Tuesday, November 5, 2013

If you teach a man to teach, he will keep begging you for fish

Since the housing crisis, we have heard much about predatory lending on Wall Street. Outside of Wall Street and housing, we are accustomed to hearing grandiose "investigative" reports about predatory companies selling faulty products. Yet somehow, the cartelization of the education industry has gone undetected. Where is the Bureau of Consumer Protection when it comes to faulty degrees at inflated prices? Why aren't professors and the colleges they work for ever called predatory? They lure students into accruing an unpayable amount of debt in exchange for useless liberal arts degrees. At least the subprime folks had a McMansion to party in for a few months.

What are these victims of predatory colleges supposed to do with their liberal arts degrees? The old answer was become a liberal arts teacher. Well, the growth of online academies threatens to dramatically reduce the need for teachers, and the constant talk of upgrading America's science/math footing makes liberal arts teaching the deadest of dead ends. Where do all these Women's Studies victims think they're going to teach?

SUNY Albany offers a degree in Puerto Rican studies. How many Puerto Rican Studies teaching positions open every year? Most years, the answer is probably cero.

Let's assume you don't want to teach; you want to be a business person in Puerto Rico. Doesn't it make far more sense to major in something practical like Spanish and then minor in something business-related like finance so you have some actual skills to bring to Puerto Rico? The Caribbean needs Caribbean Studies majors like they need another visit from Columbus.

While we're on the subject of language majors, what the hell is the point of going to college to learn a language? You can pay someone $30 an hour for individual instruction in a foreign language and save yourself tens of thousands. The predators behind language degrees are morally bankrupt, and the students who hold them become literally bankrupt.

Speaking of bankrupt degrees; journalism. Instead of "studying" your way to indentured servitude, start a blog (don't worry, blogs don't have math requirements either) and make your writing your resume. Paid journalism is even more of a pauper's graveyard than it used to be. Why permanently indebt yourself for an income that probably won't even cover the cost of your broadband?

Have you heard the one about the college that offered doctorates in Human Sexuality Studies? Oh wait, it's not a joke. Listen, you don't need years of schooling and $200,000 of debt to learn about human sexuality. Spend one ladies' night at a bar, hit a couple porn sites, and watch one episode of "Divorce Court". You'll be an expert in less than 24 hours.

Where are the muckrakers when it comes to predatory teaching? Ralph Nader needs to write a book about liberal arts degrees called Unemployable at Any Wage. Morgan Spurlock needs to make a documentary where he spends 30 days trying to get a job after majoring in Mayottian History. Lady Gaga needs to raise awareness by performing in a dress made out of Fine Arts diplomas.

The reason predatory education goes unnoticed is because humans have been trained* to shut up and blindly support anything with the word education, learning, college, or teacher attached to it (not unlike the brainwashing surrounding words like troops, soldier, veteran, and military). Predatory education has never been more blatant, though I'm not surprised there isn't major outcry about it. If people had critical thinking skills they wouldn't be majoring in Women's Studies in the first place.

Subprime loans and student loans have a lot in common. If you take out a student loan to pursue most of today's majors, you are bound to become a NINJA: no income, no job, no assets.

*"Women" and "children" are among the most common words of manipulation deployed by politicians and bureaucrats. Teachers have traditionally been women, and students are almost always children, so it ain't exactly hard to link education to the sacrosanct realms of women and children. No wonder predatory education gets a pass.

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