Monday, August 7, 2017

College Is Trade School for the Elite

Allen Guelzo, Wall Street Journal

image from article

Even education in the humanities has become vocationalized, though the transformation is subtle.

Judged by the catalogs, curricula and websites of American colleges and universities, American higher education already is vocational. The number of degrees in nursing, social work, education and the holy quartet of STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—vastly outweighs those awarded in the humanities, which is where we’re supposed to find the pure arts of thinking. One out of every five bachelor-level degrees is in business—which is to say, accounting, marketing, management and real estate—while one in 10 is in a health-related field.

Business and education lead the parade among master’s-level degrees; the bulk of doctoral degrees are in medicine, law, biology and engineering. The highest-growth fields since 2008 have been homeland security, law enforcement, firefighting, parks, recreation, leisure and fitness studies.

Even education in the humanities has become vocationalized, although the transformation is subtle. Take almost any college or university literature department at random, and its faculty will be composed of people who have been trained in other college and university literature programs to be literature professors. History majors are, in department after department, seen—and taught—as future history professionals, whether in museums or colleges. Even in schools that still valiantly defend the virtue of a liberal arts education, much of it tends ineluctably toward professional formation, not breadth or understanding. Vocational training is what higher education has been doing without even realizing it. ...

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