Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Education and Wealth

One of the mantras that I hear fairly frequently goes something like this: "if only we could provide better education for the children, it would lift them out of poverty and provide great economic benefits for the the whole country."

There's not a shred of evidence that this is true. In fact, there are some shreds against. One is the paper Human capital and long run economic growth: Evidence from the stock of human capital in England, 1300-1900 which has the following abstract:
Did human capital contribute to economic growth in England? In this paper the stock of total years of schooling present in the population between 1300 and 1900 is quantified. The stock incorporates extensive source material on literacy rates, the number of primary and secondary schools and enrolment figures. The trends in the data suggest that, whilst human capital facilitated pre-industrial economic development, it had no role to play during the Industrial Revolution itself: there was a strong decline in educational attainment between ca. 1750 and 1830. A time series analysis has been carried out that confirms this conclusion.
Education has "no role to play."

In more modern times, there's this:
But does that [education] really drive economic growth? 
In fact, the push for better education is an experiment that has already been carried out globally. And, as my Harvard colleague Lant Pritchett has pointed out, the long-term payoff has been surprisingly disappointing.
In the 50 years from 1960 to 2010, the global labor force’s average time in school essentially tripled, from 2.8 years to 8.3 years. This means that the average worker in a median country went from less than half a primary education to more than half a high school education. 
How much richer should these countries have expected to become? In 1965, France had a labor force that averaged less than five years of schooling and a per capita income of $14,000 (at 2005 prices). In 2010, countries with a similar level of education had a per capita income of less than $1,000.
In 1960, countries with an education level of 8.3 years of schooling were 5.5 times richer than those with 2.8 year of schooling. By contrast, countries that had increased their education from 2.8 years of schooling in 1960 to 8.3 years of schooling in 2010 were only 167% richer. Moreover, much of this increase cannot possibly be attributed to education, as workers in 2010 had the advantage of technologies that were 50 years more advanced than those in 1960. Clearly, something other than education is needed to generate prosperity.
As is often the case, the experience of individual countries is more revealing than the averages. China started with less education than Tunisia, Mexico, Kenya, or Iran in 1960, and had made less progress than them by 2010. And yet, in terms of economic growth, China blew all of them out of the water. The same can be said of Thailand and Indonesia vis-à-vis the Philippines, Cameroon, Ghana, or Panama. Again, the fast growers must be doing something in addition to providing education.
The experience within countries is also revealing. In Mexico, the average income of men aged 25-30 with a full primary education differs by more than a factor of three between poorer municipalities and richer ones. The difference cannot possibly be related to educational quality, because those who moved from poor municipalities to richer ones also earned more.
As far as education, jobs, and wealth creation is concerned, I think the key paragraph is this:
And there is more bad news for the “education, education, education” crowd: Most of the skills that a labor force possesses were acquired on the job. What a society knows how to do is known mainly in its firms, not in its schools. At most modern firms, fewer than 15% of the positions are open for entry-level workers, meaning that employers demand something that the education system cannot – and is not expected – to provide.
This is exactly what I've found. Several years ago, I started offering good summer interns a full-time permanent position toward the end of summer because I've found that there's almost nothing they're going to learn in the next 2-6 years that will be useful to me as an employer. Maybe some more statistics, maybe more matrix algebra, and maybe a few other things, but all of those things can be learned on the job and I'm happy to teach them. They'll have to learn the vast majority of the knowledge they'll need to be long-term productive employees on the job so it's pointless, from an economic and employment point-of-view, to bother finishing college (and even high-school) and waste all that time and money. The entrepreneur Peter Thiel agrees with me and has called college a "waste of time."

Humans can't help but learn. Schools only slow them down in my experience and very little of that school learning is economically useful.

146 comments:

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

In other words, education also obeys the law of dimishing returns. Any surprise there?

While Silicon Valley types can easily afford to bypass college, I wonder if you would accept to do your next surgery with a high school dropout.

May I remind you that the excessive and bogus demand for diplomas started with... the companies and corporate world themselves? It was not a coalition of Lefties shouting "education!" who turned schools/universities into diploma factories, but their simple response to market demands.

So it is the fault of your colleagues, the Might Entrepreuners! Who would've known? And you look to now doubt the wisdom of their Invisible Hand... beware or they will call you an anti-capitalist.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "May I remind you that the excessive and bogus demand for diplomas started with... the companies and corporate world themselves?"

That was an intermediate result, but the chain starts further back. The use of aptitude and IQ tests was heavily frowned upon (i.e. opens the company to litigation, for example, Griggs v. Duke Power), so companies threw up their hands and just starting using degrees as the aptitude and intelligence filter. Much more expensive (and mostly pointless) for the applicants, but less expensive for the companies because they were able to avoid lawsuits.

Clovis e Adri said...

Sorry but it does not look plausible, Bret.

The degree fever is a global phenomena. I don't think IQ tests were ever ruled out in most other places.

Furthermore, as yourself has witnessed, it is not that hard to select your interns based on what they show on the job, instead of their diplomas or an IQ test. In most other areas that's even easier to spot than in your robot factory, I guess.

I do happen to know a few relatives and their close friends who are CEOs or managers or entrepreneurs. Most of them truly believe the degree fever is a good thing. Some present the same skepticism as you, yet never moved finger to change the status quo. My congratulations for you, apparently few put their money where their mouth is.

Bret said...

Clovis,

I'm sure you've noticed that the United States and "most other places" are different. My observations do only apply to the United States.

I've offered jobs to these interns, but none has ever accepted the job - they all wanted to get their degree.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

Well, one question: would you be doing what you do today, had you not that MIT formation you've got?

Bret said...

Clovis,

By definition, I'd be on a different path so I wouldn't be doing exactly what I'm doing.

On the other hand, I have absolutely no idea what I'd be doing - I graduated from MIT 35 years ago and that's quite a long time for the paths to diverge.

Howard said...

Most of the skills that a labor force possesses were acquired on the job. What a society knows how to do is known mainly in its firms, not in its schools.

In creating and playing with new technologies/tools a lot of tacit knowledge is generated. As that knowledge becomes more standardized or as more user friendly versions are developed, the possibility of learning by doing is open to more people. Thus allowing them to be more productive and to capture higher wages.

Some people are visionaries and/or talented tool makers, some are good users of powerful but not yet user friendly versions, others wait a little longer.

see also: The Next Phase of the Industrial Revolution

Clovis e Adri said...

Howard,

On you learning by doing link, I find it interesting:

---
The right policies are necessary to provide strong incentives for learning on the job, but politically influential interests have moved policy in the wrong direction recently.
---

That's the bit touching Bret's post that bothers me. I don't think the lack of "learning on the job" culture is a matter of blaming politicians. It is really the companies who set the pace here, and it's been their tacit assumption that it is better to take one employee trained than to do it themselves.

Companies and/or people with Bret's mindset are really the exception, as far as I can see.

I do have quite a few friends who gave up trying a professorship and went to look for a job in the market, just to find out that their PhDs only hindered them: no company wants to take a possibly smart but untrained Physics PhD in their engineering/programming teams when they can have a possibly more trained (but fresh and untested) newbie who just got his degree. Those few months of training people on the job are just not available, per the companies own decision.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...just to find out that their PhDs only hindered them..."

PhDs can be a hindrance, but for a bit of a different reason than you've described. The problem with a PhD is that they often are focused on a very narrow topic.

Ok, time out, I have to tell a joke (that I first heard from co-blogger Howard).

What's the difference between Harvard (broad-based liberal-arts education) and MIT (focused engineering and science education)?

At Harvard, you learn less and less about more and more until you know nothing about everything!

At MIT, you learn more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing!

One problem with PhDs is that they know everything about more or less nothing. If that tiny sliver of almost nothing doesn't happen to overlap with my company's needs, then they actually do have less value than someone who has less overall knowledge but a broader experience base. But the PhD says, "But I have a PhD! You have to pay me more!" Ummm, no, I don't. And won't. So then we part ways.

So that's my perspective. (I have hired several PhDs over the years, so the above isn't always true, just a bit of a trend).

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

The joke is good because, well, it is actually no joke at all.

Maybe in the US things are different - or your company, where people still talk to the big boss for a job interview, is an outlier - but from the examples I personally know, they do not even get to that interview (and probably would take the non-PhD salary if they ever got there).

They just submit their CVs to dozens of companies and end up ignored by their human resources department, with answers always hinting at their lack of the "proper" degree.

(The cases I know are form Germany and Brazil. A few in the UK too.)

erp said...

As in most things in life, the personal touch is what matters. Networking is more important than good grades. I've seen over and over, someone is hired because of a personal connection from a friend or colleague, went to the same schools, etc. Looking at dozens of resumes that are more or less the same is exhausting.

Clovis e Adri said...

I have just read Howard's last link ("The Next Phase of the Industrial Revolution").

And it makes me wonder how I never see people describing a robot-dominated economy in a way that makes sense.

Suppose more than 70% of jobs disappear, as posited there. Suppose also the far majority of the unemployed fail to realocate themselves in this new market in the medium (following couple of decades at least) term: that's a reasonable assumption, for the same way we only need 1% of the workforce in agriculture today (and even less after Bret dominates the market), you'll need only a tiny minority to build up the robot economy.

We then run into a wall: to what use will be the robots, with no one actually able to pay for what they produce? You may say they will make everything even cheaper, but not free, and free is what a 70% unemployed population would need.

More to the point, the robots kill themselves, for if no one can pay, there won't be money in the long term to keep the robot revolution going on either.

