Friday, September 17, 2010

Spin Cycle- Education

Ahhh, blogging on my new computer is what I imagine blogging in heaven is like.  I had no idea that my old one had such problems, but now that they're gone?  Angels singing.  

Anyhow, this week's Spin Cycle is on Education.  And I've been mulling it all week.  So many angles, which one to choose.  Then I realized that I haven't been on my soap box in a while.  It's time I dust that off and take a moment to step up to where the air is just a bit thinner...

Education is becoming undervalued in our society.  With the advent of the Internet, everyone thinks they know, or can find out, all the information they will ever need.  No need to consult experts, no need to check facts.  Surely, if it's on Wikipedia, it must be true, right?  Who needs to pay attention in school?  For that matter, why does anyone even pay for a degree anymore?  We all seem to think we're Internet experts in every field (and we don't even stay at the Holiday Inn Express).

Here is a perfect example.  Be honest now.  How many people go to the Internet when they're not feeling well?  You consult Web MD way before you call your own Dr.  Sometimes you even diagnose yourself (and have the nerve to suggest to the Dr what you think it is you have...)  Gone are the rules for how many days, or how severe your ailment must be before you call the doctor.  Now you just hit the webs, go the pharmacy and do it yourself.  Does that sound even remotely safe?  Or sane?  We still send Dr.s to school for 8 years.  They have residencies and internships and all sorts of things.  And somehow 20 minutes of trolling the web makes us capable of a diagnosis?  Not so much. (I'd love to see survey of how many people have self diagnosed over the web, and applied a web cure to find out that either they did more damage, or the weren't really sick at all).

 Then there's politics. Every one thinks they can run the country.  We make judgments based on what we read on the web, or what an actor or talk show host has spouted.  We listen to people who have no EXPERTISE in what they're speaking about.  They haven't studied economics for years, or learned how health insurance works.  These are people who couldn't tell you the difference between a hedge fund and a trust fund, but they'll tell you the government should never have bailed Wall St. out. Those people are all thieves.  The make judgements on people's salary, with no real job description.  Because the people doing the talking don't understands what they're talking about.  They have read the cliff notes, and act like they've done their doctorate in the subject.

I'm just saying a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.  The Internet is a great tool for sharing, and for learning a little about a lot of things.  But a website doesn't make you an expert. We still need to go to the Dr, read real books, go to class.  Consult an expert and realize that it's worth whatever you have to pay for their educated opinion.

Ok, I'm pretty sure I'm the only spinner that went down this road.  Go visit Sprite's Keeper and the others and see what's going on in class this week.


VandyJ said...

There is a definite lack of common sense these days. Common sense is so common, but so very rare. Every one wants to be an "expert", but not do any of the work to get there. Great spin!

Sprite's Keeper said...

While I certainly agree with you, I took Sprite to the doctor yesterday and he couldn't tell if her bumps were chicken pox, Impetigo, or bug bites. An expensive culture (2 actually) won't tell us anything until Monday. I guess sight doesn't count much for anything these days. You're linked!

Be said...

I think you have a good point even though I blogged about the opposite because I think education is overvalued! I suspect you are speaking pretty directly against my post, but I am not sure we are in complete disagreement.

I HIGHLY value educated people and know that I can't be fully qualified by reading a few web pages. But I can also tell you that a lot can be learned right here from my home computer. For example, Jan did research the web and diagnosed herself - just the other day. Yup when I woke up that morning she told me what she had. A few hours later she went to the Doctor who confirmed her diagnosis. BUT...neither yet KNOWS - they are running the tests that will confirm two educated peoples suspicions (one happened to have studied in Medical school, another put a sleepless night and active mind to work). Two educated conclusions - both probably right - neither for sure.

But Doctor's aren't always right - they aren't God. And often people put too much trust in them instead of applying "common" and personal sense.

Dr. Oz is still VERY undereducated about diet and Gary Taubes (without credentials of Oz) is highly educated.

And sorry, I know it isn't an easy job nor one I wold ever take on, but I (and I suspect you) would be a hell of a lot better political leader than most that we have. I think this has more to do with values and principles (something in VERY short supply in government at all levels).

