Re: Reforming Education

Dan Fabulich (
Thu, 7 Oct 1999 18:33:55 -0400 (EDT)

'What is your name?' 'Clint O'Dell.' 'IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOUR NAME IS!!!':

> They will have to work throughout the year to do well on the tests I
> propose. Also teachers will need to adopt some new motivational strategies
> to stay competitive. If students in one school are cramming it will show
> when compared with students who don't and get better scores. The teachers
> can look into the modivational and teaching strategies the more successful
> schools use.

Your argument assumes that cramming doesn't work. This hypothesis simply isn't born out by reality at large. Cramming works. It doesn't have to be a situation where the student pulls an all-nighter the night before an exam and forgets about it two days later. It's just as bad when students take three weeks before the exam and overload themselves with the material. With it all fairly fresh in their mind, they pass the tests and do quite well, and forget it within two or three months.

> I was picturing yearly tests. There is a lot of material to cover in one
> year. It is very unlikely to have any cramming strategy that will make a
> difference on a test covering a years worth of material with fill in the
> blank, descriptive answer tests.

You clearly haven't seen students studying for AP Biology, physics, and others, which have multiple choice as well as hand-written essay sections. The cramming strategy I have described above is employed by many, many students; it was especially endemic in my high school which said "get a 5 on the AP, get an A in the course."

You seem to be imagining super-duper hands-on test-your-knowledge tests, which somehow can't be crammed. There IS no test which can't be crammed. You're deluding yourself if you believe otherwise.

> With test answers being hand written, we will need a large staff to go
> through them and check the answers manualy, for the moment. In the future
> we should have AI programs that can do this for us.

By the time we have AI programs that can evaluate essays, we'll have AI programs which can give direct oral examinations of the students, on a regular basis, and who are capable of delivering lectures and answering questions. In short, we'll have AI teachers, performing the very same jobs that teachers perform today.

Frankly, it's surprising me to see all these libertarians arguing for market failure. Sure, it's one thing to say that the gov't shouldn't mandate schooling, but that's really a distinct issue from saying that teachers shouldn't be giving out grades. The former simply falls out from libertarian theory; the latter is an argument that almost every private institution in the country is operating inefficiently, and has been for many, many years. This is an argument for market failure.

If you don't believe in market failure, and you DO believe that comprehensive third-party testing is the optimal way to allocate credentials, then you believe that there's money to be made in investing in such an organization. I sure wouldn't, but it seems to me that you guys need to be putting your money where your mouth is on this one.

> On motivation and teaching strategies I like to see...
> I think there should be more ...
> Instead students should ...
> I recommend ...

So start your own private school, for crying out loud, or give your advice to the College Board or some presently existing school. If your theories are correct, your school will be excellent, you'll walk out with a gigantic pile of cash, and all will praise your genius.


-unless you love someone-
-nothing else makes any sense-

e.e. cummings