Author Topic: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?  (Read 706 times)

xSilverPhinx

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Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« on: November 02, 2016, 06:11:25 PM »
I used to think that this was a fine idea, swept away but the romanticism of it all, but it's become quite clear it's a rather naïve, bourgeois ideology and due to how the system is set up is used to actually perpetuate social inequalities rather than alleviate them. This system is supposed to allow people to progress based on their intellectual capabilities rather than class or wealth but is based on the assumption that people have equal opportunities, which is blatantly not true. Why sell the idea in gift wrappings, then? What could a government or society that defends this idea seek to gain by perpetuating it?   

   
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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2016, 09:22:45 PM »
I'm in your camp -- I think it would be a great idea if it worked the way it's supposed to.  But it doesn't.
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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2016, 10:58:35 PM »
Same. Although I do buy it, flaws and all.
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Gloucester

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2016, 01:34:07 AM »
A true equality of education system would see all private schools and, in the British system, all grammar and high schools closed. There would have to be a rigidly maintained common syllabus  across the entire education system,  no child would be allowed to be taught any differently from another.  All "home schooling" would have to be banned.

Unless you made it illegal to do so those parents with the financial means will hire private tutors and coaches for their children out of school hours. This would  perpetuate the present system by another means if there was to be any selective tertiary education level. There is no way a non-selective entry system (first-come-first-taken or random) nor a 100% entry system to university could work and produce the quality of graduates.

A common education to 12 and then selection by academic achievement, regardless of social status, into academic and vocational streams would be even more divisive and very expensive. And still require the banning of private tutelage.

I think the biggest problem is not actually the entry system but the elitist "old boy" system where a mediocre graduate of a prestigious uni might be selected over a brilliant grad from a red brick.  I think this is dying out, very slowly.

Also the sheer number of "lower class" unis now in the UK has produced a large number of "lower class" graduates that has made their degrees worth little more than a further education college diploma. Inflation in numbers can equal deflation of quality.

It's not what you know but what you can do in most fields of work. For all its problems the current system, in the UK, at least is hard to better, one hopes that employers will select by merit only in future - I think they are doing so.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2016, 03:54:11 AM by Gloucester »
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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2016, 05:45:12 AM »
Yes, but.

Some kids are just smarter than others. At least in Norway, they are pretty damned likely to go where they want in terms of professional education even without hired tutors or being able to spend hundreds of extra hours on education-related activities.

For instance, places like med schools often have an entry grade average way above what is mathematically achievable at school, and yet the majority of those who attend do come from public education and households within what is considered average. Yes, some may find it difficult to earn them extra credits, but the grade averages are what they are because of that whole supply vs. demand situation, so that's all well and good. We don't need everybody to be a medical doctor.

I think the key point here is that education should be free and widely available, not that it should necessarily be equally easy for everyone to choose whatever path they want. Beyond that, what people want to purchase with their own money to advance their near-do-well offspring should be between them and their accountants.
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Gloucester

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2016, 11:33:48 AM »
Agreed, Asmo, the problem is how to give the very intelligent but poor kid at least the same oportunitiesas the dim but rich one. We, every national we, need those bright kids adequately educated and in the right jobs no matter what their income.

My point with private tuition is that even if equal public education for all - no private schools allowed - those with the means would be able to short circuit the system.

Thus no mandatory action, short of something at dictatorial or totalitarian level, is impossible. We, the present non-totalitarian states, are stuck with our systems I think!

Unlike some of my friends I am for grammar/high schools having friends on ordinary incomes having kids that have achieved entry on merit. Just wish more kids had the same opportunity.

BTW: many years ago my late sister worked in a unit in London for repeat hooky players and disruptive kids. She was only a dinner lady but that meant she was seen as less of an authorative enemy.  She was depressed that most of the kids were really intelligent and wanted to be stretched academically and physically but were held down to the progress of the lowest and slowest learners. They were bored and frustrated rather than criminally inclined.

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2016, 12:04:04 PM »
What could a government or society that defends this idea seek to gain by perpetuating it?
To maintain control of who gets better educated, while making look like it's up to the students. "Oh, you didn't do as well as other students because you're working full time hours in high school to keep your family from starving? Well this is a meritocracy, so your failures are your own fault."

I can't even imagine how it could be done reasonably well in the US, it's tough for a lot of old white guys to see merit in people who do things they don't like. I mean, how many old white guys seem to have a problem with how young minorities dress... as if that has something to do with how well their minds work. We currently cannot make a meritocracy system work with little to no bias.

BTW: many years ago my late sister worked in a unit in London for repeat hooky players and disruptive kids. She was only a dinner lady but that meant she was seen as less of an authorative enemy.  She was depressed that most of the kids were really intelligent and wanted to be stretched academically and physically but were held down to the progress of the lowest and slowest learners. They were bored and frustrated rather than criminally inclined.
I don't understand this, when I was bored in college classes, I learned other things on my own. I mean that's mostly how it worked when I was growing up home schooled, but it just seems like such a simple solution to this problem. There is a library, and now there are many free online sources and courses, there is no reason a child's thirst for knowledge should be stifled. Instead of bemoaning the "slow learners," it could be used as an educational opportunity to teach the children how to learn new things on their own. That's a skill that will serve them much better than learning how to shift the burden of their edification onto other people.

