Can data determine your child's future in the work force? That's the plan of the Department of Education and the use of the Longitudinal Data System. Student data will be shared with various federal agencies so employers will be able to identify workers fitting their unique requirements.
How dependable is this data in scrutinizing children? According to a recent Wall Street Journal article and the teenage brain, adolescent behavior may not determine the character or future actions of children, and children may have little control over their actions at certain stages. From "What's Wrong With the Teenage Mind":
"What was he thinking?" It's the familiar cry of bewildered parents
trying to understand why their teenagers act the way they do.
How does the boy who can thoughtfully explain the reasons never to
drink and drive end up in a drunken crash? Why does the girl who knows
all about birth control find herself pregnant by a boy she doesn't even
like? What happened to the gifted, imaginative child who excelled
through high school but then dropped out of college, drifted from job to
job and now lives in his parents' basement?
Adolescence has always been troubled, but for reasons that are somewhat
mysterious, puberty is now kicking in at an earlier and earlier age. A
leading theory points to changes in energy balance as children eat more
and move less.
It's a fascinating peek into how teenage brains operate and how they are operating differently than just a few generations ago as society has shifted:
...contemporary children have very little experience with the kinds of
tasks that they'll have to perform as grown-ups. Children have
increasingly little chance to practice even basic skills like cooking
and caregiving. Contemporary adolescents and pre-adolescents often don't
do much of anything except go to school. Even the paper route and the
baby-sitting job have largely disappeared.
The experience of trying to achieve a real goal in real time in the
real world is increasingly delayed, and the growth of the control system
depends on just those experiences. The pediatrician and developmental
psychologist Ronald Dahl at the University of California, Berkeley, has a
good metaphor for the result: Today's adolescents develop an
accelerator a long time before they can steer and brake.
This doesn't mean that adolescents are stupider than they used to be.
In many ways, they are much smarter. An ever longer protected period of
immaturity and dependence—a childhood that extends through
college—means that young humans can learn more than ever before. There
is strong evidence that IQ has increased dramatically as more children
spend more time in school, and there is even some evidence that higher
IQ is correlated with delayed frontal lobe development.
The author makes the argument that children do not have the apprenticeship skills necessary to learn how to attain skillsets and success via repetition and failures. As we have noted previously, they will be judged on data sets and standardized internationally benchmarked tests. Students' futures will be decided from assessments at birth...and into adolescence... and into college or career training. With society changing and brain development differing from past generations, how informative and reliable is this data?
The education "reformers" should ditch the multi-billion dollar plans they have for the taxpayers, parents and children and practice the ancient art of....palm reading...to determine where to channel the human capital in future endeavors. Palm reading might just be as accurate as tracking data from the teenage brain via the Longitudinal Data System (and much cheaper). From firstname.lastname@example.org:
TAIYUAN, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Education authorities in
a north China city on Tuesday banned schools and kindergartens from
carrying out palm-reading tests that could allegedly tell a child's
intelligence and professional aptitude.
"We have issued a circular to criticize the three kindergartens that
offered palm-reading tests for 1,200 yuan (190 U.S. dollars) per
person," said Ma Zhaoxing, education bureau chief in Taiyuan, capital of
Earlier in January, some parents in Taiyuan complained to Xinhua that
they had been offered the test, which could allegedly help them find
out their children's aptitudes in music, mathematics or languages, so as
to cultivate these talents accordingly at an earlier age.
Mei Mingzhi, a company executive with Shanxi Daomeng,
said the test could help determine a child's innate intelligence and
potential and was applicable to all children aged over three months.
The test, however, was described as pseudoscience by Zhao Yulin, a
family education specialist with Shanxi Academy of Social Sciences.
Zhao, who did some research work on palm-reading three years ago,
said the test was originally based on genetics and the
multi-intelligence theory, but had apparently gone beyond science and
could be misleading.
Does data from the Longitudinal Data System (gathered from developing brains of children) go beyond science as well and could be misleading? Just substitute the word "data" for "palm reading" in the article. Could a case be made they are both less than reliable in determining if a child will be successful in life...or not?
The state oversight of private and parochial education is likely to increase slowly, especially along the lines of uniformity in statistics and records, sanitary inspection, common standards of work, and the enforcement of the attendance laws. In particular, the attitude toward the control of the child is likely to change. Each year the child is coming to belong more and more to the state, and less and less to the parent. - Ellwood P. Cubberley 1909