I am trying to find out what are the most cost-effective ways of (early) education. I have a 4-year-old daughter and that gives me about ~2 more years to figure this out and I am trying to put together as much material as I can. Given the age of my daughter, I’d like to “solve” something like K-12 for now, but I guess some things may be applicable at any age.
I am familiar with Bryan Caplan's main theses formulated in the Case Against Education or Robin Hanson's Elephant in the Brain arguing that education is mostly about signalling and stuff. I therefore partly understand what's wrong and I am now trying to make my findings actionable and unsurprisingly, it seems pretty hard. I also do realize that there is very little research indicating that specific parental choices have much long term impact.
The important attributes of the ideal solution:
- comply to rationalists mindset - understanding and applying basic CFAR-like style of reasoning or at least knowing and applying a 5-year-old version of how beliefs work, bugs-are-for-solving idea
- follow scientific/experimental approach (I know it's overlapping), not being afraid of finding the right explore vs. exploit balance
- the educators should grasp at least basics about how to learn and teach effectively, such as Learning how to learn related concepts or even as little as this post
- not to waste the time of my kid (like on signalling, or studying things just to forget them after "exam"), generally trying to reduce the stupid parts about the current education system as much as possible
- make students excited about the real world (I love Joy in the merely real)
- convey what it is like to be a human (like, emotions exist and you can learn about yourself from them or deal with them)
- convey important concepts about the world (for example altruism, cost-effective analysis, probability, or even markets or signalling)
- teaching students things that are actually useful on the job market
- not-USA-specific - we are living in Central Europe. It's of course still good to point to things that work well somewhere as an inspiration for replication locally.
I do realize it’s a lot to ask, but I don't aim for perfection. I believe the current system is so badly broken and inadequate (seems that almost everyone agrees on this fact) that even with a little effort invested we can get better outcomes after a few months of preparation.
For example, one of the solutions could be starting a small home-schooling group with good tutors (Blooms 2SD problem hints towards this direction). I know it sounds ambitious to find someone satisfactory given the requirements but I believe I am in a good position in finding people who are half-way through and with some training, we would get there. I realize that K12 is not only about education but also about things like finding a peer group, which could be supplied via other channels (like afternoon activities) or switching into a regular school for some time. All these options are on the table, the goal is to find the most cost-effective solution. (An interesting discussion from a public-spending perspective on slatestarcodex)
The questions I have:
- Do you know about anyone trying this (successfully or not, small or large scale, ...)?
- Do you know about any relevant resources or programs for younger kids (e.g. something similar to this, or research similar to the already mentioned Bloom problem)?
- Would you be interested in researching this or do you know anyone who would be willing to do so? (I am happy to pay)
- Any idea if there are any attempts to put together such a curriculum?
- Any good prompts to ask, such as “How much are you able to pay for a 10% increase in happiness for your daughter”?
- Do you think it's dangerous? Should I really, really not forget about some aspect?
- Anything else comes to your mind?