There used to be an old joke that was doing the rounds in University and Academic circles in the late 1980s and it went along the line of:
Question: What do you say to an Arts Graduate with a First Class Degree?
Answer: a big Mac and fries please!
Okay I’ve probably offended huge swathes of Arts graduates left, right and centre with this example of probably politically incorrect petty schoolboy humour but I use the joke to make a point. The point is that this. Arts Courses are all very rarely vocational and because of this they don’t attract the same approaches from business and industry that science and vocational courses do.
Most students studying and reading Arts and Humanities courses choose their subject because they have a passion and / or talent for it, not to because they think it will bring them money and status in years to come. As a result they are prepared to travel, take all menial and casual Jobs until the perfect opportunity presents itself.
The trouble is that nowadays the range and variety of Arts and Humanities courses is such that sadly they have started the process of the devaluation themselves.
When you now how such a range of courses that range from Analysis of all media studies in the 1960s right through to Understanding Sports Psychology and the football hooligan in the late 1990s you do sometimes wonder where it is all going to end.
The trouble is it all started out so differently in the 1950s and 60s when the university population started it to expand. In those days the whole concept was you went to university to study and complete your education not try and see if you can gain more qualifications to help you get a better job.” Nowadays the importance is more based upon the theory The end and what it can do for you is more important than the means that were utilised to get you there.
The upshot of this entire episode means that we now have more students than society has ever had in all history. The trouble is the majority of them do not know where they are heading.
The playing field at the university level has been well and truly levelled if not small by the inclusion of modern day technology which means making the average pupil better and the best pupils great.
The modern day use of technology has meant that those subjected to grave limitations imposed upon themselves by external forces such as physical restrictions or cognitive ones now find themselves being able to compete with mainstream students.
This in itself is no bad thing; the only potential problem is the misuse off such technology. Nowadays you have students using the Internet as their main method of searching and finding out information as opposed to the time-honoured trip down to the university library, the all embracing font of all knowledge.
The danger here is that if the art of studying itself has become easier then the end product itself may become devalued. Perhaps we are not too far from the days when we will at last be presented with:
“To be or not to be, that is the gazornensplat!”