Doug Manning at Proactive Living quotes a study from the Us Department of Labor that says that there are more college graduates taking unemployment than high school dropouts. Although percentage wise, high school dropouts outnumber their college graduates, the stats point out to a myth about education: that you can buy your way to prosperity:
This is a sobering new reality of the 21st century, one that is partially of our own making. We have successfully encouraged and enabled more young people than ever to obtain a four-year degree. However, we have done little to help them evaluate the commercial value of those same credentials. Therefore, it should not be surprising that the supply of some degrees exceeds their demand, particularly for those that have no direct application in the workforce.In a perfect world, this would cause adults to stop blindly advising all capable students to “go to college”. Instead, we would encourage them to: (1) identify educational pathways that have personal meaning, and (2) evaluate the supply and demand for the educational credential they are considering.
Those of us who are autodidacts, and who are proponents of unschooling have already jumped to Doug’s conclusions. The most important thing we can offer children, whether in school or not, is an ongoing reflective conversation that facilitates their own understanding of their own learning style. This meta-learning trumps all the content we can stuff into their skulls because it encourages them to engage with the act of making meaning out of the world, a critical skill for evaluating one’s own place in society, and the contexts in which one operates. If we had more people aware of their own agency then we might have fewer people – whether high school dropouts or college grads – trapping themselves in the feudal remnants of the consumption society. We might see universities then as learning experiences, rather than the contrived rites of passage that they have become. Simply graduating with no self-awareness is not going to land you in the promised land, and in fact, dropping out of school, if it is done with the right intention, may in fact be the best choice a kid can make.
For more on intentional dropping out, visit Grace Llewellyn’s website, and check out this interview with her. A lot of the lessons in her book, The Teenage Liberation Handbook, are useful for adults too.