Obama’s Education Speech
Matt Yglesias takes mock exception to President Obama’s assertion to our nation’s schoolchildren that “You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.” He notes that, “My father dropped out of tenth grade and has had a totally solid career as a novelist and screenwriter.”
Indeed, as several commenters point out, all manner of people drop out of school and wind up having enormously successful careers in business, the arts, and athletics.
Presumably, though, such people are covered by the president’s exhortation. I’m sure Rafael Yglesias not only learned quite a bit at the elite private schools he attended for nine years but continued to work and train to become successful as a writer. Certainly, Bill Gates didn’t stop learning after he dropped out of college to found Microsoft. And even rock stars and athletes have to work and train and learn to excel in their chosen endeavors.
For especially talented and self-motivated people, formal education may actually be a hindrance to achieving their goals, since it at the very least requires divided concentration. For most, however, that process will expose them to new insights and discipline that will improve their chances at figuring out what they’re good at and making a living doing it.