Pragmatic 10A: Passion Over Academic Proof Follow-up 1

20 March, 2014


Follow up (Part A) to Passion Over Academic Proof where we clarify that yes we still need Universities and Colleges and discuss several readers comments.

Transcript available
This is pragmatic follow-up at 84 episode 10 passion of academic and Alexandra Michael Hurst John Judy Edger ABN thanks that's so had a lot of follow-up on this episode and I suppose it's properly not too surprising there's a lot of people are listening who are either very academically are minded or have had a lot of a lot of exposure to academia and is the intention of the episode was not to offend anybody it was simply putting my my thoughts out there on the subject and I suppose one of the problems is there is a theme in Mima this is the story out there belief I think among certain sectors that you don't need that that that that a degree is simply writing a piece of paper and proves nothing and a lot of people a lot of feedback that I got was along those lines I can't believe that you're saying that you don't need the other decreases the piece of paper unites worthless that's not actually what I was saying what I was saying is that and if you want to know if go back to the episode are 45 minutes and 45 seconds in yes I listen back a couple times I said you don't need a degree to get knowledge okay that does not mean that you should not get a degree from a bunch of reasons why my lamenting regarding being able to set a degree in your own time frame that was more the point which is on one of our study in my own time in my own way pick the subjects I want and get individual qualifications for the subjects I care about and I want that to stand and represent this is my ability as as Sir tested at a specific point in time and then employers would look at that and say okay were you tested for this 12 months ago that's property still currently in your brain and we really need someone with this specific qualification come on in Seattle I would rather see so I'm not suggesting that universities go away and not suggesting the colleges go one existing any of that that was the gist of a lot of the feedback that I got but there were two emails in particular that I want to address so those elements are crossover between both of these emails I Wanna do is on no sort of address them together jointly as if it was one email from one person was from two is the first 1R was from a gentleman by the name of Bastian our Queen cell and the second one I did not how gets the authorisation to say his full name are but will just call Rob for the purposes of this exercise so one of the points that also came up in the company's emails was the idea that stunning a university is more than just putting facts into someone's brain and then reproducing a certain time in order to get certification add to which I would refer them to my previous comments which are well actually that is irrespective of whether or not that's what it should be that is in reality what it is because there is there are some causes a more hands-on I will admit that most of the professional courses that I've that I've been exposed to for example our yo sciences and engineering and RDO all that stuff is much less hands-on and softly do get hands-on with his usually not current tech it's usually at least three or four years or five years out of date which in in modern than in our modern world is is quite a lot out of date goes on to say the ability to read theoretical dense texts and being out of distinguish between good and bad text is something that you can learn university to that I would say I sort of agree with that but the problem is that the Internet is not structured quite so much that way because the dense texts I sort of gone you can actually pull out a Wanna run up to read an entire textbook on particle physics I can pick out the one particular part on Maria on the Higgs boson fine I read up on the history of that I need to read the entire textbook is not a dense textbook any more it's just the one section I want so whether or not you need to be able to do that is is I think is the bigger question however honestly I think is that this comes down to practice and you do not need if you if you read enough books on the subject on any technical subject doesn't have to be at a University of being a university did not teach me how to read dense technical textbooks I learnt that because I read them and a lot of that stuff I read wasn't uni so a lot of the dense technical stuff that I've read has been after university next one which I found interesting is a couple of though they both find our delivering projects to a deadline with conflicting priorities resemble term papers obviously everyone has a different experience but let me describe my experience with teamwork at university and go something like this is a group of people would say five people fires a nice number you working on a team project there are two people of which I was one the did all the work and the other three were sitting in their beanbag chairs not participating knots getting involved and essentially going up and not standing up in front of the group afterwards presenting what we done but they still got the same mark that's what I experienced was never just me when I was working in a group is always at least one other person that was really driven to do something but honestly that was my experience so that they didn't teach me teamwork at all that taught me the reality of the of of the world which is there are people that do and our people are dying I was relatively lucky with that school but it's always there room even if it is a good team you get that dynamic media in spite of it's a good team you realise someone's caring yet and the first few years are worse right once you once you