Naomi Schaefer Riley reviews Bryan Caplan’s *The Case Against Education*

by on January 16, 2018 at 6:45 am in Books, Economics, Education | Permalink

From the WSJ, here is one excerpt:

“Put yourself in the shoes of a Martian sociologist,” Mr. Caplan writes in “The Case Against Education.” “Your mission: given our curriculum, make an educated guess about what our economy looks like.” You might well “leap from one erroneous inference to another.” Given the amount of time teachers spend on novels and poetry, for instance, there must be a “thriving market in literary criticism,” he writes, adding that most of the subjects that students try to master in school—from history and algebra to foreign languages—will be of little use in their salary-earning lives.

After surveying the research on the “transfer of learning,” Mr. Caplan concludes: “Students learn only the material you specifically teach them . . . if you’re lucky.” Generally, they don’t know how to transfer their reasoning from one topic to a related one. As to informal reasoning—the ability to come up with arguments for or against a particular proposition—education’s effect, he says, has been “tiny.” He similarly dispenses with the claim that schools teach common values or civic education. As college attendance has skyrocketed, he notes, voter turnout has declined.

Here is the full review, which also covers Susan Wise Bauer’s Rethinking School.  You can buy Bryan’s book here.

1 Ted Craig January 16, 2018 at 8:06 am

” most of the subjects that students try to master in school—from history and algebra to foreign languages—will be of little use in their salary-earning lives”
Does Caplan realize people do more than work?

2 Ted Craig January 16, 2018 at 8:09 am

By the way, Bauer’s book sounds much more practical. Maybe because her training in education means she actually knows what she is talking about.

3 Doug January 16, 2018 at 2:45 pm

If history, algebra and foreign language were made completely optional – provided completely free but taking them or not has no impact on your graduation, college admissions, career or future salary – how many high schoolers would still take them? My guess is that 99% or more would be more than happy to have an extra 20 hours a week of free time.

Take away the thin veneer of “this is important for your future ability to make a living” and the justification for making these subjects not only publically subsidized but mandatory goes away. Your argument literally boils down to ” well since I was a nerd that sincerely enjoyed Emily Dickinson everyone else must be forced to read her poems”. Imagine the absurdity if other things, like DnD or Star Trek fan fiction, were mandatory just because a small minority of nerds like them.

4 Ted Craig January 16, 2018 at 3:46 pm

MY argument is that I’m a nerd who loves Emily Dickinson? You seem to need a remedial class in reading. Please point out in my comment where I said anything about Emily Dickinson. You also need a class in argumentation if you have to resort to name-calling.

5 Anonymous January 16, 2018 at 4:24 pm

What IS your argument, then? That Emily Dickenson will allow students to land their dream mate? That they will use their knowledge of Emily Dickenson to enjoy literature debate club?

6 clockwork_prior January 16, 2018 at 8:16 am

‘Does Caplan realize people do more than work?’

Not in the eyes of the only thing worth measuring the entirety of human existence against – the market.

7 CorvusB January 16, 2018 at 8:59 am

clockwork, that is just plain silly. What do people spend time doing when they are not at work and producing? Consuming.

8 Todd K January 16, 2018 at 9:07 am

Not me. I’m absorbing. I put on a Deepak Chopra CD, sit back and absorb as my mind improves exponentially across the eleven dimensions.

You should try it.

9 clockwork_prior January 16, 2018 at 9:25 am

If one wants to be reductionist enough, every breath is just about consumption too. As would be humming tunelessly to yourself.

Of course, first you have to accept the idea that any activity that is not at work and producing can be defined as consumption.

Some people actually reject that framing, but then, they are likely the type to lay around naked at a lake on a nice summer day with other people so inclined.

10 Anonymous January 16, 2018 at 4:25 pm

Thank God I read Emily Dickenson so now I can lay around naked at a lake??

11 Floccina January 16, 2018 at 12:29 pm

Prior, people learn a lot outside of school, much more than they do in school, and they learn it much cheaper, if that were not true subjects like history, sociology, English would surely be done online with the outstanding lecturers. And if need a coach to push and guide you, you could hire one. Like it or not schools are more for getting credentials than for learning.

If someone wants to learn to speak a language or how to play a musical instrument or even to discus an learn about literature, they usually do not sign up to the class in a university, though a few do. Schools are for credentials that BTW is what people often miss when they go to a for profit school.

12 byomtov January 16, 2018 at 7:25 pm

people learn a lot outside of school, much more than they do in school, and they learn it much cheaper,

Yes, and much of it is wrong.

13 john January 16, 2018 at 8:28 am

Consider the source. Most academics are just doing what they would do as a hobby — something they are generally interested in far beyond the role the activity plays in generating income (in fact most of their activity is probably more accurately termed consumption than production). For the rest of us we have a more complicated relationship with our daily activities.

14 KWebb January 16, 2018 at 9:10 am

Substitute any measure you please. History, algebra, and foreign languages will be rarely used by the vast majority of students five minutes after the final.

15 Ted Craig January 16, 2018 at 9:18 am

“Substitute any measure you please.”
There probably aren’t many measures that show how much students use what they learn outside of work.

16 Anonymous January 16, 2018 at 4:26 pm

“There probably aren’t many measures that show how much students use what they learn outside of work.”

How about asking them?

17 MyName January 16, 2018 at 5:49 pm

By any measure you please, most knowledge and ideas a person is exposed in their lifetime is useless 5 minutes afterwards. The problem is that the information that is useful is *very* useful and pays dividends well beyond the amount of time spent learning about the subject.

99% of people who learn CPR or how to help someone who is choking never put that knowledge to practical use. But it still saves thousands of lives. 90%+ of students who learn Algebra never use it in real life, but 100% of economists, mathematicians, engineers, etc. use those principles in their daily work. And they would never have been exposed to it outside of a classroom to begin with.

And that’s setting aside the fact that many students who excel in these fields may come from a background where they wouldn’t have been able to learn it without free public schooling because their parents don’t know anything about the subject and would never have the money to pay someone to teach it to them.

Ignorance is more costly to society than education is, it’s just that those costs are externalized and difficult to glean without careful study.

18 Steve January 16, 2018 at 9:25 am

Caplan appreciates the value of An Education (in the holistic sense) but thinks the majority of students aren’t getting that in the current system. They’re sitting in some classes, memorizing and doing just enough to pass, then forgetting everything afterwards. His Atlantic article goes into more detail here, with supporting studies.

