Close to Home (Part II)

High performance education systems will generally exhibit motivated students, well-scripted curricula, and competent instructors. We can play with the concept of "system" here and falsify the assertion that any of these ingredients is necessary. For example, we might collect numerous cases where important discoveries happened by chance, to people who were not seeking them, and call this collection of cases a "system". Quite a lot of learning occurs without any composed curricula or instruction. For example, many people improve their competence at their hobbies or recreations through experience alone. We consider designed educational systems below.

Motivation, curricula, and instruction matter, and interact. Institutional care affects this interaction by displacing parents as instructors with non-parent instructors and by diminishing student and parent control over the selection of curricula. Whether institutional care outperforms informal care or unsupervised play will depend on the relative impact of family arrangements versus institutions on student motivation, curricula, and instructor competence, and on the measure of student performance (e.g., standardized test scores, juvenile crime rates, college acceptance rates, adult lifetime income) used to assess system performance.

Advocates for early childhood education and later formal schooling have an institutional interest in over-estimating the contribution which expertise makes to system performance. While any given system with competent instructors will outperform the same system with incompetent instructors, the following apply to a prediction of the success of policies which displace parents by remote "experts":
1) "Competence" includes the ability to motivate students.
2) The natural bond between parents and children makes parents naturally superior to strangers in this respect
3) In many subject areas, whatever subject-area expertise parents lack exists in books.
4) Compulsion kills motivation.
5) Institutions which derive their their revenues from State (government, generally) sources and bill taxpayers based on student time (per hour or per year) have strong incentives to impede student progress. Effective self-paced curricula would demonstrate the irrelevance of instructors for many students in many subject areas.

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