Vox and Captain Capitalism: It’s Both/And, not Either/Or

Yesterday, Vox Day provided an assessment of the gender gap in college degrees. Captain Capitalism, in turn, pointed out that the numbers don’t tell the whole story: (a) when you factor in engineering and hard science degrees, men are outperforming the women by a wide margin, and (b) women are getting the bulk of the meaningless degrees that are largely available due to a bubble economy in higher-ed, and therefore will not be advancing in the world.

While my sentiments are with Captain Capitalism, I think both of them are hitting some important points:

(1) Women are getting the bulk of the college degrees, even if they are not dominating in engineering and hard sciences. This is the result of an education system that has been waging war on men and boys for almost a century. That the corporate culture outside academia, sadly, has embraced a large part of that politically-correct agenda, does lend credence to the premise that Vox is correct.

(2) At the same time, women are going to bear the brunt of the pain when things majorly go south. Because they are getting the bulk of the degrees, and because those degrees are more likely to be worth a roll of used toilet paper, and because those degrees will carry a mother lode of student loan debt, the women are going to be impacted when the economy ultimately collapses. Their degrees will not land them substantive jobs, they will not be able to service their student loans, and the men will run from them because they will choose not to be yoked to that baggage.

I have some female friends–recent college graduates–who have five figures of student loan debt, degrees in non-specialty fields, and very few substantive job leads.  And no, they don’t have any remote marital prospects, either.

Oh, and Vox provides an excellent piece showing a mother-daughter fight over a college route. Kudos to the mom.

Had enough of feminism yet?

Economic Recovery…FEEL THE RECOVERY!!!

A FB friend of mine says,

I feel so stuck right now. I have a useless college degree & very little work experience. I can’t seem to find a job because I’m almost 25 with no experience. I can’t afford a car because I can’t find a job. I’m automatically disqualified from a lot of jobs because I don’t have a car. Bills just keep piling up & I can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

She’s got a degree from a state university, majoring in General Studies. She’s got student loan debt of about $35K. She lives in the Midwest.

Rachael Slick, Atheist Convert, Part 2 (Training versus Programming)

In my last installment, I focused on the claims of Rachael Slick, regarding her journey from a very conservative Christian homeschooled life to the ranks of the Atheists. As I said, I have no personal axe to grind with her, at the same time, hard questions need to be asked, and unpleasant issues need to be raised. While many would love to pile onto her parents, we cannot absolve her of her own responsibilities.

Now, let’s examine her upbringing. As I said elsewhere, if 10% of her story is true–and I believe much of it–then it seems that her parents, particularly her father, dropped the ball. Badly.

As I read her story, what immediately jumped out at me was the way she was drilled in theology. This is not to say that theological education–and Bible study–aren’t important; in fact, they are. But it seemed to me that her parents were not training her, but in fact were programming her. And there is a fine line between the two.

The impression I get from Rachael’s story is that she was getting the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law was absent. At the same time, she grew up amongst perfectionist parents who wanted to ensure that she had every theological “i” dotted and every “t” crossed, and longed to please them as she strove to achieve something that was not achievable.

I’ve seen the dynamic too many times to count. Some may associate it with the hard-shell Baptist/fundamentalist churches, but I’ve seen it–MrsLarijani more so–in some hardcore Reform circles, too. What’s dangerous is that they all have otherwise pleasant commonalities across the board:

(a) parents are otherwise fairly intelligent, hardworking, devoted believers;
(b) parents are very learned in Scripture, and even relevant creeds and catechisms;
(c) parents are otherwise likeable and affable folks;
(d) they homeschool their kids.*

As they excel in their understanding of Scripture, they often get the idea that, if they can only teach their kids everything they know–all the way down to the best way to argue about hard issues–that they will grow up to be God’s Special Forces, head and shoulders above everyone. If they know every theological term, every item in the relevant creeds and confessions–complete with Biblical references–and even earn the Awana Citation Award, that somehow will get them a leg up on Satan and his wily schemes.

As a result, they drill and discipline their children endlessly, at levels that are not prudent.**

Sometimes, they do it out of fear: fear that, without their work, their children will get seduced by Satan. Sometimes they do this out of pride: their desire to have the best trophy kids in the world, not like “those other children”. If it’s out of fear or pride, we must call it what it is: sin.

Other times, they figure that their kids–with their help–can grow up and be do even greater things than they have. Is that godliness? Is it pride? The answer to that is between those parents and God. But if it originates from pride, it is sin.

The end results can be troubling. Some kids grow up and embrace homosexuality or other sexual licentiousness. Others forsake Christianity for other religions (Islam, Buddhism, even Atheism). Many have severe rifts with their parents. They base their understanding of the heavenly Father on their understanding of their earthly father. While no father will get it completely right, the father who is overbearing will, over time, exasperate his kids.

But what is the difference between training and programming? There is definitely a fine line. After all, Biblical commands are…well…not suggestions. Biblical truths are not up for negotiation. Just as multiplication tables are what they are, the Ten Commandments are..commandments. Sometimes, it is not easy. Sometimes, it seems rote to teach them, but teach them we must.

