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Reform the PhD system or close it down

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posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 09:13 AM
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From: Nature News


The system of PhD education in the United States and many other countries is broken and unsustainable, and needs to be reconceived. In many fields, it creates only a cruel fantasy of future employment that promotes the self-interest of faculty members at the expense of students. The reality is that there are very few jobs for people who might have spent up to 12 years on their degrees.

Most doctoral-education programmes conform to a model defined in European universities during the Middle Ages, in which education is a process of cloning that trains students to do what their mentors do. The clones now vastly outnumber their mentors. The academic job market collapsed in the 1970s, yet universities have not adjusted their admissions policies, because they need graduate students to work in laboratories and as teaching assistants. But once those students finish their education, there are no academic jobs for them.


Here in the US, we are facing the ever-increasing demand to accept the meme that University education is a must to ensure competitiveness and prosperity for our future. Even our President has flatly declares "A High School education isn't enough." as our school performance and the metric quality of students it produces continually diminishes.

Our children and theirs will be forced to accept a new meme, that part of "making it" involves paying a higher learning institution to grant you the social currency necessary to get a job which will allow you to live at least slightly less close to the edge of economic survival.

But interestingly, now even the highest "qualified" - which is to say those who paid most, or went deepest into hock - into the educational system are facing a tough reality. You could be the best qualified in the world at what you study, but if there is no job for you, you will have to settle for less.... and hope to break even.


If doctoral education is to remain viable in the twenty-first century, universities must tear down the walls that separate fields, and establish programmes that nourish cross-disciplinary investigation and communication. They must design curricula that focus on solving practical problems, such as providing clean water to a growing population. Unfortunately, significant change is unlikely to come from faculty members, who all too often remain committed to traditional approaches. Students, administrators, trustees and even people from the public and private sectors must create pressure for reform. It is important to realize that problems will never be solved as long as each institution continues to act independently.


I tend to agree that the splintering of disciplines into super-specialized fields of study have only served business models... not the needs of the community.
edit on 26-4-2011 by Maxmars because: (no reason given)




posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 09:19 AM
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i do like what is suggested here. promoting synergy within the acdemic disciplines should develop more areas of useful research and more job oppotunities for the clones when they finish.



posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 10:01 AM
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A friend of mine recently graduated with her masters from Yale. I am pretty sure it was some kind of an education degree but anyway, she is now fully committed to spreading the knowledge that "elementry through Yale" was a complete waste of time. She reported a loss of passion for learning after the long grueling hours/months/years spent at Yale, didn't walk away with much added knowledge besides the fact that Yale is more like a country club than a school. She returned home to Wyoming hoping to find a career or job that would spark her passion and has found herself mostly unemployeed and volunteering. I fear that education is a complete joke, jobs not being available for graduates is the least of our problems.



posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 10:21 AM
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reply to post by wildoracle13
 


When you get to my age, you start to realize that a persons capabilities and drive are what matters. And social currency like degrees and certifications are often widely detached from actual competence, and even professional ethics. Some of the worst criminals in history, the most ineffectual leaders, and the most incompetent of professionals, have the highest honors and degrees.

I can't argue against the idea of an education beyond the pablum that most high schools dole out to their students. I agree that our teaching institutions consistently (at least now it seems) are generally disinclined to teach critical thinking, research, or analysis and synthesis of ideas. Perhaps it is because the teaching community is not trained to value or engender such things. Perhaps its because they don't know how to measure success in those areas. It is a shame, and thus, we hope that a University education may give students an opportunity to explore the boundaries of their educational gaps... but it doesn't (again - generally speaking.)

The more advanced your educational goal is, the more your success hinges upon "pleasing" or "serving" the professor - often having nothing to do with anything beyond the professor's whim.

In that regard I am always reminded of the late great George Carlin's words about the educational system....

WARNING - George Carlin never believed in the idea that speech - including profanity - should be restrained... so beware the curse words... they are part of his thought process....


The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They've got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying ­ lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else.

But I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting #ed by a system that threw them overboard 30 #ing years ago.

You know what they want? Obedient workers ­ people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly #tier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they're coming for your Social Security. They want your #ing retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this #ing place. It's a big club, and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club.



