[Israel.pm] Is University Really Necessary?

ik idokan at gmail.com
Sat Mar 24 09:34:51 PDT 2007

On 3/24/07, guy keren <choo at actcom.co.il> wrote:
> Elizabeth Sterling wrote:
> > Clearly, I didn't go to the Technion, so I can't comment on that
> > particular university, but I do have a lot to say about higher
> > education in general.
> lets hear, then.
> > First, let me say that I think that the whole "We won't hire you
> > without a degree" thing is utter bunk. I've gotten jobs many times
> > simply because I have a degree, and the employers haven't even
> > bothered to notice that none of my degrees are in CS or EE or in
> > anything even remotely related. I'm always amused by people's reaction
> > when they find out I went to UC Berkeley. It's often along the lines
> > of "They made BSD there!" as if that matters to a student in the
> > Social Sciences.
> one thing that many people believe, and it is true to some extent, is
> that academic studies help you sharpen your mind - because there is a
> lot to learn in a rather short time frame, you have to learn how to
> separate the wheat from the chaff, how to summarize things, and in
> general how to learn efficiently. since working in our industry often
> requires constant learning, this is an important quality.

Amm... really ? For example, personally I found out doing high-school
that there is no "1" or "2" etc.. only floating point numbers ... that
is a number is almost a complete integer, but it is not. I found it on
my own.... I'm not a math genius or some special person, there are
much smarter and "sharpen" people then myself. It's just that I do not
think in any "formal" manner of the education of "normal" and "high"
education. I understand things while I use them.

I also understood that 1+1 does not mean that the answer is always
equal to 2. Again, back at high school.

But you know what happened to me when I talked about the two findings
? People showed me that the calculator shows only integer numbers, and
it always return an answer for 1+1=2.
When I tried to explain why the calculator display such values people
where not interested in listening.

It took me something like 7 years to discover that there are math
subjects that also talk about my two own findings.

(I don't even want to talk about the fact that the math that I know,
still does not know what to do with the zero number, so people keep
thinking that zero is the same as null)

> another thing that a university degree shows, is that you are capcable
> of handling long-term projects (the project of finishing a degree).

I know few people that dropped out of universities, then return, etc..
and they do have a university degree ...
And I also know people (again from first hand) that took an easy
subject to make a degree at, only to gain some points and move to a
different field with a lot of unneeded study due to the already
existed points.

I also know from first hand people that have so many degrees and
diplomas on their hands, but when you ask them even basic questions on
the subjects they supposed to master at, they don't even understand
that you are asking them a question, not to talk about any answer.

> you can call it bullshit - but it's a statistical issue - and when you
> have a pile of resumes, you need to filter according to something.

The fun with statistic (and with math) is that you can play with
numbers that will give you the answer you expect.

The question is does a person is better simply because s/he have a
degree at the end or not. Many places just does not wish to hear about
people without a degree at all, or make them a "favor" in submitting
them, but not continue to listen to them after they made a V near the
check list of "the candidate does not have a degree on his/her hands".

> > There is no question in my mind that it is entirely possible to be an
> > excellent engineer without a University education.
> formally, without an academic degree, you're not an engineer :)

Can you send this statement to any place that claims that it have at
least one engineer on their hands ?

> > I am a strong
> > believer in autodidacticism and there are some awesome hackers in the
> > international community who have learned everything they know about
> > computers without the structure of a university. My business partner
> > is an amazing individual, and he's always surprising me with his depth
> > of knowledge and engineering skill, but he's "only" got a high school
> > education.
> those are usually the exception. it is very hard to find them
> (especially in israel), and very hard to "put your hands on them" if and
> once you find them.

I don't think that people are looking for them, otherwise they would
find them very quickly. For example I arrived to a job interview that
when we arrived to the fact that I do not have a university degree
ended up as "I really respect people that learn on their own, but
......" (please fill in your /dev/random excuse).

> > Mind you, I'm also a proponent of radical unschooling for kids, and my
> > eldest son (who happens to be at university right now) was unschooled
> > for 5 years. I think that he learned far more by building his own
> > linux distro, making independent movies, publishing comic books,
> > working at the Seattle Aquarium, and playing with role playing games
> > than he ever would have learned by wasting his time in a classroom
> > through high school. (Apparently, his university agrees... they
> > actively recruit homeschooled and unschooled students like my son.)
> why did you send him to university, if you prefer that he learns on his own?

While this is a question for Elizabeth to answer, why do you think
that an 18 (or older) years old person needs his/her parents consent

> > So, if the university isn't *necessary*, why go? Well, it's not
> > necessary, but it can be quite good. University is not the only place
> > where you can stretch your mind and learn new things, but it is one
> > option. Options are good, and there's no reason to throw the baby out
> > with the bath water. The structure of classes can help you to move
> > through material at a steady pace without distraction, and the support
> > of the teaching staff, tutors and fellow students can help get you
> > through the more difficult points in your learning.
> you are making generalizations. there are people who need to university
> to enhance their abilities. there are people who don't. there are people
> who think they don't, while they actually do. there are people who won't
> be helped by anything.

