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Edumakashun does(n't) werk!

By goosedaemon in Culture
Tue May 30, 2000 at 04:20:54 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

It's the end of the school year. I'm sure most of you are happy because of this, since you get to leave a not-very-likable system. This year the members of my grade were invited to write "wills and memories" for future members of their grade. I chose to write something about the problems of school and suggest some ways to fix them.

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...because it's waiting for your ad. So why are you still reading this? Come on, get going. Read the story, and then get an ad. Alright stop it. I'm not going to say anything else. Now you're just being silly. STOP LOOKING AT ME! I'm done!
comments (24)
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I'm sure many of you are thinking "they'll never print that in a school-sanctioned piece of material" and regrettably, you're right.

I discussed how one of the underlying philosophies--sit down, shut up, and soak in what the teacher says like a sponge--simply doesn't work, especially for younger children. Children have a natural ability to learn, and things like being crammed into desks and classrooms cramps it.

I also talked about how school is too one-dimensional. The administration thinks of stuff to teach, gives it to faculty, the faculty teaches it to students, and students forget most of it after the test. It's been my experience (such as it is ) that when students want to learn something they learn it from their peers. It would improve things greatly if there were more inter-student communication. I don't mean "group work", this is still essentially the same as before. More what I mean is removing as much control from teachers, where debatably it never really belonged. Teachers still need to be there, of course--to maintain order and such.

...well, that was about the ghist of it. I probably didn't make much sense, and I doubt I do now. In any case, it was going to be in--I had to edit it somewhat because it was too long, and the English teacher resized stuff so it'd fit (she said I was the only one who was "actually saying anything." ) I thought I might put in two cents about the social system, but figured that would be too inflammatory.

All this went to waste, however, because at the last minute the administration called in and said not to print it. Reasons given were one, it was an editorial, not a will or memory, and two, it put school in a negative light. For comparison a couple others were pulled due to violent content.

I guess the main point of this submission is to ask you: Is there any way to fix the school system's many problems without starting over?

Thank you for reading my incoherency, may you find peace and enlightenment, and all that stuff.


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Edumakashun does(n't) werk! | 70 comments (70 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
This is a very interesting approach... (3.00 / 1) (#8)
by dlc on Tue May 30, 2000 at 11:25:11 AM EST

dlc voted 1 on this story.

This is a very interesting approach to school reform. Perhaps after this has been commented upon for a few weeks, we could Edna could bring together the best comments and repost them in digest format.


Most? Most? I'd wager that more tha... (3.00 / 1) (#5)
by pwhysall on Tue May 30, 2000 at 11:26:50 AM EST

pwhysall voted 1 on this story.

Most? Most? I'd wager that more than half the population of K5 is older than that...

Anyhow, you get a +1 because I think that you're fundamentally right. There's too much emphasis on "learn this fact", "learn that equation", and not enough on teaching children how to learn.
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.

Damn I'm sick of school...... (1.00 / 1) (#22)
by wonko on Tue May 30, 2000 at 11:49:44 AM EST

wonko voted 1 on this story.

Damn I'm sick of school...

After being a University mathematic... (4.00 / 1) (#18)
by J0hn on Tue May 30, 2000 at 11:54:05 AM EST

J0hn voted 1 on this story.

After being a University mathematics instructor for two years, and going through numerous seminars on "New teaching philosphies". I have actually heard this kind of idea before. "Peer Learning" is a very trendy idea right now. There are two problems with this: 1. Students can't teach each other if they don't know what they should be learning. There is a lot of merit to a system of ciruculum design. 2. Even if you try to apply this idea partially, it takes much longer to present material if you rely on "peer learning" instead of traditional "chalk and talk". In high school this may not matter a whole lot, since they often repeat material every year and such, but at the university level, where courses are much more compressed, this can be a problem.

Re: After being a University mathematic... (none / 0) (#37)
by RangerElf on Tue May 30, 2000 at 07:01:20 PM EST

I think what he was trying to say by peer learning was that it's much easier for a student who can't grasp, say, math, to learn it from another student who could catch it from the teacher's explanation, instead of going to the teacher him/herself for personal help.

It's mostly true, I remember my days back in college (yeesh... it's been a while), having to pay through my nose to learn electrical theory. The teachers (all of them) sucked evilly, but there were a few bright students who didn't mind sharing their insight with us slower folk. Same as, during assembler programming classes (cool!), some of us geeks could grok it like it was second nature, we'd help out those less fortunate who couldn't "machine-talk".


