Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Education and Progress

Progress has high marginal educational costs. As a society becomes more dependent on scientific, technical, and technological developments, people within that society must shoulder a greater burden of prerequisite knowledge to be informed citizens and skilled workers. The educational phase of life is correspondingly lengthened, which cuts into productive work life and increases the financial barrier to educational qualifications (especially since the added phases of education are more likely to require expensive facilities).

Counterbalancing this, of course, is that more developed societies have more money to spend on this kind of thing. Technological development also extends productive work life at the other end. And technology may give us tools to accelerate educational development--to pull a random example from thin air, with global interconnectivity it's much easier to get exposure to a foreign language, and with online learning it's incredibly easy to find and study material up to and including college-level coursework in technical fields. I feel that the latter point in particular is something that our society hasn't taken advantage of to nearly the degree that is possible. Indeed, it seems that rather than accelerating, education is more and more about not falling behind. That's rather unfortunate.

As always, spoken with little experiential context, and I welcome--indeed, I hope for--comments from people who know more.

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