Tuesday, September 22, 2015


College as vocational school?

I read an article the other day about how few people really work in the field they studied in college.

And, after I stopped laughing, I realized that this article must have been conceived and written by someone quite young. It wasn't until post WWII that college was ever supposed to be a "vocational school." 

Oh, there were nursing schools, and teachers' colleges. and postgraduate "professional" schools for engineering, art, music, medicine and law, but a bachelor's degree was designed to prepare you for LIFE. To provide you with the background and language to solve problems, lead others, and become contributing members of society. To see the world in a larger perspective so you could understand and adapt to change. Ask any lawyer and they will tell you that law school doesn't teach you how to be a lawyer. (Or, you could just watch My Cousin Vinny) A degree in Medicine doesn't make you a working physician--- residency and internship does. A degree in music does not turn someone into a composer. 

Then, in the post WWII era, we began offering mainstream degrees in Business.  Oh, Wharton has been around since 1881 (the US' oldest b-school) and Harvard Business has been around since 1908, but, according to Forbes, he number of MBAs issued has jumped 623% since 1970; (education master’s degrees increased only 103% during that time.)  Suddenly, there are lots of MBA's out there, all shooting for the same jobs.  And suddenly, all those MBA's said, "well I have the credentials now, so I must be ready for the corner office and the golden parachute."
 But an MBA isn't-- and shouldn't be thought of-- as a vocational certificate.

The business world is changing faster and faster every year, and, if you treat your degree as "one and done" vocational education, your education cannot keep pace with demands.

When my grandfather was a young man, he learned a vocation-- he was a baker -- and he went through an apprenticeship and perfected that skill and became more competent, but, when he retired, the way he did his job was pretty much the same as it was when he was 20, or 40, or 50 or even 60. The best cinnamon buns ever made still took flour and sugar and raisins and yeast.

When my father was a young man, he learned many different skills--(so many, my grandfather despaired he would never find a career)  He worked in restaurants, he learned to hang wallpaper, he was a salesman, he worked in a jewelry store, and he worked in a steel mill. Then he went into the army, and discovered he had another set of skills-- he was a great leader, strategist and planner-- and when he came home from war he took the steel mill experience and the military experience and he took some GI Bill money and went to college, and he became a manager for a multinational company.

He worked at that job until he was fully vested in his pension-- 30 plus years-- and then he retired. He grew bored with retirement, and he took the people and logistics skills he learned in his corporate life and spent another 10 years trying to make government run like a business.

The world my grandfather and father worked in was not bequeathed to my brothers and I.
EJ started out studying engineering, then realized his calling was the law. He became an attorney, and has been practicing for  very long time, but though his title remains the same, the nature of the practice has changed as technologies and markets have changed. If he hadn't adapted and contunued to learn and grow as the world changed, he would not have been even a fraction as successful as he has.

My other brother began in the Telecom world, when that meant a landline phone in your house or office and offices still had switchboard operators, and everyone got their service from Bell.  If you think he didn't have to grow and change to remain viable, remember that when my brothers started college, there was no NASA, there was no internet, and even IBM didn't know why on earth private citizens would ever want a personal computer. (let alone one a wireless one you could carry in your pocket) 

I am a bit younger than they are  Bill Gates and I are contemporaries. Do you think the work world has changed a bit in OUR working lifetimes? I was in the computer bay today, waiting for my new laptop to be imaged. I handed the technician a 512 GB flash drive about the size of a tootsie roll midget, and watched him insert it and hit "run." At times like this I am reminded of the 3GB hard drive I replaced in my SOTA IBM desktop PC with a 12 GB drive, and wondering how I would ever come up with enough information to fill it.  Changes?  Constantly. Not just

Do you know anyone who is still working for the same company they were hired by right out of college?  If  you do, is the company still doing the same thing? Probably not.  

We typically hear that people will make 3 to 7 major career shifts over the course of our working lives. Personally, I've made about 4. Did I imagine this is how I thought I'd make my living when I was 20? Are you kidding me?  The career I have today didn't even appear as a separate option in college catalogues or HR manuals at the time.

So, if you (or your kid) are about to "complete" your education and are out in the job market, stop thinking of education as a thing you complete in order to prepare for a career. It hasn't worked that way for a couple of generations.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015


I must be a trial to my right-wing Facebook friends.

Get Your Facts Straight!

Church and State


Medical Matters

Saturday, September 12, 2015


8th Grade Boy Charged with Sexual Assault for Kissing Classmate

A friend sent me a link to this story today on Facebook.  

She was really upset that people were "excusing" his behavior as a childish act, when it was clearly a case of sexual assault and taken seriously. As a Mom of 2 boys, and a grandmother of three, I responded. We're usually on track _______________, but with a 13 year old kid, prosecution may be a bit of overkill. "No one was injured during the incident, police say," At 18, old enough to know better? prosecute his butt. At 13? Since it happened on school property, perhaps this could be effectivelly handled in other ways. I'm a mother and grandmother....I had two of the best kids on the planet, BUT KIDS DO STUPIDLY IMMATURE THINGS .....BECAUSE THEY ARE KIDS. If no one was hurt, it deserves apologies and discipline, education and maybe some community service to teach him and his friends why what they did was wrong, not a juvenile record and time in juvie. Ever seen what happens in there?

Her resonse to me 
It frustrates me that when 13 year olds murder other people, the public comes running with torches and pitchforks to try them as adults. When 18 year olds murder they are sentenced to death and everyone says they are adults and should know better.......13 is an average age for people to be conscious of sexuality and personal space. But when a 14 year old girl is sexually assaulted people come to the boy's defense and says it is just boyish fun. It isn't.
The girl clearly is upset about this and she shouldn't be robbed of justice or invalidated because other people do stupid things too.  Survivors of sexual assault are afraid to come forward because people won't put the blame on the perpetrator.
I wanted to take a bit more space and time to understand and validate her feelings, but still respond from my vantage point. a few decades further down the road.

I hear what you are saying, And I appreciate your sentiments, but the world is not always as black and white as we'd wish it to be. The current environment is the only one you've had the opportunity to observe firsthand. I was a kid. . Then I became a Mom, and now I have a nearly 15 year old grandson. I just think about the hypersexualization of children today-- in dress, in attitudes, in behavior-- all of which parents support, willingly or unwillingly, by means of their acceptance. Today, the line between kids and adults is blurred-- and not in a good way. 8 year olds have smartphones and instagram accounts, and are posting things to the internet they do not have the maturity to understand. 7 year olds deescribe themselves as transgender--- I didn't know I HAD a gender at 7, or that gender identity could BE different from physical anatomy. Sure, there were girls in my school who preferred never to wear dresses and liked playing football more than Barbies, but that was perfectly OK-- it didn't make you not a girl, it made you a girl who liked football. Your mother probably got a little annoyed around Easter when she wanted you to put on the pretty pastel dress, but no one was signing you up for hormone treatments and/or surgery. The boys in our neighborhood chased us on our bikes, but we didn't charge them with sexual harassment or assault. .

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