[ Parent ]
Re: After being a University mathematic... (none / 0) (#40)
by Skippy on Tue May 30, 2000 at 09:39:54 PM EST

I happen to think peer learning is a good idea as well. My educational experience was (I think) severely abnormal. Through 2 school systems I was taken out of normal classes and put in with the "bright" kids. We would do all the standard classwork for the kids in our grade in 2 hours and then were taugh a bizarre curicculum of logic puzzles, computer usage, advanced reading, and learning theory. In retrospect I think we were being used to skew the test statistics for our crappy ass school. And now for the point - if we could learn all the "required" stuff in 2 hours I think our time would have been much better used by helping other kids. It would have helped cement the learning we did while helping other gets get it the first time.
# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #
[ Parent ]
I find that the value of things lik... (4.00 / 2) (#11)
by jackyb on Tue May 30, 2000 at 12:18:02 PM EST

jackyb voted 1 on this story.

I find that the value of things like school is appreciated much more in retrospect - and I mean months and years after you've left, not before you've left. This isn't to invalidate your opinion; many schools could improve their teaching an awful lot. But at the end of the day, although teachers can and should make more use of modern technology to make school more interesting, the people who get most out of school are the people who put the most in. That may or may not be you! I'm sorry the thing didn't get printed, though; at least it got read through by the people in charge.

The school system in Australia does... (2.00 / 2) (#7)
by inspire on Tue May 30, 2000 at 12:21:44 PM EST

inspire voted 1 on this story.

The school system in Australia doesnt seem to be too borked. I have a few issues with the assessment here but overall things are functioning as they should.
What is the helix?

Re: The school system in Australia does... (none / 0) (#43)
by ramses0 on Wed May 31, 2000 at 12:29:00 AM EST

Could you maybe post some information about how the AU system compares to the US system?

Over here in the states, schools are largely public funded, teachers make ~$30-40k here in Texas, and class sizes average from 20-40, I'd guess.

With all the school shootings, lots of schools are going to "clear backpacks, metal detectors, and zero tolerance" stuff.

Sports are still fairly important (in Texas, especially football), academic competitions are gaining acceptance (like UIL-scholastic competitions, debate teams, chess teams, college bowl/academic decathalon trivia competitions).

Kids are much more "streetwise" nowadays... sex before 18 is fairly common, smoking, drinking, and drug use (like marijuana) are fairly common... in a group of 20, I'd guess more than one is involved with at least one of those things.

Anyway, if if somebody else wants to jump in and correct me, it's been a few years since I've been in high-school. And I'd love to hear about how it works out for AU, etc...

[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]
[ Parent ]

Re: The school system in Australia does... (none / 0) (#48)
by hypatia on Wed May 31, 2000 at 06:09:03 AM EST

I'm not the original poster, but a product of the AU schooling system too, so...

Education is state-based (I'm in NSW), with each state setting it's own curricula. I'll point out the stuff that is NSW-based.

The major assessment for all students is a set of exams at the end of high school. This is not like the SAT, which I gather is standardized, but generally a collection of around 5 exams (I did 11 but I took way over the minimum number of subject requirement, and I did it starting in Year 10) which aren't multiple choice - ie English papers are essay papers etc. It is now almost a standard across Australia that every student is given a score (maximum 100) based on the relative frequency of their mark against everyone else's. Subjects with a better than average candiature get a positive addition to their average mark, subjects with a worse candiature a lower average (to compensate for the fact that, say , in NSW there are 5 levels of maths, and a bright person would do very very well in the bottom 2). University entrance is generally based solely on this score. All schools, public or private, do these exams.

Most schools are publically funded. In NSW, some of the urban public high schools are selctive, accepting about the top 1-5% of 6th graders, based on standardised testing. Australia also has a very strong Catholic education system (which I went through) because initially public schools were seen as either too secular or too Anglican by Australia's Catholic population (large because of Irish convicts). There are also private schools, generally either strongly or notionally associated with a denomination or religion.
At least judging by the tests in NSW, private schools do better than public academically, and the Catholic system worst of all. However the best performing school last year (and always in the top two) was a public selective. The other is generally a private boys school - the only selective private school in NSW.
Private school fees range from ~$2000 - $10 000 AU per year. Public schools are free. Catholic schools cost around $1000 - $2000 per year.

Teachers are paid poorly compared to other degree qualified professionals - salary starts around $30 000 per year and rises to a maximum of $50 000 odd for a senior teacher. Promotion in the public system is almost entirely on seniority, not on merit. There is a very strong teacher's union in NSW that is opposed to merit based assessment of teachers (and to selective schools). Consequently, the entrance score for teacher trainign is around 60 - 70 (medicine and law are ~99, specialist science degrees 80-90, general science or humanities degrees ~60).
There is a predicted teacher shortage in 10 years or so (the average age of teachers is about 40). Class sizes are around 30 in Years K-6, about 25 in 7-10 and 20 or less in Years 11 and 12 (for many subjects - there are about 50 offered around the state - this is the max no of people interested in taking it).

Where I went to school, pretty much everyone drank (I knew two people who didn't by the time I left). Smoking is fairly common, as is drug use and underage sex (probably the stats are not dissimilar to the US).