So it looks like the robot economy is a paradox. It may be my fault, for I fail to see where the vast majority of the world population would make themselves useful enough to make a living. But the truth is, I never see anyone making any other plausible argument either. Howard's link above follows the classic "magic happens here" kind of argument...

Any thoughts here from our friends well acquainted both with robots and economic models?

erp said...

Clovis, we humans are inventive, so I think our progeny will adjust and thrive just as our ancestors have ever since we crawled out of the primeval ooze -- even if we can't predict what the new model might be.

I'm far more worried about us being turned into the Borg by fascist elites than about robots that take the drudgery out of daily life and are controlled by us.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

I think you missed the point that argues how fast the robots will take over many areas of economy.

That's a big difference from past industrial revolutions: we are not talking about my progeny, if I end up unemployed by a robot in 2030, I will be worried enough.

Back to my argument, if 70% of the population also end up unemployed between 2030-2040, I don't think the robots themselves will have someone to pay for their products. They will end up unemployed too!

erp said...

Clovis, I understood your point, but you refuse to understand that IMO it's the fascist elites in power right now that are the danger because they are promoting exactly what you fear. They want a collapse and you needn't worry, disposing of redundant humans is a really easy fix.

Without crony capitalism with the feds confiscating our money and giving it to their cronies to add to their "retirement" funds, robot makers will be at the mercy of the law of supply and demand.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Hmm, interesting.

Let me rephrase your point: you think the govt meddling with the economy is (or will be) of such scale that it will deter law and supply demand from working its "natural" way (which could make the robot takeover proceed in conditions that favor a win-win situation).

Did I get you now?

My question then was: supposing the govt (or 'fascits elites') will behave and not to do that, I still would like to understand how the supply and demand cycle would work out to make that robot-world economics work, for I still fail to glimpse how "our progeny will adjust and thrive" under 70% unemployment (and no, they can't all be working on robot production companies, which may be among the last jobs to disappear).

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "We then run into a wall: to what use will be the robots, with no one actually able to pay for what they produce?"

I think that's a valid point. When the destruction portion of Schumpeter's Creative Destruction overwhelms the creative portion, even if one day it finally balances out, the short to medium consequences could easily be intolerably painful and that pain could include widespread unemployment.

I think that's one reason that even some fairly extreme conservatives/libertarians such as Charles Murray propose a guaranteed minimum income. The guaranteed minimum income provides demand for continued production and innovation even in the face of widespread unemployment and, at the same, could actually reduce government control over people's lives.

There are other solutions as well, so don't sweat the coming of our robot overlords. :-)

erp said...

Clovis, I'm traveling and using this devil's spawn I-Pad, so I'll try to make it short. The law of supply and demand would not allow for robots taking over. Roboteers like any other supplier of product can only disobey that law when fascists make it worth their while by bribing them with our money and as is now becoming more and more obvious, when we have no more money left to steal, it all comes crashing down.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

I don't think Murray offered his GI proposal thinking of a world where most people actually needed it to survive. Reading his link, it is clear he thinks it as a relatively small change under present conditions (exchanging present welfare for the GI, but assuming all other things equal).


OTOH, if that's the world we end up, I guess we'll be all communists after all.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...relatively small change under present conditions..."

The operative bit is "under present conditions."

When far more is produced by 30% as many people (coupled with robots and automation) as in your comment, the stipend could obviously be much, much higher.

Clovis wrote: "I guess we'll be all communists after all"

No. Because anyone can still at least attempt to form companies, innovate, make a lot of money, get a job, etc. It's just the 70% of us (your number) that have been
displaced by robots and automation will still have a quite a comfortable and nice material existence.

Clovis e Adri said...

And we are back to "the magic happens here" argument.

The capacity of production of our industries, with the present level of automation, is already far greater than what they can actually sell. Demand, not supply, is the limit for most automated industries of today.

So back to our oversimplified example: 70% of the population is jobless, and the 30% with jobs are now producing the double, so every price drops by half. How much the other 70% can buy? Well, at their zero income, absolutely nothing.

Not only that: with so many jobless, and companies selling less and cheaper, the tax revenue also drops from a cliff, making it harder for govt to play everybody's father.

Sure we could cook numbers to achieve different results, the point being I do not see why your utopia would necessarily follow... not so bright pictures look no less possible.

Bret said...

Clovis,

About 55% of the U.S. population are jobless right now (elderly, children, stay at home parents, etc.), yet 100% are consumers (by definition, or they wouldn't eat any they'd be dead). So go from 55% to 70% and have the remaining 30% produce twice what the original 45% produced and how much can the 70% buy? Twice what they did before, on average. Everybody can consume twice what they did before on average.

You say at "zero income" but I was talking about a substantial guaranteed income, not zero.

Yes, the government could easily muff this like nearly everything else, but a broad base mix of consumption and income taxes could easily be made to work to fund it. The whole thing is essentially social security for everybody.

erp said...

Bret, social security was designed for those too old to work and then extended to those unable to work because of disabilities, the definition of which now includes almost any reason anyone can think to convince a social worker they can't work. People collect SSI and also work off the books and on and on.

I think the latter group is now larger than us geezers. Let me say up front that the idea of social security doesn't appeal and yes, we take it because we were forced to pay into it, but we give away a large portion of it. The administrative costs of course are enormous, ditto all the social programs. When it came time for Medicare, I tried mightily to avoid it, but learned that no insurance company could by law sell insurance to those eligible for Medicare.

If we had a guaranteed income for everybody, innovation, invention and ambition will fall by the wayside. We would become a society of serfs and elites. It sounds humane, but is, in fact, the very opposite.

Harry Eagar said...

erp, look up 'Peter Roberts' and forget all your delusions about innovation.

Peter said...

There are all kinds of legitimate criticisms that can be made of modern mass postgraduate education, but to come out against it in general on the basis of individual Horatio Alger stories or to propose a strict national cost benefit test on public support for it strikes me as reactionary in the extreme. What parent is going to dissuade his child from pursuing it and sacrifice a lot to make it happen? "Never mind college, Son, I think you should do something clever with computers in the garage instead." Self-improvement through education is as American as cherry pie and it is screamingly obvious that higher education correlates with both economic and social progress all over the world regardless of what 19th century stats may show. Shall we tell all those black educators and sports figures trying to persuade urban kids that education is their ticket out that they are misguided and they should be entrepreneurs instead? Hmm. And if in response to them, some kid achieves big in Latin or music history, shall we tell ourselves it was a big waste of time?

I'm leery of guys like Thiel offering themselves as a model for everybody else. He reminds me of the hard-nosed entrepreneur working on his fifth billion who likes to fly his private plane to Davos to lecture the world on how we really must start doing something about income inequality. Maybe he walks the talk with his companies, but I'm betting at least some of them are blighted by human resource M.A.s imposing strict educational and experience qualifications for even entry level positions. The business world may be becoming more and more aware of the fact that a degree doesn't mean a lot anymore, but that doesn't mean they are taking pigs in a poke with job applicants based on the appearance of innate brains and creativity. In fact, more the opposite. Today's youth seem to be under far more accreditation and experience shackles than my generation was.

Peter said...

Sorry, by postgraduate I meant post-secondary.

Hey Skipper said...

[erp:] If we had a guaranteed income for everybody, innovation, invention and ambition will fall by the wayside. We would become a society of serfs and elites. It sounds humane, but is, in fact, the very opposite.

How about this: abolish the minimum wage*, and provide a guaranteed minimum income to everyone who works.

----
* Whether in LA or other enlightened places that are increasing the minimum wage to $15/hr, the innumerate fools that characterize progressivism forget that no matter where they set that number, the minimum wage is Zeeeeeroh.

Bret said...

erp wrote: "If we had a guaranteed income for everybody, innovation, invention and ambition will fall by the wayside."

Maybe. I would likely have not bothered with my career. But I suspect enough people would have innovated in order to be wealthy anyway. And others, because of the guaranteed income might have been willing to risks.

erp wrote: "We would become a society of serfs and elites. It sounds humane, but is, in fact, the very opposite."

The assumption here for this thread is that robots can do most things better/more cheaply than most humans. What would you propose instead?

Bret said...

Peter wrote: "Self-improvement through education is as American as cherry pie..."

I rather thought it was Self-improvement through hard work, and if it was education, it could only possibly have been the last 1/2 century that it was college education.

Peter wrote: "...it is screamingly obvious that higher education correlates with both economic and social progress all over the world regardless of what 19th century stats may show."

It's screamingly obvious that it's a huge waste of time for most people to me. Gender studies anyone?

Peter wrote: "...they should be entrepreneurs instead..."

Thiel is just one opinion. The choice isn't years wasted paying for education or become entrepreneurs. How about apprenticeships, on the job learning, self-teaching, etc.?

erp said...

Bret,

Let private charities take care of those in need and let everyone else take care of themselves.

Peter, yes.

erp said...

Sorry, comment above should read:

First line:

Skipper, Bret ...

And the second line:

What Bret said about Peter's comment -- yes.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

Your numbers up above are in error for one detail: as per Howard's original link supposing 70% of jobs disappearing to robots, it means that, from the 55% of the US population who works today, only 16.5% would end up having a job after 2040.


I am skeptical about any broad GI working in this utopic future, but I recognize I am in the minority here. Since even Marx optimistically imagined a future of machines freeing everyone up, it looks like everything old is new again.

Clovis e Adri said...

My link above failed, it should be this.

