Education is a duty

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wineandcheese's picture
wineandcheese
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Dec 13 2010 13:38
Education is a duty

Hi,

we've written a short piece on the public education system in order to challenge the widespread appreciation for it for instance in the student movement.

Quote:
Immediately, these cuts mean that people have less money in their pockets and thus have less access to the stuff they need. But these cuts also mean that more people will find it harder to even pursue a university degree. This limits their potential earnings in the future – however uncertain those are to begin with. A university degree allows one to earn a decent salary if and only if one finds an employer in need for one’s services after graduation. The possible material perks of education can only be collected if that education benefits a company’s business. This is a first hint that the state does not (and did not in the past) provide education as a service to its citizens but for a different purpose.

The text is available at

http://www.junge-linke.org/en/education-is-a-duty

A PDF version is available at:

http://www.junge-linke.org/files/2010/12/protests-flyer.pdf

waslax's picture
waslax
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Dec 16 2010 08:03
Quote:
Immediately, these cuts mean that people have less money in their pockets and thus have less access to the stuff they need. But these cuts also mean that more people will find it harder to even pursue a university degree. This limits their potential earnings in the future – however uncertain those are to begin with. A university degree allows one to earn a decent salary if and only if one finds an employer in need for one’s services after graduation. The possible material perks of education can only be collected if that education benefits a company’s business. This is a first hint that the state does not (and did not in the past) provide education as a service to its citizens but for a different purpose.

This is indeed true, however, that doesn't contradict the fact that today, for most people, one can only find a job with a decent salary if one has the requisite (higher) education. One can have an "appreciation" for education simply as a means to that end rather than appreciating it as an end in itself.

Klaus
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Dec 16 2010 14:49

waslax, isn't that the same as the statement from the text:

Quote:
Because, however grim the prospects of a good life with a university degree look, the prospects of a good life without a degree are usually much worse in this society. However bad the conditions for studying are, it is probably still worth it financially for the individual.

Also I'd say strictly speaking an education is not a means but a prerequisite for employment: just because one has a university degree does not imply one gets a job: a job depends on the calculation by some company that employing somebody is profitable for the company. However, as far as I know the students do not acknowledge that their reproduction is just a dependent variable on capital accumulation.

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 16 2010 15:04
wineandcheese wrote:
cuts also mean that more people will find it harder to even pursue a university degree. This limits their potential earnings in the future

i'm not sure about this. it's often said, but i'm not even sure it's possible to eliminate confounding variables. yeah, graduates on average have higher lifetime earnings than non-graduates. that doesn't say anything about causality. if on average smarter people go to uni, and on average smarter people can better play the labour market to scramble up the ladder, that would explain it for example.

Klaus
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Dec 19 2010 15:31

Hi,

of course, a higher qualification is not directly the cause for a higher salary just as a higher productivity is no direct cause for a higher salary.

However, if this higher qualification is only available in smaller numbers the people having this kind of qualification can negotiate (collectively and individually) higher wages. To be a programmer or accountant a certain qualification is required that not every worker has. That'd be reason 1 I'd give why university graduates have higher salaries.

If employers think that having a university degree shows dedication and shows that one is "smart" (more on "smart" below), then this also is feature not every worker has which again makes competition easier for those workers.

I suppose in some cases there might also be a loyalty bonus involved: if graduates go and do jobs in management or jobs that require special training, not loosing them and having them focus on the job might be worth a little bit of extra wage for some capitalists. That argument isn't exclusive to graduates but might also explain some of the wage difference they earn. Btw. we wrote about this here: http://www.junge-linke.org/de/will-das-kapital-die-lohne-immer-nur-senken but that's not translated to English yet.

Finally, since this discussion is about education I'll allow myself a little digression: I don't think applying the category "smart" to people makes sense (I'm not sure whether you just gave it as an example of whether you'd agree with this theory): Being smart means to be capable of doing things that are perceived as smart, such as solving certain problems well. It is a statement about a potential. How does one observe this potential: by observing it in action. One cannot observe the opposite though, just because somebody doesn't do something clever does not imply (s)he cannot do these things, that's the crux of the potential. One can only know what somebody is capable of when they do it. That person has the potential to do smart things who does smart things. Declaring somebody smart is a doubling of the observation that somebody does/writes/says something complicated etc. For example the statement smart people get better jobs because their smartness allows them to better play the labour market, does not explain anything. How do we know they are smart:they can play the labour market well. How do we know they can play the labour market well: they do get better jobs. The statement is just the same as saying people who get better jobs do so because they have the potential of getting better jobs. Their capacity to get a better job is due to their capacity.

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Joseph Kay
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Dec 19 2010 15:59
Klaus wrote:
For example the statement smart people get better jobs because their smartness allows them to better play the labour market, does not explain anything

well i'm playing devils advocate, but you could argue the skills required to get a degree are similar to those required to pad out a CV, blag an interview etc...

Klaus wrote:
To be a programmer or accountant a certain qualification is required that not every worker has. That'd be reason 1 I'd give why university graduates have higher salaries.

some higher-paid jobs definitely require degrees etc, that would be a reason. although against that there some that definitely don't. i mean it wouldn't surprise me if having a degree did boost lifetime earnings, it's just something i hear a lot and it seems to be based on a simple correlation. i mean much of the anger on the street is definitely 'mediated' in the sense described, i.e. aiming at social mobility/better income prospects, just i think that's partly illusive. i mean one of brighton's major employers is low-wage call centres and they're full of graduates.

Klaus
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Dec 19 2010 19:00
Quote:
well i'm playing devils advocate, but you could argue the skills required to get a degree are similar to those required to pad out a CV, blag an interview etc..

Okay, but I understood your earlier statement in the sense that those who go to university are smart enough to master these skills, that's what I was arguing against. But I agree that perhaps some training at university helps those who receive it (in the way you say)

Quote:
i mean much of the anger on the street is definitely 'mediated' in the sense described, i.e. aiming at social mobility/better income prospects, just i think that's partly illusive. i mean one of brighton's major employers is low-wage call centres and they're full of graduates.

I agree that having a degree does not ensure any earning whatsoever since the wage is based on a company's calculation about profitability. So I'd even agree with you that this illusion needs to be questioned/attacked.

In particular since the university reforms outlined in the Browne report and those probably to be implemented by the ConDems attempt to address this problem: people get "useless" degrees. Useless for capital and since one is dependent on capital fairly useless for oneself.

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Kronstadt_Kid
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Jan 2 2011 15:05

Thanks for making this a PDF.