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February 02, 2012

"The Education Revolution"

Arnold Kling is optimistic:

I see the potential for a dramatic reduction in the labor intensity of teaching. I think we are at a point in education that reminds of what the Web felt like in 1994. A lot of excitement is coming, and change will sweep through faster than most people expect. Traditional colleges seem poised to be the Borders Books of the next round of technological change.

I'm unsure. I spent a bunch of time in school learning how to spell and learning grammar rules and times tables. Spell- and grammar-checkers and ubiquitous calculators have, seemingly, reduced the time today's kids spend on those topics. I think that's a loss, but I'm an old fogey. More important:  what has been done with the time saved? Technology can reduce the time and labor spent on memorization and drill, but we will still have to teach kids--labor and time intensively--how to think.

Bryan Caplan is less optimistic for a completely different reason.

Comments

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Ted Craig

All of you are looking at this from an educator's view. Looking at it from an employer's view, I think there will still be a lot of suspicion of people without traditional degrees. Also, one of the most important features of college is networking. Do you really think the TAs at Harvard do a better job of teaching econ. than you do at NCSU?

David

> Do you really think the TAs at Harvard do a better job of teaching econ. than you do at NCSU?

That depends on the TA and the faculty member. Some TA's are far more effective teachers than some tenured faculty (and conversely, of course).

GaryS

I don't think it's helpful to lump all universities into one group. As a former hiring manager, I can tell you that applicants from very liberal schools never made it to an interview. This was based upon bitter experience, nothing else. In general, we found that they were not only poorly educated, they were lazy, arrogant and full of completely unwarranted self-entitlement.

In talking to my peers at the time, I found that I was far from alone.

So, my take is that a degree from a university where the emphasis in on education will remain valuable, especially for technical fields, but a "degree" from a "four years of partying and out" university will likely be severely devalued.

Ken

"That depends on the TA and the faculty member. "

Pretty sure that was the point of the question. So the short answer to Craig is not, there isn't much of a difference between TA's at different schools.

David

"So the short answer to Craig is not, there isn't much of a difference between TA's at different schools."

I can't make sense of that response. Did you mis-type something?

JKB

Actually, most of the time and labor to teach kids to think is spent overcoming the effects of a progressive education. It would far less time and labor consuming if the education system didn't drive out their innate abilities in the first place. However, it would interfere with indoctrination as well students asking pointed questions would slow down the teaching plan's progression.

I recently came across this book scanned into Google books published in 1909. 'How to Study and Teaching How to Study' by F.M. McMurry. The author makes a good argument that study skills should be and can easily be taught to elementary school students. The skills are essentially what is touted as critical thinking. Sadly, even though it was known 100 years ago, we skip right over teaching study skills that lead to assimilation and rely on memorization and regurgitation.

"The student has accomplished much when he has discovered some of the closer relations that a topic bears to life; when he has supplemented the thought of the author; when he has determined the relative importance of different parts and given them a corresponding organization; when he has passed judgement on their soundness and general worth; and when, finally, he has gone through whatever drill is necessary to fix the ideas firmly in his memory. Is he then through with a topic, or is more work to be done?"

david foster

I"d note that labor intensiveness of university teaching has *already* been reduced substantially via 300-person lecture classes, and the variable cost labor component of even much smaller classes has been reduced through the widespread employment of cheap labor. Meanwhile, administrative costs have continued to soar.

"Lean" experts often point out that in manufacturing companies there has traditionally been great emphasis on reducing direct-labor costs in the factories but insufficient attention to reducing various forms of overhead costs, even when the overheads have become a much greater part of the total cost picture than the direct labor. Maybe there is a parallel with academia.

abercrombie

Education in accordance with individual differences is important.I think it should be divided into academic type and practice talents

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