Last night, someone asked me the exact question I have been anticipating:

“Just read your last blog a second time, and I have a question:  What about all those disciplines—everything from science, engineer, medicine, biology, climatology, physics, etc.—that covet, even demand, advanced degrees from those who desire to enter those very demanding fields as professionals?  How do they prove they’re qualified? Will just thinking/saying, “I think I’m ready,” satisfy those who do the hiring?”

Thank you, Dad!

I should note that my dad–Jack Pelletier–was raised and educated in his early years by Jesuits, taught English for over 30 years in Sacramento, and is responsible in so many ways for encouraging my growth as a thinker and a teacher.

Here is my response:

“Dad,

This is THE question, I think. The make or break question. My answer is that professions know whom they want to hire, and driven people will learn how to acquire those skills (and they might even do it more quickly and more effectively if a group of intellectuals with egos at stake aren’t dictating how that happens and how the process should be judged). What I am arguing, ultimately, is that the system we have is an expensive, soul-crushing burden. And it is actually preventing growth, creativity, and intellectual advancements.

My core point is that learning should not be a prescribed process. When it is, it will always fail a segment of the population. When it is, it will always encourage people to become homogenized, robotic, prosaic thinkers.

To answer more precisely, people interested in those fields would apprentice in actual labs, for example, and do real-world work rather than theoretical extrapolating. For most people, the working world is a shock to the system. Why not allow folks to learn by doing rather than by forcing them into debt, with only theoretical experience to bank on?

For what it is worth, I know I am arguing for an ideal–and that is precisely my intent. I want to challenge people to rethink education.

Love, Josh”

For the sake of roundness, here is his reply:

“Josh, arguing for an ideal is always a worthy cause.  Keep fighting!  And the concept of ‘apprenticing in actual labs’ rather than ‘theoretical extrapolating’ makes sense.

Thanks for answering my question so thoroughly.
– Love, Dad”

Readers, now that the conversation has started, I cordially invite you to join in.
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