We need to focus on educating the below average.

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We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Ormurinn » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:17 pm UTC

http://educationrealist.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/just-a-job/

This blog post really struck a chord with me. How do we deal with the increasing intellectual demands of a lot of modern jobs? What about the people who get left behind?

I've watched my old community rot away from the inside in snapshots, decaying every time I visit, and the author of the article seems to get it.
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:34 pm UTC

For some counter-balance to this story:

A nonprofit in Queens taught people to write iPhone apps — and their incomes jumped from $15k to $72k
http://www.vox.com/2014/4/22/5640734/le ... s-to-72000

Everyone can learn to code. I'll maintain that fact. There will be different skill levels involved, but I really do believe everyone can do it. Programming only really requires a computer... the free tools that can make iPhone, Android, and Windows applications are all adequate for professional work. I think some basic engineering stuff (Machinist, Soldering, etc. etc.) can also be taught to greatly improve living conditions as well. The main problem is the level of investment involved in teaching people engineering principles... or at least the skills that would put them in a good position.

There really are a lot of job openings for certain sectors of the economy. Tech and Engineering... for sure. And with a decent investment, it would be possible to retrain people to enter this field.
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Brace » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:37 pm UTC

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:45 pm UTC

Brace wrote:Basic economics says that as labor supply goes up, wages go down. Education is not a panacea.


Indeed. But the labor supply for local US programmers and engineers is rather low. (Nurses too IIRC). Since we need more programmers, engineers, and nurses, we probably should focus on retraining those in poverty into programming, engineering, and nursing positions.

The Baby Boomers are still the largest subset of Americans, and they're about 60 years old now. The US is in horribly short supply of nurses. Best part is, nursing is a job that can't be outsourced. So for the near future, it is clearly a job market in need.

Programming and Engineering can be outsourced (most famously, the iPhone's screen was engineered and designed in China. Reportedly by 10,000 engineers over the course of a couple of weeks). Nonetheless, US Companies see the benefit of local coding and engineering resources. (Strong english speaking skills, understanding of the target audience, etc. etc.). So Engineering and Coding jobs are still quite open and have high pay. I'm a bit worried about a neo-tech bubble however...
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Heisenberg » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:46 pm UTC

Brace wrote:Basic economics says that as labor supply goes up, wages go down. Education is not a panacea.
Well, mandatory education keeps kids out of the workforce, so it actually does keep labor supply down, in a way. Also, in the US, if you skip school you go to jail. And who do you think runs the jail? Education: Creating jobs.

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Ormurinn » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:51 pm UTC

A counter-article to KE's counter-article

http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/ ... what-about

IQ follows a normal distribution. There are going to be people at the bottom end who are incapable of technical work, and non-technical work is being automated away.

At the same time, we depress the bottom of the jobs market with high levels of immigration and have a culture that spits on service.

Heisenberg wrote:
Brace wrote:Basic economics says that as labor supply goes up, wages go down. Education is not a panacea.
Well, mandatory education keeps kids out of the workforce, so it actually does keep labor supply down, in a way. Also, in the US, if you skip school you go to jail. And who do you think runs the jail? Education: Creating jobs.


That was one of New Labour's big tricks - the EMA was used to bribe kids into staying on at school, artificially improving unemployment figures and giving millions of kids useless pre-university qualifications.

This government used the even shittier tactic of just mandating that everyone do pre-university qualifications. Because of course your career as a plumber or painter will be enhanced by losing two years of income and experience and gaining a certificate in citizenship.
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Brace » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:51 pm UTC

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Ormurinn » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:54 pm UTC

Brace wrote:I have 5 STEM degrees and can't find even entry level work. I don't buy it. I think the tail is wagging the dog here. This isn't a country where shits happens meritocratically. In this country, a bunch of shit happens then people rationalize its merits.


Seriously? Immigrate to the U.K. I have half a (in progress) STEM degree and I'm getting job offers.
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:04 pm UTC

Brace wrote:I have 5 STEM degrees and can't find even entry level work. I don't buy it. I think the tail is wagging the dog here. This isn't a country where shits happens meritocratically. In this country, a bunch of shit happens then people rationalize its merits.


I've got coworkers who are quitting $80k+ jobs so that they can get $120k jobs elsewhere. On a bachelor's degree.

