Information Currency and Information Engineering

Information currency (http://infoeng.sourceforge.net) and its applications.

Monday, November 06, 2006

information currency for education system organization, part one

One of the primary motivations for the development of information currency is the creation of a new system for organizing education. At the present time, the evaluation of information created in an educational setting is generally performed by teachers, recognized as having expertise in the area in question. The process of performing the evaluations, to say nothing of the subjects of study, can have a rather arbitrary basis in the discretion of the teacher. While there are social norms for the subjects to be studied, as well as social norms for the evaluation (grading) of academic work, there is no direct correspondence between those social norms and the ultimate requirements of the larger society. Indeed, it is often recognized that there is an "education crisis", and education systems often demonstrate a stubborn resistance to social, economic, and technological change.

The ubiquity of government ownership (and operation) of the means of production in school systems has a strong effect on innovation in education and the performance of educational systems. As with famine in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the persistent underperformance of learners in many state-run school systems is a consequence of centralized political control of production. In the case of education, however, the famine of intellectual stimulation that so many students suffer is less apparent than the malnutrition that so many North Koreans experience - but in our highly technological and intensely competitive society, a famine of intellectual stimulation can have life-long consequences.

An important characteristic that food in North Korea and education in North America have in common, however, is that the political control mechanisms are self-serving and self-perpetuating. The tyrants ruling North Korea, who enjoy first priority in the allocation of food, surely understand that a starving population is more easily controlled. Our dear leaders in the Western world, overwhelmingly educated at a tiny number of exclusive, elite schools, are continuing a long and sordid history of population control through government schooling. While the role of intertia in sustaining socialist education bureaucracies should not be underestimated, and sincere good intentions may underlie some of the (deeply misguided) efforts to place and keep the government in control of young minds, there is a recognition on the part of political leaders throughout history that subjugating populations is most easily and imperceptibly accomplished through the control of education.

We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks. - Woodrow Wilson

The preceding quote by the 28th President of the United States explicitly reflects prejudice about the capabilities of many individuals, but also implicitly asserts that it is the role of government to define both what a "liberal education" is and who is suited to such an education. While the prejudice in President Wilson's statement is repugnant, the more harmful belief is that a static, inflexible government school system can both define the ideal education for individuals and deliver that ideal education to individuals. Without market incentives, which are suppressed and subverted by central planning, the allocation of resources in a school system will inevitably be inefficient and perceptibly unfair.

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