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  1. #1
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    Default Formal Education

    In a sincere effort not to derail, I'm taking this from the latter end of the ISFJ thread because I really want to continue this discussion with everyone, not just me and INTJMom and other people who derail at will.

    Quote Originally Posted by INTJMom View Post
    You have solved a conundrum for me. I had a best friend who was an ISFJ but always had to "take a class" before she would do something complex. I always wondered what motivated such thinking, not that there's anything wrong with it; it's just so different from me, I didn't understand it.

    The other thing though, which I think is a great advantage over my temperament, after she took a class in something, she wouldn't be afraid at all. She didn't worry about not being perfect. She was patient with herself when she made mistakes. It was quite confounding to my thinking - so opposite of me.

    One time we took lessons together - in a new computer application - and I did see the advantage of learning by a teacher rather than mucking about with iNtuition leading the way.
    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    Ah. Well I'm with you on 'your way', except that I don't find any nice surprises if I take classes. I hate classes, and have responded pretty poorly to formal education for most of my life, both as a kid and as a mature student (mature being a matter of opinion, obviously!).

    I find that a 'teach yourself' sorta guidebook works best for me. I can dip into it here and there, do things at my pace (invariably much quicker than a class pace), skip parts, change the order, all as I see fit.

    I've an ISTJ close friend who always has to take classes. He wanted to learn Italian so he took a class. I said I wanted to learn Italian too, but refused to join him in the class. He sneered and said he'd do better than me and my haphazard learning method, as he put it.

    Ha. In six months I was having conversations with natives about current affairs, while he was still ordering an ensuite room for two and asking for directions. Eat that, mofo!

    Classes and structure just frustrate the hell outta me and cause me to lose all motivation; I always wind up quitting them with many hard feelings afoot.
    Quote Originally Posted by INTJMom View Post
    I love learning, but I don't know why I don't like formal education. I guess it's because I don't want to learn a bunch of stuff I won't use. I only want to know what I need to know. Not saying that's the best attitude because it has hindered me.
    Yeah it's hindered me too, but only because I live in a society that has only one way of recognizing skills or ability: having them certified by a formal educational institution. Used to be that you could go up and give a demo of what you can do and prove yourself that way. These days, if you haven't got the certificates to begin with, nobody'll even give you an interview.

    It can still be done though. I set up my translation business and made a success of it before I managed to get any diplomas or anything. Of course, getting the PhD has gone a long way towards increasing the success and my income, but that only illustrates my point. I'm no better or worse a translator than I was before I got the PhD, and the PhD isn't even in languages (it's in history!), but the simple fact that I have those letters after my name means people will trust me more with their translations.

    ----

    So basically I want to talk some more (or/and hear others talk) about the place of formal education as it is today, and whether the system might actually disenfranchize as many people as it helps to rise to the top.

    And the possibility that qualifications don't necessarily tell you what you need to know about a person's skills.
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  2. #2
    heart on fire
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    I think that college is good for teaching someone to organize their thoughts, how to research and how to express those thoughts out in a essay format.

    The draw backs to college are that the training can begin to box in the thoughts in either/or, Hegelian dialectic type thinking or at least that was my experience in History classes.

  3. #3
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    heart - I agree that it can help teach some people the organizing, essay writing skills. However, it's not the only way of learning that, and people can learn it without the formal structure. For example, I was very good at essay writing from when we first started doing it at school, so obviously there was a skill already there that I hadn't been taught there, but had figured out for myself.

    I think it might've been Voltaire that said something along the lines of "I can't understand the modern preoccupation with lectures. You may teach carpentry by lectures, you may teach making shoes by lectures, but I can't for the life of me imagine why someone needs to be lectured to learn everything." I'm paraphrasing, but that's the jist of what he said, pointing at an idea that as public schooling developed as an institution in its early days, there was much debate about the best way of teaching children/students certain things that had, previous to mass education, been self-taught or taught by other means than classes and lectures. Because the law now required the students to be in classes all day - which was mainly to avoid them being able to be sent up chimneys and into factories - something had to be done with that time. And in order to avoid public resistance, the idea was sold that it was 'better' to learn that way.

    Subsequent evidence seems to show though, that it's not better for everyone.
    Ils se d�merdent, les mecs: trop bon, trop con..................................MY BLOG!

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  4. #4
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    You can get an education in college- sometimes you learn something that you CAN'T really get in the real world, like Engineering or Medicine or something- but I've generally considered universities and such to just be the training wheels that people have before becoming REAL adults and such!