Have you thought about moving? The right areas of the USA are in dire need of STEM degree holders.

Ormurinn wrote:A counter-article to KE's counter-article

http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/ ... what-about

IQ follows a normal distribution. There are going to be people at the bottom end who are incapable of technical work, and non-technical work is being automated away.


Technical work also follows a distribution. Not everyone needs to be a software architect, not everyone needs to be a coder. But... a weak knowledge of coding will get you a comfortable $40k to $50k job as a tester. UI Testing and hunting for bugs does not require a high-end skillset. (It requires some programming knowledge). I'm pretty confident that anyone who has passed high school will be able to become a software tester and make $50kish.

Apparently, "Test Engineers" make $75k on the average. (probably after a few years on the job. I can't imagine hiring a tester for that much that is fresh out-of-college)
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Brace » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:06 pm UTC

I got a job offer in Singapore, but it didn't sound like an environment I would be comfortable in. That was almost two years ago and I'm fairly sure it's no longer on the table anyway. Really my only goal is to hire on to a company that will cover my medical needs. Thinking of moving to Seattle.
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:15 pm UTC

Brace wrote:I got a job offer in Singapore, but it didn't sound like an environment I would be comfortable in. That was almost two years ago and I'm fairly sure it's no longer on the table anyway. Really my only goal is to hire on to a company that will cover my medical needs. Thinking of moving to Seattle.


One thing I did notice is that the workplace is insanely biased against "holes" in a resume. You'll want to keep that sort of stuff to a minimum, or have a good reason why there is a hole. A lot of people will ask you about holes in a resume... as if there's an expectation that you should be hired immediately after leaving college...
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby leady » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:28 pm UTC

I wouldn't hire someone with 5 degrees, it screams "I have no desire to work"

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Ormurinn » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:36 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:Technical work also follows a distribution. Not everyone needs to be a software architect, not everyone needs to be a coder. But... a weak knowledge of coding will get you a comfortable $40k to $50k job as a tester. UI Testing and hunting for bugs does not require a high-end skillset. (It requires some programming knowledge). I'm pretty confident that anyone who has passed high school will be able to become a software tester and make $50kish.

Apparently, "Test Engineers" make $75k on the average. (probably after a few years on the job. I can't imagine hiring a tester for that much that is fresh out-of-college)


No doubt! But theres also a floor. Where it is, I can't say, but I'm confident that it's rising.

Can people one standard deviation below the mean IQ get a job in tech? What about 2 SD's?

http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/intelligence.html
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby elasto » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:51 pm UTC

leady wrote:I wouldn't hire someone with 5 degrees, it screams "I have no desire to work"

Not to jump on the bandwagon but having five is pretty unusual.

At one of my jobs I had to fight tooth and nail to get my boss to consider a university friend of mine for an open position. My friend had a PhD and my boss was worried he'd just jump ship at the first opportunity - ie. that my friend was 'overqualified'. Without my efforts my friend would never have even been granted the interview.

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Brace » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:04 pm UTC

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby aoeu » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:10 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:For some counter-balance to this story:

A nonprofit in Queens taught people to write iPhone apps — and their incomes jumped from $15k to $72k
http://www.vox.com/2014/4/22/5640734/le ... s-to-72000

Everyone can learn to code. I'll maintain that fact. There will be different skill levels involved, but I really do believe everyone can do it. Programming only really requires a computer... the free tools that can make iPhone, Android, and Windows applications are all adequate for professional work. I think some basic engineering stuff (Machinist, Soldering, etc. etc.) can also be taught to greatly improve living conditions as well. The main problem is the level of investment involved in teaching people engineering principles... or at least the skills that would put them in a good position.

There really are a lot of job openings for certain sectors of the economy. Tech and Engineering... for sure. And with a decent investment, it would be possible to retrain people to enter this field.

The homesite of that project says they partnered with a bunch of schools and selected the best students. It's totally irrelevant here.

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:19 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:
Brace wrote:I have 5 STEM degrees and can't find even entry level work. I don't buy it. I think the tail is wagging the dog here. This isn't a country where shits happens meritocratically. In this country, a bunch of shit happens then people rationalize its merits.


