In my previous post I argued that too much education is a bad thing. I probably should elaborate a little.
First off, if we’re talking about higher education we need to ask ourselves what exactly is the purpose of higher education. Is it to train the handful of specialised professionals that we need? People like engineers, doctors, etc. That would be to take a strictly utilitarian view of higher education. That’s the view I would take. We need to ask ourselves how many engineers and physicists and brain surgeons we actually need. We then need to make sure that we allocate sufficient university places to maintain the necessary supply.
This is exactly what we are not doing at the moment. We are churning out immense numbers of graduates but we still don’t have enough doctors. This is because most of the graduates we are churning out have entirely useless degrees.
Which brings is to the a question of arts degrees. How many arts graduates do we need? It’s possible that we don’t need any. There’s no question that we don’t need any graduates at all with qualifications in imaginary subjects like gender studies. It’s absolutely certain that overall we need very very few arts graduates in comparison to the numbers we are producing at the moment.
The alternative to the utilitarian view is the rights view. This is the view that education is a basic human right, so everyone who wants a Mickey Mouse arts degree has the right to get one and if they don’t get one then they’re being oppressed. This is the sentimental woolly-minded feelgood view.
It all comes down to the point I was making in my previous post. Are the rights of individuals more important than the needs of society, or do the needs of society trump individual rights?
If we come down on the side of sanity and accept the utilitarian view of education what would that mean in practice? My hope is that it would mean more people getting training in practical skills rather than esoteric intellectual waffling. More people being trained in trades for example. Or simply in skills that are generally useful.
It would also mean more emphasis in learning on the job. Today we believe that we should give jobs to people in their mid-20s who have just left university with a basket full of shiny degrees. That might be appropriate in some specialised fields but in most cases an employer is probably better off employing a keen 19-year-old who can be trained on the job. That way they don’t have to unlearn the nonsense they learnt at university.
Limiting higher education to to the very small numbers of people who actually require it would obviously be more efficient. I think it would also be more conducive to human happiness. Education is not a magic potion that makes people happier. In most cases it makes people less happy. It’s certainly a case where the law of diminishing returns applies. A moderate amount of education is compatible with being a happy and fulfilled human being. Education in excess makes happiness and fulfilment increasingly less likely.
All this applies to both men and women but it seems to apply with even more force to women. Education does not seem to make women happier.
Too much education, especially for women, results in catastrophically low birth rates and eventual demographic extinction. It also results in a great deal of unnecessary human misery, especially for women.