Thursday, June 02, 2005

Creativity, schooling and age

...the study by Benjamin Jones of the Kellogg School finds that the age of scientists making great insights has gone up: "The estimates suggest that, on average, the great minds of the 20th Century began innovating at age 23 at the start of the 20th Century, but only at age 31 at the end -- an upward trend of 8 years."

Given that people lived longer, this could be good news: Jones suggests that extended education leads to later innovation. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to lead to longer periods of creativity. In the late 20th Century people are starting their periods of peak creativity later, but those periods don't extend to greater ages, suggesting that the additional time spent studying comes at the cost of time spent being creative:
But at the very least, Jones' study suggests that improvements in education that shorten the delay before people are in a position to make great discoveries would be tremendously beneficial, not just in a life-extended society but in today's world. Alas, my gut says that we're likely to see people living to 300 before we see dramatic improvements in education. Where, after all, are the dramatic discoveries in that field?

If that is not a terrible indictment of public education, nothing is.

There needs only be one dramatic discovery, and parents are beginning to make it: Public Schools don't work.
That is why homeschooling is taking off.

It would be great if we could reform the public schools, but given the history of reform efforts in any field, it is not a war worth fighting.

We are far better off ignoring the current system as best we can, and creating a new school system and restoring local control to local parents.

I can far more easily trust a group of parents whose own children's future are on the line then some bureaucrat a thousand miles away with his children in private school.

Children should be grouped by interest and ability in subject matter not just gathered together at random. And children whose abilities are quite different from the norm should be able to get the attention they need to become the best that they can.

Parents should be taught how to teach their children the 3R's and schools would be places where people who had been successful could impart their hard won experience to others so they could stand on the shoulders of those who had come before. Then we will see progress that we can not even imagine.


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