I've got coworkers who are quitting $80k+ jobs so that they can get $120k jobs elsewhere. On a bachelor's degree.

Have you thought about moving? The right areas of the USA are in dire need of STEM degree holders.


Just... out of curiousity... which areas would you consider to be the "right areas"?

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Derek » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:20 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:Apparently, "Test Engineers" make $75k on the average. (probably after a few years on the job. I can't imagine hiring a tester for that much that is fresh out-of-college)

I suspect that depends a lot on the company and what kind of work the test engineer is doing. Where I work the test engineers do very similar work to the software engineers (ie, the jobs require basically the same background), and I suspect receive the same pay.

Brace wrote:Basic economics says that as labor supply goes up, wages go down. Education is not a panacea.

It's true, but a more educated workforce also means a more productive workforce, and therefore a bigger pie. Of course, if the cost of additional education exceeds the increased size of the pie, it may not be worth it.

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:42 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:http://educationrealist.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/just-a-job/

This blog post really struck a chord with me. How do we deal with the increasing intellectual demands of a lot of modern jobs? What about the people who get left behind?

I've watched my old community rot away from the inside in snapshots, decaying every time I visit, and the author of the article seems to get it.


This is a huge deal. I don't live in my hometown because (among many, many other reasons) there are no decent tech jobs. You can't start a tech firm in the area, because there are no technical folks there. Kind of a catch-22. So, even those who get skills, like me, end up just moving away. This is great for the people that get training, less so for the area. Still a vast improvement over no training at all, though.

KnightExemplar wrote:For some counter-balance to this story:

A nonprofit in Queens taught people to write iPhone apps — and their incomes jumped from $15k to $72k
http://www.vox.com/2014/4/22/5640734/le ... s-to-72000

Everyone can learn to code. I'll maintain that fact. There will be different skill levels involved, but I really do believe everyone can do it. Programming only really requires a computer... the free tools that can make iPhone, Android, and Windows applications are all adequate for professional work. I think some basic engineering stuff (Machinist, Soldering, etc. etc.) can also be taught to greatly improve living conditions as well. The main problem is the level of investment involved in teaching people engineering principles... or at least the skills that would put them in a good position.

There really are a lot of job openings for certain sectors of the economy. Tech and Engineering... for sure. And with a decent investment, it would be possible to retrain people to enter this field.


I'll agree with that. Just about everyone, anyway. The USAF taught coding in a ten week course. There was no prereq for having so much as touched a computer beforehand. Now granted, there were 10 hour days and such, and about half of us has done significant coding beforehand, because what sort of folks do you think sign up to be coders? However, the other half...some of them did fine. One in particular comes to mind, as I went to first duty station with her. No experience at all. No natural aptitude. Not even the smartest of people. But dammit, she was stubborn. Washed out of the course a couple of times before finishing, and afterward, consistently took classes to improve. That was enough.

However, there is a pervasive attitude that technology is akin to magic. Gotta be *really* smart to understand it. Nah. Being smart helps with anything, but tech fields(while harder than some), are not magic. You put in the learning time, you understand. Time may vary for different people, but there are very, very few people who simply cannot understand coding at all.

Brace wrote:Basic economics says that as labor supply goes up, wages go down. Education is not a panacea.


Oh, sure. But if labor is allocated better, the economy overall is more productive. So, regardless of relative wealth, absolute wealth is higher overall. While as a coder, I rather like having high wages, I have to recognize that it'd be better if more people went into the field.

IIRC, the most over-allocated field currently is Journalism. It accounts for something like 5% of degrees. That's...maybe a few more journalists than society needs. Now, a journalism degree is still useful if you end up working elsewhere, I'm sure, but it isn't optimal. Plus, the depressed wages in the field probably make it less attractive for the people who would do best at it.

Something we do have a critical shortage of is business knowledge. You don't *have* to get a business degree to learn business, but I've found a shocking lack of knowledge of even the most basic business fundamentals to be incredibly common. This probably contributes to a lower amount of small businesses, which leaves workers more dependent on the whims of large corporations. If you don't know how to lead, you are at the mercy of those who do. Or worse, those who don't, but have managed to get promoted despite that. This last issue is also not that rare.