weed out the people are serious I think then it gets better like you're saying right you all still there you'll still want to get your degree having dropped out neural sort on the same page but you mean something like my my third year are you can't program like you would not want to bend my partner that year even though you deftly would have the first year because I was nine hours I was jacked out as a seller effect is not yet at that's kinda what I think about that the difference between the idea of group work and teamwork in an real-world and others is Kenny fired know you're really get fired from college in everything is very she shifted off whereas in the other door pretty quick if you're not cooperating with the team in the workplace absolutely and it's a really good point and I don't think that's the sort of thing that that universities and environment that can teach you that not effectively because the threat of being sacked and losing your income is a very big deal and you gotta take it seriously so you honestly yeah I'm sorry I decide to disagree on that on obviously your mileage may vary so maybe some people have better experiences than I had and that's fine but that was not my experience and I'm not entirely sure is the right environment to be to be teaching teamwork is in inevitably the majority of assessment is not team related it's it's individual related you not in or oh was a warranty work with our wedding tables you working in retail working in the kitchen are now working retail are cashier at the grocery store yet wet wedding tables as is my favourite owing to that's okay okay so generated emails then another one was living away from parents independently or your interests like semistructured environment is was one of the other reasons in one of the emails that was suggesting at university or college is a good thing never part of this that I find confusing maybe this is just a North American thing because I guess to some extent in Australia maybe if you live in a populated centre is gonna be a university or college or something that should go to even when I was growing up there was correspondence so you could do correspondence the University of Southern Queensland and a massive correspondence school you could do your degree remotely you didn't have to physically go somewhere else and we can have we are we just couldn't afford it right we we had we own a house we we own a car we have enough money to get by but we didn't have enough money for me to go to a difference university so I would have loved to have gone to QUT or Griffith or any of the other big universities in Brisbane which is relative now but when I was growing up I couldn't afford my mother couldn't afford that so I went to the local university to Central Queensland University which I realise the degrees there are not held in quite a high steam and is a whole bunch of reasons and that I want to go back into that but that the point is though that I still came out an engineering degree and the findings are stored up in Brisbane and I'm still know I'm doing okay so is it really make a difference where you go it in that particular case but the assumption is and I see a lot of this and shows on TV is our yellow light shows from North America worse I give you got university it's in it's done it's a deal you you you literally you leave home you go to some famous college or university on the other side of the country or something like that and amasses the done thing going surely there are people that them financially as the majority of people don't do that is at the done thing in America would you say the vast majority of people leave home and go to a different physical location to go to higher education or to the vast majority live at home and commute to the nearest arm high level education which would you say is more predominant without looking at numbers about its 64 E. wire that's that's actually still quite a significant number see that there were a couple of farm scholarships I could have applied for and there's a whole bunch of reasons I didn't and because I was in a position where I simply could not leave arm at that point in my life and I will not go into the details as to why but I will say that going away to Brisbane or Sydney or Melbourne to go to a better university even if I had the opportunity I could not have done it in any case I think it's it's interesting maybe it's it's not just my experience as I I know have a lot of friends the vast majority of my friends at school went to this dog the universities locally they didn't go to Brisbane wanted two of them did our life for example one in particular was thinking of he want to study avionics and there were no avionics courses at Central Queensland University so he had to go to QUT discuss study avionics in his smart guy smother me he yea was very good I lost track of the laughter that Burt's arm now I heard a rumour that he was over in Seattle working for Boeing but in the end but it is the sort of thing that he is not a heck of a lot of places you can work on in avionics anyway so doesn't it here is from the though the USA Today we think the quintessential college bring to the football games on study sessions in the library Greg Latham Tricia Buck storerooms ladder has an plasmon have happened students attending college in 2012 granting report conducted by simony 51% of students choose to live at home with the parents a 9% increase in the number of community students in 2011 some of our I'm still at seven 5050 quite 50-50 here I'm stunned the satire but maybe that's a North American thing in our and if that's display the difference between the countries art by what you know what I was thinking about that when winter went against a so I did that I did the college experience there and ended up as an Iranian