At my university (SFU, in Canada) admission to most faculties is based on high school grades. That's grades awarded by high schools -- we used to have province-wide grade 12 exams, but for almost all subjects those were abolished a few years ago. It's widely recognized at the post-secondary level that a 90% grade from some schools means much more than a 90% grade from some other schools; but if anyone is actually adjusting high school grades to account for these differences, they're not admitting it.
Entrance scholarships, and admission in one faculty (Business), is determined partly based on high school grades and partly based on extracurricular activities -- in most cases, volunteer activities. Great, we're bringing in well-rounded students who are dedicated to helping the community, right? No; it turns out that they admit that they're only volunteering in order to pad their resumes -- in some cases because high-priced consultants hired by their parents told them exactly what volunteering they should do and what to say about it when they're writing their scholarship applications. (I've been lobbying for years to get an analysis done of how the rating of student extracurricular activities correlates with the median income of their postal code. I'm still waiting.)
The SAT become popular because it could identify smart kids who would otherwise have been overlooked due to their race, gender, religion, or class. Is it perfect? Hell no. But as we discard standardized tests, I worry that we're moving back to a world where university admission will depend less on aptitude and more on having parents who have the money and the connections to get you the "right" extracurricular experience.
"My colleagues and I developed assessments for creativity, common sense and wisdom... we doubled prediction [accuracy] for academic performance, and with Kaleidoscope we could predict the quality of extracurricular performance, which the SAT doesn’t do."
It sounds like he just wants to reform them, and has some strong initial results to suggest that we could do much better.
We already moved back to this system and have done so for a long time, in my opinion.
There's also a second round of this phenomenon with unpaid internships.
And (although we're revising the system and hopefully changing this part) the relative weighting of "significant achievements" of an easily fact-checked nature vs. "doing lots of stuff" has skewed heavily towards the latter; you could have a resume full of "volunteered at X" and "leader of student club Y" which would be worth as much as the difference between a 90% high school average and a 95% high school average, while containing nothing which would show up online or elicit commentary from a referee beyond "this student is heavily involved".
(We're putting together a new system starting next year which is aimed to be more about identifying students who are in some way exceptional as opposed to merely being generally all-round good people. A large part of the motivation for this is to avoid easily "gamed" metrics; nobody spends 15 years playing violin or becomes a national chess master simply because it will look good on their resume. So with luck we'll end up having less of a fact-checking problem in the future; but we're still going to have a significant amount of trust built into the system.)
It turns out, a bunch of students got together, created a club, and each member was called a "President." The best part is that if an employer ever checked, any member could honestly say "yes, he's a President in that club."
In some cases, I see students' extracurricular activities as demonstrating an ability to dedicate themselves to a cause or pursuit; that sort of perseverance is important in higher education. But in most cases that sort of dedication goes along with extraordinary success of the sorts you mention. (My personal scholarship assessment rubric actually includes a specific value for "competed in the Olympics or equivalent level of international competition".)
If a school actually care about the diversity of its students, then judging on these activities self selects a much narrower socioeconomic background.
That demonstrates commitment in a way that volunteering for worthy causes never will.
(By the by, I'm a huge fan of your work. It inspired me to get into compression several years ago and it's been a passion project ever since.)
But the precise details of how this happens varies from person to person on the adjudication committee at my university, and I'd assume other institutions are similar. Some people opt for demographic indicators (e.g. "this is an indigenous student, and indigenous students tend to have less access to extracurricular activities"); I don't like that approach since I insist on evaluating individuals as individuals rather than as members of collectives. On the other hand, I'm probably unique in how much I look for a narrative and self-awareness; to me, what a student has done is less important than their ability to articulate why they did it (and so "working at McDonalds" by itself didn't count for much, but "working at McDonalds because ... [story about why higher education is important to the student and why they're willing to make sacrifices for it]" was crucial).
I don't understand why is doing doing extracurricular in order to get to good university seen as "gaming". If anything, it is quite responsible behavior.
a system based on such bullshit is immoral.
I am pretty sure this was the standard line for campus tours at the University of Waterloo -- that you should take high school exams at your school and not at some diploma mill, because Waterloo did adjust your entrance average based on what high school you came from, and how those students did once they got to university.
(That said, I also heard that there are so many "perfect" candidates that they're contemplating rejecting students at random in order to hit class size numbers, because scaling up requires more lecture halls and more dorms, and those things take years to build out.)
I have never heard this term applied to a high school before. Is this a thing in Canada?
Do you not interview the applicants though? I think the best thing to do is to set a basic requirement for grades from their highschool, then get people in and ask them to take your own tests and give them an interview with one of the teaching staff to make your own judgement about whether they're suitable or not.
Accepting someone to be your student for four years without ever having met them is as crazy as any other problems.
I did say some universities administer their own tests, so that's as objective as a test normally can be (not perfect), and probably more objective than one administered across different schools as people have already said.
