"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Wrong Questions and the Wrong Data

Suli Breaks recently came out with a video, ""Why I Hate School But Love Education". At this time, the video has been viewed almost 2,000,000 times and it has drawn more than 30,000 likes and less than 2000 likes. That is a whopping 94% favorability rating. 


The video raises questions and answers these with "data". Emmeline Zhao, associate education editor at the Huffington Post wrote a commentary on this video entitled, "'Why I Hate School But Love Education' Viral Video Points To Stupid In America And All The Wrong Questions". She wrote:

Suli Breaks has a point -- school might not be for everyone, but an education is crucial, and students should assess whether they're really in school to learn. But the arguments he uses to make it have their flaws -- evocative of this crisis of "stupid in America" (a phrase borrowed from a 2006 ABC investigation) that in the end, is only perpetuated by a whirlpool of communities -- and the media -- asking all the wrong questions about education. 
The "statistics" he points to in fact show, time and time again, that degree-holders have more opportunities and earn more than non-degree holders over a lifetime. The top dogs he cites as examples are exceptions to the rule, and have generally had some level of formal schooling.
We all have a tendency to pick instances that support what we like to be true. Anecdotes always make good conversation. I also do that from time to time. The problem is that these instances are interesting to talk about because of their exceptional character. The "exceptional" part is very important and should not be overlooked especially when one is trying to prove a point.  Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did not finish college and yet, became among the most successful entrepreneurs of our time. These are truly exceptional. Using these extraordinary examples hides the other and much more important pieces of data. The following was compiled and presented by Steven Strauss, an advanced leadership fellow at Harvard University, in a Huffington Post article, "The Connection Between Education, Income Inequality, and Unemployment":



Table 1: Mean Earnings by Highest Degree Earned, $: 2009 (SAUS, table 232)

2011-11-02-Screenshot20111102at11.52.53AM.png

Table 2: Unemployment Rates by Educational Attainment, % (BLS)

2011-11-02-Screenshot20111102at11.50.09AM.png

Notes: All amounts are in real terms; SAUS (Statistical Abstract of the United States) published by the US Census Bureau.
With the above data, one should wonder why Suli Breaks' video has a very high approval rating. Do we simply ignore the reality because there is something else we choose to believe? When we look at the data below:
Do we not see what these numbers really mean?  These scores reflect the education of eight-grade students. The poor scores here point out clearly that problems in Philippine basic education happen in the first eight years.  The TIMSS 2011 results have been published but the Philippines is not among the countries that participated.  Indonesia did and scored 386 in Math and 406 in Science. Like the Philippines, Indonesia has been reducing both English and Science in its primary schools.
The Philippines' DepEd's K to 12 program appears to have chosen to ask the question, "Why is the country being left behind?" With this question, the answer given to the masses is that the Philippines is among the very few that have only ten years of basic education. It is the wrong question and wrong data. Instead, the Philippines should ask "Why are the first 8 years of math and science education not working?"

What are we doing wrong?

2 comments:

  1. To my view, such K to 12 program is not really to uplift the interest of
    education itself, but just a tool for POPULATION CONTROL! Marriage and
    reproduction will be suspended because of the mentality in favor for
    formal education prevailing in the Philippines. True, if we could have
    only a correct question then we could arrived at a correct answer. But
    then, we asked a wrong question basing from wrong data thus we have a
    wrong k-12 solution. Even if we will add another 5 years more based on
    the wrong concept, still nothing will change. The Kumon method of education does not even need such 12 years of basic education plus 4 or 5 years of college education. Yet, the Kumon method achieved the very purpose of education.

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  2. If that was the objective, it would have been cheaper (and this is what other countries have done) to require an age of 8 years to enter elementary school. All the additional years could have been added at the beginning, pre-K and kindergarten - this would be cheaper, except that it would take ten years before its impact on society appears.

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