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Thread: Why Finlandís schools are great (by doing what we donít)

  1. #16
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    If there's sufficient motivation for the private sector to invest, it should either be improving the current system or creating an alternate one. To my knowledge, it's not doing either. I suspect that the reason is that they simply aren't in a position to get together to invest in a long-term "commons."

    As for the current system's performance being "miserable" and "falling," well, it's no secret that we disagree. On international tests, the US falls in the middle. Unacceptable, but not miserable. And I'm not sure that I see evidence of "falling." Treading water is a better representation.

    I'm of course aware that you've argued that our current system is only operating at 1% of its potential, and that by that measure, you might say that even the best nations (Finland, Singapore, et.al.) are miserable. Possible, but I'm not aware of any measure by which we can say with any substance that public education worldwide is operating at 1% of its potential.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    If there's sufficient motivation for the private sector to invest, it should either be improving the current system or creating an alternate one.
    To my knowledge, it's not doing either. I suspect that the reason is that they simply aren't in a position to get together to invest in a long-term "commons."
    Private sector organizations routinely make investments in long-term "commons". The Eclipse Foundation is an example with which I am familiar, as I organized and launched it. Trade associations and research consortia are also examples.

    If organizations in the private sector were convinced that improving the current preK-12 educational system would significantly improve their access to quality employees, they'd be investing. Such organizations would not attempt to create an alternative system, as doing so lies outside their core competencies. The Gates Foundation is moving in this direction, however, and could serve as the necessary catalyst. Among other things, the Gates Foundation is funding Khan Academy; here's a timely perspective.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    As for the current system's performance being "miserable" and "falling," well, it's no secret that we disagree. On international tests, the US falls in the middle. Unacceptable, but not miserable.
    We fall in the middle of a pack whose topmost entry performs miserably on the "what's possible" scale. When 90% of the students entering our K-12 system are achieving the results now achieved by the top 5%, we'll have moved from "miserable" to "acceptable" -- with lots more room to improve.

  3. #18
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    The example of the Gates Foundation is interesting, but not remotely on the path to significant corporate investment in reshaping K-12 education. Dave, I think that it was you who reminded us not all that long ago of Carl Sagan's observation that climbing higher in the trees did not get humanity significantly closer to the moon.

    As to 10th percentile students rising to the level of their 95th percentile peers, I'm still not aware of anything beyond your unsupported assertions to suggest that such an improvement is possible. I don't know if sports performance is a relevant analogy, the brain being a very different type of muscle, but despite considerable sums of money being poured into training, nutrition, rest, recovery, and more, we simply don't see 15 minute milers turning in 5 minute times.

    You say "miserable" and "education is 1% of its potential," I say not. Rather than you and I continuing around this particular mulberry bush, I'd be interested to hear what others think about where we might be educationally in 50 to 100 years (my time frame, perhaps not yours) relative to today.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    The example of the Gates Foundation is interesting, but not remotely on the path to significant corporate investment in reshaping K-12 education.
    The prerequisite for private sector investment is a demonstrably effective approach to preK-12 education. Khan's flipping the classroom scheme increasingly looks like one piece of the puzzle; it's Gates' funding of Khan that's relevant, not Gates' short-term ability to motivate private sector investment beyond his Foundation's.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Dave, I think that it was you who reminded us not all that long ago of Carl Sagan's observation that climbing higher in the trees did not get humanity significantly closer to the moon.
    "It's like trying to reach the stars by climbing a tree; you'll make progress for awhile, but never really get there".

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    As to 10th percentile students rising to the level of their 95th percentile peers, I'm still not aware of anything beyond your unsupported assertions to suggest that such an improvement is possible. I don't know if sports performance is a relevant analogy, the brain being a very different type of muscle, but despite considerable sums of money being poured into training, nutrition, rest, recovery, and more, we simply don't see 15 minute milers turning in 5 minute times.
    The brain isn't a muscle, Jeff, it's composed of 100 billion neurons interconnected by 100 trillion synapses; none of your muscle analogy is relevant. If you'd like a readable update on modern neuroscience, I recommend On Intelligence and Brain Rules.

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