I don't think it would be unreasonable to combine that with an interview. Teaching is a personal thing - academics will want to check that they can teach you and you're able to learn from them. The best university interviews I did were like a short teaching session and I came away with an opinion about who I wanted to learn from as much as I presume they had an opinion about who they wanted to spend their time teaching.
May I ask where you had that experience? Throughout my undergraduate degree, most classes had hundreds, some more than thousand students. There was barely any opportunity for individual interactions.
Now of course we can ask if it's the best way to distribute this resource, and I think it depends to some extent on what you think is the mission of the college. At least in Wisconsin, there has been a traditional idea that the college exists to serve the development of the entire state. (The Wisconsin Idea). Politically, it gives people in the far corners of the state a stake in supporting public higher ed.
Of course that's just one take on the mission of one school.
If you're in the top 10% of your graduating class, you have a spot in the University of Texas system. Though UT-Austin (the flagship) uses the top 8%.
Her school participates in Great Expectations program.
It is a character development program
"that provides teachers and administrators with the skills needed to create harmony and excitement within the school atmosphere"
There are 8 Expectations at the elementary level
1. We will value one another as unique special individuals
2. We will not laugh at or make fun of a person's mistakes nor use sarcasm or putdowns.
3. We will use good manners, saying, "please," "thank you"
and "excuse me" and allow others to go first.
and so forth.
In my opinion when the U.S. abandoned the judeo/christian ethic in the late twentieth century character and wisdom training was denigrated as "old fashioned" and unnecessary.
I would have appreciated this as my public school experience was rife with negativity, sarcasm, snark, jeering, insulting, etc.
I'm not sure what causes such anti-social behavior but I dream of a day where all students can be kind, considerate, polite, and supportive of one another.
Yes, there must be a balance. But sarcasm and negativity are part of our everyday life as adults and we should learn how to handle them.
The problem is that school-kids are forced into repeated, unsupervised interactions where they are often deliberately and persistently targeted by aggressors.
Out of curiosity, what purpose does sarcasm serve you? What do you get out of sarcastic interactions?
"Ha ha, only serious". Gentle mockery can be a non-threatening way of expressing grievances and telling people difficult truths. A joke can be a very useful way of letting someone know that they're annoying us, that their work isn't up to par or that their haircut is unflattering. It's why the British excel at it - we're not very good at blunt truths, so we tend to make a joke of things.
A classic example might be the British way of greeting someone who is late - a gently sarcastic "nice of you to join us". It gets the message across without being a direct admonishment. Most of us would be unwilling to directly criticise a colleague for slacking, but we'd find it far easier to sarcastically remark "you must be rushed off your feet".
Nobody wants to be surrounded by relentlessly negative people, but uncritical cheerleaders can be just as harmful. Sometimes we need to be told things that we don't want to hear, lest we turn into vainglorious prima donnas, drifting through life with a total obliviousness to our obvious shortcomings. Sarcasm, irony and gentle mockery can make that bitter pill a little easier to swallow.
Sarcasm turns factual debate about performance into personal attack - and people have full right to respond in kind.
The point made above is that sarcasm can be a way of communicating what you want (eg, "you're late") without what you don't want ("you should be ashamed/feel bad/apologize/etc"). This unwanted implicit communication is common in blunt statements of fact and is part of why that communication style is often described using words like blunt or harsh.
In this sense, sarcasm and similar serve the opposite role to the one you describe: a way of jokingly or obliquely raising criticism without demanding a direct response. Of course, those criticisms can be personal-- but that's a property of criticism, not of its style of delivery.
How does this behavior positively impact the lives of their students? Do they not understand the psychological damage they can be inflicting? Do they simply not care?
Teachers are just other people too. The sooner teenagers recognise it fully, the better placed they'll be to choose their own way rather than have it chosen for them.
Saying something like "What you call damage, I can argue is growing up" is a dangerous phrase; the type of dismissiveness that gives me the impression that you may have difficulty with respecting the boundaries of others. Could you please provide a couple of examples of the type of conversations/comments you've made that helped people build a thicker hide? Have you ever been thanked for it?
That said, adolescence is absolutely not an exercise in accumulating scar tissue so much as learning through trial and error how to interact with others, gain an education, and learn life skills to become a functioning member of society.
I'm willing to hear you out, but would appreciate it if you could clearly explain the benefits of increased sarcasm in schools.
If you can site some counter evidence I would be interested in reading it.
There's a degree to which some degree of tribalism sis useful for promoting continuity of community and preservation of ideas, but there's also a persistent danger of degeneration into empty tribalism preoccupied with outward form.
According to Gallup, 91% of Americans in 1948 claimed to be Christian, compared to 69% in 2016.  I would assume "formally religious" is tracks similarly. Personally, I think we are less ethical, but since I wasn't around in 1948, hard to say.
