Saturday, October 8, 2011

Some Musings About Teaching, A-Lists, & Golgotha

Charles Pierce begins this post about efforts to make it more difficult for people to vote with the following paragraph.
Back in 2000, when the Supreme Court stepped in and foozled a presidential election to achieve the outcome that some of its members desired — oh, don't bother to deny it — the dismissal du jour was to tell grumpy liberals to "Get over it!" This was so successful that not a single Democratic senator was willing to stand up with John Lewis and contest the election, and if you won't stand up with John Lewis on an issue of voting rights, then you'd have rolled dice for the robe on Golgotha.
I had no idea that "foozled" was a word.  That line "you'd have rolled dice for the robe on Golgotha" is a sheer genius as a put down.

Meanwhile, I stumbled across this Auren Hoffman post.  Hoffman points out, and I tend to agree totally,
We’re quickly moving to a new world where the wealth gap is compounding and increasing.  We’re moving to a world that is going to look a lot like Hollywood: a few people enjoying insane success ... and everyone else spends their days waiting tables.
The delta between A-players and B-players in companies has always been high.  A-players get promoted faster and they earn more.  My guess is that an A-player earns about 30% more than a B-player in that same position for most professions.  An A-player administrative assistant usually can earn about 30% more than a B-player in the same position.   That’s a significant difference and even more when you compound that difference in savings and lifestyle over the course of one’s career.
After spending most of the post using computer programmers to illustrate his contention, Hoffman writes,
I want to point out that I’m not advocating that this divergence in compensation happen.  I’m not.  It has the potential to fracture society.   And it seems like it will massively reward people that have lucky breaks.  But I’m worried that regardless of how we feel about this growing division between the A-players and B-players, it will happen anyway.
In short, no matter what we do, we won't have as many tables to wait on. Hoffman, therefore, offers the following advice:
So what do you do about it?

You must be the Jedi Master of your profession. 

Unless you are awesome, you will be commoditized. 

Here are some things that will be less valued in the future and some things that will be more valued:

Less-valued More-valued Why?
General knowledge Judgment Search engines will be attached to our brain
Knowing more than one major spoken language Sales in any language We’ll have universal translators
Coding Art Building things will be much easier.  Designing aesthetics will always be hard.
SAT scores Combining left-brained and right-brained thinking Systems-thinking will be easier to outsource
Majoring in business Majoring in philosophy Learning to “think” will be more valued that just learning
I'm not sure the movies allowed Luke Skywalker to become a Jedi master, so there are no easy answers to this one.

Hoffman's chart brings me back to Pierce's put down.   I can safely say that schools do far less to emphasize art, the combining of various thinking skills, and philosophy than they did 15 years ago.  In short, schools seem to be preparing students to be B-players or worse.  Given that NCLB and RTTT basically want teachers to prepare students for lives as salespeople who sell tables for others to wait on, has current education policy turned teachers into people who roll "dice for the robe on Golgotha"?

I know I'm not going to like the answer to that little rhetorical question.

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