the games identity think there is value that but is changed in a big way even sensor and I was 99 2000 those shoebox dorm rooms are suites now the cost 10 $15,000 a year it's like apartments like nice apartments in some cases my brothers down at LSU and its nuts to neglect canal is nuts and as I went back to our grand first Cialis back into bigger scores more than arm you do is not as much account so the larger commuter students and yet there is still a be still try to create that vibrate that that feel in the student centre and it's a mega heart rate have people coming in their having a community rate but it it felt fake felt forced it was this and I really really bugged me because I'm not from this go real true liberal arts colleges something that was was something different and I isolate you you now and if you are moving out every living at your parents house to live in a are you know was bits can be easily converted from a slumlord's property before it to a different slumlord property now establishment university sale it is just unabated aiming and an adult thinking get away from issues of class and income inequality but if you want more emails I can go on what you can afford honestly for for that mythical college experience it is cost we commitment in you will exactly and the other the other point is that we we borrow the money in this is that this is the problem right is the newcomer university essentially behind at least a few years worth of salary you and that's terrible and we took it on the episodes I necessary go back over that but I guess to move on then just quickly how I guess that the key thing is not a monopoly email was that there was this that a query about the point of going university colleges learning how to learn and research so in essence that was one thing I was actually told Word for Word when I actually worked for my first lecture and the Dean of engineering got up in front of the all the hundreds of students and said our we are here not to teach you how to be an engineer but we are here to teach you how to learn to be an engineer you will teach you how to tap teach yourself in a sort of thought to myself at the time of that was an odd thing to say and is honestly I think a lot of it came back down to the fact that Google at that point didn't exist and web search was horrible at the best of times and in this again getting back to swim out with your degree from Google search right is that you that has changed the game because you know it there's no more you don't need to go to a library for the most part I mean there might still be some things but as the years whereon there will be less and less need to go to library tax which will be available in soft copy of the will be text searchable yea so if you need a library anymore this there is no need to learn how to work on microfiche and I like all the index cards and all that all the clippings and white papers that used to be condensed down a microfiche size is all pieces of transparent film you know that stats can be gone there's no need to worry about the Dewey Decimal system any more to find a book you know I was a librarian reader I do one of the 2000 but you should agree with you I she is her job has changed so dramatically drugs and drugs scores original score she is now the most senior librarian in the district and as you to choose the state middle school not a blaze or for that reason she feels like that's the point that the spot where one thereby the released administration but do it it's actually you know you can do the general had a Google abruptly like that proliferate needs to now so this is this is the whole point of of while there are two points to to the episode are the actual main episode and that was one of them was what is this whole thing about learning how to learn if all you do is type in the right string in Google the ASI I don't need to know about the Dewey Decimal system had a worker microfiche or how will help find information library anymore even find a textbook anymore yah I don't have to work the table of contents anymore is learning how to learn or is it about control rate and about learning how to be a good employee because there is a light you as a light in their early people know how to learn you just do it your brain is a learning machine you Mennonite research rate you may not have a state you may not know how to form an argument or format of people or rate CSS but it is it and it did these different processes and brings on you learn while I'll admit that I learned more from debating are different people at different points of my life about how to structure an argument enabling from university university wasn't for me was in about learning how to structure your thoughts or structure your own argument I had great experiences at high school and score rate and anything in university when I went back arm I want your I went to a really good no judge would prep high school and in late I would I would recommend the school I want to bite still only 5% of it was was what I'm talking about bite that fate knows those moments those particular teachers are classes taking out an ethics class in junior year of high school was was not something that a lot of people doing and it would and it helped raise it was important account being in the honours colloquium which was no error in our English honours English and it was just a toy that was like being at a super paper extensive liberal arts school was resort Easter that and I think every few years something walkable pup up and remind me of that class in my head and I was insufferable and it goes is constantly challenging everyone I'm sure mean bad bite and then and then at our granite work which was frustrated the hell out of me I had a great that that the art the program chair on the fringe of the