I think ethics is related to your value of what is right and wrong. In 1948 people by and large had a "Christian" outlook on what is right and wrong and why. In 2016, the more popular claim is moral relativism, namely that there is no absolute right or wrong. Given that I can make up right and wrong and they only apply to me and not you, that seems to be a recipe for unethical behavior. In fact, I'm not sure "ethics" is a meaningful word if you subscribe to moral relativism.
Say what you like about "formally religious," but I think it offers a much better framework for ethics than the moral relativism we have now.
When I think of USA 1948, I think of things like Jim Crow, women requiring their husband's permission to open a bank account, interracial marriage being forbidden, homosexuals staying in the closet for fear of their lives, young men being forced into military service against their will, and lobotomy as standard psychiatric treatment.
But, you know, there's occasional swearing on TV now, so maybe it balances out.
Now, compare with say France a very secular and minimally religious country and their murder rate is 1.31 (Though not 100% apples to apples this extends across many other similar statistics.) : http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/France/Unit...
Surprisingly China and Japan perhaps the most atheist countries out there with significantly different economic situations also have lower murder rates than France. (Though again not apples to apples statistics.)
PS: I often hear about morality religion links but only see a few meaningless connections like church attendance and divorce rates.
This is kinda tangential, but according to a very interesting panel discussion a few weeks ago "formally religious" (as measured by church attendance) as actually been more or less constant over this period. The 22% drop includes few who regularly attended religious services. The relation to the panel discussion, and somewhat to this one, is that the drop in nominal adherents has been part of what has fuelled the moralist resurgence on the right since the 90s.
No, it's not.
Conservatives love to pretend that disagreement with their values is rejection of all values, but that is simply not the case.
Regarding moral relativism, the argument, as I understand it, is that post-modernism rejects any meta-narrative; you decide for yourself what the narrative is. Moral absolutism requires a meta-narrative of some form. This is right because God told us it is, or because this is the core value our nation is founded on, etc. So without a meta-narrative, you have to define your own, and so you are left with moral relativism.
It's possible that post-modernism is no longer widely held. I'd probably be the last to know about it. If that's the case, then maybe there is moral absolutism. Certainly there seems to be an idea in some circles that protecting the environment, and/or everyone has a right to express their sexuality however they want to are absolutes. But a truly moral absolutism provides an absolute basis, and I'm not aware of any absolutes for these. Environmentalism is a pragmatic source: if we don't do it, we might die off, but perhaps dying off is actually best. (I don't agree, but philosophically speaking) And what basis is there for everyone having a right to doing things? There are things we decided we don't have the right to do (kill people, for example). Why, exactly, does everyone have the right to express their sexuality however they want? Moral absolutism requires some fundamental, unalterable reason. Moral relativism simply requires "I think this way."
I'm not very sure what most people's world views are, but everything I am aware of points to a moral relativistic view, rather than a moral absolutist view.
Neither have I, but I've frequently heard them characterize groups that explicitly adhered to different values from theirs as rejecting all values.
> Regarding moral relativism, the argument, as I understand it, is that post-modernism rejects any meta-narrative; you decide for yourself what the narrative is.
This might distantly approach relevance (leaving aside questions of it's accuracy) if the left, either in the general sense or in the peculiar American sense that includes much of the center-right, was generally post-modernist. But that is not, and has never been, the case.
> Moral absolutism requires a meta-narrative of some form.
No, it doesn't. In fact, because you can't actually logically derive an ought from an is, a meta-narrative doesn't even add support to moral absolutism (or any other moral position.)
Any morality requires taking certain moral beliefs as unsupported axioms, and absolutism just requires that the those axioms don't include that the morality of an act is dependent on the actors view of the morality of the act.
I can assure that liberals regularly believe that conservatism is wrong independent of conservatives belief in its rectitude, which absolutely is moral absolutism.
What does this mean to you?
Correspondingly, the alphabet tests increasingly reward rote memorization, diligence, and repeated practice at the expense of general intelligence.
When I was in college the most disturbing trend was students who expected all tests to be things that they could study for using the technique of rote memorization and diligence. To a large extent, pre-law and pre-med curricula offer this, and so many of the students who excel using that technique end up in positions of social authority.
I remember being accosted by a squad of students, who were there to make sure I was going to be a good little TA and run my course according to those "rules."
I can't speak to pre-med, but IME pre-law curriculum tends (unsurprisingly like law school itself) to include courses for which rote memorization and diligence is necessary but not sufficient to exam success; specifically, where there is a mass of detailed material (rules and their context, mostly) which must be memorized fairly exactly, but which must be applied to novel circumstances in free response essays in exams.
For that matter, I think that medical doctors are substantially overrepresented in elected general government office (state and federal legislatures, etc.) even though not nearly so much as lawyers. (e.g, Congress is 2.8% physicians, while the US adult population is around 0.4% physicians.)
