The harvest is plentiful

Critic Louis Menand has an interesting piece about College - as in why go. There's a lot of talk in America about College as both the symbol and the mechanism of social equalisation, but Menand (among others) questions its universal value, especially where that value is depreciated by universal application.  The post-war broadening of college entrance meant rich white boys could learn alongside black people, poor people, and women, but a corresponding broadening of disciplines and purposes, so that a college degree is not only possible but requisite for a 'beverage manager,' may have gone too far.  More alarming, though, is the revelation that while humanities and science faculties are shrinking, the fastest growing discipline is business. At the same time, business students and grads perform the worst on tests measuring the benefits of a college degree (ie, whether it develops cultural literacy and general knowledge, skills in reading, writing and thinking). Sic transit gloria I guess.

This connects for me with an anonymous quote I found in comments on Stanley Fish's NY Times blog: "American businesses don't know what to do with smart people, and smart people don't know what to do with themselves." Something about the way our society is geared now means there is a lot of unmeaningful work around for people who are qualified but not skilled (in reading, writing, thinking), and not much for people who are both skilled and qualified for meaningful work. Perhaps more accurately, the meaningless work is where the money is. Only the lucky ones get paid to read, write and think.