Arnold Kling  

Helping the Wrong Side

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Leviathan Montgomery... Vermont and Secession...

Iqbal Quadir:


The UN should empower the people, not empower their governments. And if they cannot empower the people they can just shut it off. My point is that helping the wrong side is harmful. So if they cannot help the right side they should at least not help the wrong side.

Of course, the UN is nothing but a collection of governments, so it is intrinsically on the wrong side.

The Quadir quote comes from Seth Roberts, who draws the analogy with colleges and universities. Implicitly, Roberts is saying that aid to the institution (such as state support or alumni contributions) is harmful, because it goes to the wrong side, not to the student/consumer.

Via Ben Casnocha.

The closer we get to the date where our high school senior must choose a college, the more angry my wife becomes about the quality-cost ratio of the choices.

I carry around an entrepreneurial idea of an American equivalent of the "gap year," which would be a year of education in between high school and college. This year would involve finding a part-time job, living in and cleaning an apartment, learning to cook one's own meals (and pick out fresh ingredients to go into that cooking), learning personal finance, learning something about household wiring and plumbing, and taking courses in philosophy and mathematics. I have not found a single person who doubts that this would be better for young people than the typical college freshman experience.



COMMENTS (10 to date)
Vincent Clement writes:

It might be better, but it doesn't sound like much fun ;)

mike writes:

Sure, it might be better for the student in the long run, but the added maturity may take some of the fun out of college.

Ben Casnocha writes:

As someone who will finish his gap year at the end of the summer, I couldn't agree more.

I have learned how to cook chicken and pasta. I have traveled overseas for the first time, to 20 countries in Asia and Europe. I have worked. I have worked on my writing. I have met hundreds of people. Many good skills.

The only downside that I see in the gap year is that it makes the adjustment into college harder. Your peers celebrate newfound independence that you already have been exercising for a year. This is only speculation; I will see in time!

Brad Hutchings writes:

I have a final exam question for "gap year". It involves watching a 4:3 ratio TV show on a widescreen HDTV. Anyone who sets the TV to stretch the picture to fill the screen (or zoom and have the top and bottom cut off) gets it wrong. I have no idea what percentage of young people will get this one wrong. I am confident however, that we could solve Social Security and Medicare by means testing according to getting the question correct. Most people 60 and older are annoyingly stupid on this one.

Bill writes:

Arnold,

You stole my idea (or parts of it at least). Obviously, I'm one who agrees with you.

Studying math and philosophy led me to study physics in college. What two subjects are better at teaching one how to think?

Seth Roberts writes:

A few years ago, I proposed exactly what you suggest at UC Berkeley, where I teach: That the administration make it easy for newly-admitted undergraduates to do a gap year. I wrote a long serious letter to the Chancellor explaining why. My suggestion was brushed aside by an underling: Too difficult for administrators, she said.

Bill writes:

My suggestion was brushed aside by an underling: Too difficult for administrators, she said.

Truth is beautiful.

Mr. Econotarian writes:

I have a final exam question for "gap year". It involves watching a 4:3 ratio TV show on a widescreen HDTV. Anyone who sets the TV to stretch the picture to fill the screen (or zoom and have the top and bottom cut off) gets it wrong

I have a better test, any consumer display device that is not set up to parse the aspect ratio data automatically for proper display fails.

KP writes:

How about teaching these concepts to your kids continuosly from the beginning. It takes more than year to absorb any significantly meaningful lessons, and de-program the crappy upbringing they have probably already received.

The root cause is a better place to start. The problems of today's youth is a learned behavior. Proactivity always trumps reactivity when dealing with learned behaviors.

Common Reader writes:

Seriously, what kind of terrible parent are you if your college freshman can't do basic tasks of daily life? My 13yo does half of the housework and cooks 2/3rds of the meals. He's itching to learn household repair and get a job. If your 13yo is not like this you are a failure.

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