From Goat Discrimination to Excellent Sheep

Two assorted links related to education have been posted at the Marginal Relolution Blog - 24-Aug (on the Goat Discrimination) and 25-Aug (on Excellent Sheep).

In a way it touches the polarity of education and inspired me to write this post.

Denunciation of the Ivy League?

Find a performance metric for a (higher) education system its not easy - you usually need to pick two of three goals.

William Deresiewicz has released his book Excelent Sheep this August. And it seems it has provoked a firestorm. Not surprisingly. Pointedly speaking, it does suggest: "don't send your kid to the Ivy League".

I am not an educator, not a didactics expert, not a neuroscientist, not a psychologist … I have not read the book yet (only summaries and reviews), so I do not assess it. However the semantics of Ivy League may suggest that the critics is driven by the resentment of the excluded. Or, denouncing the Ivy League is Ivy League style ….. but I find, this are weak arguments in principle.

There is one thing I do understand: the uncompromising focus on one goal in the triangle - highest curriculum standards and not a high pass rate and not giving everyone a chance to enter -  provokes a controversy, inevitably.

If performace-based funding of educational systems uses such a focused metric it may lead to an "elitary spiral"?

Popular idols may kill innovation?

Some neuroscientists claim that we cling too much to idols, like lectures, mentoring, even scientific methods, … as well as competition and performance reviews.

The didactics research of the last decades suggests the change from teacher- to learner-centered learning arrangements - the underlying philosophy is old, and called constructivism.

Newer is, that there is technology that supports explorative learning - in maths education we know the black-box / white-box principle: for motivation experiment with a black box and get a rough insights into a new mathematical topic, then acquire inside knowledge by learning what are the mechanisms behind (white box) and use a black-box intensifying knowledge in a later stage.

A technology supporting this principle is symbolic computation. The principle is recursive because "white" becomes "black" in a later stage and so on (a white-box may use black-boxes of earlier stages as building blocks).

And collaborating with people from other fields will help exploring new things.

Is it more important to have a high IQ or to use it? 

Brightest minds or hyper specialized professors, … ?  Today I found this interesting post: Nobel laureates, halo effects and idiosyncratic markets.

I don't see these things as denunciation or critics, … I see it as challenges. So I do not understand the firestorms.

Reverse education

Meeting with the UnRisk Academy heads from time to time, I really enjoy talking about things that are not in the core of our business. Like, how can nine-year olds be motivated to learn much more about mathematics - equation solving for kids.

This leads to new ideas about our learning offerings for quants and risk experts .. and the technologies that serve them.

In the magic-forest-of-learning, a "Goat" may be transmuted into an Excellent Sheep or a Majestic Lion of original thinking ….? It's our choice.