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Away From Home

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Education as a barrier to progress

There's a big problem with the educational system in this country.

But before I address that premise, I need to set the stage. Globalization exists. It's a fact. Companies are outsourcing menial, thoughtless tasks to other countries and setting up offices and factories wherever they can get the cheapest labor.

In fact, this is nothing new. There was a time when American textile mills produced clothing. These days, I challenge you to count the number of items of clothing you own that were "Made in USA." You can count them on one hand, can't you? Do you even have any at all?

When it comes right down to it, it doesn't matter one bit who stands there and feeds the loom. There are no qualifications for that job. No thinking is required. So from the corporate perspective, one worker is just as good as another -- so the person willing to do it for the least amount of pay will get the work.

But now that all of this menial manufacturing work is now done in China, Thailand, or some other Eastern-hemisphere country, what has happened to America? Has America been ruined by the loss of an industry that was so established in society, that so many towns depended on for survival?

Of course not. The majority of people who would otherwise have accepted a job producing cheap T-shirts emblazoned with "I'm with stupid -->" logos are now employed elsewhere; many in better, more creative jobs.

This is the trend. As globalization increases, more and more of these "thoughtless" tasks are going to be outsourced. It's the natural evolution of the free market.

What's left for America? The jobs that will be left, the jobs that will not be outsourced, are the jobs requiring creativity and high expertise. It is no longer good enough to simply be able to produce something; you have to have creativity in order to bring something unique to the table. Similarly, having a higher level of expertise than overseas workers will ensure that your job stays here, because you can do the job better than an Asian worker can.

Here's where education fits in. The educational system has not fundamentally changed in decades, if not centuries. The current mainstream methods of teaching students were established when America had both menial and advanced jobs. Once the menial jobs are all offshored (and we're well on the way to that already), the level of intelligence required for the average job will necessarily be higher. In simpler terms, once all of the low-intelligence jobs are gone, only high-intelligence jobs will be left.

The educational system, so far, has not adapted to this. High school now is, for all intents and purposes, the same as high school 50 years ago. Of course some of the specific topics have changed -- every high school graduate knows that the Berlin Wall fell, while 50 years ago the Berlin Wall didn't even exist yet.

However, and this is my central point, the intelligence level of today's average high school graduate is not higher than the intelligence level of the class of 1955.

When only high-intelligence jobs are left, will America have smart enough people to fill them? Or will it be held back by its lack of education?


  • Umm...do clothes I made myself count as made in America? ^.^

    You have a very good point...

    By Blogger Mela, at 7/22/2005 10:33:00 AM  

  • One of the running theories in psychology is that as intelligent people have fewer children, and the less intelligent people push them out like tribbles, then we will have an increase in stupid people holding higher level jobs. The result is stupid people in management holding down those whom are intelligent and creative out of fear of competition. Students are not getting smarter, and available jobs tend to be harder, what is the impact to the middle class?

    By Blogger Lonewatchman, at 7/24/2005 12:44:00 AM  

  • lonewatchman misses one major factor: smart people are just as capable of raising dumb kids as dumb people. Hell, most of the super-brilliant parents I know in this town have the dumbest kids I've ever meet.

    It's a safe wager that he hates his employer and is using this hint of a vote of support for eugenics (state-controlled breeding and genetic planning) to whine about it.

    By Blogger Logan C. Adams, at 7/25/2005 03:15:00 PM  

  • Actually I didn't "miss" anything, that's just how the information is presented, try The Bell Curve as a source off the top of my head. Sure smart people can raise dumb kids, but sometimes it snows in June. That doesn't mean we should include June in winter. Generally people with high IQs will have kids with high IQs, but in western culture, America, Europe, Canada, ect. People with high IQs are by no means keeping pace with the birth rate of those on the low end. The result will then be fewer people with a high IQ to fill more high level jobs. I am opposed to eugenics, and I like my employer, My problem is we are going to end up with a intellectual social order that looks like an upside down pyramid. A small narrow point of people with a high IQ on the bottom, and then a large top of people that drop cigarettes in their lap trying to reach for a cell phone will driving.

    By Blogger Lonewatchman, at 7/27/2005 03:58:00 AM  

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