RIP Philo

"Mass production of anything ensures uniformity. ...

In the case of education, uniformity pretty much has to equal mediocrity."

thats why instead of big, certified rules we need heaps of different approaches not merely in different states, but in different towns and cities.

the trouble is that this is hugely inefficient and expensive.
Permalink Send private email zestyZucchini 
March 16th, 2007 9:08am
And really, why waste gobs of money on our kids when there's bombs to build?
Permalink Send private email muppet 
March 16th, 2007 9:35am
actually, this is the kind of problem the internet is well suited to crack, or at least improve. Because mass production of education is more than anything a communication problem, and the net is mass production of communication.

The problem is, or will be, that its a bit one dimensional in nature. There's no substitute for fieldwork ...
Permalink $-- 
March 16th, 2007 9:39am
My town has decided not to teach its kids the letter 'z'.
Permalink Send private email sour grape snowflake 
March 16th, 2007 9:54am
that's wonderful! 4% cut in the cost of education, at the sole cost of a letter that almost noone uses!

(except zed.)
Permalink $-- 
March 16th, 2007 9:56am
"but in different towns and cities."

Still not granular enough.  If you could somehow segregate students by learning style that would be great, but that isn't really feasible either.  Bottom line, kids need personal attention, and I'm more and more convinced this is the job of the parent.  Quick poll: who here is dissatisfied with their own kid's education?
Permalink the great purple 
March 16th, 2007 9:57am
I'm cool, but they're young yet. Basically, I have low expectations of the school system, and expect to put in a lot of work to try to undo some of the harm it does.
Permalink $-- 
March 16th, 2007 9:58am
I'm dissatisfied with some of the education going on at my daughter's school, which is why I spend a lot of time teaching/talking/learning with her at home.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
March 16th, 2007 10:00am
My family has decided that the color purple is not in the Bible and so we will scrub our kids' education of any references to this devil hue (Oprah be damned).
Permalink Send private email sour grape snowflake 
March 16th, 2007 10:00am
Especially when it comes to Social Studies.  BOY does my kid get an earful about the candy-coated things she learns about the United States in school.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
March 16th, 2007 10:03am
> who here is dissatisfied with their own kid's education?

I'd rather be an average kid to day than an average kid at any other point in history. Chances for education are much higher.

By definition only rich parents can afford to give their kids extremely high levels of attention and/or pay for private tutors.

There is I think diminishing returns to this money spent. A kid who spends 20 hours a week being educated by their parents isn't necessarily going to be twice as good as one who only spends 10.

Plus parents aren't all that skilled at teaching (quick, how does one teach reading? what are the case studies on the different methods?). Would you hire anyone who can procreate to develop your IT system? Why should the average kid 'hire' their parents?
Permalink Send private email sour grape snowflake 
March 16th, 2007 10:24am
average kid WHERE?
Permalink $-- 
March 16th, 2007 10:27am
Pffft snowflake must be a teacher.

"Someone who can procreate" describes a great many public education teachers.  It's not as though getting a teaching certificate (at least in the states) is particularly difficult.  My kid's teacher APPALLS me with her poor grammar/spelling/grasp of basic concepts sometimes.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
March 16th, 2007 10:28am
Who's going to care about a kid more than their own parent(s)?  Who else is responsible for making sure the kid (as an individual) is learning things, and learning the right things?

Not to say that there are no bad parents out there.  But I really think that's the exception and not the rule.
Permalink the great purple 
March 16th, 2007 10:39am
Even half illiterate parents do a more effective job at teaching than your typical certified teacher with a Masters degree.
Permalink Practical Economist 
March 16th, 2007 10:57am
Not at the same price. How many parents can teach their kids for 25 hours a week (plus learning the material themselves) or whatever, for the same equivalent salary?

This is the calculation middle-class and upper middle class folks have made ... they would rather earn an extra $20K a year working (say double income or extra jobs) and spend the money sending their kid to private school ($15K after taxes) than to forego the income and teach their kid for those $20K a year. You really do get a better education paying someone else $15K a year than paying yourself $20K in opportunity cost.

If a family is already working two jobs to make ends meet, then what is the issue? You can't make extra time for teaching if it means taking food off the table.

> Who's going to care about a kid more than their own parent(s)?

Well, I care about my feet more than the checkout girl at Macy's, but I can't make my own shoes, not even slippers, so I go to Macy's for shoes.

Caring is simply not enough. If a parent cares about their kid's education rather than about perpetuating their own ideals (like Creationalism) then they should get the best education for their kids, even if it means staying on the sidelines themselves. Doesn't that make sense?
Permalink Send private email sour grape snowflake 
March 16th, 2007 11:24am
I'm not advocating that everybody homeschools their kids.  That would be a one-size-fits-all solution, and my whole POINT is that there ARE no such solutions.  I'm advocating that parents take responsibility for making sure their kids are getting an education.  Hence comments about how making decisions at the county or city level is not granular enough.  You see the difference, right?

As a society we need to make sure that schools are adequate and that resources are available (true even in the crappy Cleveland Municipal Schools), but it's the parents that need to make sure that their kid is making the most of whatever resources are available.
Permalink the great purple 
March 16th, 2007 12:31pm
"Not at the same price"

Yes, I agree completely. Homeschooling is extremely expensive per child. Institutionalized, factory driven learning is much more efficient. Better business case for it.
Permalink Practical Economist 
March 16th, 2007 12:54pm
I see the point. But I also see how it could fall prey to hubris: "I know what's best for my kids, but that other person doesn't know what's best for theirs."

There's something to be said for every parent trying their own method of teaching on every new kid. It's like startups -- lots of new ideas. However like them, only some will be successful. Most won't. But unlike startups it may be downright cruel to subject a kid to his/her parents' teaching methods. How do we know which parents are teaching well and which aren't? Do we give them a test? Do we certify teaching parents?

A society where some kids are taught well but most kids aren't isn't good for neither, neither haves nor have-nots. Kids aren't islands, good ideas spring up in a socially fertile environment, etc, etc.

In addition, parents, as a rule, aren't super great at predicting which specific skills their kids will need in the future (if they could do that, they could also win big on the stock market). My parents never predicted the Internet. I can't help my kids dissect frogs, or whatever will be useful for their careers 30 years from now.
Permalink Send private email sour grape snowflake 
March 16th, 2007 1:07pm
A lot of times it's sufficient for the parent just to be in touch with what the kid is doing in school.  There's only one crappy school district in this area, the rest are all just fine.  But the kids do best when the parents know what's going on, keep in touch with teachers, help with homework, etc.  A lot of parents get supplemental material (Kumon) and some hire private tutors or send their kid to private school.  The point is that it is the parent's responsibility to make sure their kid is learning.  Not that it's their responsibility to teach their kids, or decide on curricula, or anything else.  Just that they have to make sure their kid is learning.