Ordinary World: Education


[Ed1] While Democrats are united in supporting teachers’ strikes in California, the party is divided over the role of charter schools in education, reports Dana Goldstein in the New York Times.

[Ed2] A recently-released report shows that community college students that go on to elite schools graduate at higher rates than first-time freshmen.

[Ed3] Field trips, apart from being enjoyable experiences for school students also hold numerous educational benefits. The various benefits have been outlined in a recent research paper, summarised by Education Next.

[Ed4] The state of Louisiana is undertaking new measures to ensure a more well-rounded education for its students, placing more emphasis on enrichment opportunities.

[Ed5] Timothy Shanahan, a professor at the University of Illinois blogs about the low percentage of American students achieving reading proficiency.

[Ed6] Corey DeAngelis, education policy analyst for the Cato Institute, argues that striking teachers in California should campaign for expanded school choice instead.

[Ed7] A new research paper suggests that single-sex schools have a significant positive effect on academic results as well as reducing arrest rates and teen motherhood.

[Ed8] Education Week’s editors and reporters set out what they believe to be the 10 major trends and ideas that will shape the conversation on education in 2019.

[Ed9] Do American schools provide equality of opportunity for students? Brookings Institute analyst Dick Startz examines where American schools fall short on educational equality.

[Ed10] Schools are often decried as being ‘factory-like’ in their models of learning. But is this really the case? Tom Greenwell, writing for Australian publication Inside Story, investigates the issue.

[Ed11] The ‘Learning Pyramid’ is one of the more popular learning theories within education. Blake Harvard, a psychology teacher and blogger, deconstructs the idea and explains why it’s a myth.


Associate Editor
Home Page Twitter 

Scott Davies is a freelance writer and tutor. He is currently studying a Master of Education. He is interested in education, economics, geopolitics and history. He's on Twitter and has a Medium page.

Please do be so kind as to share this post.

17 thoughts on “Ordinary World: Education

  1. [Ed11] Having homeschooled 3 children into and through college (with 3 more in the pipeline) the one thing we’ve noticed is that consistency might be the single most important ingredient for an educational approach. Which is to say that we’ve worked with and used several theories over the years and all of them ‘worked’ to one extent of the other, but none worked when applied inconsistently. There also doesn’t appear to be any sort of loss/gain by changing approaches at natural break-points … that is, as long as you consistently follow a program towards whatever goals you are working towards in that ‘chunk’ you can switch out methods and the kids seem to adjust fine.

    Switching and adopting new methods is probably the best and worst thing about Homeschooling… the best because you can adapt 1:1 per child, the worst because there’s a temptation to abandon something prematurely… and then the inconsistency thing becomes the fulfilling prophecy of disappointing experiences; its counter-intuitive to follow-through on a sub-optimal path.

    When we’ve worked with outside programs (which is most of the time), I’d say that having a particular educational theory and ideology is mostly for the benefit of the institution… and a real benefit I think it provides; having a theory and set of common practices is very important for maintaining the consistency within the organization which carries over into the consistency of the program of education that the students experience.

    Its just that we’ve never seen that one program is ‘better’ than another… just that *a* program is better than none… and some might align better with one child over another. Which, to paraphrase Kissinger, might be why the fights are so nasty, what with the stakes so small.

    Or so we’ve noticed in the alternative education world over the past 20-years.

      Quote  Link


  2. The question bubbling in the back of my head when it comes to this topic is usually some variant of “what is the point of an education?” (We talked about this sort of thing here a year ago.)

    I mean, if we give a kid to the school system for a dozen years, what should we expect at the end of that dozen years?

    I mean, if we have, at the end of a dozen years, a system that does something like this… can we officially say that the system has failed? (And if we can’t, then I’d wonder what a failed system would look like. If we can, what do we do once we’ve acknowledge that we’re running a failed system and, apparently, have for a while.)

      Quote  Link


    • I mean, if we give a kid to the school system for a dozen years, what should we expect at the end of that dozen years?

      Someone well prepared to succeed in society. “Succeed” means “be way above average”. Anything less than that means I need to step in.

      I mean, if we have, at the end of a dozen years, a system that does something like this… can we officially say that the system has failed?

      Depends on whether or not my kid is in that group, or whether I can reasonably expect my kid to be in that group. Schools work for me and are my tool for making my kid successful. A failed or broken tool can instantly expect to be thrown out. Here, weirdly, that’s not happening.

      So moving past “my kid”, the answer is “it depends”.

      Thought experiment: Remove the system entirely, what happens to that population? If the answer is “none of them can read”, then a 25 percent success rate looks pretty good. If the answer is “all of them can read/write/math above average” then the next question is “why the fish are these parents putting their kids into that system”?

