“If you worry about failing the final exam, but not subsequently forgetting what you learned, you might be signaling.
If you seek out “easy A’s,” you might be signaling.
If you rejoice when teachers cancel class, you might be signaling.” – Bryan Caplan, You Might Be Signaling
I’ve had the great pleasure of attending a few of Bryan Caplan’s lectures, and was fortunate enough to see him give a lecture on the topic of education in 2009. In his lecture, he made the claim that students attending school and college are most concerned with their grades, certificates, and diplomas (i.e. signaling) — The actual education and skills that they obtain are a distant second. A good summary of this lecture can be found here: The Magic of Education
At the time, his lecture struck me as extremely radical and crazy. Especially when it comes to college. I mean, why would anyone spend $120,000 and four years of their life signaling to a potential employer that they are better than the other candidates?
But then I started to reflect on my own education. Why did I attend college? Because that’s what successful people do! It’s how you secure yourself a decent paying job. I also reflected on a question that Bryan asked during his lecture in 2009: “What would you rather have, your bachelor’s degree or the knowledge and skills that you acquired while in college?” I found myself craving the degree over what ultimately matters: developing myself.
The ideas that Bryan presented in his lecture have changed the way that I view education. Modern education and schooling encourages us to focus on grades, attendance, how many clubs we’re “involved” in, prestige, etc… It distracts us from personal development.
This is precisely why Praxis excites me. We focus on creating an environment that develops and grows you as a person. That places you in the real world, surrounded by business leaders, coworkers, Praxis staff, and mentors who share one common goal: making you better.