[Reader-list] job-market or brain-market?

Arun Mehta mehta at vsnl.com
Sat Sep 1 15:09:45 IST 2001

At 8/31/2001, Boud Roukema wrote:
>We hear a lot about the "job market", e.g. for students.
>The reality may be the "brain market": it's business & industry that
>make the biggest profits from university education - since they "buy
>brains" and earn high monetary profits from them (much more than the
>brains' average salaries), surely they ought to fund the training of
>these brains - so that student fees remain unchanged.

I think business and industry is open to "fund the training of brains" -- 
but we have to address, for that, a deeper problem. I have been reading 
this fascinating book called "Schools that Learn" by Peter Senge and 
others, which points out, among countless valuable insights into the 
education system, that one of the problems with our modern education system 
is that it is a product of the industrial revolution.

The industrialists needed trained people to run their machines, in large 
numbers and quick. What they were in the business of doing, was to take 
production out of the community, and put it into a separate space called 
the factory. Faced with an education problem, they did precisely that: took 
education out of the community and  put it into a new factory called a 
school, which works just like an assembly line -- if all the holes you 
needed to have punched in class 5 don't work out, you get thrown off the 
line: the education system has no place for you.

Particularly in IT, it is rather easy to take education back into the 
community -- which includes industry. The means of production, the 
machinery, isn't terribly expensive. Students all over the world produce 
terrific software, which, if marketed properly, could easily fund the costs 
of education. Unfortunately, most of our faculty doesn't have the ability 
or desire to work with industry in this way, and over time, the reputation 
educational institutions have, in being able to deliver, has suffered. I 
don't see a fundamental problem here, just one of attitude, in terms of 
wanting to work with industry, and another of the requisite skills, which 
again our educational institutions don't teach, but could.


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