Productivity slowdown reported in The Economist

Date: 25 July 14
By: Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng., 2252 Joyce St., Burlington, ON Canada L7R 2B5, 905 634 9538
For: Editors, The Economist, London, U(?)K
Re: ” … productivity [was] growing at around 3% per year … ” July 19, p. 33

Dear editors:

Slowdown in productivity can be assigned to no small extent to two factors:

* Billions of good manhours per year are drained away by the seductive lure of Information Technology. It provides games, porn, movies, iTunes, smart phones, tweets, tablets ad nauseum, much of which is NVA (No Value Added) activity. Some demographic sectors acknowledge spending five and more personal hours per day looking at screens, some of it on Company time. This time must come from somewhere; much of it was once spent in useful, Value Added activity. Some of this lost time would have increased production; some would have increased productivity.

* Users struggle with badly designed and poorly executed software. The software bundled with this computer, for instance, is untested, buggy, unfriendly, error-prone, unpredictable, non-intuitive, unstable, illogical and mystifying. Many microcomputers are today the fabled thousand-dollar-doorstops as their owners have gone back to earlier generations of machines that worked. Thirty years ago it was possible, on a clunky Osborne (you’re too young to remember, aren’t you?) with (gasp!) 128K of memory, to do month-end accounts for a small business by hitting three or four keys and turning one’s back to do something else for a minute or two. Today the same function requires much longer, part of which time is spent hand-nursing the process, some likely spent repairing program errors; for instance, the unforgivable shortcoming of sorting a spreadsheet without including in the sort the logic in some of the cells.

Info Tech, once our obedient servant making remarkably improved productivity possible, has become our demanding, unforgiving master, adding no value to the economy and indeed subtracting value in many instances; and further, burning up good innovative time spent by users repairing what some idiot in Cupertino has ruined.

And what of the No Value Added activities of the financials, burning up good talent by pumping fictitious dollars into a largely fictitious GDP? Don’t ask.

F.

Education in Ontario – anecdotal evidence

Frank Gue - Education and Politics

GA, Teri.  (Teri Pecoskie is Education reporter for the Hamilton Spectator)

 
Anecdotal evidence, wise statisticians tell us, must not be relied upon; you need masses of data.  But even wiser statisticians assure us: Don’t dismiss anecdotes, because they are data too.  So:  This letter is a bunch of anecdotes.  Hope you can wade through it.  These leads are doubtless too late for your current series, but I hope they give you something for the future.
 
Re gender of students:
 
The education folk in Clackmannanshire, Scotland, ran a well designed formal seven-year-long (horizontal) study to compare the effectiveness of Direct (traditional) Instruction (DI) with Whole Language (WL) instruction.  To the surprise of no one of the many like me, DI came out well ahead of WL.  But to the considerable surprise of everyone involved, certainly including me, an unintended result was that the gender gap vanished.  They don’t…

View original post 693 more words

The “whole language” fiasco

From The Spectator Letters July 11

http://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/4624421-the-ruinous-legacy-of-whole-language-opinion-july-8-/

The ruinous legacy of ‘whole language’ (Opinion, July 8)

James McDonald is right-on with his condemnation of the “whole language” instructional method of teaching reading. That method is difficult, expensive, ineffective, and error-prone.

The “whole language” fiasco is part of an overall problem; the existence of a huge, comfortable, insensitive, expensive government monopoly. At the top is the Education Ministry, producing curricula guaranteed to produce bad results in any subject, particularly math and science. At the bottom is the benighted teacher, doing her best to educate her charges in spite of the monumental blunders being made above her and out of her control.

Part of the solution is to have the government money follow the student, not the district, and to let parents select a school for their kids. The better schools would attract students, leaving the poorer schools to save their skins by learning from their peers how to do better. Of course, selecting a different school is possible today — but only for families wealthy enough (or dedicated and self-sacrificial enough) to be able to afford to pay twice, once to the government in taxes and again to the alternative school in hard, after-tax dollars. Even then, the curricula stand in the way, with education happening in spite of, not because of, them.

We are paying more than enough for our education system but are not getting what we pay for.

Frank Gue, Burlington

Gue’s Law of Government

Date: 13 July 14
By: Frank Gue B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng.,
2252 Joyce St.,
Burlington, ON, Canada L7R 2B5
905 634 9538
For: Editors, The Economist, London, UK
Re: Unshackle the entrepreneurs”, July 5th Edition

Dear Editors:

Let me introduce you to Gue’s Law of Government, or GULAG:

Every government grows without limit until stopped by one of three things: Bloody revolution (France, USA); Economic collapse (USSR); or fiat (Reagan, Harris).

Which would you like?

Cheers,

F.

Education – The Disaster of Whole Language

Date: 9 July 14

By: Frank Gue, B. Sc., MBA, P.Eng.,

2252 Joyce St.,

Burlington, ON L7R 2B5

905 634 9538

To: Letters Ed., The Spec

Re: “The ruinous legacy of ‘whole language’”, July 8

250 words

Good day, Lee.

Mr. James McDonald is right-on with his condemnation of the “whole language” instructional method of teaching reading. That method is difficult, expensive, ineffective, and error-prone.

The “whole language” fiasco is part of an overall problem; the existence of a huge, comfortable, insensitive, expensive government monopoly. At the top is the Education Ministry, producing Curricula guaranteed to produce bad results in any subject, particularly math and science. At the bottom is the benighted teacher, doing her best to educate her charges in spite of the monumental blunders being made above her and out of her control.

Part of the solution to this impasse is to have the Government money follow the student, not the district, and to let parents select a school for their kids. The better schools would attract students, leaving the poorer schools to save their skins by learning from their peers how to do better. There is much scope for this because there is a lot of variability school-to-school in areas of similar family socio-economic status. Of course, selecting a different school is possible today – but only for families wealthy enough (or dedicated and self-sacrificial enough) to be able to afford to pay twice, once to the government in taxes and again to the alternative school in hard, after-tax dollars. And even then, the curricula stand in the way, with education happening in spite of, not because of, them.

We are paying more than enough for our education system but are not getting what we pay for.

F.