You are right though - a little knowledge IS dangerous. But never assume that either the educated always have more than a little knowledge nor that those without a degree don't have more than a little self education.

Jan said...

My mother once told someone she was a professional cake decorator; the woman she was talking to told her she couldn't be, because only people who went to school and got a degree could be professionals.

You can go to culinary school, learn to decorate cakes, graduate and still be merely adept at it (you can go to medical school, do internships and residencies and still be a crummy doctor). There's a lot to be said for intelligence, drive and talent, though - Mom was one of the best cake decorators in the city of Dallas. She's certainly the only one that I can think of that was ever invited to appear on the David Letterman Show

I'm not saying you don't have a point, because you do - there are a lot of uniformed people making a lot of uniformed decisions about important things out there. I'm just saying that simply because someone doesn't have a degree doesn't mean they can't speak on a subject with some authority. Because if that's not true, then a lot of people are paying Beloved a lot of money for no reason, because he has no degree in retail sales, merchandising, accounting, software development or business management and those are the very things he either does or consults clients on every day.

Me? The only degree I have is from the School of Hard Knocks, which should never be undervalued or taken for granted.

Pseudo said...

Wow. I found your post and comment thread quite interesting. I real nice look from many perspectives.

We (educators) are told these days that with so much information out there, a lot of what needs to be taught are critical thinking skills. I'm not teaching medical school or anything, but I can say that a room full of 13 year olds can be quite a challenge these days. Perseverance, analysis, evaluation, inference, synthesis; these are skills that many of the kids resist with every once of their being- wanting to find the "easy" answer and get back to sneaking in a text.

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

I agree with you to a point - in some cases education has become undervalued, yet in others there are so many contingencies and regulations and red tape that it's become so much different that it used to be. Maybe it's because there's too much information out there with the technology we have, and the people that use it, who knows. Education is important - the stipulation on the how/where can be problematic, though. My hubby is a Program Director at a Technical College - people who go to a 4-year university look down on the degrees the students get at the TC vs the U. And really, what it all boils down to anymore is that 'magical' piece of paper - it could be in Underwater Basket Weaving for all anyone knows, but it's still 'magical' because it's the Degree. ;)

Spin: Education

Laufa said...

I agree with absolutely everything you have said. Glad you stepped up. :)

SuziCate said...

The internet can be a good resource too, however you really need to be careful about what you believe. Anyone canpost on Wiki...they can say the world is flat but that doesn't make it so. also so many crazy emails sent and forwarded that people don't check facts before starting rumors. I actually have used the internet to diagnose my dog and then had the vet run the blood panel to confirm. But you are right that people don't seem to value getting an education nor do as many people take pride i their jobs these day. And I won't even touch politics. Too much apathy and self-centuredness all over the place! Good post.

quilly said...

I am an educator -- a professional teacher with an education degree. I think several people reading your post assumed you were telling them they can only earn their education in a college. I didn't read that anywhere. What you did say was that spending a few minutes researching something online doesn't suddenly make one educated on that subject. I totally agree.

It has long been my philosophy that if people are taught reading, writing, arithmetic and basic critical thinking skills (some people don't need to be taught this, they just "get it", some people need lots of help) anything else they want to learn they can teach themselves, but that isn't necessarily the most successful or easiest way to get an education. The school of "hard knocks" is sometimes tougher and more expensive than college.

blueviolet said...

You are absolutely right. And, the medical descriptions usually include the very worst possible scenarios, and then we think we're dying that afternoon at the latest. I really try to avoid doing that, try being the operative word here.

Penelope said...

Totally agree with you!

Kaylen said...

Well said!!!
I do go to google for EVERYTHING. I don't think I will ever have enough knowledge to be called an expert, but I think there are some things that I can save money on by googling.
And how do you know someone is an Dr. Oz-so many people think he's just the end all of advice givers. I disagree.
I'm point is - you are right!! People don't value education.

HOWEVER - sometimes the education that people claim make them experts isn't really a superior education...