Note that if you’re commenting on an economics blog you’re probably not part of the cohort that Caplan’s book addresses.

19 Gerard January 16, 2018 at 10:36 am

Despite majority beliefs to the contrary, education & schooling cannot be conducted in some objective, sterile process. S0MEONE must always decide WHAT will be taught to the children and HOW it will be taught…. every decision to teach a specific subject is a decision NOT to teach a thousand other possible subject (time & resources are limited).
These are ALWAYS subjective, human decisions.

The question is, whose subjective decisions (goals & values) will be used? The logical answer is “parents”, but they were cut out of our American compulsory government school system long ago (except to pay the bills, and hand their children over to government bureaucrats each weekday).

In American public schools, goals & values are determined haphazardly by legions of education administrators, bureaucrats, NEA lemmings and politicians. Everybody is highly satisfied with that system (?)

20 Floccina January 16, 2018 at 12:31 pm

+1

21 dude January 16, 2018 at 1:04 pm
22 dude January 16, 2018 at 1:06 pm
23 Art Deco January 16, 2018 at 1:51 pm

What you need is for state legislatures to define the universe of subjects and provide some spare instructions to the board of regents. You need the board of regents to compose compulsory performance examinations. You need philanthropic agencies to run the schools. You need county governments to finance the schools. You need parents to select a course of study for their youth from among those on the regents’ menu.

24 Anonymous January 16, 2018 at 4:28 pm

Let the kids choose. Kids love to learn when they are not being bossed around with carrots and sticks

25 Floccina January 16, 2018 at 12:30 pm

+1

26 Greg January 16, 2018 at 3:30 pm

Sure, lots of students goof off in school. They are also known to goof off outside of school. Shouldn’t the real question be whether school has a positive treatment effect that leads to more learning than the alternative? Too much of the debate on education is just hand waving.

27 Beliavsky January 16, 2018 at 12:21 pm

You could make a case for reading and analyzing literature in school if it caused a large fraction of people to enjoy literature for the rest of their lives. But I think this describes a small fraction of high school graduates.

28 Mark Thorson January 16, 2018 at 1:36 pm

Also consider the possibility some will consider the class a form of torture and hate literature for the rest of their lives, and perhaps pass that hatred down to their children. If they outnumber the literature-lovers, does that mean the net effect is negative?

29 Art Deco January 16, 2018 at 1:48 pm

You need some literature to improve reading skills. The rest – themes, narratives, imagery, protagonists, antagonists, crisis, and climax – you can consign to optional programs on the secondary level.

30 Floccina January 16, 2018 at 12:24 pm

People learn a lot outside of school and it is much cheaper. Schools are more for getting credentials than for learning.

If someone wants to learn to speak a language or how to play a musical instrument or even to discus an learn about literature, they usually do not sign up to the class in a university, though a few do. Schools are for credentials that BTW is what people often miss when they go to a for profit school.

31 Hazel Meade January 16, 2018 at 12:44 pm

You can learn things like literary criticism just from reading. I don’t know why this requires formal instruction in a school.
I disagree about algebra, as science is a system of integrated knowledge that rests on mathematics as a foundation. if you can’t do algebra, you’re not going to have access into science when you get older. You have to start with basic mathmematical concepts and work your way up.
That’s no so with literature – all you have to know is how to read.

32 Art Deco January 16, 2018 at 1:46 pm

Agreed. The elementary curriculum should conclude with the foundations of algebra.

33 gab January 16, 2018 at 2:03 pm

You can’t learn literary criticism just from reading. Nobody is ever gonna figure out the animal imagery in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf without an instructor.

Literary criticism, or more correctly, analysis, teaches you to look for the story under the story. IOW, the “real” story. Something many people are very, very bad at.

34 cthulhu January 16, 2018 at 2:43 pm

You mean, the “real” story that the author didn’t put in the text and can only be found by some critical theory nutjob exhaustively parsing the prose. No thanks.

35 gab January 16, 2018 at 5:41 pm

No, I mean the real story(ies) and symbolism and metaphor that some people are too stupid to look for.

36 cthulhu January 16, 2018 at 5:50 pm

You mean the real story(ies) and symbolism and metaphor that some people are too stupid to look for unless they get spoon-fed by some critical theory nutjob. Those of us who can actually think for ourselves don’t need to be told what to think by somebody who can’t live in the real world.

37 JK Brown January 16, 2018 at 2:11 pm

So people should waste years of their most physically capable years and the wealth they could earn to go into debt for what, a hobby? They could get that for a $1.50 in late fees from the library. And these days not even that.

I’ve learned more history from listening to The British History Podcast than I ever did in any class. Same for Youtube channels on electronics, auto diagnostics, woodworking, metalworking, welding, etc. Why, because when I engage with them I am in the mood and have the time. I’m not conforming to some arbitrary schedule dependent upon the professor’s whims or the availability of classroom space, nor do I have to set aside time to drive to the location, find parking, etc.

38 Ted Craig January 16, 2018 at 2:38 pm

Caplan is talking about high school.

39 Roger Sweeny January 17, 2018 at 8:56 am

Sure, people do more than just work. But education is bought on the basis of being useful to earning a good lining. And important to note: it’s not bought by the consumers; it’s bought by parents and voters. Students show how much they value it by forgetting most of what they have learned within six months.

40 Sure January 16, 2018 at 8:21 am

Of course this is true. Take the most practical education we have – medical school. I would estimate that at least 1/4th of the material covered is utterly irrelevant to practice. We are literally teaching the students that will hold our lives in our hands and we waste time teaching to the questions on USMLE (which has basically become and SAT for doctors). We continue to make the focus of medical education be brute force memorization of anatomy, drugs, and pathogens; few of which will ever be relevant to practice and none of which will be crucial to have so quickly you cannot consult a reference. I can recall being explicitly taught that “the real answer is X, but remember Y is the answer for boards”; and so can every other doctor in my hospital.

And that does not even touch the “soft skills” classes of dubious value or the latest way we try to keep doctors up with the latest political correctness (e.g. what words you should use to talk about suicide, gender, family status, or old age).

If medical school cannot maintain focus on what is useful to actual patients, I cannot fathom how much dross the rest of the educational system carries around.

41 john January 16, 2018 at 8:33 am

Do they also teach you that doctors and mechanics are highly similar but that the mechanic actually knows more about their job than the doctor?

