A better school system?

On How Education is like a pyramid scheme

I’ve been thinking recently about how education is rather like a pyramid scheme. In a pyramid scheme, the people at the bottom always need to try to get more people to join below them, so that the people at the bottom can get the benefits of the pyramid (in most cases money.)

Education seems to function in much the same way. In the modern educational system, undergraduate students write papers, and in order to research these papers, the undergraduate students cite graduate sources and up. Graduate students write papers, and usually cite professors and up, and professors write papers, and cite each other and up. The problem is, of course, that you always need more people coming in at the bottom. So, essentially, it’s a pyramid scheme of information and of “kudos” in the form of citations.

Though it’s not as obvious in money, doesn’t it seem that educational money works largely the same way – undergraduate students give money (indirectly) to graduate students, through colleges. The undergraduate students give money to professors, who give money to graduate professors. Notice also that, usually, the people higher on the pyramid are required to do less work – in some wonderful cases they do more, but I wonder if that’s really the tendency.

Now, I know this is a simplification of a complex issue, and that it is really only part of the issue, but I think it’s an interesting question, and it raises (to me, a couple of other questions, such as):

Is this the reason that there always seem to be more graduates than positions?

Could this model be made to work? The best way I can think of is introduce a way of bringing in money at the bottom – essentially make homework some sort of profit-making industry. Think about it – math classes can work together to solve complex budgets, learning elements of both business and math along the way. Math classes could also work with computer classes to come up with algorithmic solutions to problems. Communications classes can make advertisements, write copy, research papers can become business and stock analyses.

I wonder if it would work... I hope so, because it’s essentially my idea for a better school system.

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