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2016, 02:16:35 PM »
BTW: many years ago my late sister worked in a unit in London for repeat hooky players and disruptive kids. She was only a dinner lady but that meant she was seen as less of an authorative enemy.  She was depressed that most of the kids were really intelligent and wanted to be stretched academically and physically but were held down to the progress of the lowest and slowest learners. They were bored and frustrated rather than criminally inclined.
I don't understand this, when I was bored in college classes, I learned other things on my own. I mean that's mostly how it worked when I was growing up home schooled, but it just seems like such a simple solution to this problem. There is a library, and now there are many free online sources and courses, there is no reason a child's thirst for knowledge should be stifled. Instead of bemoaning the "slow learners," it could be used as an educational opportunity to teach the children how to learn new things on their own. That's a skill that will serve them much better than learning how to shift the burden of their edification onto other people.

We are talking 1960s London here were there were local libraries (that I haunted from age 10) but no libraries in council run primary or secondary schools. This was an area still coming out of a wartime economy,  so, perhaps my anecodote is no longer fully relevant.

However,  there are still problems, still poor parenting, still teachers disillusioned by poor funding and less than sensible assessment and targetting schemes. This can result in poor motivation in kids who are possibly tempted to use their intelligence for less than positive purposes. OK, perhaps most of us had some sort of positive internal motivation, not every kid with a high IQ, and maybe a poor patience, quotient has the right kind of motivation.

Take a look/listen to some of the talks by Ken Robinson



My father took me out of school at the very first possible date. With no certificates I could not get an apprenticeship and did not want to be a labourer or bin man - there were few other opportunities in South East London in the late 50s. I joined the RAF just to get some trade training - a bloody stupid idea as it returned out! We were not really compatible...
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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2016, 04:17:18 PM »
One of our revered early documents claims that "all men are created equal".  I am sad to say that that is not a realistic assessment. We are not all equal in intellectual capacity or in motivational capacity.  Early in our American history it was a given that the nation should be ruled by the ruling class who were thought to be the  more capable  of the genera l populence. 

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2016, 04:48:58 PM »
There are programs to look for gifted students in the USA. I don't know if it's everywhere, but it was in my elementary school and I went to a very poor inner city school. I mean the city is so poor that General Motors was giving it money for it to pay it's bills up until the recession hit.

As far as merit goes, I used to tell kids in middle school (when I moved out of the city and into a white dominant township) that they don't have to worry about being bullied because I've been through that my whole life up until that time and made it through, and so can they. But that all changed when my step mother arrived and the philosophy I was using no longer held water.

So as far as meritocracy goes, it works in some instances, but not all. The thing I would pay attention to most, is the probability: "What is most likely to benefit us?" Casinos use this tactic, and so do companies doing advertising. That is why there is so much money going into advertising and not the product. Because they get more return profit when they spend more money advertising.
But, uh...well there it is.


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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2016, 05:01:23 PM »
A common education to 12 and then selection by academic achievement, regardless of social status, into academic and vocational streams would be even more divisive and very expensive.

I'm a little confused by this, could you elaborate further? :chin:

Quote
Also the sheer number of "lower class" unis now in the UK has produced a large number of "lower class" graduates that has made their degrees worth little more than a further education college diploma. Inflation in numbers can equal deflation of quality.

Yes! :smilenod: It's also a problem here.

Quote
It's not what you know but what you can do in most fields of work. For all its problems the current system, in the UK, at least is hard to better, one hopes that employers will select by merit only in future - I think they are doing so.

I don't know. :chin: I think in many cases it's who you know.
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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2016, 05:24:25 PM »
What could a government or society that defends this idea seek to gain by perpetuating it?
To maintain control of who gets better educated, while making look like it's up to the students. "Oh, you didn't do as well as other students because you're working full time hours in high school to keep your family from starving? Well this is a meritocracy, so your failures are your own fault."

Good ol' fundamental attribution error. :chin:
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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2016, 06:32:00 PM »
One of our revered early documents claims that "all men are created equal".  I am sad to say that that is not a realistic assessment. We are not all equal in intellectual capacity or in motivational capacity.  Early in our American history it was a given that the nation would best be served to be ruled by the ruling class who were thought to be the  more capable or the more well versed in the need or rights of the general citizenry.  Over time, it has occurred that the better , more capable, more cerebral, more altruistic candidates have become all but extinct.

Meritocracy is a worthy concept, too bad that it has not worked very well for our society.   

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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2016, 07:59:39 PM »
One of our revered early documents claims that "all men are created equal".  I am sad to say that that is not a realistic assessment. We are not all equal in intellectual capacity or in motivational capacity.  Early in our American history it was a given that the nation would best be served to be ruled by the ruling class who were thought to be the  more capable or the more well versed in the need or rights of the general citizenry.  Over time, it has occurred that the better , more capable, more cerebral, more altruistic candidates have become all but extinct.

Meritocracy is a worthy concept, too bad that it has not worked very well for our society.
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Re: Meritocracy -- Any merit to the idea?
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2016, 10:29:55 PM »
Yes but we all know Abraham Lincoln couldn't do math. It was not "7 years ago" at the time of his speech. So, we know merit does not qualify you to be apart of the elite class of citizens. Again, just look at Donald Trump with his "small loan of a million dollars and now people want him to be President. And even if he doesn't make it, he still has a huge celebrity reputation to turn back to and more money then we could imagine. And does he deserve it? No!
But, uh...well there it is.