Kategoriarkiv: Utdanning

Syv prinsipper for å diskutere med økonomer.

Noahpinion leverer en smørbrødliste. Nå er ikke Norge det landet i verden hvor økonomer krangler mest, men drar du til Davos denne helga derimot…

Her er #1 og #2:

Principle 1: Credentials are not an argument.

Example: «You say Theory X is wrong…but don’t you know that Theory X is supported by Nobel Prize winners A, B, and C, not to mention famous and distinguished professors D, E, F, G, and H?»

Suggested Retort: Loud, barking laughter.

Alternative Suggested Retort: «Richard Feynman said that ‘Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.’ And you’re not going to argue with HIM, are you?»

Reason You’re Right: Credentials? Gimme a break. Nobody accepts received wisdom from sages these days. Show me the argument!

Principle #2: «All theories are wrong» is false.

Example: «Sure, Theory X fails to forecast any variable of interest or match important features of the data. But don’t you know that all models are wrong? I mean, look at Newton’s Laws…THOSE ended up turning out to be wrong, ha ha ha.»

Suggested Retort: Empty an entire can of Silly String onto anyone who says this. (I carry Silly String expressly for this purpose.)

Alternative Suggested Retort: «Yeah, well, when your theory is anywhere near as useful as Newton’s Laws, come back and see me, K?»

Reason You’re Right: To say models are «wrong» is fatuous semantics; philosophically, models can only have degrees of predictive power within domains of validity. Newton’s Laws are only «wrong» if you are studying something very small or moving very fast. For most everyday applications, Newton’s Laws are very, very right.

#3 – #7 her


Dagen TED #34663: K.I.S.S slår til igjen.

En annen ting som det også er verdt å påpeke: når du er 17 år er det ikke forventet at du skal forstå. Når du er 18 år, er det.

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Men, også, derfor, hvorfor. Økonomigramatikk.

Ja, ja, ja, ja og mer ja.

But, And, Why:

Every once in a while I get correspondence from someone chiding me for the way I write — in particular the informality. I received one the other day complaining about sentences that begin with “but” or “and”. There is, however, a reason I write this way.

You see, the things I write about are very important; they affect lives and the destiny of nations. But despite that, economics can all too easily become dry and boring; it’s just the nature of the subject. And I have to find, every time I write, a way to get past that problem.

One thing that helps, I’ve found, is to give the writing a bit of a forward rush, with a kind of sprung or syncopated rhythm, which often involves sentences that are deliberately off center.

More broadly, the inherent stuffiness of the subject demands, almost as compensation, as conversational a tone as I can manage.

My bible in all this is George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language. I recommend, in particular, reading his translation of good English, from the King James Bible, into bad modern English. The original:

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

The translation:

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

Economics writing can all too easily end up sounding like the second version. You might even say that it wants to sound like that. So you have to make a real effort to ensure that it doesn’t.

(Via Paul Krugman.)

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Dagens TED | TEDx kommer til Trondheim. Norge.

Screen shot 2011 10 18 at 21 46 09Dette er gode nyheter. TEDxTrondheim går av stabelen onsdag 2. november. Temaet er utdanning.

Først, hva er TED:

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 26 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. At TED, the world’s leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Talks are then made available, free, at TED.com.

Talere har ikke blitt annonsert, men det foregår på kjent plass. NTNUs auditorium R10. Realfagsbygget. Respect.

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Skole | Kan privatskolemetoder fungere i det offentlige? Lengere dager, sparke lærere/rektorer?

Dette er en vanskelig påstand å forske på. Grunnen til at det idet hele tatt er en problemstilling er resultater som charter skoler i USA kan vise til. I de tilfeller hvor suksess kan påvises, er det vanskelig å overføre metoder til det offentlige systemet.

For å forske på dette trenger du et eksperiment med en behandling og en kontroll. Altså en skole (skoler) som blir overlatt til forskere, og en tilnærmet lik skole som ikke opplever noen endringer.

Harvard økonom Roland Fryer har fått denne muligheten. Hypotesen var å implementere charter skolemetoder i det offentlige. Han gikk inn i 9 skoler med dårligst resultat og gjorde bl.a. :
i) lengere skoledager, ii) bedre lærere og iii) data-basert læring. Han gikk grundig til, over 100 lærere og alle rektorer.

Washington Post rapporterer:

Fryer looked at “No Excuses” charter schools, places like the Harlem Promise Academy and KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) schools, to get a sense of how they had made such big education gains in low-income communities. He boiled it down to five “best practices,” including longer school days, better teachers and data-driven education, that emphasized education gains.

