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Bloggingheads 03-09-2011 02:49 PM

The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 

badhatharry 03-09-2011 05:32 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
I wonder why Matt thinks people on the right are more likely to attribute disparity in educational achievement to genetics. I thought people on the right didn't even believe in genetics.

Just joshing, but really Matt, why would you think that???

Don Zeko 03-09-2011 06:02 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Because it's obviously the case? Have you compared the reaction to, say, The Bell Curve on the left and the right?

sapeye 03-09-2011 06:10 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 200432)
I wonder why Matt thinks people on the right are more likely to attribute disparity in educational achievement on genetics. I thought people on the right didn't even believe in genetics.

Just joshing, but really Matt, why would you think that???

It's the laziness/lack-of-discipline gene that's responsible for the disparity among individual performances. Poor, uneducated people have only themselves to blame. Nothing to do with problematic systemic structures.

jmoe 03-09-2011 06:43 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
There could be a classic montage in this video, almost as good as the famous one-word crime scene investigation from The Wire, if someone edited out everything other than the word 'right.'

badhatharry 03-09-2011 07:32 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sapeye (Post 200436)
It's the laziness/lack-of-discipline gene that's responsible for the disparity among individual performances. Poor, uneducated people have only themselves to blame. Nothing to do with problematic systemic structures.

OK, I get it. But aren't there any people on say, the left, who think academic achievement may be, in some small infinitesmal way, linked to IQ and genetic background?

badhatharry 03-09-2011 07:38 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jmoe (Post 200442)
There could be a classic montage in this video, almost as good as the famous one-word crime scene investigation from The Wire, if someone edited out everything other than the word 'right.'

How insensitive and correct!

jmoe 03-09-2011 07:45 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 200447)
How insensitive and correct!

I hope I was being too insensitive. I actually thought this was a good diavlog, I just think it would be immensely entertaining if someone took the time.

sapeye 03-09-2011 08:06 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 200446)
OK, I get it. But aren't there any people on say, the left, who think academic achievement may be, in some small infinitesmal way, linked to IQ and genetic background?

Sure. It's a matter of balance among a variety of factors. People on the right often simplify by claiming everything is the responsibility of the individual. People on the left may over-emphasize external causal factors. There have been many many many scientific studies, including identical twin studies, trying, rather unsuccessfully in my view, to tease apart the relative influence of nature and nurture. There are a few traits, like eye color, for which environment doesn't seem to play any causal role (unless, of course, you choose to wear tinted contact lenses to enhance your social status). Most traits and behaviors result from complex interactions between inherent factors and environment (keeping in mind that the uterus is part of the environment, as are familial and peer group modeling and pressure). And diving a bit deeper, the cell is the environment for the genetic material.

[Added] There's also another aspect to the attribution of causality. Social psych studies have demonstrated (unless they've changed their minds in the last few years) that people tend to attribute what they perceive to be bad behavior in others to inherent factors and tend to attribute their own problems to external factors. I don't know if anyone has looked at whether this bias also applies to ones own identified political group vs the Other group. An interesting question is whether there is a significant difference between how Left and Right make such attributions.

Anyone else know about this?

badhatharry 03-09-2011 08:47 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 200435)
Because it's obviously the case? Have you compared the reaction to, say, The Bell Curve on the left and the right?

Well I know that the Bell Curve has been much maligned by many people. The person I know without looking it up was Stephen Gould.

But I doubt you can make a case that Herrstein (its author) was on the right. In fact here is an article about him at the Harvard University website And here is relevant passage.

Quote:

Despite the often bitter and widespread criticism - he was labeled a racist by some - he unflaggingly defended the results of his analysis. The article became a book (IQ in the Meritocracy), and his battle with angry protestors, academic critics, and an often hostile press is recorded in its preface (A true tale from the annals of orthodoxy). There is some irony here. In politics, Herrnstein had been on the left for much of his life and liked to brag that he knew more labor songs than his SDS attackers did.
Memes die hard and are often very inaccurate.

