Thursday, January 10, 2013

When Your Professor Sings at a Bus Stop for Money

From our San Francisco Agent in the Field:

You would have loved this.

This morning when I got off the train, I went to get coffee. Instead of the usual poor to mediocre to decent musicians that inhabit the transit station, I heard two guys droning some monotone sales pitch. I thought they were some kind of activist trying to get people to sign a petition or support some cause du jour.

When I got close enough to hear them, they were saying:
Women's Studies

Our courses are entertaining and relatively affordable. Classes start at City College on Monday."

City College of San Francisco is broke. Their payrolls are too high, their tuition is too low. Their classrooms are packed. Their facilities are run down. Their accreditation is at risk because of financial mismanagement. A state referendum just passed that authorized tax increases to support higher education. Students in Berkeley congregated on Sproul Plaza to cheer the election results that kept their tuition low.

So the vultures are circling the carcass of the taxpayers.

A woman walked up to the droning guy and suggested he improve his delivery. He said, "I can sing it...Aaart, Muuuusic, ....." From the sound of his singing voice, his age, and his appearance, I presumed he was a teacher of art or music or at least someone trained in voice. Interesting how his sales pitch was so droning.

I walked by them and said those degrees were worthless. They stood there in stunned disbelief.

Three articles for reference.  They show you what happens to academians when forced to deal with the private sector/real world demands for performance.





Anonymous said...


Classrooms are already packed and still loosing money on every new student they admit: Solution? Volume.

Losing accreditation because of financial mismanagement but not a word about their product being stupid. Even the really good subjects will still just be community college (same degree of dificulty at a good high school, not even advanced placement).


Anonymous said...

"City College of San Francisco is broke."

Unknown said...

Higher education has become nothing more than a racket. It's time to expose these overpaid gangsters and the worthless degrees that they keep trying to perpetuate and shove down the throats of their victims.

I bought the Kindle version "Enjoy the Decline" and so far, I'm loving it. Blunt, but truthful.

Anonymous said...

Horticulture has some real world uses, though you might be better off volunteering at a farm or greenhouse to learn them, as that wouldn't cost you anything.

Pulp Herb said...

@Anon 10:06:

That's the real point. It isn't that learning music or art or horticulture is worthless. It is the idea that to make a living playing music or painting/sculpting, or raising plants you need an overpriced formalized education with tons of classes unrelated to the subject at hand.

How many popular musicians have degrees in music? Some, yes, but a majority? While both of my current instructors have degrees in music those degrees have very little directly to do with the skills they are teaching me.

My clarinet instructor is a great improve teacher not because of his degree from the Kodak school but because he's had a standing gig for most of the past two decades and done lots of one off shows.

My flute instructor is a great teacher of flute because she plays it well and a good teacher of composition because she'd worked to the point she gets commission.

I didn't ask for their diplomas I asked about the shows they've played and the music they've written.

That other people care first about the degrees is part of the problem.

I'd also point out the clarinet teacher still has a day job. The flute teacher did until a few years ago. Her website still references web design and programming (which was the old day job).

Hot Sam said...

@Herb, it's not that any of these are completely worthless per se, but.there are so many people with these degrees relative to demand for their skills thatthe equilibrium wage is extremely low - not high enough to justify their own expense of time and money much less taxpayer dollars. when the net present value of a project is negative, it is worse than WORTHLESS.

Pulp Herb said...

@Hot Sam

The degrees are a scam.

Let's say it's 1800 and I aspired to be a concert clarinetest. Not a soloist but a musician.

I'd apprentice and study. I might attend conservatory for a few years, but even if I did more importantly I'd go and study with teachers while playing in groups they have relationships with.

Even as late as 1900 the pattern would be the same although a couple of years at conservatory would be much more common.

Guess what, today most people have to stop and get a 4 year BS and often a 3 year and then still do all the above, although often (but not always) the BS substitutes for conservatory.

The difference, the BS is much more expensive than conservatory training. Basically the lesser teachers have found a way to "tax" entry into the field.

Multiply this by 100s of things that didn't require it a century ago. I'm sure if the university types had their way even auto mechanics would need a 4 year degree.

Hot Sam said...

True with music perhaps, but the world is filled with petty credentialists who see the degree as the minimum sign of ability.

Anonymous said...

This article further demonstrates the slogan: Those who can’t do – teach.

For the first time in their natural lives, these professors have to be real artists and musicians by hitting the pavement and expressing themselves in any way they can to get donations. All famous/rich artists/musicians have done this as a rite of passage. Many of my friends who are artists/musicians have managed to eke out a living doing the same. None of them have college degrees. It’s interesting to see how sub-par the performance is of these professors once unleashed into the real world.