Experts Versus Civilians


David Winston and I discuss the upcoming election in a Bellwether Linkedin Live you can watch via this link. Among other professional work David is on the CBS decision desk for election night, so it’s an opportunity to hear how a professional thinks about the upcoming election. President Biden has his work cut out for him, especially on the economy, but the election is far from settled.

You can view this video here.

Earlier this week I wrote about an overlooked education aspect of the Harrison Butker discourse: The ‘Sir, this is a Wendy’s’ problem:

It seems almost certain that on one of the most special days in their life Butker made someone feel small, bad, or excluded when there was just no reason to do so and he could have made his broader points absent that. I’m not arguing for safetyism, thought and word policing, or any of the other absurdities infecting public discourse. I’m just pleading for manners and decency. For time and place.

My Bellwether colleagues Julie Squire, Marisa Mission, and Paul Beach look at the role of navigators in a high choice environment.

In this home we believe science is real…

Caitlin Clark discourse has been something, huh? It’s hard to miss the gap between actual experts and then the politicians and folks on Twitter/X and armchair types when it comes to discussion of why Clark won’t be on the Olympic roster. The experts talk about differences with the international game, experience, defensive prowess, and physicality. From others it’s talk about her media appeal, excitement, or role in the culture war.

This is a common thing with sports, everyone has an opinion but the experts see almost an entirely different game than the one casual fans watch. I remember watching an MLB baseball game once on TV at a bar with the wife of someone who was playing. There was a guy there vocal and full of opinions about all the mistakes that the manager was making in how he was using the bullpen. After a bit she calmly explained, in an almost My Cousin Vinny-style, all the dynamics this person was missing and why the manager was playing his hand OK.

My own ‘welcome to the NFL’ introduction to this was a few years ago doing some work with Brendan Daly, then a coach for the NFL Rams. The project was about what teaching coaching can learn from NFL coaching, but what was quickly clear to me talking with him was how little even people who consider themselves serious fans really understand about the subtleties of the NFL game – especially the action away from the ball on each play.

This is true in most domains. A gap between how things actually work and how most observers think they work. It’s why it’s useful to seek out professionals. It’s why you probably shouldn’t bet a lot on sports unless you’re a professional gambler.

All this is why I recommend this new podcast from Alex Grodd on transgender medicine. Alex has Dr. Erica Anderson and Dr. Jack Drescher, two specialists who don’t entirely agree, on his Disagreement podcast to discuss the state of evidence and practice. But what they really disagree with is the popular discourse around the issue – on the political right and the political left. That has education implications.

Listen here.

The gap between how these two talk about these issues and what you hear in the public debate, and from leaders in our sector, is startling. For starters they are dismissive of the idea that that schools should socially transition kids absent their parent’s involvement and consent – something of an article of faith with a lot of people in our sector and credulously repeated by journalists. They parse what are complicated medical questions that have been boiled down to slogans by activists on both sides of this issue and also too often accepted uncritically.

Anderson’s work has been especially valuable to me as I’ve tried to learn about this issue and its policy implications and she’s personally been quite brave, empirical, and anti-tribal in how she’s approached these questions. Both she and Drescher are thoughtful and measured.

And where kids are involved is that, rather than activist capture, political sloganeering, and all the rest too much to ask for?

Friday Fish

Steve Rees, an education maven whose photographic work has appeared in various Grateful Dead and Bill Graham retrospectives, wrote a must-read review of Street Data, one of the most popular PD books in education right now.

He also knows his way around a trout stream. Here’s a fish his son caught in the Catskills on a trip the two of them took recently:

Yes. Here is a unique archive of hundreds of pictures of education types with fish they’ve caught. Send me yours!

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