Freddie 03-09-2011 09:03 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
I just want to point out that there is 0 evidence (as in none) that what Michelle Rhee advocates is effective.

badhatharry 03-09-2011 09:39 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sapeye (Post 200450)
Sure. It's a matter of balance among a variety of factors. People on the right often simplify by claiming everything is the responsibility of the individual. People on the left may over-emphasize external causal factors.

So we've gone a bit afield of the original discussion of genetics. I don't think that holding individuals responsible neccessarily has anything at all to do with genetics. Actually, attributing certain characteristics to genetic makeup could be a good argument for the removal of responsibility.

Quote:

There have been many many many scientific studies, including identical twin studies, trying, rather unsuccessfully in my view, to tease apart the relative influence of nature and nurture.
The argument will never end and will never be settled. My favorite book on the subject is Matt Ridley's Nature via Nurture

Quote:

[Added] There's also another aspect to the attribution of causality. Social psych studies have demonstrated (unless they've changed their minds in the last few years) that people tend to attribute what they perceive to be bad behavior in others to inherent factors and tend to attribute their own problems to external factors.
Not if they grew up Catholic!

Another book I like is The Illusion of Conscious Will by Daniel Wegner of Harvard. He has just completed a study about escaping blame

badhatharry 03-09-2011 09:41 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jmoe (Post 200449)
I hope I was being too insensitive. I actually thought this was a good diavlog, I just think it would be immensely entertaining if someone took the time.

right! :-)

chiwhisoxx 03-09-2011 09:47 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Freddie (Post 200458)
I just want to point out that there is 0 evidence (as in none) that what Michelle Rhee advocates is effective.

I just want to point that there's a shit load of evidence (as in a lot) that what Michelle Ree is fighting against, generally speaking, is completely ineffective.

sapeye 03-09-2011 11:18 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 200460)
So we've gone a bit afield of the original discussion of genetics. I don't think that holding individuals responsible neccessarily has anything at all to do with genetics. Actually, attributing certain characteristics to genetic makeup could be a good argument for the removal of responsibility.

Who/what is the individual you refer to that is responsible? Are you positing some disembodied self that gets parachuted into a fetus and can thus blame its bad behavior on the fetus's genetic makeup?

badhatharry 03-09-2011 11:23 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sapeye (Post 200469)
Who/what is the individual you refer to that is responsible? Are you positing some disembodied self that gets parachuted into a fetus and can thus blame its bad behavior on the fetus's genetic makeup?

You are the one who brought up individual responsibility. So what did you mean?

Sorry, I just don't understand your question.

eeeeeeeli 03-10-2011 12:38 AM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chiwhisoxx (Post 200463)
I just want to point that there's a shit load of evidence (as in a lot) that what Michelle Ree is fighting against, generally speaking, is completely ineffective.

I don't know. What is she fighting against, bad teachers, lack of accountability? I imagine those would be ineffective! Or is she fighting against unions and due process, both for which your case suddenly diminishes rapidly (as well as becomes incredibly more complex).

eeeeeeeli 03-10-2011 12:40 AM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
I'm only about 10 minutes in. But so far I'm really digging Noah's reasonable and grounded approach to the issue. Sounds like he actually knows the issues involved on both sides - a rarity these days when it comes to education!

chiwhisoxx 03-10-2011 01:04 AM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by eeeeeeeli (Post 200479)
I don't know. What is she fighting against, bad teachers, lack of accountability? I imagine those would be ineffective! Or is she fighting against unions and due process, both for which your case suddenly diminishes rapidly (as well as becomes incredibly more complex).

I was simply referring to bad outcomes. My point and style were restrained because I was trying to mirror his sentence. If you watch the diavlog, I think Matt makes a good case near the beginning about why the average results so far from charter schools is actually a good sign, relatively speaking.

sapeye 03-10-2011 03:30 AM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 200470)
You are the one who brought up individual responsibility. So what did you mean?