It is true that specialization has it’s value but if you want to only be programmed to do your specific task then you’re saying you want to be trained to be a robot and not an educated human. This is the crux of the issue regardless of how effective the current educational institutions (including the universities these economists all work for and graduated from) may be.

42 Sure January 16, 2018 at 9:15 am

Oh please. Do tell me what value is there in memorizing random single nucleotide polymorphisms (e.g. C677T) towards to being an educated human? I mean, sure, it is important to know that there are some promthrombic mutations, but being able to name which SNP is in play is utterly useless – you can just google it. And you should Google it. Your ability to recall random facts after five years is terrible and if it is important you want to look up anything that you do not see regularly.

Much of medical school is spent preparing students for the step exams, if the step exams ask about random polymorphisms, then students either memorize those or they drop in the rankings and match into less selective residencies. How does stuff get into the step exams? Because a large number of people in education decide it goes in there.

I am dead serious, we kill people with this educational system. For instance the USMLE asks large numbers of questions about rare, serious side effects. Doctors remember these rare side effects and refrain from prescribing drugs even when the odds ratio is decidedly in favor of prescribing something that has a rare risk of burning out a liver but a high risk of say diminishing psychosis and suicide risk. We are literally willing to kill patients rather than make education actually centered around being a well functioning practitioner of medicine.

We teach medicine according to what bureaucrats and educators put into the tests and curriculum. If the four years of post-graduate education cannot focus on not killing patients, I cannot believe that regular education is that well matched to what people want with their lives.

43 Art Deco January 16, 2018 at 1:44 pm

Doctors remember these rare side effects and refrain from prescribing drugs even when the odds ratio is decidedly in favor of prescribing something that has a rare risk of burning out a liver but a high risk of say diminishing psychosis and suicide risk.

I don’t think we live in a world where underprescribing by doctors is a serious social problem .

44 Sure January 16, 2018 at 2:45 pm

More technically we are misprescribing, in particular we prescribe a bunch of “low side effect” drugs (which happen to be on patent) instead of prescribing drugs were greater proven efficacy that carry rare, but serious risks.

How many dead patients makes a serious social problem?

45 Art Deco January 16, 2018 at 2:49 pm

How many dead patients makes a serious social problem?

I’ll suggest the dead patients from iatrogenic ailments weigh in the balance.

46 Sure January 16, 2018 at 3:39 pm

That is why we use odds-ratios. By definition they include iatrogenic deathc. For a lot of my recurring psychosis patients they have a much better odds ratio of not dying n drugs medical education implicitly discourages. You have a 1:1,000,000 risk of lethal iatrogenic side effects and something like a 1:100 risk of lethal harm from ineffective treatment (e.g. running into traffic). I have seen untold numbers of psychotic patients who have been tried repeatedly on ineffective patients because doctors are scared of prescribing things with exotic side effects. I have seen plenty die (suicide, traffic accidents, violence, etc.) that would likely have been avoided with better dosing.

47 Art Deco January 16, 2018 at 6:13 pm

That is why we use odds-ratios.

Let go of my leg. I’ve been a consumer of the services of physicians for more than 50 years, remonstrated with family member’s physicians for umpteen years, have a pair of physicians among my in-laws, and used to work for the U of R Medical Center. The next time I meet a doctor who thinks like an actuary will be the first. Even the frigging oncologist couldn’t make a probabalistic statement which made any sense.

48 Mark Bahner January 16, 2018 at 7:08 pm

“That is why we use odds-ratios.”

“Let go of my leg. I’ve been a consumer of the services of physicians for more than 50 years,…”

I think he’s saying that odds ratios *should* be used. The drugs that are avoided have greater efficacy, but have very rare but serious side effects. So more people die from not being effectively treated than would die from the very rare but serious side effects.

49 Sure January 17, 2018 at 6:52 am

Art:

This is my point, we should be using odds ratios to guide these prescriptions. We don’t generally. In large part because medical education rewards doctors for memorizing things qualitatively.

There will be some terrible question on every doctor’s step exams about what causes Stevens-Johnson Syndrome; this is a highly dangerous complication that occurs in about 5 per million patients. So MDs tend to underprescribe anything that has it listed as a side effect. Rather than do the odds ratio they just write for the drugs they recall being the “correct” answers from med school (i.e. the drugs without exotic side effects). More generally med school is terrible at prescriptions because it expects docs to just memorize prescription guidelines. This works for at least 80% of prescriptions, but there are cases where guidelines change without it being in your continuing education, where the front line drugs simply do not work, and where you need to dose to a less typical patient. Rote memorization is terrible for complicated cases.

But I have yet to see a resident who was effectively trained to look at odds ratios. And I am in a specialty where we see disproportionately complicated cases with high risks of death (i.e. the dosing guidelines change, a lot, when you are in the middle of a STEMI), but few if any med schools prepare residents to do anything other than spit out a memorized list of drugs and patient populations when they work. The med schools have to do this because the big knowledge test, the step exams, does not allow you to consult resources or even use a scientific calculator. So again, about 25% of the skills med schools impart are worthless to actual practice and a smaller amount actually kill patients.

50 Steve January 16, 2018 at 11:36 am

And that’s without even mentioning the fact that in America doctors are required to study four years of semi-related stuff just to be allowed to start learning the stuff they (theoretically) genuinely need.

51 Hazel Meade January 16, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Well, the problem is you can’t identify in advance which specialization a student is going to go into.
Higher education usually rests on a process of increasing specialization as you go through, not because all of that knowledge flows into that one specialization, but because people needs to be exposed to everything in order to sort into subdisciplines. And even if you could identify four years in advance which specialization each student is going to enter, it might not be cost effective to customize programs to each student’s needs. Some of it could probably be cut, but there’s always going to be a lot of breadth narrowing to a specific specialization ,and that necessarily is going to involve learning some stuff you end up not needing.

52 Art Deco January 16, 2018 at 1:36 pm

and that necessarily is going to involve learning some stuff you end up not needing.

Rubbish.

1. Occupational schooling at the tertiary level can incorporate foundational components drawn from the arts and sciences or require a preparatory certificate in the arts and sciences with a specific course sequence. No need to require a 120 credit baccalaureate degree antecedent to admission or nestle the occupational schooling within a baccalaureate degree which has 30 or 35 credits worth of padding.

2. Similarly, if there are gaps in someone’s secondary school studies which inhibit admission to the certificate program in question, those gaps can be filled by fee-for-service programs which replicate secondary school courses of study. You didn’t get the necessary science credits in secondary school, there can be community colleges where you get them.