1. Tests like the SAT, ACT, the GRE [...] You end up with people who are good at taking tests and fiddling with phones and computers, and those are good skills but they are not tantamount to the skills we need to make the world a better place.
2. Do we know how to cultivate wisdom? Yes we do.
I agree with the second statement, and its implications are huge. If we give people good education and good role models, that people are going to be wiser.
I don't agree with the first statement. There is still a lot of prejudices against software developers and other high skilled professionals that are part of America's culture. It correlates high IQ with low creativity. Can't high IQ people learn wisdom? Is not part of the second thesis that it can be taught?
The best example I have against the first thesis is how developers behave at the companies that I have worked for. These are Swedish companies that value collaboration, personal live balance, and other social skills. People at this companies are social, technically brilliant, they participate in team building activities, we go for beers together, there is more gender parity (but still is very low), etc.
If a company values and rewards this values day to day, people are social animals and behave as such. If a company asks developers to work weekends and has no vacation time. Are you surprise to find only angry, non creative, non social people?
I mean, so many here measure developer worth by participation on hackatlons and talks on meetup. Introverted or loner engineer is in serious disadvantage there.
That's my point. They are social, but they can't be like that in companies that value long hour days and weekend work.
It is not the developers that are not social, but that "old fashioned" companies force them in a more restricted, non-creative behavior. In a traditional waterfall model, developers are supposed to be implementers, not thinkers. In that kind of company, everything is hierarchical and creativity is not expected. So their developers behave that way. And I will guess that it is that the model of developer that the article is talking about.
The article, for sure, is not talking about the developers that you describe. And that's my problem with the assumption in the article that people that are good at a technical problem are not social. :)
I don't really know what you mean by traditional waterfall model and creativity - waterfall was more of process organization. Whether you get to be creative or not depends mostly on business company works in and personalities involved. You can not be creative if you implement insurance calculation and you can be creative when you are styling cheezy art shop.
I think the structure, culture, and emergent properties of web forums have shaped out culture in some insidiously highly negative ways. I think that the totalitarian and high censorious nature of many web forums has conditioned entire generations to subconsciously expect the world to have the same totalitarian and high censorious nature.
I see multiple instances of younger people getting "organized" online, only to engage in mass-groupthink stretches of logic and commonsense in order to manipulate some authority to do what they want under threat of their emotional toxicity, or "yellow journalism" style association of that authority with something unsavory. Never mind that what they want contradicts established law, and that their efforts would best be aimed at changing those laws. Many of the same groups of people seem to expect the authorities to have the same absolute and arbitrary power to change laws, regulations, or even the laws of physics in response to their emotional toxicity. (This applies on both sides of the left-right political divide!)
I do not see the contradiction.
I mean it seems to be in Silicon Valley and where startups are concerned, sure. But the average American likely doesn't work in that sort of company, with the kinds they work at (retailers, large corporations, etc) trending more towards a normal working week with more reasonable vacation options.
I forget the max GPA in our class, it was somewhere between 4 and 5, but I don't think it was the theoretical max you could get if you took as many AP classes as possible and got A's in all of them.
Colleges weren't stupid about it, either, though. My brother had a lower GPA since he went to a smaller school with very few AP classes available, but did better relative to that curriculum than I did relevant to mine's, and he got more scholarship offers and quicker admission offers at the schools we both applied to. Even though my SAT was 10 points higher.
Low IQ would mean that studying wont help you - leading to low results consistently. High IQ means you are capable of good results. The rest is down to a lot of factors that are not IQ.
Since IQ+Conscientiousness is better than either alone, of course they'll want to consider both.
This is problematic if you want it to be a valid measure because it lets people artificially close the gap.
Do you want the student with such a well-rounded education throughout their life that they got a >=99.9% score without needing to study, or the one who caught up by grinding for a few weeks without that same broad underlying fundamental base? If your test can't tell that apart, it's flawed, because access to the right prep is going to become a significant part of what you're measuring, and that access is (for obvious economic reasons) distributed along unequal lines, reinforcing the already-fortunate.
My suspicion, since I doubt we can come up with a test to prep, is that the best answer is either (a) nobody preps or (b) everyone gets access to a lot of prep. The former seems impossible to enforce, plus is the sort of "individual liberty"-constraining thing that the politically dominant swathes of America hate. They want to be able to make their kids the best, they "earned it." The latter would be easier, but isn't without some complications, and of course is time that could be better spent on something other than maximizing a single metric.
>Wisdom is about using your abilities and knowledge not just for your own selfish ends and for people like you. It’s about using them to help achieve a common good by balancing your own interests with other people’s and with high-order interests through the infusion of positive ethical values.
The author is essentially arguing that "intelligence" should be redefined to include not only practical problem-solving abilities, but a specific set of moral values. He is arguing that it is acceptable to reject an otherwise excellent college candidate because they're a nihilist or an objectivist or a nationalist, so by his standards are "unwise" or "lacking in ethical intelligence".
