Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Education: General Skills and Mobility

In my upcoming post on education I will focus on an in-depth discussion of the new book by Claudia Goldin and Larry Katz "The Race Between Education and Technology." But as I have been reading through the book and thinking about the myriad of issues raised therein I happened upon a blog post by Stanley Fish (or Morris Zapp in his fictional form).  In this post, Fish wonders whether the ideal of learning for learnings sake is dying out as universities face the decline in state support and are under more pressure to become more directly vocationally based.   

In Goldin and Katz, they examine the nature of the US higher education system and its emphasis on general knowledge as opposed to, and quite distinct from, Europe in the twentieth century which was largely focused on specific vocational training.  They argue convincingly that this emphasis on general knowledge was beneficial to the US because of its high degree of occupational and and locational mobility (again quite different from Europe).  Citizens with skills and knowledge are more flexible and able to deal with changing technologies, a changing economy and workplace disruption.

So what does the twenty first century look like to you?  A era where you want to see kids invest in very specific skills ready to remain in one profession for the entirety of their lives, or an era where you want to see kids instilled with the knowledge and aptitudes that make them adaptable and able to change with a changing economy?  

I prefer the latter.  

1 comment:

Barb said...

I look forward to it.