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HackeduDiskussion

Page history last edited by Martin Lindner 11 years ago

Das ist die kopierte und leicht redigierte/gestraffte Version der sehr guten Blog-Diskussion zum Hacking Education Transkript auf Metafilter (Mai 2009). Die Idee ist, diese Argumente hier weiter zu bearbeiten.

 

Es geht darum, inwieweit "Venture Capitalists" die richtigen sind, sich über Alternativen zum Bildungssystem Gedanken zu machen. (Wobei die teilnehmer der Diskussion ja in der Überzahl gar keine VCs waren! Die Diskutatnten haben eher auf den rahmen als auf die Einzelideen reagiert.)

 

Tatsächlich sieht man so, dass es zwei Elemente der Web 2.0-Bewegung gibt, die auf technik-getriebene Selbstorganisation setzt statt auf große organisierte Lösungen:

 

- Attention Economy: Intellectual & Social Capital (und Geld kommt später und spielt untergeordnete Rolle)

 

- Money Economy: Financial Capital treibt (in Ausnahmefällen, unter bestimmten Bedingungen) kleine innovative Web-StartUp-Ideen, die auf "Netzwerk-Effekte" abzielen, aber immer noch der alten kapitalistischen Logik unterliegen. (Frage an Albert Wenger!)

 

Wertvoll sind die Einwände die auf den prinzipiellen Wert einer gemeinsamen staatlichen Anstrengung verweisen, gegen Bildung=Privatsache. Und es ist auch wahr, dass das Internet nicht durch VCs entstanden ist. (Auch nicht durch staatliche Top-down-Entschlüsse, BTW).

 

 

 

http://www.metafilter.com/81632/Hacking-Education

 

Hacking Education

May 13, 2009 11:02 AM  

 

 
A couple of months ago venture capital firm Union Square Ventures got together a bunch of smart folks to spend a day talking about how the education establishment in the US can be changed to make it more relevant and useful to many more kids. The results, as evidenced by the transcript, and the summaries by Union Square partners Brad Burnham and Fred Wilson indicate that there is no shortage of interesting ideas for how to do a better job preparing our kids for the future. The unanswered question is how to put any of this into action on a scale that will make a difference. A charter school here, charter school there, and a couple of million homeschoolers are changing the system at a glacial pace, at best.

posted by COD (43 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
What is it about a certain kind of American mindset that feels everything can be solved by the profit motives of the private sector? It seemed like a naive mentality ten years ago, but given the implosion of the economy over the past two years it's feeling downright pathological.

posted by ornate insect at 11:14 AM on May 13 [9 favorites]

Capitalism is to education as a pipe wrench is to watercolors.

posted by Mikey-San at 11:18 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]

Yeah, who better then the guy who invested in twitter, tumbler, Disqus, bit.ly, and boxeeeee (etc) to tell us how to run education! If only we could crank out more Web2.0 novelty apps for rich people to make money off of!

... There is no lack of ideas in education. The problem is execution. You can apply all the radical new ideas you want, if you still have the same poor teachers, the same uninterested parents, etc it's not going to do much good. Any educational idea worth listening too has to be something that's realistically implementable, in the real, messy world packed with interest groups. Everyone from teachers unions to parents who hate teaching their kids in new ways to people who hate paying taxes. [interessant, weil Top-Down gedacht]

Until you can get broad buy-in all you're doing is wanking.

posted by delmoi at 11:28 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]

None of the participants have any experience in education, why should the input of a greedy venture capital company carry any weight in the education discussion? [was schlicht falsch ist]

posted by godisdad at 11:31 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]

Next up: Transcripts from the faculty lounge of Midvale Elementary on the topic Re-Envisioning Venture Capitalism.

posted by Killick at 11:36 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]

why should the input of a greedy venture capital company carry any weight in the education discussion?

Because the greedy education establishment has shown itself to be either incapable or unwilling to address the deficiencies in the system?

posted by COD at 11:39 AM on May 13

Because the greedy education establishment has shown itself to be either incapable or unwilling to address the deficiencies in the system?

Sure, and a bunch of wankers sitting on a stage talking to each other for an hour will surely shock them out of their complacency. I certainly don't see any kind of willingness to do anything other then yammer on offer from these VCs.

posted by delmoi at 11:53 AM on May 13

The first thing I want to know, before I form any opinions about "fixing" education, is: is it really broken- and if so, how badly? The "our schools are SOOO bad" meme usually comes from the right and is used to fund horrors like No Child Left Behind or vouchers. It seems like it's a combination of that and all those "principal vs scary bad school" movies from the 80s and 90s. And then on top of that, throw in some statistics about how other countries are "beating" us- even though many of these are countries where only the smartest even take the tests they're comparing, because the others get filtered out onto a technical/factory drone track.

