“The Simpsons and Philosophy”; “Race, Gender, and Internet”; “Science Fiction and World Politics”; “How to Watch Television”; “Ga Ga for Gaga: Sex, Gender, and Identity”; “Elvis as Anthropology”; “A Feminist Critique of Christianity”; “The Textual Appeal of Tupac Shakur”; “Reading the Body”; “The Coen Brothers in Context”; “The Phallus”; “Peace Studies.”
These are actual college courses your child may be taking. Price tag: up to $40,000 a year.
My first son encountered a detour after high school that prevented him from going straight to college. While waiting, he started a thriving glass-blowing company by figuring it out and soliciting advice from people who had actually worked in business. By the time he could see his way to enrolling in the local community bastion of higher education, he decided he didn’t need it anymore.
It has been, since my birth and before, axiomatic that every child needs a college education. That was back in the day when colleges taught subjects like math and English. Over time, those old professors were replaced by a new breed who thought the old style was too dogmatic, and that feelings were more important than knowledge—in other words, my generation.
But the problem is that while the quality of a college education went down, the mystique of a college diploma did not, and now we are all held hostage to the collective cultural terror that every child needs to go to college or he will end up stabbing trash with pointy sticks in parking lots. So we shell out, or become government serfs for the next 20 years, to subsidize a four-year extension of adolescence and postponement of adulthood. In the meantime only 12 percent of our country’s gross national product is in manufacturing, as we have China make our jeans, watches, and toothbrushes. And when our government tries to put up a website, $174 million is not enough money to get the job done.
As the economy huffs and puffs like a COPD patient climbing a hill, I hope that in the coming years I will know people who know something about repairing cars, repairing vacuum cleaners, repairing toilet leaks, the medicinal use of herbs, growing tomatoes, building a fire, and trapping wild game.
And I hope some of them will be my children.