Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Great Comments at Forum on Education

I've been gone on vacation for a while, sorry for the break.

I love economists. There is no Hollywood actor, pop-star, comedian, or celebrity who so regularly blasphemes the mythologies of our times than economists.

This short forum which includes several economists and a few other "prestigious" people at the Chronicle on higher education should be read. Economist Bryan Caplan, makes a clinical, but very non-PC comment. Two excerpts:

"For whom is college attendance socially beneficial?" My answer: no more than 5 percent of high-school graduates, because college is mostly what economists call a "signaling game." Most college courses teach few useful job skills; their main function is to signal to employers that students are smart, hard-working, and conformist.

And another...

College attendance, in my view, is usually a drain on our economy and society. Encouraging talented people to spend many years in wasteful status contests deprives the economy of millions of man-years of output. If this were really an "investment," of course, it might be worth it. But I see little connection between the skills that students acquire in college and the skills they'll need later in life.

The whole article is filled with anti-college thoughts. The non-economists basically parrot myths and pablum. I generally agree that most of college is a status game where learning is secondary to "winning".

HT: Econlog