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This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Two problems with two theories

The biggest problem with a theory of rational economic behavior is not that humans are irrational (though they often are) but that rational economic incentives under-determine human behavior.  Given that we have to act rationally and maximize some measure of self-interest (usually a monetary return, but not always) there are multiple ways to get there.  A glance at the great variety found in human endeavors, in business models, in industrial practices, etc. should be enough to persuade one of that.

The biggest problem with technocratic approaches to education is not that students are complicated (though they are) but that even if you knew enough to optimize some measure (whether an evil standardized test or a progressive concepts inventory that looks remarkably similar to a standardized test or some more holistic measure of "critical thinking" or whatever) you would still be under-determining what you can/should do in the classroom.  There would still be multiple ways to get there, and culture and values would enter into the choices.

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