RIP Mr. Carlin



posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 11:54 AM
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Took the words right out of my mouth. Thanks for the Carlin quotes.I just have a hard time grasping how effective the "sheeple mill" or education system has become. With technology and all the various recources available to us, the vast majority still remains completely ignorant. Think about it, how many people do you personally know who are very well educated, make good wages, thrive in society and have no DESIRE to talk about or even learn about the truth (taboo topics?) Why is it that people like you and I have the need to "know more" the behind the story or "deny ignorance" what ever you want to call it; why are we so different? What factored into our being okay with looking behind the curtain, where others adamantly refuse or poke fun at you?



posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 12:12 PM
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reply to post by wildoracle13
 


It is puzzling. If I am talking with my colleagues at work and certain subjects come up, I have to be very careful about what I say. Many times they are completely "out of the loop" (or at least it seems that way) on so many critical issues that affect our lives and more importantly our future.

Often they will beat a hasty retreat from any conversation where they may have to express an opinion; and I've begun to realize that despite the 'polite' ideal of not wanting to get into a heated exchange over their beliefs or trying to be 'above' populist nonsense... it's really because they have no opinion at all... I suppose if you live in a world where you are never (in polite society) to discuss "politics or religion" it might be easier to just not think about it... thus embracing the ignorance that provides them with some measure of bliss.

But I need to at least remind them that their children will grow up in the world we leave them, and that "things are the way they are because so many are willing to say 'that's just the way it is'."

I suppose having conversations here with people like you and our members let's me at least confirm that it is not I who is foolishly focused on trivialities; it is they who are recklessly detached from those things that should matter.

Of course, working where I do, the highly educated self-appointed elite are the clowns in this circus; because all they know (and seem to care about) is the social order... and the words of many a wise person have been glossed over because he or she was not 'of their kind'..... "they just don;t understand the culture" they might say... and I often leave them with that sentiment because to tell them "You don't have a culture, you have a glee club." would go right over their heads.
edit on 26-4-2011 by Maxmars because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 05:47 PM
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reply to post by Maxmars
 


Well... You've identified a problem. What's the solution?

I guess, from the standpoint of the schools, there really isn't a problem. They get cheap labor and tuition money whether you get a job or not. Then, by flooding the market, they can hire your mentors replacement on the cheap.

A fool and his money are soon parted.

Let the "buyer" beware.

Etc.



posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 06:11 PM
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reply to post by Mayson
 


I'm not sure the solution can be applied as long as we are proceeding to 'train' our children to 'perform' for wages. That sounds idealistic to say, and I'm not satisfied with the notion; but I can't see how we can 'fix' education while keeping the institutional culture intact. For that matter, lots of institutions need some 'alignment' towards less self-perpetuating cycles of ego-driven nonsense.

I understand the purpose of the question regarding a solution. But I don't know if any suggestion I would make would be deemed 'realistic' let alone acceptable.



posted on Apr, 26 2011 @ 06:35 PM
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What bugs me the most is when politically, publically, having a degree in "so and so" somehow makes you a more humane and trust worthy person. Some of the biggest A-hats I've seen were hard core college board education freaks.

Assumptions are made about the education material. "Why would they be teaching it to you if it were flawed?"

The education bubble will burst sooner or later. What I can't wait for is the end to application of statistical models to real life issues (like airline travel, risk analysts, drugs testing ect) That way you won't have overbooked flights, nuclear reactors built only for X level and then failing: because "according to our models" magnitude X shouldn't happen, and hundreds of drugs being recalled and companies not being held liable for peoples suffering like we have now..



No really. Trust me, I'm a Doctor.

edit on 26-4-2011 by BlubberyConspiracy because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 27 2011 @ 12:17 PM
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I apologize for taking my comments so far off topic. I must add to all of these observations about our education system that my opinion on the "problem" remains a fault with our government. Our society has grown too large to rely on the beurocratic government from the states all the way to the federal level. We simply have too many people, too many cultures, too many needs, and above all too many directions without focus. Please know that I am in no way condemning our beautiful melting pot of societies in our country but ultimately I feel this is the simple reason why we cannot sustain/build a future for each other through governing. Have you traveled across country and felt as though you were traveling the world? So many different communities, great cities, and states that are so completely different you wonder how there is any connection to the whole? Okay, okay, so I am from Wyoming (and no, I don't ride a horse to work) but I have traveled pretty extensively and South Carolina is a world apart from North Dakota.



posted on Apr, 27 2011 @ 12:54 PM
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reply to post by wildoracle13
 


No apology necessary. I have always felt that this is among those important topics that people seem to want to leave to the institutions to resolve, yet the educational institutions are both the parties that have gotten things the way they are now, and the least likely to be able to peel themselves away form the paradigms that they adhere to anyway.



posted on Apr, 27 2011 @ 01:20 PM
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I gotta admit, I am either too lazy or not crazy enough to quit my job to stay home and figure out what I think is important to teach my child. Now that would be an undertaking huh? I am not talking about traditional home-schooling but start from scratch kind of stuff. I guarantee that I wouldn't be handing out tips on calculus or semi-permeable membranes. I would probably sign her up on ATS. BAHAHAHA!!



posted on Apr, 27 2011 @ 01:28 PM
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reply to post by wildoracle13
 


I've thought the same.

