Karl Gallagher (libertarianhawk) wrote,
Karl Gallagher

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A Breakthrough in Punditry

Michael Barone is one of the senior pundits on the conservative side. A couple years ago he wrote the book Hard America, Soft America, comparing the easy ride we give to high school students (and their resulting incompetence) to the ruthless punishment of adult's failures in the business world (leading to world economic domination). I haven't read the book but he's referred to it in columns advocating mandatory testing, competition among schools, and other ways to hold our students to tougher standards.

A current article in Newsweek looks at the same issue in comparing America to Singapore. While Singapore's high school students excel in tests of knowledge, they don't translate that into great leadership in their adult careers. Barone writes that this may be an argument against his book:

But another implication of Zakaria's piece is that too much teaching-to-test might stifle the creativity and bumptiousness that is a vital reason for the competence of American 30-year-olds.

So rigorous training early on may eliminate the spark of later innovation. That's definitely something to keep in mind in the arguments over our education system. But the most amazing part of the post to me was the end:

There may be trade-offs here that I haven't thought about enough. It's something worth thinking about.

A professional pundit admits he may be wrong? He admits he doesn't have the answer yet? Has this happened before? Not too damn often. And I think it matters that he's writing this in his blog, not his regular weekly column. It's a good sign that blogs are a useful tool for real discussions of the issues.
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