Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Diversity of Thinking

For John, BLUFYou need a "no man" on the staff.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

At The Boston Globe is an OpEd by one of my favorite Democrats, Professor Lani Guinier, "Ditch the SATs and ACTs".

Here is the thrust of the OpEd, based on the fact that research shows that a diverse group does better at problem solving than a high testing group.

In 1995, [University of Michigan professor Scott] Page, who had a budding interest in how groups perform, constructed a model that demonstrated that “diverse” groups outperform groups of “high performers.”  First, he gave his students a test.  Based on the results, he formed two groups:  one for the students who answered the most questions correctly and the other for students who individually did worse but who, as a group, contained students who answered every question.  Page found that the second group was better at solving further problems because their various perspectives complemented each other.  Even though everyone in the first group could answer many questions on their own, only the second group had students who could answer the questions the first group got wrong.
That is an interesting observation.  It reminds me of Blogger Greg Page's sometimes tag line, which he took from General George Patton, "If everyone is thinking alike than somebody isn't thinking."  This isn't just Group Think.  This is the idea that a diverse group of people will bring in a diverse set of insights to a given problem.

Here is the last paragraph:

Democracy in a multiracial society requires vigilance and an ongoing commitment at the university level to do two things: educate a diverse group of future leaders and focus more on collaborative forms of problem solving, a format that encourages diverse views and builds on the different life experiences (both historical and contemporary) of men and women, people of color and the children of immigrants, people whose parents went to college and people who will be the first in their families. It is through a collaborative rather than competitive approach to problem solving that the democratic mission of higher education will survive. And it is the democratic mission of higher education — not its concern with finding the “best” photographs or applicants on paper — that underwrites the democratic mission of our great American experiment.
Professor Guinier has an expanded discussion in her January 2015 book, The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America

Regards  —  Cliff

  One of the biggest mistakes of the Clinton Administration was abandoning the appointment of Ms Guinier as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.  And a loss for the nation.

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