Thursday, June 09, 2011

Inputs and Outputs

There's an interesting article in The Atlantic. There's much more to it, but this quote gets to the heart of the experience for many classroom instructors at all levels, I imagine:
Professor X is shrewd about the reasons it’s hard to teach underprepared students how to write. “I have come to think,” he says, “that the two most crucial ingredients in the mysterious mix that makes a good writer may be (1) having read enough throughout a lifetime to have internalized the rhythms of the written word, and (2) refining the ability to mimic those rhythms.” This makes sense. If you read a lot of sentences, then you start to think in sentences, and if you think in sentences, then you can write sentences, because you know what a sentence sounds like. Someone who has reached the age of eighteen or twenty and has never been a reader is not going to become a writer in fifteen weeks.
The source here is the book by "Professor X" called In the Basement of the Ivory Tower.

In Seattle Education there is a three-parter on privatizing education. There's a great game-theory example I didn't know about:
Proponents claim that by encouraging competition, privatization can improve the efficiency of public services. But there can be serious drawbacks. For instance, before fire departments were publicly run, groups of firefighters sometimes set fires just to earn money by putting them out!
 The evidence provided is more suggestive than compelling, but it's a nice business model (from the point of view of investors anyway) to control both supply and demand. In education this would translate as institutions not really caring much about education, but really caring about credentialism, and then seeking to maximize the number of credentials available and perceived as necessary to employment. In other words, if education is a gate to the promised land, put us as many toll booths as possible on the road between here and there.

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