The United States is obsessed with education. This is a good thing; every American should be educated. However, the problem with America’s obsession with education lies not within America’s infatuation with education, but rather within America’s definition of education.
America has created a culture in which it is most nearly everyone’s dream to attend college. We have equated college with education and education with wisdom; those who gain education and thus wisdom through a college degree are bound for success. We also believe that education by means such as trade school will not be able to provide the same education and thus wisdom that college provides; skilled laborers will never be able to be as successful as those who have attained a college degree. This is a problem.
In a recent podcast, Jordan Peterson, a Canadian professor of psychology, clinical psychologist, YouTube personality, and author came out to say a rather bold statement. He cracks a whole in the fundamental way of thinking that college will automatically make every individual successful through providing education and wisdom, stating that “you can go to universities to not be something.” He goes on to point out that we have created this culture in which universities are becoming blinders to an individual’s own ignorance. They are giving individuals too much pride, a false sense of wisdom and success, which is causing them to lack humility.
This lack of humility has then created a society in which our values are entirely skewed. With this in mind, among many other obvious reasons, can we really be surprised that there are 11 million open jobs (a majority of which are skilled labor positions) yet a massive labor shortage? Our complete lack of humility in the United States has caused a lack of regard for the convenient lifestyle we have. We do not value the jobs that allow us to have packages shipped to our homes within a matter of days, or the jobs that allow our flights to depart on time, or that allow us to have a broad choice of food in the supermarkets. We do not attribute these laborers with the attributes of being successful, wise, or educated. Because of this, we do not encourage our children to explore careers in these fields. We do not value skilled labor. Instead, we tell our children that they must go to college.
However, a university education does not provide wisdom, and it certainly does not provide success. Wisdom is not a collection of facts, but rather an understanding of how to conduct yourself in the world. In turn, success means that you are conducting yourself in the best way possible given your personal circumstances. This means an understanding of your passion and what you are good at and working hard to become the best in your field. It is only then that you can achieve success. Wisdom does not allow for success, rather they are achieved simultaneously.
This labor shortage is certainly attributed to by multiple reasons, however, it is also shedding light upon our skewed value system in the United States. For this labor shortage to truly end, we must recognize that no individual, despite having a college degree, is automatically wiser, better educated, or more successful than those who do not. Success is something you have to work at, not a package deal with a diploma.