I'm not saying everything's rosy, but it's hard to get a real handle on the situation. I know we need more funding and less emphasis on these ridiculous standardized tests, but I don't see any evidence that the way we educate in this country is fundamentally broken. If the fact that we give everyone a chance drives down our test scores compared to other countries, so be it.

posted by drjimmy11 at 11:56 AM on May 13

I hate all this charter school and other public/private partnership nonsense. Our schools performed brilliantly for nearly a century before we started constantly meddling around with the structure of the classroom and our approaches to education. It's like taking a watch apart and putting it back together with new parts, and then when it turns out to be running behind afterward, taking it apart and putting it back together again with new parts in a misguided attempt to get it to show the right time instead of just resetting it and letting it run.

That's been a big part of the problem for years now. Too much well intentioned meddling in what, by its very nature, needs to be a predictable and stable system. ... The push toward privatization of public education will one day prove to have been a nasty rabbit trail we let ourselves be led down that wasted significant amounts of both time and public money that should have been spent shoring up and improving the public school systems we already have in more direct and tangible ways.

posted by saulgoodman at 11:58 AM on May 13

If you want to read a book about how the American school system may well be forced to change, I encourage you to read Disrupting Class by Christensen, Johnson and Horn. They posit that, as online education improves and continues to offer parents more options, schools will either have to change to match those services or meet parents' needs, or totally transform to offer more than just content-based education. I'm only about 70% sold on their argument, but it is fascinating reading. In addition, the authors actually did a comprehensive study of the subject at hand before writing this book. As opposed to, say, just showing up and talking out of their asses for an hour.

posted by Joey Michaels at 12:09 PM on May 13

I hate all this charter school and other public/private partnership nonsense. Our schools performed brilliantly for nearly a century before we started constantly meddling around with the structure of the classroom and our approaches to education. we needed very many intelligent people able to cope with modern technology.

Seriously, our educational system worked great at churning out people who could calculate spreadsheets by hand all day or work in factories. But even then most people didn't even graduate high school ...

The Flynn Effect shows that people have been getting smarter over time for many decades and that continues to this day. It's not that education has somehow become worse, it's that the world has become more complicated. ... The percentage of people graduating from high school in 1950 was barely over 50%. Now it's 85%, and the percentage of people with bachelors degrees is continuing to rise. How exactly is that "worse"?

posted by delmoi at 12:14 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]

20 years from now kids will all be taught by GoogleTM A.Is that will be able to provide individualized learning, rather then large classrooms.

posted by delmoi at 12:38 PM on May 13

...

More importantly, I'm not sure why are you convinced public education is inherently flawed, or why the "free market" can do a better job. It just seems like an ideological canard based on the magic fairy dust of the free market, and not a real-world prescriptive. ... Since the only real motive for an investor is to make money, and since education is about harnessing something far more intangible (call it "intellectual capital"), I'm very, very weary about "solutions" that are framed entirely in terms of private investment. If philanthropists want to experiment, by all means. I'm not arguing that public education does not need to see real change, btw, but to just hand public education over to Wall Street, given their track record, would be a mistake.

posted by ornate insect at 1:31 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

The Flynn Effect shows that people have been getting smarter over time for many decades and that continues to this day. These people are getting smarter?

Other countries are clearly doing better, but the idea that if we just went back to 1950s style education things would get better is absurd. You're missing my point. I don't want to go back to anything. I just want the infrastructure of our education system to stay stable over time. It's not that I don't think curriculum and the associated teaching methods need and will continue to need updating over the years. It's that I think there has been and continues to be too much mindless "paradigm shifting" in our overall approaches to structuring the school systems and our classroom instruction in the last few decades.  It's like our school systems have become the rope in a never-ending game of tug of war between all the political hacks hoping to make a name for themselves in education reform. The focus of reform is all wrong.

posted by saulgoodman at 1:38 PM on May 13

... But the fact that ideas might be coming from Wall Street doesn't make them automatically invalid either. Our education system was designed way back in the early 1900s to get kids off the farm and train them to be productive factory workers. 100 years later and the system still works pretty much the same way. Herd 20-30 kids of the same age and usually the same socio-economic background into a room and try to teach the all the same thing at the same time while insisting that the ask permission before speaking, learn to eat lunch on a regimented schedule, and learn to do your assigned tasks at the assigned time every day. All important skills if you clock in at a factory, but not so relevant in 2009. If the schools aren't meeting the needs of the businesses that need employees today, and they aren't meeting the needs of the kids, then who exactly are they serving?

posted by COD at 1:49 PM on May 13

COD: the education system is indeed often antiquated, though not nearly as antiquated as you make out, but putting that aside (also putting aside the reality that few businesses are even hiring at all), here's my nutshell point:  VCs are looking for return, fiscal quarter return: they are not looking to solve the long-term problems of education, or societal needs. I am arguing that there is a structural disconnect at work if one fails to see how the two motivations (making money vs. improving education) are at odds with one another.