    I've known very smart and successful people who were self taught and some total miserable failures with a high education level- I just think that opportunism and flexibility are just as or more important than a higher education sometimes!

    on the other hand I'd be somewhat suspicious of someone without a medical license preforming brain surgery or something on me
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  5. #5
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    Yeah whatever, I agree that people should be tested and certified for certain professions such as medical, and there are some things that are obviously easier to learn in an institutional context.

    However, the current educational system here seems to be somewhat rigid in its all or nothing approach: you either come and learn everything with us and take our exam at the end, which, if you pass, gets you a certificate that means everyone respects you and believes you have these skills. Or alternatively, you can not bother with us at all, learn everything off your own back through private study, and have no opportunity to have your knowledge recognized or respected, which means you'll have less opportunity to use it.

    The trouble is that because there is this mentality that only formally recognized skills 'count', those who have the skills but without the certificates are unable to obtain the chance to prove they have them. And also, many of those who have the certificates, but might not actually be very good (could've passed by the skin of their teeth? rote learning but no actual deeper understanding of the subject? etc) get the opportunities that really some self-taught guy who's shit hot, deserves more.

    If there were more flexibility in the formal system, so that you could take exams without taking classes, if you feel you have the knowledge self-taught or learned through some informal means (tutored by a friend, relative, whatever), so that when you've already spent say, ten years learning mechanics, you only have to spend a day or so doing exams to have that skill and knowledge recognized, rather than spend 3 years on a course "learning" things you already know, just to get the recognition, thereby wasting the time you could've spent learning advanced levels.

    In my lifetime my formal certification has always been playing catch-up with my actual knowledge and skills.

    But I do find it a kinda ulimate irony, a sorta illustration of the self-defeat of the system, when I get people unquestioningly giving me a translation job over someone else, by the fact I can put Dr in front of my name rather than Mr. They don't bother checking that my doctorate is in history. So I'll get a job translating a piece in a language I know pretty well, but the guy I pipped to the post has it as his native tongue - just no letters after his name. And the same thing's happened to me in reverse before I had the PhD - someone whose French is obviously academically learned beating me to a client because they have the certificate, whilst I was 'only' French!! lol
    Ils se d�merdent, les mecs: trop bon, trop con..................................MY BLOG!

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by whatever View Post
    on the other hand I'd be somewhat suspicious of someone without a medical license preforming brain surgery or something on me
    True, but which would you choose if you had a choice between:
    1- someone who has read extensively about human brain surgery but only ever performed appendicectomies and tooth extractions,
    2- a vet surgeon with extensive practice in mammalian brain surgery?

  7. #7
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    ...However, when I talk to my little sister, who didn't go to school at all past the age of 14, it becomes clear how lacking a basic education and just the character building stuff you go through in institutional education, has made life very hard for her. It's made it hard for her to make the right decisions with so many things, and also much more vulnerable to being conned or misinformed, as she doesn't have a secure foundation of general knowledge to inform the way she receives the things other people tell her. It's particularly difficult because she is actually very intelligent, and is keen to have this fact known... though she doesn't tend to receive very well or objectively the point that raw intelligence doesn't equal knowledge, and you need a bit of both to get through life with any kind of good results.

    She also never learned to just cope with a daily routine, just getting up every morning early and getting out. Obligations and responsibilities, things you learn through the discipline of homework and exams and stuff, are things she missed out on, and these things have also made life hard for her as an adult, trying to develop these 'skills' on her own, against her inclinations (like it is for most of us at school) but without any external motivating force.
    Ils se d�merdent, les mecs: trop bon, trop con..................................MY BLOG!

    "When it all comes down to dust
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  8. #8

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    My characeture of the formal education system as it is now (based on what I've seen in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and related fields):

    • It is a glorified and inefficient certification process.

      I say it is glorified and inefficient, because often direct skill certification processes that will actually ensure that people are given the skills needed to perform well on particular jobs.

      I can specifically take computer engineering, because that is what I am familiar with. Right now, most undergrad Computer Engineering courses are a mash-up of a lot of computer science and electrical engineering. You learn a smattering of things that you may or may not use. It can help you think through engineering problems more clearly, and dream up inventions you wouldn't have considered, but it requires a student with real-world experience to craft such a program for himself/herself. I would say most graduates have just passed a bunch of tests on material they have forgotten.

      Consider if instead if you decided to become an IT pro. Several companies (most notably Microsoft, and CISCO) ofter certification for people that are better suited for these jobs. You don't need to attend university for this. I know a music major, who then got his MCSE. He is on the same career track as another friend who finished a Masters in CS. You get good at solving problems related to these fields and you can get certified. Even though "technician," "integrator," "programmer" (usual names for IT positions) may not be as "prestigious" as "engineer," they are essentially the same jobs. Also, the yearly income from these tracks (especially if they get the highest level certifications like CCIE) often exceeds those who get their ph.Ds in Computer Science or electrical engineering.

      The only "practical" reason for pursuing the academic track in computer engineering is to work in R&D, imo. There, the jobs are scarce, and the pay is comparable to IT jobs. Often, even jobs titled "R&D" are IT jobs in disguise. Certainly, they involve creativity, but not really inventions or innovations in the field.

      Of course, as mentioned by subs, there is a "prestige" aspect to things that can earn you more pay, but really makes no sense.
    • It is not a place for the curious, or innovative.

      As was mentioned by subs. very few programs allow a person to chose their own track of learning and crafting of a program of study. One usually has to wait till graduate school to do a lot of that, and even then, the choices are becoming more and more limited.

      Again in computer and electrical engineering(since that it what I know) The graduate programs have turned into "placement" programs at companies and labs. There is no other clear way to break into R&D. Some people luck into positions early on (I consider myself lucky, in this respect), but without a ph.D. or at least a masters degree, shifting into an IT-like position is a near inevitable consequence. Then, what did that 4/5-year engineering program give you?

      You may as well have just not bothered with school, worked in industry for a while, pick up the same IT-skills you would have (except 4/5 years earlier) and get certified.

      Of course, what I said above is hard to do because a bit of tacit elitism among employers towards hiring people with a B.S. or B.E. But two wrongs don't make a right.

      So in the end, the B.S.E.E. or B.S.C.S becomes only a more "prestigious" (and often less meaningful) certification for IT positions. Universities are lucky IT positions pay well.
    • Students neither "learn how learn," nor learn what they came to learn.

      Often, universities tout that even though students don't necessarily learn the skills that prepare them directly for a job, that they "learn how to learn."

      That hasn't been my experience, and I tried hard to explicitly learned how to learn. If anything, the university system biases you to a "cram before the test," and forget everything afterwards style of learning.

      This, imo, is in-fact unlearning the natural ability to learn that we come into school possesing (universities are better than primary and secondary school, but not by much).



    This is a characeture, so there are plenty of exceptions. Many good schools offer opportunities for hands on experience, some opportunity for undergraduate research, and some time to work in internships.

    However, especially in undergraduate schooling, it is usually a grand waste of resources. Then again, maybe getting used to wasting resources is the whole point of the university exercise. That way, when they enter the corporate world, everything makes sense.

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  9. #9
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    Food for thought there ygolo, I'll ponder on that before replying indepth. But I certainly relate to your point about not learning the things you need to learn. As an employer myself I've joined other employers in bemoaning the difficulty in finding viable candidates for jobs who actually have any of the necessary skills or discipline that even just high school is supposed to teach them.

    There has been speculation as to whether the traditional school subjects are now mostly obsolete as to their relevance to the modern job market. I recall reading in The Economist once that girls were starting to continually eclipse boys in the math, English and science areas of the curriculum exams, which was taken to be a sign of rising gender equality.

    However, an opposing view was put forward that perhaps it's only because those subjects as taught today have no relevance to the job market, so boys aren't taking them seriously, if at all. The boys are all to be found in the business and computing courses, which are hugely male dominated, showing that in fact it's a sign that gender inequality is as bad as it ever was.

    Point being that it's specialist vocational training that people have to undertake and pay for themselves, where people even begin to learn vocational or marketable skills. The free school system doesn't give them anything they can build a career on.

    As an employer I've had trouble even finding someone who can answer phones properly... the easiest way is to look for older candidates. For many jobs I've advertized, I've found middle aged housewives applying for the same positions as college graduates, and the housewives outperform them, every time.

    This also could suggests to me that school used to teach marketable skills, but doesn't any more...
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  10. #10
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    Based on what I read in the ENTP.org forums I think that I am unusual being an ENTP that thinks a formal education is actually useful. Personally I think learning from a (college) teacher is more efficient than learning the material on my own. This assumes I want a general broad understanding of the subject and am not simply looking for specific information to learn.

    Having said that I do admit that most classes a) are irrelevant when it comes to teaching practical skills and b) teach rote memorization without really teaching a person how to think for themselves. Most modern college degrees do not exist to teach useful job skills. Rather they exist to signal employers what kind of employee they might hire. The ability to attain a college degree (and also have a good GPA) shows that a person is fairly intelligent and hard working, and these are desirable characteristics for most white collar jobs.
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