The Rebirth of Education: Schooling Ain't Learning
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Despite great progress around the world in getting more kids into schools, too many leave without even the most basic skills. In India's rural Andhra Pradesh, for instance, only about one in twenty children in fifth grade can perform basic arithmetic.
The problem is that schooling is not the same as learning. In The Rebirth of Education, Lant Pritchett uses two metaphors from nature to explain why. The first draws on Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom's book about the difference between centralized and decentralized organizations, The Starfish and the Spider. Schools systems tend be centralized and suffer from the limitations inherent in top-down designs. The second metaphor is the concept of isomorphic mimicry. Pritchett argues that many developing countries superficially imitate systems that were successful in other nations— much as a nonpoisonous snake mimics the look of a poisonous one.
Pritchett argues that the solution is to allow functional systems to evolve locally out of an environment pressured for success. Such an ecosystem needs to be open to variety and experimentation, locally operated, and flexibly financed. The only main cost is ceding control; the reward would be the rebirth of education suited for today's world.
58, 59, 255 Value-subtracting school systems, 123–24; in Punjab (Pakistan), 124–26; survival of, 144; in Uttar Pradesh (India), 126–29 Venezuela, PISA assessment in, 41 Viarengo, Martina, 44, 200–01 The Visible Hand (Chandler), 205 Vocational licensing, 209 Vouchers, 189–90 Warwick, Donald P., 148–49 Waterman, Robert H., 154 The Wealth of Nations (Smith), 141 Webometrics ranking of universities, 211, 256 “Welfare” economics, 186 Window dressing, reforms as, 134–35 Woessmann, Ludger,
retailers such as Kmart that weakened Sears were themselves eventually confronted by new competitors like Wal-Mart, which has grown to over two million employees. (In a borderline ironic development, Kmart emerged from bankruptcy and bought Sears.) But these retailers are in turn under threat from both specialty superstores and online retailers such as Amazon.com. Retail marketing has gone through several generations of innovation now, and productivity is much higher. This is ecological learning.
practice. So international experts come with advice that works in functional systems that may backfire because piecemeal advice doesn't take into account how the entire system is wired. Often, experts give advice by examining top performers and telling others, “Be like them.” For instance, a recent report aimed at improving teaching quality in the United States compared the United States to “high-performing” systems (Singapore, Korea, Finland) and found much greater fractions of teachers in
in the elections of 1884 (a defeat from which the party never recovered). From time immemorial it has been recognized that the most important part of education is the set of beliefs, attitudes, dispositions, and values that young people acquire about themselves and their relationship to the natural, social, and political worlds in which they live. In formal schooling, instruction in skills and the inculcation of beliefs are inextricably mixed: there is no part of the curriculum in which what is
actually be a negative tendency toward mediocrity, with a muddle in the middle. Professional, Not Hierarchical, Networks Professional associations that create common professional identities and aspirations can be a powerful force for improvement. Perhaps the single worst consequence of organizing schools around a single spider governmental ministry of education has been the tendency to then organize teachers as if they were workers rather than professionals. All professionals have