A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Stanovich: "Reading makes you smarter"

Halo 10, Reading 0

Michael Greaney sent me the following article that reflects a troubling national trend in education:

Decline in SOL scores ...

Here was my response:

Hi Michael,
Thanks for sending the article.
Averages are a poor measure of central tendency except for very large populations. How does the upper tier of American students compare with the upper tier in other countries? Probably about the same. I think we need to be very careful about exactly what it is the researchers are comparing, so naturally I tend to be a little skeptical whenever I look at data.
If we accept the premise of the article, which I will do for the sake of argument, the natural thing to do is to consider possible causes. Here's what I think: public education, especially the college pipeline, is often viewed as a commodity, and of decreasing value to many American students, in their limited perception, largely because the linkage between a "good education" and a "good job" has increasingly become unbound. Labor, itself, has become the quintessential commodity, and when compared to capital, its value has increasingly become diminished, both from a survival standpoint, and from a spiritual standpoint. Wherein lies the dignity of work? Perhaps a decline in the humanities is at the root of the decline, as an increasing percentage of students entering the college pipeline are ill-equipped to handle metaphysical questions, having been ill-prepared by the college pipeline, which often operates under the questionable premise that the purpose of education is to get a good job. Jefferson was certainly not operating under that premise when he founded the University of Virginia and personally resurrected the Library of Congress after the British burned it to the ground during the War of 1812. What would Jefferson say about the decline in American education?
Another, perhaps more sinister factor, could be a more generalized cognitive decline correlated to a decline in the quality of the living conditions for theaverage American student, Keith Stanowich famously described a correlation between the ratio of neural connections in rich vs. impoverished environments as the "Matthew Effect":   https://youtu.be/lF6VKmMVWEc ... The rich get richer and the poor get ... well, screwed. In the Darwinian contest for student attentions, Halo 10, Books 0. I read an article today about the decline in "play" at the preschool level, in which researchers found a correlation between diminished play opportunities and diminished vestibular (kinesthetic) development, "caused" by a premature, inappropriate focus on "academics" by pre-schools. Another factor to consider is how the average secondary student "plays"? Does technology, i.e., video games, cell phones, computers, etc., in fact, cause people to become stupider because of how it limits how people interact with the natural world?