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Our system of human development is broken


When I read this latest from David Friedman, I couldn’t help but think of one word, “broken.” There are so many people, myself frequently included, who are wasting their lives doing things they loathe. Meanwhile, they engage in hobbies, “other worlds” where their talents and energies are spent doing things they enjoy.

What we have is a system that tries to make widgets out of human beings. When the human beings inevitably fail to enjoy their particular widget design, they resort to other activities to distract or make their corporate lives bearable. Everyone loses in this system because people are not deployed to their highest and best (and most fulfilling) use.

The system is broken.

I was reminded of this recently when someone I know in WoW as an unusually competent and charismatic leader, organizer, and player, mentioned the problem of “parental agro.” He is apparently a college student, possibly a graduate student, living with his parents. Older examples are friends in the SCA of whose abilities and energy I think highly, who made their living as school teachers or secretaries or the like—respectable jobs, but not particularly high status or high paying ones.

The pattern is not entirely surprising. It makes sense that an energetic individual who doesn’t find much outlet for his energies in his current career will direct them towards his hobbies. Adam Smith long ago observed that, in the British universities of the time, a professor got no benefit by doing a good job of teaching, since the professors were on salary rather than, as in at least some of the Scottish universities, paid by the students. He concluded that if the professor were naturally energetic, he would spend his energies doing something that might be of some benefit to him rather than doing his job, which would not. Nowadays we call it “consulting.”

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Eight reasons not to go to grad school


Via Patri, found this great article (and site!) over at Penelope Trunk. The full out post is a linkfest to other material (much of which looks worth reading) on Penelope’s site. If I only had the time.

Anyway, I’m very much anti-schooling these days. I feel this way for a multitude of reasons, but the main two are:

  • Schooling in no way mimics real life. Schooling is centrally controlled, rigid, boring, one-size-fits-all, socially backward and doesn’t encourage students to take chances, be curious, use their brains, etc. For all of these reasons, schooling as we know it (across all levels of the education system — grade school to graduate) stunts the growth of human beings.
  • Schooling is antiquated. We have the internet. I’ve learned more following my own curiosity scouring the Internet than I learned in 20 years of school. And that was in five years? The schooling system was broken already, but now its downright moot.

Here are Penelope’s eight reasons not to go to graduate school (Go to her site if you want her additional commentary on each reason):

  1. Grad school pointlessly delays adulthood.
  2. PhD programs are pyramid schemes
  3. Business school is not going to help 90% of the people who go.
  4. Law school is a factory for depressives.
  5. The medical school model assumes that health care spending is not a mess.
  6. Going to grad school is like going into the military. . . . Military is the terrible escape hatch for poor kids, and grad school is the terrible escape hatch for rich kids.
  7. Most jobs are better than they seem: You can learn from any job.
  8. Graduate school forces you to overinvest: It’s too high risk.