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Who needs a degree? - by David Goodhart

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

Expanding on a theme he covered in an article for UnHerd earlier in the summer which we feature in our education archive, author and journalist David Goodhart, returns to the theme of higher education in his new book Head Hand Heart, published by Allen Lane and reviewed in this week's Daily Telegraph Review by former Education Secretary Kenneth Baker.

As Baker notes, the combined effects of Artificial Intelligence and Covid-19 have filleted security in white-collar jobs which have been a mainstay for graduate employment for years, and the assumption that an academic degree from university guarantees a passport to a well-paid job is simply not borne out in the reality of today's economy.

Instead, a combination of study and practical on-the-job training across a range of industries from the digital economy to artisan crafts may be the way forward, where head, hand and heart combine to provide satisfying and meaningful employment. "The Intelligent Hand" was a phrase used by Matthew Boulton in 1820. Two hundred years later it is as relevant now as it was then.

For those of you who do not subscribe to The Telegraph, I enclose a pdf copy here >


The Tyranny of Merit - by Michael Sandel

As a corollary to Goodhart's book above, we enclose Nick Timothy's review of Michael Sandel's 'The Tyranny of Merit' from this week's Daily Telegraph Review,

Expounding on Michael Young’s ‘The Rise of the Meritocracy’ Sandel takes it a stage further, describing it as a tyranny, which has bred anxiety and depression as well as entitlement and indifference.

‘Western elites – convinced they made it by virtue of their own brilliance and hard work – believe they “deserve to belong to a superior class” and the solidarity and sympathy these elites feel towards their less prosperous citizens is breaking down.’

Goodhart and Sandel both argue for a more equitable and sustainable economic model where all are able to contribute, giving workers “the social recognition and esteem that goes with producing what others need and value.”

We also enclose the article in Word for those who do not subscribe to the Telegraph.

Review Was meritocracy ever a good idea
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What we meritocracy critics get wrong - by David Goodhart

Our final contribution in this trilogy brings us full circle to David Goodhart himself who pens a summary of his own book in this week's Unherd which incorporates a nuanced critique on Sandel's blanket condemnation of meritocracy.

"My own new book, Head, Hand, Heart, shares some of this [Sandel's] critique, but my complaint is more that the type of merit that the modern meritocracy favours has been too narrowly focused on Head/cognitive ability. In order to shift more prestige and reward to the relatively neglected Hand and Heart aptitudes, we may, paradoxically, require more meritocracy in those spheres.

And while all of these books critique the principle, none of them really answers the question: if it is not merit that determines the allocation of reward and status, then what does?"

Please find a pdf copy here >

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