish his STEM degree, jumped from job to job, and turned into HR-office poison, his inability to complete a degree meant that he was utterly jobless once the Bush boom went bust.

So yeah, I don't think that STEM training for everyone is the way to go, if only because I don't believe in third-way, command-economy controls on education. I'm kind of afraid if we drop subsidized college loans for everything but the approved degrees (STEM, what have you) that we'll just cause an unemployable bloom of half-educated, mis-trained credential-holders who can't do the jobs they've been credentialed for, and confuse the HR offices with their misleading plumage, causing a general decline in productivity.

Boltforge said...

virgil xenophon said...
"Boy, have times changed" ... "only because I found them interesting"


And that is a perfect example of the psychology problem with USA students today. To them the question is: "Do I HAVE to take it?" And they constantly just want the answer. And Lot's of: "Is this right?"

... Sigh ...

There are studies that are showing a decrease in the ratio of grey to white brain matter for students today. Meaning they are becoming more reactive (reactive gaming/quick-twitch minded) and sacrificing dwelling on problems.

glenn said...

Two points. 1. Lots of people think it's beneath their dignity to make things or build things.
2. If you can make things or build things there will always be someone who needs you. See #1.

Just one more thing. Barry knows or just figured out that he's going to need a lot of people making and spellings things (and paying the resulting taxes) if he's going to continue giving free phones and food stamps to the folks on his vote farms. You know, the ones who think its beneath their dignity to make things or build things.

Rusty said...

glenn said...
Two points. 1. Lots of people think it's beneath their dignity to make things or build things.
2. If you can make things or build things there will always be someone who needs you. See #1.

Just one more thing. Barry knows or just figured out that he's going to need a lot of people making and spellings things (and paying the resulting taxes) if he's going to continue giving free phones and food stamps to the folks on his vote farms. You know, the ones who think its beneath their dignity to make things or build things.

LOL!

My garage door opener broke. The shaft sheared at the sprocket. The repair people wanted a couple of hundred dollars for parts and labor. A new one would cost about 150.
It took about 20 minutes to disassemble it enough to get the broken part out. About 5 minutes to weld it back together. 5 minutes on the lathe to polish up the shaft, and another 20 minutes to get it back together.
It cost me about 3 inches of Tig welding rod, a little electricity and some Argon.
Back in operation in a little over an hour.
(pats self on back)

Ignorance is Bliss said...

... an understanding of different cultures...

Microbiology major.

1/31/14, 11:03 AM

The Godfather said...

Higher education has changed a lot in the last few generations, and some of our thinking hasn't caught up with the changes.

It used to be that two kinds of people went to college: Rich people (i.e., those whose parents could afford to pay the costs), and smart people (i.e., those who could get scholarships). Both groups got expanded a bit by people who were willing and able to work to supplement the parental support or the scholarship money.

If you were "rich", college was a luxury. You could major in art history, or English Lit, or European history because you were interested in it, and it didn't matter whether or not it helped you get a job . You were going to be a bright young man (in those days) with a college degree -- of course you'd get a job. The "smart" scholarship students had a bit more incentive to study something marketable, but the college degree itself put you way up the ladder.

Today, though, "everybody" goes to college. That includes a lot of people whose families can't pay the freight, and who don't qualify for scholarships. For them, the Faustian bargain is the college loan. Will a college degree in Art History, English lit, or European history get you a post-college job that will give you enough income to pay off your loans and live a decent life while you're doing so? If you can find a job in your major field, great, but how many such jobs are there, compared to the number of recent graduates with those majors? What about jobs unrelated to your major? Does having a college degree, and proven skills in research and writing and reasoning assure you a good job? Just going to college, even just graduating, doesn't distinguish you a whole lot anymore, when "everyone" goes to college.

So unless you're "rich" or smart enough to earn a scholarship, you can't afford to treat college like a luxury good. You need to prepare yourself for a career that will allow you to pay off your student loan.

