Seeking School Clues
Most of our common social institutions do double-duty, triple-duty, or more; they serve many functions at once. While this makes functional sense, it also complicates the task of inferring their functions. School is a good example. Some oft-mentioned functions:
babysit – keep kids safe via less adult effort
match – help kids find compatible mates/friends
practice – practice specific skills, habits
3 Rs – practice reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmatic
be like us – adopt our styles of talk, dress, music, etc.
learn to learn – practice practicing new skills
remember – remember specific facts, claims
dogma – remember approved social views
norms – internalize behaviors, standards
mark – show that students better than others
sort – rank by ability, loyalty, personality, support
legitimize – accept non-school rank via school rank
submit – practice gracious obedience, ranking
stiffen – strength self-control to follow norms
harden – practice working long, hard, on cue
soften – practice accepting new local norms, ranks
entrench – keep the system going, grow it if possible
impress – make a local society look good to outsiders
In the face of such complexity, I prefer to
Collect stylized facts, i.e., simple patterns of behavior that might be clues to help distinguish theories.
Instead of seeking ad hoc explanations for each clue, seek a simple package of assumptions that simultaneously explain as many clues as possible with as few assumptions as possible.
So I hereby declare my newfound interest in such clues. What ya got?