Across the pond, the Great Brittan Mail Online tells a familiar tale of financial woes for poor students who ordinarily would be seeking higher education but are priced out of too high tuition costs.
“Students from working-class families are taking a smaller share of places at university after the introduction of £3,000-a-year tuition charges in 2006.
And nearly a quarter of all students are failing to finish the courses they start despite a £1billion crackdown on the university drop-out toll, university league tables showed yesterday.”
In Mason County Texas, The Hill Country Home Builders Association (HCHBA) has announced that it will provide scholarships to a number of students seeking careers as a builder or contractor.
“This is the inaugural year that the HCHBA has invested scholarships into local high school graduates that are interested in continuing their education in a Building Trades or Construction related field.”
University of Virginia fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Matthew Crawford’s new book Shop Class as Soulcraft goes into great detail about the stigma youth face when choosing more hands on occupations over deskjobs that require a masters degree.
Crawford tells his own personal story about being a graduate student and having to take on a job writing summaries for scholarly articles. By the end of his time at the job he was required to write as many as 23 a day. He says that the more he thought about it, the more time it took and the more they didn’t follow the formula outlined, the worse his summaries. In the end, it took a masters degree to earn $23,000 a year and perform a job that required him NOT to think.
He currently works as a motorcycle mechanic where he says his critical thinking skills are put to good use for customers who care as much about their motorcycles as they do their children.
Via his New Atlantic piece
“I began working as an electrician’s helper at age fourteen, and started a small electrical contracting business after college, in Santa Barbara. In those years I never ceased to take pleasure in the moment, at the end of a job, when I would flip the switch. “And there was light.” It was an experience of agency and competence. The effects of my work were visible for all to see, so my competence was real for others as well; it had a social currency. The well-founded pride of the tradesman is far from the gratuitous “self-esteem” that educators would impart to students, as though by magic.
This week Crawford appeared on WAMU’s Diane Rehm’s Show where he talked about these types of jobs being one of few constants in a struggling economy.
“You can’t send your car to Japan to be fixed,” he said.
Yet our culture spends a lot of time demanding more from our youth. While Crawford talks about making twice as much as an electrician than he did at the nightmare summary writing job, he notes that many would find it repugnant he “didn’t live up to his education,” even consider it a waste of time and money. Crawford doesn’t see a degree as a necessity for greatness.
His running thesis surrounds our systems of high school education that continue to cut classes that teach practical skills over book knowledge. His example is a heartbreaking year he spent teaching Latin in a high school where he swears kids would have had more of a connection to shop class, and absorbed skills that are just as useful.
When it comes to doctors and lawyers, advanced degrees are probably something you don’t want to skip out on. But in a world where college is too far out of reach, we owe youth a bit of honesty about potential if they instead undergo proper training. We also owe them the respect deserved of everyone regardless of their class or the school they attended or jobs they hold.