education is primarily a barrier to entry: true or false

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so i work as a teacher, in a slightly-more-affluent-than-usual suburb in a southern californian city. i could tell you median income and all that stuff but i won't. anyway, i've noticed a prevailing attitude among both my peers (other teachers) and students. simply put, the idea is that education is not actually anything useful. rather it is just a barrier to entry.

for example, there is the idea that engineers don't actually "do math" or "do physics" as you might do them in high school or college courses. instead you do other stuff, that you learn on the job. ditto with lawyers not "doing law school" or doctors not "doing biology".

instead, things like calculus, science and engineering degrees, college writing courses, hell, college in general, these are all basically just hoops that we make people jump through.

the more "conservative" take on this idea is that these are things that are at least somewhat related to the profession, or at least measure some sort of basic job competence, ie a lawyer has to learn how to read and understand complicated language

a more radical version of this view is that these are purely artificial barriers, designed more or less to suss out your socioeconomic background or parent's educational level

just throwing it out there as an educator, wondering whether this is really a prevalent attitude or if i just hang out with a bunch of slackers and hippies

the late great, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

a more radical version of this view is that these are purely artificial barriers, designed more or less to suss out your socioeconomic background or parent's educational level

gonna say it's more a test of yr ability/willingness to jump through hoops, useful skill for modern life imo

truth fromgbs (darraghmac), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

possibly-related:

my dad was an engineer, now he is an executive at a very large engineering company that produces gas turbines for petroleum industry

he once told me that they have a unofficial policy of just throwing out any resumes from recent ivy league grads, MIT grads, caltech grads, etc and skipping down to the resumes from state school / community college transfers

when i asked him why, he said that anybody they've ever hired from these places turned out to be really good at taking notes and tests but turned out to be mediocre at *actual work* (whatever that means at my dad's place of employment, which i have never spent time at) and also somewhat insufferable to boot

the late great, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

If "useful" means "pathway to tenure via publishing journal articles, serving on committees, and handling other bureaucratic drudgery," then education is certainly that. It goes without saying that education doesn't produce brilliant teachers -- some of the dumbest clucks I've met in my life were education or English majors.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

Where you got your law school degree certainly matters as an entry.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

law probably not v comparable to an industry where stuff gets made tho tbf

truth fromgbs (darraghmac), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:46 (2 years ago) Permalink

working with a bunch of engineers I can say that nobody in my office subscribes to this idea. there are things you can learn on the job, sure, but to be an engineer you have to go to engineering school and like, understand how shit works.

the sir edmund hillary of sitting through pauly shore films (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

he once told me that they have a unofficial policy of just throwing out any resumes from recent ivy league grads, MIT grads, caltech grads, etc and skipping down to the resumes from state school / community college transfers

also this is pretty lol - not that it's wrong (our hiring definitely targets specific schools that we know have decent engineering departments that emphasize our field)

the sir edmund hillary of sitting through pauly shore films (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

i agree that the education system in many countries is only tangentially related to preparing young people to work in specific careers. i think that most education systems are the result of an uneasy compromise between a state's needs for socialisation, preparation for work and vaguer cultural and developmental aspirations. i agree that success within existing educational systems is more often than not heavily influenced by factors of class, culture, race and upbringing.

but i believe that even the very flawed education systems that exist are very, very important, and a measure of any state's right to consider itself civilised.

Kony Montana: "Say hello to my invisible friend" (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:51 (2 years ago) Permalink

ok but does a "better" law school degree imply a better lawyer?

the idea that people are pushing seems to go something like this:

1) mathematics (for example) is used as an artificial barrier in our society

2) as educators, we measure proficiency in mathematics (on the SAT, say) and use that as a barrier for "elite jobs" (like brain surgeon) or "elite schools" (like ivy leagues)

3) but that proficiency in "school mathematics" doesn't actually make you a better brain surgeon or even a better math professor, since the skills a brain surgeon draws upon or a math professor draws upon don't even remotely relate to the skills that get you a high score on the SAT math section

4) therefore mathematics just serves as an artificial barrier to keep out people who don't have college-educated parents that help w/ homework or at least rich ones that can afford a math tutor for you

the late great, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:52 (2 years ago) Permalink

3) but that proficiency in "school mathematics" doesn't actually make you a better brain surgeon or even a better math professor, since the skills a brain surgeon draws upon or a math professor draws upon don't even remotely relate to the skills that get you a high score on the SAT math section

I don't think this is true. math, for example, requires a lot of attention, abstract reasoning, patience, methodical step-by-step approach to problem-solving, etc. All those things are related to brain surgery

the sir edmund hillary of sitting through pauly shore films (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

incidentally my dad was an engineer and usually unimpressed by people that came into the job from university compared to those who'd learned as apprentices. but that could just as easily be an indictment of the standard of education at the particular institutions rather than the value of education.

also, working class men in their 60s not thinking education is all that, shocker.

