Marco Rubio got a big round of applause for beating down on philosophy majors in Tuesday night’s “debate.” It’s not the first time he’s done that; it’s one of his regular stump speech bits.
Since launching his bid for president, Rubio has repeatedly make snarky comments about the value of a philosophy degree. In speeches in March and again in August, he scoffed at the idea that any student would choose to go into debt to obtain a philosophy degree, insinuating that such a degree won’t help a graduate earn enough to pay back that debt.
My dad has a degree in philosophy and he did pretty damn well raising a family. No, he did not go into the philosophy business, but college degrees aren’t just for establishing a skill set. They’re for teaching you how to learn and work beyond the rudimentary skills you learn in high school. In short, it’s meant to teach you how to think.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be a welder and make a living at it. College is where you learn not just skills but putting them to use and improving your life and that of those around you, which is why people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are saying that a college education, be it vocational or in liberal arts, should be available to everyone. Only a cynic — or a putz — would pander to the base that the only people who want to go to college are pointy-headed liberals in sandals munching free-range granola and reading Immanuel Kant.
(By the way, when I was in grad school for my PhD in theatre, my job the first two years was to be assistant tech director for the university theatre scene shop. One of the skills I picked up in those years, along with being a skilled carpenter, was welding. Pretty good at it, too.)