I am not saying the business community should not be consulted, or should be disregarded entirely, but I am saying that we need to realize that public education can be changed from within: by taxpayer investment, by new incentives and programs, by better paid teachers, by more inventive and flexible curriculums and programs, and a whole host of improvements. It is not a lost cause.

posted by ornate insect at 2:02 PM on May 13

I am saying that we need to realize that public education can be changed from within

We are just going to have to agree to disagree then. I simply do not believe a huge entrenched bureaucracy such as the public school system can be changed without some sort of significant external influence. I'm not picking on the school system, resistant to change is a feature of large bureaucracies in general. I agree that Wall Street will probably not be the source of that external influence.

posted by COD at 2:17 PM on May 13

What is it about a certain kind of American mindset that feels everything can be solved by the profit motives of the private sector? It seemed like a naive mentality ten years ago, but given the implosion of the economy over the past two years it's feeling downright pathological.

posted by ornate insect at 2:14 PM on May 13

That same motive gave you google, the iphone, advanced medicines, etc. The alternative, where politicians decide how to solve things, has actually never worked. ...

posted by Pastabagel at 2:33 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

I simply do not believe a huge entrenched bureaucracy such as the public school system

Over time, I've come to believe that most of those who bemoan public sector "bureaucracy" are either people with little or no real-world experience administering complex business functions, or political opportunists who should probably know better but refuse to learn their lessons because the political advantages of appealing to vague populist sentiments against bureaucracy are too difficult to abandon even in the face of a contrary reality. There's no monopoly on bureaucracy in the public sector. Ever try to lodge a complaint about the service you got with a major retailer or similar corporation? You'll quickly discover that corporate bureaucracy is every bit as dense and bewildering as anything the federal government could devise--in many cases, more so. Why? Because bureaucracy is inevitable. Administrating complex business functions requires establishing and relying on complex administrative processes and procedures, whether we like that reality or not. Bureaucracy is required for managing complexity.

posted by saulgoodman at 2:44 PM on May 13

There's no monopoly on bureaucracy in the public sector

That is not what I said. I gave public schools as an example of a large entrenched bureaucracy while making it clear (so I thought) that my opinion held across all bureaucracies. That bureaucracy is inevitable in no way diminishes my point that they are generally resistant to change. And if bureaucracy is indeed inevitable to manage complex systems, we need to be looking at how to reduce the complexity of the education establishment to reduce to bureaucracy. But of course, the bureaucracy will resist that initiative, thus the need for some sort of dramatic external influence.

posted by COD at 3:56 PM on May 13

I support funding public education mainly because of how intensely I recoil at how the alternatives I've seen that actually work would like like today if they were scaled up. Thousands of quasi-madrassas explicitly supported by government money is a distant dream for some of this crowd. The other half I keep coming across leads us closer to an overtly corporate school, a sort of monetized Kindergarten of Phoenix deal, which would really exacerbate the divide between rich and poor, even more than I've seen growing up. [!!]

posted by StrikeTheViol at 5:15 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

And if bureaucracy is indeed inevitable to manage complex systems

... IMO, the business functions required to provide high quality, uniform, and universally accessible public education inevitably require complex business processes (a.k.a. bureaucracy) to support them. No amount of private public partnership is going to change the fundamental underlying realities that drive the organic development of many of these bureaucratic processes. The best we can do is manage those processes as best as possible and eliminate unnecessary processes and redundancy where the redundancy doesn't provide some important ancillary benefit.

posted by saulgoodman at 8:44 PM on May 13

...

We are just going to have to agree to disagree then. I simply do not believe a huge entrenched bureaucracy such as the public school system can be changed without some sort of significant external influence -- COD

There is no huge entrenched bureaucracy, there are lots of small and medium sized bureaucracies, maybe of which perform better than some private schools. You have no idea how education in this country even works.

That same motive gave you google, the iphone, advanced medicines, etc. The alternative, where politicians decide how to solve things, has actually never worked. -- Pastabagel

Oh come on. You know that without the DARPA funded internet, the CERN created World Wide Web, etc, google and the iPhone wouldn't be very useful. The internet is actually a triumph of government innovation, although it's commercial application was largely an accident ...

posted by delmoi at 12:26 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

None of the participants have any experience in education...

I certainly don't see any kind of willingness to do anything other then yammer on offer from these VCs.

What a bunch of self-satisfied douchebags.

Not one of these people is a VC/entrepreneur. They were all quoted directly in the second link. I wonder what this thread would have been like if COD hadn't mentioned the VC organizers or editorialized in the post.

I'm a larval educator, about to start a teaching position in the fall. I'm interested in discussions about how my job may become obsolete. I feel that certain parts of it should become obsolete. This yammering gives me new ideas I can work with and develop for myself in order to both foresee and effect change in my own little piece of "education." Thanks for the post, COD.

posted by whatnotever at 4:07 PM on May 14

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