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Some Thoughts on Education and Political Priorities

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Dominic Cummings, a special adviser to UK education minister Michael Gove, discusses technological advances (quantum computing, 3D printing, energetics etc.), genetics, expert judgement, finance and many other topics with the focus on how education policy has to cope in order to train problem solvers for the coming challenges.


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Dominic Cummings, a special adviser to UK education minister Michael Gove, discusses technological advances (quantum computing, 3D printing, energetics etc.), genetics, expert judgement, finance and many other topics with the focus on how education policy has to cope in order to train problem solvers for the coming challenges.

41 review for Some Thoughts on Education and Political Priorities

  1. 4 out of 5

    Owlseyes

    "We need leaders with an understanding of Thucydides and statistical modelling, who have read The Brothers Karamazov and The Quark and the Jaguar, who can feel Kipling’s Kim and succeed in Tetlock’s Good Judgment Project." "The education of the majority even in rich countries is between awful and mediocre. In England, few are well-trained in the basics of extended writing or mathematical and scientific modelling and problem-solving." He's been a critical voice about the EU for some years n "We need leaders with an understanding of Thucydides and statistical modelling, who have read The Brothers Karamazov and The Quark and the Jaguar, who can feel Kipling’s Kim and succeed in Tetlock’s Good Judgment Project." "The education of the majority even in rich countries is between awful and mediocre. In England, few are well-trained in the basics of extended writing or mathematical and scientific modelling and problem-solving." He's been a critical voice about the EU for some years now. Clearly, an engaged Brexiteer. Now, Boris allowed him in 10 Downing Street. For sure he maybe be an important and instrumental view regarding Education and the bigger picture for the troubled times ahead in the UK. Some nasty voices called him the British Rasputin. Hmmm maybe because he speaks Russian? Hmmm please don't tell me more about the word "collusion".... --- I wrote the above text about 1 month ago. Cummings has been in the news (UK and abroad) almost daily. And, portrayed quite negatively, most of the time. Now you have it. Someone (Jenny Keating) thinks he might be a Putin's agent. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/... https://www.theguardian.com/commentis... PS the former The Guardian piece is the first in months, where I see Cummings smiling...., all previous photos published were quite different. It makes me wonder. --- This is an essay about “complex systems” especially addressed to people between 15 and 25 years of age. It’s meant to introduce what Cummings calls “”trans-disciplinary thinking”, a sort of synthesis of several disciplines. The author calls it “Odyssean curriculum, that group of disciplines. So the book approaches the next topics: (1) Maths complexity and prediction (2) Energy and space (3) Physics and Computation (4) Biological engineering (5) Mind and machines (6) the Scientific method, Education and training (on how to introduce children into “advanced ideas”). Of course, many politicians aren't capable of that kind of "thinking", Cummings argues. --- UPDATE Devastating analysis of ("maverick") Cummings by Stefan Collini: https://amp.theguardian.com/politics/... https://www.theguardian.com/commentis... UPDATE He's out but not over

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anthea Whitmarsh

    There are some worrying assumptions in this essay. The author argues that maths is the key to political problem solving and that lack of advanced maths is the reason British politicians and business leaders are not good at their jobs. I oversimplify here but this is the thrust of the essay. If only more of the population were better at advanced maths then we would be better equipped to deal with complex systems. The UK should become known above all for its brilliant education and science, the au There are some worrying assumptions in this essay. The author argues that maths is the key to political problem solving and that lack of advanced maths is the reason British politicians and business leaders are not good at their jobs. I oversimplify here but this is the thrust of the essay. If only more of the population were better at advanced maths then we would be better equipped to deal with complex systems. The UK should become known above all for its brilliant education and science, the author argues. Some of the essay is quite beguiling. Rethinking what education does and questioning received wisdom is healthy. Some of it is less so. Abolish the national curriculum says the author - which seems to suggest freedom - but have teachers (who can only be considered of average intelligence) 'deliver' lessons to a tight prescription or - even better - direct students to online lessons in the sky of the internet. The interaction of students in a group guided by the teacher who knows its members is disregarded here. Due to being of only average intelligence teachers should not be allowed to be authors of the lessons they teach. They should not be permitted to think in front of their students. So whose thinking would be considered valid? The essay quotes Nietzsche quite frequently. And this is the problem. In Cummings' universe no one is fit to have their own point of view unless it is validated by some form of superior thinking and that mainly means abstract reasoning such as advanced maths or philosophy. Other more concrete and humanistic forms of 'reasoning' such as literary criticism, or musical composition, or visual art practice, or dance, or creative writing, or woodwork, or athletics or even practice of religion are subordinate and, by implication, lesser kinds of knowledge. Yet it could be argued that these other kinds of knowledge and the thinking they involve are just as capable of solving intractable problems as maths. It just so happens that the people who have traditionally done better in most of these subjects - ie girls - are not of much interest to the author. I assume they are not because there is no mention of them in the whole of the essay. In its world view women are obliterated from thought and history, education and science - along with the feminist thinkers who have challenged this essay's mind/body split. The absence of women is one reason why the system proposed is so regressive. It's not that girls can't do Maths and science as well as boys. Of course they can. But the abstract reasoning which is valued so highly in Cumming's world view is such a partial type of knowledge and it is one that seems designed to exclude simply by making itself the sole measure of excellence. While pretending it wants to include more people, it exludes them by universalising its own tendentious and narrow perspective. It is a version of excellence which exludes most people and most forms of knowledge, forms of knowledge which may value empathy, for instance, or ethics, or cooperation with nature. The author should not worry that the education system is not exclusive enough. Exclusion is something the education system - including supposedly comprehensive schools - already does very well.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Simon Cole-Savidge

