The Value of Education, Starting Salaries and Humanism for Kids

Your weekly 5 things from the mind of Miles Lasater

Happy Saturday! Here are your 5 things from the mind of Miles for this week.

  1. Less College? I recently finally finished The Case Against Education. In contrast to  arguments I mentioned last week for extra slots in university, this book argues we should have shorter university degrees. The core argument of the book is that much of the functional value of education as we actually practice it (particularly higher education) is signaling. Meaning that it is more about sorting and credentialing than learning and improvement. To be clear, he is not arguing that is the way it should be rather that is the way it is based on our revealed preferences. While I resist the conclusion, he makes a strong case including that people don’t remember what they learn and no one seems to care much. Alas, as signaling is about social norms, a change here has to be coordinated.

  2. Starting Salaries. Regardless of how much time in school, calculations show that starting salary can have a large impact on life-time earnings. If men more often negotiate starting salaries than women, is that one of multiple causes for women earning less than men? If so, then what should we do? Encourage women to ask in socially acceptable ways? Train hiring managers not to punish them for doing so? Change employer policies to not request salary history in hiring?

  3. The Power of Knowledge. Now lest you think that I have no appreciation for the power of knowledge, I’m revisiting my David Duetch this week. I’ve started the Fabric of Reality (for the first time) and I’m listening to the ToKCast podcast recapping Beginning of infinity. I love the profound optimism that anything not impossible according to the law of physics, we can do with the right knowledge. Among other things he argues that humans are capable of understanding the universe. And therefore, so many amazing things are coming if we can avoid the Great Filter.

  4. School as Inquiry. Even if you believe higher education is mostly signaling, there are many more things going on in primary education. I’m so fascinated by schools that are structured to be more student-led and to center curiosity and intrinsic motivation. For example, I’ve been inspired by the story of Acton Academy. If you have any experience with it or its network of schools, I’d love to hear about it.

  5. What is a Humanist? I’ve been enjoying reading and discussing Elle The Humanist with the family. While it is written for kids, it contains answers to questions that many adults share. What is humanism? How do humanists find meaning? What are the ethical teachings of humanism?

As a reminder, my work projects are:

Until next week,