Kony Montana: "Say hello to my invisible friend" (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

Noodle Vague otm in general

xp

the sir edmund hillary of sitting through pauly shore films (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

math, for example, requires a lot of attention, abstract reasoning, patience, methodical step-by-step approach to problem-solving, etc. All those things are related to brain surgery

yeah, dismissing maths because no job involves doing much school-level maths is just a denial of "transferable skills"

Kony Montana: "Say hello to my invisible friend" (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

I have a suspicion this thread will devolve into a bunch of us (me included) attacking people way dumber than us who have succeeded despite a degree in psychology, English, engineering, law, etc.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:57 (2 years ago) Permalink

the fact that qualifications don't prove much about how good somebody will be at a job is - amongst other things - a failure of those specific qualifications, not the concept of education

Kony Montana: "Say hello to my invisible friend" (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:57 (2 years ago) Permalink

xposts to shakey - of COURSE the engineers say that, they want to keep the plebes out! they "won" the game!

also, as a math teacher, i can tell you that not all of the A+ students in my class exhibit those qualities! in fact, some of the "best" math students are just blazingly fast at doing calculations in their head and can memorize equations and procedures in two minutes, but aren't at all attentive, patient, methodical, etc

i think that most education systems are the result of an uneasy compromise between a state's needs for socialisation, preparation for work and vaguer cultural and developmental aspirations

this video sort of touches on those points and gives a very good five minute summary of how education got where it is today - but then gets into this "divergent thinking" pie-in-the-sky stuff that i can't really get behind

it is a popular video w/ teachers who espouse the ideas i am talking about

the late great, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:57 (2 years ago) Permalink

The truth lies somewhere within an amalgamation of all those views, as synopsized in the OP.

Some professions require exacting technical training, whether it happens in college prior to employment or on the job makes no odds, but making the applicant take on the expense of as much of that training as they are willing to take on just makes sense for employers.

For a large slice of jobs (mostly non-professional) that educational credential is just a crude indicator of ability and a convenient way to make a first cut line, below which no one will be considered. The biggest headache and time waster when employing someone is sifting through all the available warm bodies to discover the few who best meet your requirements. Anything which reduces the amount of wasted time in this process is a huge boon to the employer.

Aimless, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'd say the university system is designed to weed out those opposed to success through the Usual Channels.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 22:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

being someone in a profession for which I was in no way at all prepared in terms of formal education, it is really clear to me which skills I picked up in school that have been essential to my livelihood as an adult and not all of them were related to the specific content I was taught. For example, working on the school newspaper with a really good journalism teacher taught me a lot about how to write and frame an argument or a proposal (which has proven directly applicable to my job) but then at the indirect level the newspaper was also where I learned how to use a computer and various software applications etc. - which was tangential to journalism at the time per se but absolutely essential by the time I entered the workforce. There are lots of things like this, I notice them all the time. The fact that I have even been able to succeed at all in the industry I'm in is, I'm positive, directly related to the fact that I had the wherewithal to make it through college and develop some critical thinking skills along the way. I don't think I would have been able to adapt to the requirements of my job or even understand what we do otherwise.

the sir edmund hillary of sitting through pauly shore films (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:02 (2 years ago) Permalink

i think this less true in the professions than in society at large but overall i think its p true

Lamp, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

i've watched that "Changing Paradigms" video before. iirc i agreed with a lot of its analysis but also tuned out when it got to the "what happens next" bit. i do think the question of "which has to change first, society or its education system" is a bit of a chicken and egg puzzle tho, if you happen to be a person who thinks either or both of those things needs to change.

