Archive for October 20th, 2010

The economics discipline treats education as a black box. Human capital (a term derived to symbolize human thoughts as part of the production function) is generally proxied by simple variables like educational attainment. More forward thinking scholars will use test score achievement, and the cutting edge will use cognitive ability tests. The video below, though, argues that our whole concept of education discourages “divergent thinking,” the dynamic cognition that leads to innovation and change. Watch the video in which Ken Robinson discusses this issue (it’s another great piece by RSA Animate, which illuminates his words with drawings).

I certainly agree that our narrow educational paradigm likely hinders the number of students who are culled to achieve highly in school. Many would-be geniuses are left behind, and the economy suffers, even under a narrow neoclassical view of what economic progress is. I’m trying to think about how characteristics of this educational system relates to our economic system. We certainly see a move away from the liberal arts in higher education and towards majors that fit better in a capitalist economy, like business and the sciences (the latter aren’t necessarily bad, assuming they leave room for non-formulaic thinking). I;m not sure how this looks at the lower levels- I suppose children taught to toe the line at an earlier age are more likely to take the economic and political system for granted as well. Must educational reform precede real structural change for our economy?

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