The Future of Education

by Michelle_Z6 min read14th Feb 201241 comments

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Education
Personal Blog

This morning I read an interesting post on the future of education. I thought it would be interesting to have some members of LessWrong discuss it. I know it is idealistic, but some of the points raised were interesting.

 

Alex Lindsay

The Future of Education

Through an anomaly in the space-time continuum, I fell into the future last week. It was an odd sensation … traveling through time. But at least I made it back. I spent the time I had there at a local school and thought I would share what I saw …

Grades are gone. 

Kids aren't in grade 1 or grade 3 … which was described to me as a "rudimentary" way to "cattle" students. The admins were gentle about it, explaining to me that when school was paper based, there just wasn't the facility to customize the classroom to the student. They explained that even though it was horribly inefficient, they understood why it needed to exist. They did point out that it ran a decade too long, affecting millions … but I changed the subject before it got ugly.

Instead, kids in school have individual achievement levels, which are different for every subject. They have 0-1800 points in each subject. Each student works at their own pace through these milestones and moving forward when they get near perfect scores. A student might have 1500 in one subject and 400 in another. Because everything is online and integrated, there aren't really "grades" like A, B, C, and D … kids are just accumulating points.

When kids max out in a subject, they can spend more time on other subjects; if they are on pace (they are expected to accumulate 100 points a year), they can create independent studies. Many students work very hard to move through the point structure so they can have more free time … which is structured but still up to them. Added resources are applied to students more than 100 points behind their pace. You end up with 20% of the students passing through the system with very little help beyond the structure, 60% getting some help, and 20% getting a much larger amount of attention to move through the system.

Lectures are gone

Lectures the way we know them don't really exist. Most of school is divided into 4 processes: Movies, Games, Projects and Discussion. Movies and Games largely exist on the tablets every student has (these look like iPads but they roll up into a baton-like structure). Projects are done with other students … there are very few opportunities to work on projects alone as it's not seen as an effective character development process in today's job world (where the only people working in a vacuum are doing low-paying work). Discussions are lead by subject experts.

These "Subject Experts" are what used to be called teachers. They are a breed among themselves. They are part brainiac in their field, part Tony Robbins. Their job is to make their subject exciting to learn.

Usually, they begin training for their position very early in life, adding heavy levels of presentation and interpersonal skills to their study load. They work as assistants after reaching 1800 levels in all subjects and focus on a particular subject to master. They train, practice and are allowed to present for basic student events for about decade before they are actually allowed to "solo" an educational subject. It's an incredible amount of work but it also pays well -- salaries for these experts average in what is, in today's money, about $300,000 a year, with the top experts making over a $1M a year. This is largely based on their demand globally. Students are essentially given what is the equivalent to a voucher for discussions and are able to choose their lecturers for each seminar they choose to attend.

There are less of them, as you might guess. Typically about 50,000-100,000 of them at any one time -- much less than the 4M that were working at the peak of the process in the US. While this sounds crazy, we have to remember that most of the objective training is happening interactively within the training tools. There are also over 2,000,000 assistants vying for the Expert positions, providing ongoing support for the students and smaller talks. These assistants are paid, but it's a hard life while they prove themselves.

The discussions are really global events: students attend from all over the world. Some are in theatres together, some are at home, some are in smaller event locations. Students at these events are of all ages. They attend based on their achievement levels, not their age. So you may have 1000 students from 15 countries, aged from 10 to 18. Questions are posted and voted on by the group to percolate to the top and be discussed by the expert (or experts -- there are often people from given industries participating in these events). The events are productions, usually with intense graphics and TV-level production values.

Movies

Top content experts are often the designers and hosts for the online training tools that all students use for their ongoing training. These movies provide core knowledge that is part of the interactive guides that students use to move through their subject matter. These movies are Star Wars-level FX films that explain the subject matter. Some of them are period pieces, some are animated adventures. I'm told as Hollywood stumbled and the education system began to build, many producers moved to this content for survival.