Kony Montana: "Say hello to my invisible friend" (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

of COURSE the engineers say that, they want to keep the plebes out! they "won" the game!

eh I don't think it's just self interest. if you wanna know how an HVAC system works, you kinda need to take a bunch of classes in HVAC systems, you know? When we hire graduates right out of school the first thing we look at is do they have coursework relevant to the industry - do they know how PV systems work, do they know how lighting systems work. Very practical, specific things. A lot of this can be learned on the job, but it's cheaper to hire someone who at least understands the basics!

the sir edmund hillary of sitting through pauly shore films (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:06 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'd say the university system is designed to weed out those opposed to success through the Usual Channels.

you mean blacks and latinos?

the late great, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:06 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah but you're talking about a technical certificate, shakey, not a university degree

the late great, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:06 (2 years ago) Permalink

no I'm talking about BS and MS degrees in engineering. these are degrees handed out by universities. technical certificates are different (and don't require degrees!)

the sir edmund hillary of sitting through pauly shore films (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

I am a millennial and I grew up in an affluent Northern CA suburb and this (the thesis of the OP) has been the prevailing viewpoint among my parents, peers, counselors, etc. I bought into it, and I don't think it was necessarily helpful to legitimize my dwindling prospects and go to a community college with the dismissal of education as so much gatekeeping. Having gotten through college confident that education was something designed to maintain the class structure and thus no big deal, I now wish I had done it differently. It's really self defeatist for this to be the prevailing attitude without any sort of will or responsibility for reform to lessen the correlation between class and education, but maybe I am just deflecting myself from personal responsibility in saying that. Interesting thread question tho.

I_Got_Loaded, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:08 (2 years ago) Permalink

xpost are you talking about HVAC design or maintenance?

the late great, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:08 (2 years ago) Permalink

the engineers i know don't seem to do much in the way of detailed mathematical work tbph, software ppl i know even less, tbph, yet the maths components of their courses were by far the heaviest and toughest parts

truth fromgbs (darraghmac), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

xpost to shakey - i thought you meant you worked somewhere that did facilities work, ie electricians, HVAC repair guys, etc ... it sounds more like you're in the "civil engineering" end of things

the late great, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

i come down more on the "barrier to entry" side. stuff on the national curriculum in high school bears remarkably little relevance to stuff i need to know in my everyday life or career (even at the time i found this frustrating, esp w/r/t subjects i couldn't stand like chemistry), and university was such a disaster for me academically that the fact that i possess a degree on paper really is just a hoop i've just about climbed through rather than an indication of my knowledge or proficiency in a field. the lessons i've learnt in ~life~ have been infinitely more valuable - i'm never, ever surprised when i read about people succeeding in journalism without formal qualifications.

i don't think this is ideal but our educational system, even at its best, doesn't seem designed to help people maximise their potential within it.

lex pretend, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'd say the university system is designed to weed out those opposed to success through the Usual Channels.

you mean blacks and latinos?

you mean the New Majority?

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:20 (2 years ago) Permalink

i don't see how that's relevant

the late great, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:25 (2 years ago) Permalink

I agree with i_got_loaded: this is a horrible, short-sighted and frankly idiotic view of the function and value of traditional education.

the grounding in mathematics, science (chemistry & biology), history, language provided by basic high-school education is both hugely valuable and a decent general measure of willingness and ability to do hard cognitive work of the sort required to succeed in fields like law, engineering and medicine. of course there are outside factors that can impede/obscure or aid/enable that "willingness and ability", and these should be better addressed by an educational system that makes it its mission to provide a high quality of education to all americans. nevertheless, the basic approach is a good one, and it deserves respect, especially from the people who provide it.

Fozzy Osbourne (contenderizer), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

I don't get your yuk. I teach at a university whose students consist mostly of Hispanics and blacks.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

the grounding in mathematics, science (chemistry & biology), history, language provided by basic high-school education is both hugely valuable and a decent general measure of willingness and ability to do hard cognitive work of the sort required to succeed in fields like law, engineering and medicine. of course there are outside factors that can impede/obscure or aid/enable that "willingness and ability", and these should be better addressed by an educational system that makes it its mission to provide a high quality of education to all americans. nevertheless, the basic approach is a good one, and it deserves respect, especially from the people who provide it.

argument could be made that a properly managed apprenticeship in any given field could provide the same chance to show a general measure of willingness to do hard cognitive work that is more relevant and valuable in a given direction without handicapping many people with gradings in subjects that they have no interest in nor faculty.

any system setting out a framework allowing for education/training/improvement in a fair and equal manner deserves respect, not sure that this is limited to the current educational system as discussed.

truth fromgbs (darraghmac), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:32 (2 years ago) Permalink

robin hanson has a whole thing like this where he basically says that education is designed to teach students how to behave appropriately in professional society + suss out who is good at that kind of behavior and who is not.