but the art the professor that I can lock the drug art further intro to Seattle alternate or Java which now is how to get by our was also as my late 20s about point and I was that I wasn't scared of the professors rates are high just make wasn't a big deal saw Anne and I would go and talk for hours and he would just give me amazingly talking just about stuff and what Apple and I was you like the amount of stuff and learn from him just just learning that I could do that like that you could just talk to Prof Abbott making lots don't think that way to do that and it doesn't seem like that's the dynamic there is that power differential and even expansion in overdue trade with a broken wrong of a dragon when I was 19 I think a lot of it depends allow the lecturers well right because some of them yet and this was gazing some guy aria arm but again only a few semesters allowing and aggregating a needier see I don't think that has anything to do with whether or not there are electrical or not I think that professor that the bottom line is you need access to that those people can you meet interesting people that are great to talk to the can open your mind right you every day on the street you can actually are melamine as it is just need to start on one thing is it that you highlight limit the amount amount our pad. To Akron for number of hours that I got to spend with accuracy and automates Cassie told me you me and about 12 other people could have him as a tutor rate you are and get the same thing and night then I have to go take Elio's liberal logic is rational different arms of everything that you would not be asking a 29-year-old loser took four as a way to go antique Spanish and intra-mathematics is noted in Douglas because I was and is constant transfer now okay so the next argument that that was brought up was regarding some people need a structured learning environment in and being pushed a little bit in order to learn and is I've heard that one before as well some people have common sense we are yah I really need a structured learning environment I really need are an environment where someone is cracking the whip in order for me to actually you know produce anything sent my my argument varies you're doing the wrong thing yes I I look at housework and I had to do housework from time to time so I want to do the housework I really have any passion about cleaning only passion about doing housework I simply know I have to do it because I have to do it it sucks I and I think a lot of people feel that way it's not I'm not unique at all in that respect so if you apply that to learning any skill whatsoever I would suggest that being in a structured environment whereby I have to do do the cleaning I have to do be in an environment where I am made to do the cleaning then I'm gonna get a more regular consistent reliable work performance out of me and my housecleaning and it's no different with any other thing that you would choose to learn choose to apply to do if you need to be in a structured environment to learn that honour suggest you need to be in a structured environment to produce anything once you finish learning you need to have that project manager cracking the whip every five seconds to make sure that you gain that report done on time rate you because you don't have any motivation without someone else cracking the whip anyway so will some people dislike that we know what I reckon they're in the wrong line of work the ear everyone should be motivated to do what they want to do you shouldn't have to show up somewhere and just do what do what on earth you did a colour paycheck you know if you want to live that way fine that's fine I'm not saying that you can't do that and there are always aspects of jobs that are like that and this is not some on the idea that this is a failure passion rate but this is this this is the arm in engaged human being living like you just that you be responsible give a damn exactly care about it so you know honestly there are always can be aspects of whatever degree if you do a degree of course that you're doing this you I don't want to know and is part of the dam problem but you know what assume for example we can't get away for that from that firm for a moment like you have 10 subjects of them three of them you don't like the other seven is really why you're there well you have to put up with those other three and deal with them and be professional and so you know what I am and I am passionate about the other seven so I'm gonna deal with these are the three it sucks but on the deal you and that's what working in the real world is like not everything that you get do I mean I know that you love doing the whole podcasting thing right but I know that there's elements of this that you don't enjoy that there are a pain in the neck rate it the price is right now it is pretty much what torturing myself with with define what the actual respiratory is in fact that one in the minutes of arena but the its brightest legates shall gonna do it late hurrah I think it needs to be not yet rated this was the job to be done of what I'm doing is to solve problems for the bug just as I'm working with the problems are absolutely annual refining the process and your source smoothing out all the rough edges and is gonna get easier as time goes on right and that's fine and six-month rate you know things that were like to seemed impossible than a struggle now that set up sometimes it just takes doing things a few times and yet what the point is that you're not gonna let all those little annoying thing stop you from doing what you're passionate about and at least that's a modelling for words in your mouth that this stuff with with structure and ordered a minute think the result there is all that there is a legitimate aspect today and there is