Modern education is the biggest financial bubble.

I am educated. Yet, I suggest my education result in a financial bubble at first.

 Education can be either privately funded, or publicly funded.

The USA has a cursor set on favouring private funding, and Europe more on public funding.

Be it student loans or public debt, education ends on the market. Either in the form of stock values in the portfolio of banks (like in 2007 with the housing crisis), in the form of education values or in the form of state obligations.

Some may argue that investing is not made to yield instant returns. And that is the purpose of financing costly investments. Education being the example of investments that are supposed to give results after decades, or generations. Exactly the reason to be of the financial market.

However, we do face more than one problem with education right now.

The most obvious one is we are experiencing the opposite of what was promised: education makes people weaker on the job market. Partly because of regulations requiring more and more costly diplomas to make a job. This regulation made in the purpose of protecting customers have resulted in de facto corporatism.

Prices are increasing for the customers because diploma makes it hard to hire, competition diminishes and the capacity of investment for producing from both workers that bought educations and institutions is diminishing. Liquidities are increasingly burnt on years of non productive leisure that are actually siloing the student on fast changing markets.

Regarding the private market, students invest in a risky product with a lack of information that burns there capacity of saving, and as a result, bright educated people even if successful by luckily picking a trendy occupation are delayed in developing a business. I do talk about the pretty lucky one.

Of course there are people like Martin Shrekly that succeeded by going in public university and having a well paid job. Well, he is kind of smart.

The point is loans are not infinitely inflatable, thus the loans granted for education are pressuring the other loans. Double effect. And if public university exists; it is thanks to public funding, thus debts, thus delayed taxes. Thus less liquidity available for entrepreneurship.

There was a time when education was profitable. And it happened when our actual influential politicians were going to school ... just after world war II.

The problem, is that we cannot wish for managers, engineer, educated workers to disappear due to a war. We could. But, I will assume we are no psychopaths.

The market is saturated.

And what happens when a market is saturated? Competition on the offer diminishes its offer to survive.

The 2 productions of university are students and research. Research is wrongly measured by the number of quoted publications. It should be measured by the number of meaningful publications.

A publication is meaningful if (A) it can be reproduced (B) it can diminish the number of information required to understand a phenomenon (so to say its appearance result in burning former papers without loss). Trend in academic research are diverging on these 2 points.

Does it means the education is not working? Of course, it is. But another important parameter should be its efficiency.

When Einstein, Lavoisier and other great geniuses did their work they did not needed to work for a university. Now, universities/schools have a monopoly on official knowledge. No one imagine education can be transmitted in other places anymore, except maybe at google or apple if you want to learn making an app.

Knowledge, can also be acquired having a job, making stuff by yourself and learning. But nowadays, entering a profession, any profession requires formations or apprenticeship sanctioned by diploma. Except, maybe the coder/devops/UX experts IT market which is exceptional.

I can make bread, ham, alcohol, music, write... I can sell nothing because ... regulations requires me to have diplomas. Does my alcohol or bread is different than the «authorized one»? No, I follow exactly the same recipes with the same knowledge. Cleaning,  yeast, sugar or flour, water, temperature, deprivation of oxygen, time.

So, to enter the market only the few that are either having savings, able to take a loan or a state ready to take more debts for you is the ultimate condition for having commercial activities. It results for the community in a less competitive market, and more friction to get hired, hence more unemployment.

Socialists, communists and liberals shared a dream: luck should not be what drives our destinies. Your own quality should be your best assets to succeed in life.

The luck to be well born with the right sex, in the right place, the right religion, color of skin, or wealth.

The exacerbated competition on the work market by the regulation is fueling this bubble. And an exacerbated competition results in cheating.

When I say cheating you imagine students cheating at their exams. I mean parents cheating.

I was raised in a white neighborhood and went to public school pretty whitish. According to statistics my city have not changed. Yet, my former public school is dark tanned.

These kids are there because, the white kids are not there. Especially the teachers' kids. They are in all the catholic private schools around. I met some white teachers explaining me they could not jeopardize the future of their kids for some stupid principles because education is important.

They did like the rich parents, and those who could followed the example of the teachers of public schools did. Resulting in a massive ghetto.

So basically, parents are trying their best at biasing the system (cheating) in favour of their own kids. Actually the Ivy League schools that refers to themselves as highly competitive are NOT.

The universal recipe for cheating on education is moving in the right neighborhood. But who can move to the right place nowadays?

You are competitive when the competition is opened to everyone. Weirdly enough the top 3% are over-represented at the gates of these schools. You are not competitive when you deny the competitions based on wealth of parents hence luck in birth. Elite kids often share neighborhoods and common schools since kindergarden. How is it a competition to select the best of the nation?

Yes there are as always exceptions. But the shape of the Gaussian of the success odds in education are not in favour of competitive system. Still, more money is dropped in making the schools look more selective.

Unless we still live in monarchy most of the success of elite school student is either birth or parents cheating. And that what companies and administrations are buying at a very high price. Price that drips down in the cost of your goods and in your taxes.