Brace wrote:I have 5 STEM degrees and can't find even entry level work. I don't buy it. I think the tail is wagging the dog here. This isn't a country where shits happens meritocratically. In this country, a bunch of shit happens then people rationalize its merits.


If you don't mind the DC area, pop me a message. I know a few positions open for technical types. Mostly coders. The area isn't as healthy job-wise as it was a few years back, but it's still better than many.

STEM is very location dependent. I make six figures. I didn't bother to finish my bachelor's degree to do so.

leady wrote:I wouldn't hire someone with 5 degrees, it screams "I have no desire to work"


It might or might not. Depends on the resume as a whole. It could either look like someone who got lost in college and never left, or it could be part of a wild overacheiver package. That said, tailor resume as needed. If one degree focuses on the area you're applying for, and some of the others don't...maybe don't list 'em all. I've ditched almost everything SA related from applications for coding jobs.

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Chen » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:47 pm UTC

Derek wrote:I suspect that depends a lot on the company and what kind of work the test engineer is doing. Where I work the test engineers do very similar work to the software engineers (ie, the jobs require basically the same background), and I suspect receive the same pay.


Yeah this is pretty common I think, which is why the salary is so high. While there are positions that are purely for test, I think the statistics get confused with the number of people who have the title of "test engineer" but are basically full "software engineers"

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Cleverbeans » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:41 pm UTC

Education begins at home. I think the most important piece of the puzzle is making sure parents read to their children every day from at least birth. Literacy is the most important academic skill and I know many people who's parents didn't do this with them.

I would also like to see more emphasis on non-competitive physical activity in schools. Basically gym without grades to remove the anxiety created by comparing body types and fitness levels. This way those who are bound for labor are well conditioned for it and those bound for desk jobs have a great stress relief tool that reminds them of a fun extra period in school. Not everyone is going to be smart enough even with better education.
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby freezeblade » Wed Apr 30, 2014 6:05 pm UTC

elasto wrote:At one of my jobs I had to fight tooth and nail to get my boss to consider a university friend of mine for an open position. My friend had a PhD and my boss was worried he'd just jump ship at the first opportunity - ie. that my friend was 'overqualified'. Without my efforts my friend would never have even been granted the interview.


I had this problem, and I only have a B.Arch degree. I finished school in 2010, in the middle of the crash, making it impossible to get a field-related position. I ended up working for starbucks for about a year, they didn't mind the degree because the turnover rate was so high anyway (of the entire staff working there, only 1 did not have a degree).
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Apr 30, 2014 6:19 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
Derek wrote:I suspect that depends a lot on the company and what kind of work the test engineer is doing. Where I work the test engineers do very similar work to the software engineers (ie, the jobs require basically the same background), and I suspect receive the same pay.


Yeah this is pretty common I think, which is why the salary is so high. While there are positions that are purely for test, I think the statistics get confused with the number of people who have the title of "test engineer" but are basically full "software engineers"


Positions are basically a mess throughout IT. There really isn't a ton in the way of standardization. You get a feel for it after a while, but it is wildly variable and subjective. That said, yeah, there are definitely positions that are less code-centric, but for which at least some code knowledge helps.

Cleverbeans wrote:Education begins at home. I think the most important piece of the puzzle is making sure parents read to their children every day from at least birth. Literacy is the most important academic skill and I know many people who's parents didn't do this with them.


This is big, yeah. If someone ends up behind the curve on a foundational skill like reading, it tends to hold them back overall. They might pick up various labels, and a message that they are not smart. This is kind of a self reinforcing cycle of failure. Studies have shown that people merely saying they are bad at remembering names makes them worse at remembering names, for instance. It's *worse* with a poor foundational skill, since you have a causal mechanism for things being harder. Try reading a book in a topic you are unfamiliar with in a language you know poorly. It's brutal. So, a strong foundation of the basics with parental support is a big deal.

Sadly, preschool doesn't seem well suited to handling this. Universal preschool is a big push these days, but the actual data on it is unimpressive.

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Ormurinn » Wed Apr 30, 2014 6:38 pm UTC

Cleverbeans wrote:Education begins at home. I think the most important piece of the puzzle is making sure parents read to their children every day from at least birth. Literacy is the most important academic skill and I know many people who's parents didn't do this with them.


We need to encourage more stay-at-home parent households then.

