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MsGneiss
11-22-2010, 04:40 AM
The recent discussion about MFAs and their worth (or worthlessness) has reminded me of two brilliant TED talks by Sir Ken Robinson.

The first one's here: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

And the followup is here: http://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution.html

Other than being very very clever and funny, I think Sir Ken makes some very valid points, particularly on the subject of certain disciplines being worth less than others. Why is an MFA worth less than, say, an MA in Mathematics? Neither is sufficient for an academic job, and neither is likely to increase one's earning potential.

Just curious what you all think about these ideas...

And, by the way, I have no personal agenda in extolling the values of an MFA - I've been a math and science person my whole life. But, as somebody who is actively involved in education, I feel that devaluing degrees in the arts is actually detrimental to the overall academic progress of this country.

Jamesaritchie
11-22-2010, 06:23 PM
The recent discussion about MFAs and their worth (or worthlessness) has reminded me of two brilliant TED talks by Sir Ken Robinson.

The first one's here: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

And the followup is here: http://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution.html

Other than being very very clever and funny, I think Sir Ken makes some very valid points, particularly on the subject of certain disciplines being worth less than others. Why is an MFA worth less than, say, an MA in Mathematics? Neither is sufficient for an academic job, and neither is likely to increase one's earning potential.

Just curious what you all think about these ideas...

And, by the way, I have no personal agenda in extolling the values of an MFA - I've been a math and science person my whole life. But, as somebody who is actively involved in education, I feel that devaluing degrees in the arts is actually detrimental to the overall academic progress of this country.

I'd say any degree increases earning potential well above no degree, but I also believe a degree, any degree, is worth no more and no less than the particular person who gets the degree. From my experience, this means just about every degree out there is worthless for most people, and just about every degree out there is invaluable for some people.

Pick any degree, and most who hold it will not be terribly successful, and certainly won't be rich. But the top few will be highly successful, and will be earning very, very good money.

I believe all degrees are valuable, extremely valuable, but only to those who have the ability to take advantage of the degree.

It's always about the individual, not the degree itself.

MsGneiss
11-22-2010, 08:06 PM
Pick any degree, and most who hold it will not be terribly successful, and certainly won't be rich. But the top few will be highly successful, and will be earning very, very good money.



That's not entirely true. There are some professional fields where degrees directly translate to a higher salary. For example, if you are a public school teacher in NYC - if you have an MA degree, you will be on a higher pay scale than if you have a BA, and if you have an MEd you will be on an even higher pay scale. I believe the same holds true for social work, nursing, and various other fields that are strongly regulated by established certifying organizations.

I was talking about degrees in the arts and sciences, where an MA is no longer sufficient for anything, other than as a stepping stone toward a PhD.

michelle25
11-22-2010, 08:21 PM
Thanks for those links. There were anecdotes in both talks that really spoke to me.

In the first it was the story about the choreographer of Cats and how when she was 8, her school teachers thought she had a learning disability. And that one guy who said right away, "she's a dancer." Robinson said, "That was in the 1930s. Imagine if that had taken place today - she might've been medicated for ADHD and told to "calm down." And she wouldn't have become the brilliant dancer she became."

In the second talk, it was the story about the fireman. He was ridiculed for wanting to be a fireman and his teacher told him he'd be wasting his life and his potential if that was all he wanted to do. Then he ended up saving that teacher's life later.

That was so inspiring!

JimmyB27
11-22-2010, 08:38 PM
I saw the first one a while back, didn't know there was a follow up, will have to check that out this evening.
It's something I've thought for a long time, that we need to re-jig our education system. And not just academia vs creativity, but also academia vs vocational.
As to the anecdotes, my favourite is the one about the little girl who says she's drawing a picture of god. Her teacher says "But no-one knows what god looks like." To which the girl replies "They will in a minute". :D

shaldna
11-23-2010, 04:58 PM
I was talking about degrees in the arts and sciences, where an MA is no longer sufficient for anything, other than as a stepping stone toward a PhD.

Increasing numbers of PhD programmes require a MA or MSc as one of thier entry requirements now. Mainly due, I believe, to the increasing number of people who hold undergraduate degrees.

The problem we are having in the UK and Ireland right now is that for the last 15 years university has become so accessible to people, regardless of actual intellectual ability, and so people who would not have been able to attend before are now able to go - even if you fail all of your exams there will be a univeristy somewhere which will take you.

