This has been a pretty strange week, blogging-wise. There have been quite a few seemingly good articles showing up in feeds and sent by colleagues but somehow they never made it to blogs. So since we are in the twilight zone between week in and week out, it seems not unmoot that I properly disrespect my own rules and start clearing tabs sans die.
I noticed an article in The Economist [Link] on education. Nothing here about the current grrr brrr in the academic world about participatory and group grope activity. Rather this one gets to the underlying question of directive versus participatory learning. The question they raise is whether you only give students the textbook answer or let them go experiment on their own to discover reality? Useful as the underlying aspects of learning are, or as accurate, is the nonsense of posing the question in the rather absolutist way they did. Sometimes we have to wonder if economists, especially economist-mediaists are actually human or some chameleon writ large?
Point being is that either absolute has too many negatives. If you only teach what has been done, the textbook alone, then you end up with students who can’t do anything but listen and memorize. They cannot hypothesize, analyze, investigate, or even think constructively. If you leave the students to do their own thing you not only have no way of knowing what they will get into, but they end up like the Jungle Boy who had to make up everything from scratch and lacks the mass of knowledge of humanity. In economic terms, you cannot afford in the short term to do only the second because of its direct expense and you cannot afford in the long term to do only the first because society will become bankrupt. So the answer is a mixed solution. You give the students enough of the textbook so they have a basis to build on and keep them from going too far astray, and enough of self-exploration to learn the skills that may only be learned and cannot e taught.
Duhhh! Stupid economists. I suppose I could say something about stupid educationalists who seem bent on only ding the first, but that blame is actually stupid politicians. Simply put, Every Child Left Behind mandates the first approach exclusively because the second is almost completely untestable and unquantifiable and thus violates the management principles of those who only value what may be counted.
Next, I noticed a PEW poll [Link] where the sample population consisted of college (university?) presidents and the question was how well prepared today’s students were for college? The statistics are:
which indicates just how bad things are in the public education environment. Again, stupid politicians, and an absence of solidarity and chutzpah on the part of educationalists and parents. Both of the latter, it seems, have given up and are quietly waiting for the dire wolves to eat them. Which will happen if we continue as we are and our society collapses into asapienity.. But that is tomorrow and today we have television and MalWart and drugs.
While we’re on this slope, we may also not the auction of the preserved (?) head of St. Vitalis of Assisi. [Link] Somehow it seems appropriate and illustrative, demonstrative even, of all that is whacked and sad about our society. It also explains why the church of Rome only talks about Francis?
And lastly, on this ride, we note [Link] the discorporation of the physicians, Dr. Jack Kervorkian. Somehow out lives are lessened with this subtraction. Life was somehow more endurable knowing that there were folks, albeit few, who supported ending and did not deny it. And while the persecution of this mensch will cease, its underlying cause is still rampant and tyrannical.