Educational Lessons from Chinese GDP Projections

The Economist recently ran a story based on a Duke/University of Colorado, Boulder study that found a correlation between reported population growth and promotion of Chinese bureaucrats. It seems that the bureaucrats most effective at suppressing population growth had a higher chance of being promoted. The only problem is that the figures reported by the bureaucrats to their higher-ups didn't align with the census data. Essentially, the government officials were fudging numbers to make it look as if they were doing a better job than they actually were--and were being rewarded for it. The extrapolation of this information leads to questions of whether the country's reported GDP is subject to the same fiddling of statistics in order to appear more prosperous than it really is, which would spell major problems for the global economy.

I wonder if the moral compromises or frustration shown by our children comes from the same pressing for results by promise of reward or threat of punishment illustrated here. 

You cant go out to recess unless you finish your homework; you get to go on the field-trip once you have read fifteen books; if you don't change your behavior I'm going to call your parents.

When we make freedom, play, enjoyment, contingent on performance, does it result in a less than desirable product? In the same way, does harshly punishing stealing or lying prevent it's resolution? I would much rather have a child confess to lying or stealing than keeping it hidden. I want that because it encourages the development of character, what David Brooks identifies as an individual's strategy in overcoming their internal weakness. If the punishment is too harsh or the reward too great, it seems that we deny children the opportunity to develop that character by facing their weakness and choosing to overcome it, instead forcing them into a punishment-avoidance or reward-attainment state. The means get lost in the end. 

Pasi Sahlberg, in Finnish Lessons 2.0 argued the same thing to a degree. He stated that the absence of attaching raises, school budgets, job security, and praise to standardized testing, is one of the factors that has lead to Finland securing some of the top scores on the PISA assessments during the last decade. The Finnish school system, he argues, is a system built on trust, not accountability. 

Perhaps its a issue of giving too much weight to data or asking students to perform tasks they don't have the skill sets or scaffolding to achieve. I'm learning that a good amount of student frustration, "apathy," and cheating that I witness in class is due to my lack of equipping or preparing them for a task, not their actual unwillingness. They just don't know how to begin and so then sit there, staring.