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How To Teach Critical Thinking

Updated on December 12, 2012

Worthless Degrees or Worthless Professors?

A college professor, who has asked to remain anonymous, sent me an interesting email. In the end, he or she asks an intriguing question:

"I'm a college professor who admits to slacking off a bit and checking out some of your Hubs during my working hours. My peers would be livid to find out I'm wasting my hours away viewing what they would deem such an unreliable source, so best I stay anonymous. I've noticed in many of your Hubs you've often been radically critical of education, in particular college level education. While I admit your writing style is amusing and makes a great water cooler story, it's much of the same tired old rants. We're not preparing kids for the jobs of tomorrow; we're pushing worthless degrees, etc. I'm a bit confused here, should I teach students how to do a job or should I teach them how to become contributing members of society?"

I'll take backhanded compliments as the main menu course, along with a side dish of elitism, and a condescending brew as a beverage please!

However, seeing past your ability to both simultaneously insult and admire my work (flattering isn't it?), the anonymous professor has managed to pose a decent question at the end of this fine written diarrhea. The anonymous professor is attempting to argue the difference between training and education. An interesting distinction to debate, but I would rather not go down this rabbit hole, instead I will answer your question directly.

Should I teach students how to do a job or should I teach them how to become contributing members of society?

Many will argue for either or, an outlier may suggest you teach both, but I'll probably be the only person to insist you teach neither. Yes, that's right; I believe college students would be better served if they were not taught a specialized job or that democratic voodoo about being a productive citizen and voting. . .

Ask yourself, does it make sense to train someone for a job, to work for someone else whose mission statement is to boldly seek lower wages like we've never sought before?

As for educating students to become engaged citizens for this society, I ask you, why? What has and what will society ever do for them? Seriously, we need to lose this feeling of being indebted to society in some way. Getting born because your parents decided to spread their legs isn't your fault, so why should I or anyone owe this entity called "society" as you put it? The truth of the matter is this society is designed to benefit some at the expense of others - and let's just say my generation is disproportionately expected to pay the bill. So forgive me when I say I could care less if I win societal approval. I'm certain deep down inside many of your students feel the same way, they merely lack the courage to speak up, as they're afraid of being labelled as lazy. Never mind the fact they're labelled as lazy anyways regardless of what they do because they had the misfortune of experiencing less Earth revolutions around the sun than you.

So, what do I expect you to do if you're neither training the students to do a job, nor educating them on becoming citizens? Do I expect you to just sit on your ass? As asinine as this may seem, just sitting on your ass would probably cause less damage, but I have a better idea. An idea that neither you nor the students will like, which means it's most likely a great idea.

How about we just take you, your students, and air drop them in a remote area along with a cargo crate filled with supplies? From there, let's use a little imagination. . . In a world where you can't get a job and current civilization offers nothing, it seems only fitting to build a civilization of your own. A trial run to build a civilization - now that's a 4 year degree I can believe in. Your students, for the first time (and perhaps last time) in their natural born lives, may actually feel useful (and have affordable real estate). So how bad can it be?!

However, we all know this program will never happen. Why? I doubt our anonymous professor could even walk a single mile without passing out from exhaustion. I doubt our anonymous professor has ever done anything practical in their life, and starting a fire with tinder would come across as a complex Rubik cube to our precious professor. Besides, the environment is horrible, the schedule can be irregular, and our dearly beloved professor may actually have to work rather than clown around reading my "unqualified" blog for his designated two working hours a day. The pay wouldn't be the best, you wouldn't get a pension, and I highly doubt the government will subsidize what they will certainly see as competition. Apparently, our professor can't do anything, most likely has the body of a slug, and can't teach. However, we're told our dearly beloved professor must be compensated well above six figures, because they have a government designated "special brain" that's all too valuable to be actually used. . .

You see, the problem is neither worthless degrees nor worthless students; the problem is mostly an abundance of overpaid, immature, and worthless professors. . .

-Donovan D. Westhaver


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