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When I Grow Up . . .

Like many a household this time of year, mine is consumed with angst waiting to hear which colleges my kid has gotten into.  And like many parents in a similar situation, I’m caught by how the educational system in the US forces many kids to pick a path before they really have any idea what their choices are.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I believe the system is terribly broken.  College students don’t sign a suicide pact along with their enrollment documents.  Majors can change, extra time can be taken and students can move to another academic institution at almost any time (One of the schools my son applied to has a 24% dropout rate after freshman year.  That is, 24% of the students who enter the school leave after a single year to go to another school).  Perhaps, though, we could educate happier people who are better at their chosen occupation if we spent the first year of their college experience showing them the huge menu of choices they have.  So at least they have a chance of not stumbling down an non-optimal, predetermined path.

This situation has made me consider if this is, in fact, a current generation phenomenon or was this the case 30-some years ago when I went off to college.  I think it is different today.  Certainly I didn’t understand the full smorgasbord of choices available to me at the time, but after a lifetime of experimenting with the world around me and taking things apart, I knew I wanted to be some sort of engineer.  I went to an engineering college (Lehigh University) and got exposed to the engineering disciplines and chose one.  I’m confident my path led me to the right choice.

Today, though, kids are so sheltered before entering college, their experiences tend to be very narrow.  They’re barely able to ride their bikes to the end of the street and mom and dad want a GPS bracelet and cell phone strapped to their children at all times.  Since there’s little freedom, there’s certainly little exploration and virtually no failure.  When I was a kid, I had no qualms about clamping an Estes D rocket engine to my mother’s bathroom vanity to see what would happen (she almost strangled me although that wasn’t the experimental result I was thinking about when I did it and, oh, rocket engines burn VERY hot).  Today, I don’t even know if a 12 year old can legally buy a D-size engine.  A kid certainly can’t purchase lightable fuse any longer.

Many kids are also entering college never having held a substantial job nor even having had any real financial responsibilities in their lives.  Do we really expect them to make life-long decisions after never having anything to base them on?

Of course, dumping this responsibility on colleges and universities is simply a patch for a problem that they didn’t create in the first place.  As impossible as it seems, though, I think it would be easier to change how some colleges function than it would be to change how parents are raising their children or, to alter the myriad of environmental factors that cause parents (me included) to shelter their children so much.

I realize I’m rambling and this topic deserves more thought and effort.  Any thoughts?  Comments?

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 February 25th, 2009  
 Will  
 Misc Thoughts  
   
 28 Comments

28 Responses to When I Grow Up . . .

  1. Not really a solution, but an observation is that starting with the generation that’s about 30 years old right now (give or take a few years), most people seem to be living their lives with the expectation that they’re entitled to an active, happy, full life well past the point where their parents and grandparents will have entered a less-active phase of life. This may be true to an extent for the baby boomers as well, resulting in the stereotypical “selfish” attitude that’s attributed to baby boomers.

    A myriad of decisions gets delayed as a result — instead of having children as soon as possible in order to give them a long life in the presence of previous generations, couples have children at five until midnight on their mutual biological clocks, risking Down Syndrome among other disabilities that are related to the age of the mother at conception. Couples form later. Some of my peers aren’t even done with college yet at 30 — they’ve been in the higher education system for over ten years, and a few are still drinking and partying like teenagers!

    The higher education system has evolved in ways that actively disservices my generation. I think that it’s completely clueless about the generation after and that the students who are entering college now don’t even have the ability to form the right questions.

    Some of it is the “snowflake principle” — no one’s content to be a cog in a machine anymore. Everyone’s a unique snowflake. Just like everyone else. But that’s not all there is to it.

    What I can’t seem to reconcile in my mind is that the pace of change in society at large is accelerating, but people’s uptake of knowledge and experience seems to be slowing and resulting in a prolonged childhood.

    Have you heard of the concept of a sociological singularity? What do you think about it?

  2. Not really a solution, but an observation is that starting with the generation that’s about 30 years old right now (give or take a few years), most people seem to be living their lives with the expectation that they’re entitled to an active, happy, full life well past the point where their parents and grandparents will have entered a less-active phase of life. This may be true to an extent for the baby boomers as well, resulting in the stereotypical “selfish” attitude that’s attributed to baby boomers.