Peter said...

Bret:

It's hard for me to tell whether your complaint is that too many graduates have unmarketable degrees or whether you think college is actually destructive to initiative and creativity. If it's the former, no argument here, but that debate (useful vocation vs. personal erudition) has been around since the year dot. Much has been made of how Germany outpaced Britain in the early 20th century by focusing on science and technology while the Brits were mastering Ancient Greek. I don't think that's a mistake the U.S. is making despite all those gender studies programs. (Do gender studies grads apply for your internships? I'd like to be a fly on the wall in those interviews. :-) ) If the latter, it's a little ironic that you would argue this just after you posted a fete of a huge donation to Harvard. And speaking of Harvard and irony, I had to chuckle at this: And, as my Harvard colleague Lant Pritchett has pointed out, the long-term payoff has been surprisingly disappointing. What would we do without Harvard professors telling us what a waste of time Harvard is?

And what are we to make of this statement: Most of the skills that a labor force possesses were acquired on the job. What a society knows how to do is known mainly in its firms, not in its schools.? That strikes me as a commonplace banality akin to saying teaching skills are built on teaching children rather than theoretical studies. I believe that firmly, but that doesn't mean I don't see a benefit in training young teachers even despite the nonsense that goes on in much modern educational studies. Whoever suggested CEO or senior partner in a law firm should be entry-level positions? And why just college, why not apply your ruthless cost benefit analyses to public education generally? Where is the societal payback in teaching garbage collectors (sorry, sanitary engineers) how to read and write?

I'm getting the feeling the targets here are undergrad social science degrees (spawning grounds of the left) and maybe MBAs that prepare grads more to survive the politics of middle management than advance the enterprise. Otherwise where are you going here and who is your target--students, parents, educators or politicians? Or clueless entrepreneurs who can't smell the coffee? After all, post-secondary education isn't compulsory. Society has an interest in getting a return on its investment in education, but that doesn't mean "return" can be reduced to a quantifiable macro-monetary benefit to entrepreneurs. I really don't think that partially publically-subsidized degree in art history the Director of the National Museum obtained was a waste.

I have more sympathy for your frustrations than you may think. We are living through an explosion in dubious formal "expertise" and attendant accreditation prerequisites. At my son's graduation (marketing) last year, I was stunned to see dozens of young women receive their diplomas in a two year program called "Early Childhood Education" and wondered what grandma would make of that. But it's a baby/bathwater issue surely. I'm not sure I would argue we should close down that program and let these young women learn on the job with my baby.

Bret said...

Peter wrote: "...that doesn't mean I don't see a benefit in training young teachers..."

Once upon a time, I would've thoroughly agreed with that. Now, for a number of reasons, I'm not so sure.

1. Literacy was pretty high among many of the segments of the early U.S. population without hardly any formal schooling at all.

2. Single room school houses seemed to be surprisingly successful, especially since the "teachers" usually had no formal training as educators.

3. Home school children do surprisingly well given that the parents have NO formal training as educators AND they typically only "teach" 1 to 2 hours per day.

My bet is that teaching would be better learned in an apprenticeship/student-teacher setting and a four year degree probably isn't all that useful.

Peter wrote: "Society has an interest in getting a return on its investment in education, but that doesn't mean "return" can be reduced to a quantifiable macro-monetary benefit to entrepreneurs."

Can it be quantified in any way? Because the economist Brian Caplan is writing a book showing the economic "social returns" from education are negative. If we're all so sure the non-economic social returns are wonderful but we can't quantify them, then it kinda does end debate: "We're certain lots of teachin' is really beneficial and there's no reason to insist on quantification because it's oh-so-obvious and we're oh-so-sure, so more money please for more teachin'!!!"

Why don't I find that convincing? Oh yeah, because it's not!

Peter wrote: "I'm not sure I would argue we should close down that program and let these young women learn on the job with my baby."

So you never hired a babysitter (or at least one without some sort of certificate or degree)? Young children, especially, are learning machines. They learn at ten times the rate of adults and it's very difficult to stop them from absorbing information. Stick a few books around and things to count and talk with them a lot and you've done everything you need to (as far a them learning goes).

erp said...

Here's a novel idea: let mom and dad take care of their baby. Nothing is more gratifying than to watch a baby start to figure out the world. Talk and read to them. Instead of talking on their phones, people should tell the baby in the stroller what they're seeing about them as they walk about, ditto car trips, instead they stick their kids in front of cartoons on videos.

Bret is right.

We spent a lot of time on the road with our youngest and as a really tiny tot, he asked us why so many towns had the same name, i.e., the first word he learned to recognize/read was 'exit.' He also learned that numbers aren't only for counting by recognizing numbered road signs.

The people who run the public schools know how to teach, but now instead of introducing kids to their world, they are indoctrinating them with left wing clap trap.

Howard said...

Stick a few books around and things to count and talk with them a lot and you've done everything you need to (as far a them learning goes.

But then they'll be privileged ;-)

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
Home school children do surprisingly well given that the parents have NO formal training as educators AND they typically only "teach" 1 to 2 hours per day. [...]
Stick a few books around and things to count and talk with them a lot and you've done everything you need to (as far a them learning goes.
---
I see you clearly didn't try homeschooling your kids. Actually, your theory on everyone learning so easily tells me you haven't ever tried teaching any inhomogeneous class.

The reason kids go to school isn't all that special. The truth is, society does not value education half as much as it boldly declares so often. What it values, is time.

The reason you did not teach your own kids, very probably, is that your per hour value and skills made your time better applied elsewhere. It is the same reason for the other 99,99% of people.

It is the same reason farm owners, instead of building up a robot from scratch for themselves, prefer to buy yours.

I suspect the reason companies, in general, are not willing to teach and train their own workforce, isn't that much different from the reason your kids weren't homeschooled.

Peter said...

Oh c'mon, Clovis. Plenty of time. All the kids need is an hour or two a day of homeschooling (second choice--a one-room schoolhouse with an untrained teacher) followed by an on-the-job apprenticeship and the U.S. would leave the rest of the world, whose creative juices are being sucked out in lefty universities, behind. Why, there should even be time left over to hoe the back forty and take care of all those family and community members in need like erp assures us everybody used to do. I figure a few spare hours on the weekend should be enough for any self-respecting creative entrepreneur to invent and develop something miraculous.

You may be right, Clovis, that "society" (whazzat?) doesn't value education as much as it claims, but almost all parents do. Poor boobies. Don't they understand how they are depriving their children and slowing down prosperity?

Clovis e Adri said...

Peter,

Well "society" is you, me and everybody else.

A case in study is right in front of your bare eyes: "parents" sure value education a lot, when it comes to their own. What they don't care as much as they may declare, most of the time, is education for other people's kids. Hence you go to MIT, marry to a Harvard graduate, send your kids to good schools and good colleges all over the world, but end up writing in a blog how education is a total loss of everybody's time.

Harry Eagar said...

There are (at least) three kinds of homeschooling. The kids who do so very well tend to be kids from educationally privileged homes who also would do very well in public school.

For example, in my county there was a lot of publicity about a homeschool boy who achieved 1600 on SAT. His parents were both Ph.Ds in astronomy and medicine. Not so much publicity about the public school girl who won a Sterling Scholarship (big deal here) when all the other winners attended very expensive private schools (like Punahou, Obama'a school, although its students do not do nearly as well as those from Iolani).

Then there are the religious nuts (Duggars) who are actively teaching their children to be functional morons.

Then again, the ones whose children are out of control and who are listed as homeschooled when they are out surfing all day.

And then there are the strange combos. For example, a friend of the Sterling Scholar who was a combination of the first and second categories and left home at 18 knowing about 4 languages and lots of math but not enough not to befriend the addicts in Harvard Square who raped her, stabbed her and threw her in the Charles River.

Peter said...

Talk about scraping the bottom of the ideological barrel, Harry. I know teachers' unions love to play the socialization card, but are we now to be treated to outright fear-mongering? "OK, so maybe homeschooled kids do better in math and languages, but nobody can teach them how to navigate drug-addled streets like we can."

Harry Eagar said...

Socialization card, indeed. I did not give he entire background of that poor girl.

Her father was a severe religious nut and mental case, her mother wore the Christian equivalent of the burqa and your humble correspondent came as close as I ever have to punching someone out in one encounter with that nut. His girls (who were sweet kids) were kept so isolated that, indeed, they were not socialized enough to avoid being thrown off a bridge.

Clovis e Adri said...

Harry,

That girl's history is sad indeed. Looking for more information, I've found this, from 2002. In 2005 the murderers were all convicted.

I've found interesting that, in the first link, they say she went away from home because her parents moved to a Hare Krishna community in Florida, and she wanted something else.

Have you ever paid attention to Hare Krishna people, Harry? They are far from the standard "homeschooling religious nut" you may have in mind.

It is not that she was a homeschooled "religious nut" too naive to go living in the streets among the wrong crowd. By the contrary, that lifestyle is facilitated by Hare Krishna creed and practices...

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "The reason you did not teach your own kids, very probably, is that your per hour value and skills made your time better applied elsewhere. It is the same reason for the other 99,99% of people."

Perhaps, but then I would argue that schools are then essentially giant daycares because my point is that homeschoolers get non-trained teachers and do fine. So yeah, set up giant daycare centers, with homeschooling sort of material available. That's a lot cheaper than having expensive teachers.

Bret said...

Peter wrote: "You may be right ... that "society" ... doesn't value education as much as it claims, but almost all parents do."

