Imagine if students could choose their teachers.
“Everyone uses their own money to signal what they want produced to meet their own needs.”
Xerographica
5

I do, and they should.

If we paid people to learn (which is difficult time-consuming and valuable work), they should pay for all the education resources they consume while learning.

Since we pay everyone else in the process: professors, tutors and even accountants and cleaners at education institutions to create ‘educated people’, why not the students who do ALL the work to become educated? (Everyone else simply supplies information, which more and more can be got on the net).

The ‘work’ is turning information into knowledge in the head of the student. Only the student can do this, and only then does the information gain extra potential.

The potential is realised when the student applies their new knowledge to produce a good or service (or does basic research to extend our collective knowledge).

When this happens, they earn an income that reflects their contribution to the production of a good or service.

The learning income is also paid to produce a valuable good… an ‘educated person’

(The value of this good is seen in the difference between societies comprising highly educated people and those that remain uneducated.

In fact, the social value of education far outweighs its individual value. A physics PhD is valuable only when there are many other educated people to make use of it. It is virtually worthless on its own in a hunter gatherer society)

If we pay students a ‘market wage’ we can create a market where students choose to use some of their income to pay the best teachers of the best courses covering the topics specified by the industry they want to work in.

The rest of their income can be used to support themselves while they work to learn… just like any other worker who must support themselves out of the money they earn.

But what should they learn, and who should pay them to learn, how much?

In a market economy it should be the firms who will employ them.

Some firms now pay some of their workers to become educated, but most don’t. Most expect someone else to pay for the cost of the education of their workers (the salaries of all the people who work in education institutions).

This is the ‘tragedy of the commons’.

To overcome this, every firm should be required to pay a levy (at a rate decided by the firms in each sector) based on turnover. This pool of money would be used to fund the education of their future workforce.

This levy would not be paid to the government. It would be paid to the students.

Which students?

Those that apply for learning jobs, with the most talented and motivated winning the work, as with any job.

Industry (including the ‘research’ sector) says how many graduates each sector needs and what they want their graduates to know. The industry also appoints firms (which compete for the work) to assess the progress of students — to ensure they really are learning what is required of them.

There is no minimum time for this. It is up to each student to say when they are ready to be assessed. There would be a maximum time after which the student would be sacked from their learning job for non-performance.

The successful applicants negotiate a wage based on the wages payable on qualification and their own capabilities. That is, a person with long experience could potentially earn much more while learning than a kid out of school because upon graduation they could contribute more to the firm that employs them.

Given the size of the pool of funds available, the more paid to one student, the less available for others. Deciding the mix and rates is no different to any firm which has limited money to pay wages and must decide the mix of talent and wages to get the required skill set.

These negotiations could be contracted to each industry association or specialist employment firms to allocate the money collected from the member firms.

At the end, we have a set number of positions that should be sufficient to fill expected future demand within each sector, with the best people appointed to fill them at negotiated salaries (as with any job).

Once the people are appointed to their learning jobs, they get to choose which course and which teachers they want to instruct them or which other resources to use, with guidance from ‘the market’ (feedback from other students, employment stats, etc)

They do what ever learning they want, the only requirement is that they must pass periodical tests to demonstrate progress within agreed time frames. If they don’t, they lose their ‘learning job’.

The tests should be administered by organizations on behalf of the employers, paid by the employers and independent of any education institution.

It means the best people get the best learning jobs because they can devote their full time and attention to the task while earning enough to look after themselves. It would not matter how poor you were to start, if you had the capacity, you would not have to worry about working at night and trying to study and taking twice as long to finish.

The quicker you learn, the sooner you get a full paying job, the sooner society benefits from what you learn.

This encourages ‘lifelong learning’. People can switch seamlessly between the learning economy and the applied economy to continually update and then apply their skills without being forced into periods of poverty.

For firms, they always have a pool of people ready to take the emerging jobs — with every company paying its share of the pool. No more ‘tragedy of the commons’.

This is what I call a market.

If you disagree, instead of talking about another example, it would help to say specifically where you see it not working.

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