Games

These movies are closely connected to games that the students play -- while they might be something that looks like a geeky version of "Civilizations" or a first person-shooter from the Civil War, or a Physics game that requires students to understand gravity, momentum, etc. The games are not an extra -- they are required and the student scores are connected to their overall achievement scores. These games don't look like the square interactive "Educational" games today. In fact, they have nearly replaced the mindless games of today. I'm told as the government started spending billions on game development, EA and others could A) see that there was money to be made and B) could see there wouldn't be much time to play other games … leading to the new "development gaming" movement.

Projects

Projects are really global affairs. As students reach a required project in a subject (based on their point path), they go online to find others around the world in the same situation. These teams are usually 4-6 people and dig into creating interactive reports that are a mix of video, animation, and text. In addition to deepening subject understanding, the projects are designed to build global relationships and communication. Students are not permitted to do more than 3 projects with the same people in their career. They do rate each other, which builds a bit of a "global team marketplace." Project teams need to have an "Average" score … meaning, high-scoring individuals are encouraged to bring in one or two individuals with lower scores to help them progress. Students are first teamed with "Assistant" mentors, then industry mentors and then industry experts (who are partially in it to recruit students out of school, as their companies pay top dollar for the ability to participate in the "advance" programs, and finding qualified talent has become an incredibly competitive market).

Subjects are slightly adjusted.

Languages (most kids learn English, Chinese, French or Spanish, and an elective language which can things like Japanese, Russian, Arabic or Sign Language). Students are required to be fluent in 4 languages by age 16. Most begin at 4 or 5. A large portion of this training looks like "Rosetta Stone"… then students get into more conversational classes (vocabulary drills are all on the tablets). By age 12, many students are simply taking classes in other languages.

Math - Pretty much the same but with an emphasis on problem solving. There are many fewer equations and more integrated problems. Of course, the students are much more advanced as the more interactive teaching processes have been extremely effective in this area.

Literature - An odd thing to call it given I never saw a book or anything that resembled it. Still, students listen to the classics and discuss the philosophical implications.

Sciences - Kids start in Physics almost at day one. They learn about basic engineering principles in the 300 levels (what could be kind of considered 3rd grade, but it's really what was taught in high school before). 

Global Society (what used to be called Civil Studies and History) - Understanding how cultures around the world evolved to their current state. Understanding one's own state is important, but usually only addressed in the global context.

Personal Development - Now considered one of the most important skills in a highly competitive global jobs market, kids are educated from nearly day one on effective person skills. These skills are not moral or religious, just simply good operating behaviour … and what it takes to be effective.

Creative Arts - From Drawing to Music to Performing Arts … these skills are seen as intrinsic to creating a "Creative" individual that can think their way through the complex issues of the day. In the West, there aren't many "doing-only" jobs that haven't shipped overseas or replaced by technology. As a result, being creative has become much more important.

Physical Arts (what used to be PE) - Ah, the days of Kickball are gone. This is a fairly gruelling daily regime that includes nutrition education and customized exercise processes. Martial Arts, Gymnastics and other dexterity building classes are the norm. Over 25% of the student body globally is a Black Belt. This has more to do with training the mind and self-esteem than person protection.

I asked how this happened in the US … I was told it didn't. In fact, the US was one of the last countries to adopt the still-controversial system. The stakeholders at the time resisted the change and called it too radical to be even tested. The result has been a steep investment to catch up with other countries and much higher unemployment in the US... as many of the information age jobs left the US over the 15 years they resisted the changes.

The revolution actually began in the emerging world, specifically in Africa. New fibre running into East and Southern Africa empowered African nations, with too many kids and not enough teachers, to augment their staff with new videos and interactive learning. The students of these early systems not only learned much faster, but become the most facile at building the content (as they were very familiar with it). I was told as much as 60% of all the content in the global infrastructure is created in Sub-Saharan Africa (Rwanda, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Tanzania).

Anyway, when I arrived back in this time, I wrote this all down as fast as I could to remember it. I hope you find it useful.

Was it really just a dream? I don't know. But if it is was a dream, it was a really good one.

 

Thoughts? Comments?

