The University of Walton churns out cubicle workers

Young people at universities study to achieve knowledge and not to learn a trade. We must all learn how to support ourselves, but we must also learn how to live. We need a lot of engineers in the modern world, but we do not want a world of modern engineers.

– Winston Churchill

The only communications lesson I will ever need is to, “only speak in accordance with another’s ability to hear.”

Even after repeating that line numerous times, my father still insisted my communications class “really does help some people,” and that I, “could get some use out of it.”

God was unmerciful to me this summer break when he demanded I take a UA communications class. My father was similarly unsympathetic to my whining. I hated the class with a passion but with something like good fatherly advice, I was told to try to find something about the class I enjoyed.

During a graded interview session I was asked to name my greatest weakness. The whole thing was a farce. I’ve had a real job since I was 16. This “interview practice” was insulting. Hoping to loosen up the class and have a little fun with the course, I told my “interviewer” my greatest weakness was that I enjoyed popping the occasional narcotics and sniffing gasoline.

My “weakness” did not go over well with the teacher.

On the grade sheet, the teacher had said I didn’t treat the interview seriously. That’s because the interview and the class was a joke – and a sickly funny one at that.

Filled with no less than two Dilbert jokes and a gang-bang of office-based comics, the book, and the class, is nothing more than a pathetic excuse for cubical training. This is apparent to any fool who makes the mistake of opening the assigned book.

Every chapter is filled with cubical jargon about what a “boss” and “employer” means in the “work force.” The subject dealing with leadership is one of the most nauseating:

“He emphasizes that one key to effective leadership is listening. … Researchers back up the claims of business leaders. When 1,000 executives were asked to list the ideal manager’s skill, listening ranked No. 1.”

The influence of cubical work over actual communication is as annoying as it is misleading. If the communications book was the first thing an exchange student read, the impression taken from it is that most of America spends its time in an office trying effectively communicate a TPS report or an effective and persuading PowerPoint presentation.

The “professional” class, touted mercilessly in the book, only accounts for about 33 percent of the entire American occupational workforce, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s particularly upsetting to report that this is the largest occupation taken up by citizens of this great nation. It is, however, still a minority.

If only 30 percent of the population is a professional, why not quit the charade and have a class that would be a benefit for all?

Everyone from the plumber to the future president needs to know how to manage and understand money, so why not a required economics class? And because most of America is grotesquely overweight, why not a required P.E. class? Our great Gov. Health-nut Mike Huckabee would love that.

There’s nothing wrong with learning how to communicate properly in a business environment. But this class is required for all students, even that strange kid who willingly hides in the corner solving complex matrices and astronomical equations.

If the administration wants to turn this entire facility of higher education into Walton University, fine by me. Give me my money back and I’ll go to some liberal arts college that teaches free love and pastels.

I like this place, however, for its eclectic and sometimes ridiculous mix of people. I want to see this place equally inhabited by the weird band kid and the politicians-in-training.

I’m not saying that the UA and its upper management are hell-bent on turning this place of education into a factory of employees and regional executives in charge of sales.

But the university did recently complete its vigorous Campaign for the 21st century.

Keep in mind, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman had a little campaign himself in 1864. He left the beautiful countryside of the South in a searing heap of ash and death.

I’d continue further with the analogy but I imagine it wouldn’t go over well in a persuasion speech to the class.

In the meantime, join me in a pleasant burning of your fundamentals of communications book.

[Original piece available here.]


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