I've got a Masters degree – no really I do.

The value in education is that you can appreciate something even if you don’t like it. So if you are a chef, you can appreciate how well a fish is prepared, even if you don’t like fish (although I’m pretty sure you’d be hard pressed to find a good chef that didn’t like fish.) These are not my words – rather they are the words of Alexander Shundi, who was an instructor of mine as I took my Masters in Communications – 4.0 G.P.A. thank you.

These are my words The beauty of education is in the education.

Education is big business, and a problem that it is a business. I’ve nothing against “Vo-tech”, that is fine, but in college? College is for learning – for inspiring the desire to learn, to create, to develop well rounded individuals who know how to think and ask meaningful questions. Mostly it is about teaching you to think. It isn’t, I believe, about getting you a job.

Let’s look at Journalism – a fast disappearing profession. There were the greats – Edward R. Murrow for one.. Do you suppose that Edward R. Murrow studied Journalism in college? No he did not – he majored in speech. Why is it you ask, that I bring up Journalism??? On occasion on the streets of New York, I am accosted by a young student studying Journalism at some college or another. They proceed to ask me questions, and interview me. Their questions are quite banal, granted it is a quick interview on the street that is little more than an exercise. I however ask them what they are studying in Journalism. The answers – interview skills, writing, writing for the web, writing for the news, not one has ever mentioned anything that I would consider to be important for a Journalist to study – “Humanities, Sociology, History, Political Science. ”  No, nothing of that ilk, lots of media classes, but what I would think a Journalist ought to study – these courses aren’t in the curriculum for a degree in Journalism. These students don’t even understand that they are NOT learning the basics.

I have a Bachelors degree in Film Production, and a Masters in Communication. I’ve been working in the film business since 1989. I’ve traveled to Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, West Africa, Russia, England, Ireland, Spain, a bit of France, Italy on my honeymoon, so I’m well rounded and well experienced. I still look back at my undergraduate degree and wish I wasn’t so afraid of writing papers that I had taken more film studies courses. Because really if you want to make films, you need to study films, study their content, and structure. You want to study, History, Art History, Sociology, Color Theory, literature and a host of other things. You don’t need to learn how to set up a C-stand, or a 5 point lighting set up. Essentially learn to have CONTENT in your life, that is what college is for. The rest is best learned on the job. To be fair, studying film production and practicing techniques can be valuable, lots of fun to practice and study the effect of technique – sort of like running an experiment to prove or disprove your hypothesis. However if you want to work as a grip or electric – ya don’t need to go to college for that.

So why is it that colleges are offering courses of study that are about learning job specificity? Why do colleges have placement offices on campus? Because someone is spending a lot of money to go to college, and getting an education isn’t enough. Now you have to be prepared for the job market, you have to have marketable skills. So what can you do with a degree in humanities? Lots, but there isn’t a job description for humanities, there is one for “making films”, or being a “journalist.” So teaching these “skills” becomes profitable. The thing is these skills alone without the content behind them, are weakly used. Like using VERY BIG WORDS to show off your vocabulary, when you have nothing to say.

So the point? Journalism is dying, or at least changing. Our journalists now are telegenic news readers, the content, the writing quality? I can’t even watch televised news programs, what passes for news these days is so sad, and the “commentators” they have no more than the most surface understanding of what they are commenting about. There are a lot of Journalism programs, a lot of blogs out there as well, aren’t there? . The film industry can be looked at in a similar way. So many people making films, and just so many film schools churning out graduates. Graduates who know how to use a camera, use an edit system, but haven’t learned how to think, how to study, how to have content. Great, you got the tools, you learned how to use them, but you’ve got nothing to create with them. We are drowning in a mess of the technically acceptable, without any real Content. It’s so easy now to get media made and out, it’s often like drowning in crap, searching for a gem.

Education is a big business, a very big business, and instead of teaching students to become well rounded individuals, the education machine must show how much money your education can net you, churn out employable drones. How there are so many jobs in the field that they teach – I wonder if you study for a graphics degree – does working in the copy shop count as working in the graphics industry? Why is it that any degree is slanted to prepare you for a job, would we not all benefit if we were prepared for the world? Why must there be direct results in what you study? It’s as if the promise of education has been converted and perverted in the pursuit of money, and it’s backwards. Education must be its own reward, not in service to something else.

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One Response to I've got a Masters degree – no really I do.

  1. hotshot bald cop September 1, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    Properly put from an awesome blogger

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