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Languages (most kids learn English, Chinese, French or Spanish, and an elective language which can things like Japanese, Russian, Arabic or Sign Language). Students are required to be fluent in 4 languages by age 16. Most begin at 4 or 5. A large portion of this training looks like "Rosetta Stone"… then students get into more conversational classes (vocabulary drills are all on the tablets). By age 12, many students are simply taking classes in other languages.

That old status shibboleth. 4 natural languages! No, a rationalized system would be more like 'you learn English if it isn't your native language', and the extra time is used for other things (say, programming languages).

Learning 4 other languages is perhaps excessive, but I'd think it would be a good idea for everyone to learn at least one other language well enough to be able to think in it without too much trouble, preferably one that carves concept space up very differently from your native language. Otherwise it's too easy to make mistakes like confusing incidental groupings in your language with natural categories. Of course it could be a language optimized for easy learning instead of a natural language, let alone multiple romance languages.

[-][anonymous]9y 20

Otherwise it's too easy to make mistakes like confusing incidental groupings in your language with natural categories.

I'm quite sure that explicitly learning the relevant knowledge about the process of category formation in humans and its implications towards accurate thinking would take a lot less time and be more effective than learning another language. I don't think that learning languages is an optimal method to gain any ability other than actually understanding and speaking them (and even that, in the world of the future, might be better accomplished by buying a good translation program).

I'm quite sure that explicitly learning the relevant knowledge about the process of category formation in humans and its implications towards accurate thinking would take a lot less time and be more effective than learning another language.

More effective than just learning another language chosen at random and never giving the differences much thought, sure. But I'd guess a combination would be considerably more effective than either. Most people don't learn well without examples (and intuitively understood real world examples would be a lot better than abstract theoretical examples), and I don't think most people are good enough at divorcing themselves from their perspective without the extra help of a different point of view.

(and even that, in the world of the future, might be better accomplished by buying a good translation program)

Maybe I misunderstand you, but if you genuinely believe translations that allow as good an understanding of the original as a close to native level understanding of the language are possible (at similar message length) in all or even most cases you don't understand how much language constrains you.

[-][anonymous]9y 2

But I'd guess a combination would be considerably more effective than either.

Well, it seems like a case of clashing intuitions. Learning another language might give some cognitive benefits and it will provide real-world examples of language not being a perfect representation of reality, but I think those benefits will be weak and not worth the effort. And I'm very doubtful of the idea that there are some general insights that can be acquired only through language-learning.

And on the second point: I don't believe that perfect translations are possible. By mentioning the possibility of future translation software, I wanted to point out the fact that the author of quoted article kind of ignores technological progress (well, except that the future will be full of iPads and they shall be rollable!). And perfect translations are unnecessary for the purpose of practical communication anyway (and hey, if I'm speculating about the awesomeness of future AI, I might as well postulate that the translators will be smart enough to alert you whenever a possible linguistic confusion comes up).

I'm quite sure that explicitly learning the relevant knowledge about the process of category formation in humans and its implications towards accurate thinking would take a lot less time and be more effective than learning another language.

That's like arguing that learning anatomy will do more to keep you fit then doing sports.

[-][anonymous]9y 10

More like saying that if your goal is muscle mass it's better to hit the gym than to take up figure skating.

Otherwise it's too easy to make mistakes like confusing incidental groupings in your language with natural categories.

Is that actually true? My understanding was that Sapir-Whorf had little experimental backing for anything that really mattered, and then there was that recent search showing extreme regularity in how color names were assigned...

Poly-linguals keep claiming that Sapir-Whorf is really true. Here's Eric Raymond responding to a comment I left earlier today,

And I must tell you that based on my experience as a crib bilingual who has spoken four languages I don’t think strong Sapir-Whorf is a mistake at all. I have actually felt the effect on my thoughts when I code-shift between languages, and if the reports I’ve heard from other polylinguals are to be believed this is an experience we all have. It is also relevant that I can think things in mathematical notation or Python that I cannot think in any natural language, or vice-versa.

http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=4139&cpage=1#comment-372073

And he responds to more criticism here.

Poly-linguals keep claiming that Sapir-Whorf is really true.

Overgeneralization. I do not know how many languages does one need to know to be considered polylingual, but if 6 is enough, then let me say this:

Yes, some concepts are carved differently in different languages, and it feels... strange... when one encounters this for the first time. Sometimes it is kind of scary when you realize that you can express a concept in a foreign language, but there are no words in your native language that would describe it with equal power, and you can only use a sentence or two to describe what in the other language you could have said directly by using one word, or just slightly modifying an inflection.

This effect is often exaggerated ad absurdum, probably because it is useful for some theories or even politically ("if we could make people use different words, we could build a perfect society") and for polylinguals it is good for signalling ("man, I speak foreign languages, and it totally gave me magical powers"). I predict that this effect is stronger in predominantly monolingual societies.

As an example, it is often said that people would be less sexist if they stop using words "he" and "she", and find some gender-neutral pronoun. If you believe this, you should go to Hungary, because in Hungarian language there is no word for "he" or "she", there is only a gender-neutral pronoun... but the Hungarian society is more or less the same as in surrounding countries. So I consider this theory experimentally disproved on sample of millions of people -- and yet I predict that most LW-ers will not update zir / eir / vis / shklir opinion on this.

Also, there is a question of how many time should one invest to these polylingual insights. Let's say that after 2000 hours of study of foreign languages you have found dozen occasions where the wordspace is divided differently in different languages. Should you invest another 2000 hours to find another dozen examples? You will probably hit diminishing returns, because languages are similar, they evolved from each other. What is the cost/benefit analysis of this? If I tell you that in Russian there is no word for "blue", only words for "dark blue" and "light blue", how much enlightened do you feel? How many hours of your time would you like to pay for this mystical knowledge?

Learning languages is good if you want to communicate with other people. And as a side-effect it gives you a few insights, but if your goal are only the insights, then you can use your time much better.

EDIT: And to be less of a hypocrite, I admit that learning languages can also be a beautiful hobby. But there is no need to rationalize it by pretending it gives you more that it does.

Absolutely agreed, as far as it goes.

That said, once a linguistic structure has been culturally associated (however arbitrarily) to a particular ideological position, using that linguistic structure within that culture signals (however inaccurately) one's association with that position. For example, the signaling effects of using gendered and ungendered pronouns are more or less independent of the social-engineering effects of those pronouns.

And, of course, signaling choices have social-engineering effects of their own. My using, or not using, linguistic structures that are (however arbitrarily) culturally associated with sexism (once those structures are known to exist) has an effect on how acceptable I am perceived as considering sexism to be, which in turn has an effect on how acceptable sexism is perceived to be more generally.

So I consider this theory experimentally disproved on sample of millions of people -- and yet I predict that most LW-ers will not update zir / eir / vis / shklir opinion on this

You just convinced me that removing grammatical gender does not make society less sexist. (I still believe that using gender-neutral pronouns or phrases instead of a single gendered pronoun does, and that having a gender-neutral pronoun at all makes society less biased against genderqueers.)

I parsed your comment as: "using genderless pronouns reduces sexism; but using genderless language does not reduce sexism".

Then I imagined a graph where x-axis is how large part of the language is gendered, and y-axis is how much this makes people sexist. So at the beginning the curve starts going down (because this is what you believe), and at the end it jumps back right to the original level (to catch the new data point). Sounds ad-hoc to me.

Or let me put it in different words: If you think that language structure has an effect on sexism, how exactly would you structure the language to produce minimum sexism possible (ideally zero)? For some reason, removing gramatical genders completely seems not optimal. -- So if you would start with a language that does not have gramatical genders, would you actually add them to the language to make it less sexist?

Note: You have an option to defy my data, because I actually don't have a proof that Hungarians are not less sexist. It honestly seems to me so, but that is not completely reliable.

Another option is to say that the influence of language on sexism is not strictly f(language), but more like f(language.today, language.yesterday), so it is not precisely the absence of single-gendered pronouns, but rather their recent (or ongoing) removal that reduces sexism. (They I would say that it is backwards: non-sexism removes pronouns, pronouns don't remove sexism.)

That's not what I said. Let me rephrase:

I previously believed that removing some amount of mentions of gender in language (e.g. replacing "he or she" with "they") would reduce sexism. If I met a society where white people were referred to as "whe" and black people as "ble", I would think "Wow, that society is pretty racist". By analogy, I think our society is pretty sexist. There are reasons why removing some gendered language, like pronouns, or all grammatical gender, would make people less sexist; for example, they would not be constantly primed to think of gender and thus act in gender-dependent ways. Hungary disproves this (no need to defy your data, I believe you).

However, I still believe that removing unbalanced mentions of gender (e.g. replacing epicene "he" with "he or she") reduces sexism. (In the aforementioned society, there's a proverb that goes "An Englishwhite's house is whis castle", and if asked everyone tells you that it also applies to blacks and other races.) They don't just constantly remind people that gender exists, they also remind them that there is a default gender for people to be and anything else is a special quirk. As efforts to remove these mentions usually come from people who fight sexism in general, it's very hard to test whether there is any causation flowing this way rather than the other one.

I also believe that having a pronoun applicable to genderqueers helps, because it contributes to making it a recognizable category (wearing black, not wearing a clown suit). This is probably swamped by other ways to make the existence of more than two genders noticeable.

While I was offline, I realized that there are two aspects of this situation. First, whether gendered words exist in given language or not. Second, whether they are used correctly or incorrectly (such as using male pronoun "he" in situations where female person is also possible). These are partially independent (even in a language without gramatical genders it is possible to use constructs such as "director-man" and "director-woman", and then incorrectly use the word "director-man" in situations not limited to male persons).

Now in your comment I see the third aspect; whether there is a gender-neutral pronoun for people who don't identify as "he" or "she". Construct "he or she" is bad, because even when it tries to describe a superset, does it by enumerating subsets. I don't see any problem with singular "they", but I am not a native English speaker.

I am afraid that inventing a new pronoun specifically for genderqueers would lead to infinite discussions... such as whether the same pronoun should be used for all kinds of genderqueers, or whether there should be different pronouns for different groups, and everyone would accuse everyone of insensitivity because they use last-year pronouns instead of the most current update. (Evidence: there is still not consensus on the gender-neutral pronoun, and that should be much easier task.)

Yup, those are the three aspects I'm talking about.

I've never seen anyone demand a pronoun that didn't cover binary people, only gender-neutral ones. Having to make do with "he", "she" and combinations thereof is insufficient.

Even if he genuinely is thinking in the other languages, that doesn't go very far in showing usefulness. I bet if I spent years memorizing Scholastic metaphysics, I'd fall into occasional Scholastic patterns of thought or vocabulary even if it was completely useless. (And let's not talk about the size of the marginal returns, if we can't even decide on the sign.)

I agree with you, he was, after all, responding to my calling "General Semantics" an extension of the "strong Sapir-Whorf mistake".

[-][anonymous]9y 1

I do ‘feel’ a bit different depending on which language I'm thinking in. (On the other hand, it would be impossible for me to perform a double-blind test to find out how much of that is due to placebo.) But sufficiently strong forms of the SW hypothesis sound like bullshit to me. (Most of the times someone points out some exotic feature of some language purported to influence its speakers' thought, English has that feature too. And I mentally classify anything starting with “X language has N words for Y” as rubbish, trash, junk, garbage, waste, refuse and litter.)

[-][anonymous]9y 2

To jump on the anecdotal evidence bandwagon, is there any evidence that learning a second language increases one's skills with their natural language?

I'm bilingual in Finnish and English, and don't recall ever consciously getting nontrivial insight from the conceptspace variations. Any idea what I could be looking for to notice if this is actually happening?

Are there examples of bilingual people making less of some conceptual mistake unilingual people make for some pair of languages?

[-][anonymous]9y 0

I can't think of any good examples right now, but that does happen to me (though I might be setting the bar for “nontrivial” lower than you).

[-][anonymous]9y 0

That would be unfair for non-native English speakers, who'll have to learn one more language than native English speakers. And as for the advantages of bilingualism (in addition to what FAWS says), see http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=3175 -- though IIRC those effects require that you actually speak both languages on a daily base for years. But I agree that four languages is usually overkill. (On the other hand, the efforts needed to learn an n-th language when you are already fluent in (n - 1) languages decreases with increasing n, so if for some reason you'll have to learn Finnish at some later point in life, e.g. because you want to move to Finland, having learnt lots of languages before will definitely help.)

