“Excess generally causes reaction, and produces a change in the opposite direction, whether it be in the seasons, or individuals, or in government.” – Plato
I take that as a truism that every human endeavor has a context among everything else. Nothing exists on it’s own. Even education. I am sure that some school administrators like to think of their schools as their personal kingdoms. When the doors close they have absolute control. To a certain extent that is true, but that doesn’t mean that control is consequence free. Here are some recent headlines I have come across. I’ll try to link them together into a larger picture.
How Technology Is Destroying Jobs – This article talks about how human productivity over time has been increasing but until recently has been accompanied with an increase in the number of jobs required. In 2000, that trend stopped. Productivity kept increasing but the rate of jobs created has leveled off. Why?
There are several reasons for this.
- Government regulation has made labor costs increase. (ex. Obamacare)
- Automation has hit an inflection point where whole new job categories are now candidates for replacing at cost effective rates. A robot doesn’t need benefits.
- The US Federal Reserve bank has kept interest rates at near zero for a historically long time. This means companies can borrow money at very low rates to pay for automating their business models.
So what effects would this cause in the economy? Because interest rates are so low, people are not getting any interest on their savings. This discourages older workers from retiring and since they are living longer, healthier lives they have that option. Are we seeing that? Very much so.
This trend is even affecting Higher Education.
“At the height of the financial crisis, it was unclear how diminished 401(k)s and general economic uncertainty would impact retirement trends for baby boomer professors. But new data suggest that professors are either significantly – or indefinitely – putting off retirement, and not just for financial reasons. Experts say the trend is forcing institutions to rethink traditional faculty models.”
So what happens when older faculty don’t retire? Well, in many Ph.D fields, your main source of employment is in academia. If those jobs aren’t opening up, then you will see a drop in enrollment in some fields that depend on that, such as Humanities.
This will cause tuition income for higher education to fall. Couple this with a poor economy and state funding will also be trimmed, which is also happening.
So what is the solution to all this? Well, usually when people are hungry they tend to take risks, and become entrepreneurs.
Oh that’s a problem. So what is causing it? Aren’t people hungry to improve their lot in life?
Could it be that people are having their basic needs taken care of and so aren’t taking risks anymore? Is that the only reason people aren’t starting businesses anymore? Well there is also a lot more regulation. Regulate means to slow down and prevent.
Cause and effect. They still rule everything in society, even education. Of course this is just one interpretation of the headlines. Only time will tell if I am right.