Saville's Shout

Feb 24, 2014

Saville’s Shout: school’s out at Google … financial advice: don’t bother …

Do you really need a university education? And should you pay for secondary school? Plus why a blind monkey could invest better than your broker.

Margot Saville — <em>Crikey</em> Sydney reporter

Margot Saville

Crikey Sydney reporter

We don’t need no education. As tertiary students around the country pack their bags for O Week, parents are turning their minds to the issue of what they are actually getting for their money. Anyone who thinks the purpose of higher education is employment should read Thomas Friedman’s column in The New York Times, “How to Get a Job at Google“.

In it, Laszlo Bock, Google’s head of “people operations”, is quoted as saying that “GPAs [grade point averages, or university results] are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless … We found that they don’t predict anything.” He also notes that the “proportion of people without any college [university] education at Google has increased over time” and is now as high as 14% on some teams. Bock says the most important attribute managers are looking for is general cognitive ability, which is not the same as IQ:

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13 thoughts on “Saville’s Shout: school’s out at Google … financial advice: don’t bother …

  1. Richard Pennycuick

    “Independent” schools is what private schools choose to call themselves. They’re getting money from the public purse so “independent” is a misnomer in the same league as those other lies, “free to air” television, and “Liberal” Party. Please call them private schools or religious schools, because that’s what they are.

  2. Catherine Scott

    I published an article in The Conversation about a year ago in which I reported on research I’d done using school results available on My School. The only possible conclusion I could reach was that you can’t predict the academic outcomes of any school purely on the basis of the system it belongs to (Justine Ferrara I think it was found something similar a few years ago).

    There were good bad and indifferent private, Catholic and public schools. In truth the only schools I found where children’s attainments went backwards were some very pricey private schools, however.

    I got some pretty nasty comments but I haven’t had to go into the witness protection program.

  3. Shaniq'ua Shardonn'ay

    Re: Financial advisers; we had one ring and ask where he could do a short course to become a Certified Property Valuer. He got very narkey when we pointed out that he would probably have to do at least 2 year postgrad. Says all I needed to know about the professionalism of that industry.

  4. Margot Saville

    Fascinating. Thanks for the comments.

  5. Dogs breakfast

    As an uncredentialled employee of a major university, I am forever amazed at the lack of correlation between tertiary education and intelligence, or effectiveness, or the very good term used here, ‘cognitive ability’.

    Re schooling, yes, anyone with the slightest analytical skills will know that sending your kids to a private, or independent, let’s just call it expensive, school is unquestionably the poorest investment you can make.

  6. Dom

    You didn’t cite The New Yorker but I’m pretty sure Jasper Lambsharkssen (and his book) is something they just made up.

  7. Freddy T

    The argument regarding public versus private is almost always full of emotion and anecdotal experiences. You’d need an excel spreadsheet to document all the different factors that contribute to a single students achievements. It’s all about choice and there’s nothing wrong with that. I chose my child’s school based on a multitude of factors. In my opinion class sizes were very important. My kids were in classes of 12-14 in junior school and in year12 classes of 8-12. I knew the teachers and other parents well. I was involved in my community.
    All kids deserve funding for their schooling. If I pay extra that’s my choice. I respect your choice not to.

  8. obama44

    Freddy T: Why should public money be used to subsidize private choice? Public money ought to be for public services. A school which is only open to students from households that can afford a particular fee, or that subscribe to a particular religion, is not open to the entire public. Therefore it is not providing a public service and the case for public subsidy is very weak indeed. People are free to consume a private service but they ought to pay for it entirely with their own private means.

    Everybody benefits from a well-funded public education system – including people who send their children to private schools and people who don’t have children at all. We all benefit from living in a society of mass literacy, high levels of knowledge and skill, and low levels of crime and anti-social behaviour. In the end it is the public schools, which accept all comers, that make these outcomes possible. Therefore everybody should be required to pay their full, fair share of taxes towards public schools – no refunds, no rebates.

  9. Margot Saville

    I so hope The New Yorker wasn’t pulling my leg…perhaps I’ll have to write my own version, starting with the story on the front page of the SMH today about the King’s School old boy and the will.

  10. Catherine Scott

    After I’d seen the boost for Gillespie’s book I (virtually) toddled off to Amazon and downloaded it on to my Kindle. It’s a mixed bag.

    Truly the more you know the more you see and the author’s interested amateur status shows to those of us with expertise in the area of education.

    A lot of the material he cites comes from the States and it helps to understand the background and context.

    With the unleashing of the neo-liberal dream of the market as sole model for everything and the attack on the idea let alone the reality of public services, wealthy interests came to see (and advocate for) the spending of money on public education as a waste. That money should go to them you see. Increasingly US public schools have been shut down and the right to educate kids sold off to for profit providers, many or most of whom know nothing about education and a worryingly large number of whom have turned out to be dishonest in varying degrees. The US is now in the somewhat gobsmacking situation of having many of its once public schools in the possession of a Turkish business and all the schools in that ‘chain’ now have Turkish men as principals.

    The people who thought the money for running schools should go into their pockets rightly realised that teachers, whose motives are looking after and educating kids, would object to the sale of education to those whose only interest was making money. The money men started a campaign against teachers and teachers’ unions. EDUCATION IS A MESS AND IT’S ALL TEACHERS’FAULT!

    Unfortunately it has been so successful that even people in Australia, like Gillespie, have bought it lock, stock and barrel and regard teachers and unions as the enemy.

    When Enron went belly up no-one blamed the employees, but somehow it’s acceptable to blame the employees when Australia’s education system starts to under-perform. Teachers have very little power over most of what goes on in education. The real culprits are those who have encouraged Australian society and its education system to become more unequal. There is a clear relationship between (in)equality and educational outcomes, one you can see graphed beautifully in OECD reports on education. The relationship between Australia’s increasing inequality and declining educational performance is a beautifully linear one.

    Gillespie probably doesn’t know this and relies on what he reads in the papers. He should have checked the facts about the massive fraud concerning the ‘outstanding success’ of selling off Louisiana schools to for profits before he retailed it as fact.

    So, if you want to see Australian public education sold to overseas interests (they are eyeing our ‘market’ as we speak) then go right ahead and countenance attacks on our teachers as lazy, worthless know-nothings.

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