    A myriad of decisions gets delayed as a result — instead of having children as soon as possible in order to give them a long life in the presence of previous generations, couples have children at five until midnight on their mutual biological clocks, risking Down Syndrome among other disabilities that are related to the age of the mother at conception. Couples form later. Some of my peers aren’t even done with college yet at 30 — they’ve been in the higher education system for over ten years, and a few are still drinking and partying like teenagers!

    The higher education system has evolved in ways that actively disservices my generation. I think that it’s completely clueless about the generation after and that the students who are entering college now don’t even have the ability to form the right questions.

    Some of it is the “snowflake principle” — no one’s content to be a cog in a machine anymore. Everyone’s a unique snowflake. Just like everyone else. But that’s not all there is to it.

    What I can’t seem to reconcile in my mind is that the pace of change in society at large is accelerating, but people’s uptake of knowledge and experience seems to be slowing and resulting in a prolonged childhood.

    Have you heard of the concept of a sociological singularity? What do you think about it?

  3. Will,

    Just to play devil’s advocate: whenever I start having feelings like this I try to temper them with the thought that I am sounding just like previous generations did when commenting on their childrens’ generation. I would agree that kids today are in many areas more sheltered than our generation, and this hides some life choices from them, but in other respects, kids have a large variety of opportunities for exposure to many different paths that our generation did not.

    One thing that may be distorting your view, is your own personality, which like mine, led you to try a great variety of things. If you were to compare the various hobbies we explored to that of our own siblings, that may bring things into perspective. I think I tried and did a lot more things than my brother (though this may be my own perspective).

    Our parents actually exposed us (or permitted us to be exposed) to a great many activities. By way of personal example, my parents sent me to summer camp where I got to swim, shoot rifles, archery, baseball, and various camp crafts. Boy scouts extended those and added first aid (perhaps a precursor to medicine), camping, aviation (got to fly a real plane during the course of a merit badge), and management as a patrol leader and assistant scout master. I was allowed to have a chemistry laboratory in my bedroom, had a treehouse in the back yard, took apart radios and built a telescope and would turn the bathroom into a darkroom for photography. My mom even made me take 10 years of BALL ROOM Dancing. Junior high exposed us to running a TV studio, metal and wood shop, photography, any of a number of sports, chemistry, and something you and I didn’t much pursue: music and theater. I won’t extend this into what we had for opportunities in high school, I think you get my drift.

    Despite all this, I really didn’t know what I wanted to go to college and do. I was more chance than anything else that I ended up at Lehigh and in their college of engineering no less. Sure, I knew I wanted to do something technical, but what, I am not so sure. I think it is only after a successful and mostly satisfying career, that you and I can feel like we figured it all out ahead of time.

    Now other than riflery, I don’t think our kids were short changed on any of these opportunities and have been exposed to some things that we never had a chance to try. I think the fact is, some kids just gravitate to a greater or lesser variety of activites, and with varying levels of commitment. Some kids (perhaps the majority) just don’t have that level of drive, other kids have a drive for just one or two things (think of olympic atheletes or concert musicians). As parents we would suggest ideas of things to try or even force them on the kids initially. Some stick, some don’t, and some, the kids discover for themselves. Some kids figure out early what the want to do/be, others, maybe never.

    The best we can do for subsequent generations is to provide the opportunity to discover a great many things, then let them figure it out like we did. Except for a few areas, I am not so sure we are doing too bad of a job of exposing them to a variety of things.

  4. Will,

    Just to play devil’s advocate: whenever I start having feelings like this I try to temper them with the thought that I am sounding just like previous generations did when commenting on their childrens’ generation. I would agree that kids today are in many areas more sheltered than our generation, and this hides some life choices from them, but in other respects, kids have a large variety of opportunities for exposure to many different paths that our generation did not.

    One thing that may be distorting your view, is your own personality, which like mine, led you to try a great variety of things. If you were to compare the various hobbies we explored to that of our own siblings, that may bring things into perspective. I think I tried and did a lot more things than my brother (though this may be my own perspective).

