Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Value of an Education

Lots of people talk about the value of a good education, but what is this value, really?

The Market Value of a Degree

Whether the market values your degree is almost entirely dependant on the type of profession you are entering and the type of degree you have acquired. A doctor must legally have a medical degree. Likewise a law degree is necessary to practice in most states. These are pretty significant gate checks if you are entering into these fields. So if you put in the time and effort to get an MD or JD there is a good chance the market will inherently value your education. Other notable additions are fields such as engineering.

What about those who have degrees in art, or business? Are those worth anything to a free market? The short answer is no, they are not. Whether you have a degree in music (like myself), English, or business, out in the real world you are judged on the quality of your output, not your education. Nobody ever hired me for a gig based on my college education, but rather for my demonstrable skill set and experience. Nobody will give you an advance on a novel because of your English degree, and nobody will hand you a $100k per year job because you showed up to business school for 4 years. The reality that the world will only reward you for your actual ability to produce is not something most people want to accept.

The Value of a Degree to You

Just because the world doesn't place any value on your degree doesn't mean it was a waste of time. A degree is a certification of knowledge, and knowledge is useful. Each class taught you a set of skills and imparted pieces of wisdom that may help you on your way, if not be directly applied to your goals as an artist or businessman. Of course, such things only have value if you choose to use them.

I've noticed that the people who value their own education the most are those who have the least to show for it in the real world. People who have achieved something of value, either to others (as in business) or for themselves rarely seem to talk about their education, preferring to let their work speak for itself. Those who have achieved nothing often feel the need to make their education their achievement, placing it outside of its true purpose and making it a thing unto itself.

I know I am more proud of my body of work. My songs, poems, screenplays and stories speak for themselves.

Learn by Doing

One final thing teachers never seem to communicate is that you will learn far more while engaged in your field than you ever will in a classroom. Great performers are taught as much on the stage as in the practice room. Great writers learn to craft incredible narratives by writing, not by analyzing Jane Austen. Successful business owners grow to understand their market and customers by serving them in the real world, not by taking statistics classes. Spend some time with a seasoned businessman and he will tell you that in the job market, experience trumps education every time.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


There are many in our world that would like to end the use of the words “retard” and “retarded.” Once upon a time these were politically correct replacements for moron and idiot (indeed, a student of history might know that Down Syndrome was once called “Mongoloid Idiocy"), and its literal meaning is “slow.” What you fail to understand is that the malicious use of these words is in no way attached to the conjunction of letters that is “retard” and “retarded.” Behind them is an idea, shared by most in our society, that it is better to be intelligent than unintelligent (stupid, dumb, idiotic, moronic, retarded). If you banned the word retard, or even if you got every person to agree not to use it, the meaning behind it would still exist; the idea does not perish just because the word has. Indeed, like idiot and moron before it, the meaning would just be attached to a new word by all of us. “Special needs” would become the new “retarded,” and years from now people would be complaining about the use of those words too.

In reality, I hope the intent behind “retard” never vanishes, because, although it is derogatory in nature, it means that society values brilliance over mediocrity. I would consider a much worse slur to be “nerd” (those of you who know me best know how much I hate having that label impressed upon me), for the malicious intent behind that word is to devalue intelligence.

So, think about this: words have only the power, influence, and intent we choose to give to them. They represent ideas, and ideas can’t be banned, stopped, or otherwise killed.  To assume otherwise would be retarded as hell.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ah, a place for all my homeless ideas.

Even those that know me may not know all the crazy stuff that I work on day to day.  I write screenplays with +Matt Wellman as well as develop other ideas; I write stories, books, and graphic novels (that's some new territory for me), and I still have to find time to keep up my guitar chops and update my musical content. 

I toyed with the idea of making this a home for all my political ideas (as if there weren't enough of those), but I quickly realised that my politics are expressed much more convincingly in my art than in direct exposition.  Besides, who would bother reading my opinions when there are so many other well stated ones out there that are congruent with mine? 

So, in any event, I will be making this a home for my lonely fiction, narratives in progress, poems, and other wacky ideas for which I just can't seem to find any other outlet.