I agree completely with your concluion
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Apr 30, 2014 6:49 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:
Cleverbeans wrote:Education begins at home. I think the most important piece of the puzzle is making sure parents read to their children every day from at least birth. Literacy is the most important academic skill and I know many people who's parents didn't do this with them.


We need to encourage more stay-at-home parent households then.

I agree completely with your concluion

Or pay educators more.
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:04 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:
Cleverbeans wrote:Education begins at home. I think the most important piece of the puzzle is making sure parents read to their children every day from at least birth. Literacy is the most important academic skill and I know many people who's parents didn't do this with them.


We need to encourage more stay-at-home parent households then.

I agree completely with your concluion

Or pay educators more.


Education is getting a giant pile of money. I don't think simply throwing money at the issue is adequate. Perhaps you mean it as increasing compensation to induce good teachers to take up the profession?

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Zcorp » Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:44 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:How do we deal with the increasing intellectual demands of a lot of modern jobs? What about the people who get left behind?

KnightExemplar provided a great link and others have discussed this as well, but the answer that we need to do a better job educating people. Not just from ages 6-22 but also make continuing education accessible, compelling and affordable for people 22-70.
Ormurinn wrote:IQ follows a normal distribution. There are going to be people at the bottom end who are incapable of technical work, and non-technical work is being automated away.

The popular understanding of IQ is quite flawed, I and many psychologists wish that meme could expand to include at least CHC theory and its implications. Ignoring that for a moment, and working with the flawed concept but introducing the Flynn Effect, the IQ tests today display the people near mean in the baby boomer generation are as only as smart as the people one SD below the mean in the teenagers today.

IQ is not determined solely by nature and I'd make the argument nurture has the largest role in the flawed concept of IQ. People seem to be getting smarter, and are capable if put in the right environments and given proper stimuli of being very smart. We can look at aspects if intelligence besides the famed IQ but the Flynn effect is quite sufficient at making the point, the dumb baby boomers are much dumber than the dumb members of Gen Z. Even those we believe to be less intelligent, assuming here there is no significant development disorder, are still fully capable of learning valuable skills.

But automation doesn't threaten just service and labor jobs, it also threatens doctors, lawyers, human resources or other jobs where a significant factor of job performance is Gc (crystallized intelligence) that doesn't require making complex connections between elements of that knowledge. Even many jobs that require specific fine motor skills are threatened, surgeons for example.

At the same time, we depress the bottom of the jobs market with high levels of immigration and have a culture that spits on service.

We certainly have a cultural problem, and that is the other and more difficult road in the path of education.

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Brace wrote:Basic economics says that as labor supply goes up, wages go down. Education is not a panacea.

It certainly is, education does not mean 'teaching a trade skill.' On top of the affect it has peoples desires, lowers birth rates, often progress them to desire esteem from accomplishments rather than social standing, introduces them to a world outside of the area they grew up - thus challenging tribal identity tendencies and various other affects. Education also means philosophy and thus challenging ones own beliefs, learning to think which changes culture, changes who we vote for, changes what a country's goals are and what they stand for. Education certainly is a silver bullet to nearly all of societies ills, but you have to understand it is more than 'I learned this skill that now use to make money.'

The value of an education system is not just to create a better workers but also to create better citizens.

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Cleverbeans wrote:Education begins at home. I think the most important piece of the puzzle is making sure parents read to their children every day from at least birth. Literacy is the most important academic skill and I know many people who's parents didn't do this with them.

While the home environment is quite valuable this is no reason to accept failure from educational institutions. No Child Left Behind, Race for the Top, Common Core, we should be firing these people and hiring someone who actually want to create a valuable education system, valuable tools for educators and at least display the most basic understanding of well known concepts in educational psychology.
Last edited by Zcorp on Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:51 pm UTC, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Heisenberg » Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:45 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Iz wrote:Or pay educators more.
Education is getting a giant pile of money. I don't think simply throwing money at the issue is adequate. Perhaps you mean it as increasing compensation to induce good teachers to take up the profession?

Education got a lot of money that went to a huge bureaucracy that doesn't actually interact with the students. Educators have seen hardly any of that money. If we paid educators more I would be an educator.

