I constantly hear talk of the “free market” by politicians and other public figures. Being well-educated in business (law degree, corporate specialty) I am quite understanding of how their understanding of free markets has little to do with actual competition. What’s worse is that the model is disastrous for many fields of endeavor in our society. Do we want fireman and policeman to be profit oriented? – Much less teachers and ministers. I teach criminal justice courses. Policing for profit changes police priorities to crimes where they can confiscate property or money. The feds are particularly prone to law enforcement confiscations of goodies. It doesn’t make for good law enforcement but it is in a bizarre and disastrous sense a “free market.”
Teaching is another field where the profit motive has questionable results. While it is vaguely possible to measure some salary outcomes for education, that is only one purpose of education. We in the teaching field are also supposed to produce good citizens, critical thinkers, civilized human beings who can appreciate art and culture as well as professionals. Those things are hard to measure no matter how much multi-nationals like Pearson insist on numbers.
Numbers are a tool, and a limited one. If you’ve read David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest, you are well aware that according to the numbers we won that war decisively. To use numbers capably, they have actually to provide an accurate and useful measure of what’s happening.
How many of you can remember industries and businesses whose numbers were wonderful and then they were gone? Enron ring any bells? If businesses with so many aspects measurable by numbers and with so much experience using them for everything from hiring to stock prices can’t generate accurate and useful information, shouldn’t that call into question the application of this kind of number crunching to softer less money oriented fields?
I don’t mind my students desiring successful careers. But I do constantly emphasize the value of honor, honesty and patriotism. Can you measure the success of my teaching in those aspects with numbers? I think not.
“If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?” | Academe Blog
Money, the goal of all goals, today is ruining both education and government. When money becomes, as it has, our only measure of value, structures protecting anything else melt before it. As the “business model” is most keenly attuned to profit, it has become the one model for all of our endeavors.
In my first “real” job out of college, I worked as a counselor in a Department of Education funded program at a small Midwestern college. Our target was students from disadvantaged backgrounds; the one I remember best was a Vietnam vet (this was 1974) who had completed two tours as a side-door gunner in the air cavalry. What he needed was someone to listen as he tried to process his experiences. In all cases, our task was to discover the needs of each individual student and try to develop means of meeting them.
Even then, however, government was bowing to free-market “logic” claiming business methods are the best and most effective in any environment. The DoE had become enamored by a business management concept called “Management by Objectives” and had decided that even small programs like ours needed to comply. We counselors spend a great deal of time on this nonsense, time we could have better spent working directly with students.
From Around the Web.
From the web site, The Road Upward.
The Secret Power of Political Myths
Rome was founded by twin boys named Romulus and Remus, who were suckled by a she-wolf. Germans were descended from demigods who had once inhabited Atlantis before it sadly sank beneath the waves. The emperor of Japan is a direct descendant of Ameratsu, the sun goddess. The population of Britain is actually made up of the ten lost tribes of Israel and members of the royal family are direct descendants of King David.
“What silliness,” rational types will exclaim. These fairy tales should be ignored by intelligent, enlightened people such as us. And ignore them policy-makers do, much to their own peril, because these stories operate powerfully in the underground chambers of our minds. Even the most rational, calculating types at the Chicago School of Economics have a myth: the Invisible Hand guides mankind to prosperity if only we mortals give it free reign. To try to rein in the Invisible Hand of the Free Market is a sin punishable by the curse of low living standards, falling profits and enslavement by the devil (played by the government in this drama.)
The Chicago School of Economics, unaware that their magic numbers are a throwback to that cult leader Pythagorus and the Caballah, continue to fill blackboards and student’s heads with these dogmas. That they don’t work is no hindrance-as soon as we repent of blasphemous usurpation of the Free Market they will work, dang it.