Archived entries for education

Big Education, the reprise

Hot on the heels of my last post comes a discussion about the subsequent discussions. It would be fair to say my grand plan did not meet with unanimous acclaim. But I am keen for the discussion to continue.


I will attempt to summarise these (possibly unfairly).

1. Good idea
2. Not necessary,our schools/unis are doing a good job
3. Not necessary, I flunked (school/uni) and look at me
4. Let’s all be volunteers
5. Let’s spend money on my pet project
6. Schools can’t do everything

Good Idea
I like this response. It shows foresight, vision and intelligence. Let’s organise.
They are. We do pretty well on OECD stats. This a credit to our society, teachers and education establishments. The debate though is not about current performance but future needs.

Not necessary,our schools/unis are doing a good job
I don’t think the status quo is good enough. If it were we would not be sliding down the various OECD scales we use to measure economic performance. We would not be fretting about where the future developers scientists, technologists, inventors, artists and so on will be coming from, and we would not be seeing 50,000 people moving to Australia every.single.year, no matter who is in power.

We can build on what we have. Improve. Ensure that future Google employees don’t get bored at school, ensure the long tale (often of immigrant children) does not get left behind and ensure that more and more students get a chance to hit their potential.

My Grandfather was principal of Scotland’s first comprehensive school. He believed everybody had a talent for genius. The trick was to give them the opportunity to recognise and develop that talent. I would like to know from teachers and parents if we are doing that, across the board?

Not necessary, I flunked (school/uni) and look at me
Snap, QED.

Seriously though, talk to your grandparents or people in less developed countries. Access to free public education is critical for breaking from the traps of poverty, both physical and mental. It is also critical for little things like democracy, the development of economies and freedom.

One of my prouder moments was getting a degree in my 30s. May not be much use in my day job but I certainly found the process and disciplines of obtaining that degree very helpful. See, anecdotes work both ways. Evidence is better. Evidence favours education.

Let’s all be volunteers
Yes, let’s. That is very important.

But volunteer-ism does not and should replace core services, it augments and helps form and sustain strong communities. But to it can replace core services condemns us to reliance on Victorian Charity, which was discredited as long ago as Victorian times :-)

Let’s spend money on my pet project
I found this response the most depressing to be honest. It felt as though all the talk about education, weightless economies and so on was just talk. If we in the business communities want to thrive and survive we need to start acting and not just talking.

I am no educationalist or an expert on what parts of our system need the most attention. I am happy to leave that to experts.

But, let’s triple the money available to those people. Now.

Schools can’t do everything
No they cannot. But they can educate, that is the core of their mission. I am proposing they are allowed to do more of it and to reach ever higher standards.

So, enough from me, over to you.

Big Education, not Big Government

In order to reach our goals of diversifying our economy and applying focus on weightless exports I am suggesting that we triple our spending on education over the next three years.

Tom Brown's School

Tom Brown's School

There were many discussions at the recent kiwifoo unconference about education and how it is so vital to our future in many different ways. Here are some statistics on what we have been spending on education:

and from this report on how we will be spending less going forward:

We heard about how a number of years ago Finland decided to spend 25% of GDP on education. This figure has since fallen to a more “normal” percentage of GDP but the effects are still noticeable:

So, if we are *really* serious about wanting to raise our global competitiveness and guaranteeing our future (including retirement funds) it would seem education is going to be the success critical. In which case, let’s built an Education / Industrial Complex that enriches us. The opposite of the Military / Industrial complex that is now beggaring the USA.

I suggest starting a campaign that should be focused on building up our education capacity and capability. The title of this campaign could be the one I use in this email heading, designed to be as a-political as possible. It would have to work for a broad spectrum of political views

I suggest we have a goal of doubling education spending in real terms over the next 3 years and then committing to retaining that level of spending for 2 generations (30 years).

I don’t think this is unrealistic and could be financed in a number of different ways. Such as:

  • a 1 cent education levy on income tax
  • reducing other capital spending commitments (UFB, new roads, $2billion IaaS – come to mind)
  • borrowing
  • others….

It would be ok with government spending in other areas fall *if* it were compensated by a rise in education spending.

I have already had a variety of interesting feedback on this idea which I will write about in the very next post.

Show them that you care

There’s just 29 days left to get your nominations in for this year’s New Zealand Open Source Awards.

There are 8 categories this year: Open Source Use in Government, Open Source Use in Business, Open Source Use in Education, Open Source Use in The Arts, Open Source Software Project, Open Source Contributor, Open Source Advocate, Open Source People’s Choice Award

Think about the people in the New Zealand open source community whose contributions have made a difference to your life or your business over the last couple of years – the last awards ceremony was in 2008 – and send in your nominations now.

Remember that these awards aren’t just for the coders, but also for the supporting cast of people contributing, using and making a difference with open source software. Don’t forget to nominate your own contributions, projects, or even yourself if you’ve been doing great work that you like to see more widely recognised.

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