Friday, May 30, 2014

Lack of Degree Doesn't Equal Lack of Intelligence

Indiana is 42nd Smartest State
TheStreet.com ranked the top 10 smartest and dumbest states in the United States based upon the metric of percentage of the population with a Bachelors Degree or higher.  Indiana ranked 8th...and not on the smart list.

I guess we can take heart that there are still other states that are in front of us on this list, and we aren't the so-called "dumbest" state in the United States.  That, according to the list, is West Virginia.  Our neighbor to the south, Kentucky, ranks fourth.  Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Nevada, Oklahoma and Tennessee round out the list.  All mostly "red states" mind you.

What this doesn't take into account is that you don't need a college degree to be smart.  My paternal grandmother was one of the smartest people I've ever known, and she didn't have a lick of college.  She grew up in the 1920's and the 1930's in Stringtown.  She married my grandfather, who worked at International Harvester as a tool designer, and they raised my aunt and my father.

Grandma Easter had many jobs, but she loved working in the cafeteria at School 67.  She was one of the diligent lunch ladies there when they made the food from scratch.  She retired in the early 70's, and that was before I was even born.  Later, she would go to work part time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway until she finally gave up working in 1980ish (she always said 1982).

What she managed to do after my grandfather died was to become a world traveler.  She went to Europe, Hawaii (Ho-why-yuh...her pronunciation), the Caribbean Isles, and a variety of other places across the country on vacation or to see family.  She and I even took a trip to California when she was 83.

She was the trailblazer in education in our family.  After her, my and aunt ended up going into teaching.  My cousin went in as well, and my brother and other cousin even explored it.  Both my father and my aunt finished not only Bachelors Degrees but Masters Degrees as well.  My cousin has her doctorate, and I finished my Bachelors.  My other cousin is an attorney, and my brother works as a plant manager of a printing company in Chattanooga.  The focus on education in my family came not only from my parents, but from Grandma Easter.

Interspersed with her stories about long forgotten family members and travel, Grandma Easter always would say, "Jon, get a good education. No one can ever take away your education."  It's cliche, but it's true.  She knew that, and the majority of us followed her direction.  Even my brother, who didn't finish college, is in a skilled trade.

So, I take these kinds of articles with a grain of salt.  It's concerning, certainly.  We must do things in Indiana to open educational opportunities for people.  I think that's something that Governor Daniels and his administration did an admirable job with.  The Western Governors University plan is an excellent option for many.  I salute him for his efforts in that regard.

I'm also not going to settle for TheStreet.com calling Hoosiers dumb.  What we have here in Indiana is Hoosier common sense, and you don't need to go to college for that.  While lacking a college degree no doubt hurts your ability to make a good living for the vast majority of people without one, it certainly has no bearing on how smart someone is.

2 comments:

Eric said...

Sorry for the delay in leaving a comment. I, too, noticed this ranking of "smartest" and "dumbest" states, and that Indiana qualified as 8th dumbest. It made me feel inferior; found myself holding my head down, even though I have a bachelor's degree and professional degree (law). Instructive to recall Mark Twain's saw: "Never let schooling interfere with your education".
Turns out Edward Snowden is a high school dropout. There are many impressions of Edward Snowden, but "dumb" isn't one of them. Indiana has many great universities, who graduate a lot of Hoosiers. Problem is they leave for more exotic locales. Most of the states listed in the "dumb" column are great states. The dumbest, West Virginia, is filled with charm. "Almost heaven" according to John Denver. We can't just write these places off and shunt them aside by stereotyping them as "dumb". They are the heart of America. America won't move forward until they do.

MyHarpoon said...

You've hit the nail on the head. Indiana is not on the "dumb" list for lack of higher educational facilities, but due to brain drain. Our best and brightest get their degrees and then move on to greener pastures (i.e. states with higher paying jobs). Meanwhile, less-educated blue-collar workers from other states move here to fill the low-paying manufacturing shift work and agricultural work. Indiana can continue to brag about its low unemployment, but when the majority of the work is stuff college grads are unwilling to do, what's the upside?