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Saturday, January 24, 2015

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Thanks for the shout out!

I do wonder if after reading through almost all of the 300+ comments, I might have overplayed my point. It was an invigorating discussion, and I hope I've learned from it.

You're welcome. I don't think you overplayed your point of view. I generally find you to be more of a fox than a hedgehog in a virtual world dominated by hedgehogs. In that post, specifically, I think you stayed well within fox mode of analysis.

An aside, Fox News should change its name to something other.

Glad to read Gabriel's post. I didn't read all 300 comments, so would simply add my 10 cents: despite my family's own tendency towards Ivy League elitism, all of us have spent many years working in jobs (and/or working our way thru school) where we've seen the sheer irrelevance of "mandarin" curricula and attitudes to getting certain work done, and where we've had to face our own limitations in areas such as mechanical aptitude, charisma, technical skill, etc.

I personally do NOT agree with Obama's proposal because i think it's a cynical way of trying to make the Republicans look like old meanies when they say "we can't afford it" and refuse to fund it.

In point of fact, a civilized nation SHOULD completely fund university education, but only for the most bright academically. IE: only for those who are scholarly by temperament, future academics, future doctors, lawyers, professionals, people who enjoy schoolwork. A civilised nation should also fund decent trade schools and promote apprenticeship systems and not leave it to bottom feeding for profit schools that exploit desperate poor people (and lots of veterans).

In GB, as an American expat, I grew up with the seemingly cruel division of people into university material and all the rest. Americans think of this as somehow undemocratic, but the end result (if one offers training, and works to assure decent health insurance, decent wages, free education for people's kids, based on academic merit) is reasonable happiness for more people than grossly unrealistic expectations (as in America) that everyone will grow up to be a "leader". People want to be able to make an honest living and raise a family. Forcing people who hate books to suffer thru years of college is a waste of time and resources.

Retriever,

Thanks for reading my post. It's probably not much of a surprise that I agree with most of what you say. And your suggestion that "the end result (if one offers training, and works to assure decent health insurance, decent wages, free education for people's kids, based on academic merit) is reasonable happiness for more people than grossly unrealistic expectations (as in America)" has a lot of appeal to me.

My main reservations are that I really would like people to be able to change course, and that probably means in theory providing cheaper access to higher education and/or training programs. And Obama's plan seems less monolithically aimed at "college for all" as it seems aimed as "cheaper training for all." (And of course, as you point out, the chief function of his plan is to make the GOP look bad.)

Dr. X:

I was familiar with the fox and hedgehog concept from history (the discipline I'm trained in): Some study a wide variety of subjects and while they may be linked by one overarching theme, they're "foxes" in that they mostly don't limit themselves to one time period or place. Others focus on a specific region and more narrowly defined subject. My own impression of their relative merits, however, is somewhat different from the argument you cite in that post. Foxes, or those I have known, tend to repeatedly make what seem to be rookie mistakes because they have to learn whole new historiographies and basic facts. (One fox I know can be frustratingly clueless and "absentmindedprofessorish" about certain things that I would have thought someone would learn in high school.) Hedgehogs tend to be more assured and knowledgeable in their "big idea" field.

That doesn't mean the views you cite in that OP are wrong--and one hedgehog I know does seem to opine, often quite erroneously in my opinion, on views outside his immediate expertise. And the fox I mention above and find so frustrating is, and deserves to be, a well-respected scholar in his subfield, and that respect probably owes quite a lot to his fox-ness.

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