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Cruel mind control

 
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 22090694
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11/14/2012 05:43 PM
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Cruel mind control
This is the generation which has been convinced that they're valuable simply as warm bodies. That 'trying' is equivalent to results.

The old story of 'work hard this life and you'll be rewarded in the next' failed during the renaissance, people called BS, and were thus 'empowered' through factory jobs. Putting the carrot after death was apparently not quite doing the trick, motivation wise, so the reward was moved up to old age, in the form of pension.

This system remains in place today, but is rapidly bing supplanted by a further tweaked form. The modern doctrine, is that one's 'heavenly reward,' instead of being revealed after death, should be enjoyed from around the age of majority (they don't say until when, but drug overdose and suicide seem to be trending endpoints).

Watching (enthusiastic) high schoolers play football, discuss political beliefs, or work as volunteers, it is hard not to deny the energy of youth. Some manage to direct this energy in a way which pleases their minders, many of these students go on to become Ivy Leaguers. The brightest of these students quickly learn skills which interest them: by the time they graduate high-school, some are reading and writing at well above the average college-graduate level, some learn advanced computer skills, and go on to start their own online businesses. We will call these students group 1).

Another group (2) comprise those who did generally well in their classes, but aren't walking out of high school with advanced classes. They've met society's bar for entrance, and at that point are ready to enter into a variety of jobs straight from school. Some of these students share interest of group 1 students, but they tend to separate these interests from the school experience. (e.g. a group 1 student may try to take AP calculus, while a group 2 may satisfy their left-brained interests through games with friends, or hobbies at home.

Finally, there are those (group 3) for whom high school was an almost insurmountable intellectual challenge. I will make no assertions regarding the intelligence of these students: home life, personal relationships, drugs, mental illness, race, gender, orientation, and many many other factors strongly affect the totality of the high school experience. Group 3 can include those of any IQ, and in the right course, these students may genuinely surprise themselves with their performance or interest in a subject. What binds this group is that these students do not conform themselves to the intellectual model created by the school, and they suffer as a result.


What's the deal?

--Students mature at alarmingly different rates. As a specific example, many students graduate high school with algebra II as their highest math. A select few graduate with AP Calculus BC (or the IB equivalent). If a student with algebra starts the same college at the same time as one with calc, it will take the trig student at least four semesters to attain the same level of math (typically Calc II corresponds to BC). Some students are genuinely willing to put in four years of hard, directed work in college, others may need more time to develop their work ethic, and there is nothing wrong with that.

--Students vary greatly in their direction toward a particular field. College websites show their degree offerings, but rarely do they show the big picture. Look at the photos on a college website, and you might be convinced that your degree program (and by extension, future job) involve more rock-climbing, violin concertos, and small meetings of ethnicity- and gender-balanced groups. Some students have strong direction, perhaps through a summer job, a mentor in an interesting field, or a family member. For these students (largely from group 1), there is nothing wrong with strapping down for some hard work in an exciting field. For students uneasy about their degree, to attend college without particular direction is expensive and unproductive. If the choice is between working in a job (any, any job), versus going to college without a solid direction, I'd say take the job. Even if the choice is between college and no job, I wouldn't say it is worth your money. Pick up a $50 book on programming or language or anything, learn to learn on your own.

--A college degree provides no replacement for job experience, and many employers are asking for increasing levels of specifically non-academic experience. Know what these requirements are for your field before you select that as your major getting the right employment experience will be far more valuable than taking the right classes.

--A college degree is often too much education for the jobs people seek. Learn what types of employees work in your desired field, and how they are educated. You may be better to learn a trade, or obtain a certification.


--In some cases, college is the worst possible place to learn a particular skill. Some professions, such as engineering or medicine require a specific and complex grouping of interrelated knowledge, best formally learned in structured environment. Wanting to learn a language, though? You may save some money by just moving to that country for a few years. Going into computing? A compsci degree is nice, but computers in particular are an area where self-learning is king, because technology changes so fast. Do you want to learn how to be taught, to be handed problems on a platter to solve? No. Learn to fish for knowledge.

