About

When it comes to education, I disagree with everybody at one time or another.

This is my corner of the classroom. See that small plaque on the desktop, behind the monitor? It says, “Please don’t straighten up the mess on my desk. You will confuse me and screw up my whole world.”

For more info, see Who Am I?


13 responses to “About

  • Bostonian

    What do you think about Andrew Hacker’s recent essay “Is Algebra Necessary” in the NYT?

    Thanks for your blog.

  • Bostonian

    I think Bryan Caplan’s new blog post
    “Does High School Algebra Pass a Cost-Benefit Test?”
    http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2012/10/does_high_schoo.html
    may interest you.

  • Charles W Abbott

    Just discovered this site today, and by following a link from a site which may be populated by …ubermorvorteans?

  • James

    I tried to teach chemistry to students at a Florida high school who a) did not know that you could divide both sides of an equation by the same constant and b) could not add single digit numbers without a calculator. I was recently banned from the county school system for suggesting that some schools had abnormally high test scores for reason other than actual student performance.

    Still, it is possible to teach all the basics of algebra 1, just not the way out non-math capable administrators think it should be taught.

  • Josh Al

    I was wondering if you’d do a post on what benefit high school teachers expect to bring to their students and what types of careers they expect their students to achieve?

    Currently as a financier, I’ve seen 99% of my college graduate cum laude compatriots crash and burn upon entering the reality of the job market. And I was wondering what you guys tell your current students.

    When I was in HS I remember quite distinctly all the benefits of education that would be extolled to us. In the end, it all seemed quite useless.

    I’m just curious to see if you guys are adequately warning your kids, or if you’re setting them up with unrealistic expecations.

    • educationrealist

      Our school is pretty realistic. I have a student who is going to a liberal arts school (got a full ride) who says he wants to major in history and teach.

      “No, you don’t. You want to major in history, get a PhD, and become a college professor.”

      “Same thing.”

      “No, it’s not. And even history teachers have a tough time getting jobs, much less college professors looking for tenure.”

      Another student is going into the military because he wants to be in the Marine band (a realistic goal; he’s quite talented). I talked him into going to college so that, if it takes a while to qualify for the band, he’ll be able to become an officer. He looked into ROTC and what it takes to get into the band and decided I was right.

      Still another student asked me honestly whether she should wait on the waiting list at a junior college for cheap dental hygienist school, or pay $15K to go to Heald’s, which she could do right away. The other way would take years. That was a tough call–she’s from a very low income family. We looked at a bunch of things before making decisions.

      My school has a very active career training program that gives a lot of students active experience and internships in the real world, which apparently gives them a leg up on internships while in college.

      To the extent that “go to college” is a mantra, I suspect it’s going to be more in the entirely URM inner city schools. But in my school, we want our kids with jobs, college, or whatever works best for them.

      I sound like some sort of booster, don’t I?

      • Josh Al

        I don’t doubt the individual desire of most instructors to see their students succeed, and help them make good decisions.

        What I am skeptical of is whether any of it is going to succeed. All of this high school instruction is spent on the (somewhat naive) assumption the employment market will recover.

        If it does not, and IMF and UBS estimates say that if it does, it will take more than another decade to do so, half of the brightest 10% will not find jobs. Recognition of that fact should, in the interests of the students, work its way into policy and institutionally guided dialogues with students.

        “You will dig ditches and break rocks for a living” will never be a politically acceptable thing to say, mostly because of oversensitive parents. But to tell kids these days anything else is one shade or another of irresponsible.

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