Sorry, I just don't understand your question.

I understood that we were discussing locus of responsibility: internal or external or both. I think, although I might be mistaken, that this is what Matt was talking about when referring to genetics. If you don't see a link between holding individuals responsible and attributing efficacy to genetics, does this mean you don't see a link between behavior and genetics? That is between who/what an individual is and does and his or her biological make-up? I'm trying to understand who you perceive the individual to be. Who or what is the individual that is responsible? If we are talking only about the causal influence of genetics on behavior, a view you said Matt attributed to the right, then how does this influence manifest itself if not via individual behavior?

ledocs 03-10-2011 05:38 AM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Hey, eli, maybe you can report on what you learn from this, because I turned it off after five minutes, I could not take it. Yglesias begins by saying that "no worse than public schools" is actually pretty good, because the charter schools that are no worse at least include an element of consumer choice. He forgot to add that the additional free element, the choice, comes at the cost of skimming off the top of the student pool. So it's actually not free. Nor do I quite see the logic in saying that an option that was touted as a major incremental boost in quality but turns out to be no better and no worse is somehow a boon. Perhaps the argument is, "Charter schools are no worse than public schools, they are equally good, and they are cheaper." But by all means, let's fire all the incompetent unionized teachers and replace them with competent ones, unionized or not, I don't think it matters much.

BornAgainDemocrat 03-10-2011 05:56 AM

Fixing public schools
 
Web cameras in public school classrooms would be one way to legally document (and hence police) student misbehavior and teacher incompetence in our public schools. These are public institutions financed by public tax dollars after all. Shouldn't parents have a right to see what is going on where their own childrens' educations are concerned? Sunlight is the best disinfectant, etc., etc..

Romanized 03-10-2011 08:56 AM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 200456)
Well I know that the Bell Curve has been much maligned by many people. The person I know without looking it up was Stephen Gould.

But I doubt you can make a case that Herrstein (its author) was on the right. In fact here is an article about him at the Harvard University website And here is relevant passage.

Memes die hard and are often very inaccurate.

Who cares if the author was a leftist? The left was apoplectic about the Bell Curve while the right was mildly sympathetic.

BornAgainDemocrat 03-10-2011 09:27 AM

Noah Millman is full of it
 
Do you think Noah Millman seriously believes everyone is equally intelligent?:

Of course not. He's a cowardly liar. Does he believe all Ashkenazis are equally smart? How about all Harvard freshman? All the students in his first grade class? This doesn't even pass the laugh test. Realism is the first desideratum of moral responsibility in this world, and by that criterion Noah Millman is a moral retard. (Alternative hypothesis: he considers himself and everyone he knows to be geniuses. Yeah, that's it!)

eeeeeeeli 03-10-2011 09:49 AM

Re: Noah Millman is full of it
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BornAgainDemocrat (Post 200505)
Do you think Noah Millman seriously believes everyone is equally intelligent?:

Of course not. He's a cowardly liar. Does he believe all Ashkenazis are equally smart? How about all Harvard freshman? All the students in his first grade class? This doesn't even pass the laugh test. Realism is the first desideratum of moral responsibility in this world, and by that criterion Noah Millman is a moral retard. (Alternative hypothesis: he considers himself and everyone he knows to be geniuses. Yeah, that's it!)

I'm assuming you're talking about genes. One problem with what you're saying is that there are huge achievement gaps between rich and poor, white and minority. What he was saying was that there is no real genetic difference between these groups, and so we shouldn't be seeing such a disparity.

The other problem with genes is that IQ is highly dependent on environment. Ashkenazis and Harvard freshmen come from families and neighborhoods rich in social capital. From birth they receive much better developmental stimulus.

For any student group, there are a variety of factors, generally within the rubric of socio-economic status, that will have determined most of the differences you see in cognitive, emotional, etc. development.