Or, you can skip college, get into an apprenticeship program, or learn a skill at the community college, or in some other way suit yourself for a decent-paying job. Then, once you're well-situated, you can study art history because you love it.

Michael K said...

My kids are all through college. My youngest just graduated last May with a degree in French, She loves France and would like to live there. I said OK because language majors do require some work and thinking skills. Since graduation she got a good job with benefits and now has a new better job, also she is turning conservative although she looks like an airhead. Both jobs have nothing to do with French.

Unknown said...

Want to make an Art History major's eyes do the slot machine spin?

Tell them that in a decade they will need to rescue Chistian art from all the churches in Europe that are being turned into mosques. There's an art history mission.

Proof said...

Anyone with any expertise at all in art history should not take seriously the remarks of a faux Constitutional "scholar" and community organizer.

Bandit said...

I'll take a wild guess that Obama couldn't answer the simplest question about Art History or manufacturing either

Unknown said...

My son scored a 5 on the AP art history exam (ask around, it isn't easy). His university isn't strong in the arts but if he had gone elsewhere he might have majored in art history rather than international affairs. Either way, he wants a career in which he serves his country.

The point is that my son isn't defined by what he majors in, and I doubt that other kids are, either. More likely, kids are defined by their personal attributes and learned skills. I am sure that my son's sophistication will serve him either directly or indirectly in whatever career he chooses.

Unknown said...

My son scored a 5 on the AP art history exam (ask around, it isn't easy). His university isn't strong in the arts but if he had gone elsewhere he might have majored in art history rather than international affairs. Either way, he wants a career in which he serves his country.

The point is that my son isn't defined by what he majors in, and I doubt that other kids are, either. More likely, kids are defined by their personal attributes and learned skills. I am sure that my son's sophistication will serve him either directly or indirectly in whatever career he chooses.

chris allen said...

In my 53 years, I've only met 2 self made billionaires. Believe it or not, both of them were art history majors, at Berkely no less. I guess they had to start their own businesses, otherwise they would have starved...

David R. Graham said...

"Art history" is for non-artists. Artists make history, they do not "study" it.

AllenS said...

"But I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree." -- Obama

What he should have said, is this:

"But I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an African-American Studies degree."

TheThinMan said...

Nancy Pelosi said Obamacare would allow people in the arts to quit their day job (because insurance would be so cheap). Then Obama himself says no, embrace that day job: it's your only hope. What's a liberal to do?

Richard said...

In what curricula was Obama matriculated?

ken in sc said...

I used to teach Industrial Technology in a high school level career center. Guidance councilors used to send me people who they said were not good academically but good with their hands. That was BS. The people they sent me were only good with their hands in the men’s room, if even there. (yeah, they sent me a few girls but not many.)

To be a technician in modern industry, you need to be able to read ladder diagrams, schematics and blue prints, program PLCs and CNC machines. Being good with your hands, even if you really are good with your hands, is not good enough any more.

BTW, I went to elementary school with a boy who did all the math problems in his head. He got marked down for not being able to show his work. He is a millionaire now in the construction business.

Rusty said...

To be a technician in modern industry, you need to be able to read ladder diagrams, schematics and blue prints, program PLCs and CNC machines. Being good with your hands, even if you really are good with your hands, is not good enough any more.

It has always been , at least for me, an intellectual pursuit. If you're not learning , you're stagnating and therefore losing value.

John said...

Ken,

It has been that way for a while. I used to sell for an old timey machine building company.

In the late 80's they were just starting to get into CNC machining centers. When they bought their first machine they hired a computer programmer (or something similar) to run it. They said it was easier to train him to be a machinist than it was to train the old timey machinists they had to run CNC.

The machinists were superb as machinists, excellent with math, angles and so on as you would expect. But they could not/would not, learn computers.

John Henry

Jeff said...

My mother has an Art History degree. She worked, in order, as a stewardess, full-time-mom, and pre-school teacher during her adult life. I love her and wouldnt trade her for anyone else, but her Art History degree isnt what put a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food in my mouth as a kid. My father's work as an accountant did that.