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Brace » Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:21 pm UTC

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Heisenberg » Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:57 pm UTC

Brace wrote:Some of these correlations probably have the causal chain in the opposite direction. For example, people tend to refrain from having children in order to pursue education, and people who have children tend not to pursue education. Education doesn't seem to change people's propensity for having children so much as attract people without that propensity.
To be more specific, it's not that women who want to be childless pursue education, but rather women are likely to delay the birth of their first child until well after their education is complete. This not only shortens the available window, but also makes it harder to conceive.

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Zcorp » Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:03 pm UTC

Brace wrote:None of this pertains to the economic value of education, only to the social value.

Unless you bother to think about how the economic system is formed, by society. Beyond legislation, are you really making the statement that social influence has no impact on economic value? Or that social impact and perception isn't valuable to the individual?

For example, people tend to refrain from having children in order to pursue education, and people who have children tend not to pursue education.
And creating accessible and affordable education leads to an increase in the former...this isn't hard. With more accessible and affordable education people have less kids

Education doesn't seem to change people's propensity for having children so much as attract people without that propensity.

Very very very wrong. How many citations would you like? I bet I could come up with 30 if I really wanted to spend the time to do so.

Even if it had all of these effects, education would only be a cure for social ills to the extent social ills can be mediated politically rather than economically (or to the extent economic problems can be politically mediated, which is not great).

You don't believe that politics has a significant effect on economics? Really? I...wow. What are your degrees in?

Unfortunately I don't think your essential premise is even sound. In the United States at least, financial power is political power.

Right...cause the populace is pretty uneducated. More of our populace believes in angels than global warming, not just man made global warming, that the phenomenon is happening at all. You certainly don't have a degree in any social science.

Even when you include your arbitrary 30 hours arts and letters requirement, people tend to just keep their head down, please the professor, and move on having not really changed their worldview or picked up any critical thinking skills.
Who here is arguing that our system now is what it should be, or could be?

More and more of the population in the United States have degrees, yet all the problems you're speaking of seem to have gotten worse rather than better. I mean hell, the elite of this country have always been the Ivy League educated, so that's an even more damning contradiction.
If you ignore everything I said, and live in a pretend world it might be. Hope it is a nice place to live, however they should work in their literacy rate.

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Brace » Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:16 pm UTC

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Zcorp » Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:05 pm UTC

Brace wrote:This statement is impossible to even interpret unless you articulate your premises better.

The value of an education system is not just to create better workers but also to create better citizens.

There is value in being a better citizen beyond personal economic gain. However, it does not preclude it, being a better citizen will likely increase your financial well-being as well as the rest of it. Exceptions being for the mega-rich. It will also result in government money being spent more efficiently. American's spend more per capita on students than anywhere in the world with really poor results - granted, we also have some of the hardest problems to solve in education. Better citizens will create more efficient allocation of shared resources, while also understanding problems which will lead to actual solutions. Even better citizens will display more creativity in solving those problems to get even more efficient solutions.

And creating accessible and affordable education leads to an increase in the former...this isn't hard. With more accessible and affordable education people have less kids.


Alright, fine. As education diminishes in economic value this effect will diminish as well, though.

What leads you to believe that?

You don't believe that politics has a significant effect on economics? Really? I...wow. What are your degrees in?


I don't believe politics has an especially good track record at improving the economy. It's very good at effecting it.

Improving for who? To me it seems policy has done a fantastic job of improving the short-term well-being of people who are actively engaging in it, the rich. Policy has been incredibly effective at achieving its goals. While I think those goals are quite flawed and create massive systemic problems due to the ignorance of the impact of those goals, policy has done a great job of achieving them. This idea that American economic policy is trying to benefit the majority in the short-run is exactly the type of ignorance education can help squash.

Unfortunately I don't think your essential premise is even sound. In the United States at least, financial power is political power.

Right...cause the populace is pretty uneducated. More of our populace believes in angels than global warming, not just man made global warming, that the phenomenon is happening at all. You certainly don't have a degree in any social science.


I don't see the relevance of this response to the quote. Are you saying that an educated populace would be immune to financial influence? Where is the connection?