But ATS isn't for the meek and submissive. By definition, you must have a certain sense or 'acumen' to approach the ATS experience meaningfully. This ain't Facebook or Twitter or YouTube.

On the other hand, I think a curriculum of sorts could be developed from the ATS dialogs... I have begun to work on one... a book of sorts... but I suspect it wouldn't serve any one else's purposes but my own.



posted on May, 25 2011 @ 04:46 PM
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reply to post by Maxmars
 


Apologize for my late response I have just discovered how to know when a member replies to you (the shortcut way). I tahded
So, please explain the ATS dialogs... or point me in the direction of finding out what you are talking about. Thanks in advance.



posted on May, 25 2011 @ 09:40 PM
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reply to post by Mayson
 


I just earned my PhD, and in a field that is extremely unique - I'm one of about 15 people in the country with this degree. I'll suffice it to say that it's a specific application of education.

I had to fight tooth and nail to maintain my independence. Many times I was told to "cooperate to graduate." I refused. My committee threatened to fail me. I dared them. They made me take every exam twice, trying to make me sweat the second one because it could be my last. I called the bluff.

And through all of it, I FINALLY learned critical thinking, argumentation, and logic. Not directly though - I learned it through Facebook debate (!) and had to apply it in my PhD. I got them back for it though, as embedded in my dissertation is a message of liberty and a denouncement of the NWO agenda.

So, why did I do it? #1 - so I could teach anywhere. Not a good reason to do a PhD, btw.

But to the challenge from the OP - what's the drive for more PhD's? Besides the fact that it looks good to have more PhD's (a more educated populace), this is the key: PhD's go to work ON PUBLIC DOLLARS. We are essentially govt employees. We apply for govt grants to do mundane things that we should have done decades ago, and the school gets about 50% in overhead, so they love it too.

In other words, the system is feeding itself. I do it to help students, as I teach liberty, critical thinking, etc. Most do it to sustain themselves - build a name, get big $, live comfortably.



posted on May, 26 2011 @ 12:29 AM
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Originally posted by Kaiketsu
reply to post by Mayson
 


I just earned my PhD, and in a field that is extremely unique - I'm one of about 15 people in the country with this degree. I'll suffice it to say that it's a specific application of education.

I had to fight tooth and nail to maintain my independence. Many times I was told to "cooperate to graduate." I refused. My committee threatened to fail me. I dared them. They made me take every exam twice, trying to make me sweat the second one because it could be my last. I called the bluff.

And through all of it, I FINALLY learned critical thinking, argumentation, and logic. Not directly though - I learned it through Facebook debate (!) and had to apply it in my PhD. I got them back for it though, as embedded in my dissertation is a message of liberty and a denouncement of the NWO agenda.

So, why did I do it? #1 - so I could teach anywhere. Not a good reason to do a PhD, btw.

But to the challenge from the OP - what's the drive for more PhD's? Besides the fact that it looks good to have more PhD's (a more educated populace), this is the key: PhD's go to work ON PUBLIC DOLLARS. We are essentially govt employees. We apply for govt grants to do mundane things that we should have done decades ago, and the school gets about 50% in overhead, so they love it too.

In other words, the system is feeding itself. I do it to help students, as I teach liberty, critical thinking, etc. Most do it to sustain themselves - build a name, get big $, live comfortably.


So basically what your saying is when the STHF, dollar crashes and people just begin the wholesale firing of corrupt, brain dead, femnazi teachers in the K-12 system,you and the thousands upon thousands of other PHD graduates will take over the educational system? Sounds like a good deal.