    Our parents actually exposed us (or permitted us to be exposed) to a great many activities. By way of personal example, my parents sent me to summer camp where I got to swim, shoot rifles, archery, baseball, and various camp crafts. Boy scouts extended those and added first aid (perhaps a precursor to medicine), camping, aviation (got to fly a real plane during the course of a merit badge), and management as a patrol leader and assistant scout master. I was allowed to have a chemistry laboratory in my bedroom, had a treehouse in the back yard, took apart radios and built a telescope and would turn the bathroom into a darkroom for photography. My mom even made me take 10 years of BALL ROOM Dancing. Junior high exposed us to running a TV studio, metal and wood shop, photography, any of a number of sports, chemistry, and something you and I didn’t much pursue: music and theater. I won’t extend this into what we had for opportunities in high school, I think you get my drift.

    Despite all this, I really didn’t know what I wanted to go to college and do. I was more chance than anything else that I ended up at Lehigh and in their college of engineering no less. Sure, I knew I wanted to do something technical, but what, I am not so sure. I think it is only after a successful and mostly satisfying career, that you and I can feel like we figured it all out ahead of time.

    Now other than riflery, I don’t think our kids were short changed on any of these opportunities and have been exposed to some things that we never had a chance to try. I think the fact is, some kids just gravitate to a greater or lesser variety of activites, and with varying levels of commitment. Some kids (perhaps the majority) just don’t have that level of drive, other kids have a drive for just one or two things (think of olympic atheletes or concert musicians). As parents we would suggest ideas of things to try or even force them on the kids initially. Some stick, some don’t, and some, the kids discover for themselves. Some kids figure out early what the want to do/be, others, maybe never.

    The best we can do for subsequent generations is to provide the opportunity to discover a great many things, then let them figure it out like we did. Except for a few areas, I am not so sure we are doing too bad of a job of exposing them to a variety of things.

  5. One consolation — it’s worse in the UK. When I was growing up over there you had to choose 8 subjects to focus on at age 14 and then 3 subjects at age 16.

    8 doesn’t sound so bad except that due to the limited resources of a school, you inevitably got forced into certain career paths. Everyone had to take Maths & English, so you had 6 left to choose. If you wanted to do Physics, you were pretty much stuck with Chemistry. If you wanted to do English literature, you couldn’t do Physics. You certainly couldn’t do Physics, Biology and Chemistry, etc etc etc. Art & Music didn’t mesh well with science timetables either.

    By the time you reached 16, you were either on the Math/Science path or the Arts path, with no exceptions.

    It was no better at University. Most degree subjects consisted only of classes for that degree/major. I was a Physics major, so my entire time at University was spent studying maths and physics.

    So in addition to deciding what you want to be when you grow up at 14, the net result is that you have nominally educated folks like myself that haven’t had an English class since age 16, never got any real exposure to arts, classical literature or any number of other related subjects.

    I don’t think that’s healthy.

    And like you, I managed to wreak all kinds of havoc as a kid, mostly with disturbingly reactive chemistry kits capable of burning holes through table tops (sorry Mum) that are doubtless unavailable now.

    My daughter is too young for school, but I’ve already started looking at curriculum. What I’ve seen is shocking. 6 year olds with regular homework, more rote learning than you can shake a stick at and no danger of any kind.

    I’m not sure everyone needs to witness the kid spilling acid on their arm, or removing a finger nail in shop class, but too much protection and too much forced memorization clearly is not the way to go.

    I seem to recall Ayn Rand had a paper on a related topic, talking about why the “whole language” approach to reading (versus Phonics) was a problem. Basically, one teaches the kid to recognize and regurgitate certain words, the other gives them the tools to disect a word, pronounce it and take a guess at it’s meaning. The difference being that one path prepares you for things you haven’t seen before and the other assumes you can learn all you need to know piecemeal.

    It seems to me that education in general has slanted heavily towards a “whole language” approach rather than a “phonics” approach. Give kids the tools to learn and figure stuff out and they’ll be much better off in the long run.

