Education Is a Passport to the Real Training

When I write, I doggedly search for ways to make my point compelling.  But here’s a fine slogan I didn’t hit upon until months after the publication of The Case Against Education:

Education is a passport to the real training.

The “real training,” as I’ve already explained, primarily occurs on-the-job.  By doing.  You don’t learn how to fly a plane by listening to lectures on flying theory – or deploying the “critical thinking” skills you gained by writing essays on Shakespeare.  You learn to fly a plane by getting in a flight simulator (or later, a cockpit) and listening to a flight instructor tell you what you’re doing wrong.  The same goes for almost any job… except Shakespeare scholar.

What’s bizarre about our society is that kids have to spend a decade-plus in the Land of School to get the credentials they need to gain entry to the Land of Work.  Once they arrive, they can finally learn how to do something real.  Until then, they just have to keep polishing their passport applications.  And tragically, whenever the average application gets shinier, employers’ main response is to raise standards – not issue extra passports.

Is there a better way?  Of course: End schooling sooner!  Once kids no longer need daycare, why not leapfrog over the fake training of the classroom to the real training of the workplace?  Why not?!

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Bryan Caplan is Professor of Economics at George Mason University and Senior Scholar at the Mercatus Center. He is the author of The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, named “the best political book of the year” by the New York Times, and Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think. He has published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the American Economic Review, the Economic Journal, the Journal of Law and Economics, and Intelligence, and has appeared on 20/20, FoxNews, and C-SPAN.

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