At the same time, the Scriptures carry much breadth and depth, and understanding how various sections fit together takes years to grasp, and even then there remain mysteries that we may never understand. Still, as one learns Scripture, it is instructive to take time to discuss and reason how those passages speak to the character of God and how He reveals Himself and how He relates with Man.

There is much depth in those narratives, and we must ensure that kids gain insight into that depth. But that is not as simple as teaching multiplication tables. You cannot program THAT. You can plant seeds; you can fertilize; you can cultivate. But you cannot MAKE anyone love God. That begins with God loving them, not the other way around.

At the same time, fertilizing and cultivating are paramount, and those often have huge effect.

Part of cultivating and fertilizing means encouraging them to be willing to ask questions. And when questions are asked, you might want to stoke more discussion by asking followup questions. Encourage them to be inquisitive even as you reinforce guiding principles from Scripture. If you don’t know the answer, don’t pull a canned answer from a commentary. Instead, admit that you aren’t sure what the answer is, and offer to help find it. You may consult commentaries in the process, but it’s important to help them understand process. And don’t squelch questions that they may ask during the process.

Critics will often ask, “What about science?” That is where the culture of cultivating and fertilizing–and dialogue–will allow parents to address science in great detail: the history of scientific progress, what influenced the great minds, how they developed hypotheses based on their observations, how they developed experiments to test their hypotheses, how they developed mathematical means to better understand and communicate their results.

Integrating these factors into discussions of difficult topics–such as evolution–allow for an honest appraisal of what science has actually demonstrated versus the hype, and what drives many to embrace the hype.

It would also be helpful to discuss the development of technology–engineering specifically–to show how knowledge of science is harnessed by engineers to intelligently design systems that perform automated tasks. As one learns human anatomy and physiology–along with robotics–it would be a great chance to discuss the intelligence of the Creator.

Every organism has feedback control systems that function much the same way that flight controls, thermostats, robots, and microcontrollers do. Mechanical and electrical systems are the products of intelligent design; it is not unreasonable to accept the premise that biological systems are also the products of design. In fact, given the mathematical similitude, it is fair to intuit that Man is created in the image of the Creator.

Along the lines of cultivation, do not forget love. Some parents have decided that, in being stern with their kids, they are demonstrating love. While that is often true, it is also true that this is not a complete demonstration of love to your kids. There are times for hard discipline, and there are times for grace, and there are times for general enjoyment and relaxation. Doting on your kids, being goofy and affectionate, playing games with them, showing appropriate affection for your spouse in front of them, all goes a long way toward that end.

None of those things will GUARANTEE that a child will not forsake the instructions of his or her parents when they grow old. At the same time, cultivating a loving, joyful household–even as discipline is unavoidable–will go a very long way.

Fleshing that out is where the spirit of the law merges with the letter of the law.

And you can’t program it.

*Nothing wrong with homeschooling; I absolutely support it. Still, parents can do it for right and wrong reasons. If you do this to “shelter” your kids from a secular school system, you must keep in mind that, at some point, they will need to learn to engage the world. You will need to have a plan–sooner rather than later–to help them toward that end.

**Again, there is nothing wrong with taking Biblical studies seriously, or even disciplining your children: in fact, both are Biblical imperatives. Still, when Jesus came to earth Incarnate, He didn’t rail on parents for their lack of attention to teaching their kids. He did, however, rip people–on all sides–for majoring in the minors. The Scriptures also warn parents not to exasperate their children.

Better Yet…

Talk show host Tom Joyner is offering Rachel Jeantel–the much-maligned prosecution witness in the George Zimmerman case–a chance to attend college tuition-free.

At face-value, that is a very kind and charitable gesture. But seriously, given that the market that is already saturated with college degrees–it may be an dead-end offer.

I would suggest that she take him up on the offer of tutoring to prepare for college; that will involve developing communication skills that will be conducive to success. Then she should go to a 2-year school and learn a trade.

That would cost Joyner less money, while better-preparing Jeantel for success in the work force.

I will bloviate more about her case later, but, to make a long story short, I felt bad for her.

She was not a credible witness; at the same time, how on earth did she get so far through the education system?

A Bleak Picture

I cannot answer as to whether this is the exception or the rule for black youth.

(I realize that anecdote is not statistic, but–having been to inner-city schools and one integrated school–I never saw a situation that was this bad. Then again, it’s been a while since I was in school.)

Still, if this is indicative of the situation, I’d say the black community is disintegrating even worse than I thought.

Sounding the Alarm about Academic Illusions

Sadly, in many fields–particularly the humanities–PhDs are a dime a dozen. And for every PhD out there–hoping for a tenure-track slot–there are scores of people languishing in ABD (All But Dissertation) hell. And while this is not just the humanities–it is also in the hard sciences as well–it is worth noting: much of the incentive for graduate studies beyond the Master’s degree level is dissipating fast.

Don’t take my word for it: Rebecca Schuman, writing a piece for Slate, echoes this from a first-person perspective.