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jrlewis's picture

Diversity vs. Ability

Scott Page's is an advocate of affirmative action, who has taken a novel approach to proving the value of this controversial policy. He asserts that diversity is more advantageous than ability in a problem-solving context. This is a powerful claim, however, it is attached to a string of qualifiers.

In a paper co-authored with Lu Hong, he presents the mathematical model and proof for his argument. The model appears overly simplified. It is not clear that diversity is always more valuable than ability. I did not understand from the paper whether or not there was a minimum level of ability requisite for inclusion in the group of problems to be chosen at random. If there was such a criteria, it might detract from the strength of his assertion. Also, in the conclusion of the paper, the authors mention that their model does not take learning into account. Do they mean that the diversity of perspectives and heuristics in a problem solving community will either increase or decrease with learning? What sort of role are they proposing for education?

That sort of role do we think education should play with respect to diversity? In the traditional model of education, the student body was assumed to be homogeneous and the education students received was identical within a single school. Currently, with different teachers, tracking, electives, and differentiated instruction students educations within a single school may be diverse. How much does this educational diversity create diversity of perspectives and heuristics in potential problem solvers? How does this diversity interact with diversity due to race, gender, ethnicity, and more?

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