Category Archives: Thoughts

Our education system doesn’t learn

An opinion piece on education? I know. Don’t worry this is less than a thousand words.

In rich countries the education system we currently have is frequently and enjoyably criticised from every angle1)Leaving higher education to one side, early childhood, primary and secondary education is an area I have some expertise in, having been a secondary teacher for almost a decade and having gone through phases of intense research into educational outcomes.. But it’s important not to be too cynical. Our 2)I’ll use Australia as an example but it’s a fair stand-in for other developed nations at least at the general level industrial schooling model is the utopian dream of 100 years ago: we have free education from ages five to 18, six hours a day, 200 days a year provided by tertiary trained professionals, gender discrimination is on the way down, playgrounds contain few hazards, teachers are forbidden from using corporal punishment or sexual molestation and students are encouraged (especially in high school) to express themselves, pursue some interests and develop as people. Continue reading Our education system doesn’t learn

Footnotes

1. Leaving higher education to one side, early childhood, primary and secondary education is an area I have some expertise in, having been a secondary teacher for almost a decade and having gone through phases of intense research into educational outcomes.
2. I’ll use Australia as an example but it’s a fair stand-in for other developed nations at least at the general level

Grand narratives

In a well anthologised quotation, the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard defined the postmodern condition as “incredulity towards metanarratives”. We all need more  incredulity, especially towards the large, totalising explanations of the world and history that Lyotard had in mind. The narratives offered by religions,  national myths, and pre-packaged political ideologies obviously need to be met with virile scepticism. But what if there actually is a “grand narrative” or “metanarrative” that we can more or less empirically discern? Continue reading Grand narratives

Do what doesn’t make you sick

Many people say you should do what you’re passionate about. It’s an inspirational idea, espoused often in commencement and graduation speeches, and these are the most inspirational types of speeches. However I prefer a softer formulation: Do what doesn’t make you sick with boredom. While it may seem cynical it forms a welcome out from those who feel out-enthused by the overenthusiastic. Continue reading Do what doesn’t make you sick

On Careers and Scarface

I had a great conversation with my friend Maryam (@ahm026) a few weeks ago. Despite it being (or perhaps because it was) way too late at night we stumbled onto questioning the very definition of a career.

My starting point was that a career is a thoroughly selfish act, and does not necessarily map to doing good in the world. She saw a career more as a responsibility, mainly to your family, thereby doing good implicitly.

I’ve thought about this a heap, trying really hard to ignore Maryam’s point, and have come to a conclusion. If you’re the type of person who wants to make a difference in the world, manufacturing a career is self defeating and stems from a fallacy of correlation. Continue reading On Careers and Scarface

La fiasco!

The conviction of the six Italian scientists in October 2012 raised the hackles of scientists and rationalists everywhere, fearing a repeat of the trial of Galileo. As the facts of the case were translated into English for the world’s press to laugh at, we learned that the case was not just a matter of the judiciary bowing to the pathos of the grieving families and delivering a sentence that sounds like something out of a reverse witch trial: the scientists will be imprisoned for not being able to predict the future. Continue reading La fiasco!