  6. One consolation — it’s worse in the UK. When I was growing up over there you had to choose 8 subjects to focus on at age 14 and then 3 subjects at age 16.

    8 doesn’t sound so bad except that due to the limited resources of a school, you inevitably got forced into certain career paths. Everyone had to take Maths & English, so you had 6 left to choose. If you wanted to do Physics, you were pretty much stuck with Chemistry. If you wanted to do English literature, you couldn’t do Physics. You certainly couldn’t do Physics, Biology and Chemistry, etc etc etc. Art & Music didn’t mesh well with science timetables either.

    By the time you reached 16, you were either on the Math/Science path or the Arts path, with no exceptions.

    It was no better at University. Most degree subjects consisted only of classes for that degree/major. I was a Physics major, so my entire time at University was spent studying maths and physics.

    So in addition to deciding what you want to be when you grow up at 14, the net result is that you have nominally educated folks like myself that haven’t had an English class since age 16, never got any real exposure to arts, classical literature or any number of other related subjects.

    I don’t think that’s healthy.

    And like you, I managed to wreak all kinds of havoc as a kid, mostly with disturbingly reactive chemistry kits capable of burning holes through table tops (sorry Mum) that are doubtless unavailable now.

    My daughter is too young for school, but I’ve already started looking at curriculum. What I’ve seen is shocking. 6 year olds with regular homework, more rote learning than you can shake a stick at and no danger of any kind.

    I’m not sure everyone needs to witness the kid spilling acid on their arm, or removing a finger nail in shop class, but too much protection and too much forced memorization clearly is not the way to go.

    I seem to recall Ayn Rand had a paper on a related topic, talking about why the “whole language” approach to reading (versus Phonics) was a problem. Basically, one teaches the kid to recognize and regurgitate certain words, the other gives them the tools to disect a word, pronounce it and take a guess at it’s meaning. The difference being that one path prepares you for things you haven’t seen before and the other assumes you can learn all you need to know piecemeal.

    It seems to me that education in general has slanted heavily towards a “whole language” approach rather than a “phonics” approach. Give kids the tools to learn and figure stuff out and they’ll be much better off in the long run.

  7. In my twenties I came across the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation. If you’re not already familiar with them I think you would find it fascinating. They take an engineering approach to measuring aptitudes and talents.

    The whole testing session takes about a day and a half, and it can give you a lot of insight as to how your mind works and why you enjoy the activities you do.

  8. In my twenties I came across the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation. If you’re not already familiar with them I think you would find it fascinating. They take an engineering approach to measuring aptitudes and talents.

    The whole testing session takes about a day and a half, and it can give you a lot of insight as to how your mind works and why you enjoy the activities you do.

  9. BTW, we used to manufacture fins from Popsicle sticks and glue them onto the A rocket engines 🙂 Inexpensive and death defying!

    I’m working with some college seniors these days on research and teaching in some classes, etc. These “kids” are great. They’re a little lazy on grammar and spelling (but I probably was too). Is the formula any different than before? Some have direction/purpose/results. Some figure it out over a longer curve? The only thing that keeps me from writing off an entire generation is that I end up meeting superstars within it.

    There are deeper issues to consider however. (Here we go). Our government regardless of party is the ultimate helicopter parent. Just keep letting the collective “Kid USA” move into the basement and pay off his credit cards with your HELOC believing that housing will continue to rise”. The only people allowed to fail these days are the small businesses that give it a shot and implode. Yeah it’s those same guys and gals who are providing most of the new jobs, etc. Argh.

    Here’s a concept to consider. Since “adulthood” is now considered reached somewhere in the mid twenties because of mom and dad…let’s push college admission back to age 24. We’ll see incredible competition for the “ultimate barista” where kids can just put in their 18 hours a week to scrape together enough cash for iTunes downloads while they figure out how to spend their 10% savings from that department store credit card. Then after they figure out that they really AREN’T that good at guitar, they’ll enter school refreshed and focused. Sorry…dissolusioned ranting again.

