Recently, fellow blogger Tracy Coenen wrote about college degrees, questioning the need for a traditional, four or five-year college degree. I was reminded of her story when I read an article in England's Daily Mail explaining why a degree in gaming is virtually worthless in terms of leading to a job in the industry.
The story quotes the VP of Sony's gaming sector in Europe as saying, "I can't remember the last time I employed someone from them." Apparently, school-based training often falls short of the mark in teaching the real-world skills necessary.
I don't, however, see this as a particularly egregious example of education pandering to the immediate interests of the student rather than their long-term economic wellbeing; examples are rife. Does Art History or Dance or Egyptology make one the darling of job recruiters? Hardly.
I do, however, quibble with Tracy's implication that the purpose of education is to teach marketable skills.
In my opinion, the purpose of education is to aid us in leading satisfying lives. Certainly, income is part of that picture, but so is appreciation of art, understanding of other cultures, exposure to other ways of explaining the nature of the world, developing skills in organizing people and events, all part of my education that didn't result in an immediate payoff.
I also value the way that college taught me how to learn and gave me to confidence to tackle subjects and challenges I would have otherwise avoided. Finally, for many, college provides that most precious asset, a social contact with others that can and very frequently do open doors that become a career.
So when I think of some young person blowing $40,000 on a gaming degree he/she might never use, I look beyond the quid pro quo and hope that they will find that the random bits found along the path to their degree will prove to be more valuable than the sheepskin waiting at the end.
Thanks, Art technica