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Lifelong Training vs. Lifelong Education

August 8, 2019

The Times of London has entered the field of “education” reporting with a commercial, fee-based “”news service” that the Times calls “Times Higher Education.”

Today’s “Times Higher Education” features a comprehensive examination of what Anna McKie calls “Lifelong Learning.” McKie’s essay covers a lot of ground here in the United States and in the UK that is worth reading.  As a catalogue of efforts from something Amazon calls “Machine Learning” to the University of New Hampshire’s aggressive marketing of online degree programs to efforts in Norway.

As with many journalistic efforts to comprehend higher education, Ms. McKie fails to define her terms. What she calls “Lifelong Learning” is really what we call “Continuing  Education.” But even that concept is “off” by a mile because what passes for “Education” today is really a form of “Training.”

Training  to sustain employment is quite different from voluntary,  self- study, of subjects in the Humanities such as English Literature or classical philosophy.  At Yorktown University we found resistance to the pursuit of knowledge in itself that led me to believe that a program of that sort would be very difficult to sustain as a commercial, for profit, venture.

Competing with our human desire for knowledge are family obligations,  the need to make a living, maintaining good health and other pressing concerns that simply overwhelm our very human desire to “know.” We also find that we prefer to “learn” with others. So, we may join a Book Club or sign up for a non-degree course at a local university. But, few are those who go it alone via what Amazon inelegantly calls “Machine Learning”–unless it is employment related and some form of compensation is tied to the effort.

THAT is what McKie’s essay is about and it fits a very strong need for us in the United States, a need to replace our very high cost college and university “training” programs with low cost employer sponsored “training.” So, the insight that perhaps businesses are better suited to offer this type of “training” is a radical idea that strikes at the income stream of the higher education Cartel that is based on LBJ’s 1965 tuition loan program.

That system has driven the cost of college degree programs to levels most education “consumers” must go into debt to obtain, which suggests that, like the war in Vietnam that LBJ pursued,  his “Title IV” student loan program of 1965 was destructive of  many human lives, many more than were lost in Vietnam.  Lives of students and the parents who support them financially are being destroyed by the current system of American higher education.

If so, this is a very sad development that for more than half a century has dumbed-down and thrown millions of college students into penury. A solution–and there are many–requires abandoning  tuition loans to pay for students earning college degrees–and working with medium to large size employers to offer employees “training” for specific skills.

Return “education” to its original purpose of discovery and the attaining of knowledge and disseminate “training” outside the Academy where it can be offered at much lower cost. That is my argument that I wrote about in 2017 and which I have preached to audiences, including the Heartland Institute, that are interested.

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