Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Oh, what a surprise!

When things go wrong, the modern meme is to blame the “Law of Unintended Consequences”, which is the modern way of saying “it’s just God’s will”. However, in all too many instances, the “unintended” consequences could be easily predicted.
 Case 1: Most stocks are now owned by mutual funds. The fund managers are interested in fees, which means waiting for price increases, and selling the stocks. Their sole interest is short-term price gains. The CEO’s are hired with bonuses for price increases, and the only oversight is the Board of Directors (consisting of CEO’s of other companies), and the annual stockholder meeting (dominated by the fund managers). Then there is general surprise that many companies are managed for short-term stock price increases, and not for long-term performance!
 Case 2: Most US school systems have curricula which are dominated by methods courses, and very light on the content that they will teach. We put those ill-educated teachers into the field, and give them the message that any failure of a student means that the teacher is incompetent (I was told this by an education professor recently). We then test students and blame the teachers for every bad result. Why are we surprised at grade inflation and cheating on tests?

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A K Haart said...

One thing that had not occurred to me until a teacher mentioned it recently. If they get just one or two extra problem kids in a class it can really screw the stats.

Paddington said...

We are working on a model for this. Suppose the effect of a teacher is inversely proportional to the time each child gets. As class sizes increase, 'bad' teachers 'improve', and 'good' teachers look progressively worse. You can't automate education like a production line.