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Random thoughts by Frank Didik on science, business and society today

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On Education

What courses should and should not be taught at college or university?

  This is a complex and controversial topic. For starters, I feel that a college or university can not teach a person how to be a good business person, nor can it teach a person how to be creative. Will an MBA make that person a better business person, or an entrepreneur? No, it will not. An MBA might explain to the person the workings of a business and provide information on how to record and account for transactions and perhaps teach various theories on management, but that falls far short of making that individual a business person or an entrepreneur I would argue that a person who never attends university, but comes from a family who has operated businesses for several generations, is in a far better position in creating and managing a successful business, than a top MBA graduate, from a top school, who does not have this background. Napoleon stated that the education of a child starts three generations before the child is born. True know-how only comes through experience, and extensive, day to day observation of successful businesses and business people.

  When it comes to "creative fields" such as art, photography, graphics, web design, film and video production and similar, I say that formal education can not make a person "creative" but can only teach the individual what has already been done and the technology behind doing what has already been done. For example, an art student can be taught about the work of previously esteemed artists and the techniques that they used to create their work. True creativity can not be taught. With this in mind, I feel that "creative fields" should not be taught in a college or university, but rather the basics should be taught in craft or trade schools for perhaps six months to a year and then, if the student should show promise in the field, the student should attempt to become an apprentice to a know person in the field that the student wishes to enter into. It is a waste of time for the student to spend anywhere from four years to ten years going through university and getting an advanced degree in an art field. This advanced degree will not assist the student in being more creative. Most college and university level creative programs today should be in the same category as any other trade or craft, such as welding, plumbing, auto mechanics, electrician or carpentry. All of these fields are vitally important but do not require a college or university degree and "creative fields" fall into this category You are either naturally creative or you are not and you only need to know the techniques to enhance what you are gifted in. The vast majority of graduate from creative fields will never work in the field that they studied for, either because there are only a handful of jobs in the field, or their ability falls short of their aspirations or a combination of these and other factors.

  Many students today study "computer science", which essentially is a class that covers learning current computer languages. Computer science courses should not be confused with the development of computers and computer electronics falls under the category of electrical engineering. The problem with spending years studying computer science and computer "languages" and "coding" is that the languages are constantly changing. When I went to school, I studied FORTRAN and COBOL, but who uses these antiquated languages any more? Computer Science falls under the realm of a trade and should not be taught in a university but rather should be taught in a trade school. The courses in such a trade school should be limited to the specific computer language that the student wishes to work in and such a program should not be longer than six months to a year . Theoretical computer science, that is to say, the development of new mathematical perspectives, algorithms and research, should be taught in university and is essentially a mathematics subject.

  I would argue that accounting is a trade, and should be taught in trade school program, rather than a university.

  What must be done, for the sake of the student and for the efficiency of society is to completely re-evaluate the entire university system. The current university learning system is cumbersome and inefficient and is structured to give false hope to many, if not most of the students who feel that after achieving the requirements for a particular degree, that magically their lives will change and that they will work in their desired fields. It is time to minimize fantasy and come back to reality.

From my perspective, the following institutions should teach the following disciplines:

  • College: Biology, physics, mathematics, chemistry, electronics, philosophy, law, medicine and similar

  • Trade schools: Accounting, welding, plumbing, carpentry, auto mechanics, computer programing, web design, house painting, marketing/advertising. After a relatively short stint in trade schools, many of the people in these disciplines should seek to become apprentices under the guide of a master in the field. Please note that in the case of web design, the actual design should should probably be developed by a marketing master, who may not necessarily know how to program a computer or create a website, thus the purpose of the "web designer" is not to create a marketing complain, but rather to create a website that follows the vision of the marketing master. Driving a car is different than designing the car.

  • Apprentiship programs: Fine art including painting, sculpture and other art forms, photography, film and video production, house painting.



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This page is from November 12, 2015, though is based on thoughts by Frank Didik dating back many years.