At around 30 minutes, Noah makes the claim that most disadvantaged kids - the real problem kids - can be handled by "properly trained" teachers. I'm very skeptical of this. In highly controlled settings, such as those in charter schools which already benefit from selection, I completely agree. But in traditional public schools, where there is no selection, and the ratio of disadvantage (not just income, but the whole breadth of social capital) is much higher in any given classroom, "proper training" isn't going to get you very far. What these neighborhood schools need is dramatically lowered class sizes, targeted intervention and staff dedicated to following up with parents - many of whom are going to be extremely difficult to work with.

Many poor schools are simply packed with special needs students. You can't really get around that without changing the model to adjust the level of care.

badhatharry 03-10-2011 11:01 AM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sapeye (Post 200492)
I understood that we were discussing locus of responsibility: internal or external or both. I think, although I might be mistaken, that this is what Matt was talking about when referring to genetics. If you don't see a link between holding individuals responsible and attributing efficacy to genetics, does this mean you don't see a link between behavior and genetics? That is between who/what an individual is and does and his or her biological make-up? I'm trying to understand who you perceive the individual to be. Who or what is the individual that is responsible? If we are talking only about the causal influence of genetics on behavior, a view you said Matt attributed to the right, then how does this influence manifest itself if not via individual behavior?

If a certain genetic characteristic is manifested in an individual, that does not mean the individual is responsible for the manifestation.

You are flipping between the terms responsibility and influence. And I think in this discussion responsibility can have two meanings. One is strictly causal: Genetic make-up is responsible for Down's syndrome. The other is moral and presumes a choice. Joe is responsible for getting an F because he didn't study for the test.

Matt said people on the right are more likely to attribute disparity in educational achievement to genetics. He didn't say anything about responsibility unless what he meant to say is that people on the right are more likely to hold genetic make-up responsible for disparity in educational achievement.

I don't know what everyone on the right thinks, but it doesn't seem to me to be a very conservative notion to even think about genetics. When you speak about responsibility and the kind of responsibility I think you are right to think conservatives admire you are talking about a moral attitude.

I think the question of whether morals and a sense of responsibility are the results of genetics makeup goes back to what you said earlier. It's not likely to get teased apart. This may be in part because people won't ever be able to fully accept any sort of determinism. We like to think we control our lives and although this may not be true, society is built on that premise.

And it's unfortunate that the meaning of the term responsibility can get so murky. I hope I answered at least part of your question.

badhatharry 03-10-2011 11:30 AM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Romanized (Post 200503)
Who cares if the author was a leftist? The left was apoplectic about the Bell Curve while the right was mildly sympathetic.

You may be right. I would like to see some evidence, however, of the right's sympathy for the Bell Curve hypothesis. And still, I wonder why that sympathy would particularly come from the right.

As I said, Stephen Gould wrote at length refuting the claims of the study. But I think the uproar was not so much about the actual study but rather what the implications would be going forward. What should we do?

It reminds me of E.O.Wilson being accused of sexism and racism because of his theories about biological determinism. Although most of us believe in evolution, some of us don't like what the implications of that might end up being. What should we do?

popcorn_karate 03-10-2011 12:36 PM

Re: Fixing public schools
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BornAgainDemocrat (Post 200498)
Web cameras in public school classrooms would be one way to legally document (and hence police) student misbehavior and teacher incompetence in our public schools.

thanks, big brother, but i'll pass on that suggestion.

Florian 03-10-2011 01:01 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 200508)
You are flipping between the terms responsibility and influence. And I think in this discussion responsibility can have two meanings. One is strictly causal: Genetic make-up is responsible for Down's syndrome. The other is moral and presumes a choice. Joe is responsible for getting an F because he didn't study for the test..


Only in a very sloppy use of English would anyone say that genetic make-up is "responsible" for Down's syndrome. What scientists say, if they have any philosophical training or linguistic skill, is that certain genes cause Down's syndrome, i.e. Down's syndrome is the necessary result of certain genes. Responsibility is a moral category: it derives from the law and the practice of the law.