      My expectation is the parents here put their kids into school thinking that the school will improve their odds of being successful in life. So… we can assume the parents are showing bad judgement or bad faith, but I strongly dislike doing that. We can assume the parents have no other options, but I also dislike assuming people are powerless pawns of fate over the very long term.

      Or we can assume the parents are correct. The system really does improve their kids odds. Not perfectly, not evenly, but the ideal solution is probably parking their kid next to mine and I’m not going to allow that.

      The underlying problem is kids aren’t all the same and there are influences other than the system, society and parents come to mind.

        Quote  Link


      • Same here, but I strongly disagree with You and Saul. The public schools here are great. They still dropped the ball for my #3 girl. I went to bat for her, I failed. This resulted in a pissing match between me and the administration which escalated till I pulled two of the girls out of the system entirely.

        Because the local charters are also great, I had an alternative to the school’s desired sub-optimal solution. We went charter for two years, after that the mainstream schools were willing to do what I wanted. A little competition means the system is MUCH more responsible at serving their customer base. Charters are a club which I can use to beat the system. It’s the same reason why I think unions should exist as an alternative, a management which abuses their workforce until they seek alternatives deserves what it gets.

        I would say the charter was different but equal to the main system school. Better in some ways but worse in others, and this brings us back to the whole “kids are different’ issue.

          Quote  Link


        • I went to some of the best public schools in the world. Schools in the Westchester, NY school system (late 80’s) and schools in District 20 here in Colorado Springs (early 90’s).

          These schools were so much better than charters, you wouldn’t believe it.

          Now the schools in the crappy parts of town?

          I don’t know whether charter schools would be better than those.

            Quote  Link


          • Friend of mine sent his kid into a great school, which he moved to be in. Kid is in 5th grade.

            And he was bullied, and somewhere in there one of them told a friend who told some teacher that he threatened to blow up the school. The sources are less than reliable but the system wants(wanted) to deal with him as a potential school shooter. Due process is/was somewhat lacking.

            My read on this is the schools are under tremendous pressure to do something about school shootings. In order to prove that it’s working they need to actually find the occasional school shooter, and there isn’t enough supply to meet the demand.

            Long story short is he’s now in a very good charter where he’s not bullied, not viewed as a school shooter, and he’s doing much better. However I’m sure the median education with that public school is better than the median education in that charter.

              Quote  Link


  3. Ed6: Competition among employers is good for workers, but less so for unions. A union’s power to bargain for higher wages depends on there being surplus revenue in the market – if employers are making just enough profit to stay in business then no amount of negotiation will get them to raise wages. And of course government agencies potentially have the entire tax base at their disposal which makes them very attractive employers from a union standpoint. On top of that, unions can influence who wins Democratic primaries, which is powerful in blue stats. It’s easier to negotiate with someone when they know you can fire them if they negotiate too hard.

    Conversely, competition benefits workers but that benefit exists independent of union membership. Charter schools won’t have access to the entire general fund and competition will most likely leave them with with less money the unions can negotiate for.

      Quote  Link


    • Charter schools won’t have access to the entire general fund and competition will most likely leave them with with less money the unions can negotiate for.

      I think that the weirdest pathology in this discussion is the whole undercurrent that the point of education is to provide jobs to the teachers.

        Quote  Link


        • Meh. I agree that unions exist to advance the interests of their members. But, in this case and in my experience, the members also care about their schools and their students. There isn’t a contradiction between a teacher being dedicated to their job and wanting to be treated well. And as many of us have found well treated workers often are able to do their jobs better.

            Quote  Link


    • My response to anyone at Reason/Cato discussing the left is unfortunately going down to concern troll is concern troll but we are in an age of bad faith.

      This relates to ED1. Charter Schools are a bad use of public resources. They are privately run and often run for profit (even the non-profits probably have executives at healthy salaries) but they are funded with tax-payer money and get to be more selective about the students they take on. Maybe not as selective as top-tier private schools but pretty selective.

        Quote  Link


    • This is a point where the interests of the union and it’s members diverge. With competition, workers for an abusive union would have alternatives. That’s a bad thing from the union’s point of view, it benefits the most by being the sole source of labor.

        Quote  Link


    • :Sigh: Pyric. The core finance problem is pensions are squeezing everything. The money the union “won” in their contract means the administration will kick the pension-bomb down the road.

      Future administrators will need to deal with this, i.e. explain to the union that no more money means damaged pensions.

      However with luck the current bunch of union and school officials will have retired so it won’t be them.

      We really should be outlawing fixed distribution pensions. There’s too much incentive and opportunity to abuse them.

        Quote  Link


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *