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The Consequences of Public Education

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Hermes
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We talk about being dumbed down. We talk about ideology and propaganda presented as fact. But the specifics never come to the fore because we think that it does not apply to us. Most people will admit that public education is in a crisis in America. And most people will say that their public schools are all right. I live in Ann Arbor. We think we are tops. Education thrives here. Just look at the U of M. Reality, of course, is different than that. Ask "If you could send your child to any university in the world, what country would it be in?" America's universities really are superior, exactly the reasons that primary and secondary systems are not. Beyond that, as an Objectivist, you have expectations that simply are not met at any level by public education.

By definition, the funding is tax-based. The teachers are unionized. The consequences of that are as inevitable and immutable as Newton's Laws. Reality is real. Human action cannot evade the necessities of existence. Good teachers are internally motivated, but not externally compensated for their superiority.

Moreoever, when comparing "America's" schools to those of other nations, the scales developed and implemented by UNICEF and similar collectivists (including the White House) simply fail to identify the true measures of success. Rote memorization has its place -- and abandoning it has consequences -- but international, cross-cultural measures of creativity, independence, insight, integration, and integrity are rare. When considering the schools of "China" the actual figures are only for Hong Kong and Macau as isolated entities. Denmark, Iceland, Slovenia, and Slovakia may be "nations" but they are as small as - and smaller than - our states. Regardless of state requirements, mandates, laws, unions, and boards, education in America is at the local level. Japan has a national school system. America does not.

All of that lays the groundwork for asking you how you measure your education.

One experience for me was gathering editions of two standard textbooks: University Physics by Francis W. Sears and Calculus by George B. Thomas. Over the decades, these books became noticeably less rigorous, but more colorful.

Neither evolved under the influence of an objective theory of epistemology.

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That is, what form of debate could derive from anything you just said?

That is an interesting reply. You learned in public school (parochial school; nominally "private" school staffed with state-licensed teachers) that discussion is debate; that the road to truth is the hegelian dialectic of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. Your school might have had a debate club where kids competed against other schools as in a zero-sum game like football - "Resolved: capital punishment should be abolished. Speaking for the affirmative..." So we have forums like these where someone says something and all those agree say nothing in reply.

Instead, you might reply with a case in point from your own experience verifying the initial claim. You might point to a logical conclusion, known to be truth, that follows independently from the original claim.

My primary hobby, and a source of income for me, is numismatics. It is an unregulated market where people buy and sell money. Yet, I often meet numismatists who are ignorant of economics. They never learned it in school, for sure. For example, it is commonly assumed that the government is not just the actual source of money today, but morally, the only source. In the hobby of numismatics, in order to sell a "coin" the object must meet certain criteria, issuance from a government being primary. Anything else -- anything less -- is a token. The print publications will not take an advertisement that "misrepresents" tokens as coins: coins of Major League Baseball; coins of Disneyland; NFL Referee's Coin; etc. I have been arguing the point for 15 years. It is just another example of how public education has made us idiots. We are like the characters in Anthem, grateful to the collective for candles.

What bright spots exist come from the actual (though accidental) application of objective morality. Perhaps the primary reason that American universities attract scholars and researchers from all over the world is that we have no national system of university education: Michigan State University competes against Ohio State University and they both compete against Stanford and Harvard and so on.

The crisis in the lower grades K-12 comes from the lack of competition. But external competition is not a silver bullet. Schools should be "education malls" where teachers lease classrooms and other services and sell their teaching in open competition. At root, perhaps, is the very idea that children are incapable of productive work and, (perhaps the seed) that they should be protected from it.

Edited by Hermes
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That is an interesting reply. You learned in public school (parochial school; nominally "private" school staffed with state-licensed teachers) that discussion is debate; that the road to truth is the hegelian dialectic of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. Your school might have had a debate club where kids competed against other schools as in a zero-sum game like football - "Resolved: capital punishment should be abolished. Speaking for the affirmative..." So we have forums like these where someone says something and all those agree say nothing in reply.

Instead, you might reply with a case in point from your own experience verifying the initial claim. You might point to a logical conclusion, known to be truth, that follows independently from the original claim.

There's hardly a reason to.

My primary hobby, and a source of income for me, is numismatics. It is an unregulated market where people buy and sell money. Yet, I often meet numismatists who are ignorant of economics. They never learned it in school, for sure. For example, it is commonly assumed that the government is not just the actual source of money today, but morally, the only source. In the hobby of numismatics, in order to sell a "coin" the object must meet certain criteria, issuance from a government being primary. Anything else -- anything less -- is a token. The print publications will not take an advertisement that "misrepresents" tokens as coins: coins of Major League Baseball; coins of Disneyland; NFL Referee's Coin; etc. I have been arguing the point for 15 years. It is just another example of how public education has made us idiots. We are like the characters in Anthem, grateful to the collective for candles.

