Lower education?

What kind of education should it offer and at what cost?

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education

An excellent higher education system that promotes critical thinking is a must for an advanced economy and society. It is a prerequisite for scientific research and technological innovation that Israel excels in, and crucial for economic growth. But what is a good university? What kind of education should it offer and at what cost?

“Will Dropouts Save America?,” asked Michael Ellsberg in a 2011 piece published by The New York Times, a paper that reveres universities and is considered the flagship publication of the American liberal Left.

Ellsberg notes that most of the high-tech entrepreneurs and the drivers of the Internet economy—from Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg—were college dropouts, having realized that they were wasting their time in class.

“American academia is good at producing writers, literary critics and historians. It is also good at producing professionals with degrees,” Ellsberg wrote. “But we don’t have a shortage of lawyers and professors. America has a shortage of job creators. And the people who create jobs aren’t traditional professionals, but startup entrepreneurs. ... No business in America—and therefore no job creation—happens without someone buying something. But most students learn nothing about sales in college; they are more likely inculcated with the idea that sales (and capitalism) are evil.”

Things are much worse in Israel. Universities help shape a radical view where entrepreneurship is frowned upon. The ethos they espouse is diametrically opposed to the Zionist vision that promoted hard work as the linchpin of a merit-based society. Liberal arts programs devote much attention to the question of how to “redistribute wealth” and very little on how wealth is created. As if wealth just descends from the heavens like Manna and all we have to do is find a way to redistribute it “justly” (whatever that means).

What’s worse is that students are brainwashed to believe that profit always derive from exploitation (see Marx’s Theory of Value), and therefore any commercial transaction is a zero-sum game. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Israelis are determined not to be suckers; they make sure their clients and business partners will be the “exploitees” and not their exploiters. Human capital is Israel’s most important asset. But in academia, the social sciences and humanities are dominated by a group of Postmodernists and Neo-Marxist zealots who manage to block the advancement of anyone who is not like them, anyone who does not adhere to their radical economic and political dogmas or subscribe to their anti-capitalist ideology. They have emptied higher education of any critical thought that is grounded in reality. (Remember that dissertation that accused Israeli soldiers of racism because they wouldn’t rape Palestinian women?)

Hundreds of thousands of young Israelis enter universities because they want to get a better job, only to be systematically brainwashed with dogmatic dispensations, mostly anti-Capitalist. They graduate from universities without any practical, having been denied useful information or analytical tools that can prepare them for a productive life. Only after graduation they realize that their hard-earned diplomas have no real value on the job market (the accumulated costs of such a miseducation comes to many billions of Shekels – in part in state-subsidies).

Their peers might be impressed by their ability to pontificate about the article of faith of Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida and Slavoj Zizek, but that is no way to make a living. The demonstrators who took part in the social justice protests in 2011 were furious because they have discovered that their degrees have not prepared them any career path. Their anger is shared by many other youngsters all over the world. It led to the alienation of young people and their anger against “the system” and has had an adverse economic impact on employment prospects and on productivity in Europe and the U.S.
The lack of real pluralism in Israeli universities poses an existential threat to our economy and society. Wouldn’t the massive subsidies that help students obtain useless degrees—which have no vocational value and create an inflation of hundreds of pseudo-academics—be better spent on vocational training and real know-how?

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