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9028 posts

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# 259720 17-Oct-2019 10:59
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If you haven't got 23 minutes to spare now, and are interested in politics then save this link and listen to the podcast when you can make time.

 

https://www.rnz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=2018718002

 

So what's your opinion on this?

 

The person being interviewed can't be dismissed as a "malcontent" motivated by envy to be critical of the status quo. He's in a most privileged position as a Professor at an Ivy League college usually ranked as the #1 law school in the USA (also the one with the most restrictive admissions process).

 

 

To give an example of how unequal the United States is now...
If you look at scores on the SAT test which is the nationwide test that dominates college admissions, the Ivy League median for English is about 750.  In a typical recent year there were 15,000 students who had a parent who had attended post graduate education who scored 750. If you ask how many students there were - neither of whose parents had finished high school who scored 750, the tail is so thin that statistics are no longer reliable but if you grind out the maths you get 32. So that's the extent of the inequality that the system produces - both in who is in the elite, and in the academic achievement that this form of stratification allows people to have.

 

 

(... and ends up with Nietzsche's "Übermensch" as a ruling class - no wonder so many religious fundamentalists fall in behind Trump's call to "drain the swamp")

 

I'm not sure if I agree with the suggestion that "the trap" is something less evident in NZ.  Sure our social democratic system is endeavouring to counter multi-generational inequality of opportunity, but it's not working very well in my opinion, even the centre left seem to be content with "not allowing things to get worse" despite claiming that their policies will reverse the trends.

 

I think many in NZ embrace the concept of US style meritocracy with arms open wide, even if it's different by scale (we may have fewer billionaires and no "Ivy League" equivalent) but otherwise I think we're fundamentally heading down the same path.

 

What he's arguing - that the trend is destroying democracy - is true. 

 

 


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  # 2339714 17-Oct-2019 12:44
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This has always been an interesting edge to the 'Make University Free' debate - if University is free, it will cost more to provide for everyone. So you restrict entry. But then you risk ending up in the same situation as the United States where university is both expensive and exclusive. The people who can afford to become academics are the ones who end up becoming academics, not the academically inclined. 

 

I think a real failure our education system is it's all set up for 'the first time around'. If you pass all your schooling and get into the course you want and somehow end up with a job for life in that one field, then it's worked really well. But people don't have one job or one career anymore. Retraining or upskilling in business hours isn't an option, but all many places will let you do is further specialise in your existing area after-hours. 

 

I think that's one dimension to our version of the trap. The student loan debt, while not as bad here as it is in other places, really bites when you're saving for a house and losing 12% of your gross after 20K. I suspect that will put more and more people off as time goes by. 


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  # 2339761 17-Oct-2019 13:44
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@fred99: Now I know why you don't believe in referenda. The arguments presented here are correct for the most part, though I don't agree with everything. I do agree that the extremes created by meritocracy destroy democracy. 

 

 





I don't think there is ever a bad time to talk about how absurd war is, how old men make decisions and young people die. - George Clooney
 


 
 
 
 


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  # 2339762 17-Oct-2019 13:46
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GV27:

 

This has always been an interesting edge to the 'Make University Free' debate - if University is free, it will cost more to provide for everyone. So you restrict entry. But then you risk ending up in the same situation as the United States where university is both expensive and exclusive. The people who can afford to become academics are the ones who end up becoming academics, not the academically inclined. 

 

I think a real failure our education system is it's all set up for 'the first time around'. If you pass all your schooling and get into the course you want and somehow end up with a job for life in that one field, then it's worked really well. But people don't have one job or one career anymore. Retraining or upskilling in business hours isn't an option, but all many places will let you do is further specialise in your existing area after-hours. 

 

I think that's one dimension to our version of the trap. The student loan debt, while not as bad here as it is in other places, really bites when you're saving for a house and losing 12% of your gross after 20K. I suspect that will put more and more people off as time goes by. 

 

 

I believe some things, which are essential to the common good, should be 'free', in the sense that they should be collectively funded. Public transport is one example, health care another, education (including higher education), another. Which is not to say that there should be no charges for these things. Train tickets must still be paid for, and so should University courses, but these charges should reflect what users can reasonably afford, not actual costs. This is how it should be. 

 

 





I don't think there is ever a bad time to talk about how absurd war is, how old men make decisions and young people die. - George Clooney
 




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  # 2339824 17-Oct-2019 14:43
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Rikkitic:

 

Train tickets must still be paid for, and so should University courses, but these charges should reflect what users can reasonably afford, not actual costs. This is how it should be. 

 

 

Unfortunately the problem is bigger than that (just money) or it could be easily solved by throwing money at it.  Someone I know is working on one project looking to find reasons for low achievement and high dropout rates for course completion - even when (but not exclusively when) fee-free courses are offered - training for industries where there are plenty of jobs. There are so many confounding variables, and dammit - participation rate to find out why they dropped out or failed are so low, there's really no good data to work from. (example - with a cohort of those who didn't complete, 5% said they'd participate, but only two people turned up).  So you're left trying to solve a problem that you quite probably don't understand, trying to come up with solutions based on a few anecdotes.

 

And prejudice of course "you won't value it if it's free".  A perfect copout one-liner and probably the inevitable result of "reverse" meritocracy resulting in creation and perpetuation of a subservient class.

 

I think the failure of the education system to deliver equality of opportunity is more a symptom than a cause - of something that desperately needs fixing in society, 'cause we've created a monster that we don't seem to be able to control any more - because it's us.

 

I'll probably be accused of being a commie, so I'll quote a pure capitalist libertarian:

 

"You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him."

 

(Malcolm Stevenson Forbes)

 

Then read user comments in a Stuff article etc.

 

 

 

 


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  # 2339849 17-Oct-2019 15:28
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I no longer possess the energy or motivation necessary to do a discussion like this proper justice, but I will say this much: I believe very strongly in the classical notion of higher education, as in people gathering around a teacher for no other reason than that they love learning.

 

With the pressures of meritocracy and other unfortunate modern influences, education today has very little to do with the love of learning. People are far too busy getting ahead to pause for a chat with Socrates. I think this may well lead to the end of our civilisation, though clever things are still being done with technology. 

 

I don’t think education and other things of value should be ‘free’ as such in our world, as this encourages misuse by frivolous dabblers, but I think they should be affordable by all, so anyone with the desire and ability can access them. I think learning for its own sake should be encouraged, so if someone wants to spend a lifetime roaming the halls of academia, they should be able to. Not as a way of gaming the system, but as an objective in itself. A civilised society should have the capacity and will to carry those who choose not to be ‘productive’.

 

I think efforts to find single causes for a lack of participation in education are doomed to failure. It has to do with where you are born, who your parents are, how you grow up, the values of those around you, the positions of the stars, whatever. The thirst for knowledge and a love of learning must be part of the very fabric of our culture in order to become part of the gestalt of the masses. As long as sports heroes and pop stars are rated more highly than scientists and philosophers, as long as kids don’t like school, as long as ignorance is celebrated as a kind of normal, people will continue to be victims of a caste system of their own making.

 

 

 

 





I don't think there is ever a bad time to talk about how absurd war is, how old men make decisions and young people die. - George Clooney
 


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