Tag Archives: Self-Control

School Attitudes

In forming my view that school functions in part to help folks accept workplace domination, I rediscovered the view of the ’76 book Schooling In Capitalist America:

Schools produce future workers; … schools socialize students to accept beliefs, values, and forms of behavior on the basis of authority rather than the students’ own critical judgement of their interests.

(Weakly) supporting evidence:

A recent survey of 3,000 employers … asked, “When you consider hiring a new nonsupervisory or production worker, how important are the following in your decision to hire?” Employers ranked “industry based skill credentials” at 3.2 on a scale of 1 (unimportant) to 5 (very important), with “years of schooling” at 2.9, “score on tests given by employer” and “academic performance” both at 2.5. By far the most important was “attitude” ranked 4.6, followed by “communication skills” (4.2). …

[In a] survey of 1693 British employers … Of the somewhat more than a third of the establishments reporting a “skill shortage”, personnel managers identified the recruitment problem as “lack of technical skills” in 43 percent of the cases, but “poor attitude, motivation, or personality” in a remarkable 62 percent of the cases. Poor attitude was by far the most important reason for the recruitment difficulty given. The importance of motivation relative to technical skill was even greater among the full sample.

Here’s one accounting of three more specific functions of school:

  • Legitimization: Repeated contacts with the educational system, which seems impersonal and based on reliable criteria, convinces students (and their parents) that they are ending up in an appropriate place in society based on their skills and abilities. Thus, people accept their position in life: they become resigned to it, maybe even considering it appropriate or fair.
  • Acclimatization: The social relationships in the schools encourage certain traits, appropriate to one’s expected economic position, while discouraging others. Thus,certain relationships are considered normal and appropriate. Subordination to authority is a dominant trait enforced for most students.
  • Stratification: Students from different class backgrounds, races, ethnicities, and genders are overwhelmingly exposed to different environments and social relationships and thus are tracked and prepared for different positions in the hierarchy. The different experiences and successes lead each student to see her place as appropriate.
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Why Schools Test Often

The latest Science:

We modified the dictator game … and studied how inequality acceptance develops in adolescence. We found that as children enter adolescence, they increasingly view inequalities reflecting differences in individual achievements, but not luck, as fair, whereas efficiency considerations mainly play a role in late adolescence. …

We assumed that there were three salient fairness views in this situation: strict egalitarianism, finding all inequalities unfair; meritocratism, justifying inequalities reflecting differences in production; and libertarianism, justifying all inequalities in earnings. … The large majority of 5th graders were strict egalitarians, and, remarkably, there were almost no meritocrats at this grade level. In contrast, meritocratism was the dominant position in late adolescence, and the share of strict egalitarians fell dramatically. The share of libertarians was stable across grade levels. … From 9th grade, … efficiency considerations played a more important role for males than females. (more)

This seems support for my view that frequent school scoring serves the function of making kids accept dominance and inequality:

At school, our kids are rated and ranked far more often than most adults will tolerate, even though this actually slows their learning! It seems that modern schools function in part to help humans overcome their (genetically and culturally) inherited aversions to hierarchy and dominance. Modern workplaces require workers who are far more accepting than are foragers of being told what to do when, and of being explicitly ranked, and our schools prepare kids to accept this more primate-like environment. (more)

The evidence strongly suggests that students learn better when they are not graded and certainly not when they are graded on a curve. (more)

Subjects worked on different tasks and received performance-contingent payments that varied in amount from small to very large relative to their typical levels of pay. With some important exceptions, very high reward levels had a detrimental effect on performance. (more)

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