Mordy, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:33 (2 years ago) Permalink

he has a ton of posts about it tho -- it's one of his big things

Mordy, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:33 (2 years ago) Permalink

that's cool alfred, i was just pointing out that on a national level blacks and latinos are "weeded out" of higher education 20% more than other students and i was wondering if you thought it was because of their attitude toward jumping through hoops

the late great, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

the grounding in mathematics, science (chemistry & biology), history, language provided by basic high-school education is both hugely valuable and a decent general measure of willingness and ability to do hard cognitive work of the sort required to succeed in fields like law, engineering and medicine

^^ is this based on research or what?

the late great, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:35 (2 years ago) Permalink

the grounding in mathematics, science (chemistry & biology), history, language provided by basic high-school education is both hugely valuable and a decent general measure of willingness and ability to do hard cognitive work of the sort required to succeed in fields like law, engineering and medicine

valuable, maybe; a measure of ability to do cognitive work, definitely not. more like a measure of how important school grades were to a person when they were a teenager

lex pretend, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:35 (2 years ago) Permalink

IIRC the only variable that correlated to success in engineering classes at UC schools was your 9th grade algebra results

the late great, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:35 (2 years ago) Permalink

not whether you were in calculus or algebra ii as a senior, not what your SAT math score was, etc etc

the late great, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

xpost to shakey - i thought you meant you worked somewhere that did facilities work, ie electricians, HVAC repair guys, etc ... it sounds more like you're in the "civil engineering" end of things

close - energy engineering. which sort of requires a combination of design and repair skills (ie you need to know how an optimally functioned system is designed, and also how to retrofit an existing poorly functioning system to function as best as possible)

many xp

the sir edmund hillary of sitting through pauly shore films (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

you write a very strident paragraph contenderizer, but i'm not convinced it's any less ideological than the views i laid out in the OP

the late great, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

argument could be made that a properly managed apprenticeship in any given field could provide the same chance to show a general measure of willingness to do hard cognitive work that is more relevant and valuable in a given direction without handicapping many people with gradings in subjects that they have no interest in nor faculty.

yeah, wouldn't disagree w this at all.

Fozzy Osbourne (contenderizer), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:39 (2 years ago) Permalink

i take a lot of issue with "the basic approach is a good one" but conty does like to go for bat for the tried and tested values of the 18th century so

Kony Montana: "Say hello to my invisible friend" (Noodle Vague), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:40 (2 years ago) Permalink

course in an ideal world career guidance would be worth a fuck to a 16 yr old, or college wouldn't take place til you were 22 and had already learned IT basics anyway

truth fromgbs (darraghmac), Wednesday, 14 March 2012 23:41 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'm not sure the code-switching thing has to be taken as classist/racist. business-speak is exactly as 'restricted' as the language inner-city kids use with each other. and people have access to 'elaborated' code and certain types of analytic thinking due to their life experience, not due to some innate ability. isn't the opposite be far more problematic?

iatee, Friday, 16 March 2012 18:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

wouldn't the opposite be*

iatee, Friday, 16 March 2012 18:17 (2 years ago) Permalink

re: discussion of "elaborated" vs. "restricted" codes

some social groups (of whatever "class") probably do promote the idea that "code-switching" is important, and that elaborated codes are important. others probably do not. to the extent that certain contexts - such as school, for instance - require a comfortable familiarity with elaborated codes, those who have such familiarity and/or can code-switch easily, may well be more successful in general. i do not see this as in any way a "classist" idea, even if it seems to be true that certain supposedly "lower class" cultural groups tend to stress the importance of restricted codes.

Fozzy Osbourne (contenderizer), Friday, 16 March 2012 18:20 (2 years ago) Permalink

^ some questionable comma placement there

Fozzy Osbourne (contenderizer), Friday, 16 March 2012 18:20 (2 years ago) Permalink

i also don't buy into the idea of a "restricted" vs "elaborated" code

chemists and auto mechanics both use complicated shorthand for what they do

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 18:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah iatee i think the position you are taking is more reasonable than what i posted though. the quote above really made it sound like poor kids only have access to a language which makes it difficult for them to formulate new ideas as such.

lukas, Friday, 16 March 2012 18:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

Elaborated codes have a longer, more complicated sentence structure that utilizes uncommon words and thoughts. In the elaborated code there is no padding or filler, only complete, well laid out thoughts that require no previous knowledge on the part of the listener, i.e., necessary details will be provided. According to Bernstein (1971), a working class person communicates in restricted code as a result of the conditions in which they were raised and the socialization process. The same is true for the middle class person with the exception that they were exposed to the elaborated code as well.

