Education: Skill VS Signal Or Access to Institutions

“Education as Skill ” VS “Education as Signaling” perspective dominate some part of the debate about education and its fundamental purpose. I think there could be be a third way, which is “Education as a key Card” which provides access to institutions, These institutions in-turn provides embedded skill development infrastructure viz contextual tools, practice opportunities, authority(confidence), etc.

I will explore the issue further in coming posts. For now I am sticking with traditional two.

The prominent thoughts Skill Vs Signal are based on important paradigms of education; The Human Capital Theory and The Signaling Theory.

Human capital theory claims that education will stimulate social mobility and raises wages by increasing productivity

The signalling perspective on education suggests that education causes social mobility because it signifies the competence to the employers or other decision makers. It suggests that the asymmetric information in job market causes the decision maker to look for most trustworthy attributes of the job seeker. That is why getting into a top college sends an stronger positive signal.

In a popular Ted talk by Rory Sutherland “Life lessons from an ad man” he gives a funny explanation about the effect of signaling power of credentials on a persons confidence level which in-turn makes him more successful in life.

” I don’t know if anybody knows it. Someone was actually suggesting that you can take this concept further, and actually produce placebo education. The point is that education doesn’t actually work by teaching you things. It actually works by giving you the impression that you’ve had a very good education, which gives you an insane sense of unwarranted self-confidence, which then makes you very, very successful in later life. So, welcome to Oxford, ladies and gentlemen.

Following thread explores some extra dimensions of this topic.

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