Letter to my son and his lady friend after a long and late night with

Dear Max and Hannah (please share this with her; I don’t have her e-mail),

We’re alive. Up, finally, and pouring coffee to the veins. Arrived home at 11:30, then decompressed with whiskey and snacks until 1, then bed. Ugh. Long day, but so worth it. Wanted again to thank you both for the lovely gift of art (performance art). It was magical, to see a live performance of the play, so well done, with such good company.

On that note, and linked back to your table thoughts on college education, degrees, BA vs MA/MS vs. … 3-month certificate. It’s a fascinating debate, a bit now of a pendulum swing, which is depressing interest in the humanities (which give us “Fiddler on the Roof”) to the favor of CTE (career and technical ed, as you must know).

Here’s a piece in today’s NY Times addressing that …

and an earlier piece, if you’re a glutton for punishment, on the same topic.


I’ve always been a humanities person, but got nudged toward a practical application (journalism), not exactly engineering, but clearly with a professional application in mind.

I recall the prof who thus nudged me noting that an English degree wouldn’t lead to a decent job. And, later, another English prof advising me that I could become a “hack” (i.e. journalist), or pursue art (i.e. literature, and … well, he didn’t do the economic calculus that his colleague had, which may have been why, no matter how much I loved literature, I tilted toward journalism). I should note that the latter gentleman was a lovely gent of Persian descent, who I knew as M. Zavarzadeh. I Googled him. His first name was actually Mas’ud.

Back in the day, there were no journalism degrees or programs. People came to it from the humanities, after studying all the things that go into good journalism — sociology, history, poli sci, literature, and (tech tilt here) economics.

For your world (K-12), there’s a case to be made that some students really may prefer a CTE track and get on with it. But who decides? And how do we decide? It seems a crime to deprive them of the opportunity to explore the humanities, to see if that resonates with them, before somehow (the test?) determining that they should take shop class. That’s how they did it back in my day — the kids with better grades and more dutiful attention to their studies got into the college-prep track. Everybody else took home ec and auto shop. Human potential is so mysterious. People who are really good with their hands and mechanically inclined can also be good thinkers on other topics. Farmer Wendell Berry comes immediately to mind. The duality is complementary, not competitive. It’s not either/or, but both/and more.

So much for a Sunday morning brain dump. Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.