And how can you place each person into the right queue at the
university factory ?

10 years ago (how time fly) a person told me (regarding sport) that he
does not like this people that arrive to the first place as champions.
I asked him why, and he told me that the person that won, only compete
against others that also went to compete in the same subject, but
tomorrow a person that does it for fun can come, and win without even
making a sweat. That person is better, but no one knows until he will

That's the same in education. Most statistic only talk about the ones
on the "system", they leave behind the ones that are not. So how can
you be so sure, when personally I know some people that never learned
at the university, but keep on helping students with their batchler
degree ?!

> nothing is necessary. but if something helps some people - that's good
> enough.
> i have also seen many people who decided not to go to university (or
> haven't done so yet) - and in most cases, i wasn't too impressed with
> how highly they thought of themselves - ready to conquer the world. in
> many cases they put a lot of pride in things that i found trivial. it
> was not because they were not smart - it's because they did not see what
> the world already knows, and were busy re-inventing things that look
> very basic to university students (not graduates - often they forget a
> lot of what they learned by the time the graduated, because they learn
> for the exams, instead of learning for their knowledge).

That's because they found something on their own, while you where told
about the answer without the need to really discover it by yourself.
The question is, do you understand why things you have learned are as
they are, or you simply accept them ?

I wish to remind you that most of the science that we have today is
based on many people that asked questions on things that people
"thought" they knew and understand (usually the answer was "god", 42
or so). Why do you so afraid to find an answer for problems on your
own ? what are so bad in understanding things after spending time to
understand them rather then just to accept the answer ?
Are you making science as a new religion or something ? or you
actually wish to find more answers and to understand how things works

Why don't you make such information available to everyone, that
instead of reinventing the wheel, could focus on things base on this
findings ?

> again - i am not saying one cannot become a great programmer or a great
> thinker without the formal systems. i'm just pointing out that it does
> not happen very often, i.e. it's a system less reliable then current
> schooling.

As I said above, does such people have the same tools as the ones with
a degree to show you the same result ? Because when I look at myself,
I keep on finding myself fighting on things that people with less
knowledge does not even know that exists in the real world.

> > There is also the fact that employers like to see a degree. Let's come
> > back to that for a second. Why do employers like to see that degree?
> > Honestly? It's because they need something external that they can use
> > to narrow down the field of potential employees. It's a lazy and
> > inefficient strategy, but it's the done thing, and so they keep doing
> > it. Then, of course, they complain about the quality of the people
> > they actually interview. It's insane. But, when you buy into the
> > system, you get what the system spits out at you. That's life. (On the
> > other hand, if you chose not to buy into the system, there's always
> > the uphill battle against the people who can't see outside of their
> > little boxes. That's also life.)
> now you're doing in-justice to the people within the system. being in
> the system does not mean you become part of the system, or you become
> what the system tries to turn you into. in fact, "the system" here does
> not try to turn you into something specific. at least in the technion,
> in most courses, no one checks if you show up to class or not. no one
> checks if you prepare all classwork or not (this is different in
> different faculties - in EE they used to make you deliver enough home
> assignments in order to be allowed to take the exam. in CS - they were
> often optional, at least when i studied there). the things that they do
> force on you are a basic set of classes (about 60%-80% of the courses
> are mandatory, the exact amount depending on the faculty), and they
> force you to take (and pass) the exams. you can go to the library and
> learn whatever you want, you can sit in classes you're not registered to
> and listen, and can skip all lessons and like on the grass in the sun.
> this is not a high-school system.

Let me ask you simple question: "Does a person under the influence of
anything, can be sure that he or she can be objective on the same
thing that they are influenced by ?"

> > As for the question of whether you should go to university right out
> > of high school, I give a resounding NO (in the vast majority of
> > cases). As always, I leave the door open to those rare exceptions,
> > because we humans are such a varied lot and there's always someone for
> > whom going to university right out of high school really is the
> > perfect thing. Usually, however, I think that the time out of school
> > allows for a certain level of maturity, development, and recovery from
> > the burnout of the school system and these things all go together to
> > improve the actual results of the university education when it's
> > finally received.
> this, again, is different for different people. i went to the technion
> directly after school, and for me, personally it was beneficial. there
> were people who had preferred it the other way around (in israel, you
> normally need to go to an army service right after high school). there
> were people who went to the university 5-6-7 years after high school,
> and found it hard to adapt to the system - they forgot a lot since
> school, which made the first year hard. they needed to work full-time to
> support themselves. sometimes they already had a family - which made it
> even harder.
> please don't talk in black-and-white about people - they are all
> different. _we_ are all different.

I agree, but the system you are coming from think that you have good
"product" and "bad" product ...

> --guy


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