Saturday, July 26, 2008
  Random education items

1. George Leef at the ed branch of NRO says:

If you're serious about helping poorer people, get rid of policies that impede them (such as occupational licensing and other laws that hinder business enterprise), policies that raise prices artificially (dairy price supports, e.g.), and policies that slow economic growth generally (economic growth being the greatest friend poor people have ever had), but don't stick them in college classrooms.


Couldn't say it better.

I've discussed this before, but I'd add in brief form:

Break down the threats of litigation and discrimination laws, which steer employers toward college degrees as the only safe mode of selection. Let employers judge people by whatever criteria they find appropriate, and the value of a degree will decline rapidly. More people will end up in jobs that suit them.

Cut outsourcing, imports and immigration, which cheapen the lower-skilled end of the population. Bring back industry and skilled labor.

= = = = =

2. Radio talker Michael Savage recently started a firestorm by stating accurately that the vast majority of diagnosed autism is fraudulent.

News stories universally describe his accurate statement as "outrageous comments", without any of the usual hedges like "some critics say", which tells you instantly that his statement is accurate.

Anyone who has followed the progress of Special Education since 1970 has seen the same series of events in the broader categories of "Learning Disabilities" and "ADHD".

Basic logic: When you see an official change in the diagnostic criteria for a disorder, followed immediately by a vast expansion in the number of diagnosed cases of this disorder, you don't need to look for any fancy explanations. You don't need to ask if pollution or mercury or anything else is responsible for the increase in diagnosed cases.

This should be ridiculously obvious, but it apparently isn't.

Even if there is a real increase in the number of disconnected kids, there are several clear causes. First, television with its enforcement of the 6-second attention span. Second, the limitation of ordinary interactions -- and especially disciplinary interactions -- between parents and kids, teachers and kids, random adults and kids, caused by other media firestorms.

A recent study about reading fiction may indicate another cause. In short, people who read a lot of good fiction have more empathy, more ability to understand the expressions and intentions of others. This is specifically limited to reading printed fiction, as opposed to watching stories on TV. Interestingly, the effect is immediate as well as cumulative. In the study, students were divided into two groups. One group read an account of an incident in the style of a news article. The other group read an account of the same incident in good novelistic style. The passages were matched for vocabulary and length. Immediately after the reading, the students who read the novel-like account performed better on a task of interpreting facial expressions!

3. Steve Sailer, who manages to write more new and solid food for thought than anyone else, recently tossed off a brief comment that needs to be considered deeply by anyone in the realm of education and training.

Sailer observed that professional training is growing longer at an alarming rate. Doctors, engineers, and professors in serious fields, often start their actual careers at age 35.

This is well known.

Sailer's unique insight: Intelligence reaches its peak around age 24. The most original contributions to music, philosophy, medicine and science are generally made around that age. As we force professionals to spend their best years in various stages of training, we are purely wasting their talent. It's no wonder our scientific contributions are declining!
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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