Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finding True Work

This is the conclusion to John Holt's 1978 essay Jobs Careers Work, in the #3 issue of Growing Without School (GWS).

He writes,
"To students who used to ask me whether they should go to, or stay in, or go back to college, I used to say, "Look, a college degree isn't a magic passkey that opens all the doors in town. It only opens a few, and before you spend a lot of time and money getting one of these keys, you'd be smart to find out what doors it opens, and what's on the other side of those doors, and whether you want to go through them."

I also used to ask them, "What do you want to do? Suppose you had in your hand whatever college ticket you are thinking of getting, what would you like to do, choose to do, right now?"

Most looked at me with blank faces. They had never considered the question. A few would say that they would like to be some sort of -ician or-ologist. I would reply, "OK, suppose you were one, then what would you like to do?" This stopped them.

They did not know any -icians or-ologists, and had no idea what they did or whether they themselves might want to do it. They saw these 'careers' only as slots that school might enable them to slip into.

Every year the major academic disciplines-History, English, Modern Languages, Economics, etc. have big conferences. Hundreds of people with brand new Ph.D. degrees go to these conferences, hoping to land one of the by now scarce jobs.

They hold their tickets up in the air and say, in effect, "Please hire me, someone, anyone, I'll do anything you tell me to." There is a well know name for these gatherings.

It is "slave markets."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Where is the spirit of enterprise and initiative in today's world? Young people seem to be the least daring, the most conservative. This sucks.

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