82 - What’s it Worth?

What’s it Worth?

Working at the GZ Tech a little over a year ago, Cris Miller & I gave four lengthy and largely impromptu talks exploring Value. Those talks totalled about 6 hours, of which a significant chunk was spent trying to persuade those present into giving responses. This is an attempt to capture some of that thinking and perhaps to extend it sensibly. I then sent it to Cris, and if he replied then I have not incorporated what he wrote at the time, in which case, apologies. I left the end as it was found in my files....


In China there is significant value ascribed to education. The typical Chinese family will devote a large proportion of total income to addressing this. Few who collect a first degree fail to collect a second. While those in business will not find time or money for later education, the younger end of the labour market stays in education far longer than their European equivalent.

We have a significant need for measures of comparison (and see essay 84). This needs to be in terms of typical income and time. We need ranges of numbers and we need to apply these to Chinese studying in various countries.

Current thinking says ¥40k, $50K±10k, £10k±4, but the upper end can easily be twice as far as the lower; so ¥30-40-60; $40-50-70; £6-10-18 in thousands of each national unit.

Experience is highly valued in the west, but the typical Chinese ascribes it little worth.

We discussed paying for experiences such as ballooning, gliding, motor racing, bungee jumping and the like, but the students we were talking to not only thought we were weird, they saw no value whatsoever in such experience.

We discussed the value of low-end jobs such as waitressing, assembly line work and light office work. The students saw the value in the cash income but could not see any value in the experience. When we detailed the gains in experience they seemed to agree that this had value (timekeeping, dressing to the occasion, acquired skill, coping with people of different background and experience and pay) but they saw no way this changing their prospects of work.

This is at odds with the western experience where, as one grows older, so experience counts for steadily more and qualification for steadily less. The trend toward mid-career additional qualifications in the west belies this, but in a sense also emphasises it, as the chosen additional qualification will be specifically directed at a change in work.


Personal advantage was given no credence at all. We thought of a number of attributes that individuals may be able to give value: [these need a better grouping]
Heredity; physical advantages (looks, strength, eyesight). this may cover the rest of the list as a general heading.
Nationality; coupled with heredity, this adds value to language and cultural background
Family & connections; this includes wealth, family education, household skills, connections to work opportunities, maybe guarantees of work or experience.
Natural gifts: natural gifts overlap with the heredity, but we might include value in hand-eye co-ordination (for a surgeon, say), a good memory (many examples) or a good sense of direction (for a driver), speed of reaction (racing driver, pilot, many active jobs). Help, please.
Health; those with poor health can put a value to good health. Generally those with good health give it no value until they lose it. Could be considered to be within heredity, such as Asian Indians having good teeth.
Intelligence; again heredity but nature vs nurture argues some of this belongs in family and some in education. If we separate education as ‘learning’ from ‘ability to do things with that learning’, then intelligence belongs in Gifts or Heredity. It seems to be as much a handicap as an asset.
Luck & Opportunity: these belong in this list of advantages but while luck might include happening to be in the right place at the right time, opportunity needs to be recognised and that is a learnable skill.

We had trouble persuading anyone to look outside his or her own little box. Thinking outside the box is a very rare thing in China and trying to persuade students that there is value in any thinking skills is perilously close to heresy. The student opinion seemed to say that when they finish their course they will all have identical qualifications (this, they say, is good). They then find work. Their only measure of success is money, they say. We point out the value in any experience of work, in discovering the value of enjoyment in work, of opportunity (for advancement) or of acquisition of skill (and experience and age and….), any of which can then be converted into a next, better job. There seems to be a problem with movement in the labour market and certainly with the perception of a market. Yet they are quite happy with the prospect of shopping for work while at the same time totally clueless about how they will do that. There were a very few students in the week who saw any value in being different (that is the ability to be seen as an equal, the same, plus something, so with added value). It is a long step from there to suggesting that we might provide that added value, that we might change their mind-set so they can do this themselves, that a little research might establish fields they do / do not want to work in. There must be an awful lot of basically unhappy Chinese in a line of work that does not suit them and in that work on the basis of a succession of ill-informed decisions.

Planning is a related issue. If a 1st or 2nd year student is aware that the 3rd-year includes having a Job Fair—whatever that might mean—they do nothing to find out, to explore, to talk to the third year about their intentions, aspirations and preparations (etc). They simply sit in their place on the conveyor belt that is the national minimum education, waiting for life to happen to them.

Cris: please add essay notes for me to extend.

I have no structure or objective as yet. I can see several opportunities. There is a good deal of research we can do and we might then have something powerful to share based on research among those we know and have access to. Some of this would (2012, would have remained within GEI as valuable information) and some (here, above) is to spread around for good reasons. Let us, I suggest, first look for some completeness. Any and all readership help or feedback is appreciated.

DJS

probably written around 201102

found and uploaded as dated above

last small edits 20120513 pic is of GZ Tech, where we lived for most of a year.


© David Scoins 2017