    Here’s the wrap. Baby Boomer Mom and Dad don’t have the cash to float junior anymore and based on the “stimulus” package, I think we’re in for it inflation wise. Since we’re cutting jobs, stocks are tanking, and currency is devaluing…mom and dad will have to shut down the Bell JetRanger that floats above their little boy and kick him to the curb. That’s the same curb that I willingly step onto at age 18 because my parents raised me to think that at age 18 I was responsible for my own rocket engines and replacement sinks.

    (Not even sure if I ranted about your post Will 🙂 2 cups of coffee down and the fingers are moving. Take care.

  10. BTW, we used to manufacture fins from Popsicle sticks and glue them onto the A rocket engines 🙂 Inexpensive and death defying!

    I’m working with some college seniors these days on research and teaching in some classes, etc. These “kids” are great. They’re a little lazy on grammar and spelling (but I probably was too). Is the formula any different than before? Some have direction/purpose/results. Some figure it out over a longer curve? The only thing that keeps me from writing off an entire generation is that I end up meeting superstars within it.

    There are deeper issues to consider however. (Here we go). Our government regardless of party is the ultimate helicopter parent. Just keep letting the collective “Kid USA” move into the basement and pay off his credit cards with your HELOC believing that housing will continue to rise”. The only people allowed to fail these days are the small businesses that give it a shot and implode. Yeah it’s those same guys and gals who are providing most of the new jobs, etc. Argh.

    Here’s a concept to consider. Since “adulthood” is now considered reached somewhere in the mid twenties because of mom and dad…let’s push college admission back to age 24. We’ll see incredible competition for the “ultimate barista” where kids can just put in their 18 hours a week to scrape together enough cash for iTunes downloads while they figure out how to spend their 10% savings from that department store credit card. Then after they figure out that they really AREN’T that good at guitar, they’ll enter school refreshed and focused. Sorry…dissolusioned ranting again.

    Here’s the wrap. Baby Boomer Mom and Dad don’t have the cash to float junior anymore and based on the “stimulus” package, I think we’re in for it inflation wise. Since we’re cutting jobs, stocks are tanking, and currency is devaluing…mom and dad will have to shut down the Bell JetRanger that floats above their little boy and kick him to the curb. That’s the same curb that I willingly step onto at age 18 because my parents raised me to think that at age 18 I was responsible for my own rocket engines and replacement sinks.

    (Not even sure if I ranted about your post Will 🙂 2 cups of coffee down and the fingers are moving. Take care.

  11. I just read a stat in a presentation that said the future top job in 2010 won’t have existed in 2004. And that kids these days will have over 8 significantly different career paths. The truth is that the world is moving so fast that streaming (which never made sense) makes even less sense. I try to focus my 13 year old on finding passions she loves and skills like critical thinking.

    Oh and by the way, great article in Atlantic monthly years ago talks about the roots of the education system. It all had to do with societal based compliance and nothing to do with learning. Just something to remember.

  12. I just read a stat in a presentation that said the future top job in 2010 won’t have existed in 2004. And that kids these days will have over 8 significantly different career paths. The truth is that the world is moving so fast that streaming (which never made sense) makes even less sense. I try to focus my 13 year old on finding passions she loves and skills like critical thinking.

    Oh and by the way, great article in Atlantic monthly years ago talks about the roots of the education system. It all had to do with societal based compliance and nothing to do with learning. Just something to remember.

  13. Karl,

    Some really excellent points here. I hadn’t thought about the increasing lifespan and it’s effect, psychologically, on people. It makes loads of sense and I think you’re right – people *are* delaying decisions because they think they’ll essentially live forever.

    It’s depressing to think about your last point – increasing pace of change with slower learning. Argh! I wonder if everyone has some maturation point where they realize that they need to catch up.

    I don’t know about a sociological singularity, although I could guess. I couldn’t find anything on the ‘net either. Can you point me somewhere?

    Great thoughts. Thanks.

  14. Karl,

    Some really excellent points here. I hadn’t thought about the increasing lifespan and it’s effect, psychologically, on people. It makes loads of sense and I think you’re right – people *are* delaying decisions because they think they’ll essentially live forever.

