As I mentioned before, N is interviewing for jobs. He’s in what they call data science. The interview process is all task based. You either know the math or you don’t. You either can write the code or you can’t. There are several stages to each interview and they are all highly technical. You need to study these beta binomial distributions or whatnots for years to qualify. It’s useless to ask N what he did after school at 16, 19, 25. The answer is always, “went home and studied.”
I’m writing all this because of the endless stream of news about how advanced math programs are being shut down in schools because of equity. Who do you think will be hired for these highly technical, extremely well paid jobs 10-15 years from now? If there’s demand, there’s going to be supply. Also, this kind of work is going long-distance for good. Even a couple of years ago it wasn’t possible to do this work completely off-site but now it is. (Why do you think N started to interview now and not 5 years ago?)
So who will be hired for these jobs? Who will get a chance to learn enough to be hired? It’s going to be people from places where “I failed Calc I because the teacher doesn’t look like me” isn’t considered a profound insight. It’s going to be people from places where everybody managed to accept the simple reality that some have the brains for this kind of stuff and others don’t and those who do should be given a chance to learn.
The first college I went to, by the way, was a polytechnic. I figured out after one semester that I wasn’t capable of passing the advanced calculus even though the profs all “looked like me.” So I dropped out and did something else with my life. I’ll never get paid as much because the skills I do have are not as rare and valuable. But that’s ok. Somebody I know who went to that polytechnic now works for NASA. And I’m perfectly fine with that.
Why are we playing this idiotic game? Of course, the companies who hire these people don’t care whether the workers are sitting in Shanghai or Moscow. But shouldn’t we care? We are playing a stupid game that everybody else is laughing at. But the game will have real-life consequences.