FFS how is this not offensively classist?

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 18:24 (2 years ago) Permalink

haha yes, middle-class people speak w/o padding, in well laid out thoughts that require no previous knowledge, just like most real estate agents, land developers and investment bankers i know

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 18:25 (2 years ago) Permalink

ok this sounds much better

It is not primarily about restricted-code users' inability to understand elaborated code. They are exposed too much to the media for that (although some tabloid newspapers and radio stations affect a particular restricted-code style to suggest intimacy with their readers). It is however about their unfamiliarity with using it (speaking it rather than hearing it) to explain complex ideas.

Don't over-simplify: it's patronising. Remember that when teaching the misunderstandings may come not from your use of elaborated code, but from your use of your restricted code, adapted to your own speech community (jargon, abbreviations, etc.), rather than a properly and appropriately elaborated code.

this is a HUGE issue in science and math education - we call it "the expert blind spot", or "why your engineer dad got so frustrated trying to help w/ your math homework"

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 18:30 (2 years ago) Permalink

tbf i think that is saying that middle-class people can communicate in their own restricted code but were also exposed to the elaborated code and so can use that too?

but it's still offensively classist

uh oh i'm having an emotion (c sharp major), Friday, 16 March 2012 18:30 (2 years ago) Permalink

FFS how is this not offensively classist?

it absolutely is, but i don't care about messengers. the basic idea, once removed from that sort of bullshit framing, strikes me as both valid and interesting. communication within groups of close peers does tend to be "restricted" in a sense. otoh, the kind of communication employed by most entry-level textbooks is relatively well "elaborated". it's code-switching that i'm most interested in, as an idea. i would imagine that those taught from a young age to be comfortable with a wide variety of code types and varying degrees of restriction and elaboration will have a leg up in school.

Fozzy Osbourne (contenderizer), Friday, 16 March 2012 18:32 (2 years ago) Permalink

how can people who understand baseball statistics not be able to understand "real" statistics

how come people can do math in their head w/ dollars and cents but not w/ numbers or variables

because they find understanding the context easy, and because they ALREADY understand the context they can work out how to look at it in complicated ways?

whereas with "real" (textbook) stats and maths they have to understand the complications straight off

lex pretend, Friday, 16 March 2012 18:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

why your engineer dad got so frustrated trying to help w/ your math homework"

OMG ONLY 25 YEARS TOO LATE

drawn to them like a moth toward a spanakopita (Laurel), Friday, 16 March 2012 18:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

would 'working class people are *more likely* to commuicate in restricted code than, idk, the children of academics' still be classist? like I agree that the way it's written there is pretty awful but if you look at this as a theory w/ soft edges and not "all working class people are always like this. all upper class people are always like this." it doesn't seem particularly offensive to me. like there's nothing magic or innate about access to elaborated code, it's just due to having life and cultural experience.

iatee, Friday, 16 March 2012 18:35 (2 years ago) Permalink

it's just due to having life and cultural experience.

well, certain types of life and cultural experience, right?

Fozzy Osbourne (contenderizer), Friday, 16 March 2012 18:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

yes

iatee, Friday, 16 March 2012 18:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

i guess it is an open question, the extent to which a "real textbook" is an elaborated code and the extent to which it is a restricted code

i think "real textbooks" tend to basically be in "restricted code" from the start, because they start w/ "adult thinking" and work their way down toward "student thinking", whereas a "constructivist" teacher (like myself) would want to start w/ "student thinking" and work up to "adult thinking"

that would hopefully redress the gap between people who had been exposed to the restricted code of adult thinking (like me learning about hydraulic lock because i was lucky enough to have a mechanical engineer for a dad)

newer textbooks seem to be doing a better and better job of doing that ... the problem or drawback with that then is that it can be interpreted as doing a disservice to kids who already have an in to that "restricted code" which comes back to the question of whether education is a race with an end-goal (a race to the top?) or whether it's a life-long process w/ no "ahead" or "behind" in the race

the second idea is a tough one to sell though because we're used to comparing ourselves and our kids with other people and their kids

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 18:40 (2 years ago) Permalink

as a math teacher i always have a problem with that, because people are like "i want my kid to be in multivariate calculus by the time he is in 11th grade" and i want to be like "i got an A in that class at berkeley and i only really figured out the geometric proof of the pythagorean theorem at age 29"

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 18:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

people are like "i want my kid to be in multivariate calculus by the time he is in 11th grade" and i want to be like "i got an A in that class at berkeley and i only really figured out the geometric proof of the pythagorean theorem at age 29"

those two statement don't seem at all oppositional to me. they have their desires, and you have your experience.