    It’s depressing to think about your last point – increasing pace of change with slower learning. Argh! I wonder if everyone has some maturation point where they realize that they need to catch up.

    I don’t know about a sociological singularity, although I could guess. I couldn’t find anything on the ‘net either. Can you point me somewhere?

    Great thoughts. Thanks.

  15. John,

    I’m sure you’re right – this change has been progressing through several generations. I still believe that this past generation represents the biggest shift, though. I’m reading a great book right now, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson. In the book, he talks about what it was like to grow up as a kid int he 50s. There were certainly more freedoms and experimentation than we in the 60s had, but not too much more. I feel the 80s brought the big change.

    As it turns out most kids don’t have many of the experiences you spoke about (actually more kids probably have experience with guns than in our day – not rifles, though) let alone the huge socialization experiences that happened from randomly meeting people and joining groups at the local playground. Facebook wouldn’t have stood a chance in 1968 – mothers wouldn’t have let their kids stay inside and even the kids would have thought the idea of socializing without being face-to-face was ridiculous.

    I couldn’t agree more, however, that the best thing we can do for our kids and for subsequent generations is introduce them to more things. The broader their experiences, the happier they will be and the better off society will be.

  16. John,

    I’m sure you’re right – this change has been progressing through several generations. I still believe that this past generation represents the biggest shift, though. I’m reading a great book right now, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson. In the book, he talks about what it was like to grow up as a kid int he 50s. There were certainly more freedoms and experimentation than we in the 60s had, but not too much more. I feel the 80s brought the big change.

    As it turns out most kids don’t have many of the experiences you spoke about (actually more kids probably have experience with guns than in our day – not rifles, though) let alone the huge socialization experiences that happened from randomly meeting people and joining groups at the local playground. Facebook wouldn’t have stood a chance in 1968 – mothers wouldn’t have let their kids stay inside and even the kids would have thought the idea of socializing without being face-to-face was ridiculous.

    I couldn’t agree more, however, that the best thing we can do for our kids and for subsequent generations is introduce them to more things. The broader their experiences, the happier they will be and the better off society will be.

  17. Geez Nick, I do feel better. The British are even bigger losers in this regard than the Americans. 🙂

    It seems like the the British system would stifle creativity and innovation to some extent. If everything is so regimented, it’s hard to foster free-flowing ideas and quantum jumps between disciplines. Although you are certainly the poster child for why this is not the case.

    I suppose if the system worked very well, this might not be too bad. In fact, there are people who would be happier and more productive if given fewer choices earlier. But if limited resources or other inefficiencies in the system prevent it from working, it all breaks down pretty quickly.

    I totally agree that giving students the tools to learn is more important than teaching the specific facts others think they *should* learn. Teach a man to fish . . .

  18. Geez Nick, I do feel better. The British are even bigger losers in this regard than the Americans. 🙂

    It seems like the the British system would stifle creativity and innovation to some extent. If everything is so regimented, it’s hard to foster free-flowing ideas and quantum jumps between disciplines. Although you are certainly the poster child for why this is not the case.

    I suppose if the system worked very well, this might not be too bad. In fact, there are people who would be happier and more productive if given fewer choices earlier. But if limited resources or other inefficiencies in the system prevent it from working, it all breaks down pretty quickly.

    I totally agree that giving students the tools to learn is more important than teaching the specific facts others think they *should* learn. Teach a man to fish . . .

  19. John W,

    I had not heard of the Johnson O’Connor Foundation. I perused their site. Very interesting. It seems to me that at a certain age (14 is the minimum age they test, apparently) you have enough life experience that a well-written test could get you into a ballpark, but there are just not enough life experiences early on to zero-in.

    I don’t mean that to be negative. On the contrary, I think getting to a ballpark is a great thing. One probably doesn’t want to make too may life decisions given such information at 14 (see Nick’s comment), but using this information at 17/18 seems like a good thing.

  20. John W,

    I had not heard of the Johnson O’Connor Foundation. I perused their site. Very interesting. It seems to me that at a certain age (14 is the minimum age they test, apparently) you have enough life experience that a well-written test could get you into a ballpark, but there are just not enough life experiences early on to zero-in.