Quote:

And it's unfortunate that the meaning of the term responsibility can get so murky.
The murkiness is only in your mind and in American English.

stephanie 03-10-2011 02:16 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Disclaimer: I haven't listened to the diavlog yet, so am only responding to the comments here.

Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 200508)
If a certain genetic characteristic is manifested in an individual, that does not mean the individual is responsible for the manifestation.

I think I agree with you here, but I think the question is more complicated. That is, we don't say a student is personally at fault if he is just not that smart and thus fails to do well in calculus as we (well, many people) would a student who has the potential to do well but chooses to spend his time partying instead. But I think the debate is about something else. That's because whatever one thinks of their personal responsibility, neither of these students pose a problem for those who think we should have a meritocracy (as it seems to be liberals and conservatives both tend to favor).

On the other hand, say we have two other students who have different outcomes -- one goes to Harvard and makes a lot of money, one does poorly in school, drops out before graduation, and makes far less.

A liberal might point to patterns in the disparity (more people like the former are rich and not of certain racial or ethnic groups, more like the latter are poor and of those groups) say that this demonstrates that our system is flawed in some way, that it does not sufficiently give people a fair start, because poor people are disadvantaged or some are disadvantaged by prejudice or some such.

A conservative is more likely to say that that's not the case. That instead we can all see that people differ in terms of innate ability, and thus such differences are likely due to differences in such innate ability. That's the appeal of the genetic differences among groups to explain differences in results (i.e., the Bell Curve). (A book that goes into the reactions and the similar arguments during earlier periods, as well as debunking the study is The Bell Curve Debate. It's a collection of pieces, including perhaps the Gould piece you are thinking of.)

There is, of course, a possible response to the genetic argument along the lines you are talking about -- if people's success is really so determined by things outside their control (innate ability), then how can this be fair? Why should someone who's, through no fault of his own, unable to understand calculus be doomed to a life at minimum wage? (Obviously, this is not really true, but for the sake of argument....) Shouldn't this mean that we do something more to correct for the differences? Philosophically, I think this would be a valid point, but it's not one that is generally part of the debate. The issue, instead, is about how much of a meritocracy we have, with it being assumed by both the left and right that a true meritocracy (success by those with the greatest ability) is a good thing.

(It's also true that both would say that being hard-working is an important part of merit, but the argument, again, rarely gets into to the implications of the fact that one can be hard-working but just not good at the kinds of things that lead to financial success. That's in part because it gets derailed by other things before we would get to this harder question.)

badhatharry 03-10-2011 07:45 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 200515)
Only in a very sloppy use of English would anyone say that genetic make-up is "responsible" for Down's syndrome. What scientists say, if they have any philosophical training or linguistic skill, is that certain genes cause Down's syndrome, i.e. Down's syndrome is the necessary result of certain genes. Responsibility is a moral category: it derives from the law and the practice of the law.



The murkiness is only in your mind and in American English.

I tend to agree but was responding to the discussion with sapeye which had become somewhat convoluted. And yes, we in the states use the word responsibility with great abandon.

badhatharry 03-10-2011 08:08 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 200521)
I think I agree with you here, but I think the question is more complicated...

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I wrote the best post ever and somehow it got lost in my open tab maze. So here's the shorter version:

Gould actually wrote a book in response to The Bell Curve called The Mismeasure of Man. But beyond that he spent a lot of time refuting it in many venues. I think one interesting thing about the debate is that instead of simply publishing their findings, the authors became prescriptive and that's where the fur started to fly.

And that's where the fur usually starts to fly. It's when some people presume to be able to fix things, make things better for society as a whole, as though they have access to all of the information it will actually take to make a positive change.

As far as a conservative being more apt to attribute failure to innate ability, I would disagree. A conservative would be just as and perhaps more likely to blame societal conditions like single motherhood and the breakup of the family for the falure of a child to thrive in school.

