What interests me is seeking out and noticing patterns in culture, politics, the economy, religion, and so on, categorizing these things and abstracting from them into various layers of abstractions. I am not as interested in the every day practical notions that relate to these matters and that ask pointed questions of them. So, in many ways I am trying to take these notions and rip them out of their context so that I may analyze them in isolation and abstract new meta-notions from them.
However, to successfully get this across, there is nonetheless a need to anchor this discussion into a practical issue with particular phenomenon that are happening in the context of today. Since I work for an education company I find that I can most readily speak about issues surrounding education and since I am a relatively young adult, I find I can most readily speak about other young adults.
Education today is on an uneasy precipice. For the first time in our modern era (post World War II) taking the age old adage to heart about going to post-secondary education institution and graduating with skills necessary for quick employment in your chosen field is becoming less and less relevant. New graduates today are facing challenges unlike at any other period. Especially people graduating from the arts and humanities find themselves most vulnerable. To digress, should we feel bad for these people? After all, they must have heard the jokes about not being able to find employment with an English major. Nontheless, they have graduated doing what they love and what they are accustomed to and instead of, for the first time in their lives, having the freedom to explore the world doing the things that they have the skills for, find themselves with less freedom, less mobility, in their parents’ basement. Instead of a multitude of choices related to what workplace environemnt, what institution they should feel is in the greatest need of their contribution, they essentially have two choices. Go back to school and do a ‘real’ engineering major, accummulating more debt and frustration, or taking low paying jobs for the foreseeable future.
I do not care about any particular instance and what the best choice wil prove to be for a particulat individual, I care mostly about this scenario, mostly from the perspective of the swelling of the ranks of these people.
Simply, a system the takes in young, idealistic individuals, full of promise, only to output more highly skilled but unemployable bodies that are forced to join the ranks of the unemployed is simply not sustainable and is due to crash eventually. It is like pouring water into a balloon.
Such phenomena can be seen in various economic situations such as boom and bust cycles such as the housing bubble and the tech bubble of recent memory. Subsequently, I would posit that the situation described resembles those economic phenomena in terms of abstract patterns.
It turns out that these behaviors can indeed be abstracted since we have seen cases like this before in many different shapes.
If the price for Coca Cola suddenly doubled overnight, it is fair to say that the number of purchases of Coca Cola would probably more than halve. We would expect this from an economically elastic product such as this. Simply, there are any alternatives out there and we do not rely on Coca Cola for more than it is used for (a beverage). On the other hand, if the price for gas suddenly doubled overnight, there would be no noticeable difference, initially. After all, we rely on gas to get us to where we need to go. We would indeed still have to go to the gas station, face the daunting realization that we have to pay such outlandish prices and still have to pay it. No amount of anger and abuse hurled at the poor attendants would remedy the situation.
This is a classic abstraction with a context all its own that can nonetheless be applied to the patterns discovered in our education context. The young people going in to an education from institutions and graduating with a useless (to society) degree, thus swelling the ranks of the unemployed can be easily related to the economic principle of the hypothetical situation in which the price of gas is doubled overnight (even though the two scenarios might not readily be related). The swelling will continue indefinitely until is the very fabric of the context changes. This is the only way to stop the swelling. For the gas price scenario, people will switch (eventually) to other solutions such as alternative fuels, public transportation, carpooling, biking, etc. There are no shortages of ideas. But the important point is that the whole way of doin things will have to change. The context itself changes. What we see in education will invariably be the same. Ideas of how to alter education to its core will start to surface, if not already, and a paradigm shift will emerge. This context will also change.
The key point is that even though there is a context change, the pattern of the balloon swelling until it bursts causing a paradigm shift, this pattern can be readily abstracted to coincide with the key features found in various implementation of this pattern.
This is what in the end interests me.