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StuartBuck comments on Lost Purposes - Less Wrong

68 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 November 2007 09:01AM

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Comment author: StuartBuck 25 November 2007 04:00:39PM 4 points [-]

Not to get too sidetracked, because your overall point about education is well-taken, but this:

A recent study here in the Bay Area showed that 80% of teachers in K-5 reported spending less than one hour per week on science, and 16% said they spend no time on science. Why? I'm given to understand the proximate cause is the No Child Left Behind Act and similar legislation. Virtually all classroom time is now spent on preparing for tests mandated at the state or federal level. I seem to recall (though I can't find the source) that just taking mandatory tests was 40% of classroom time in one school.

is implausible on its face (particularly the assertion about 40% of classroom time -- that would mean kids spent 2+ hours every day taking tests). And if schools are ditching science (really? they're really spending 3 hours a day just on reading skills and 3 hours a day just on math?), that would be a very foolish decision on their part, even if their goal is to show high reading scores. Once kids know how to decode words, the best path to reading comprehension is lots and lots of substantive background knowledge -- such as science, history, etc.

By the way, the paragraphs about opening and shutting the car door are one of the best things I've ever read about the distortion of incentives in organizations.