And your comment about not addressing the implications that come from not being good at the things which lead to financial success... First you'd have to define success.And further, I don't think there really is much to be done about that except to teach people how to suss out the economy they live in and find a niche. The best anyone can hope for is to find a way to make a comfortable living, do your very best and don't envy what others have.

Life will never be fair.

PS. I think it would be fair to say that conservatives are more accepting of the existence of disparities than others are.

sapeye 03-10-2011 09:00 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
[QUOTE=badhatharry;200508]
Quote:

If a certain genetic characteristic is manifested in an individual, that does not mean the individual is responsible for the manifestation.
Agreed

Quote:

You are flipping between the terms responsibility and influence.
I don't think so.

Quote:

And I think in this discussion responsibility can have two meanings. One is strictly causal: Genetic make-up is responsible for Down's syndrome. The other is moral and presumes a choice. Joe is responsible for getting an F because he didn't study for the test.
OK, even Florian's point seems a bit nit picky in this context, let's guard against any attribution of morality (although I think moral attribution is in fact often implicit in such discussions) and stick with locus of causation. There are high performing students, and low performing students. What is the cause? This is what I think Matt is referring to http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/34717?in=08:55&out=10:47"]here in his discussion of edunihilism. If the locus of causation is the student, then no changes in the school system will change the fact that some students do well and some not. If, on the other hand, the locus of causation is with the educational environment, and unequal results among students are due to the fact that all students don't have equal opportunities, systemic changes might be helpful.

Quote:

Matt said people on the right are more likely to attribute disparity in educational achievement to genetics.
I interpret Matt to be using "genetics" as a marker for reducing a complex interactive situation to it's most basic cause within the individual. In this sense he was saying that the right (which he then amended to, some people in private) completely attributes individual success or failure to inherent ability and effort. Since it seemed a bit like a throw away line, I don't think he was necessarily distinguishing between genetics and some non-genetic causality within the individual.

Quote:

I think the question of whether morals and a sense of responsibility are the results of genetics makeup goes back to what you said earlier. It's not likely to get teased apart. This may be in part because people won't ever be able to fully accept any sort of determinism. We like to think we control our lives and although this may not be true, society is built on that premise.
I agree that these kinds of discussions of causality usually get murky. My sense is that it's fun and interesting to talk about, but no clear answers ever emerge. Neither freedom nor determinism makes coherent sense from the perspective of the rational mind.

sapeye 03-10-2011 09:10 PM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 200521)
...

Nice post.

Quote:

...we don't say a student is personally at fault if he is just not that smart and thus fails to do well in calculus as we (well, many people) would a student who has the potential to do well but chooses to spend his time partying instead.
This is an interesting distinction that we make all the time. I wonder why intelligence is attributed to genetics but the capacity to work hard, stick with a task and defer reward is not. Maybe there is a laziness/partying gene. :)

Actually the discussion touched on this point in pointing to the benefits of having a variety of educational environments with different approaches and focuses. One student's fascination is another one's yawn.

badhatharry 03-11-2011 12:44 AM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Thanks for your response. The only quibble I have is the notion of either/or you seem to be presenting here:

Quote:

Originally Posted by sapeye (Post 200562)
If the locus of causation is the student, then no changes in the school system will change the fact that some students do well and some not. If, on the other hand, the locus of causation is with the educational environment, and unequal results among students are due to the fact that all students don't have equal opportunities, systemic changes might be helpful.

There may be a third or forth or fifth hand. The cause of poor performance is probably a combination of things and hopefully the teaching profession is all about identifying and ameliorating obstacles to learning.

badhatharry 03-11-2011 12:49 AM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sapeye (Post 200565)
One student's fascination is another one's yawn.

Bring back industrial arts! Not everyone should go to college.

sapeye 03-11-2011 02:55 AM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 200587)
Thanks for your response. The only quibble I have is the notion of either/or you seem to be presenting here:



There may be a third or forth or fifth hand. The cause of poor performance is probably a combination of things and hopefully the teaching profession is all about identifying and ameliorating obstacles to learning.