    Nebulous effort to represent his vision of an Odyssean education. The through-line in Cummings' relatively non-linear treatise is based on Nietzschean metaphors from Ancient Greek plays, applying to the current (according to him, mediocre) landscape of education the characteristics of the Apollonians (order, reason, sculpture), Dionysians (chaos, instinct, music) and Odysseans (a synthesis of the Apollonian skill of rationality with the Dionysian skill of intuition). He is an autodidact who eleva Nebulous effort to represent his vision of an Odyssean education. The through-line in Cummings' relatively non-linear treatise is based on Nietzschean metaphors from Ancient Greek plays, applying to the current (according to him, mediocre) landscape of education the characteristics of the Apollonians (order, reason, sculpture), Dionysians (chaos, instinct, music) and Odysseans (a synthesis of the Apollonian skill of rationality with the Dionysian skill of intuition). He is an autodidact who elevates the Odyssean philosophy but seems to have created a Dionysian rationale. Beyond intellectual grandstanding and unwieldy quotation (that reject apt specificity), this is obviously a Conservative message: get schools out of a cycle of mediocrity by unshackling them from the unions so that headteachers can hire and fire at will with a micromanagement approach. Tougher tests, social mobility and making subjects intersecting and multidisciplinary (to combine combine the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the arts and humanities). Whilst there are interesting flourishes, it fails to hold up as a compelling form of praxis for future educational policy, but has enough cerebral infographics to cause certain factions to fawn.

  4. 5 out of 5

    shenzhuxi

    https://dominiccummings.files.wordpre... It's a piece of inspiring work. I fully agree with the author's disappointment with the UK education. I'm glad to see that there are still some people like the author can read a lot and write a lot. Well, since the author has been to Oxford, he should... But if this is the result of "He then proceeded to spend two and a half years in a bunker he and his father built for him on their farm in Durham, reading science and history and trying to understand the w https://dominiccummings.files.wordpre... It's a piece of inspiring work. I fully agree with the author's disappointment with the UK education. I'm glad to see that there are still some people like the author can read a lot and write a lot. Well, since the author has been to Oxford, he should... But if this is the result of "He then proceeded to spend two and a half years in a bunker he and his father built for him on their farm in Durham, reading science and history and trying to understand the world" (https://www.conservativehome.com/thet...), his time could have been just wasted. Firstly, the structure of the book is poor: the essay ended at 133 and from page 134 to page 237 are the endnotes. Even most parts of the essay itself are the author's reading list and book notes. Maybe they were put together to show how knowledgeable he is. Over-quoting is another symptom. Secondly, if you skip section 1 to 6 about science and just read the proper works in these fields, you can understand things better. However, the author's awareness of technological singularity is impressive, since he doesn't have any STEM degree, and that made the over-quoted section 7 "Political economy, philosophy, and avoiding catastrophes" worth to read. Thirdly, the author didn't put a number on the front of "Science, technology and markets: Europe (open, competitive, innovative) versus China et al (closed, hierarchical, conservative)", but it is long enough to be a separated section (and it's also off-topic). I'm pretty sure that the author can't read and understand the Chinese language. When he talked about China, it's awkward to read. But we have to aware that his knowledge about the world outside the west is still above average since he tried hard to appeal to data. We have to remember that our foreign policies are usually made by people like him. He quoted Sun Tzu pretty well but failed to build the connection between Sun Tzu and the Game Theory he talked a lot. Lastly, the "Political philosophy" part (also not section number...) is the most valuable part of this essay, partly because the author had climbed well on the tower of power. He showed the quality beyond the average people's left and right binary mind. The length of the previous sections should have filtered out that kind of readers already.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Admire the intellectual honesty. Will turn my attention to complexity science, AGM models etc.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Suhrob

    Essential reading, far beyond the awful, ill-informed controversy it spawned in the media about the eternal poisonous apple of genetical basis of intelligence. That is not to say it shouldn't be read critically, but it should be read in the first place. Full text available at various locations on the web.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Reinhardt Vogt

    A tour de force about and a request for integrative thinking and an 'Odyssean education' (Gell-Mann) by a brilliant special adviser to the former UK Secretary of State for Education.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Siebren Maenhout

  9. 5 out of 5

    Thibault Quillard

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sahil Handa

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ifty Mohammad Rezwan

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mary Burston

  13. 5 out of 5

    Willy

  14. 5 out of 5

    Torstein Ones

  15. 5 out of 5

    Risto Saarelma

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tom Spencer

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rupert Nlseio

  18. 4 out of 5

    Floating Boy

  19. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Gertler

  21. 4 out of 5

    Krishaan Khubchand

  22. 4 out of 5

    Antoni

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kirjavilttimiitti

  24. 4 out of 5

    mikko

  25. 4 out of 5

    Aayush

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kamariddin Sharapov

  27. 4 out of 5

    Max Martin

  28. 5 out of 5

    Karl Renner

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Poole

  30. 5 out of 5

    Blaze Black

  31. 5 out of 5

    Aksel

  32. 5 out of 5

    Kabir

  33. 4 out of 5

    Ajeya Sriganesh

  34. 5 out of 5

    Marc Adam

  35. 4 out of 5

    Nadia

  36. 4 out of 5

    Wouter

  37. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

  38. 5 out of 5

    Sandy Maguire

  39. 5 out of 5

    RBenstead

  40. 5 out of 5

    Gargantua

  41. 5 out of 5

    Nick Fox

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