Alt Left: Critical Thinking Skills as a Value of a University Education: College Teaches You How to Think

Alpha writes:

As for “hiring people with a bachelor’s degree and will train,” I’ve heard that for years. I understand the reasoning behind it. You won’t get any argument from me. The only thing I might differ on is your idea that people with bachelor’s degrees have definitely learned critical thinking in college. This is questionable.

Well, it’s just fine if people want to get the most bang for their buck. But I think that people who don’t care about that or don’t think it is relevant should still be free to get ahead and get a social science degree with their money.

Or with society’s money on the basis that we are at least creating an educated citizen with good critical thinking skills and basic knowledge, both of which are important for a functioning society and as an employee skill. They can try to get one of those “Bachelors degree and will train” jobs, or they can teach themselves new skills easier or we can just settle for the notion that educated, critical thinking people are good for society.

When people say that I am not using my degrees, I beg to differ. I did get a degree in Journalism and I am a Freelance Journalist. A broke one but nevertheless one that has put out a lot of output. You could argue that I don’t use my Linguistics degree. However, I do publish in peer reviewed Linguistics journals, which makes me a Linguist, and I am now a Published Author in the field. I’m a broke linguist but so what?

Another thing I would like to point out is that all those years of education and getting that advanced degree taught me how to think. I am so much smarter with all those years of education behind. Of course I am an autodidact too but the university education really helped. And I am so smart now that I can actually teach myself whole new skills that I have no degrees in or just learn whole new skills and jobs simply by getting a bunch of books like “How to Be a ‘Whatever'”.

I knew nothing about field linguistics or writing an alphabet, dictionary or phrase book of a language. I simply went out and got a bunch of books on how to do those things and read them.  Then I called up expert linguists all over the country and asked them how to do it.

I got some books on how to write a dictionary. And then I got some more books on how to write a phrase book, and I got some phrase books to use as examples. Then I did a lot of work on a basic dictionary, and I got halfway through a phrasebook.

For the phrasebook, I actually designed the book itself as a Book Designer, writing mock-ups of every page including what text would go on it and what illustrations would go where. I simply got some books on how to design a book and then I did it. I’d never had a course in such a thing, and I was never trained in layout in my years of journalism.

In the course of the book chapter I published, I did a lot of work with a graphics artist with maps and putting various languages on the maps and mapping the territories where they were spoken. Basically working as a Map Designer.

The work was exceedingly difficult as we had several sources, including several maps, of some or all of these languages. And the maps and sources were all wrong in one way or another and they were all wrong in different ways.

I was first of all able to figure out that they were all wrong in the first place, and then I was able to figure out how each map was wrong, and based on that was able to figure out the best place to draw in the best speaker area for these languages. I’ve never done any Map Design before.

My Graphic Artist drew the maps, but I worked with him and told him where exactly to put each language on the maps and how to fix the maps that were wrong. I had had one Geography course 35 years prior.

At the same time they needed an ethnology or cultural history of their tribe.  So I read through the ethnologies currently available, of which they were a few, including a full blown doctoral dissertation, the author of which I spoke to.

Then I got a number of books on “How to Be an Anthropologist.” And then I started doing a lot of  anthropological work with the tribe and was given a secondary job title of Cultural Anthropologist. I had had only one class in anthropology in college, and that was 20 years before.

Decades ago, a friend of my Mom’s said there was an opening for a paralegal at her legal office. So I went in and applied for it, and the guy hired me on the spot. Many people take paralegal courses and get paralegal certificates, but I just asked the lawyer what he wanted done and went in and did it.

I wasn’t even trained on the job. I simply taught myself how to do this sort of paralegal work (mostly digesting depositions and summarizing documents, both of which were murderously hard).

It is illegal to call myself one, but I basically work as a Therapist or Life Coach now. I have to call myself peer counselor for legal reasons, but for all intents and purposes I am doing psychotherapy, or at least Life Coaching or mentoring if you will.

I had nearly enough Psychology courses for a Minor in Psychology at university. Then I ended up studying psychology and psychiatry on my own. I studied psychology for 40 years and psychiatry for 20 years. I spent years reading peer reviewed journals in both fields at a university library. And I had 30 years of off and on psychotherapy myself, in addition to being on psychiatric drugs for decades, for the most part antidepressants.

And now I do peer counseling, working with one particular disorder.  And I am so good that psychiatrists have described me as an expert on this condition. Let’s say there are 500, 1,000 or X number of experts on this disorder in the US. I would be among that number.

I’m not as good as some of those people who charge up to $350/hour, but at less than 10% the pay rate, I don’t say I am. I now get clients coming to me on referrals from all over the world. I do a lot of work with clients in Europe, Canada, and Australia. I don’t get much work from the rest of the world because my pay scales are higher than the wages in most of those places.

I knew nothing about Cryptozoology but I quickly became a top expert on Sasquatch and broke a number of important stories on this phenomenon. I got interviewed on the radio a few times and had a few offers to be on TV due to this expertise. I never took a single course (such as Wildlife Biology) to learn how to be a cryptozoologist. All self-taught.

I recently got paid to do some work in Conflict Resolution between a client and graphic artist. I did some reading on how to do it, and then I just did it.

I did a bit of work as an Agent for a Graphics Artist though I had no training in that.

I had a Graphic Arts, programming, and web design business for a while. We didn’t make much money but we did make a bit. I simply hired out people to do that work, although I never had any training in any of those things. I even fixed a program that didn’t work myself although I knew little about computer programming, could not program myself, and never took a course in it.

I just studied the code and figured out that it was a rules-based language system like the Linguistics I had been trained in. All human languages are rules-based language systems also. Once I figured out the “syntax” of the program, after a while, I figured out what was wrong and was able to fix the program so it worked. And this was a problem that had baffled my programmer.

I set up and ran a forum dealing with True Crime or Criminology although I never had one course in the subject. We did excellent work and I made thousands of dollars. I got to be such an expert on one famous crime that I had an offer to be on Inside Edition.

I recently founded a whole new political movement though I never had a Political Science course. I’ve just been reading about politics for decades now, and that’s all it took to be a Political Activist.

Now perhaps this is all an artifact of a stratospheric IQ. But I would also like to believe that all those years of education taught me how to think.

And ideally once you learn how to think very well, you can do all sorts of jobs that require little more than being smart or very smart. You simply get some books and teach yourself how to do it. You don’t need courses, degrees, certificates, or licenses, though for some jobs, you are breaking the law if you are working unlicensed.

One thought on “Alt Left: Critical Thinking Skills as a Value of a University Education: College Teaches You How to Think”

  1. High schools should teach you how to think, though. I mean, considering they don’t – is it a wonder blue-collar types are so rough? Look at the social media memes! But that’s just a joke, right?

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