Really the only good thing to come from the educational bubble is the mass replacement of the current inept K-12 educational system. And suppose those weasels manage to keep their job's PHD's can go on to teach at charter schools or something. It sucks that you spent so much of your lives aiming for something, but in the end you will never starve. Even if the system totally collapses people can still barter directly for their kid's education.



posted on Jan, 29 2012 @ 01:31 PM
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I'm not an American: but there have been many universities that have hired people that either were discovered to have plagarised phd thesis, or said they had received one and didn't(2 were at MIT, AND DURHAM UNIVERSITY UK) Both these people worked for their institutions for a long time, and got promoted very far. I have to ask that if top universities cannot tell if a person has or has not a phd, after many years is there really a point. A phd isn't supposed to just be a set of letters, or a way of universities reducing applications for jobs: but a set of skills and learning. Maybe the point of the phd has gone altogether, worldwide. Surely the objective should be to get people to a certain place educationally as efficiently as possible. Either just scrap it or rename a masters degree.To me this proves that the point is gone, if it ever had one: in the uk the first phd's were given as an award, after a lifetime of research and work. I say it again if universities cannot tell then there is no purpose, it would cut cost, time,and allow someone to be judged for work or papers they have published instead of a phd.



posted on Jan, 29 2012 @ 02:13 PM
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I think students themselves bear some responsibility here. How could any student entering the university system today believe that a degree in English or Anthropology or, indeed, any of the social sciences, could qualify them for a job? The whole idea is preposterous and even a small amount of research on the students' parts could turn up the truth. For the most part the lack of opportunity did not suddenly emerge between marticulation and graduation. This situation has been extant for decades. It was true in the sixties and seventies when I attended university, and it's still true now forty years later.

Now there are those who will say that the purpose of an education is not to garner employment, but to expand the mind and spirit, yadda, yadda. I understand that noble stance. If you and/or your parents are footing the bill in a private institution, great. Go for it. Get yerself edumacated. But public institutions are using my tax dollars to educate people and I'm saying we don't need any more English majors and further, it's an easy degree, as are all social sciences.

That's right. Anyone who has the least bit of intelligence and who pays attention can slog through a social science degree without exerting a great deal of effort. There's plenty of time to go demonstrate or riot in the streets. And what comes out the other end is often ghastly. We've all seen people with B.A.s in a common subject who cannot write, cannot use proper grammar, cannot present themselves before a group and who, quite frankly, deserve to be slinging fries because they don't really qualify for anything else. Of course they often have the attitude that now that they are educated, society owes them a job, thus the entitlement generation rears its ugly head again.

And what's this about "critical thinking?" I'm not sure anyone anywhere knows what that is. I've never heard a teacher or professor from grade school up to and including graduate school say anything other than, "We want to teach you how to think, not what to think. We want you to think critically!" Oh, really? And how do you define "critical thinking?" If it is to "question authority" and not believe anything that is the status quo, where does that lead you? To chemtrails as a conspiracy, 9/11 truthers, alien baby abductions, Dulce Mountain underground bases, Reptilians, and Illuminati control of the NWO. Questioning authority only to fall into an alternate reality like this does not mean you are thinking critically, or even that you are thinking at all.



posted on Jan, 29 2012 @ 05:50 PM
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Well, when you can't see the forest because of the trees, you know you've got a problem. As the OP mentioned, super-specialization underserves the community and fits squarely within certain business models. I think that there is a lack of emphasis on interdisciplinary education. Specialization is most certainly what Marx reeled against within modern capitalism and, I have to admit, I've never thought about it within the framework of academia until this post. It makes perfect sense that having a person who is supremely knowledgeable about one specific aspect of a subset of a specific discipline is totally incapable of grasping how such knowledge fits within the larger context of our condition - and, by extension, how that information could, should or would be applied to other areas at large.

I think this is probably why the people who came up with GMO and other problematic science probably weren't/aren't bad people, but they never really decided to look beyond their little vantage point and see the big picture and where their research fit in exactly.



posted on Jan, 29 2012 @ 05:57 PM
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reply to post by schuyler
 


I can't speak for English, but as far as Anthropology and the other Social Sciences, I would argue that they have their place, but not necessarily in any technical skills. The basic concepts of Anthropology would radically serve community interests if everyone understood them, especially in toning down ignorant rhetoric about other cultures and our very place in the world. In itself, however, I understand why you would say that Anthropology (and many of the other social sciences) have few technical applications that are not adversely opposed to the very tenets of those studies (i.e., being an anthropologist paid by the CIA or a corporation to lend some sort of tongue-in-cheek pseudo-scientific credence to a devastating, confrontational mindset against aboriginal peoples all over the world in order to serve or otherwise empirically justify some imperial point of view or profit margin.)



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