Fozzy Osbourne (contenderizer), Friday, 16 March 2012 18:52 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah but their desires are based on a misunderstanding of the nature of mathematics and my experience is based on many years of professional and personal engagement w the field

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 18:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

their desire is for their kids to "get into good schools and have the choice of pursuing science & tech careers"

those two things are contradictory

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 18:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

baseball stats are pretty much just ratios, right? things like independence and covariance and sampling error and fat-tailed distributions and whatever don't figure in like they do once you dive into the "real" stuff. On the other hand, I do think we could make real stats more widely taught and accessible, and it would be very useful to people in all walks of life.

s.clover, Friday, 16 March 2012 19:03 (2 years ago) Permalink

even the popular scientific press likes these "guys! power laws!" stories when often it turns out there aren't power laws involved at all, but other, less sexy distributions.

s.clover, Friday, 16 March 2012 19:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah but their desires are based on a misunderstanding of the nature of mathematics and my experience is based on many years of professional and personal engagement w the field

...their desire is for their kids to "get into good schools and have the choice of pursuing science & tech careers"

those two things are contradictory

― the late great, Friday, March 16, 2012 11:59 AM (10 minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

first line seems a bit presumptive, and i strongly disagree w the second. basically everyone i know that has a career in the sciences went to a "good school" (i.e., a high competitive one). and i know lots of people doing that kind of work.

Fozzy Osbourne (contenderizer), Friday, 16 March 2012 19:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

My brother's finishing up his PhD in computer engineering and he got his undergrad at BYU-ID. The only people who are competing to get into there are Mormons who couldn't get into regular BYU.

Marilyn Hagerty: the terroir of tiny town (Abbbottt), Friday, 16 March 2012 19:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

Oh, one other thing I would say about law schools, is that for a large law firm (and maybe for a certain kind of smaller one too) it's partly a marketing thing to hire from "top" law schools, you know, so you can say to Citigroup "The associates we have working on your deal graduated from Harvard, Stanford, Columbia" etc. That said, I don't completely discount using law school as a proxy for ability. It's hardly a perfect proxy, but when you have to do a lot of hiring at once you go with the easiest measure that gives you the best odds of getting someone good. Someone from Brooklyn Law School might be smarter and harder working than someone from Harvard, but the odds are better that the opposite is true and how the hell are you going to choose otherwise? Interviews are notoriously bad determinants, and anything else would be too time-consuming. So you hire 20 kids from Harvard and one from Brooklyn rather than the other way around or 50/50. Yes, a few of the Harvard kids will turn out to be entitled little shits who don't want to do any work, and the BLS kid who just missed the cut might have been the dark horse who would have headed up a practice group one day, but they're still using the best and most cost-effective methods they have of choosing.

the prurient pinterest (Hurting 2), Friday, 16 March 2012 19:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

basically everyone i know that has a career in the sciences went to a "good school" (i.e., a high competitive one)

many people i know who work in the sciences went to third or fourth tier schools (or even community colleges) for undergrad and elite schools for graduate school

in fact one guy i know who is now a prof at davis was a HS dropout who did not start at a community college until 23 or 24, when he got tired of getting high all day

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 19:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

things like independence and covariance and sampling error and fat-tailed distributions and whatever don't figure in like they do once you dive into the "real" stuff

in high school it's ratios, standard deviation and possibly chi-squared

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 19:51 (2 years ago) Permalink

which should go great w/ baseball, video games, etc

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 19:51 (2 years ago) Permalink

also contenderizer i don't think it's presumptuous at all

i don't presume to know what my parents want, i know what they want

i don't presume to understand the difference between "school mathematics" (based on memorizing and repeating procedures) and "real mathematics" (based on intuition, persistence, looking for patterns, approaching new questions, approximating, combining approaches, etc), i know the difference