I'm reading these comments and I think I'm focusing a different part of the word "education." Here's the dictionary.com definition: "the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life."

It's a two-sided definition: you can impart or acquire; you can prepare oneself or others.

In the post and all my comments I focus the acquisition and preparing oneself half of the definition and pretty much ignore the other half. That's because I don't believe in the other half. That's because I've never seen anyone not actively willing and engaging in acquiring knowledge have knowledge forced upon them. And conversely, anyone interested in acquiring knowledge usually seems to, pretty much whether or not a trained human imparting agent is available.

Many parents value education (as in wants their children to acquire knowledge and life-skills) and all they have to do, in my observation, is to instill a desire to acquire knowledge in their children. If they do that, the children will acquire a great deal of knowledge throughout their entire lifetime, pretty much no matter what. If they don't do that, it will be difficult and slow to impart knowledge on those children.

But in either case, the teaching (imparting) half has very limited value, perhaps other than giant daycare centers.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

I'll share a little secret about education and learning.

It is not only about the teacher's qualification. Often the teacher effort and sincere interest on the student's learning is more important than how smart and knowledgeable the teacher actually is.

Good homeschooling parents compensate their lack of formation with many times over their effort and skin on his kid success.

Now, how much do you need to pay babysitters in giant daycare centers to have the same level of interest in your kid as you do?

I guess they would end up being a lot more expensive than the present system, where if a trained teacher is not so interested in his students, at least he can partially compensate that with a broad knowledge and skills on what he teaches.

The best of the best schools are the ones where teachers are both technically good and love their kids. That's not something you can easily achieve, for it is not only about money.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "Hence you go to MIT, marry to a Harvard graduate, send your kids to good schools and good colleges all over the world, but end up writing in a blog how education is a total loss of everybody's time."

See my comment to Peter above. Education is NOT a waste of time. Going to school probably is.

When you say "go to MIT," keep in mind that while I have a diploma from MIT and got good grades, I rarely attended classes because I found they were generally a waste of time.

I learned a great deal there (enabling me to do very well on the tests), but was taught very little.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
I learned a great deal there (enabling me to do very well on the tests), but was taught very little.
---
I have no doubt about that, Bret.

The good students, almost by definition, rarely need teachers, even more at the university level.

What you fail to recognize is how the subset of students like you is really, really, unrepresentative of greater society. You are subject to that bias because you've probably found many people like you at MIT. There again, the subset of MIT-level students is really, really unrepresentative either.


Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "What you fail to recognize is how the subset of students like you is really, really, unrepresentative of greater society."

That's immaterial. The only way folks like me (and everybody else commenting here) are not representative of "greater society" is that we may be somewhat better at learning than some other folks. The vast majority of humans are perfectly capable of learning, and do indeed learn, vast amounts of knowledge without being taught and generally with fairly minimal guidance.

That's what I've experienced, that's what I've observed, and that's what my research has confirmed (for a brief period, I was part of a project that attempted to use artificial intelligence to create computer instruction). We're not special, just slightly better than average at learning (perhaps significantly better than average at learning advanced mathematics and science).

Proof (well, not proof, rather evidence that I consider to be overwhelming): Virtually every child learns to talk and count without being taught (Twins who are somewhat isolated are known to make up and learn their own private language). Recursive knowledge such as language is some of the hardest to absorb. Many other things (such as reading), are relatively easy once adequate maturity is achieved.

I'm guessing you're gonna claim that every other area of learning is different and I'm gonna disagree.

Teachers add the following value:
1 Instill enthusiasm for learning (make learning feel good)
2 Help the learner focus
3 Provide some guidance through a curriculum (though this can be just picking the right book(s))
4 Answer questions

That's it. Subject knowledge is potentially counterproductive. For example, a teacher who doesn't know the math to be taught, but sits down with the students and puzzles through it with them (especially assuming a teacher who does know it is available if they get stuck) is probably the best possible way for kids to learn (or just have the kids figure it out together). Why? Because it teaches the students how to learn, how to figure it out. That's essentially what happens in home schooling and to some extent what happened in the one-room schoolhouse.

That pretty much works for everybody and very little teacher training is required.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
Proof (well, not proof, rather evidence that I consider to be overwhelming): Virtually every child learns to talk and count without being taught
---
We all learn to walk, run and jump without being taught too. Strangely, that doesn't mean we are all good at basketball - how come?

Of course, we can set up a giant day care center with nannies who never played basketball, and pay them pennies to make sure the kids are learning.

We also can set up a basketball school with good players and coachs, and pay them (maybe a bit better) to make sure the kids are learning. (Assume both schools are very big to alleviate statistical deviations)

Following your rather interesting theories in education, we can predict both cases will have very similar outcomes. Well, that's why any team is basically as good as any other, and we rarely see champions repeating their titles... oh, wait.

How do you think the ranking of schools work out too? Would you say the best ones selected are almost aleatory?

erp said...

Not aleatory, genetic.

Harry Eagar said...

'And conversely, anyone interested in acquiring knowledge usually seems to, pretty much whether or not a trained human imparting agent is available.'

Define knowledge. Have you seen the videos of that dedicated quester-of-knowledge Megan Fox? You should.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "Strangely, that doesn't mean we are all good at basketball - how come?"

LOL. I'm thinking if you thought about it a bit more, you could've come up with a stronger example!

When I was young, I read Big A: The Story of Lew Alcindor. Mr. Alcindor was later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and during his era was the best basketball player who had ever lived (yes, yes, I'm sure some might dispute that, but tough).

It's been more than 40 years since I read the story, but it pretty much went like this. He is 7'2", which is still quite tall even for basketball, but back then it was pretty much taller than anybody else. He spent every waking moment of his childhood playing basketball with no formal training. By high school he was by far the best player. Yes, he got coaching then, but this reminds me of a funny and sort of unrelated story.

One of my wife's sisters was a nanny for a while. One of her charges learned to walk and she was oh-so-proud. She said, "He's walking because I massaged his legs a certain way!" I managed not to burst out laughing and say, "You mean he never would've walked had you not done the massage? Really?" It's amazing how people will take credit for things they had nothing (or very little) to do with.

Jabbar's New York City high-school team won 71 straight games. No doubt the high-school coach takes credit for it, but really? Who's gonna go up against a 7'2" freak who's spent his life on a basketball court, regardless of coaching? The answer is clearly nobody. Do you really think that the coaching made hardly any difference at all? I don't. Did his college and pro coaches make a difference. I seriously doubt it and, if so, not much of one.

Anyway, if you grew to 7'2" and spent your youth playing basketball, you almost certainly would've been pretty good at basketball too! On the other hand, if you're short, you're not gonna be competitive no matter what coaching you get. I'm not saying coaching has absolutely no impact, but it's tiny compared to raw talent and how hard the players work.

And that's true of learning as well.

Harry Eagar said...

Poor example. There must be literally millions of American boys who wanted nothing better than to play shortstop for the Yankees (a job usually held by men of ordinary size, not freaks) and who never even got good enough to be invited to the minor leagues.

Alcindor was good but he was no Bob Cousy.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

Indeed, my knowledge of basketball fails me.

I've put the restriction of "Assume both schools are very big to alleviate statistical deviations" exactly to make sure either both teams would have their "freaks", or none would. As it happens, the importance such extraordinary players (who happens to be always in the statistical deviation) have in basketball looks to be very pronounced.

Back to the schools, let me try another angle: world rankings have clearly changed over the last decades. A few asiatic countries barely would show in past, nowadays they are always there at the top. The US, while a leader in the begin, lags far behind today.

Can genetics explain that?

You are certainly right when saying:

---
I'm not saying coaching has absolutely no impact, but it's tiny compared to raw talent and how hard the players work.
---

What you underestimate here is how schools play a role in keeping the players at their hard work, in ways a giant daycare center hardly would match. You don't have it covered by saying teachers "Help the learner focus", because it is more than help: with exception to the notable examples, most kids in a daycare center wouldn't focus at all.

erp said...

... or Pete Maravich.

Harry Eagar said...

I knew Pete and his dad when Pete was in high school. Used to keep score at semi-organized pickup games that Pete played in. He wasn't a complete player. Some people would rate Bill Russell over Alcindor on that quality as well.

But basketball is a team sport. Pete wouldn't have made the splash in high school that he did without a remarkable teammate named Smith who was an extraordinary (for a high schooler) passer who fed Pete the ball. Nor would Alcindor have been the player he was if he had been at Ordinary High and not Power Memorial.

Alcindor made UCLA a dynasty but Wooden made Alcindor. Only fans will recall the name of the UCLA center between Alcindor and Walton. He won the national championship, too.

And fans will recall how Dave Cowens outplayed Jabbar twice in the finals, despite being undersized for a pro center. (I got to pick the MVP at the 1970 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament and I picked Cowens who was the best player I ever saw in person; never saw Jabbar.)

David Thompson was the best basketball player ever; Cousy second. And Thompson lived the game the way Alcindor did, but without the excellent infrastructure of schools, coaches, leagues and other players. He was 6-feet-4. In 1974, Thompson was guarded by Tom Roy, who was 6-10 and the best defensive player of his year. Thompson forced Roy to foul out three times in three games.


I used to care about basketball. Now I cannot even name the pro teams.

Howard said...

But basketball is a team sport.

