Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ability and Self-Confidence.

Everyone seems to agree that it is important in a society for individuals of that society to be able to perform the tasks needed by it. The common indicator of a society's performance however seems to be the sum of the subjective satisfactions of the individuals of a society with their stations in it. These two ideas lead unfortunately to two different directions. The first direction is to realistically educate members of a society towards being good at performing jobs available in a society and through proficiency in their profession to be happy with their station in life. The second approach is to educate individuals towards being happy and self-confident and with their newly found self-confindence people would happily and proficiently carry out whatever tasks fell upon them. Or so the logic goes. Naturally there are problems with both approaches. In both approaches the flaw lies in the fact that in any society only a small percentage of positions that are available are of high enough societal standing to allow a person employed in them to take any pleasure from his station in life. Additionally out of any group of people some are more naturally capable than others. So in the first approach people will be prepared for their dull and tedious jobs and do them well. In the second most of the people with high self-esteem will have dreamt of doing jobs they aren't capable of and will be unprepared for their dull, tedious jobs and do them poorly. Interestingly in the first approach those that are performing tedious jobs will most likely place most of the blame with the natural structure of society and resign themselves to their tedium while spending their excess time and money on revolutions and in pubs or beerhalls. In the second approach, with its emphasis on the individual, people will blame themselves for their failures and spend their excess time and money on seeing shrinks and reading self-help books. A consequence of this is of course that if any new opportunities open up, they will be more quickly seized by those unresigned to their fate and always working on their self-esteem rather than those drunk on alcohol and content with tedium. The end result of both of these approaches is that both are flawed, since man was never meant to be happy with his station in life, regardless of what it is...

In any case, the sum of the subjective satisfactions of the individuals of a society is more dependent on the weather...


Blogger E$ said...

So which category would you ascribe yourself to?

Do you find a preponderance of each approach in particular countries, or are they equally endemic for each education system?

4:04 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

I don't ascribe myself to either category...

The system that emphasizes self-confidence to the exclusion of the development of real-world skills is predominant in the United States, with its emphasis on self-confidence and on a liberal arts education.

The system that emphasizes skills exists in parts of Europe, especially in Germany (different school tracks - academic, technical, with only the academics proceding to university and apply to a specific faculty rather than for general admissions).

6:09 PM  
Blogger E$ said...

But aren't there flexibilities in the American education system? For example, in New York, there are schools specializing in math and science. Even non-specialized schools often offer a range of advanced math and science classes.

Colleges, once again, have a range of education options. Granted, there is more mobility from math/science to liberal arts and back, but isn't that generally a good thing?

10:46 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

It would depend on what one considers to be the objective of the education system in the first place. If the objective is to create a mobile and flexible workforce of individuals unprepared for any particular task but with confidence in its ability to perform any task then surely flexibility and mobility is good.

If however it is argued, as it often is, that education and socialization in educational institutions are meant to create happy self-confident individuals then it seems unlikely that students, a majority of which are unprepared for the tasks they are likely to encounter, would be either happy or confident in the lowly positions that they will likely find themselves.

The current educational attitude leads to a workforce where most individuals find their confidence dashed and are forced to make do with jobs they are unprepared for. They then blame themselves for their inability to make it into the high-glamor jobs, despite the simple fact that the supply of such jobs is relatively low and demand for them relatively high. At the same time many graduates of the US educational instituations are incapable of filling such low-glamor, but relatively well-paid jobs as computer programmers, engineers, construction contractors, plumbers, electricians and nurses.

While those at the top of the socio-economic pyramid greatly benefit from the flexibility and mobility allowed them by a liberal arts education, those in the lower strata are not best served by such an education.

6:30 PM  

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