Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Engineer as an Education Critic

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 A local blogger who goes by Rebane, apparently thinks that turning the USA into 310 million engineers would be a good thing.  My response:

STEM cells do seem to have replaced brain cells here.
Examine please:
The engineers' view of the world.

From a nearby thread, Ryan Mount observes:
"What a fiscal hawk wants to know, is what what does a dove economy look like? What does a liquidity solution look like? And where does it end? And what does it mean if, let's say, the Dollar isn't the reserve currency anymore. Noble laureate Professor Krugman seemed very uncomfortable with this line of questioning."

And from Rebane's blog we get the following fantasy:

"A forty point increase in our PISA score (see chart) would generate “… results (that) are stunning. The improvement in GDP over the next 80 years would exceed a present value of $70 trillion. That's equivalent to an average 20% boost in income for every U.S. worker each year over his or her entire career. "

I'm not sure where these figures were wiped from, but I have reason to doubt that if every student in the USA was educated to be a top of the heap, PISA-wise, engineer, that the figures would be so abundant. Or, on the other hand, that if the select few were so anointed, that any of the money would "trickle down" to the unwashed, ill-housed and health uncared for, masses.

I notice that the elephant in the room, poorly socialized kids entering the system from incomplete families, full of anger issues, was completely ignored in the previous thread, except by me, where the resident genius signed off with, "Since I am not a teacher, why should I care if CalSTRS goes bust with unfunded liabilities?"

The problem all engineer types posting here seem to have is one that was identified by Mario Savio nearly fifty years ago.

"I ask you to consider—if this is a firm, and if the Board of Regents are the Board of Directors, and if President Kerr in fact is the manager, then I tell you something—the faculty are a bunch of employees and we're the raw material! But we're a bunch of raw materials that don't mean to be - have any process upon us. Don't mean to be made into any product! Don't mean - Don't mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We're human beings!...There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all." Sproul Hall Steps, December 2, 1964[6]."

In short, and referencing the diagram I started with, engineers see people as a raw material, That Is Uniform in Nature, and thus subject to a simple equation along the lines of "student ignorant of subject into classroom, teacher teaches subject, student exits classroom, knowing subject." To the extent that student exits the classroom still ignorant of the subject, the the obvious point of failure is strictly considered to be located in one of three areas: the teacher, the teacher's union, and too much money spent in that classroom. That is the only set of factors considered by the engineer types here, and is so nearsighted as to render them blind to the real issues of society that result in the mix of students that shows up in front of the teacher, 35 strong in elementary school, and 180 strong in high school, every year.

Students are willful creatures, and are definitely NOT raw, inert, materials, mined from the earth. And 310 million engineers will not turn the USA into a Golden Goose, and the path chosen by followers of George Shultz & Co will do major damage to our current regular goose, so wise up and man up, the issues are far broader than the teachers, the teachers' unions, and too much money in the classrooms.

Think about a society that spends bazillions making advertizing like what I read on my grocery bag from SaveMart, "EARN 5 CENTS/GAL FOR EVERY $50 YOU SPEND." At least they ended it with a period, but what the heck does that mean?

A society that spends fortunes convincing everyone that they should be unhappy unless they buy a particular product is doomed. I don't spend $100 month on SAT tv to see programming. I spend it to slightly time shift my viewing, and eliminate the 20 minutes of every 60 that is spent showing ads. I am currently looking to find the cheapest way to get HBO and slightly time shift (commercial kill) everything else. Any suggestions? I am going to experiment with high high super antennas as well, and may go to OTA if I can get it working. Channel Master no longer makes a CM7000 OTA HD VTR, and now they are selling for more than new on eBAY.

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