Yes, and that's why there have been several players better than David Thompson. Although perhaps none more athletic. The pro game has had some bad stretches since the '70s but also some great periods and considerable evolution resulting from the introduction of the 3pt line and a few other modifications. The team play of the San Antonio Spurs in the finals last year was terrific. (Gregg Popovich on short list of greatest coaches ever.) I would have loved to see them matched against some of the great Lakers and Celtics teams of the past.

Clovis e Adri said...

This ignorant Brazilian must confess: I don't know a single player you guys keep mentioning.

I assumed Michael Jordan made everyone else irrelevant in the game history. Looks like many people out there believe so.

erp said...

Son # 1 loves basketball as much as he loves physics and was a pretty great player himself, places Maravich on top. I liked Clyde, perhaps because we went to so many Kncks games, he seemed like a member of the family.

My husband who used to watch and even got to play pick up games with Cousy and friends in Rockaway when he was a kd was also a very good player and watches it a bit, but I can't. The tattoos are off putting, not to mention the pants hanging to mid-calf and instead of slender physiques, the players look like they should be on the gridiron, not a basketball court. Grace and elegance has given over to bumps and grinds.

College games are a little better.

erp said...

Clovis, even your parents weren't born during those good old days.

Harry Eagar said...

Do you think Thompson wasn't a team player? Look at the lineup that he won the college championship with (and went undefeated the year before). No Scotty Pippins on that team.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "Can genetics explain that?"

Without looking into it further, I don't know. Certainly, without knowing, there are plausible genetic based explanations. For example, asians are genetically smarter but perhaps used to be nutritionally disadvantaged, then they had better nutrition so they're now doing better. Or something like that.

Clovis wrote: "What you underestimate here is how schools play a role in keeping the players at their hard work, in ways a giant daycare center hardly would match."

You say that but I don't see any evidence that I find convincing. The counter evidence is high literacy rates in the U.S. (white males in New England, anyway) well before formal schooling was widespread, one room school houses with untrained teachers and home schooling doing as well.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
for example, asians are genetically smarter but perhaps used to be nutritionally disadvantaged, then they had better nutrition so they're now doing better.
---
I am sure you are able to come up with something better than that.

You only need to look for countries nearby of near genetic constituency, food enough for their citizens, yet far behind in results.

---
You say that but I don't see any evidence that I find convincing.
---
Yeah, that's why yourself trusted your kids to learn all by themselves with a cheap nanny at home. Oh, wait.

Sorry if that's too ad-hominem, but I can't see how you can make that argument with honesty otherwise.

---
The counter evidence is high literacy rates in the U.S. (white males in New England, anyway) well before formal schooling was widespread,
---
Which could make for a godd argument, were not for the fact that many of those white males would be considered semi-illiterates for today standards.

---
one room school houses with untrained teachers and home schooling doing as well
---
Both of which, in terms of actually making students to focus, can be as good as many low-to-middle lelvel schools. IOW, still way better than a nanny center.

erp said...

Clovis, small children only need to be loved and feed and provided with safe places to learn which they do so by watching others around them. Colorful toys and books are are more fun for the adults than the kids.

Before stickies and colored paper and 164 different colored pens in a box, people learned to read with a stick scratching in the dirt and in many cases the only book in sight was a bible written in Latin.

Of course, depending on the family situation, as they get older kids needed to find people outside the family from whom to learn. That's why the apprentice programs were formed. From there kids who showed more promise went on to sit at the feet of local scholars, priests, etc. and did menial tasks in exchange for being taught what was known. In that way they were invested in the process.

People were likely to land where they fit. Genius popped up then as now and so human knowledge was advanced.

Now it's a lot more complicated and every kid is expected to out-do his/her parents and for many, it's a darn near impossible task. A family member involved in a administrative capacity at an Ivy told me that more than half the students in a highly competitive graduate program are in some kind of counseling and many take strong medications to reduce anxiety and depression.

Fun it seems has gone out of being kid and it's a darn shame.

Harry Eagar said...

erp is, as always, just making crap up. Bret, too, in this case. Go back and read the writings of the products of the schooling you praise, and come back and tell me how marvelously they turned out. There's even a shorthand term for it: greengrocer's apostrophe.

At least in New England, the schooling requirements were formalized and the standard of teacher preparation was high. Many of the educationists in colonial New England were graduates of Oxford or Cambridge.

Te history of America is really quite interesting.

erp said...

Harry, so comfortingly consistent. Have you created a narrative about why I make up cr*p?

It's very flattering because, even I, a certified smart person, am not smart enough to make up this stuff and I am familiar the greengrocer's apostrophe phenomenon, however, contrary to your assertion, it is still alive and well even after the gazillions of our tax dollars that the government has confiscated and handed over to the teachers' unions.

This past Sunday I was at the Atlanta airport awaiting my flight in front of a gate with an electronic sign reading:

Thank you for chousing Delta Airlines.

I'd be willing to bet my entire social security check, minus of course all the deductions, and even kick in all the free stuff I'm entitled to get from Medicare, that the person who typed in those words wasn't home schooled.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
Now it's a lot more complicated and every kid is expected to out-do his/her parents and for many, it's a darn near impossible task.
---
Right. And who/what should we blame for that development?

I stand by what I've first stated in the begin of this thread's comments: it is mostly a market-induced effect.

erp said...

... I think it's an American thing and it's not market-induced, if I understand by that you mean capitalism/materialism is the culprit.

We all came here, more or less, for the same reason, to make a better life than the one we left. In other cultures, people are born into their place in the world. Here we make our own place, but the highest achievers' children don't have much wiggle room, so IMO that's why so many of their children move in the other direction towards drugs and even suicide or start meddling into do-goodery with sophomoric solutions to the problems of the third world ...

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "Yeah, that's why yourself trusted your kids to learn all by themselves with a cheap nanny at home. Oh, wait. "

If I had to do it over again, I might well have done it differently. Note that we did pull our younger daughter out of private school and into the public school system since we decided it wouldn't make one bit of difference and so we might as well save the money. And what are public schools if not a free babysitter?

I totally trust my kids to learn by themselves with only minor help - after all, they're rather like me, which is, of course, one of your counter arguments. My claim is that most kids are enough like me to not need or even have it be particularly helpful to be taught.

Harry Eagar said...

Damn few teach themselves calculus.

If I am following you right, you align with the crowd tat thinks we could shut down tge schools so long as we give everyone internet access. Because you can totally rely on what you read there.

I went to terrible schools that taught nonsense. It took years and lots of hard work to unlearn it, and I'm not sure but what a few myths remain.

I agree with Thomas Gray (Elegy in a Country Churchyard) about mute inglorious Miltons.

erp said...

... Harry, see if you were left to your own devices, you would have saved yourself all those years of sitting in dull classrooms.

For those so inclined, calculus isn't that hard to teach yourself. Ask any of our fellows here at this forum ... and many can never learn it even with the most vigorous teaching.

If you were able to rely on yourself at a young age instead of living in the lap of southern aristocracy and gentility, you probably would have avoided the siren call of socialism and used your talents in benign self-interest thereby forwarding the causes of happiness in your world and the world around you.

:-)

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "Damn few teach themselves calculus."

Sure, but damn fewer need calculus.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

You may as well cut the middleman and enlist your daughter to do some real work instead of losing all that time with that nanny school. For example, why don't you hire her in your company to follow those guild aprentice practices Erp so sorely miss?

Or let her open her own business right now and go to the next stage of human evolution, "Homo economicus entrepreneursensis".

I suppose nothing she'll ever learn at school or college will help at that anyway, right?

erp said...

Clovis, is it a language thing that causes you to interpret that I champion or sorely miss something when I'm pointing out a fact. Apprenticeships are a far better practice than "unpaid" intern programs which are, in fact, costly for employers who provide renumeration in some form for their dubious services instead of expecting them to actually pay for their keep by doing menial service.

BTW - why do you assume that Bret needs to set up his grown daughters future. Would you feel the same way if they were sons?

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "Or let her [Bret's daughter] open her own business right now..."

She has, of course, already done that when she was nine. It went for quite a while too.

She baked chocolate chip banana bread every Saturday morning for the neighbors and made a decent profit for a nine year old. She bought all the ingredients and did all the work (including delivery) and had quite a following (more than half the neighbors loved the fresh baked delivered bread and were quite disappointed when she stopped). The only thing we subsidized was we let her use the oven and mixer and associated electricity without charge, but it still would've been profitable even we charged her reasonable cost plus profit for that.

It was unlicensed and I'm sure we would've been in huge trouble if anybody snitched to the government during that period, but fortunately nobody did, and everybody was happy.

erp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
erp said...

My younger son was about the same age when he first ventured into capitalism by offering free samples to prospective buyers of the candy he was selling for the Indian Guides. Normally we just purchased whatever the kids had to sell and I was aghast that he went door to door, but the neighbors thought he was adorable and he sold a lot of candy. The rest is history.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

I am happy your daughter has shown herself so resourceful.

I've known a few other kids down here selling stuff with profits too.

I've often worried they could be out of school - or even when they are at one, it can often be a public school lacking teachers and even chalk.

I am mightly happy now I've learned they are not a bit behind, in opportunities, than your daughter, who goes to a Californian nanny-public school so neglected that you had Craig Venter delivering a talk just the other day.

Oh, the relief it brings me to know it all doesn't matter... I'll eat some banana cake today to celebrate. Way better than those cheap candies I've bought from a kid in the traffic signal yesterday.

Harry Eagar said...