Financial power is political because our democracy is dominated by marketing. It is dominated by marketing because most of the voters are not educated enough to make it dominated by actual behavior of the elected, or even thought out goals of how our government should be behaving. If the people could understand, and cared enough to participate, the system would not be dominated by money. The lack of education allows for the corruption. The prevalence of internally inconsistent ideology allows for it. We don't teach philosophy, we wave it away as if it were a joke, we consider its study useless. So unsurprisingly no one can think or hold consistent beliefs, which makes them wonderfully easy to manipulate through marketing, which often results in more money being the winner. Which means the rich have huge influence. If getting into power has less to do with marketing and more do to with what you want to do with that power, and being held accountable toward your goals, we would have a less corrupt system. This requires education in the population allowed to vote for a democracy to work. America is not an example of such a population.

Nobody, but I don't see how, if people are currently getting none of the values you ascribe to education out of 30 hours worth, they would suddenly get it if you doubled or tripled it, or made minor structural changes.
Cool, interesting that none of that was suggested. Why are you making all of these assumptions? Why is your first thought to improving education to increase the quantity of it instead of the quality of it?

If people can fake their way through and there's an incentive to do so, they will.

Fortunately people are far more interesting than rats in a Skinner box. Even if we weren't, as we get culturally better at thinking we will get better at recognizing what is fake, as a large part of good thinking is recognizing truth.

My observations of educated people who believe in angels lead me to believe that they view these sorts of requirements as effectively coercive; as them having to be beaten over the head with contradicting opinion for a certain period of time in order to pursue a vocation. A lot of people resent being told how to think even when it's objectively correct. It's an unfortunate but understandable consequence of the value people place on autonomy.
People often resent being told what to believe. In fact we know they are more likely to hold that belief as true if told it is wrong. We do not currently teach people how to think, nor are they generally resistant to it, at least until they are already anti-rationalist. No educational institution in America, that I'm aware of, includes reason in required curriculum, and you have to search for a long time for one that even directly teaches thinking skills.

If we improve education, all aspects of well-being will improve.

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby Angua » Thu May 01, 2014 3:46 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:
Cleverbeans wrote:Education begins at home. I think the most important piece of the puzzle is making sure parents read to their children every day from at least birth. Literacy is the most important academic skill and I know many people who's parents didn't do this with them.


We need to encourage more stay-at-home parent households then.

I agree completely with your concluion

My parents read to me and my brother every night before bed. You don't need to be a stay-at-home parent to do that.

Granted, it is more tricky if you're working long/anti-social hours, but you don't need to specifically be stay-at-home.
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby elasto » Thu May 01, 2014 4:23 pm UTC

Yeah. At least one parent is typically home at the children's bedtime. And for the tiny minority of households where that isn't the case, the babysitter can do the reading.

Seemed a bit of a non-sequitur that one.

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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby EMTP » Fri May 02, 2014 2:40 am UTC

When the subject of conversation is corporations or rich individuals, there is usually a reliable chorus articulating the notion that their behavior by and large is rational, and they pursue their self-interest by following the existing incentives. Oddly, few people seem inclined to extend that thinking to the poor and unemployed, ie, if there were an easy way (such as learning a little programming, or moving to where jobs are more plentiful) for them to no longer be unemployed, or poor, then they would probably do it. We are reluctant to credit poor people with rational decision making, perhaps because it would suggest that very bad things can happen to people who work hard and play by the rules.

Education seems to be improving. Although there are all sorts of reasons to dislike "teaching to the test," the hard fact remains that if you can't measure outcomes, you can't improve outcomes. Research has also tended to show that being tested is a good way to learn.

Given that the ultimate desired outcome is functional citizens, the best thing to help the kids is to help the parents provide a stable, safe, nurturing home. Raising the minimum wage, cutting pollution, providing healthcare for all, and the like might improve children's outcomes more than more money in the educational system itself.
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby addams » Fri May 02, 2014 3:53 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:
The value of an education system is not just to create better workers but also to create better citizens.

There is value in being a better citizen beyond personal economic gain. However, it does not preclude it, being a better citizen will likely increase your financial well-being as well as the rest of it. Exceptions being for the mega-rich. It will also result in government money being spent more efficiently. American's spend more per capita on students than anywhere in the world with really poor results - granted, we also have some of the hardest problems to solve in education. Better citizens will create more efficient allocation of shared resources, while also understanding problems which will lead to actual solutions. Even better citizens will display more creativity in solving those problems to get even more efficient solutions.