an element one there there is there is a topic where there is the subject you're studying that it is so overwhelming programming rate began you don't even know where to begin because you have used this only things you don't know you need to be exposed to you gradually arm and as things you need to worry about it first and then you need to worry about is having structured and having someone having a tutor rate having someone that's really working with you to develop you over the years is great in schools NATO that night provided their sole and thus you're going to officially really expensive schools and are there is a legitimate thing that people need teachers as important by dealers beside me is just a response to it on a sound like men on some rabble rousing debate is entirely convenient that there is the summarising what is this people need to eat the can do things on around you can do this you need to learn how to do this you need to need to be tight controls and sit down and the bell rings and you can ignore regular and then you can do that it's it's training people for a life where your work is is you new card and in whether it intended an art that is the fact that and is the I've ignored down Benjamin quit the yes corporate students they wanted to care for those named by the eight the idea that the Halliburton is different is just that it's it's a whether you've woken up at night that you can gonna control your feet in it what it whatever you're doing and announces far as it goes by so many people just fit that it has been in use for 12 years and then for more and then Europe through a Chinese in Europe you're 45 by the time you realise how you know I'm smarter than knowledgeable is that while out that work out that well put down exactly and frankly people need to be aware of the fact that if you are involved in any kind of education and there is no part of it you really are that interrogators doing it to go through the motions you I strongly recommend reconsidering your position because if you need if you really need a structured learning environment to learn about all pretty much everything that you you've signed up for that I think is something wrong I don't think that some people need instruction learning environment I think structured learning environments are there to help people that aren't as passionate about something I was keen or is interested in something still be able to pass and at that point in time you're setting yourself up for a lifetime career or a significant component of its sure where you are doing exactly the same thing and like you said they become a college we have to be realistic and realise it is a is a big organisations and there are going to have incentives that are misaligned rate at which many people drives home saying and lots of money so you can just why do they get about rate you will give other people about of course there are going to say that because Natalie considered more money exactly right so the last piece of this is want to address is the the broad base of knowledge so this is brought up in both of those emails I'm referring to the broad base of knowledge argument is that university does not know what you're going to do in in the field that you have chosen therefore that I teach a little bit about everything a so-called broad base degree and in engineering that means my first year we did several mechanical electrical subjects and emails electrical engineer and in second year the CV sort of way often had their own little city camp but by the timing of the third fourth year it was all electrical so you start out with common threads and you learn about material science despite the fact that in lexical engineering you don't need to know very much about it although one or two pieces of information that I learnt in material science do help understanding powerlines oddly enough anyway while getting at is that they don't know up front what line of work you're gonna do because such a broad base of experience through but the problem is that presupposes that you don't and that that you are a have no idea what you want to do arm obviously there is no way you can predict the future but you know what if your son is you're really interested in doing the new should be studying about what you really in student doing and then your fine and then find a job in that area why you going in and getting a degree that covers so many different topics of which you have no idea what you want to do and in what I hate about the career guidance system at schools is that they don't try and figure out Lisa certainly did in my case nor my sister's cases are in my friends cases I've talked to about this doesn't mean that they're all like this of course there could be some good ones out there I'm sure there are somewhere but when I went through the general consensus was wearing their jobs or those jobs in this thing called engineering you should probably do that and that was it it wasn't what is it you like to do and I will set a date minimally elicited that much time I mean I've I got so my Michael for going through our none of us ended up in the filming as long as want to be journalists or widen I jumped out rate pianos, come on economics but on and it's at sale, all my wife's friends essentially in different careers or having two men are dealing with the industry has been completely disrupted and are there is nothing was no planning for that even it and we might adopt about it but even happened when Jan went to law school while scores are in the the profession as is in a weird sort of contract now and the members select committee plan is very structured and unstructured help people move their careers as professional but on dignity someone's money through United workplace that's your word for that so right honestly arm didn't