Right now, America is in the midst of a vast rebellion against the scientific consensus. Millions of Americans reject essential and well-proven scientific theories, in large part because they believe that academia is a highly politicised liberal institution. They don't believe the data and they don't trust the objectivity of the people who collected it. I very much doubt that making college admission contingent on holding a certain set of ethical beliefs will help to challenge that view.
Conservatives are vastly under-represented in academia and have been for many decades. Many conservative students and academics feel that they are actively discriminated against on an institutional level. Whatever your political beliefs, this should be deeply concerning to you, if only because of the ammunition that it hands to the likes of Trump.
I think there probably is a case to be made that semantic intelligence at scale harms a society, but this sciam interview doesn't present a good argument.
In particular, expectations of abundance and reciprocity seem to factor particularly highly in peoples' moral calculus. Most people are quite willing to undertake pro-social, common-good actions when a.) they will not be personally hurt by it and b.) they have a reasonable expectation that the beneficiaries of their largess will turn around and either pay it back or pay it forward. When those conditions are not met, people have a tendency to act like locusts , and try and secure their personal resources before considering what that might do to sustainability or the larger world around them. Doing so is evolutionarily adaptive, as it ensures that they'll be the ones to survive and pass on their genes even if the rest of humanity dies.
I guess the article does mention engaging the ethical reasoning centers of our brain and training them to realize that it's an ethical problem at all, but my argument here is that there's a reason most citizens in developed countries don't think about the moral implications of, say, buying an iPhone made in a sweatshop in China that uses rare-earth minerals that pollute the environment, and that's because the number of choices we face on a daily basis and the moral complexity of all the consequences of these would paralyze us into inaction if we did - in which case, those people who don't bother to think about it would dominate consumption.
In your dinner example, if someone has only math and finance education, they might simply say that fast food is the best choice for dinner. But if they get some nutrition education, suddenly they're wondering if maybe something healthier might be worth the financial trade off. So you can absolutely improve decision making with education. That example didn't include virtues, though it could include making decisions for others (i.e. your family) that improve their lives. Of course, wisdom about nutrition is a more direct example of something you might not teach or test for, but in this case, it is useful.
Sure, there are situations where the choices are just between two fast foods, and neither choice will seem wise, but again, if only taught the individual math rather than creativity, they might not realize that there's also a fresh produce market (i.e. a third choice!) hiding around the corner.
I haven't had any connection to the school system since 2000, but from what I've heard, kids these days also get lessons on nutrition and on diversity & inclusion.
But here are three major complexities:
a.) A good portion of America believes that this sort of moral education is indoctrination. You're seeing the rise of Christian homeschooling as a reaction to it, for example, which proponents of these values find just as morally abhorrent.
b.) There's an opportunity cost to everything you teach. So while diversity & inclusion has gotten a lot more classroom time of late, the importance of free speech seems to have fallen by the wayside. While we hear a lot about global warming or fossil-fuel exhaustion, there's little about groundwater pollution, rare-earth mining, or labor rights.
c.) Once people get into the real world, they discover markets. Markets reward people who supply what others do not, which means that if you have a cohort of idealistic young conformists, the one defector can make lots of money simply by breaking the consensus. In many ways, this is exactly what moralists complain of, and what led off this article: people who break common ideas of virtue are getting very rich off of it. And yet we don't want to get rid of markets, because they supply the things that we want but somebody else would rather not supply us with.
And under that analysis, it seems that wisdom education , even of the deeper style that Buddhists or Christians do , will likely to fail, because a single defectors amplified by tech could do so much damage.
So are there any solutions to that?
The one place, in a capitalist market economy, where values have a place is in the endpoint, at the consumer. Consumer markets really depend only on values; by definition, they are those goods that people buy because they value them inherently, not those that they buy to achieve another goal. The rest of the economy self-adapts to produce those goods as efficiently as possible, which often means production practices that people would find morally repugnant.
If people trained themselves to a.) seek out as much information as possible about the supply chains of the companies they buy from and b.) not buy from them if the externalities introduced by the company aren't in accord with their values, then the market would self-adapt to reflect those preferences. It effectively creates a market for intelligent entrepreneurs to do the right thing, by influencing consumption desires so that there's a profit potential in being good.
There are still some very significant challenges in bringing this information to the consumer, and in people integrating all that information into their choices. A lot of the benefits of market economies is that they condense a lot of information from each stage of the production process into one number, a price, which propagates throughout the value chain so that self-interested actors end up producing a good in the most maximally efficient way. If you want to encode moral judgments and pass them through the value chain, you need a lot more information to go from producer to consumer. And businesses have a lot of incentive to cheat and conceal this information, so accurately recording & transmitting it is challenging.
Actually, I just had a crazy half-baked idea around using vectors instead of scalars for prices and encoding this information in a cryptocurrency, but the margin of this HN comment is too small to contain it. Maybe someone else can run with it.
