Quick note on jobs and education

So this whole Yang Gang phenomenon is shaping up to be quite amusing. So far I’ve seen Yang supported by little old liberal grandmas and alt-right memers. I’d better start up some posts on modern monetary theory.

In the meanwhile, just some quick thoughts on how we need to restructure our thinking about education:

The entire education => jobs model has got to change. Not in format–much of the way things are physically taught in the classroom is fine–but in how we think about the process (and thus fund it).

People have the idea that education is 1. Job training and 2. Ends when you graduate.

#2 is important: it implies that education ENDS, and since it ends, you can afford to shell out an enormous quantity of cash for it. But this is increasingly misguided, as many laid-off journalists recently discovered.

The difficulty is that humans are producing knowledge and innovation at an exponential rate, so whatever was an adequate amount of knowledge to begin in a field 20 years ago is no longer adequate–and in the meanwhile, technology has likely radically altered the field, often beyond recognition.

Modern education must be ongoing, because fields/tech/knowledge are shifting too quickly for a single college degree to equip you for 45 years of work.

Is there any point to a degree (or other form of certification)? Yes. It can still function to allow a person into a work community. It just shouldn’t be seen as the end of education, and thus should not cost nearly as much as it does.

Modern education should proceed in bursts. After a short training period, you begin to work, to see if you are a good fit for the particular community (profession) you’ve chosen, or need to transfer to a different community and learn there. Better to figure this out before you spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a degree. Job, pay, education–all need to be unified, small bits, throughout your life.


So what do you think about the Yang Gang?


13 thoughts on “Quick note on jobs and education

  1. An interesting angle to the automation and job creation debate that there may be a paradigm shift that awaits us when technology starts to disrupt the way society is structured and organised. E.g.Crypto, blockchain, etc; https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2019/02/28/markets-are-eating-the-world/.

    Who is to say that there aren’t some emergent properties to the new A.I/machine learning reality we are creating? Something that becomes more than the sum of it’s parts. And I don’t mean that in a kitschy futurist/singularity sense, but rather that new economic incentives may emerge based on more intangible things like ‘meaning’ or ‘trust’. These are just briefly considered impressions of what could be, but I think people like Andrew Yang are a step in the right direction. Every historical “technological” revolution had winners and losers, particularly with regards to who and what the labor force comprised. I hope robots take our jobs if it means that we no longer have to do “jobs”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think there’s a lot of good insight in this. Today is fundamentally different from “Medieval world + better windmills.” The future will also be fundamentally different from today. We just don’t know yet what it’s going to look like.


  2. Modern education must be ongoing, because fields/tech/knowledge are shifting too quickly for a single college degree to equip you for 45 years of work.

    How does this statement get reconciled with the extremely large numbers of people who will happily admit that their college degree is not and never was of any relevance at all to their career?

    If you take the view that the point of formal education is acculturation, and that people develop the skills needed for their work by completely separate means, it doesn’t look like there’s any need for formal education to change now.


    • On the contrary, isn’t this evidence that education needs to be ongoing, not achieved in a lump sum? A lump of education quickly becomes obsolete and irrelevant to whatever you are doing. Then you need new education, in whatever new thing you’re doing now.

      Just do away with the lump. Everything in smaller doses.If the education is useful, get more. If the education is not useful, switch to learning something else.


    • Actually, that implies that most education is completely useless and should be abandoned. Most people don’t even remember what they did in secondary school. Just free people after primary school and sort applicants for jobs by IQ tests teaching them what they need to know on the job.


  3. As Michael points out, the function of much (most?) modern education is simple signalling and otherwise empty credentialing. So I disagree with your rejection of “education ends when you graduate”. For the vast majority, it does. In fact it ends long before they graduate. Indeed, in our inner cities we are perfecting the process, so that literally illiterate people are being awarded high school degrees after 12 years of daycare prison — because politically they cannot be failed. Of course they don’t tend to get jobs (other than the informal job of Democratic vote bank). But the same political factors impinge on all education, pushing it away from (actual) education to indoctrination and credentialing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Acculturation and signaling are different models. Signalling is pretty straightforward: you do something, and it proves that you have the ability to do that thing. The thing you did was useless, but the ability may be valuable, and advertising it may also be valuable.

      Acculturation means you learn to belong to a social group. It is a technology for solving the problem that it is difficult to cooperate with strangers because they’re untrustworthy. If two strangers can give off the same social signals, they can believe that they are part of each other’s ingroup, and that the other person will cooperate with them rather than stabbing them in the back at the first opportunity. If you can identify the group to which a person belongs, and you know how that group behaves, then you know whether to trust the person.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As for Yang: I don’t really get it, because I have not seen the guy perform campaign. But Spandrell — a man of wealth and taste — seems to be on the Yang Gang, FWIW. His post has a bunch of videos of Yang that I’ve been meaning to watch. I assume most people who’d be reading your comments probably read Spandrell too, but you never know.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My parents sent me to college in the late 60s only with the idea I would do better than they did. I went because I wanted to get away from those two kind and lovely people who seemed to me at the time as little more than wardens of a concentration camp.

    Before I got there Newman’s Idea of a University was assigned. Quickly, I realized that both my parents and I had no idea what education really consists of. I stayed with it and got the gentleman’s C which is not a good idea if you are not to the manor born.

    The point is almost no one needs or wants an “education.” What most want is the magic ticket and sadly and wrongly, that must come with a piece of vellum from a prestigious institution.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s