Or, rather, people with PhDs in "the evaluation of innovation."
Here's some wisdom from one such Innovation Doctor, Marty Nemko (Ph.D, Berkeley), as broadcast this past weekend in the Washington Post:
People on both sides of the aisle agree that the best way to create new, permanent jobs is to create more (and ethical) entrepreneurs. Here’s one way to create them: Replace one high school course with a course in entrepreneurship.Which course? You guessed it: high school geometry. After all, the Common Core Standards (the ultimate authority on what geometry really is), has included the following abstrusity in its discussion of high school geometry:
“Transformations (rigid motions followed by dilations) define similarity in the same way that rigid motions define congruence.”Nemko notes that:
The most commonly offered defense of requiring a year of geometry in high school is that it teaches thinking skills. No less than Plato believed that so strongly that he had “Let no one ignorant of geometry enter” engraved over the entrance to the The Academy.It takes an Innovation Doctor like Nemko to explode this millennia-old rationale with the following rehetorical bombshell:
I have yet to be presented with evidence that teaching thinking skills in an abstract context such as geometry yields better real-world thinking skills than if taught in a real-world context, such as in a course in entrepreneurship, personal finance, or conflict resolution.Ah, yes, real world math. Where have we heard that before? But is entrepreneurship the only real-world application that matters for our ailing economy? What about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)? At the risk of evincing similar hubris, I humbly offer the following response to Nemko:
I have yet to be presented with evidence that teaching thinking skills in a real-world context, such as in a course in entrepreneurship, personal finance, or conflict resolution, yields a better foundation for STEM development than if taught in an academic context, such as in a course in geometry.So there.
We're left with one question. Which of kind of "thinking skills"--thinking skills for entrepreneurship, or thinking skills for STEM r&D-- is better taught in the classroom, and which is better learned out in the real world?