I recently decided, in a moment of weakness, to go back to college. I just wanted you to know that after all these years, I still hate Algebra. I’m sure Algebra helps with abstract thought in some way, but I’m not all that sure that I need much help with abstract thought. I’d like to view myself as an abstract thinker, someone who finds unique solutions to every day problems. Take the time that I cleaned my glasses with the water hose and dried them off on the concrete; if that’s not abstract thinking, I don’t know what is. As an adult, I can also say that most of my bosses have not appreciated this type of creative problem solving.
The thing about Algebra is, I don’t care. I care about the population of Eritrea and who invented Worcestershire sauce, but not how to solve quadratic equations. It has always been a bad habit of mine to only take care to learn the things that interest me. It’s not that I’m incapable of learning, I just have a selective academic palate.
I’m certain that this statement will paint me as an uncultured swine, but college degrees have never impressed me much. Some of the dumbest people I know have attended college. My Dad used to tell a story of a old man who had worked in the machine shop at Union Foundries for nearly thirty years. A fresh young college graduate had recently taken a job in upper management and was prone to “screwing up royally” as Dad used to say. Whenever these things happened, sometimes halting production, the old man would just shake his head, laugh and say, “He been to college though.”
Nevertheless, college degrees impress employers. Having a college education doesn’t make you any smarter, just more educated. And more qualified. And more qualified to do what? “Ay, there’s the rub.” Anyway, enough dreaming, I’ve got to go extract some square roots.