On Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 9:42 AM, Robert Hansen <email@example.com> wrote:
<< SNIP >>
> I was drawn to this discussion because I have been searching for an idiom > to best describe an unreasonable situation that often occurs in education. > For example, it is noted that successful college students often take AP > classes and it is noted that many disadvantaged students who aren't > successful in college, don't take AP classes. Thus, in order that more > disadvantaged students be more successful in college, they must take more > AP classes. Another version is that it has been noted that students who > take algebra in the 8th grade are more successful with algebra, thus all > students should take algebra in the 8th grade. While the idioms above > relate to unreasonable situations involving order or control, these > unreasonable situations involve cause. Obviously, the reasons for students > taking AP classes or algebra in the 8th grade begin many years earlier. But > not according to the political science of education. > > Bob Hansen
My own point in using the phrase / meme was in response to Joe's point that much-younger-than-high-school-aged kids may learn to program. I don't disagree with his point but think more leverage will come from investing in a "sweet spot" between Algebra and high school graduation / equivalency.
I guess you could say I believe in "trickle-down economics", so discredited by many thinkers, if that concept is applied to curriculum content in the grade schools. As the targets shift in the upper grades, so do the lower grades shift to accommodate, as they should. If older sister and older brother are studying Fibonacci numbers via the mechanism of Python generators (per my Wikieducator writings), then younger sibs will take note.
A lot of culture percolates from older to younger, but still within a single generation (especially when you're a pre-adult, those close to you in age often seem easier to compare with one's self, and so get special focus e.g. you focus on your slightly older brother, not "grownups").
Developing CS-enabled algebra + geometry + stats type courses, complete with cellular automata ala Conway and Wolfram, fractals ala Mandelbrot, polyhedrons ala anyone into visual arts: that's the dog wagging the tail in my account, looks really promising.
On the other hand, instituting these reforms in elementary school (e.g computer programming) and expecting those to "trickle up" is more a "tail wagging the dog" or trying to, situation. I am suspicious of those who romanticize the "precocious youngster" as stealing too much energy from the older teenager, still in desperate need of information about the surrounding culture, how it does business, organizes its affairs.
Now there's a whole other discussion that starts when someone comes along and says: "but don't the colleges and universities "wag" high school much as high school "wags" elementary school?"
Here I'd say that depends on many regional / local factors.
I've been arguing that what wags high school is actually a very complicated mix and not at all a cultural constant.
You might say the dog is "multi-headed" in which case you would be venturing into mythological territory, wherein it becomes tempting to draw all sorts of additional analogies. A good stopping point, in other words.