3. Secondary schooling can be funded by vouchers distributed by county governments to custodial parents (who turn them over to tuition-free private schools who in turn submit them to the county government for redemption). Any secondary school will have a franchise which incorporates enrolling and preparing students for an array of academic and vocational certificates awarded through state regents’ exams. Let’s posit the state prepares examinations (at two different paces) in 20-odd subjects in academics and the arts and (at one pace) 20 odd vocational subjects. Schools select among them and maintain their accreditation in a given subject by the examination performance of their students. The student can enroll in whatever study program his custodial parent(s)’ select, contingent on school policy.

4. Primary schooling can be passably uniform, consisting of literacy, numeracy, and the fundamentals of American history, geography, and civics. It can be offered at about 5 different paces. A given school would be enfranchised to offer any combination of paces and maintain it’s franchise through the examination performance of its students. A student reaching secondary school age (13 or 14) without completing the series could enroll in something akin to what the British used to call ‘secondary modern’ schools, where they continue to work on the basic education while taking life skills courses as well.

You’re going to follow some courses that won’t be preparatory to what you do later. The notion we need primary schooling larded with non-academic mush or that we need to stew 90% of our youth through haphazard and half-assed liberal education at the secondary level is just wrong, as is the notion that tertiary students are ‘learning to think’ or ‘finding their way’ with all these distribution credits.

53 Sure January 16, 2018 at 2:50 pm

Not in medicine. Whole medical schools exist which limit your residency options in order to shorten the curricula. Further we allow exactly this sort of specialization in several distinct medical practices like podiatry. You could reasonably require medical students to pick specialties before starting.

Nonetheless none of my examples are due to issues of specialization. Even with med school – where people ARE specializing and where we have a formal apprenticeship system and where every incoming student has been heavily screened … the curriculum is still not focused on what makes you a good doctor. Schools teach to the step exams and popular educational theories. They make decisions, sometimes explicitly, to trade away educational quality for higher ranking.

If we cannot keep medical education focused on useful material rather than relative rankings I see no hope for places that do have all the issues you list.

54 Mark Bahner January 16, 2018 at 7:13 pm

I’d love to read what you think medical education should be like. I read or heard somewhere that a lot of classes are medical researchers talking about their incredibly focused area of research. So it’s like learning about elephants through a class that exclusively covers their tail hairs. That doesn’t seem like a good idea!

55 Sure January 17, 2018 at 8:23 pm

My general guiding principles are:
1. Medicine should have two components. Time critical and time uncritical. Time critical medicine is all the stuff that doctors should be able to manage from memory with limited tools. How to do CPR, what to do with anaphylaxis, how to tell if a patient needs immediate defib, and the basic anatomy & physiology to do this sort of stuff so your patients live to see the inside of an ER. Everything else in medical school should be open book and possibly open internet, this is how you practice in the real world, this how you should study. At minimum you should be allowed to carry one pocket’s worth of note cards into every examination.
2. Examinations, e.g. USMLE, should have virtually no questions that reward mass memorization. Much of medical school is memorizing small, often rare, diseases. E.g. Hartnup disease is a rare autosomal recessive (SLC6A19) disease where patients lack non-polar amino acid transporters. If you have memorized this disease, you get the question right. The fact that, at best, 1 in 25,000 patients will ever have it does not matter. Right now the bulk of work in medical school is memorizing rare diseases, drugs (particularly rare side effects and interactions), pathogens (e.g. which upper respiratory virus is negative sense DNA common in the tropics vs negative sense RNA common in the tropics), and pathology (which includes memorizing stains, cell types, and post-mortem dissection pathology). In real medicine virtually all of this should be a reference look up. Unless you see it once a month, you will forget things and you will get things wrong. We have medical specialties (i.e. pathology) precisely because this stuff is too important to trust to the average doc’s memory.
3. Emphasis should be placed on consistency and efficiency. USMLE should be broken up into at least four tests and preferably eight; much of the test should be a large bank of video & labs from patient encounters that reward students for understanding how to actually understand patient histories, interpret real labs, and make common diagnoses. Make the clinical skills test(s) something more than a medical English test.
4. Specialization tracking. Instead of having a summer or two of elective time and maybe one or two electives, gear the curriculum so that people can focus on skills relevant to their interests. E.g. only those going into surgery related fields (e.g. radiology, surgery, PMR) get the full brunt of anatomy or only those going into pathology related fields (e.g. hospital based internal med, pathology) get the full microscopy set.
5. Ditch outdated techniques and courses. E.g. Auscultation basically needs to be binned into “this needs imaging/spirometry/etc.” and “this needs to be listened to again in two hours/two days/two weeks/two months”. Open surgery for basically anything common is no longer worth teaching – hysterectomy, bowel resection, lung biopsy, etc. are all virtually never done open, yet we still waste time teaching about the complications of open surgeries that happen maybe once in a thousand cases of that pathology. Likewise a lot of functional neural mapping (e.g. Wernicke’s aphasia vs Broca’s aphasia) is basically useless now that everyone who has any of dozen of neurological deficits simply gets imaging (and if imaging does not localize the problem, there is generally nothing we can do anyways).

Medicine wastes a bunch of time of stuff that is old, stuff that is fantastically rare unless you are in academic medicine where patients travel to you (because you are the only physician for hundreds of miles who specializes in that obscure set of diseases), and stuff that is better taught in residency. Sorting that is complicated, but that will never happen as long as step exams dominate the curriculum.

56 Mark Bahner January 17, 2018 at 11:25 pm

“How to do CPR, what to do with anaphylaxis, how to tell if a patient needs immediate defib, and the basic anatomy & physiology to do this sort of stuff so your patients live to see the inside of an ER.”

I’m curious…how many patients have you treated who needed CPR, or had anaphylaxis, or needed immediate defib?

“Everything else in medical school should be open book and possibly open internet, this is how you practice in the real world, this how you should study.”

Yes, that makes a tremendous amount of sense to me. As you previously wrote, if one is remembering something obscure from medical school, the potential for *wrongly* remembering is great, so it would be much safer to look it up to confirm.

“2. Examinations, e.g. USMLE, should have virtually no questions that reward mass memorization.”

Yes, that makes tremendous sense.

“3. Emphasis should be placed on consistency and efficiency. USMLE should be broken up into at least four tests and preferably eight; much of the test should be a large bank of video & labs from patient encounters that reward students for understanding how to actually understand patient histories, interpret real labs, and make common diagnoses.”

