14 May 2010

The best education money can buy

There’s a very interesting article in Time magazine about education and experimentation. It describes the efforts of economist Roland Fryer, Jr., to test whether there are ways to pay kids who do well in school.

Now, given that I’ve been reading, and occasionally blogging, about how financial incentives backfire, I was surprised to read that there seems to be some potential in this scheme. But I was even more surprised, and heartened, by the forthright scientific approach taken.

(W)hatever we do, (Fryer) says, we have to test it first — and fearlessly. “One thing we cannot do is, we cannot restrict ourselves to a set of solutions that make adults comfortable.”

Hat tip to the Heath Brothers blog, who point out another interesting thing that the article brings up: we often assume people know how to work on a problem when they don’t. Not quite the Dunning-Kruger effect, but perhaps related.

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