While I do not use calculus in my work, and am not facile with it, I find that knowing how calculus works is essential to understanding the world around me. There are a good many reasons to think that a good formal education is valuable in itself and produces real, if somewhat incommeasurable, 'profits.' It is like networks that way; the thing is more valuable than the sum of all the profits and losses of its segments. Oscar Wilde defined a cynic as a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. I would say that applies as well to classical liberal economists.)

For example, we are often advised to take an active interest in our own health care or retirement planning. These re complex problems, not easily understood, but more easily understood if we can draw upon the experience of people who have studied them.

erp, I am not and never was a socialist. I am a New Dealer. But I know history and recognize the contributions of socialists to our modern way of life.

Clovis, I believe your link pretty much closed out this line of questioning. But perhaps Bret should read 'Children of the Dark' as well.

erp said...

Harry, New Dealers were in the main Communists, the real kind, beholden to the USSR, so you are probably right that you never were a socialist. I was just being polite.

Selling cookies to the neighbors is just a fast track to child prostitution? To quote Steinbeck, "Yeah, Lennie, lots of rabbits."

A faster track is to accept cookies from the nice man or woman from the welfare.

erp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

You misundertand the pictures I've linked to.

None of those kids are selling sex. They are only selling candies or some other small stuff. Usually for many hours.

They are just some entrepreuners who agree (or hadn't much choice, in fact, but to agree) with Bret that schools are pointless.

erp said...

Actually, it may be naive to believe that selling candy is the only deal being made, but I'll concede that you know more about that particular situation than I.

I don't think schools are pointless and I don't think that's Bret's position either -- only they aren't necessarily for every child.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

More properly, you could say that such unsupervised kid, staying all day long in the streets, may well lead him to prostitution in higher incidence than "normal" kids. That's surely true.

What is unlikely is that the kid actually selling candies may be also selling sex - by the simple reason that, once they sell sex, they stop selling candies, for the profits are way higher in the sex business.

As for Bret's position, I understand he doesn't think schools are pointless as long as they at last provide for nannies. So the only problem he sees in the pictures I've linked, I guess, is that no nanny is supervising the candy businesschildren.

erp said...

My take on kids selling candy in the streets is that it's likely to be a cover for the more profitable trade, but that might not be necessary if the authorities are getting their cut.

If the schools were only nannies, it wouldn't be so bad. My problem with them is that they are actively evil.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

What authorities? Maybe in your country they exist for everyone. Down here, for the poor, it is a wild world (if you will, a true Libertarian world!) - with no authorities in sight (unless to take a cut in the drug business, that one is too profitable to give a pass).

You see, all the tenets of healthy entreupreneuship are happening to those kids. They are learning a profession by doing it. If they ever enter into the sex business, well, there is another profitable good thing for capitalism. And after a decade of prostitution (give or take a couple of years), they turn 18 and are adults - of the consenting kind every Libertarian approves of. So you have a fully formed entrepreuner with a lot of experience right there.

Did I mention a good number of the tourists (Americans and Europeans, usually) love our Northeast beaches because, other than their beauty, they can take kids so cheaply? So there you have it, a successful business model bringing money to the country.

It is freedom everywhere, you see? The whole muddy bureaucracy and corruption is a drag only for the "normal country" (the one not too poor, 4/5 of it). The remaining one lives in a very free world, you have no idea how so... Bret would love it, they don't need to lose time with schools, bureaucracy (everything is so informal!) or even laws... until they mess up with someone stronger, of course, because force down there is everything.

Harry Eagar said...

erp, with her limited experience, does not understand how poor people live. That's why I suggested reading 'Children of the Dark.'

She probably thinks the squeegee men who used to hang out on the streets of New York were also selling sex. Because of her often-expressed contempt for plain folk.

Her also oft-stated opinion about the New Deal confirms her ignorance. While kids selling candy have some claim to have come by their lack of education honestly, erp cannot say the same.

Bret, for an amusing story of what happens when an expert knows his field expertly but not much else, I commend to you Chapter 10, Section III of David Holloway's 'Stalin and the Bomb.' Beria, who was in charge of the bomb program, knew nothing about physics and his professional instinct was that the physicists were making it all up and should be shot.

Stalin disagreed. Let them finish the bomb and then we can shoot them, he advised. For fans of alternative history, imagining the world after Beria shot Kurchatov provides an expansive topic.

erp said...

Harry, what does my knowledge or lack of same of how poor people live have to do with New Deal communists? Surely Frankie and his red friends were the polar opposite of poor people. While you're at it, please explain in what way the New Deal differed from workaday socialism.

Squeegee men sold sex? Yikes. What a notion.

Plain folk? I am the epitome of plain folk and am okay with that. You are the aristo and carry a heavy load of guilt for it.

Clovis, I'm not sure if your riff on libertarianism and children selling sex is sarcasm or not, but there are laws against that kind of stuff, or at least there used to be, here. Freedom isn't license. There's a world of difference.

Harry Eagar said...

erp, we know you don't know about how poor people manage because of all the silly things you have said about that; the idea that they all got care from the finest physicians in NYC for free, for example. And we know you don't know anything about the New Deal because, among other things, you keep saying that Roosevelt took his orders from the Kremlin, for which you have supplied no evidence, because there isn't any.

Nobody is forcing you to write these things.

erp said...

Empirical evidence from Frankie’s actions and there was plenty in the papers during that time that is no longer handy. There was plenty of evidence also that he knew the Japanese were planning to attack Hawaii. All orchestrated to get us into the war to save Uncle Joe's chestnuts.

New dealers like all lefty elites are anti-Semites and had no interest in saving Jews or any other inferior species like gypsies...

Had Hitler been able to resist doing Napoleon one better, it would be a very different world today. Hitler and Stalin working together. Evidence of new dealers and the Kremlin was in Durant's version of the socialist paradise, a version that is alive and well even to this day.

What I said about the finest physicians giving their time to the poor was true. Our own experience bears it out. How is you think you know all about how things were in my time and place when you don't even know how things were outside your privileged existence until you found out you needed to expiate for being white and wealthy.

Things were better in the bad old days for the poor. I didn't say they lived the way the poverty pimps do today on our dime. They had communities and real hope that things would get better ... and after the war, things did start doing so, but that wasn't the way to secure power, so our betters fixed things. They destroyed the family, they barred coloreds from union jobs...

People being what they are sometimes don't follow the script, so occasionally some pop up like those at the church who refuse to be victims, but they are few and far between, so my money is on the latter day commies -- finally an expose of Valerie Jarrett's card-carrying communist background.

Perhaps you didn’t see it, I don’t think it was on the front page of the Times. It isn't part of "All the news that's fit to print," just like the communist backgrounds of others in this administration - I don't say Obama administration because he's merely the face, the creased pants and the arrogant stance of it.

You and people like you have destroyed my country. I hope you like what has replaced it.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
Clovis, I'm not sure if your riff on libertarianism and children selling sex is sarcasm or not,
---
It is, and it isn't.

Of course there are laws here against prostitution of children (or even of adults, for that matter). When you arrive at a big airport here in the country, like Rio or Sao Paulo, you'll even see posters advising foreign tourists that child prostitution is a crime and they shall be persecuted - you know, the kind of scary tactics you use when you are too incompetent to actually enforce the law.

The thing is, there are too many kids in the streets of the too big cities. Far more than cops or social workers (if there are social workers at all - most cities don't). So no one can do much about it. What would you do with the kid selling candies in the traffic stop? You have no shelter to take him to, and more often than not he is there by consent (or orders) of his parents/caretakers/whatever (if he has some, for he may also actually live in the streets all by himself).

It was much worse in the 90's, though. Things have been improving at that, just not as fast as I'd wish for.

I know social workers are vilified leftists in the eyes of our friends here, but I suspect they don't have much idea of what happens when you don't have them or any other kind of structure to deal with those problems. It is the kind of welfare spenditure Libertarians would love to make away with, isn't it?

erp said...

Clovis, this is too big a subject for a blog comment. In the bad old days, children in the west (again I don't want to comment on what happened in Brazil or any other third world country) were cared for by their families. Orphans without extended families were a tragedy about which there are many sad stories ala Chas. Dickens.

However horrible depictions of those conditions were, they are nothing to what goes on now. Social workers and/or children's protective services don't help.

A story that I tell because I was there which made a huge impact on me and which you apparently don't believe and which happened 30 years ago when things were nowhere near as bad as they are now, was that an entire state-wide board on mental health commiserated with a social worker upset because she "had" to let a two year old boy stay with his mother and her abusive boy friend because the kid was their only source of income. When I demurred, they all turned on me, so I picked up my bat and ball and resigned making it the last time I agreed to serve on any other than local committees or boards.

Socialism destroyed families and substituted a corrupt disgusting bureaucracy which has metastasized into an evil that touches every aspect of our lives.

Bret said...

Clovis asks: "It is the kind of welfare spenditure Libertarians would love to make away with, isn't it?"

Not exactly, no.

Libertarians have no problem spending money on the poor. The question is what is the source of those funds, is that source the best source, and, if not, can that source be changed incrementally over time to something more optimal.

For example, I've never seen a serious libertarian dissertation that called for immediate and complete elimination of all support for the poor.

By the way, your social workers might do some good, I don't know. Here are the sorts of things our social workers focus on (in other words, every parent in this country is a criminal).

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

Maybe some tools get old. Perhaps social workers expired their time in your society and now, left with too little to do, they need to look for trouble where there is none. That's probably the reason why cops in Dresden are reduced to hunting inattentive pedestrians so they can charge a fine and call it a day.

I highly doubt though, that's also the case with schools.