    I don’t mean that to be negative. On the contrary, I think getting to a ballpark is a great thing. One probably doesn’t want to make too may life decisions given such information at 14 (see Nick’s comment), but using this information at 17/18 seems like a good thing.

  21. Doug,

    As always, wise words from a wise man.

    I like your idea about pushing college entry to the mid-twenties. Karl commented that young people are delaying decisions because they believe that life expectancy has increased so much and they have time. Let’s use that time up front to learn more about ourselves and the world. Once we have that – and some money earned for college – under our belts, then we can take on the formal education part.

    As you say, this may become the *only* available route for kids in the coming couple of decades.

  22. Doug,

    As always, wise words from a wise man.

    I like your idea about pushing college entry to the mid-twenties. Karl commented that young people are delaying decisions because they believe that life expectancy has increased so much and they have time. Let’s use that time up front to learn more about ourselves and the world. Once we have that – and some money earned for college – under our belts, then we can take on the formal education part.

    As you say, this may become the *only* available route for kids in the coming couple of decades.

  23. Leigh,

    “…the future top job in 2010 won’t have existed in 2004.” Seems like a bit of a stretch, but I’d buy 2015. The point still remains, though, at least when it comes to specific jobs. I don’t think that we’ll see a change in basic job categories like engineer, doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc. for a very long time, if ever.

    I had no idea about the origins of the educational system. Certainly not in its bias toward societal compliance over learning. I’m assuming that societal compliance is simply fitting in? Or, is it mapping one’s skills to the needs of society?

  24. Leigh,

    “…the future top job in 2010 won’t have existed in 2004.” Seems like a bit of a stretch, but I’d buy 2015. The point still remains, though, at least when it comes to specific jobs. I don’t think that we’ll see a change in basic job categories like engineer, doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc. for a very long time, if ever.

    I had no idea about the origins of the educational system. Certainly not in its bias toward societal compliance over learning. I’m assuming that societal compliance is simply fitting in? Or, is it mapping one’s skills to the needs of society?

  25. The “singularity” that I was referring to is known as a Technological Singularity — wikipedia article is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity — it’s roughly compared to the industrial or agricultural revolutions as far as impact on society goes. The idea has been whipped rather fiercely in recent science fiction — good titles to read, if you’re interested, would be “Accelerando” by Charles Stross, or “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson. There’s many more, but those left me vaguely unsettled… although Snow Crash is getting a bit dated.

    Consider this: In 1991, I owned my first DOS Personal Computer with a hard drive. It had a 20 mb hard drive and I never dreamed of filling it. A box of 1.44mb floppy disks set me back I believe thirty dollars. Sixteen years later, I purchased a digital camera with a 10.1 megapixel resolution. My first computer would not be capable of storing more than one picture that my camera outputs.

  26. The “singularity” that I was referring to is known as a Technological Singularity — wikipedia article is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity — it’s roughly compared to the industrial or agricultural revolutions as far as impact on society goes. The idea has been whipped rather fiercely in recent science fiction — good titles to read, if you’re interested, would be “Accelerando” by Charles Stross, or “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson. There’s many more, but those left me vaguely unsettled… although Snow Crash is getting a bit dated.

    Consider this: In 1991, I owned my first DOS Personal Computer with a hard drive. It had a 20 mb hard drive and I never dreamed of filling it. A box of 1.44mb floppy disks set me back I believe thirty dollars. Sixteen years later, I purchased a digital camera with a 10.1 megapixel resolution. My first computer would not be capable of storing more than one picture that my camera outputs.

  27. Thanks Karl,

    Yup, I am familiar with a technological singularity (it was the “sociological” that through me off). Very interesting concept. Snow Crash is an all time favorite.

    The camera analogy is excellent. Hadn’t thought about it that way. At least that’s a logical extension and not a fundamental change.

  28. Thanks Karl,

    Yup, I am familiar with a technological singularity (it was the “sociological” that through me off). Very interesting concept. Snow Crash is an all time favorite.

    The camera analogy is excellent. Hadn’t thought about it that way. At least that’s a logical extension and not a fundamental change.

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