Quick explanation: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2011/11/the_magic_of_ed.html Long speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpk_u_VmPD4 The basic idea is that the main benefit students gain from education is not any actual skill or general cognitive benefit. But instead that success in education signals desirable traits. Important examples are intelligence, perseverance and conscientiousness. This model explains all sorts of things. Like the famous situation of students rejoicing when professors cancel class. Or students frequent dislike of professors who try the most sincerely to teach them as much as possible. So two points: 1) To what extent is the signalling model of education accurate 2) Assuming it is accurate how does this affect how we should teach?