I was at a wedding several weeks ago when I ran into a young man I hadn’t seen for a while. Naturally, I asked what he was up to. Was he finished with high school? College?
To my surprise, he stated that he was working for Apple as a software developer.
“Wow, that’s great!” I replied, “So you must be done with college then, right?”
“No,” he answered, “I just finished high school. I applied for the position, showed them some of my past work teaching senior citizens how to use their smartphones, and they hired me.”
I was impressed, not only with this young man, but also with the Apple corporation. Was it possible that a big tech company like Apple was recognizing that a college degree doesn’t necessarily equal a hard-working, intelligent employee?
I didn’t have to wonder long, for only a few weeks later the news that Apple is now hiring applicants without a college degree began circling.
But it’s not only Apple that’s trying this hiring innovation. Other corporation giants like Google, IBM, and Starbucks are also getting in on the idea. A Quartz article on the subject explains why:
“Google acknowledged several years ago that college transcripts and test scores are worthless predictors of later job performance. … At IBM, where roughly 15% of new hires in the US don’t have college degrees, CEO Ginni Rometty has said that vocational courses and on-the-job experience offer more relevant training for many tech sector positions than a four-year college degree.”
In essence, major businesses are beginning to recognize that the education system is not doing the job it promised. Not only is it not equipping students with the skills they need for successfully doing a job, but it also is not equipping them with the knowledge and thinking skills which enable them to make connections and applications that propel a company.
University of Chicago professor Richard Weaver recognized this in the late 1940s when he wrote his famous work, Ideas Have Consequences. As he notes in the following passage, the education system as we know it today has become a type of Potemkin Village – a great façade, but nothing of substance supporting it:
“In other words, it is precisely because we have lost our grasp of the nature of knowledge that we have nothing to educate with for the salvation of our order. Americans certainly cannot be reproached for failing to invest adequately in the hope that education would prove a redemption. They have built numberless high schools, lavish in equipment, only to see them, under the prevailing scheme of values, turned into social centers and institutions for improving the personality, where teachers, living in fear of constituents, dare not enforce scholarship. They have built colleges on an equal scale, only to see them turned into playgrounds for grown-up children or centers of vocationalism and professionalism. Finally, they have seen pragmatists, as if in peculiar spite against the very idea of hierarchy, endeavoring to turn classes into democratic forums, where the teacher is only a moderator, and no one offends by presuming to speak with superior knowledge.”
The problem is, such a façade can only last so long, and given recent developments in major companies, it seems that façade is starting to come down. Will this be a positive thing, not only for work opportunities, but also for the revival of true knowledge and thought?
[Image Credit: Pxhere]
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.