Arnold Kling  

Future of Education

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I speculate on the future of education.


The first ongoing trend, one that affects the demand for education, is rapid technological change. As the pace of change continues, or even accelerates, it causes all human capital to depreciate more rapidly.

...The second ongoing trend, one that affects the supply of education, is progress in cognitive science. Researchers are beginning to obtain knowledge about how the brain functions, how people acquire various mental skills, and how to diagnose and treat more learning disabilities.


I then go on to trace out what I see are the implications of such trends.

For Discussion. My essay suggests that individualized treatment and development will replace curriculum reform as the main strategies for improving education. What examples of this phenomenon can be seen today?


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CATEGORIES: Economic Education



COMMENTS (8 to date)
Chris writes:

I think homeschooling is the ultimate endpoint for "indivualized treatment and development." Homeschoolers frequently get started because the state approved curriculum in the local public school isn't working , or the school environment doesn't work, or whatever. HS'ing parents experiment and try different things until they figure out what does work for their individual child. According to some sources, HS'ing is growing at a 15% annual rate.

Chaerul Salleh writes:

But is home schooling better than public school?

What is the purpose of schooling? If it is to prepare for the job market, then home schooling may not be the best. Of course unless the parents know what are are the right skills to teach their children so they can be employed in the future. This is unlikely. As said by Arnold, knowledge becomes obsolete very fast.

I think, it has to the mixture of both traditioanl and entrepreneurial style providers.... for example, computer programmer needs basics in Math and the "core" programming languages.... but to further enhance her knowledge she then takes more advanced courses which can be tailor made to what she thinks fit her needs..

Ted Craig writes:

Have you actually ever looked at this cognitive research? I saw a presentation on it a few years ago and, to me, it boiled down to this: some people are smart, some people are stupid and most people are average. Also, you're leaving out a major factor in education: the continuing deterioration of the nuclear family. You article is interesting in theory, but I'm affraid its not very pragmatic.

Boonton writes:

The problem with home schooling is selection bias. By definition home schooling parents are willing to put the time and energy into giving their students a one-on-one education. The only comparision I can think of is the very wealthy who hire private tutors for their kids (do they still do that?).

I wonder why Arnold feels science will push us towards 'individualized' education. Why would it not push us towards education that looks more like medicine. Various tests will sort people out by their learning styles, deficiencies, etc. Pre-defined treatments (from teaching styles up thru medication) will sort everyone into education boxes the same way the HMO's have pre-approved treatments for various medical conditions.

Chris writes:
But is home schooling better than public school?

What is the purpose of schooling? If it is to prepare for the job market, then home schooling may not be the best. Of course unless the parents know what are are the right skills to teach their children so they can be employed in the future. This is unlikely. As said by Arnold, knowledge becomes obsolete very fast.

I don't want my kids schooled - I want them educated. You go to school to learn car repair, you get educated so that you can learn car repair, or mechanical engineering to do car design, etc. If knowledge is going to become obsolete fast, a bureaucratic school system that takes two years of review to make substantitive changes to curiculum is doomed to fail. If my son is having trouble with math, we can change something tomorrow. If he gets interested in aviation, we can taylor the curriculum to his interests immediately. HS'ing is better for my kids. That is all I can control and that is really all I'm worried about.

The problem with home schooling is selection bias. By definition home schooling parents are willing to put the time and energy into giving their students a one-on-one education. The only comparision I can think of is the very wealthy who hire private tutors for their kids (do they still do that?).

Why is selection bias a problem? The kids with the more motivated parents do better in public school too. Parental involvment is a huge, probably the largest, variable in a kids school performance.

chaerul writes:

I'm sure with division of labour, there will be better alternatives than home schooling...

Perhaps private schooling may be the answer.

Lawrance George Lux writes:

My thought is specialized training will dictate the cirriculum, in that specialized training centers will connect with even Grade schools by computer, while Teachers will become specialists at difficult translations for Students. lgl

Helen writes:

In my oppinion the future of education is the home schooling. In fact, students and teachers are going to communicate through the net, each sitting in front of a PC, with lots of information available and within easy reach. And the individualised treatment is right here, you know.

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