February 11, 2004

Get Educated

Nicholas Kristoff goes in the right direction with his education reform column today. Yes, we need to improve our educational system. But you can't improve what you can't measure. Without objective success metrics, improvement will always be elusive. And if people are trapped in a school and bureaucrats are politically protected, the poorest, least influential in society (and yes, some of the middle class too) will not be able to gain decent schooling.

What's worse, we have a crying need to back and fill, to offer opportunity to those who have already gone through this broken system, gotten their ersatz diplomas, and are handicapped in life with poor math, logic, and science skills.

In my day job, I'm familiar with adult education. All IT people are (or should be). If you aren't constantly reskilling yourself, you can kiss your marketability goodbye as new versions of software come into vogue and your outdated knowledge of only a few years ago is no longer enough to land a contract or a decent job. In fact, in between hunting down that next contract, blogging, and taking care of my family, I'm continuing my education, a process that I do not foresee ending until I assume room temperature.

Some of this education costs me money in course fees, some in books, but a growing amount of it is in free articles on the Internet written by people, for their own reasons, who share their knowledge with others. In part, the blog entries that I put here are part of the same phenomenon. Kristoff could have greatly increased the effectiveness of his column if, at the end, he had thrown in a link to a page teaching the solution to the math problem he presents at the beginning. It would have cost little, a few extra characters per page load, perhaps 15 minutes in reportorial research in finding such a page, and would have added little to the rhetorical value of the piece. But it would have caught a few more people up in the hunger and thirst for learning about math and would have educated a great many more about the specific problem presented.

Posted by TMLutas at February 11, 2004 06:52 PM