Then comes the basic problem of education: the schools.

Do you really learn something at school?

Most teachers I met think they teach useful knowledge.

Most students I used to know where unable to make any simple calculation of compound interests rate with a master in math, understand an administrative paper with a master in literature, fix their electricity with a master in physics or even make their own booze or cultivate their weed with a master in biology.

In Information Technology workers brag about their level in mathematics. It is a vast joke. Most coders I knew where unable to make a moving average correctly. They were able to pass the interviews still. The whiteboard exams with R/B trees and elite knowledge. But, the sad truth is basic knowledge are lacking.

It feels weird. Educated coders seem smart on edge points that are seldom required in coding, but they sux at basics.

So ... knowledge seems to be a synonym for building a coterie. Having cabalistic words you can exchange to prove you belong to an elite club where job is secured wages guaranteed. Like a club.

I have been a mover. You may think no formation are required. Hell no.

I integrated fast in the team even though I was a newbie because I showed respect to my coworkers some younger and accepted they taught me. The one «diplomed» from the official formation knew some edge points but were so certain they knew everything and arrogant with the one lacking of diploma that they failed at being first enjoyable coworkers and then at improving.

So here comes another part of the bubble; education fails at making better, practical respectful persons.

Having been too much on the bench of university I have experienced the problem: the first quality of a student is to obey and regard the elder with reference while being conditioned that we are the one that can change the future because we should be confident in our knowledge.

If you want to change the future, doubting and questioning the present should be required. Else, you are taught to be a delusive tyran.

For instance, for the same reason I hate open space, I hated my 500+ amphitheater for learning. I hated our noisy spaces for directed sessions. I hated to be 40 hours per week on a bench.

I improved my notes the day I said fuck you and decided to skip lessons and worked on my own in calm environment and resume doing sports.

Open space sux. It is proven. However, they are bound to stay for a long time  because students have been conditioned to be unable to work otherwise.

They have been conditioned to have their teachers' eye set on their hard work. They have been taught to love it.

Remove the open space, and you have kids that never learned to work by themselves and to deliver on their own that will look like a bunch of headless chicken running amok.

Schools does not offer formations it offers deformation of most of the students. It make them delusive and unprepared to work by and for themselves. It fails at delivering new disruptive minds that are truly confident at building knowledge. Schools aim at reproduction not disruption.

Thus I re-affirm that education in its actual form is a bubble. We invest in it expecting future return over investments while what education provide is unsustainable conservative practices.

It turns into stock values, obligations, private loans, bank valuations and one day, the bubble will burst. It highers the cost of employment, inflate prices and costs of administrations.

And believe me, when it will burst, a lot of associated bubbles will burst in a nice snowball effects that are based on excessive values granted to diplomas.

Education is still a good thing. It is just we confuse schools, universities, required diploma which are our implementation to transmit education with the real deal.

Don't ask me what the real deal is: I don't know. But I am convinced it is not gross to doubt our system and question its market value because that what education is supposed to teach us.

Education is not a religion it is learning to question the traditions and accept them when we accept the answer. I am not convinced our system worth the investment extorted by the private and public system to under-informed citizens.


Alessandro said...

Fantastic post! I agree completely, today's education is expensive (or for the privileged ones) and it's usually not very work informative: most times it does not convey industry practices, while academy practices are based on quantity instead of quality...

Eric said...

Alessandro, there is one bit where you are wrong:

"it's usually not very work informative: most times it does not convey industry practices".

Education is not supposed to be work informative or about industry practices - when it is (and it is now, where are you that you can think otherwise?) it produces people who can use the tools and know some techniques, but without any knowledge of what underlies those tools and techniques they will often misuse them, and also re-invent wheels that were long ago discarded as having serious problems.

julien tayon said...

I am from a Huguenot (lutherian) tradition. I disagree soflty with both of you. (I mean I appreciate your comments, and propose a middle ground).

I have been raised with the stupid idea that industry is a moral value, of a certain hard work. I do believe that education should be a way to learn industry in its meaning that had works pay. Be it for a paid work or you hobby. Leading to the prazu (job in polish coming from praxein/practice in greek). (partial agreement with allessandro)

But as a Hughenot I also believe there is room for everyone in the society, the not hard working that want to enjoy a traditional family life and entrepreneur. Education is also there at my opinion to let kid choose their own tradition and way of life, and for some discover their vocation (Beruf). Beruf is the german word for the job you are passionate about.

The wrong in school system is that it raises kids in competition only mindset, whereas truth is cooperation is also required. Making people unable to accept others' teaching. That is the delusional part I was highlighting. (partial agreement with eric)

School wrecks our attitude towards sharing knowledge and accepting we may know nothing. It unbalances our capacity to doubt, because else we are not "valuable" as a productive asset. Which result in this stupid «hubris» mindset where so many students are trapped in.

Hubris I have pretending I can propose a third common view that encompass both of yours :P
(I sometimes I wish I could read what I am writing without having this inner voice making fun of myself all the time).