--Colleges do not test for drugs, except in certain situations. Students take advantage of this by involving both legal and illegal substances in their partying. Many make it out unscathed, and can enter the world as functional adults. Others waste money by failing expensive courses while paying for expensive substances. The unlucky end up with an addiction which will permanently affect their life. Marijuana seems consequence-free compared to alcohol (less hangover, etc.), but it persists longer than any other substance in the body, and so can appear on drug tests after even 'casual' use. Are you ready to face these pressures? The consequences of not carefully thinking this through are greater than an F or a suspension, these consequences can include death, criminal charges on your record, HIV, or a lifelong addiction.


.

Academia is neither ivory nor a tower. If banks are the castle, academia is the gatekeeper: it certifies individuals as 'acceptable,' it creates labels and categories for those who are not, and of course, it exacts a hefty fee to pass through. Academia uses the same tricks to sell their product as Jack Daniels and Marlboro. Colleges know that sex sells, they know the strength of the allure of drugs, drink, and partying. The media portray successful professionals enjoying themselves at work (Mythbusters, GaGa, etc. etc.), and imply that the enjoyment escalates off-set. Colleges bring this concept to the masses: four years to mess around and party, followed by an exciting and rewarding career (always career, because to talk about a 'job' makes one think about the more mundane reality of sitting in a cube, in front of an LCD day in and out).

Through tv shows which imply that everybody has to pass through the college 'rite of passage,' and through heavy indoctrination in high schools (as well as in colleges themselves, to influence the parental decisions of their graduates), many sought out college education. Joanne Rowling's (modified) original book fit this model, and just as the minders in high school encourage students who fit their model, so too did the publishers (highly, highly intertwined with the higher-ed system) encourage Rowling.

The setting of the series was meant to align with the boarding school system, but for those removed from such institutions, Hogwarts evokes Ivy League. Students find their way through the complex school grounds to their intro chem and latin (ahem, excuse me, potions and spells), and deal with an ever-changing social scene when they're not working. The age of the characters creates a sort of discontinuity, where rather young individuals are thrust into situations involving drink, drugs, and sexuality. (Commercials on children's TV channels use this same tactic, dressing up kids from the target demographic in adult clothing and placing them in adult situations).

The muggle/wizard distinction does two things: first, it reenforces the notion that there are two separable groups (one of them gets called the elite here), and it gives hope that one may be in the 'better' group. Rowling describes some who fit in both groups, wizards with minimal skill due to poor breeding, but these individuals are few and rarely respected, and they have no chance at improving their skill in spite of hard work. Rowling creates two categories, and tells one to reach for the stars, while implying that the other has no chance. (This concept is extremely western. Eastern schools place a far higher weight on ones applied effort toward success, rather than rewarding abilities they already had walking into the classroom)

Middle schoolers find that the owl never shows up, but some find a real-life situation which dovetails amazingly well with the fiction they've absorbed: high school seniors anxiously await acceptance letters, or otherwise watch those around them matriculating.




Food for thought, other industries which use some combination of intellectual challenge, sex, drugs, money, or fear of being 'in the wrong group' as a means of attracting customers:

- Gambling (money, sex, intellectual challenge, drugs)
- Religion (sex, intellectual challenge, 'wrong group')
- Alcohol/Tobacco (drugs, sex, 'wrong group')
- Stock trading (money, intellectual challenge)
- Loans/credit-score (money, 'wrong group')
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 21795357
United States
11/14/2012 06:35 PM
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Re: Cruel mind control
TL DR
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 27304459
United States
11/14/2012 07:11 PM
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Re: Cruel mind control
Agree that many college students are paying a vast sum of money to learn crap. As an engineering major myself, I think even that can be done partly on one's own -- self-study for a year, then some time on campus to fix misconceptions and spend time with experts, and do a few labs, then more self-study.

The online lectures available from the top universities for free make this possible now. I can tell my fellow Americans that a lot of foreigners are taking advantage of these courses. But we support these universities thru tax money that goes to research grants. We should use these courses too!

What does a sociology major (to pick an example) qualify one to do? I don't know. If I were hiring for an entry level position and were not busy (OK, we're already talking fantasy here ...) I might interview such a graduate and ask them why they chose the major and what they could bring to a role in my organization. Maybe they would have a good answer and I would learn something. But my bias is that they wasted several years and a lot of money, and that's not the decision making process I would want to see replicated in my organization.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 27304459
United States
11/14/2012 07:12 PM
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Re: Cruel mind control
TL DR
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 21795357


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