Yes, yes, good stuff! Strictly from my standpoint as a patient with no medical background, but as an engineer who does a fair amount of reading about what I think is wrong with me, I think one key aspect of a good doctor is he/she actually listens to patients, and reads the medical history.

“5. Ditch outdated techniques and courses….Open surgery for basically anything common is no longer worth teaching – hysterectomy, bowel resection, lung biopsy, etc. are all virtually never done open, yet we still waste time teaching about the complications of open surgeries that happen maybe once in a thousand cases of that pathology.”

This all seems like real gold. I wish you the very best of luck in advocating for and hopefully getting these suggested changes implemented.

P.S. To draw an analogy to something that I’ve done…there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that temporary/portable hurricane storm surge reduction measures are the way to go for protecting the world from storm surge (versus permanent, fixed barriers). I doubt I’ll live to see temporary/portable hurricane storm surge systems developed, but I still think it’s something very much worth trying to get a discussion started.

57 Sure January 18, 2018 at 6:57 am

I work in emergency medicine, so most days I have at least one patient who “needs” that care (often we are required to do it even though the patient is going to die regardless), some days (e.g. wet heavy snow in the morning) it is dozens.

For most docs, it is fairly rare, but does happen. The big important thing with CPR and the like is knowing when NOT to do it. I would guess that the average doc sees this sort of stuff maybe once a year to once every five years.

Frankly, I suspect there will be no changes in the rest of my career. The system is controlled by a number of elite medical schools and their residency directors. The like the current setup as it rewards their students disproportionately on step exams and makes it easier for them to sort residency applicants. The whole match system is a legalized cartel (they have explicit exemption from anti-trust legislation) and it will not be changing soon.

58 Mark Bahner January 18, 2018 at 5:10 pm

“I work in emergency medicine,…”

Oh! Yes, CPR is probably an important thing to learn there. 🙂 I was thinking about GPs or specialists outside the ER.

Have you seen “Catch Me if You Can” (DiCaprio and Hanks)? I thought the ER scene there was great. 🙂 Another question: have you ever read “Vital Signs” in Discover Magazine? It’s essentially doctors writing about memorable cases they’ve had. The “Vital Signs” series has been around for a long, long time…I think even back to the 80s. A fellow named Tony Dajer has written many columns there. He works in emergency medicine. I’d be interested what you think of his columns:

http://discovermagazine.com/authors/tony-dajer

“Frankly, I suspect there will be no changes in the rest of my career.”

Yes, that’s probably right, but if you can find time to write a short commentary to some appropriate publication, at least you can say you tried. That’s the way I look at it with my portable/temporary storm surge protection idea.

59 rayward January 16, 2018 at 8:44 am

What is the purpose of education? Is it to prepare one for a job? Or is it to prepare one for citizenship? For many, our education system fails on both accounts, because it doesn’t excel in either. So is the answer to have two education systems, one for training in jobs and the other in citizenship? But for those without training in citizenship, are they able to make a contribution to democracy? Indeed, are they likely a threat to democracy? Universal suffrage without universal education in citizenship likely means a short life for the American experiment. The founders restricted the right to vote (a right that isn’t found in the constitution) because they feared universal suffrage without universal education would threaten the American experiment. But the path of restricting the right to vote is treacherous, for we see it today with efforts to make it more difficult for certain groups to vote, or even more explicitly by advocates of restrictions on the right of women to vote. Maybe the entire concept of participatory democracy is a fallacy.

60 The Anti-Gnostic January 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Maybe the entire concept of participatory democracy is a fallacy.

Democracy is a town vote on road or sewer budgets. After that, yes, it’s a farce.

61 Art Deco January 16, 2018 at 1:38 pm

Rubbish.

62 The Anti-Gnostic January 16, 2018 at 1:44 pm

Fiddlesticks!

63 Montgomery Burns January 16, 2018 at 2:08 pm

Pish posh!

64 Ebenezer Scrooge January 16, 2018 at 2:08 pm

Humbug!

65 Spongebob Squarepants January 17, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Fishsticks!

66 Sneeje January 16, 2018 at 8:45 am

If you want to create a world where populism is unstoppable and the masses have even less regard/trust for science, reasoning, and expertise, this would be the way to do it. And people like “Sure” above will enable it using “both sides” arguments. “Well, there’s merit in focusing on only the knowledge that is directly applicable argle bargle…”

I don’t know how you can look at the stratification of societies historically and today, the rich-poor gap, and the coming technology availability gap and make the argument that the best thing to do for society is to roll with it.

67 Sure January 16, 2018 at 9:41 am

Since when has shooting the messenger been a viable way to improve popular perceptions?

The fact is that I go through the medical school curricula and point to dozens of practices that evidence suggests KILL patients. These practices persist because the biggest driver of medical school function is to increase the relative status of graduates, which in our “meritocratic” system basically boils down to higher paying/more prestigious residencies which in turn is overwhelming driven by step scores. Schools, by dint of their actions, care more about climbing the rankings than about training their students to be more effective doctors.

For instance, there is a wealth of evidence that suggests that making medical education pass/fail increases understanding, decreases malpractice in practice, and increases medical student well being. When my medical student looked at the literature they decided that increasing the suicide risk of their students was worth it because losing the class ranking would harm match success.

So sure, tell me a Just So story of how (somehow) playing ostrich about the deficiencies of education will prevent populism. Me, I prefer to be evidence based and try to save lives rather than make cheap rhetorical points.

68 Thor January 16, 2018 at 11:22 am

Well said.

69 The Anti-Gnostic January 16, 2018 at 11:57 am

Much of the population just needs basic numeracy and literacy. A percentage beyond that may justify publicly financed classroom instruction in algebra and geometry and historical and other readings.

Students are bored and miserable in subjects outside their interests and aptitudes. It is abusive to keep youngsters in school and grade them on dense texts or complex equations when they are perfectly capable of being contributing members of society in many other areas. Society may have a strong public interest in elementary education but after that individuals start diverging so much that it’s best left to private choice.

Education is that magical commodity–like the immigrant–of which it is assumed there can never be any diminishing marginal utility.

70 Alistair January 17, 2018 at 7:58 am

+100

71 Mark Bahner January 16, 2018 at 7:45 pm

“If you want to create a world where populism is unstoppable and the masses have even less regard/trust for science, reasoning, and expertise, this would be the way to do it.”

