business news in context, analysis with attitude

Last week, responding to my several commentaries in favor of a traditional liberal arts education in which even people who study business or science are required to take Humanities courses such as English and History, MNB reader Dave Wiles wrote:

Some studies in the Humanities is fine. We need a well rounded student to advance to the real world. The problem, as I see it, is that there are far too many students matching their studies to ineffective (in work life) majors. "Advanced Underwater Basketweaving" may be a fun topic but where is the job, in their future, to make a living?

This prompted MNB reader Joe DiVincenzo to write:

I think MNB reader Dave Wiles misses it with his comments questioning matching studies to ineffective majors is not a path to making a living in the future.  Not surprisingly, studies have shown nearly three quarters of college grads end up in jobs unrelated to their majors.

I have long held the belief that it’s not so important what you learn is college, but that you learn how to learn, and more importantly, you learn a skill that is fairly uncommon today: Critical thinking.

I vividly recall to this day the words of my American History professor, Dr. Donald Bain, on my first day of class Freshman year of college.  He explained he planned to teach us not how to read a newspaper or watch the nightly television news (yes, that was how you got your information about the world in the early Eighties) and merely comprehend what they were talking about, but instead to hear it, understand it, question it, and think about it logically and decide for oneself if that was right or wrong or good or bad.  That was what a Liberal Arts education is all about, learning how to think for oneself.

The superb employees I’m lucky enough to work with today are good at what they do not because they learned math, accounting, economics, or any other specific area of study in college, it’s because they became Great Thinkers who learned how to look at an idea or proposition and decide if that’s good or bad or right or wrong.

Totally agree.

The thing is, you can’t just start teaching this in college. Mrs. Content Guy is a third-grade teacher, and I know that this is something she’s highly focused on - getting her students to think and analyze and ask questions at a higher level.

That’s not always easy. I would argue that much of the way education - especially elementary education - is structured today doesn’t always allow for this. There are so many assessments, so many tests, and so much freakin’ structure that only the really great teachers are able to teach the kids as opposed to just teaching the subject. That’s not just a semantic difference.

My dad was a teacher for many years before he went into administration, so he understood the classroom environment and had a real feel for kids that translated into how he ran his school; he valued creativity in the classroom, and loved the kids for whom he was responsible, to the point that he’d always hang out on the playground during lunch periods, shooting baskets and playing kickball with the kids.

I’m immensely proud that my wife brings that kind of passion to her role as teacher. I always joke that I grew up in a town where I would be identified as “Mr. Coupe’s son,” and now I live in a town where my primary identify is as “Mrs. Coupe’s husband.”

Pretty cool.

Regarding the Jeff Bezos-National Enquirer contretemps, one MNB reader wrote:

National Retail Accounts need to take a stand and throw these trash journalism rags out of their stores. In some ways, they become complicit by supporting their product. Is this the type of product you want your stores to be associated with?

Totally agree.

I was yelling at the television yesterday during one of the Sunday morning news shows when one of the commentators started referring to this as a First Amendment issue, and that Bezos is wrong for challenging freedom of the press. What a crock.

This wasn’t about practicing journalism. It was about extorting someone - saying that in exchange for money, these tabloid clowns wouldn’t practice journalism, that they wouldn’t publish something. (Not that they ever practiced it to begin with.)

Finally, I really appreciated this email from MNB reader Bill Nace:

I’ve been reading you since IdeaBeat, and I just realized your writing style saves me a lot of time. Thanks.

So many news articles are written like features and not news these days, and it is a pleasure to read stories that get to the point like they’re supposed to, instead of teasing you through several paragraphs before making it.

I read a lot of news every day, so I speed-read a lot and focus on what interests me. Your writing helps with that, and I’m grateful. I think part of it is because you were taught Latin. I only wish such writing were not so uncommon, although standing out from the crowd is good for your business.

Thanks for continuing to do this all these years. I appreciate your insights, though I don’t always agree. Your humor and your comments on movies, wine, books, and especially baseball, round out what you do very well.

Fortuna bona tibi sit.

Thanks for the kind swords … but I must admit, in the interests of transparency, that despite an education that took place almost entirely in Catholic schools - Sts.. John and Paul Elementary School, Iona Preparatory School, and Loyola Marymount University - I’ve never taken Latin. Not one class. Almost all the Latin I know I learned while serving as an altar boy, which was a long, long time ago.

Some lessons stick, just as some wounds never entirely heal.

Dum spiro spero.
KC's View: