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Value of Higher Education Is in the Signaling, Not the Learning



(p. A13) Mr. Caplan, an economist at George Mason University, argues that most of the value of education--especially higher education--comes from "signaling," not from the content of learning. As a result, Americans are "overeducated," and it's time to stop spending so much money (both private and public) on schools.


. . .


After surveying the research on the "transfer of learning," Mr. Caplan concludes: "Students learn only the material you specifically teach them . . . if you're lucky." Generally, they don't know how to transfer their reasoning from one topic to a related one. As to informal reasoning--the ability to come up with arguments for or against a particular proposition--education's effect, he says, has been "tiny." He similarly dispenses with the claim that schools teach common values or civic education. As college attendance has skyrocketed, he notes, voter turnout has declined.



For the full review, see:

Naomi Schaefer Riley. "BOOKSHELF; Deciding Against the Paper Chase; High costs, indifferent teachers, hours devoted to subjects that have little to do with earning a living in the real world: Is it all worth it?" The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018): A13.

(Note: ellipsis between paragraphs, added; ellipsis internal to second paragraph, in original.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Jan. 15, 2018, and has the title "BOOKSHELF; Review: Deciding Against the Paper Chase; High costs, indifferent teachers, hours devoted to subjects that have little to do with earning a living in the real world: Is it all worth it?")


The book under review, is:

Caplan, Bryan. The Case Against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018.






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