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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Quality Education

What Quality Education Should Teach You, According to a Harvard Scientist

Shane Parrish | January 11, 2016

Harvard’s great biologist/psychologist Steven Pinker is one of my favorites, even though I’m just starting to get into his work.
What makes him great is not just his rational mind, but his multidisciplinary approach. He pulls from many fields to make his (generally very good) arguments. And he’s a rigorous scientist in his own field, even before we get to his ability to synthesize.

It’s easy to agree with him that “the first thing that college is for is to teach you to think,” but much harder to figure out what that means. Deresiewicz knows what it does not mean—“the analytical and rhetorical skills that are necessary for success in business and the professions”—but this belletristic disdain for the real world is unhelpful. The skills necessary for success in the professions include organizing one’s thoughts so that they may be communicated clearly to others, breaking a complex problem into its components, applying general principles to specific cases, discerning cause and effect, and negotiating tradeoffs between competing values. In what rarefied ivory chateau do these skills not count as “thinking”? In its place Deresiewicz says only that learning to think consists of “contemplating things from a distance,” with no hint as to what that contemplation should consist of or where it should lead.

<more at; related links: (The Trouble With Harvard. The Ivy League is broken and only standardized tests can fix it. September 4, 2014. [Extract: "The most-read article in the history of this magazine is not about war, politics, or great works of art. It’s about the admissions policies of a handful of elite universities, most prominently my employer, Harvard, which is figuratively and literally immolated on the cover.") and (Don't Send Your Kid to the Ivy League. The nation's top colleges are turning our kids into zombies. July 21, 2014)>

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