A few days back, I wrote about how I think education, in its current form, is bloated and overrated. However, there are things that are best learnt in practice, and therefore there is value in receiving good teaching. I decided to throw around a few ideas of how a privatized system of education could potentially end up looking like.
Right now, it's pretty useless to look at the job market while trying to decide what to study in order get the best possible return on investment, since finishing a degree can take two-three-four years, in which time the job market can completely change, and by the time you graduate, you can potentially end up with a useless degree and a loan you need to start paying back - without a job to generate an income. This alone is a huge problem, in my opinion.
Schools that take years to finish also lessen the motivation to get re-educated, even if it could benefit the individual, since someone in their adulthood can have house payments, car payments, a family and what have you that cost a set amount of money per month, and being away from the job market for that long is simply not affordable.
If we were to get rid of the current government-paid or government-subsidised - depending on where you live - school system, and replaced it with a privatized model, it might look something like this.
Instead of a multi-year, full education, individuals could purchase single courses. In a privatized model, the schools would compete over being the most efficient at teaching thoroughly, since they would have competition over the consumers looking to learn new skills. The effect of purchasing single courses would also be that individuals could study the job market the way it currently is, notice that work force is needed in a certain business, and immediately purchase a course for the basic skills needed for that job.
I believe this would sharply increase the student's motivation to learn, since he or she would be almost guaranteed to get an immediate return on investment as soon as the course is finished. It's also easier to concentrate when the school doesn't take multiple years to get through. Currently, because going to school takes said multiple years, the teachers also aren't interested in teaching as efficiently as they possibly could, just like students aren't interested in learning as efficiently as they possibly could. Everything is spread out between a number of years, and it's not uncommon to hear students say that once they had graduated, they had already forgotten most of what they learned during the first year of school.
So, instead of spending the entire however many years at school, nonstop, after finishing a course, the individual could start working at his chosen business, learning new skills at the actual job, and later on, perhaps purchase more advanced courses. Though, of course, the best way to learn a job is to work at that job.
This model would also be more flexible, since there would undoubtedly be a demand for night time courses and such for those who currently work full time, so they could keep working while taking the courses. Unlike now, when it's a juggle trying to fit in working with school, since the government model is robust and non-flexible.
People, especially in welfare states like Finland, are afraid of the privatized school model because being able to afford it almost mandates a loan, unless one happens to have ultra rich parents.
Supply and demand would set the prices at a certain level, but I'm sure that purchasing single courses would be a lot more affordable than purchasing a multi-year education with a lot of unnecessary fluff in between the actually important stuff. A loan would also be less scary, if the student would be able to enter the job market right away after graduating, since it would be a lot easier to forecast the job situation the way it is now, instead of predicting three years into the future.
Also, in a privatized model, everyone could become a teacher. Obviously, some are better than others, but the consumer would be able to personally choose who is the most credible teacher for him or her in relation to the price demand. Some, I'm sure, would offer their services at a cheaper price, some at a more expensive price, but the market would best handle that.
The problem with public education is the same as it is with a lot of public services: with the government and tax payer money backing it up, no matter what, there is little incentive to evolve and attempt to be as efficient as possible. The world around schools has changed, but schools have done very little to adapt, because they don't have to. Tax payer money funds a ridiculous amount of degrees with no real practical use at the market, and students are sold fantasies that they can become whatever they want to be, as long as they study hard for it. Unfortunately, real world doesn't work that way and they can find things really hard with their degree on the fundamental nature of flower arrangement.
Companies could also educate people themselves, and this would seem like an obvious thing to do. They would be in control of what is being taught and how, would have all the incentive in the world to properly teach the students, and the would be able to get work force already familiar with how the particular company works. Also, it would open up a new payment method where someone could pay for the education he received directly from his pay, if he or she doesn't have the funds up front and is against taking a loan. Of course, these are just ideas, but the good thing about the market is that is doesn't have to be a one size fits all solution, but can rather offer multiple different options, just like the market already does with different payment methods for different products.
A funny thing about my posts has been that I've always come up with pro wrestling references to make when discussing something. I don't plan it or anything, but I do find the irony of using something as silly - I can say, eventhough I'm a fan - as pro wrestling in a discussion about economical and societal issues, and I actually thought of something directly related to the issue at hand.
You see, the pro wrestling business actually already does a version of what I've described.
The training to becoming a pro wrestler is completely privatized, controlled by the market and the law of supply and demand. If one wishes to become a wrestler, he will sign up to a wrestling school, usually ran by a former wrestler. Obviously, different wrestlers have different levels of crebility, which has an effect on the consumers' willingness to purchase their services. One of the most renowned wrestlers who runs a wrestling school, Lance Storm, has a basic training program of 12 weeks, Monday through Friday. The market incentives work here: Lance, being a respected wrestler, has both his reputation as a wrestler and as a teacher to protect, so he has a clear incentive to be the best possible teacher he can be, because everybody who graduates from his school will forever be billed as "trained by Lance Storm". The better he teaches, the more likely it is that one of his students becomes a big deal in the business, which will generate interest in wrestler-to-bes to look up his school and train there.
So, without the government controlling anything, Lance himself has a reason to keep up with the business and keep up with what works and what doesn't to ensure that his students are as succesful as they possible can be, for the sake of his own business and reputation.
Also, mind you that these people are being trained to drop other people on their heads and get dropped on their heads safely, without hurting themselves or the other guy -yes, pro wrestling is fake - and it takes 12 weeks with the aforementioned Lance Storm. With that in mind, I find it hard to believe that in Finland, for instance, it takes multiple years to earn an "official" degree to work a cash register. I mean come on, clearly there's an issue here.
Also, someone who has been a professional in what they teach, has been through the grind, worked his way up actually been succesful at it is entirely different than someone who has just learned how to work as a teacher. A public school teacher may very well have no grasp on what it is to actually work at the profession he or she teaches.
This was just mindflow for the most part, but a lot of people support a privatized education system, but fewer people offer an actual model of how it could be arranged, so I wanted to try and draw a sketch about it. I'm sure a lot could be improved upon, and I've probably missed a ton of stuff, but let me know what you think. Could something like this be feasible?