Apr

10

 I remember having read somewhere about the philosophy and objective of the modern education. It originated from the industrial revolution when disciplined, organized, and time-abiding people were needed to work in unity. Farmers were quite opposite and were not suitable for the new era. So then the modern education system was created to serve this very need. The actual knowledge or skills it taught were quite secondary.

I think up to today the education systems worldwide have all inherited the original purpose and still have not deviated much from it. They all stress that students think and behave uniformly. Psychology has long been promoting that we human have all lost large part of the creativity and originality of our childhood due in big part to the education we get. It seems quite true that the more school education one gets, the fewer outlier ideas he could come up with.

I believe that in order to be oneself and to live one's own valuable life, one needs to somehow undo some of the school education, and release the fixation on the mentality. There are more real things to learn for the benefits of ourselves and on ourselves. Fortunately also, trading permits us and requires us to be ourselves.

Charles Pennington adds:

 The book Crazy U is very good.

Here's an amusing passage from it on legacies at Harvard, and on the contortions that the school goes through in order to avoid telling anyone anything useful about their admissions.

The setting is an informational meeting for prospective Harvard undergrads with the Director of Admissions:

(Condensed version below is from this site:

A Chinese parent stands up and asks:

“What about legacies?”

“What do you mean?”

“How many of class are legacies?” he said. “Their parents went to Harvard.”

“Oh, I don’t have that information,” she said. “I’m not sure we even keep that information.”

Just a guess, then, the man persisted.

“I wouldn’t want to guess.”

“So you have no way of knowing?” he asked, with exaggerated incredulity. “The numbers don’t exist?” His wife, short and stocky, stood next to him, staring at the dean. Their son bowed his head and closed his eyes.

“Legacy is just one of many factors that Harvard considers,” the dean said. “I like to say, ‘legacy can help the wounded, but it can’t raise the dead!” She laughed uncomfortably but the father and mother still stared.

“Answer the question,” another father called out.

“Maybe I can get that information for you afterward,” she said, twisting one hand with the other. She moved one foot backward.

“Come on,” said another parent, with just a hint of insurrection.

She was quiet a moment before surrendering. “If I had to say,” she said, “thirty, maybe thirty-five percent.”

There was a shock before the murmuring began. The number was hard to square with the egalitarianism of the video we’d just seen. The number suggested the traditional Ivy League primogeniture.

Another takeaway that I had from the book (and this is not original; e.g. Steve Sailer has suggested something like this) is that society has a need for more TESTING. Instead of studying once for an SAT, kids and adults should have the opportunity to study and be tested on subject matter throughout their lives, and they should have the option of posting their scores publicly. There is much testing that's more or less pass/fail, on basic things, like the Series 7 or the bar exams, but there is room for testing for higher levels of accomplishment and creativity. For mathematics, for example, one could have the option of taking an N-hour exam similar to the Putnam. Programmers could take language-neutral tests in which they tackle coding problems. It seems like there could be a market for much more testing. The benefits arise both from "signalling" AND from the fact that people could truly build their skills by preparing for the tests. So it's not just about how to divide the pie, but also about making the pie bigger.

One puzzling thing — the book mentions that it has become more or less illegal to test prospective employees, yet I keep reading about the spontaneous tests of creativity that Google and other elite techie companies give to their applicants. How do they get away with it?

 


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