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 19:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

i mean it may not be widely true but it is true where i work, and given that it's a large part of the national dialogue about what constitutes good math education (specific pieces of info vs specific skills vs specific practices and habits) i think it's probably true across many schools

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 19:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

newton wrote that

i can tell you that what parents want re: math is high SAT scores and good state test results

the fastest way to good results is to teach to a test (ask anyone who teaches or has taught an SAT prep course), memorizing shortcuts and learning tricks

the problem is when you get to college, you realize suddenly that you need to be able to "reason judiciously", something our students get very little preparation for, even the "elite" students

i have always thought this is why there are declining numbers of american students at every level of science and math education - fewer students finish science degrees than start them, even fewer get into graduate degrees, even fewer get into and finish post-doctoral studies, etc etc

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 20:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

also the other side is that in countries that routinely kick our ass on math and science tests, the students are actually asked to learn fewer things than in american schools and they learn them more slowly ... but somehow they kick our ass when those students come to american school

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 20:03 (2 years ago) Permalink

they are also generally going to cost more to train at the undergrad level, so universities have little reason to push people into the fields

iatee, Friday, 16 March 2012 20:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

cost more? why?

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 20:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

i'm not following what you're saying iatee

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 20:08 (2 years ago) Permalink

I teach in the humanities at a public uni & a few years back had a Vietnamese immigrant who struggled hard with written & oral English, didn't understand well the Western debates on monotheism, etc. She ended up kicking every other student's ass. The difference was partly that she actually came to office hours, unlike the others. But I don't really know what else it was: intrinsic smarts? work habits? I dunno, but it was eye opening.

Euler, Friday, 16 March 2012 20:08 (2 years ago) Permalink

science students require expenive labs, interaction w/ higher-paid faculty, humanities students require chalkboards and grad student teacher who you're paying 15k a year

xp

iatee, Friday, 16 March 2012 20:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

not math faculty

Euler, Friday, 16 March 2012 20:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah I mean it's not true across the board but it's a partial explanation why there's not internal pressure to make science ed more accessible at any given university. it costs money and doesn't bring immediate benefits, unless your university is starting out w/ a surplus of science resources.

iatee, Friday, 16 March 2012 20:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

well they do generally charge lab fees for the labs

the late great, Friday, 16 March 2012 20:17 (2 years ago) Permalink

trying to find a breakdown, I remember reading it somewhere
http://blogs.sciencemag.org/sciencecareers/2012/01/university-of-f.html

iatee, Friday, 16 March 2012 20:20 (2 years ago) Permalink

science research otoh can bring in defense $$$$$ (and also other industry $$$$) while good luck getting grants for your novel interpretation of milton.

s.clover, Friday, 16 March 2012 20:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

yes, on the research level the opposite is true

iatee, Friday, 16 March 2012 20:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

My late father was a mechanical engineer by training, but it's amazing how the field hasn't changed. Sure, they use computers a lot more. My dad worked part-time up to the last month of his life, he adapted to the CAD programs just fine!

Engineers must maintain their math schools their entire life! My dad used to sit down at night with a math book! I envied him, people think math is hopelessly dry, it's interesting if you view it as an expression of spatial relationships! If you're into art or design or photography you might want to maintain some math skills.

My dad put a lot of pressure on me to learn math. It keeps your brain sharp and doesn't have any ideological bullshit in it. I like doing the odd math problem.

We had a math test in design school and I got a C! I got a high score on my math SAT but I hadn't practiced in a while.

Math and science don't discriminate based on background, but sometimes a student's social climate discourages them from learning math. i.e., if you struggle with math you are stupid! Conceptually, it is easier than philosophy or literature...doing the problems is difficult.

โตเกียวเหมียวเหมียว aka Got Gym (Mount Cleaners), Friday, 16 March 2012 20:41 (2 years ago) Permalink

This seems quite salient here:

https://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/03/23-8

Masonic Boom, Sunday, 25 March 2012 09:33 (2 years ago) Permalink

4 months pass...

here's an interesting one

http://nyti.ms/MN6Q8s

the late great, Friday, 3 August 2012 06:59 (1 year ago) Permalink

i am pretty sure nobody really answers the final question in the comments but i didn't read all of them

the late great, Friday, 3 August 2012 07:02 (1 year ago) Permalink

post secondary education facilitated entry ime ; )

buzza, Friday, 3 August 2012 07:14 (1 year ago) Permalink


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