Additionally, the same action might be perceived in a different moral light by different people. Just look at how the same events are reported in Breitbart vs. CNN vs. Pravda vs. Al-Jazeera (and read the comments on them) for an example of this.
The complexity of moral education is that you have to balance situation vs. individual vs. audience, and it's very difficult to do this in a consistent way. Propose any concrete curriculum, and it's almost guaranteed that some people will scream about how you're imposing your values on the rest of society, and at least one kid will take the exact opposite lesson from what you intended and do something you found morally abhorrent.
I doubt the problem is with the scientists. I know and work with lots of really smart and creative people in an academic environment, and I'm sure some of them would be capable of redirecting, reinitiating, of starting a field over -- were they given a chance. But just try to get funded for anything at all that isn't incremental and see how well you do. Scientific funding is so scarce, and becoming more and more so, that funding agencies only approve grants that are practically guaranteed successes, and those tend to be the incremental ones.
Maybe narrow testing is responsible for the plague of incremental science, but if so it's probably not the scientists' fault, but more likely because we've cultivated a society that isn't creative and thoughtful enough to appreciate the value of really novel science.
Yes there are areas of complete unknown in science (all over). However they are complete unknowns: you can spend a lifetime in false starts.
In Computer science the P=NP problem has been an important unknown for years and many have spent a large part of their lifetime on it and we still are not close to a solution. This is a known unknown, must of what remains is not even that well defined, just a case where "something funny" happens and we have no idea why and often can't figure out how to replicate it on demand.
It's got nothing pedagogically scientific in it, at least compared to today's standards, but were I to have a kid I'd base my trying to teach him about things in life on what this book has taught me (it also talks about lots of other interesting things, not only pedagogy). Reading it I realized that my dad was at certain points following this book almost by the letter (I've never asked him if he had read it, though), and on the book's wikipedia page there's mention of the Montessori method being some sort of follow-up to what Rousseau was thinking in terms of educating children.
Dewey is considered the modern father of experiential education. The main text is Experience and Education (1938). Kolb (and many other folks) have written on this topic more recently.
When done well, this is an amazing way to learn.
Historically in the US, the complaints are more from the conservative POV, but I'd not let that deter you. Bloom's Closing of the American Mind is probably one of the more famous ones. The Sokal Hoax was a famous shot of the matter.
There's more than a small amount of "gerroff my lawn" in the critiques, but the substance is more than just moaning about "kids these days", it's a deep philosophical worldview difference that has ramifications across society.
Both are regularly conflated with postmodernism, but neither is intrinsically postmodernist - relativism predates it by approximately forever, and (contemporary) critical theory is a child of the postmodernism of the 1980s and 1990s (with origins in the late 1930s).
There are good reasons to be skeptical of both, but it's a gross exaggeration to say that they've "poisoned" the humanities. My experience as a philosophy major has been full of extreme (and deserved) skepticism towards relativism. Critical theory has grown in popularity, but it's nowhere near the boogeyman that many (including my peers in STEM!) seem to make of it.
Individuals vary, of course, but "postmodernism" never took over the liberal arts. It's just another school of thought, and not a particularly popular one at that.
: I don't want to give the impression that most (or even any) relativists believe that all truths are relative. This would, again, be a tremendous mischaracterization - most are not interested in challenging empirical truths.
Instead, most relativists are skeptical about the absoluteness of moral truths. I happen to be a (somewhat firm) moral realist, so that's all very silly to me. However, it's the difference between a completely incoherent view (all truths are relative) and a coherent view that I think is probably incorrect (moral truths are not absolute).
What the above article is missing, however, is that "postmodernism" in English departments, Cultural Studies, Women's Studies, etc, has been long been boogymen among right-wingers like David Horowitz, who don't like criticism or questioning of the oppressive social systems they benefit from and take the position that where such criticism is dominant, conservative and right-wing views are marginalized. That's really what's at the core of complaints against "postmodernism" in universities.
 - http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2008/10/the-myth-of-th...
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Horowitz
I'm all for questioning social systems because goodness knows the ones we have contain many problems.
But the article you linked is from 2004 and out of date with regards to what is happening. Postmodernism in universities is moving into the social sciences and attempting to destroy the bedrock of modern Western civilization.
It wouldn't be so bad if proponents had something better to replace it with - but all they have is a labored version of Marxism that increases racism and segregation, and lowers meritocracy through identity politics. Social equity is the goal, but increased oppression will be the result.
I mean things like racism, misogyny, colonialism, social inequality, and yes, even the oppressive aspects of capitalism -- which actually do exist, much as some would like to spin capitalism as an untarnished blessing on the world.
"But the article you linked is from 2004 and out of date with regards to what is happening. Postmodernism in universities is moving into the social sciences and attempting to destroy the bedrock of modern Western civilization."
What is the bedrock of Western civilization, pray tell? And how does what's happening in the social sciences threaten it?
