• China,  Education

    Chinese culture is well suited for modern America

    I was watching this blogging heads video about the Asian experience in America (it’s better than that description) – and the guest said something to the effect – “Chinese culture has prioritized test preparation for over 1,000 years” – referencing China’s long tradition of civil service exams. The actual number mentioned was dedicating 20% of family income to test preparation.

    That puts Chinese culture on the commanding heights of modern “meritocracy” with it’s prioritization of symbolic analysis and abstractions – and very poorly suited for everything else. David Friedman made a similar connection in his “Legal Systems Very Different from Ours” book.

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  • Education

    More thoughts on the Parkside Elementary redistricting

    For those of you who haven’t talked to me in person the past week there was a large controversy over redistricting my daughter’s elementary school.  The lines were drawn over neighborhood lines, which set forth all sorts of divisive talk and feelings, which should be expected with the root action being divisive in nature.

    1. It was announced late on a Saturday night
    2. The entire neighborhood was having outraged conversations on Sunday
    3. I had the website going Monday
    4. My neighbor (who has a printing company) had the yard signs ready on Tuesday
    5. Wednesday they announce that they were withdrawing the issue from consideration (after much angry talk by the potentially excluded people, both in person and on social media)
    6. Thursday we have a meeting where they explain how everything was overcrowded and how people could voluntarily transfer if they so desired.

    Much as I knock social media – it really was a help to a just outcome in this case.  Just to give Mark Zuckerberg his due…

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  • Education

    The sunk cost fallacy in it’s most exaggerated form

    I think it’s in the hands of this graduate student, notable quote:

    As a man, I felt like I was a failure. I had devoted myself to the world of cerebral activity. I had learned a practical skill that was elitist,” he says. “Perhaps I should have been learning a skill that the economy supports.

    On his meager wages, and meager future prospects with his particular degree.  The dedication to his field is somewhat remarkable I suppose.  On the whole I’m reminded of the first season of  Justified, specifically how the cynical Boyd Crowder would recruit skinheads to rob bank for him, bear all the risk for none of the money.  In return the skins would get the satisfaction of doing their part for their glorious race, or as a graduate student would call it, “The life of the mind”.  An interesting article RTWT.

    The capacity of people to keep digging when in a hole (in this case, to keep on plugging away in their chosen field, disregarding all evidence that it is a bad choice) is remarkable.

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  • Education,  Links,  Sivers

    I’m still alive!

    Not that you would know it by my pathetic posting. Here’s some links for you, my loyal and neglected followers

    • Comparing Modern Education to a Placebo
    • Ideas and Execution
    • More from Sivers

      Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece on the back of a deli menu would not surprise me. Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece with a silver Cartier fountain pen on an antique writing table in an airy SoHo loft would seriously surprise me.

      A fancy tool just gives the second-rater one more pillar to hide behind. Which is why there are so many second-rate art directors with state-of-the-art Macintosh computers.

    • I really liked Never Eat Alone
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  • Education,  Hoffer

    Why Nerds are Unpopular

    I read this essay Why Nerds are Unpopular a few days ago and feel the need to share it with everyone. I don’t agree with all of it, Graham is looking deeply into a shallow pool when he examines the American High School Experience but a lot of it rings true to me. School is the only place to be (outside of prison) where attend by law, with no real method of exit. I remember thinking that I hated life in middle and high school, only to find after I left that I just hated being in school, confined with people I didn’t really know for eight hours a day with no option of leaving.

    Eric Hoffer has several essays about being useful as the key to self fulfillment. Being in school, you are by definition, not being useful. I’m also reminded of Joel Spolsky’s dictum “Happiness is controlling your environment. If you’re the socially awkward type, (which I was!) then you have no control over the only environment you have any hope of controlling, which is your social environment.

    Well worth reading.

  • bailouts,  Education,  McCain,  Obama

    4 things

    • Wilkerson pegs the lack of ideology with McCain and Obama with

      McCain doctrine and Obama doctrine for use of force in humanitarian situations: Obama: There might be moral issues at stake. Surely we should stop Holocaust. Rwanda. Standing idly by diminishes us. Basically, I have no principle. I leave it at the discretion of my evolved moral intuition.

      Why do we have to guess what these people want to do?

    • This graphic gets it right
    • Death to the Four Year Degree – I’ve felt this way for a while actually.
    • And we need this guy back again
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  • Economics,  Education

    Quote of the moment

    I was perusing Marginal Revolution (about vouchers) and came across this comment

    In other words, even if a child’s chance of going to the state university is not increased by his new school, the kid’s chance of ending up in the state penitentiary is radically decreased. This consideration might not be of primary concern to many who support vouchers, but to those who live in the ghetto, it is of PRIMARY concern. Schools, more than anything, breed gangs. Like the projects of old, when you are FORCED to a geographical location, you make gang recruiting easier – and your kids chances of entering the prison system that much greater.

    I saw a lecture by Nobel Laureate James Buchanan many years ago and before he veered off into pure math he said that there were three types of social organization, which he dubbed (something like this anyway), the closed circle, the open circle, and the broken circle. The closed circle is a prison, the open is free association, specifically where members have the right to exit and the right to exile rouge members and the broken circle, which is no association at all.

    The Buchanan point came to mind…

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  • Education,  Media,  rants

    Bashing the education system

    Reading the AJC’s education articles are always a source of malicious fun for me. The articles can be tedious, but the forums are always fun. For some reason people like to pretend that if only we could crack down on some group (the parents, the taxpayer, the students) the problem would solve itself. Grammar and spelling tend to leave quickly as well. This one was my favorite

    I’m a career educator with more graduate degrees that the detractors of public education.

    Let’s put it in a sports analogy so the neo-luddites can understand, break the legs of the starting offense of the GA Bulldogs and complain about why thy can’t win a championship.

    He starts off with a misspelling, and then misuses “Luddite”. Luddite is a proper name, and has no sports meaning.

    When one thinks about it, it’s amazing public education works as well as it does. When you have a system where the producer, the consumer and the financier are all different people, why should it work at all?

    One other thing that annoys me is the pejorative refrain of “teaching to the test”. Of course, teachers should teach to the test the same way drivers should “drive to the road” and cops should “enforce to the law”. That’s their job after all.

    As I’m in rant mode, I suppose I’ll share the other annoying shibboleth of the teaching establishment, which is saying someone is a good student “but doesn’t test well” which is like saying someone is very tall, “but doesn’t measure well”.

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