The Barbell University

A simple way of increasing the quality of any university: Taleb’s concept of Skin in the game.

Unless the professor is (or was) a trader (doesn’t matter whether successful or not, only self-aware), he shall not teach anything related to trading & risk in the markets. Similarly, unless University’s inter-department communication works smoothly and flawlessly, it should not offer courses about communication (both corporate & personal). You get the idea.

You can learn a tremendous amount of things from mistakes & dysfunctions, but that requires honesty and humility, something universities rarely possess.

Wishful theory (i.e. “ideally the markets work *this* way”) is redundant and downright harmful.

Imagine a University, which would offer only a handful of courses led by high quality lecturers, that would really challenge your opinions and points of view. In the free time, students would be free to tinker about, to work, or to waste their time at will. This is the barbell concept put to work – only the true essentials are taught by people who understand them, the rest is done (or not) by students’ curiosity.

Same number of students, less courses, less professors, much higher quality, more free time (one has to keep in mind what the greats say, that is: ‘education is largely obtained outside the schools, in pubs and cafés’.) Let’s call it “The Barbell University.”

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About Petr Klíma