But what about all the great things kids learn in high school? What drugs (and alcohol) to use and how to obtain them, how to form cliques and scapegoat nonconformists, bizarre paraphilias, how to toady up to authority figures, how to manage meaningless and boring tasks encompassing years of one’s life, etc. These are all important life skills they will need to endure decades in the workforce.

And if they don’t waste even more years in school, just think of what they might become: https://www.deseret.com/2022/8/22/23309244

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The school system and academy’s pied-piper hold on young minds has proceeded unchecked for half a century now, such that its phoney but seductive virtue-signalling mentality has now taken hold in most graduate-entry professional walks of life......The sheep dip is an especially powerful brew in the humanities and social sciences. If the defenders of traditional values ever did get their act together for a long-overdue fight-back, it would now need to be an unashamedly sledgehammer one:

- ending the decades-long absurdity of left wing proselytising organisations (including most arts and humanities college courses) being actually funded by the taxpayer.

- a clear-out of the kind of senior academics who have so cravenly caved in to spoilt-brat ‘radicalism’.

- a complete clear-out of the multi-billion ‘diversity’ bureaucracy racket.

- a complete overhaul of school teacher-training (a longtime training ground in progressive ideology).


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The half-life of much education is probably shockingly high, and a lot of it is signaling. Yet - signaling is a solution to a real problem on a labor market with asymmetrical knowledge. Furthermore, I suspect, that a not completely insignificant difference between persons with or without a k12 education - besides basic numeracy and literacy - would be, what Rumsfeld called the “known unknowns”. If you have been through high school, you know that there is a lot you did learned, but have forgotten, that there is a lot you didn’t or couldn’t learn. Maybe it gives us a certain civic humility and awareness of our own limits, as well as a belief that other people in our community master or retain knowledge, which we do not. There must be some value to that.

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Totally believe your signaling argument. My doctorate is basically a peacock feather now. I do entirely different work but two separate CEOs hired me for STEM-related jobs (humanities PhD) because I had the doctorate and thus "got it" even if I don't actually know molecular biology. My problem with K-12 education being largely about signaling/childcare is that the alternative isn't reasonable. I'm not going to give up my career to educate my kid / coordinate classes with people who know more than I do on a given subject. I'd rather have a job and it pays me more too.

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I think the best way to counter the wastefulness of education would be to enable schools to specialize and force them into quasi-competition.

The competition for students would encourage them to find efficiencies and deliver better overall results at reduced “waste.”

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Wait I use algebra all the time in my work. Just like I use calculus (still a requirement for most medical schools schools I think). Do you really want your psychiatrists not knowing calculus?! I suppose you’ll also say everything I learned in my 6th grade Social Studies class isn’t useful either?

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