Anyway, using living languages among the most influential ones is a vast improvement over the Latin and Ancient Greek that some Italian high schools teach. (And the idea of teaching a sign language in schools is one that had never occurred to me, but which is not obviously wrong.)

That would be unfair for non-native English speakers, who'll have to learn one more language than native English speakers.

Multiple languages has always meant someone is going to be screwed over in some sense. (Pity the Papua New Guinean whose language is not spoken even the next valley over, much less worldwide...) The main thing is to minimize the damage done.

see http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=3175 -- though those effects require that you actually speak both languages on a daily base for years.

That's interesting, but your caveat aside it's not all that great: one has a less than 50% chance of Alzheimer's so the expected time-value of 5 years of protection is 2.5 years, at the least valuable time of your life, in exchange for let's say a year of your youth? Not a slamdunk case for bilingualism (much less tri or quadlingualism, which is just plain signaling).

[-][anonymous]9y 20

I don't like the vision. I consider schooling in its modern form (I'm not from the US but I doubt it's much different over there) to be mostly a waste of time. And this makes me dislike the presented vision of the future because under the layers of technological gimmickery it seems like a call to heap on more pointlessness.

It's not stated explicitly in the article -- the system could be coupled with an useful educational program, one that would teach a small amount of universally useful knowledge and give a good starting point to specialize. But the hints scattered throughout, like the part about forcing everyone to learn 3 foreign languages fluently by the age of 16 or the part about the "mindless games of today" disappearing completely because no one has time to play them, make me fill in the blanks with gloomy visions of children laboring to gain absurdly high amounts of knowledge that someone has deemed right and proper for any 'respectable' citizen. And the point system would render the old and tried strategy of cramming like crazy, passing the test and forgetting it unworkable. They would be forced to actually master all of that crap.

Like gwern, I suspect it's about status. But not only the languages part. All of it. Today status is tied to education level. People who expend more effort end up higher on the social ladder. But social inequality is bad, so why not have everyone expend extreme amounts of effort? That way everyone will be impressive and shiny and thus happy, right?

(Also, about the "mindless games" disappearing, I wonder if the author isn't aware that adults can play computer games too, or is it simply that the envisioned transformation into workaholics happened across all demographic strata.)

Please don't reprint entire articles. It's bad for SEO, and it's bad form.

Yes, link plus excerpt is preferable. (The link, for those who want it.)

Math - Pretty much the same

I sure hope not!

Needed less utopian gunk, more footnotes.

Overall, an interesting vision of future education. The elimination of grades to focus on developing competency is a needed move; this is, for example, the philosophy of Khan Academy. The conflation of education and ranking is quite well entrenched in many societies, but it's not the best way to accomplish either goal. The use of new technology is also a plus, though it is presented in a somewhat pedestrian way.

It suffers in a few places, such as requiring four languages while students never read books. As gwern mentions, the curriculum seems to neglect computer programming. "Fewer equations and more integrated problems" seems confused to me; "integrated problems" still require the use of equations. I suspect that the author does not have a significant background in the sciences (his Google+ profile states that he works in computer graphics and video production). I would also add economics and cognitive science to the subject list explicitly (essentially LessWrongifying it).

In summary, I think the broad architecture presented is sound, but the details could use some work.

[-][anonymous]9y 5

Over 25% of the student body globally is a Black Belt.

After reading this, that only suggests that they've set the bar to get a black belt way too low.

Ipads are the future!!! And reading is for nerds so we stopped doing it... along with our mindless video games. sigh.

The point-based system is certainly an improvement. I think an enormous amount of progress could be made by moving away from pointless busy work and actually tying achievement in school directly to learning, preferably with a few varied systems to help different learning styles. Is there a reason we haven't seen an open source-like movement in education? Why can't everyone collaborate to produce better resources for less cost? Khan Academy is already providing lessons like that, but a crowdsourced version of the idea seems to have a lot of potential.

Some random notes:

Kids in school have individual achievement levels, which are different for every subject. They have 0-1800 points in each subject. Each student works at their own pace through these milestones and moving forward when they get near perfect scores.

