FRIDAY, APRIL 15, 2022
...and tackles Gifted and Talented: We'll recommend two fascinating articles about two public school issues.
In this morning's New York Times, a news report describes Mayor Adams' "plan to expand [New York City's] gifted and talented classes for elementary students."
Meanwhile, at the Washington Post, Kate Cohen presents an opinion column in which she reacts to the state of Florida's now-famous "Don't Say Gay" law.
Anthropologists are telling us this:
These articles help display the limits to human reason. The world-class experts to whom we refer break it down like this:
Our species is rather good at developing reliable technologies, these scholars tell us. (Examples: We can travel from New York to Los Angeles in roughly five hours. Also, every time you hit the switch, the lights in your house come on.)
We've done sound work in the general area of construction and technology. But according to these unnamed scholars, things go sideways rather fast when it comes to everything else.
Let's take a look at the record! The news report about Gotham's gifted and talented classes appears beneath this headline:
New York City to Expand Gifted and Talented Program but Scrap Test
That said, the "expansion" in question is remarkably slight. Also, the logical howler which dogs these efforts remains unaddressed in the mayor's plan.
That logical howler is this:
If lots more kids could benefit from the GATE program, why not admit all such kids to such classes? Why does the mayor plan to assemble a list of names and then conduct a lottery, with a limited number of qualified kids admitted to these classes?
This logical groaner just never quits, nor does the Times ever notice. We just don't reason especially well, disconsolate scholars insist.
With respect to Cohen's column, experts say it shows what happens when tribal division and partisan anger grow.
The state of Florida has come up with a rather fuzzy law, one which has a strong performative cast. It feels like the sort of thing politicians sometimes do to give constituents the impression that their concerns are being addressed.
Cohen doesn't like the law; she especially doesn't like Others. She raises absurd objections to the law. She never gets around to addressing the basic question:
What can we the (various) people do, as a nation or as a state, to address the concerns which seem to animate this fuzzy new law?
Cohen acts like the apparent concerns are silly, foolish, stupid, absurd. We're willing to guess that this just isn't so, and that we can demonstrate some such fact.
But Cohen goes straight to the kind of tribal derision which only drives nations apart. She's convinced that her reactions are right, and she's willing to cede no ground.
We may discuss Cohen's column next week. Experts say it's an excellent example of the wrong way to tackle such matters.
Our species is good at building tall buildings. According to frustrated major experts, things tend to go downhill from there.