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You are restating the thesis statement of the woman from Brown University.
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby jseah » Fri May 02, 2014 4:38 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:American's spend more per capita on students than anywhere in the world with really poor results - granted, we also have some of the hardest problems to solve in education.
What are these greatest problems that you see America as facing, that other countries do not?

EMTP wrote:When the subject of conversation is corporations or rich individuals, there is usually a reliable chorus articulating the notion that their behavior by and large is rational, and they pursue their self-interest by following the existing incentives. Oddly, few people seem inclined to extend that thinking to the poor and unemployed, ie, if there were an easy way (such as learning a little programming, or moving to where jobs are more plentiful) for them to no longer be unemployed, or poor, then they would probably do it. We are reluctant to credit poor people with rational decision making, perhaps because it would suggest that very bad things can happen to people who work hard and play by the rules.
Actually, I would disagree with the first part. People usually aren't completely rational, even when it comes to money. Not even the rich guys.

Corporations might get closer, but they also move slower.


As for me, I blame the existence of the poor on a rising skill floor in our ever more complicated economy. That and frictional unemployment (an matching problem which I believe the internet has done wonders for) as well as structural unemployment (a skills mismatch).

It's not that I think people cannot learn a specific subject and that's why they're poor. I believe anyone can learn anything, but a combination of interest and lack of effort results in a different learning outcome. People cannot expect to study whatever they are interested in and expect to be able to use it. Eg. Journalism degrees which have been noted to be massively oversupplied. And how I wish someone made me choose computer science instead of biology when I did my degree.

Spoiler:
It may just be personal anecdote but the few times I have tried to tuition cousins / relative's kids who did poorly in math and science has brought me to the opinion that the sort of thinking needed to solve math and science questions or understand the material requires alot of effort. It wasn't that they couldn't do it, or that they needed handholding (everyone needs handholding in unfamiliar territory), but that they actually managed to solve problems and absorb material when it became clear I wasn't going to give them the answer and wasn't going to skip the question until they did it. It took forever (some solved no more than three questions in a 2 hour session) but I felt that I had occasionally managed to force them into a mode of thinking that solved the problem.

My main learning experience with them was that they didn't do well because they rarely thought in a manner that was useful to solving math and science problems. (eg. one of them claimed that 6 divine rapiers was an optimal item loadout for a dota game*) And this manner of thought is what I think today's society demands. And since the effort needed to "use your brain" goes down with practice, it would seem that constant practice from young in various ways to think and process information would be useful.

Perhaps we really really need a class on "how to think about problems in math / science / literature / people". Focusing more on the ways and modes of thought and doing the practice for it. As for how to teach that? Meh, I'll leave that to the people with shiny education degrees.


*For those unfamiliar, a divine rapier is an item that grants the largest flat bonus to damage. You are limited to six items, some of which give percentage of total and some giving flat bonuses. Given the flat bonus is very large compared to other sources, it becomes clear to anyone playing the game that mixing in one or two percentage bonus items (some of which grant upwards of 20%) would make the combination strictly better than just six divine rapiers. This is elementary stuff.
This is not including drawbacks (DRs drop on death) and usages of bonuses to other things than damage that make the analysis even more complicated.
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby addams » Fri May 02, 2014 4:55 am UTC

I agree, Critical Thinking skills need to be taught.
To teach people to say out loud to themselves,
What Do I Know?
How Do I Know it?

And;
Why?

Why do I know that?
That might help a bit.

I disagree about letting people study what they Love.
I think people should be able to study what they Love.

Forcing a person to study stuff is Mean.
The Basics are Required. After that?

After that? There is so much to know!
So much Human Knowledge!

To be restricted to some intellectual slavery seems so sad. We can do better.
OK! OK! Jobs are good. Still. Jobs can come from great passion as well as dull skill.
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Re: We need to focus on educating the below average.

Postby jseah » Fri May 02, 2014 5:12 am UTC

addams wrote:I agree, Critical Thinking skills need to be taught.
To teach people to say out loud to themselves,
What Do I Know?
How Do I Know it?

And;
Why?

More than critical thinking, I think problem solving skills also need to be taught explicitly and practiced at an early age. Too much of our jobs demand high level problem solving compared to what is taught.
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