The secret of education

Warning: This is a contrary post and as such may question some deeply held beliefs. If you keep moving forward, you may not like what you’re reading.

The education industry has successfully pinned the meme That not going to college (buying their product) leads to a poor life. A common selling point is a poor piece of statistics that shows the relationship between average income and education level. For whatever reason, education takes longer and longer while becoming more expensive at rates well above the level of inflation. This has fueled counter studies that question the monetary value of attending college compared to just getting a job and avoiding sometimes huge student debt. To alleviate this problem (and possibly help the education industry), the government introduced a 529 plan to allow institutions to charge more for their degrees. All in all this is a great deal for educational institutions but is it a good deal for you? Is it a good deal for the community?

If the car companies were half as successful in convincing people that it’s impossible to live without a car…hey, wait!

This post was actually inspired by Brip blap, and he wrote a post called Clear and Present Danger: The Humanities. One of his points was that the government should encourage educational programs that lead to higher salaries (such as engineering) and discourage degrees that tend to lower salaries (such as English lit. and ancient Egyptian algebra). Financial aid should also be cut for people who take more than 4 years to finish their studies. The result would be for the government to support students who would keep the US at the forefront of technological innovation rather than the vanguard of deconstructive studies publications in incomprehensible (?) sociology journals. I found myself agreeing until he said it was sarcastic 😛 . I guess that means we disagree then. Hence the post.

The idea suggested in the article above It has already been promoted by a number of European governments. With low birth rates in a culture of the affluent and “older”, the workforce (especially in science and engineering) is a real problem in Europe. With high birth rates in the United States, the workforce isn’t such a terrible problem. Europe has to make the most of its youth and therefore wants to steer students towards bridge building and computers and away from writing yet another monograph on the suicidal poets of the eighteenth century. Getting them out the door quickly also helps.

I’ll take this one step further.

I think the idea that a college education leads to a more productive society is wrong. Hard work and intelligence lead to productivity. What happens when we send 70% to college instead of 30% on the false assumption that education makes people more productive and talented is simply that levels have gone down. To continue getting the cream of the crop, education is extended to the smartest part (30%). The other 40% get a score that no longer means much. Hence we waste 4 years sending 100% to high school, 70% to college and 30% towards masters instead of sending 70% to high school with higher standards, 30% to college with higher standards, and only a few to higher education.

Your talents helped you get your degree, not the other way around.

The problem is Higher education does not make people smarter or smarter. Instead it serves functions

  • Separating the children of rich parents from the children of poor parents with some financial subsidies for the most intelligent children from poor families and a lot of intellectual subsidies for the less intelligent children from rich and influential families.
  • Getting money from students’ parents to fund the university’s sports center and domed buildings and professors researching increasingly specialized and often unrelated subjects. If it were not for the graduate students admitted mainly to serve as a teaching institute rather than for their bright ideas, the offer would have been more expensive unless professors were paid less or universities were built like barracks instead of extravagant imitations of medieval castles or modern architecture.
  • Regulating entry into the labor market. This is their most important job. The more youthful there are demographically, the higher the score required. There is a negative feedback mechanism here. Extended education helps reduce growth because it allows people to spend several years attending lectures, playing college sports, and generally being unproductive.

More education does not lead to more productivity. Rather, it is increased productivity that results in the state being able to afford to park its young in essentially fruitless attempts for increasing periods of time.

He reads modern education as an intellectual farce. There are four reasons for this. These are: 1) … 2) … 3) … 4) … In the test: Name the four reasons why modern education is an intellectual farce. Thus anyone with a reasonably developed intellect and short-term memory can earn a degree.

Unless you need highly specialized knowledge (researcher, brain surgeon, accountant, …) A college degree is little more than your ticket to getting your foot in the door of the white-collar workforce.

I expect that a more careful study corrected for this effect should show this The reason for higher wages is to have a desk job rather than a degree. This would eliminate the two main financial reasons for going to college. This would make the College a place of higher education and reflection. I think it is naive (I was very naive) to expect these qualities among students in modern universities.

I returned for a few years. Probably 1 in 10 of my students are actually interested in learning something. The rest just wanted their degree so they could go out and get banking jobs under the delusion that people with degrees are smarter than average. Well, maybe, but if they are, why do they need a certificate to prove it?

What smart students care about is maximizing their GPA economically. Even studies in economics use this idea as a textbook example. I can think of no better example of the disregard for modern education.

Most office jobs Does not require understanding of history, biology, medicine… hmm Just need a modest amount of intelligence and an effective short-term memory. It shouldn’t take 4 years to find out who has it and who doesn’t.

I propose a return to a gilded system for masters and apprentices. This way people can feel like productive members of society very early on and not have to go through the Lord of the Flies experience in high school. I think this will work. I am positively convinced that if you give me a 13 year old with an IQ of 135+ and a sense of numbers, I can teach him how to do my job in 3-5 years. The counterargument is that the 13-year-old does not know whether he wants to be a carpenter, a dentist, or a research scientist. However, some 22-year-olds don’t know either. In any case, it would not be more difficult for someone to change an apprenticeship than it is to change their profession today.

One might argue that this is rigorous training (mind focus) rather than education (Expanding the mind Passing a bunch of multiple choice exams) where I will only teach what exactly is useful. but, I maintain that you cannot educate a person who is fundamentally uninterested in a subject (GPA boosters). I forgot a lot of things I learned through HS and college because those materials were useless to me other than contributing to (and mostly lowering) my GPA. On the other hand, an intelligent and voracious person can learn things on their own at any time.

With the mastery of the printing press, books became so cheap that one no longer had to go to lectures to copy notes from the professor (the high price of books was the original aim of the lectures and the difficulty of communicating new research was originally the cause of the seminars – talk about institutional inertia!). It is also possible to get lectures and syllabuses from places like educational company, personal MBA, self-made scholar, and many more. Oh, and the library!

Of course, this does not solve the “entrance ticket” problem.. Only a few professions such as programming and some financial subjects focus on certificates rather than degrees. On the other hand, university degrees have become so weak that employers have started testing potential employees because they can no longer trust the quality of education – recognizing that this must happen, market forces right?! It is likely that these companies will outsource this test to you. This will give rise to a new generation of institutions that test whether students have already learned anything in other institutions. At this point, one can skip education and go for certification.

What do you do until then? You can either do what’s tried and true and spend a lot of money (and opportunity cost) to get certified or you can be an entrepreneur and try to get your foot in the door some other way. As long as you can get your foot in the door, automatic exposure practically puts you on equal footing with a college graduate.

Disclaimer: I have a Masters in one field, and a PhD in another. I have spent most of my life in the education system. This may lead to the conclusion that I am a hypocrite or that I am bitter and not very smart.

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Originally Posted 2008-02-17 07:55:29.

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