People shouldn’t have “regard/trust” for things that aren’t true. For example, many people trust scientists who tell them that climate change is one of the biggest problems facing humanity, or even *the* biggest problem. That doesn’t make it any less nonsense.

72 Nate F January 16, 2018 at 8:50 am

The reality is every kid until career needs an individually tailored education, mentor, and maybe counseling. All we have budgeted is the K-12 system and university system we have now.

I am doing fine now but struggled with PTSD (loss of two immediate family members) and teachers always assumed I was “smart but lazy.” It did stick with me for a while. To have adults go, “ah he must be lazy” really affects you especially if you have personal mental health issues.

We’d need to somehow knock it off with the “only athletes deserve individual attention” mindset, find the willpower to divert public resources away from bombs and towards childhood development, and overcome a K-12 system that only wants to change the salary they are paid and nothing else.

Good luck. I plan on keeping my special daughter out of it. She sounds a lot like Bauer’s son in her book. K-12 would crush her.

73 msgkings January 16, 2018 at 2:11 pm

As robots replace more and more jobs, individual/small group tutoring may make a comeback as base education, like Plato tutoring Alexander the Great (was it Plato or Aristotle?)

74 Ted Craig January 16, 2018 at 2:40 pm

Aristotle. Hey, I just used something I learned at school.

75 msgkings January 16, 2018 at 2:54 pm

LOL thanks! I do the same thing at trivia night in the bar.

76 Anonymous January 17, 2018 at 12:59 am

What we need to do is the exact opposite- set kids free to make their own way in life. Did you know there are a number of schools with no teachers? It’s true. The kids are put together and given the tools to learn about what they are interested in, and somehow they all learn to read (without being taught by adults), and become productive members of society. And the cost is WAY lower than what we have now!

77 Anonymous January 17, 2018 at 1:00 am

I suppose you could say, what every child needs is the right to individually tailor their own education, and to be around older peers who can mentor them organically

78 chuck martel January 16, 2018 at 9:17 am

He similarly dispenses with the claim that schools teach common values or civic education. As college attendance has skyrocketed, he notes, voter turnout has declined.

Of course. Becoming educated one realizes what a fraud the faux democracy is and how futile one vote is for a ridiculous slate of candidates.

79 Engineer January 16, 2018 at 11:08 am

attendance != education

80 aMichael January 16, 2018 at 12:50 pm

I also thought this was the correct effect of education on voting — the realization that the chance that your vote will be decisive (especially in a national election) is about as close to zero as one can get.

81 Art Deco January 16, 2018 at 1:40 pm

Becoming educated one realizes w

One can amuse oneself and fancy one has prevailed in argument by making witless ex cathedra statements.

82 Beefcake the Mighty January 16, 2018 at 11:29 pm

And one can be a cuck, which I guess is the approach you’ve taken.

83 RPLong January 16, 2018 at 9:30 am

Thanks for reminding me that this book is out. I ordered by copy.

84 Florian v Schack January 16, 2018 at 9:45 am

Sed vitæ, non scholæ discimus.

85 psmith January 16, 2018 at 10:03 am

Presumably by Caplan’s lights declining voter participation is in fact an instance of increasing civic virtue.

(And I’m not saying he’s wrong about that!)

86 Hadur January 16, 2018 at 11:42 am

I’m surprised by how frequently I use algebra in my pretty standard, non-quant office job. I use almost nothing else I learned in school.

87 Pshrnk January 16, 2018 at 12:21 pm

I’m glad I learned to type in school.

88 Dave Smith January 16, 2018 at 1:10 pm

That’s about the only thing I learned that I still use.

89 Floccina January 16, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Yes simple algebra is quite useful, on the other hand factoring quadratic equations almost no one uses. The concept of limits in calculus is occasionally useful but calculus is not usually taught with those applications in mind.

90 JK Brown January 16, 2018 at 2:21 pm

Yes, you need to be able to algebraically manipulate equations to get them into a simpler form. But most engineers don’t solve differential equations after school, they need to know what taking a differential does, but the solutions are seldom possible. And if the equation is solvable, you look up the solution after you manipulated it to the point you can recognize it. Mostly, you are doing qualitative evaluation to see how the changing variable impacts the whole.

91 msgkings January 16, 2018 at 2:14 pm

Basic math up to and including algebra is important even if you don’t do algebraic equations in daily life. Mathematical thinking is itself very useful, it’s basically logic, symbolism, and memory. Our brains should be trained to think that way. Advanced math is less important for that.

92 Alistair January 17, 2018 at 7:54 am

+1

93 Art Deco January 16, 2018 at 12:06 pm

Caplan is talented at reminding you of Chesterton’s dictum that the problem with a madman is not that he is logical, but that he is only logical.

94 tjamesjones January 16, 2018 at 12:17 pm

ah that old dictum

95 John Mansfield January 16, 2018 at 3:02 pm

In other news:

BALTIMORE (AP) — A wealthy investor who credits his success to studying philosophy in college has given $75 million to the philosophy department at Johns Hopkins University.
[. . .]
The 67-year-old Miller enrolled in a doctoral philosophy program at Johns Hopkins before leaving to pursue a career in investment management. In a statement, he says he credits much of his business success to philosophy studies.

96 Art Deco January 16, 2018 at 6:30 pm

The income from the bequest will be about $3 million a year. They won’t know what to do with it. That’s a low overhead discipline. I know it’s underhanded, but just about all parties will be better off if JHU’s lawyers and accountants figure a way to launder the income and redirect it to a use which comes closer to an optimum.

I knew a case of a retired faculty member who had some family money. A third of it was bequeathed to his institution’s library to purchase books in his areas of interest. Expending the income in that endowment required purchasing about 600 volumes a year give or take. None of the librarians had the background in those subjects to collect in that depth. The college awarded about 30 degrees annually in his subjects (which didn’t typically require drawing on literature so esoteric). The librarians found one (1) faculty member willing to help them review catalogues for purchases. One of his subjects was something that almost none of the current teaching faculty knew anything about.

97 Alistair January 17, 2018 at 7:52 am

It would only be funnier if they taught Stoic philosophy

98 Charbes A. January 16, 2018 at 3:24 pm

So taht’s it, like in 1984, ignorance is strenght.

99 msgkings January 16, 2018 at 3:36 pm

Get a bigger phone, Thiago.

100 Charbes A January 16, 2018 at 3:53 pm

I already have a big tablet.

101 POTUS 45 January 16, 2018 at 4:03 pm

My tablet is bigger.