want to go and rehash to many of the that that of the topics just want to try and address the feedback that we got and there were a bunch of people also responded telling me that there were different parts of the world where our education was cheaper or free are which is great to know our honestly though it that it seems to be the exception rather than the rule in terms of if you look a percentage of the population but the truth is that's I think the moral of this of the exercise is that I still believe that people should do try and focus on what they're trying to do is something that they are passionate about keep in mind that if you do have to do a course that you are and I probably have to do because the nature of the system it will be gonna have to do is subject to not interested in okay that sucks but currently does the structure of the system and I think that's what's wrong with the system you should be able to pick and choose instead of coming up with a degree that says electrical engineer issue come up with a list of subjects that you chose to do I did statistics great we need a statistician or I did control systems theory greatly to control systems engineer you ordered 10 subjects on control systems on a specialist great we need a specialist you if you do one subject unless one subject on that and everyone else does exactly the same damn thing which is what happens when you got 10 candidates out there not specialised in anything how are you supposed to figure out which one of them if you're an employee while employed rights of the whole thing is flawed I don't ARN and I'm not saying that you don't need universities of course you need them not saying you shouldn't get a degree if that is useful for what you are trying to do then short go get one bottom line though the system is broken right I'm sorry but it's broken and a piece of paper that says you are qualified is has a limited lifespan you two years five years once around the industry they don't care anymore after you've been out there for three or four years in the industry they don't give a damn what your grades were at university are either an honours degree in engineering great that was 20 years ago was a mean now memo my brain is writing because I'm drinking too much caffeine may be on a know it was valid for a few years and they don't care about anymore we only care about whether or not you as an individual have relevant experience in the last five years and is a damn good reason why people and companies care about that and that's because that's all that really matters that want their want to know that you can solve the problem exactly you have to present a value proposition to them you have to show them you have value and there is more than one way than a piece of paper to do that so there's anything anyone takes away from this episode in this follow-up it should be that you that's what I was now here was that that the pragmatic thinkers you like you know what whether or not the system is broken in Edinburgh can do is you and I can change it and I sketching it on their own but the thing that you absolutely can do is be proactive you can go when title professor you can call someone up in his been doing everything honestly that the dust we learned rate is find someone who's gone through it and middle mistakes and ask them because they will tell you because I can do that because not me not but unites a happy I've had a number of conversations you had a guy with weather and a bigger arm Alex are done and there is a think you and I have different experience in this because we came up through this in the early part of this transition arm and it's it's really different from them is different with my brothers different is different with the people that are non-freshman in college now and I send the system is in the same butter are Alex's exhibitor is that I and you is as it is an innate loudest journals in his enemy stuff last night this conference is at whether it journalists and the learning get rate the learning arm had a duty to journalism and is so excited about I D3 dart D3 JR switches like doing graphing the enemies and so trucks and stuff on websites and solace. Ligaments it is amazing stuff like so that there are there are good signs rate there are things are going way I think the thing that makes me feel good morning matters it seems that the culture of that generation is more assertive rate more more willing to push themselves for redundant than mine was a think we really expected that okay or undo this memoranda there is no into a snag in our judgement as I married you because you tolerate things and that the case sale night and that seldom is the case if you meet if you if you can what if you can learn how to out really good questions and you can learn how to sell yourself be fine in almost everything because in the process of doing that you're going to and ignoring a lot of other stuff and you minister to figure this out it's just takes most people long time to do that so and there's not forgetting actively not forgetting that your summer rate not done writing honey we should probably leave it there so thank you Ron for your feedback it's been it's been quite amazing the amount of feedback I got on that side it's been by far the most that we had on any single episode and I realise it was about four weeks ago but I wanted to make sure that I had the majority that feedback afforded a follow-up episode so thank you so much for all that I really appreciate even the people that disagree that's okay that's fine are still appreciated so thanks again guys and dumb appreciate the feedback thank you�
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Ben Alexander

Ben Alexander

Ben created and runs and Fiat Lux

John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.