Fryer went into nine of the lowest performing, public middle and high schools in Houston during the last school year, and implemented those five principles. The changes didn’t just nibble around the edges: Fryer did things like add 10 days to the school year and replace 100 educators, including all of his test school’s principals and more than half the teachers.

Across the board, students’ math and reading scores went up compared to other Houston schools where these changes weren’t implemented. “These results provide the first proof point that charter school practices can be used systematically in previously unsuccessful traditional public schools to significantly increase student achievement,” Fryer writes.

But at the same time, the study is also far from a silver bullet for education reform: many of the changes that the researchers implemented in Houston would have a hard time gaining traction elsewhere.

Sweeping out sitting principals, for example, would often draw vociferous opposition from teachers’ unions. As the authors note, Houston currently has “a remarkably innovative and research driven Superintendent” with a supportive school board. The program comes with a big price tag, too: it cost more than $2,000 per student to implement. That’s a big budget item when most states are in the midst of slashing education budgets.

Fryer’s paper is a bit of proof-of-concept: given the ideal circumstances, the policies that have made charter schools successful can improve public schools, too. It’s also the first study to look at whether these principles could work in a traditional public school setting. The next big question will be whether, in less amenable political and budget climates, these kind of reforms stand a chance.

Dette er et dramatisk eksperiment innen utdanningsøkonomien, fordi det offentlige opplever sjeldent slike sjokk.

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Går for mange unge på universitet? En diskusjon.

Denne diskusjonen har flere dimensjoner i USA enn i Norge. Derfor er dette interessant å diskutere fra ett annet, mer komplekst ståsted.

Studentlån, kredittproblemer, ledigheten for bachelorstudenter historisk høy, lønn for en utdannelse er vesentlig høyere enn ikke-utdannede, innovasjon diskriminerer ikke via utdanning, osv. osv.

Diskusjonen var i fin amerikansk tro, med 4 designerte debattanter. 2 for og 2 mot.

Debate: TOO MANY KIDS GO TO COLLEGE from Intelligence Squared U.S. on Vimeo.

Noen eksempler på argumentene:


  • For many, onerous student loans will at best neutralize the increased income derived from having a college education, and at worst put them in an untenable financial situation.
  • America’s high-tech, entrepreneurial economy rewards great ideas and innovation, regardless of one’s formal education.
  • A bachelor’s degree no longer guarantees a job— the unemployment rate for those with a BA is at an all-time high.

  • To stay competitive, Americans need more education, not less. A decrease in college degrees will result in an economy that lags behind other countries in every important category.
  • Getting a college degree has, and always will be, the best way for lower-income families to improve their economic status.
  • College educations provide much more than higher incomes; they produce well-rounded citizens who know how to communicate, solve problems and better understand the world.
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Flue på vegg | Trenger du en trener? Coach? Det gjorde denne kirurgen.

111003 r21338 p233
Atul Gawande er kirurg og fant ut at han trengte ekstern hjelp. Tall på bl.a. komplikasjoner, gjeninnleggelser og infeksjoner hadde stabilisert seg på et lavt nivå. Det var lite Atul kunne tenke seg for å videre senke disse tallene. Platået var nådd, dette var så god en kirurg som han skulle bli. Helt til han svelget litt yrkesstolthet og ringte en gammel mentor.

Og bare så det er klart: hvis jeg kunne skrive halvparten så godt som Gawande hadde jeg vært fornøyd.

Her er noen utdrag:

I’ve been a surgeon for eight years. For the past couple of them, my performance in the operating room has reached a plateau. I’d like to think it’s a good thing—I’ve arrived at my professional peak. But mainly it seems as if I’ve just stopped getting better.

As I went along, I compared my results against national data, and I began beating the averages. My rates of complications moved steadily lower and lower. And then, a couple of years ago, they didn’t. It started to seem that the only direction things could go from here was the wrong one.

Not long afterward, I watched Rafael Nadal play a tournament match on the Tennis Channel. The camera flashed to his coach, and the obvious struck me as interesting: even Rafael Nadal has a coach. Nearly every élite tennis player in the world does. Professional athletes use coaches to make sure they are as good as they can be.
But doctors don’t. I’d paid to have a kid just out of college look at my serve. So why did I find it inconceivable to pay someone to come into my operating room and coach me on my surgical technique?

