TED Conversations

David Hamilton


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Should degrees have "patches"?

Simple enough starting point. In the modern world our knowledge base is expanding so quickly that 5 years after you get a degree, quite a bit of what you learned is obselete, and quite a few important discoveries have been made. If you go into business, or government research, you may actually surpass the knowledge on any degree program, in your specific discipline... But, you'll still miss out on advances in your field of study, that do not apply to your business, or research.

Should modern universities offer degree patches, the way software companies offer patches. Every 5 years or so, each school is meant to design a one or two week online course, specifically designed to keep people who have already been granted degrees, in touch with the most up to date information in the field.

Having these patches on your degree, would then be quite valuable in the eyes of an employer I imagine. Some companies may even offer to pay for you to go get your patch...

Kinda seems like a no brainer to me.


Closing Statement from David Hamilton

Very fun and engaging discussion. Personally, I think MIT should get busy on this. Unlike many people here, however, I believe that proving knowledge and skills is the purpose of education. I believe every child is naturally curious, we don't teach them to be creative, we do the opposite. Teaching facts we know about the universe, or even ones we believe to be true because of a preponderance of evidence, has a place, and it's an incredibly important institution, one in desperate need of modern reform. As a bonus, first institution to do it well, gets an incredible revenue stream. Peace and love.

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  • Aug 22 2012: " The reason you pay a government entity thousands of dollars ... "
    I guess here is the difference : in France you almost pay nothing for your education.
    School comes from greek "skolè" that means free time, idleness. It is not meant to serve only economical purposes.

    Not all people have the luck to have a good environnement to learn critical judgement and enjoy reading at 12. Poor people or children having bad atmosphere at home for instance would not make it to degrees easily. The school system here is a way to guarantee that everyone has its chances not to reproduce an elit of rich. It has its flaws and its costs though.
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      Aug 22 2012: You mean... In France, other people are forced to pay thousands of dollars for your education... and still it teaches you no discernable job skills. Then, you are forced to pay for the same quality education to be given to everyone else. Is there still no gap between rich and poor in education in France? Because if rich people still "mysteriously" take advantage of free education, more often then poor people do... You tax the poor, to pay for the rich... Just a thought.
      • Aug 23 2012: Yet this is what we do in K-12 here. Why not extend it 2 to 4 years based on merit?
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          Aug 23 2012: The USA has one of the best university systems in the world... In K-12 we're approximately 12th. No one would trade our university system model for our K-12 model on merit.
      • Aug 23 2012: I am simply trying to say the cost of these outstanding universties is quickly outgrowing their benifit. Maybe there should be insurance so if you don't get your degree or can get a job in your feild then it would kick in and pay your student loans.

        After all, we have insurance for unhealthly people that can afford to go to the doctor anymore, maybe we should have it for dumb people also.
      • Aug 23 2012: In Australia we heavily subsidise tertiary education. We also pay people of lower socio-economic status to study. We tax wealthier people more than poorer ones, and those who earn below a certain amount are not taxed anything. It is hardly taxing the poor to pay for the rich. I think you will find that most Western nations operate under similar schemes.
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          Aug 23 2012: In other words, you tax working people, farmers, construction workers, and laborers, for a system, which none of them have the free time to use. Meanwhile, people born into white collar, wealthy, and upper middle class homes, have plenty of time to improve their education, so they do... for free. Thus the taxes of working people, pay for the education of upper middle class and above people, and give those upper middle class people credentials which insist that they will never have to labor. It's quite a nice system if you start out on the top.

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