Absolutely. I wasn't arguing for either or, only clarifying the extreme Matt was presenting. Pretty sure neither of them would argue for either or, either...nor, in my view, would any thinking person.

sapeye 03-11-2011 03:05 AM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 200590)
Bring back industrial arts! Not everyone should go to college.

Hear hear. University is wasted on at least half of the students who are there. It seems to me that many departments in universities have become a lot like sophisticated trade schools. I also don't think anyone should be allowed to attend university straight out of high school, unless they can demonstrate a very good reason (career considerations don't count) why they belong there. Otherwise, at least a couple of years out in the world would allow them to appreciate university much more.

And now that I'm on a rant, I think we lost a lot when the draft was abolished. Not that I think everyone should go in the military or fight in wars, but that every young person should give two years of their life to community service of some sort. Step out of acting from self-interest and contribute to others.

Starwatcher162536 03-11-2011 04:02 AM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
Even presupposing the education itself is a waste, as long as employers are using it as a sorting mechanism for finding desirabile employees, it's not totally worthless. Would be depressing if only the upper middle class and rich could afford higher learning institutions and then have yet another way to perpetuate their advantage. Capitilism just isn't set up for true meritocracy (Of course, what is? /shrug). As long as there are uneven outcomes parents are going to use a portion of their excess wealth to give a leg up to their offspring.

stephanie 03-11-2011 11:42 AM

Re: The Long View (Matthew Yglesias & Noah Millman)
 
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Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 200554)
Gould actually wrote a book in response to The Bell Curve called The Mismeasure of Man.

Oh, right. I'd forgotten the connection between the two given the passage of years.

That said, I'm not really sure why you consider this significant.

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I think one interesting thing about the debate is that instead of simply publishing their findings, the authors became prescriptive and that's where the fur started to fly.
Mmm, I think it goes beyond that (first, the analysis was wrong, and, second, there's an obvious implication even if one doesn't directly make the leap to politics, that being that certain groups differences that we find troubling are, in fact, "natural" -- claims made in the past about a variety of different groups and which look foolish in retrospect).

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It's when some people presume to be able to fix things, make things better for society as a whole, as though they have access to all of the information it will actually take to make a positive change.
Presuming that we can't do anything, that certain problems are "natural" is no less an assumption based on a lack of evidence. (Indeed, that's why some on the right get so excited by arguments like The Bell Curve or whatever Steve Sailor is into these days.)

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As far as a conservative being more apt to attribute failure to innate ability, I would disagree. A conservative would be just as and perhaps more likely to blame societal conditions like single motherhood and the breakup of the family for the falure of a child to thrive in school.
Sure, I think these are part of the difference in outlook, but not the whole story. Plus, in the big picture, the way that people look at these things reflects the innate vs. social forces emphasis again -- liberals are more likely to think that social problems lead to these problems, whereas conservatives are more likely to say that they are private matters only (a matter of culture vs. a response to poverty). Obviously, these are generalizations, but to deny this aspect of the political debate seems strange.

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And your comment about not addressing the implications that come from not being good at the things which lead to financial success...
That wasn't a proposal -- it was a response to your claim that focusing on genetics would cause one to be more "liberal," as the indviduals themselves would be "responsible." I was saying that while that makes sense, the argument never gets to that, as it ends up being about how true a meritocracy we are without getting to whether there's anything faulty in what we define as merit or in having reward based on a meritocracy. (I think these are interesting issues, but I'm not claiming that we should change this -- like most liberals, I'm pretty attached to the idea of meritocracy as good, that if the smart and hard-working people are doing well and we aren't just ruled by the mediocre offspring of the rich the system is working okay, but am trying to note that I can at least be self-critical about this.)

Conservatives are more accepting of certain types of group disparities, I'll give you, and (although it's a different subject) less bothered by extreme or growing economic disparities. The notion that there's any major outcry about the unfairness of life or disparities in general strikes me as obviously untrue.


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