"It wouldn't be so bad if proponents had something better to replace it with - but all they have is a labored version of Marxism that increases racism and segregation, and lowers meritocracy through identity politics. Social equity is the goal, but increased oppression will be the result."
This has been the line of the so-called conservatism with a smile, which pretends to care for the downtrodden, the oppressed, and minorities. That line might fool many today who have little familiarity with history, but is real stretch for those who've seen the conservative boot stomp down again and again on those they are now pretending to concern themselves with. No, conservatism has always been concerned primarily with protecting and advancing the interests of the rich and powerful, and there's no indication that they've suddenly turned a new leaf and suddenly love their historical victims.
The largest stomping boots belonged to people like Stalin and Mao, who were far from conservative and ostensibly for equity. History tells us who's interests they cared for.
Many people with power will attempt to retain and increase their power by exploiting others, regardless of their political ideology or the social system they're part of - it's human nature. Their corruptive success may be mitigated by suitable social organization, but my contention is that social Marxism will actually increase their success.
A primary goal of conservatives is preserving what works, at the expense of attempting alternatives. I'm not broadly conservative, but on this issue I think it's worth preserving the values that allowed the West to prosper. Judeo-Christian values like virtue and work ethic. Enlightenment values like individualism, free speech and personal property. Modern values like mass education in science and reason.
Postmodernism deconstucts and equalizes everything. It has no respect for what works in the real world or how difficult it is to evolve relatively stable and fair societies.
If you think the corruption in our current system makes it untenable, how do you propose stopping corruption from once again infesting a Marxist replacement? Would it not be better to patch what we already have?
However, I posit that the essence of postmodernism is to deny objective claims to truth and virtue. Would you agree with that?
Meanwhile, other students were in apprenticeships or going somewhere that focused on the on the three R's of readin', ritin', and 'rithmatic.
If the amount of virtue-schooling is decreasing per-capita over time, that may just be regression to a centuries-long mean.
Absolutely. The "liberal" in "liberal education" means "free from having to earn a living" -- education for the independently rich, the ruling class, to ensure that they can rule wisely, justly, and prudently. Those who don't have property yet have always been better off with a technical education -- a category which historically even included law and medicine.
This subjunctive clause, stands alone as a true statement. How else does one earn money?
Well, one can gain money from passive rents on capital without work.
Well, unless we regress from currency to bartering, value is measured in money.
That's a really odd definition of "wisdom". That's more like "unselfishness" or maybe "benevolence".
Students (the "good" and "bad" ones would usually go through the same transition throughout the semester: they would first be very uncomfortable and generally dislike it, then after a few weeks they would start to get used to the process of thinking things through, and finally they would tend to like it much more than what they used to do (of course some students would absolutely despise the process even at the end). Some of the students that liked the process the most where the "bad" ones who were historically worse at the algorithmic style (and unsurprisingly some of the ones who were very good at that style took the longest to convince).
Personally I think it's very important to focus on such a style of teaching. If students apply Calculus at work, they'll usually be using some form of abstract reasoning (say finding a reasonable model for some phenomenon) or they will be applying numerical methods (or both), but rarely will specific memorized differentiation rules be necessary. Ironically I believe that the memorization of the steps is most useful to those going into theoretical mathematics where of course being able to do as many "basic" things without thinking will always help you focus on the "true problem".
The main issue with this approach is that it is hard for students to know if they understand something correctly (which I would argue may be the single most important intellectual skill to learn in life). They can't just look up an answer and see if they got it right, instead they basically have to ask themselves if their reasoning makes sense. The difficulty in this causes a huge amount of student angst and pushback making it more uncomfortable for the students and more work for the teachers. I think the main reason why we teach math as mainly rote learning is because it's the easiest way to teach. It's my job to go through the motions and your job to learn the algorithms as best you can. From the teaching perspective, this is relatively easy to teach, grade and defend.
As a final example, I think that the focus in Calculus on the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus is misplaced. It _is_ fundamental from a theoretical perspective, but essentially no numerical integration is done that way and instead the actual way that integrals are computed is some application of Riemann's methods. (The counterexample being languages like Mathematica which are specifically designed to solve things symbolically.) I found a very good exercise to write Riemann integrals in Python (which students could quickly understand as pseudocode) and use different methods (left-endpoint rule, midpoint rule, etc.) to compute the integral in different ways and verifying that the convergence matches errors predicted. I think this is the sort of reasoning that should be focused on much more rather than having students find anti-derivatives all day and simply repeating "remember plus C".
This is a bit of a long-winded and rambling post, but I do miss that aspect of teaching. Pushing students to realize their ability to reason about math was always very fulfilling. Not everyone enjoyed it, but the majority would come out realizing that they too can reason about math given enough patience and time.
Indeed the math subject GRE was (when I took it) primarily many, many tricky calculus questions with a very strict time limit, because these problems are fairly straightforward to write and standard.
