Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Degrees - Another Keeper

It just so happens I DO have a degree (it's a Desmond in a Mickey Mouse discipline from a Polytechnic but it is, nevertheless a degree). I have also, through work, private study and plain curiosity, gained degree level knowledge or higher in several disciplines (or sometimes parts of those disciplines if those were the only parts that interested me).

Much of this was gained from, what I DO consider to be Britain's major educational assets. That is the public library. I read statistics some years ago (back in the late seventies) comparing public libraries per head of population in various countries of the world. The top three were UK, Switzerland and the USA. But that doesn't show just how far ahead we were in Libraries. Switzerland had six times as many libraries per head of the population as the USA... and Britain back in the seventies had ninety three times as many as Switzerland.

Since then, successive Governments have stopped investing in Libraries although I imagine we're still well ahead... but more importantly, Libraries have become less important with the availability of information on the Internet (provided we know how to sort the wheat from the chaff).

Now, what's my point? It's not the degrees themselves that matter, but the knowledge represented by those degrees. If the degree is devalued in terms of content, but upgraded in terms of its essential character, do we lose that knowledge that was going around the country?

Such knowledge reached a peak in this country between 1890 and 1950, roughly the time when Workers' Education Associations flourished. Now, it's falling back and it wil be a shame to lose it.

As for degrees as qualifications. I don't believe the state should be involved. Qualifications exist to help employers choose among candidates, who is the most likely to be able to do the job. Let us separate these functions. Let the state fund education in its abstract sense, but let employers fund their own sifting exercises.

__________________The 53 State Timeline - Buddy Holly as President and 75,000 people on Mars http://alternatehistory.com/discussi...ad.php?t=63105


Blogger Span Ows said...

Alcuin, I couldn't follow the link but will copy and paste it and 'play' with endings to see where i end up.

Incredible stat re the libraries...is it an 'accurate' one or an exaggeration meaning we had loads more but the number is not important?

Saturday, 21 July, 2007  
Blogger Alcuin said...

Link should be http://alternatehistory.com/discussion/showthread.php?t=63105 I think.

As for the libraries stat, I can't swear to the accuracy 100% I read it in The People's Almanac by Irving Wallace and David Wallechinsky back in 1979 or so and I'm remembering rather than looking it up. But it's certainly ballpark. I do remember thinking it strange that we had several hundred times as many libraries as the USA.

I once had occasion to visit the Enoch Pratt Public Library in Baltimore, Maryland. It was pretty similar in size and scope to the Marcus Garvey library in Tottenham. The difference is, the Baltimore library is THE public Library for a city with half a dozen Universities. The Marcus Garvey on the other hand is one of eight public libraries in Haringey.

Saturday, 21 July, 2007  
Blogger Span Ows said...

Sorry Alcuin, I've worked my way back to just the 'alternate history bit and it still won't come up with a web site!...however then I tried google and it wa sthe first choice...but still came up as "El sitio web rechazó mostrar esta página web"...one day...one day...

Monday, 23 July, 2007  

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