102 Charbes A. January 16, 2018 at 4:20 pm

Mine is huge.

103 Boonton January 16, 2018 at 4:10 pm

Given the amount of time teachers spend on novels and poetry, for instance, there must be a “thriving market in literary criticism,” he writes, adding that most of the subjects that students try to master in school—from history and algebra to foreign languages—will be of little use in their salary-earning lives….

But Mr. Miyagi! You promised to teach me karate, how is wax on wax off going to help me with karate!

104 msgkings January 16, 2018 at 4:20 pm

Yep. Especially at the elementary school level, it all cross-pollinates. To pick an obvious example, music involves a fair amount of math.

105 Peter January 16, 2018 at 6:27 pm

Music has a lot of mathematical basis, but taking a math class has very likely never produced a better musician, and taking a music class is just as unlikely to have produced a better mathematician. I love playing music, but I don’t think trying to connect math to it does anyone any favors.

106 Anonymous January 17, 2018 at 1:03 am

lol no

107 Greg from Oregon January 19, 2018 at 2:18 am

Actually, there is research indicating that taking music results in better performance in other subjects. That finding, of course, doesn’t reveal the reasons for the correlation.

108 Floccina January 16, 2018 at 5:14 pm

After surveying the research on the “transfer of learning,” Mr. Caplan concludes: “Students learn only the material you specifically teach them . . . if you’re lucky.” Generally, they don’t know how to transfer their reasoning from one topic to a related one.

Also what makes you think Miyagi was an expert on learning? I believe that Bill Russell said something like “Red Auerbach would just roll out the balls and let have us play.”

109 Boonton January 16, 2018 at 7:05 pm

Evidence to back this up? I’m thinking of something like the following controlled study. Take two groups of people who went through a course…say medieval history. Divide them between those who mastered the course and those that didn’t (use final grades, a test, whatever to measure this). Now give them a novel learning task…say how to load a set of transactions into an accounting program and trigger a check run. I suspect you will find those that mastered the course will do better than those that didn’t.

Extra credit. Repeat the same experiment except now give people the novel learning task before and after the medieval history course (you’ll need two different types of novel learning tasks to make this work). I suspect you will find that going through the course helps both groups with novel learning tasks but those who are more successful at the course will do better.

I’m NOT saying the students find some analogy that helps them with the task from the course material. In other words, I’m not saying something like “Hey, these transactions are like surfs and loading them is like a feudal lord collecting rents”. I’m saying the exercise of sitting down and learning some material is training a ‘mental muscle’ which makes sitting down and learning some other material easier.

110 Anonymous January 17, 2018 at 1:05 am

“I suspect you will find that going through the course helps both groups with novel learning tasks but those who are more successful at the course will do better.”

What you will find is that the scores do not change before or after, and the students who do better at one also do better at the other

111 Lex January 17, 2018 at 11:05 am

What’s the evidence? Buy the book and read citations.

The best example of non-transferablility is the first year of law school. Undergraduate major is fairly non-predictive of how one will do in the 1L subjects, which are unlike whatever a student will have studied as an undergrad (though students who had more rigorous undergraduate studies will generally do a bit better). UG major similarity doesn’t much predict how well a juror can parse the facts and law re a case presented to them during a mock trial.

Now, it may be that higher-education develops intangible skills (e.g., work ethic, epistemic curiosity, a sense of how one himself thinks). Certain fields, like history, are worth studying simple so a population has common facts. But, the simple point is that all those departments — those departments who graduate a good number of students into jobs not requiring their degree, if any degree altogether — are bullshitting with “we teach you *how* to think, not *what* to think.” Seriously, chat with most inhabitants of a faculty lounge, on any subject not related to their field, and see how impressed you are with their general level of critical thinking.

112 Roger Sweeny January 17, 2018 at 11:49 am

Boonton, you will have to control for the smarts they went into the course with. Otherwise, you’ll just find out that people who do well in a medieval history course also do well learning accounting software. Which is hardly surprising.

113 Charbes A. January 16, 2018 at 4:22 pm

When I was toung, we valued education.

114 Zach January 16, 2018 at 5:16 pm

One thing young people learn from education that can’t be learned from self study: exactly how hard you have to work to keep up with everyone else.

That makes a big difference when you’re choosing what you actually want to do with your life. There’s a difference between being generally smart and conscientious and having an actual knack for an area that can be tough to learn if your only competition is other high schoolers.

In areas like Law, there’s a big difference between a general interest in the subject and having the work ethic, stamina, and attention to detail to be a working lawyer.

Someone with an obsessive interest in coding and nothing but coding since the age of five might not need to measure himself against his peers. He knows he likes the subject, he knows he’s good, he knows he has the work ethic to succeed. But someone with an interest in architecture would probably benefit from pulling a few all nighters in the architecture studio and taking a long, hard look at how his results stack up next to the competition.

115 Zach January 16, 2018 at 5:29 pm

I would venture to say that the most valuable lessons some people can learn are:

— they don’t have anywhere near the tolerance for tedium and attention to detail to be a good lawyer.
— they don’t have anywhere near the stamina or drive to be a good banker
— they don’t have the dedication or sense of calling (or the tolerance for being around sick people) to be a good doctor.

Far better to have a couple of bad grades on a report card than to end up in a profession you’re not suited for.

116 George January 17, 2018 at 1:07 am

You don’t even learn that in law school! Law school has little to do with the practice of law. If you want to know how smart you are, take an IQ test. Don’t waste 20 years of your life.

117 Zach January 17, 2018 at 2:25 pm

Well, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Same principle.

IQ tests aren’t useful in this context. Many people are smart enough to do jobs they have no real aptitude for. And on the flip side, many people do just fine at college after they figure out that they have to develop better work habits than they had in high school. In both cases, you have to be exposed to other smart people who are also hard working before you can figure out where your efforts are going to be best spent.

118 Boonton January 16, 2018 at 7:23 pm

Perhaps we should add to that:

– How to emotionally tolerate real feedback about your performance from people who are not your biological relations or chosen friend group

– How to react when you encounter someone who will judge your performance who you have no prior knowledge about

– How to handle multiple judges who sometimes appear to have criteria that contradicts the others

– What to do if a judge seems to have totally wrong criteria for evaluating you, or seems just crazy or irrational

– How to navigate a bureaucracy (schools are full of ‘toy bureaucracies’ like the student council, clubs, etc.)

I think self-study would not be helpful with this, nor would homeschooling.

