Education: The Answer is in the Feedback Loop

The something isn’t working, the reason can always be traced back to a problem in the feedback loop, at least that’s my theory.

There are a lot of studies out there that pin the troubles with education on this, that or the other factors.  But, the real problems are in the feedback loops. 

Recently, my brother and I discussed a study (i.e. statistical model) that showed that individual academic results could be best “explained” by household factors such as level of parents’ education, number of books in the house, etc.  I put “explained” in quotes because statistical models don’t really explain anything, but that’s another discussion.

My brother and I were raised in the same house and yet had different academic outcomes.  We pondered how our story fit with the study.  Having lived through the story, I know the answer. 

My brother and I responded differently to the feedback we received from the education process (parent expectations, grade performance, teacher feedback, etc.) differently. 

One of us decided early on what he wanted to do in life and viewed education as a distraction to achieving that goal.  The other responded much better to the feedback and altered inputs based on that feedback (e.g. studied more, got help from others, actually tried, etc.).

Now, we’re both doing roughly the same in terms of economic output and I’d estimate we have roughly the same potential for future economic production, so that might bring up the question why education is important at all? 

I have the answer for that too.  If the one of us who didn’t have much need for education had taken it seriously, my bets would’ve been on him for having a much greater future economic potential.


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