Random nonsense.

What bright spots exist come from the actual (though accidental) application of objective morality. Perhaps the primary reason that American universities attract scholars and researchers from all over the world is that we have no national system of university education: Michigan State University competes against Ohio State University and they both compete against Stanford and Harvard and so on.

The crisis in the lower grades K-12 comes from the lack of competition. But external competition is not a silver bullet. Schools should be "education malls" where teachers lease classrooms and other services and sell their teaching in open competition. At root, perhaps, is the very idea that children are incapable of productive work and, (perhaps the seed) that they should be protected from it.

Again, there is very little discussion to be had. You summarized the topic nicely, "The crisis in the lower grades K-12 comes from the lack of competition." That's almost self-explanatory: If you remove the incentive for higher-performing teaches to remain consistent via across-the-board salaries, and if you remove the incentive for higher-performing students to remain active and diligent in their studies via "NCLB," and if you remove the incentive for individual schools to teach not strictly to tests via standardized testing, then, why exactly would you expect competition, or incentive, to exist among those parties? None of which requires the elucidation of this thread.

A better topic would ruminate about the merits of instantaneous vs incremental instrumentation of privatized schooling, not simply highlight a well-known, and equally regurgitated issue.

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There's hardly a reason to. Random nonsense. ... not simply highlight a well-known, and equally regurgitated issue.

I apologize for stating the obvious, but the accepted assumptions were only to point to the unconfortable fact that you are an idiot. You are not alone in that. We are all in the same boat. Some of us advance in some or more areas on our own, but are still left intellectually de-capacitated. In the discussion on Harriman's Logical Leap, it came out that some posters knew the easy error that Harriman made regarding projectile motion because as children we had the same book on physics. A kid's book from 1966 explained to us what others did not learn in a college physics class.

You do not think it is a big deal that the word "coin" has been hijacked by the government. You find no contradiction in people who buy and sell gold and silver advocating that the government adopt a gold standard so that "we" could have a stable currency. Yet, you probably claim to have read Francisco's "Money Speech." You do not connect these. Your formative years left you mentally atrophied. You think that everyone else suffered from collectivist education, but you escaped. And so you suggest that we discuss which of two unreal alternatives is the best way to fix the system, rather than asking what (if anything) any of us did to fix ourselves so that you could overcome your handicap. That is a another consequence of public education: you pursue political solutions to personal problems.

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I apologize for stating the obvious, but the accepted assumptions were only to point to the unconfortable fact that you are an idiot. You are not alone in that. We are all in the same boat.

An idiot is not a badly educated person but a person of low intelligence.

The service of public (and some private education) today leaves a lot to be desired (not a disputed fact here). However, you erroneously project what you feel about your own situation onto everyone else -disregarding personal context. The suggestion that others ought to feel about it the same way you do is unfounded. You mistakenly place everyone (as I gather you place yourself) in the victim category. Notice how I described education as a service. The responsibility of education in any subject area is our own. If the service available is not adequate, rather than passively rant about it - you supplement. Due to the amazing advances in technology, knowledge has never been this easily and conveniently accessible.

We are not on the same boat.

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I apologize for stating the obvious, but the accepted assumptions were only to point to the unconfortable fact that you are an idiot. You are not alone in that. We are all in the same boat. Some of us advance in some or more areas on our own, but are still left intellectually de-capacitated. In the discussion on Harriman's Logical Leap, it came out that some posters knew the easy error that Harriman made regarding projectile motion because as children we had the same book on physics. A kid's book from 1966 explained to us what others did not learn in a college physics class.

As the poster above me stated, you're conflating idiocy with wisdom, not intelligence (or lack thereof). Stop it.

You do not think it is a big deal that the word "coin" has been hijacked by the government. You find no contradiction in people who buy and sell gold and silver advocating that the government adopt a gold standard so that "we" could have a stable currency. Yet, you probably claim to have read Francisco's "Money Speech." You do not connect these. Your formative years left you mentally atrophied. You think that everyone else suffered from collectivist education, but you escaped. And so you suggest that we discuss which of two unreal alternatives is the best way to fix the system, rather than asking what (if anything) any of us did to fix ourselves so that you could overcome your handicap. That is a another consequence of public education: you pursue political solutions to personal problems.

You enjoy bloviating (not spelled incorrectly) about the most irrelevant of topics, don't you?

"We" are not in the "same boat." "You" are simply projecting your own educational inadequacies unto "us." I recommend that if "you" feel dismayed by "your" educational attainment, "you" do something about it. Don't convey this upon "everyone", conflate fact with assumption, and be on your merry way.

Further, politics present adequate solutions to political problems, especially ones facing an entire globe.

Edited by Rhona Hindler
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