Non-POM Education

One of the basic and essential functions performed in every society is that of education. (Some social sciences call this process "socialization" but all that really means just teaching children what they need to know.) Without education a society ceases to function after a time and everybody dies. It is really that important.

We all recognize that in the modern world, those with more formal education earn more on average than those with less formal education do. It is true that part of that difference has to do with the "union card" aspect of a college or other advanced degree and also some of that difference is a result of the more academically gifted people being better at functioning in a bureaucracy. But some of that difference in income is a result of their actually learning things that make them more productive. Learning to read is one of those really obvious things that help a person to be able to not only learn more things by reading about them but also to be able to do things that a person who cannot read simply is unable to do.
(Picture trying to get information from Google without knowing how to read.)

We can be quite sure, therefore, that with the non-POM money that we propose be used, those who educate others will definitely be paid for their successes. But how is that different from today? Don’t we already have lots of schools both public and private with lots of teachers earning lots of money teaching lots of students?

Yes we do. But think about it. Are those teachers really being paid based on what and how much their students learn? We hear of tests that the students take and we hear that schools lose out if the students don’t do well enough on those tests but are the teachers really being rewarded for doing a good job educating the students or are they being rewarded for glorified babysitting, and arranging for the students to do well on those tests? (Doing well on a test does not necessarily mean that the student has learned anything meaninful)

Also, think back to when you were in school (assuming that you were). How much of the time in school were you bored? Remember how much homework you were assigned? Was that boring? Remember being in a class in which you had already learned what was being taught but you had to sit through going over it again and again? Remember being in a class in which you had no idea what was going on and yet they couldn’t or wouldn’t stop and explain things so you did understand?

These are quite common experiences in a normal school today because of the model of education being used. That model is the "prison factory" model. This model was developed in the 19th century to support the factory system of production in the cities. It’s purpose was to make obedient and docile factory workers who would tolerate endless hours of boring work without complaining.

School is like a prison for the students except that they actually have less freedom in school than do convicts in most jails. Their bodies, which literally need activity, are confined to hard seats. Their minds, which should be learning at great speed as they did when they were toddlers, are slowed to a crawl, going over things which have little or no interest. But as in a factory, each student is considered to be exactly like every other student of the same age/school year. If you are seven years old you must be in the second grade and since it is October you must be learning this and that rather than these things and those things. Each of the "identical" children is processed in identical ways to produce identical products. It’s just like a factory. Deviants are punished by the administration and the other children. Every child is required to use the same learning style whether that fits their talents and abilities or not.

The result of the prison factory model is that formal education actually harms most children and the children learn at about half the speed of their potential. The result is that children generally dislike school. They find it punishing and boring. They much prefer vacation.

So what would be different when the non-POM money is used instead of our current physical object money? To start with, anyone who helps someone else learn something useful will be paid for it. In other words, home-schooling parents would be paid for educating their own children. Persons who tutor others would be paid for providing that help. But that’s just a beginning. The Payers, who will pay for the consequences of people’s actions, will be paying teachers based on their students’ accomplishments in later life. If you teach some student to read who becomes very rich, you will be rewarded accordingly. If you give your students an attitude toward work and working with others which makes them very productive in later life, you will get paid more so long as those students are productive. In short, it isn’t just some multiple choice test which determines a small part of your pay, maybe, it’s everything that student does for the rest of your life that contributes to your pay. Not only that, but the more students you successfully teach, the more you will continue to be paid for the rest of your life as long as they continue to be productive as a result of your actions. Residual income. Long after you decide not to work any more.

But let’s consider something else. In today’s schools the teacher is the one who tests the students and assigns grades to them. This makes the teacher a threat to the students. It also gives the teacher a means to punish students by giving them bad grades for behavior which may have little or nothing to do with what the student has learned. The consequence of this is that many teachers are viewed as the enemy, as an opponent, as a threat. This is not a relationship that promotes education and learning.

In the non-POM economy it is beneficial to students, teachers, parents and others to know how the students are doing. Therefore, those who provide such information will be paid for gathering that information and making it available to those who should know. There currently exists a testing industry which does things like the SAT and ACT and the Iowa Tests and the GRE and so forth. This testing will not stop since it is useful. But I would expect that others would take up that task at all levels in school from kindergarten through, well, throughout one’s entire lifespan. They would be in the business of certifying the knowledge levels of those they test. If one wants to obtain work doing something which requires certain skills, one can be tested and certified on knowledge of that job’s duties. The testing of school-aged children by these independent evaluators can be most useful to the educational system. One of the most beneficial aspects is that the efforts of all those who educate can be evaluated. This helps the payers because it validates who taught what to whom for later credit. This helps the teachers because they will have knowledge of each child’s level before they work with that child, and will have confirmation of their progress. But most of all it helps the teachers because they will no longer need to assign grades and focus on punishment. They will be like "coaches" who may be demanding: but who are obviously on the side of their students, rewarding and working with them to ensure success.

Next consider the organization of the school itself. With everyone in the school being paid based on how the students benefit from being there, the emphasis will be on the actual learning the students do. Who is most important for that (other than the student herself)? Why, the person who is interacting most with the student, right? Is that a teacher, a teacher’s aide, a tutor? If it is a teacher, look at the power that teacher will have. The teacher will be determining the pay of the principal, not the other way around. The teacher only has to indicate a need for school supplies and those who have supplies to give will rush to provide them. There will be no need for school budgets. Each teacher will be responsible for his or her students, no matter what the school policy is and no matter what the state laws are regarding what is supposed to be taught and how. The teacher can do what works best for the students. Helping teachers by providing education techniques which work well can make anyone rich. The faculty, especially the master teachers who are succeeding best with the students, will rule all schools. The education process in the schools will evolve away from the prison factory model toward diversity. School will become fun, interesting and even exciting for students. Why? Because learning things you are interested in learning about is fun! Ask any five-year-old boy if he would like to learn more about dinosaurs. Ask any nine-year-old girl if she would like to learn more about horses. Children, like everyone else, learn best by doing. Schools will incorporate that into education so a school will look very busy. Children will be grouped by interest, knowledge and learning speed because they will learn best that way. There will be far less stress in schools for everyone.

This all comes about when there is consistent feedback and rewards for the success of the students.

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