Wednesday, 4 December 2019

The Thing About Too Much Knowledge

Every three years, the PISA education assessment comes out over test results and the ratings given to countries.  Asian countries tend to do well.....western countries tend to do less well.

I sat and picked up the standard test from 2015, and looked over the language and math tests (used for Brit kids, 15 year old).  The language test was a breeze.  The math test?  It was a fairly indepth test with a worded scenario.

So they show up an oddly shaped apartment (four rooms and a terrace), and then they ask you to select from the nine possible images below (showing different ways to reach a formula with the measurements) reach the square footage for the apartment.

Yes, it is a trick question because the terrace isn't part of the interior.  Because of the nature of this and the nine potential layouts of the will sit and waste a good five minutes over the drawings to find the appropriate one (or plural). 

This brings me around to this two-year period of high-school where I took algebra and geometry.  It's a vast amount of knowledge that this teacher puts on the table, and you (around age 16 and 17) are assembling this, and trying to grasp where exactly you will need this in the future. 

Then you go and wonder about the 500 students that he handled in a decade period, and if any of them went onto engineering classes, did explosives work, built dams, had to calculate cubic feet of a man-made lake, or needed to figure the amount of concrete needed for a 1,388 feet driveway from the main road to their house.  Out of the 500 kids who were 'blessed' with the knowledge....probably less than 40 ever used this algebraic formula situation or geometric formula ever again in life. 

It is part of this problem about value of knowledge, and if you are handing over to people who will readily admit for the next forty years of their life....they just won't ever again touch it again. 

The Weak Choices

Someone stood up and made a pronounced judgement statement this morning....saying that the general problem in this upcoming election that the Democrats have sent up a rather weak and marginal group as candidate possibilities.

I sat and thought about this for a while.

The last time that the primary system had a strong delivery of three potential candidates (roughly divided evenly around the 50 states)....was 1972 (Humphrey, Wallace, and McGovern).  If you remember the outcome....while Humphrey arrived at the convention with slightly more votes, the convention ended up drifting over to McGovern.  Most will say it was a terrible choice, and that Humphrey might have taken a minimum of twenty states in the national election....McGovern took one single state, and it was a dismal defeat for the party.

The 1976 primary season was mostly about Jimmy Carter, a marginal Jerry Brown from California, George Wallace, Henry Jackson and Mo Udall.  Carter had no trouble in winning that primary period.

The 1980 primary?  Carter found himself in deep competition against Ted Kennedy.  Had Ted done better on Super Tuesday, this would have been a curtain-call for Carter, and the convention would have been a more interesting situation.

The 1984 primary? It was for Gary Hart to lose (which he did).  The competition was Jessie Jackson and Walter Mondale (who won in the end).

The 1988 primary? A list of nobodies: Jackson again, Simon (who no one really knew), a young Al Gore, and a governor out of Massachusetts (Dukakis) who couldn't connect to southern voters. 

The 1992 primary? Paul Tsongas (who no one really remembers), Bill Clinton, and Jerry Brown once again. 

The 2000 primary? It was a fairly weak primary season....Bill Bradley and Al Gore. 

Since 2000, you can skip that talk.  Even in 2016, people do remember Hillary and Bernie, but beyond that....the other two guys names are mostly forgotten. 

The chief purpose of a primary period is to stir people up and get them dedicated to voting in November.  If they aren't stirred up.....then a low-turnout will occur. Presently?  I would suggest that at least one Democratic voter out of each three....isn't that thrilled and probably laughs over the bitter marginalized fighting among the dozen-odd candidates left at this point.  The debates?  They didn't really help.

As for the convention?  It really needs to have some type of crazy action coming out of it....if they hope to get 65-million people to show up in November.  Course, maybe they are hoping that three-million dead folks show up and make up for the lack of enthusiasm.