Source of Most Problems: Feedback Loops

October 14, 2009

In today’s column, A Minority View: Academic Dishonesty, Walter Williams discusses one of the four feedback loops in our schools that could be fixed to improve the quality of education in our country.

Several times on this blog I’ve advocated that most problems can be traced back to a broken feedback mechanism or loops.  A feedback loop is simply information that we use to course correct.

For example, the sights and sounds we use when driving a car are feedback.  Our brain processes those and pipes physical adjustments to our hands and feet to keep the car on the road, in the lane, operating safely and moving toward our intended destination.

Car accidents often occur because of problems in the feedback or processing of feedback.  Obstructed views, misinterpretation of traffic signals and so forth are common causes of accidents.

I’ve used this idea to explain the problems we see in education result from four limited feedback loops.

  1. Parent choice is limited by the way we fund school districts.
  2. Teacher quality is muted by the rules the teachers’ union have put in place to provide them with job security and protect teachers from arbitrary administrators.
  3. Student grades are muted by several things, some of which are the topic of Walter Williams’ column today.
  4. Student discipline is the limited ability schools have to remove problem children from the classroom.
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