So, with huge numbers of graduates every year MAs and MScs become a filter of sorts for more advanced programmes.

JimmyB27
11-23-2010, 05:10 PM
The problem we are having in the UK and Ireland right now is that for the last 15 years university has become so accessible to people, regardless of actual intellectual ability, and so people who would not have been able to attend before are now able to go - even if you fail all of your exams there will be a univeristy somewhere which will take you.
I think that's a secondary problem of the fact that a degree is seen as a sort of pinnacle of achievement. Like you aren't going to make anything of yourself if you don't have one. So the government took it upon their misguided heads to make it possible for everyone to go to university, regardless of their suitability for it.
University isn't for everyone, which is why I mentioned 'academia vs vocation' as well. There are a lot of highly skilled jobs out there for which a degree is entirely useless, but still we push kids 'degree or nothing!'.

It's asinine.

RandomJerk
11-23-2010, 10:15 PM
I've seen these quite a while ago, and they were more that worthy of a re-watch. Wonderful talk. Thanks for the links.

I don't think there's any question that the value of degrees has decreased over time. I've met several cab drivers with Masters degrees, and a lot of the top people in Info. Sec. have little background in computers.

Sevvy
11-24-2010, 12:34 AM
University isn't for everyone, which is why I mentioned 'academia vs vocation' as well. There are a lot of highly skilled jobs out there for which a degree is entirely useless, but still we push kids 'degree or nothing!'.

I agree. I've had friends who flunked out of college. I recommended they go to vocational school for something they love doing, and make a career for themselves. One friend built his own car in high school, so when he flunked out he started taking auto-mechanic classes. Not everyone should go to college, especially if they don't like school to begin with, and instead love doing something that doesn't require four+ years and a lot of student loans.

MsGneiss
11-24-2010, 05:48 AM
The problem we are having in the UK and Ireland right now is that for the last 15 years university has become so accessible to people, regardless of actual intellectual ability, and so people who would not have been able to attend before are now able to go - even if you fail all of your exams there will be a univeristy somewhere which will take you.


I think the bigger problem is that the general consensus is that everyone NEEDS a bachelors degree in the liberal arts, which is obviously not the case. Especially, considering the exorbitant cost of tuition (at least here, in the US - I know it's much more reasonable in the UK). It really is a higher-ed bubble, because people are going into ridiculous debt to finance essentially worthless and meaningless degrees.

I always thought that vocational programs are a wonderful idea, but here it's almost like a dirty word. That's why I liked that (second) talk by Sir Ken so much - it's really important to consider that all sorts of professions are necessary for a productive society, and it's absolutely ridiculous to dissuade people from following vocational career tracks that don't require a liberal arts education.

JimmyB27
11-24-2010, 01:36 PM
That's why I liked that (second) talk by Sir Ken so much - it's really important to consider that all sorts of professions are necessary for a productive society, and it's absolutely ridiculous to dissuade people from following vocational career tracks that don't require a liberal arts education.
I've watched the second one now. Can't believe the story about the chap who wanted to be a fireman, and was dissuaded and told it would be a waste. A waste!? Being a fireman? :crazy:

The world truly is a barmy place sometimes.

Miriel
11-28-2010, 09:43 AM
I always thought that vocational programs are a wonderful idea, but here it's almost like a dirty word. That's why I liked that (second) talk by Sir Ken so much - it's really important to consider that all sorts of professions are necessary for a productive society, and it's absolutely ridiculous to dissuade people from following vocational career tracks that don't require a liberal arts education.

I agree 100%. The public education system seems designed to teach children how to be good cogs in a corporate machine -- turn papers in on time, be just competent, sit nicely, etc. Nations do needs more kinds of workers than that. My favorite people in the world are entrepreneurs, those highly creative, risk-taking individuals who create jobs for other people. I think they should all get gold stars. But the school system doesn't encourage the creative problem-solving that goes into being a small business owner -- which many vocational workers (electrician, plumber, etc.) are. I've learned a lot about LLC's, DBA's, independent contractors, etc. in the past few years looking for ways to generate income. I really wish a year (or more) of high school English was dedicated to things like writing a business plan, meeting agenda, or an ad. I went to a high school where a semester of Economic was mandatory; I was appalled to later find out most high schools don't even have that.

Sorry if that's scattered. It's something I think a lot about, feel strongly about, and worry about. Thus, it doesn't come out clearly.

JimmyB27
12-20-2010, 03:00 AM
There's another one - with animation!

http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms.html