I like this. If the goal of school is to have knowledge, keeping the list of knowledge you actually have is better than assigning grades. (Grades are only tools, sometimes they become a lost purpose.) It would be difficult to maintain such lists on paper, but we can do it with computers. Not necessarily literally a list; other data structure, such as directed acyclic graph could be even better.

Many students work very hard...

This is just an assumption. It is not something a school can achieve -- it depends on the student (and their parents). I have seen students who had great conditions and lot of freedom in school... some of them used it to work hard at great projects, but most of them didn't. I don't see anything inherently bad in that -- different people have different hobbies -- I just object denotationally against the idea that if students don't work hard on their own projects, then the school is doing something horribly wrong.

Discussions are lead by subject experts.

Where do you find enough experts, volunteering to do school discussions? You will get a lot of applause lights by suggesting that only the best experts in the world are worthy teaching our children, but face it... there are many children and only a few experts; and those experts don't necessarily have time or desire to talk with your kids.

Students [...] rate each other, which builds a bit of a "global team marketplace." Project teams need to have an "Average" score … meaning, high-scoring individuals are encouraged to bring in one or two individuals with lower scores to help them progress.

If the students are rated based on their group productivity, and you encourage high-scoring students to make teams with low-scoring students so that they have average team score... I don't understand how is this supposed to be motivating. If the student does not care about high score, why should they care about how their classmates rate them? If the student cares about high score, then "rewarding" them by team members who will drag their score down is demotivating. I think this is confused, because it supposes that student is trying to get as high score as possible regardless of their experience that getting high score means getting worse teammates, which means getting lower score.

Summary: Good part is the emphasis on tools. And I imagine that "Personal Development" could include rationality lessons. Bad part is the expectation that if we make the school system good, miracles will happen. (And if the miracles won't happen, it is all the teachers' fault, right?) While I would love to see a school that uses individual interactive teaching, discussions with experts, team projects etc., I expect that it would lead to 10-20% children having spectacular results, 30-40% having pretty good results, and a lot of children just ignoring most of their beautiful opportunities and blaming it on someone else (stupid teachers, stupid classmates, too difficult lessons, boring topics, racism,...).

The teacher unions will make sure this never happens.

This is covered, I think rather realistically, with this part at the end:

I asked how this happened in the US … I was told it didn't. In fact, the US was one of the last countries to adopt the still-controversial system. The stakeholders at the time resisted the change and called it too radical to be even tested. The result has been a steep investment to catch up with other countries and much higher unemployment in the US... as many of the information age jobs left the US over the 15 years they resisted the changes.

I read that, I just don't agree with it. Summer vacation has been obsolete for a century, so I don't see why the rest of the school system would update more quickly.

The problem with summer vacation is that it has evolved a market niche of "summer programs": academic camps, internships, and the like. These have, in turn, become increasingly necessary for admission into "elite" colleges, graduate schools, and businesses. This system is far from optimal, but few will be willing to abandon it locally for fear of disadvantaging their children relative to others'.

I think it is plausible that the US would never adopt the changes at all. But I think it's only relatively recently that our refusal to change has actually started costing us significantly in terms of jobs.

If other nations start adopting more flexible education systems that continue to improve beyond the US one, combined with automation cutting even more jobs, it's ALSO plausible to me that eventually US people might be hurting enough to force a change. ESPECIALLY if this global internet based system resulted in "private" school becoming close to free - the schools that unions have power over might not be able to survive without adapting to the new system (if at all)

Hmm, Creative Arts seems useless for its intended purpose. The only thing I can think of that might have a benefit is Performance Arts though I don't really know, and it seems to me there'd be more effective ways to teach communication skills in the personal development class.

[-][anonymous]9y 11

Yes, the author seems to follow the typical conceptualization of creativity as something inherently mysterious and irreducible, accessible only through extreme artsiness. Rather than the thing that happens in your head whenever you're facing a problem for which you lack a ready-made algorithm.

I wrote this article for Inside Higher Ed arguing that colleges might eliminate tenure. The article attracted 82 comments.