Thursday, September 13, 2007

Competency Based Education for the Incompetent

Lee of Tampa Bay and writes

> Professor: What do you mean by "competency-based education"?
> I live in Tampa Bay. The Hillsborough County school
> superintendent can't punctuate and makes almost $300,000 a year in
> tax money. The board is potted plants that rubberstamp her dopey
> decisions and thinks her illiteracy is irrelevant. She appoints
> buddies to all the high-level administrarive jobs in a long-
> standing patronage system. They fall into Kallikack IQ range.
> Their incompetence is such that they administer by subcontracting
> decisions paid for by the taxpayers on top of their bloated
> salaries; they have trouble following the recommendations of these
> pricey studies due to the Kallikack factor.
> I infer that all the D students went into administration and have
> turned it into a cash-cow racket fo academic weaklings.
> Does this situation fall under your "competency-based education"?
> If so, what's its cure?
> lee drury de cesare

My response:

Hi Lee. I take it that you're responding to a blog I wrote? Competency based education can't begin until the fundamental competencies needed for education are mastered. These include reading, writing, arithmetic and also a fundamental level of ethics needed to function competently. You seem to suggest that your school district is run by individuals who have not been competently educated in the first place, so competency-based education cannot proceed. The solution seems to me to be a voucher system that was proposed by Milton Friedman in his book Capitalism and Freedom 40 years ago. If I may, I'd like to post your inquiry on my blog.

PS--Competency based education is where the instruction focuses on a specific skill, just as you focused on the dead man float when you first learned how to swim and then learned the crawl stroke, one step at a time. Rather than emphasize theoretical development, theory is used to support grasp of the skill. For instance, I do not teach about "personality" in an organization class, but rather about "self-awareness" and the importance of understanding yourself. The concept of personality is one of a number of tools that can be used to understand yourself. Obviously, this kind of approach can't be used if the students are unable to understand the (more elementary) concept of personality and also lack ethical foundations that are needed for learning and for grasping why self-awareness is important.

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