So outside ears, and eyes, are important for concert-calibre musicians and Olympic-level athletes. What about regular professionals, who just want to do what they do as well as they can? I talked to Jim Knight about this. He is the director of the Kansas Coaching Project, at the University of Kansas. He teaches coaching—for schoolteachers. For decades, research has confirmed that the big factor in determining how much students learn is not class size or the extent of standardized testing but the quality of their teachers. Policymakers have pushed mostly carrot-and-stick remedies: firing underperforming teachers, giving merit pay to high performers, penalizing schools with poor student test scores. People like Jim Knight think we should push coaching.

I decided to try a coach. I called Robert Osteen, a retired general surgeon, whom I trained under during my residency, to see if he might consider the idea. He’s one of the surgeons I most hoped to emulate in my career. His operations were swift without seeming hurried and elegant without seeming showy. He was calm. I never once saw him lose his temper. He had a plan for every circumstance. He had impeccable judgment. And his patients had unusually few complications.

Hva som skjedde med treneren til Atul får du finne ut her.

Trenger makroøkonomer trenere?

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Sveriges Riksbanks pris i økonomisk vitenskap til minne om Alfred Nobel

A.k.a. Nobelprisen i økonomi. Reuters er ute med de første mulige vinnere i 2011. På listen, Halbert L. White og Jerry Hausman som bidro betydningsfult til grenen økonometri (alle kan Hausman-testen og White-testen) og Anne O. Kreuger om rentseeking.

  • Douglas W. Diamond
    Merton H. Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL USA

    WHY: for his analysis of financial intermediation and monitoring

  • Jerry A. Hausman
    John and Jennie S. MacDonald Professor, Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA USA

    WHY: with Halbert L. White, Jr., for their contributions to econometrics, specifically the Hausman specification test and the White standard errors test

  • Anne O. Krueger
    Professor of International Economics, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Washington, DC USA

    WHY: with Gordon Tullock, for their description of rent-seeking behavior and its implications

  • Gordon Tullock
    Professor Emeritus of Law and Economics, George Mason University School of Law, Arlington, VA USA

    WHY: with Anne O. Krueger, for their description of rent-seeking behavior and its implications

  • Halbert L. White, Jr.
    Chancellor’s Associates Distinguished Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA USA

    WHY: with Jerry A. Hausman, for their contributions to econometrics, specifically the Hausman specification test and the White standard errors test

UCSD kan få sin tredje Nobelvinner i økonometri. Ekstrapoeng hvis du vet tospannet som kom først.

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«Take the pen, take the pen». Den om verdensrommet, amerikanere, russere og blyanter.

For skrivefans, særlig de som har giktsymptomer etter 6 timers gymsaleksamener i studietiden:

Pen and pencil myths:

There’s a popular myth that NASA spent “millions” of dollars developing a pen for astronauts to use in the weightless environment of a space ship — while their sensible Russian counterparts were happy to use the low-tech pencil.  Alas, for all its appeal and plausibility, this is not true.  Initially, astronauts and cosmonauts were both equipped with pencils, but there were problems: if a piece of lead broke off, for example, it could float into someone’s eye or nose.  A pen was needed, one that would defy gravity, write in extreme heat or cold, and be leak proof: blobs of ink floating around the cabin would be more perilous than a stray pencil lead.  A long-time pen maker named Paul C. Fisher patented the “space pen” in 1965 (which he had developed at the cost of a million dollars, at the request of but not under the auspices of NASA.)  NASA bought four hundred of them at $6 each, and, after a couple of years of testing, the pens were put into space.

That is from Kitty Burns Florey, Script & Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting.

(Via Marginal Revolution.)

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Med tall kommer ansvar. SSB inviterer til tallkurs.

Fra den til denne:
Screen shot 2011 09 12 at 23 33 59SSB arrangerer kurs i talltemming. Her er kurset i punktform:

  • Grunnleggende begreper det er kjekt å vite om
  • Sammenlikning av tall er ikke alltid like enkelt
  • Absolutte og relative tall, hva er nå det?
  • Forholdstall, prosenter, rater og indekser
  • Gjennomsnittet kan uttrykkes på flere måter
  • Når tallene kjører berg- og dal bane
  • Om bruk og misbruk av diagrammer

Foreleser er:

Foreleser er Jan Erik Kristiansen, statistikkrådgiver i SSB. Han er utdannet sosiolog, har skrevet bok om statistikkforståelse og presentasjon av statistikk, og har et humoristisk forhold til tall. Kursene er svært populære.

Humor og tall. Hva kan gå galt? Meld deg på.

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