Erp,

Yes, you told that story before, I keep not believing it as you tell it, but that's water under the bridge.

erp said...

Not to me it isn't and schools are far worse than that.

Harry Eagar said...

I can believe that there was a decision to 'keep a family together,' because that was considered a key goal until it became clear that there are worse things than breaking up a family.

But I don't believe the reason erp assigns to the decision, not without evidence, just as I don't believe her claims about commies without evidence.

Y'know, erp, I worked in newspapers for 45 years and I read a lot in the morgue. Sometimes the original printed papers, sometimes the microfilm. I never an across what you say was in those papers.

But if you read those papers you'd know, as I know, tat your rosy view about the poor in the old days is bunk.

erp said...

There was plenty out there, but not for those who do not care to see.

I'm still waiting for you to explain how the New Deal and socialism are different and why fascism isn't just socialism tarted up a bit?

I didn't read about the poor in the papers, I lived in and around it -- and the reason given by the social worker for leaving the two-year boy where he was had nothing to do with keeping families together, the stated reason at an open meeting was that the mother and the boy friend had no other source of income.

I know you are gobsmacked by my great intellect, but even I couldn't make that up.

Now all these years later, I've learned not to be surprised by anything because that mentality is socialism in a nutshell.

Harry Eagar said...

Well, for starters, the New Deal did not seize private property nor put the means of production in the hands of the producers. No businesses were nationalized.

The meme, so beloved by Skipper, that socialism = fascism is a novelty that the desperate rightwing has fallen in love with. No one at the time that fascism was an important international movement ever failed to distinguish the two, nor did anyone anywhere ever think of fascism as anything but a movement of the right.

Most fascist regimes were monarchical, which excludes them from the socialist camp. It is diagnostic of the pathetic ignorance of rightwing discourse. When I say pathetic I am being polite. Many would say wilful.

erp said...

Your response is silly and a perfect example of projection.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Harry actually answered what you asked for, he did provide a comparison between New Deal and socialism.

Wold you disagree with his points? If yes, why?

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] Well, for starters, the New Deal did not seize private property ...

Wrong. Again.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

Is there such a thing as quantification on that matter?

If the govt gets socialist in raisin matters, is it still the same as doing a complete Lenin-Stalin turn?

Where, in language, should we take account of differences? Because Erp does't look to see any at all.

erp said...

Clovis, you must have heard the one about the camel's nose getting under the tent.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] If the govt gets socialist in raisin matters, is it still the same as doing a complete Lenin-Stalin turn?

No, absolutely not.

However, I'm believe that without a Constitution putting the brakes on government, we would have gotten a lot closer than we have.

Clovis e Adri said...

Skipper,

That's indeed an interesting view.

Do you think the other places who suffered a coup had no Constitution either?

Or do you think your Constitution has some magical words that somehow made it coup-proof in ways no other Constitution was?

Either way, an interesting view...

erp said...

No. Clovis, the Constitution is only our handbook. We, the People make the magic.

Peter said...

the Constitution is only our handbook

That's a bit like a devout Christian describing the Bible as his regulatory guidelines. With the arguable exception of France, I know of no other country that attaches such near-mystical importance to its founding, founders and founding documents. Up here, Canadian school children are forced to spend huge amounts of time learning about the Fathers of Confederation, the preparatory meetings they held and the constitution they produced. Most find it as inspiring as reading a telephone book by the pool. Within months the kids have all forgotten who they were and what they said. My theory is that it is the source of our international image as being nice, but boring.

erp said...

Peter, Nothing wrong with being nice, but boring.

I don't find anything mystical about our FF, only that a bunch of people came together at a time and place and were able to put their heads together and come up with a darn good piece of work. Unlike Canadian kids today, I remember what I learned over 70 years ago about our country's history and was proud to be part of it then and have been proud of that heritage ever since even if people like me were only counted as 4/5ths of a person -- that being a lot better than being considered chattel as we were previously. :-)

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

Those were the goold old days, don't you think?

Or, why do you think we should deviate from millenia of evolution that made men stronger than women, and fit to physically dominate them, in order to establish this utopia of equal rights among boys and girls?

It looks a lot like defending any govt action concerning economic inequality, doesn't it?

Harry Eagar said...

It was the first written national constitution and the Framers were acutely conscious of that.

Skipper's bringing it up mystifies me. Of course the Roosevelt administration adhered to the Constitution. You could read FDR's eloquent words on the document on the occasion of its 150th anniversary.

However, it cannot be said that rightwing governments in the states have respected it. The states I grew up in regularly ignored it. That's why, tardily, the national government had to use force or the threat of force to uphold it.

That's why argumewnts for minarchy move me so little. Been there and didn't like the outcome.

erp said...

Clovis, biology is everything.

Men developed brawn and women developed brains. They figured out how to protect their children and get them feed, etc. That's how it happened. Don't like it, start your own universe and do it differently.

Harry, states around where you came from saw their states' rights upended and may have rightly thought a bit differently about the Constitution and yes, that WAS the reason for the Civil War. Emancipation was not the cause which is why connecting the Confederate flag with slavery is so berserk and merely another distraction from the country's headlong slide to h*ll in a hand basket.

Hey Skipper said...

Harry:] Well, for starters, the New Deal did not seize private property ...

Wrong. Again.


How about we address that, Harry?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Of course the Roosevelt administration adhered to the Constitution

American history is interesting, you should read it sometime, to quote.

The Roosevelt Administration actively strove to overturn the Constitution, and after suffering humiliating defeats at SCOTUS due to its unconstitutional efforts it was reduced to packing SCOTUS to get the politically favorable but clearly unconstitutional results it wanted. It was not until this current President that we have had an federal executive so utterly unconcerned about Constitutionality.

I agree with erp and Skipper that the New Deal was basically moderate fascism, that is a nominally private economy directed by government agencies (the raisin board noted by Skipper being an archetypical example).

Hey Skipper said...

From the OP:

What a society knows how to do is known mainly in its firms, not in its schools. At most modern firms, fewer than 15% of the positions are open for entry-level workers, meaning that employers demand something that the education system cannot – and is not expected – to provide. This is exactly what I've found. Several years ago, I started offering good summer interns a full-time permanent position toward the end of summer because I've found that there's almost nothing they're going to learn in the next 2-6 years that will be useful to me as an employer.

Employers, or at least those offering non-trivial jobs, demand specialized skills. Obviously, schools aren't in a position to do that. Instead, what they do — at least in well off areas — is provide students the opportunity to become literate and numerate enough then be able to comprehend the training required to learn those specialized skills. Additionally, and just as important, students learn to adhere to a schedule and get judged on objective standards. (Again, in well off areas).

Peter Thiel is missing the point. Successfully completing college, excluding the SJW faux-disciplines, is a proxy for personal characteristics that employers find valuable. That doesn't mean that all college graduates will become more successful employees than non graduates, only that it is enough more likely that employers will prefer college graduates. The same goes for HS grads vs. dropouts. The sheepskin is worth at least as much a proxy for certain characteristics as it is an attestation to what the student learned.

James Taranto has a theory about this. Title VII (almost as big a socialist disaster as Title IX) outlaws aptitude tests with racially disparate impact. Bret alluded to this above. A very recent example: Judge Rules Second Version of NY Teachers' Exam Is Also Racially Biased.

[Clovis:] May I remind you that the excessive and bogus demand for diplomas started with... the companies and corporate world themselves? It was not a coalition of Lefties shouting "education!" who turned schools/universities into diploma factories, but their simple response to market demands.

That link shows why the demand for diplomas started with companies: they want the best employees they can find, and the government prohibited using the most direct means for doing so.

Interestingly, that prohibition isn't pervasive. The military extensively uses aptitude testing, as do airlines in pilot hiring.

I wonder why.

Hey Skipper said...

[Clovis:] And it makes me wonder how I never see people describing a robot-dominated economy in a way that makes sense.



The capacity of production of our industries, with the present level of automation, is already far greater than what they can actually sell. Demand, not supply, is the limit for most automated industries of today.


Just this morning I saw this from The Atlantic: World Without Work. It is a little uneven, particularly towards the end. However, it does address many things you have brought up.

[erp:]For those so inclined, calculus isn't that hard to teach yourself. Ask any of our fellows here at this forum ... and many can never learn it even with the most vigorous teaching.

Having learned calculus, I disagree. There are endless opportunities to get stuck, and waste astonishing amounts of time, on a detail that is obvious once explained.

I'm learning German. In theory, and no doubt in reality as well, I could do that myself. But there is no way I could learn it as quickly and efficiently on my own compared to going to school: Berlitz, in my case. Just having to stick to a schedule, never mind the expertise Berlitz brings to the problem that I can't, by definition, possess, greatly focuses the mind. (Although at a significant cost to blog commenting.)

BTW, I'm now in ever greater awe of Clovis's English skills than I already was.

Hey Skipper said...

[Harry:] But I don't believe the reason erp assigns to the decision, not without evidence, just as I don't believe her claims about commies without evidence.

Well, for starters, the New Deal did not seize private property …

That is awfully rich, coming from you.

Harry, what distinguishes communism from fascism?

And "monarchical" doesn't cut it. That term is suspiciously vague, and has reeks of distinction without difference with communist regimes. Moreover, it is an astonishing claim that a monarchical regime, whatever the heck that is, could not also be socialist. That's like saying that thing with four wheels, a body and an engine can't be a car because it is blue.

It is diagnostic of the pathetic ignorance of rightwing discourse. When I say pathetic I am being polite. Many would say willful.