Also I don't want anyone to think that I believe that rote learning is bad per se. Memorizing basic steps is extremely important. That is what allows you to focus on the important aspects of a problem as opposed to the details. For example, you would be a fool to try to learn German grammar before you get a good enough base of vocabulary. In fact, I think one of the best first steps when learning something new is really memorizing the basics well.
However, I come from the perspective that rote learning has been overdone. Most people come through their math education and never leave that learning style. That is what I find unfortunate and wish were different.
I don't need 2+2=4 - I could reason it out from first principals (where did I get them from?). However when I'm solving a larger problem it helps to know that 2+2=4 without having to figure it out or put it in a calculator.
This is why all arguments fail to hold weight with me. You cannot have just one. You have to have facts to reason from, and you have to have reasoning ability to use those facts with.
Now I will grant that you can have facts alone. They won't do you any good but you can have them. We can argue about which facts in particular are worth knowing (do you need to know cursive), since there is only so much time in a lifetime to learn facts eventually you need to choose to not learn some facts. It means you cannot reason from those facts, but some facts are not as useful as others. 2+2=4 is a universal fact that should be early on the list of facts to know (bushmen would disagree - it isn't useful to their world). Where was the battle of Bunker hill fought - useless in Australia, part of our shared cultural heritage in the US.
I think he left out the most important category -- empathy/compassion/caring/"emotional intelligence".
Is this article a reflection of serious scholarship, or partisan pandering?
A lot of coding pathologies and programming language pathologies seem to be the product of such "smart fools." (Mea culpa!) There are many things which seem like good, elegant ideas, which don't work out well in practice.
Come to think of it, a big chunk of, "The devil is in the details," can be translated to, "The hardest problems are the emergent problems."
Do you have any good examples of this in programming?
I'm starting to see a lot of the great parts of languages like Haskell, Erlang, Clojure, and other FP languages starting to flow upwards into more popular languages or in new more accessible forms (Elixir, Swift, Kotlin, Rust).
It's possible that many of the good, elegant ideas aren't exactly the wrong solution but are stuck in less accessible, fringe, or merely unpopular languages/platforms. Which might be more about the nature of how languages are adopted rather than the individual attributes and qualities of the language.
I think Java has made some improvements on this since 1995, but I haven't done java since then so I don't know what.
The CORBA "sea of objects" concepts infesting Linux distributions and making everything sinfully slow. (Sometime just after Red Hat 7.) My own Smalltalk meta-level "browser helper" wrappers in the "new" ObjectStudio Smalltalk browser. (For making the browser extensible, great, but didn't really have to be instantiated until actually operating on the class.) The Smalltalk-inspired implementation of "everything is an object" by making everything a pointer to a different struct. (Not good for cache coherence!)
So it goes. Same thing happened with many OOP concepts -- both good and bad. I'm not saying that everything that rises is scum. The cream also rises. I did not say that all things which seem like good, elegant ideas are actually programming pathologies in disguise.
It's possible that many of the good, elegant ideas aren't exactly the wrong solution but are stuck in less accessible, fringe, or merely unpopular languages/platforms.
And some of the good, elegant ideas turn out to be bad ones when you start to scale in different ways.
> Education can produce what the Village wants.
> "A row of cabbages," Number 6 objects.
> "Indeed," Number 2 agrees. "But knowledgeable cabbages
I suppose my suggestion is a little off topic as I'm addressing some criticisms of standardized testing with respect to cost/relevance to desired learning outcomes/inability for use in guiding a student's learning or teacher's pedagogy/taking time away from primary learning for test prep/and so on.
We currently spend a little less than ~2 billion a year on standardized testing, but the problems inherent in the form/format of these tests isn't changing. I believe we could get better results for much less if we turn our attention to creating a way for teacher to implement trustworthy assessments in their own classrooms and lessons. Why pay third parties so much money to do something that already being done (but which needs to be improved to make it trustworthy).
No, we liberals (academic or not) jusr disagree with conservatives (who tend to share values, again, whether academic or not) on some details of what good values are (and, equivalently, what constitutes virtue.)
Disagreeing with your values is not the same as pretending values don't exist.
> However, they absolutely refuse to acknowledge that these behaviors are virtues
I know of no liberals who would disagree with the idea that community involvement and not committing crime (provided just definitions of crime) are virtues.
Marriage is a different story, but then even many strands of socially conservative Christianity (such as traditional Catholic doctrine) don't view marriage as a general virtue, but rather as a virtue specifically for those with a vocation for it, a vocation which is no more inherently virtuous than that for either religious life, priesthood, or committed (lay) single life. It's true that liberals often see additional lifestyle choices as no less virtuous than these.
I don't think I've never pretended virtue doesn't exist. And, to be frank, most of the liberal types I know, regardless of their (a)religion, believe there are virtues.
If there were one Federal agency in dire need of dissolution it is that one. Give the money to states in grants and see which one comes up with the better solution