Tech and Academia

I’m frustrated by the tech scene ragging on academia. Yes. The system is ripe for disruption. Specifically here in the US, where the expense of higher education is rising and has put my generation and younger into ridiculous debts.

However, that doesn’t mean that academia itself is bad.

No, it’s not for everyone. But it is invaluable.

I have a degree in philosophy. I did not expect to get a job in that field. I hustled through college to support myself – a tour guide, translator, I worked in sales, as a tutor, and in marketing – and I hustled afterwards until I discovered my calling as a developer and taught myself to code.

From my degree I gained a depth and perspective on the world that follows me wherever I go, and influences every line of code I write.

There are plenty of fields that require academia, even tech fields. There wouldn’t be any biology startups without it. We wouldn’t have lawyers to set up our C-Corps or doctors to treat us when we get sick.

Let’s not forget that without our academic institutions we won’t foster our next generation of philosophers and we won’t recognize the value of the next Whitman without knowing who he is, nor will we be able to contextualize what happens across the world in the greater story of mankind.

It’s easy to focus on how drastically and powerfully the entrepreneurial community has changed the world, and forget the value that more traditional paths still retain.

Living here in the US it’s easy to forget how easy and inexpensive it is to get a top quality advanced education in many countries in Europe. The system here may be broken, but shouldn’t be discarded.

It also doesn’t need to be the only way. Treehouse, Lynda, and Udemy have their place. If there are better ways to train for a profession, we need to embrace that. We don’t need to require degrees to provide jobs.

But let us not forget the value of knowledge for the sake of itself as well. That is a huge aspect of what makes us human.