Given the nearly continuous stream of unsubstantiated (Austrian school), ignorant (you don't use FedEx), and fact free (Socialist spending was responsible for mass production), you need a great deal of improvement to become merely pathetic.

Of course the Roosevelt administration adhered to the Constitution. You could read FDR's eloquent words on the document on the occasion of its 150th anniversary.

Wow. That is perhaps the most illogical statement I have read this year. And this is a year in which you have already contributed an astonishing number.

Hey Skipper said...

[erp:] Men developed brawn and women developed brains.

Men are stupid?

Harry, states around where you came from saw their states' rights upended and may have rightly thought a bit differently about the Constitution and yes, that WAS the reason for the Civil War.

Without slavery, there would have been no civil war. Without the civil war, slavery would have continued for at least decades. The Confederacy was quite explicit about how it was determined to protect and continue slavery.

IMHO, the Confederate flag is no more respectable than the swastika, or hammer and sickle.

erp said...

Women are weak?

Saying without slavery, there would have no civil war isn't the same as saying slavery caused the civil war.

The confederate flag may not be anymore respectable than the swastika or hammer and sickle or Che t-shirts for that matter, but that isn't the reason for the current hysteria about it.

erp said...

Skipper, learning calculus and everything else on your own is more time consuming than being shown the straight path by another, but think of all the other things you learned on the way including when to ask for help.

Obviously, good teachers in a well run school is desirable in most cases and I agree that Clovis' English has improved immeasurably.

Hey Skipper said...

Women are weak?

Physically, relatively, yes.

but think of all the other things you learned on the way including when to ask for help.

I taught myself, mostly, how to work on cars. And I mostly taught myself wood working.

Both would have been a hell of a lot more efficient if I learned those skills through a structured program.

Like, say, community college courses.

Oh, and Clovis's English was already pretty darn good.

erp said...

... or apprentice programs by the trades for those who would make it a life's work or summer work programs for those who didn't. You're right Clovis' English was already very good, but it improved a lot over time.

Men are relatively physically stronger and mentally weaker and we're the opposite as we have to be.

Peter, fascism and socialism are the two sides of the same coin. In fascism the state doesn't control production directly as it does in socialism, it controls the producers as the "Obama" administration has been doing to our great detriment. Hitler and Stalin both wanted world domination, but Stalin, not having a world class industrial complex at his disposal as did Hitler, had to start from scratch. He had an ace up his sleeve though. He knew Frankie would come to his aid as he did and had he not died and had the Marshall Plan not come to the aid of western Europe, would have been well on his way to adding a lot more "S's" to the USSR.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

I've taught myself Calculus when I was 16, studying alone in the public library during holidays. So I knew how to differentiate and integrate all the basic stuff when I was at University two years later.

Nonetheless, I place my Calculus professor of my first year at College as the Greatest Professor I've ever had. Because ultimately, no one learns Calculus enough, that's as profound a topic as you wish, and I've learned it in far superior ways with him than I've done before by myself. It does not necessarily reflected in terms of grades (I still knew how to solve those integrals before), but in terms that only people who respect mathematics can appreciate. That Professor was both a good researcher and had great didatics, so Bret may argue he was an exception.

To which I offer my second example. Years later I've learned Supersymmetry taking a course with one of the leading persons on Superstring theory. He is a brilliant mind, yet a disaster as his didatic goes - you couldn't understand half his class most of the time. But his brilliance showed up in a simple thing such as his lists of exercises - by following and completing it, you would finally understand what he meant during class and far beyond even. And only than you were prepared to make him more interesting questions, that he would answer with the mastery of few.

Both examples above had in common that, all by myself, I would hardly reach the levels I could of comprehension without them, no matter how big were my delusions of being smart.

The biggest mistake a good student can make is to think he is good enough. For he may then indeed learn a lot, but still be so far away from his potential.

Oh, by the way, if my English has improved, I can't thank you guys enough. You have been my unwitting professors all along.

erp said...

Clovis, I think I've made clear that good teachers and learning environments are the ideal, but not only way to learn.

Speaking for myself, I am profoundly aware of your desire to learn, so I take extra care to make sure my comments are grammatically correct, except during senior moments that sometimes extend into senior long weekends :-( and I use words and slang with which you may not be familiar because I know you'll "look it up."

It's been fun for me.

Bret said...

Hey Skipper wrote: "I'm now in ever greater awe of Clovis's English skills than I already was."

Yeah, like wow! I'm amazed too.

Bret said...

erp wrote: "Men are relatively ... mentally weaker..."

I have no doubt that you're pretty tough, but I'm sorry - many of your "sisters" are nothing more than fainting flowers of femininity. There's the "trigger warnings" required on college campuses, the inability of females to take responsibility for their own drunken hookups, and my favorite in response to a talk by Larry Summers: "Nancy Hopkins, a biologist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, walked out on Summers' talk, saying later that if she hadn't left, 'I would've either blacked out or thrown up.'" The list goes on and on.

Doesn't sound like mental strength to me.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...all by myself..."

Note that I'm NOT recommending we turn students of all ages to go to the library "all by themselves" and teach themselves anything. Note that I'm NOT recommending that there is no structure or guidance whatsoever. Both home schooled and one room school house schooled children have structure and are pointed towards resources in a logical progression. You don't need a teacher to do that.

What I am suggesting is that the actual teaching part is less important than most people think. For example, your Supersymmetry course which you learned just fine.

Harry Eagar said...

Bret, I think you need to ponder the implications of Socrates and the shepherd boy a bit. As erp says, the boy had learned quite a bit, but he didn't know he knew it.

It is worth, also, pondering the fact that there are very young math prodigies, and chess prodigies and musical prodigies; but there have never been any very young legal prodigies, or historian prodigies or political prodigies.

(The closest thing to an historical prodigy I ever knew was J. Harvie Wilkinson III, now a judge on the US Circuit Court of Appeals. But he had help with his history writing; and among the skills he failed to acquire, either in school or on his own, was typing. The only newspaperman I ever worked with who couldn't type at all; wrote it out in longhand.)

erp said...

Bret, they got what they wanted didn't they?

Bret said...

erp wrote: "...they got what they wanted didn't they?"

They wanted me to think they're stupid, infantile, unable to make adult decisions, and that they need to be taken care of and protected by men? Ok, whatever you say.

erp said...

They wanted to punish/get-rid-of Summers and they did. Are they all the things you said? Yes and no. We're a lot more complicated than you guys can imagine.

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

---
Note that I'm NOT recommending that there is no structure or guidance whatsoever. [...] You don't need a teacher to do that.
---
Except you are ("recommending that there is no structure or guidance"), for you do need a teacher to do that at higher efficiency. Homeschooling tracks standard schooling at its bottom, rarely at its upper distribution. If you turn off the system (like having less and less schools exmploying good teachers), you'll soon dry up the formation of that workforce. Soon enough, what you'll have are only cheap nannies or robots. Both can instruct herd, but I don't think they may help people to achieve higher grounds. Not yet, at least, for the robot case.

---
For example, your Supersymmetry course which you learned just fine.
---
You misunderstand me if that's what you've got. That course was one of a kind, hardly achievable by any book I could read.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...for you do need a teacher to do that at higher efficiency..."

We simply disagree on this.

Perhaps it's even just a definitional thing (teacher: "a person who teaches or instructs, especially as a profession"). A parent isn't a teacher because it's not his or her profession. Your Supersymmetry professor is hardly a teacher because it's not his main profession and he may not consider teaching to be his profession at all and that's true of a substantial percentage of academic professors. So I don't consider either parents or professors to be teachers even though they're involved in the learning process and often critically important (especially the parents) in enabling learning.

In the master/apprentice relationship, the master isn't a "teacher" either, yet I think that is the most efficient structure for learning. Short of that, I think a well structured curriculum is very important for learning, with the teaching skills of the supporting people very secondary.

Harry Eagar said...

'that's true of a substantial percentage of academic professors.'

But not at the school you attended, right?

Bret said...

Harry Eagar: "But not at the school you attended, right?"

The professors at the school I attended, with few exceptions, were horrible teachers and I doubt any of them considered themselves teachers. They were researchers who were forced to have classes.

Harry Eagar said...

Forced by themselves, as I understand it. The choice to have all teach, rather than only some, was deliberate.

Whether that makes all good teachers is another question, I suppose.

erp said...

That wasn't true in any institute of higher learning with which I am acquainted.

Bret said...

Which wasn't true?

erp said...

That faculty had a choice of whether or not to teach. Perhaps some very senior faculty or big names had that choice, but certainly not untenured people.

Harry Eagar said...

There you go again, disparaging democracy.

erp said...

Again problems with your vocabulary words. Democracy wasn't in play here.

Harry Eagar said...

Sure it was. That's what faculty senates do.

I am skeptical of your claims to have been in the academy. You don't show any knowledge of it.

erp said...

The faculty senate? Perhaps in unionized institutions? Otherwise faculty committees deal with issues far below professorial salaries and duties.

Harry Eagar said...

See,you don't know the difference between a faculty senate and a faculty committee. I do not believe you have ever been around a university.

erp said...

Faculty senates are by no means universal.

Where they do exist are mostly deliberative and decorative.

This may not be the case in union shops.

Faculty committees are numerous and ubiquitous.

They handle the mind-numbing minutiae upon which faculty fixate.

I tell it like it is.

Not being under the obligation of parroting the party line, I can also make corrections if they are necessary.