119 byomtov January 16, 2018 at 7:30 pm

If Caplan were a little better educated he would know that mental illness is real, and that Ayn Rand was a lousy writer.

120 dux.ie January 16, 2018 at 9:13 pm

“””Caplan said that only about 5 percent of Americans should go to a four-year college.”””

In 2010 USA population with university degrees was at 30.76%, their average IQ is estimated to be 105.54, not that different from a random person from the street and the signalling value is close to zero. If only 5% of US pop have degrees, their estimated average IQ will be 122.67, much closer to the nominal minimum IQ for university admission at 115. In USA the % for min uni admission IQ of 115 is at 12.9%. And the degree will have better signalling value. From OECD 2010 data the %graduate for Germany 17.9%, FRA 17.5%, ITA 14.2%, MEX 16.2%, GBR 28.6%, CHN 3.6% (the latest Chinese census put that at about 10%). Clearly the values for USA and GBR were inflated and above international norms. With inflated %graduate, the result is under-employment https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graduate_unemployment#College_major_by_underemployment_rate

121 dux.ie January 16, 2018 at 9:15 pm

Rank %UnderEmp Major

1 74.4 Criminal justice

2 66.5 Performing arts

3 63.1 Public policy / Pre-law

4 62.6 Leisure/Hospitality

5 62.3 Fine arts

6 62.0 Miscellaneous technologies

7 61.4 Business management

8 59.6 Medical technicians

9 59.1 Anthropology

10 58.9 Art history

122 Boonton January 16, 2018 at 9:47 pm

Funny because college degrees command a premium in wages. Yet if we have too many college degrees that should cause the opposite, a wage deficit as a glut of supply keeps wages down. Even odder this premium increases over time, which doesn’t make sense as ‘signaling’ since fresh grads have nothing but the degree as a signal while those well past graduation have an actual track record.

their average IQ is estimated to be 105.54,

I think this obsession with IQ is probably mistaken. If it is such a great predictive device then how come no one seems to actually use IQ for actual hiring decisions?

123 Anonymous January 17, 2018 at 1:13 am

Why ignore the science? It’s all selection effects.

“a wage deficit as a glut of supply keeps wages down”
A wage deficit?? College graduates getting paid less than non-college graduates? College graduates are preferentially hired over non-graduates in essentially every job so that’s an impossible outcome.

124 mike shupp January 17, 2018 at 12:52 am

So I(‘m a Martian sociologist. Should I notice that young people are apt to study esoteric knowledge about imaginary people in invented environments — Emily Dashwood, or Harry Potter, or young George Washington, for example — for no good reason? Or should I notice that affluent and intelligent human beings, who might come to rule over those less gifted, are systematically trained via literature in empathy and understanding?

Give me a answer I can take back to the legions gathering on Syrtis Major. Are human beings instinct-driven creatures deserving nothing from our warriors but instant extinction? Or have their brains and long reflections upon their history made them a species worthy of respect?

125 Anonymous January 17, 2018 at 1:14 am

“systematically trained via literature in empathy and understanding”

Sounds like wishful thinking. Is there any evidence that education can affect empathy or understanding at all?

126 mike shupp January 17, 2018 at 3:09 am

Well …. suppose you’ve got a batch of students reading, say, Huckleberry Finn. Some of the kids will come to understand quickly that Huck and Jim become friends, some never will. Who do you give higher grades to? The first batch of kids, I suspect — that’s what Mark Twain would have wanted, And then we can move on to Treasure Island and Pride and Prejudice and David Copperfield and Kim and Brave New World and rhe Sherlock Holmes stories and …

If you’re totally incapable of identifying with another’s consciousness, you’re probably not going to take a lot of literature classes. Maybe you’ll get a degree in Administrative Law and never open a novel again and spend the rest of your life sneering at the soft hearted idiots who could never manage to get Real Jobs. And those of us who enjoy reading will look at you as a disgusting vulgar person unworthy of respect, however much money you earn.

I’m not insisting that education “affects” empathy, or increases it, or whatever — just that, at a minimum, it has some kind of sorting effect.

127 Mark Bahner January 17, 2018 at 10:53 pm

“Some of the kids will come to understand quickly that Huck and Jim become friends, some never will. Who do you give higher grades to? The first batch of kids, I suspect — that’s what Mark Twain would have wanted,”

Didn’t Mark Twain explicitly and emphatically state at the beginning of Huck Finn that it was just a story, and had no deeper meaning?

128 Peldrigal January 17, 2018 at 7:42 am

Watching people argue against the usefulness of algebra in an economics blog really made my day. Thank you, people.

129 Roger Sweeny January 17, 2018 at 12:02 pm

Most people who have taken algebra don’t use it. That doesn’t make it useless in some universal sense. It means that algebra is not useful to them.

Which at least brings up some questions. If lots of people are required to take algebra, many will find it unpleasant, be bored, do poorly and consider themselves failures (choose all that apply). On the other hand, if no one is required to take algebra, some kids who would get it eventually and would use it won’t ever find that out. Right now the default seems to be, make ’em take anything that could be useful. But that’s not costless.

130 byomtov January 17, 2018 at 5:00 pm

Most people who have taken algebra don’t use it.

This is also true of arithmetic beyond simple addition and subtraction. That doesn’t mean non-users would not benefit from using it.

131 Ryan T January 17, 2018 at 9:47 pm

“Your mission: given our curriculum, make an educated guess about what our economy looks like.”

My background is not in sociology, but I don’t find the analysis very impressive. A few more perceptive conclusions, in my opinion, might focus on compliance to authority, that the economy has moved people to live in a way that does not especially value physical health, nor leisure, and that it is task oriented at the expense of fostering curiosity. It might seem obsessed with ranking and sometimes also on pointless tasks, such as exams that are aligned with credentialing. It occurs to me that this Martian would note the importance of computers and other forms of online communication. The Martian might further conclude that so much time is set aside for workforce preparation that almost none is reserved for exploring things outside of work that make life worth living. Perhaps the curriculum would look inflexible, unforgiving, and torn between a desire to uphold the rigid and excluding values while also exploring newer, more harmonious, ones.

And a note on the civics class. This may be more reflective of America’s democratic system, which is notorious for gerrymandering and voter suppression and which does not guarantee voters time off from work in order to participate in the vote, than public education as an international concept.

It occurs to me that this comment will look like a rant of some sort. I’m eager to read the book, in spite of this review and these excerpts.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: