Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sorting Students is GOOD

Tracking students into high and low tracks, and having high standards for college admission are anathema to liberals.

I am liberal on a number of issues, but among my strongest-held beliefs is that the costs of not-sorting students are far greater than the costs of sorting.
For example, mixing high- and low-ability kids in the same class virtually ensures that both groups often receive inappropriate-level instruction and an exhausted teacher. Metaevaluations of ability-grouping studies bear this out.

And, yes, it should be done early. The longer we wait, the greater the costs. Of course, I'm not just talking about dollar costs. I'm talking about the costs to both low- and high-achieving kids, to teachers, and importantly, to the larger society.


Anon said...

Hey Marty,

On a semi-related note, what do you think of Elite Korean Schools?

I would like to hear your opinion on them.



PS Maybe you could respond in a blog post?

Marty Nemko said...

Hello Anon,

Here's my reaction. I believe that very capable kids are wise to be very disciplined. They will ultimately feel far better about their lives and their contribution to the world by working hard to make the most of their brilliance.

Students (and adults) of average and below-average capability are wise to strive for balance. The extra effort is unlikely to result in their being stars. So, in those cases, the benefits of balance outweigh.

Anonymous said...

Based on the answer you just gave, may I ask, Mr. Nemko, if you believe most people in America are doing the right thing now or if they might be able to work harder?

In an earlier post, you said the following:

"Conventional wisdom is--especially among women--that rather than work more hours, it's wiser to spend the time on relationships and pleasures. I believe that is wrong if your work will do more good overall than the additional time spent on relationships, and especially if you work would not be done or done as well by others."

Are most Americans working below their capacity? Perhaps, but I believe the majority are of more or less average ability. Maybe they're already doing as much as they can. Have you known some exceptional people that could be doing more with their talents, but have chosen not to?

Marty Nemko said...

Dear Anon,

Of course, this is a broad generalization, but I believe that most men are working about as hard as they should, and most women are not.

While there are many exceptions, most women avoid hard out-of-the-home jobs that men take, and the "second shift," is, on average, fairly pleasant. I actually sort of enjoy mopping the floor, doing the laundry, even cleaning the toilet: It's physical, you see the results, etc. Not only is housework not stressful, I find that it's relaxing.


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