Schools aren't as security concious. Metal detectors, security guards are unheard of - although some private schools have proposed urine testing known drug users among their students - but this is still big news when it happens. There are incidents of violence in Australian schools (of course), but very very rarely fatal ones, and never to my knowledge has there been a 'school shooting/massacre' leaving many students dead. US school shooting reach front page in Australian papers.

Acceptance of academic acheivement, 'unusual' interests (not even dressing all-in-black or something as 'controversial' as that - an interest in programming is enough) is very much school dependant. Where I went to school, it didn't happen. In some of the private schools and selective schools my uni friends went to, it seems to have been. Sporting acheivement is generally better regarded.

[ Parent ]
Re: The school system in Australia does... (none / 0) (#69)
by ramses0 on Sat Jun 03, 2000 at 10:19:20 PM EST

Thanks a lot for your very interesting response, it's -great- to be able to learn more about other cultures like this.

With all the hoopla about Australia's ~lack~ of privacy laws, (or at least being unfriendly to the privacy of an average citizen), it's surprising to hear that metal detectors and searches aren't more common.

It's also very amusing to hear that teachers around the world have banded together in support of their mediocrity. It really makes me wonder what the best way to encourage bright students is. Is home-schooling really an option?

This has really interested me... i'll probably submit something about it. Thanks again.

[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]
[ Parent ]

Re: The school system in Australia does... (none / 0) (#70)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Jun 06, 2000 at 12:18:11 PM EST

Just for reference the attitude in Oz sounds very similar to schools in the Canadian provices of Ontario and Nova Scotia and probably the rest of Canada. The structure of the school system is different. Nova Scotia no longer has Catholic and Public/Protestant schools. Some but not all provinces have standardized final exams. The private schools do tend to do better then public schools, but then in my experience the people who are sent to private schools are better students so it is hard to tell if the private school programs are that much better then public schools. Canadian class sizes vary greatly but I believe that the max size (by law) for high school classes is 35. The average for urban high schools would be just under the max. As with Oz our teachers have a strong union and you can't get ride of senior incompetent teachers.

The whole vice thing (drugs, sex, rock-n-roll) is bang on.

Most schools that I know of in Canada do not have searches or metal detectors. For the record we do have strong privacy laws but that is not the reason searches are not implemented. It is more of an attitude thing.

We do have the occationaly incident of serious school yard violence. I don't think that it is any worst then 2 decades ago, but the media would like us to think that it is getting worst. I believe that being in school is still much safer then walking to and from school. You are much more likely to get hit by a car while walking to school then getting assaulted.

My public schooling was hardly perfect. I was not properly challenged while in school. As a result most of my educators felt that I was a slacker. I gather that many of you recieved a similar treatment. While in school and for a few years after I felt that the school system sucked. I had my fair share of incompetent teachers. I also had some really good teachers. True educators. People I hated at the time but who pushed me to learn. As I look back on the public education system I have come to realise that it was not that bad. All the time I didn't think I was learning anything but I did. I learnt enough to continue on to university and become a productive member of society.

I see many posts complaining about the lack of specifics taught in public schools. You will never be taught specifics: you will have to learn those on your own. This doesn't only apply to public school or university, but life in general. Several people expect too much from teachers. The majority of teachers are of average intelligence. They can't be expected to know everything. In order for this to change it is not the public school system that has to change. Society has to change.

Our values are warped: education is highly valued, but educators are not. Teachers are some of the least liked professionals. They are resented by many parents for not realising the "genius" of their child. Teachers are often viewed as incompetents who don't know how to teach. A teachers job is viewed as slack with less then 40 hour work weeks and 2 months (!) of vacation a year. Teachers are underpaid, unrespected, and constantly under fire from parents. It is no wonder that after a few years teaching most teachers stop caring and start counting the days to retirement.

[ Parent ]

Most of the problem in most schools... (4.30 / 3) (#3)
by evro on Tue May 30, 2000 at 12:26:50 PM EST

evro voted 1 on this story.

Most of the problem in most schools stems from the administration. At least, that's been my experience. At my school it seemed to be all about bureaucracy and red tape with "what's best for the kids" coming in far from first. I went to school on Long Island, to a school where teachers were paid the 2nd highest salaries on all of Long Island. The number of purely incompetent fools was amazing. While most of my teachers were pretty good, that was probably because I was on "the AP track" since 6th grade. My favorite example of the retarded bureaucracy is the following story: I was asked by the superintendent of the district (who had been the principal when I was in Jr. High) to interview three candidates for a new computer teacher position. This was going to be a person who basically taught the other teachers how to use computers and integrate them into their lessons, etc. So the first person was this woman who, on the tour of the district, spent all her time in the elementary school working with the elementary school kids, and when we got to the HS she was completely disinterested. (My district's idiotic philosophy was to provide computers from the lower grades up, so the elementary school had all-new computers while we in the HS still had green-screen XT's with 5.25" drives) So I thought "well, she seems okay for the little kids but sucks for high school," and since we have kids who are going to be graduating *today* with no computer knowledge, this did not seem like what we needed -- we needed somebody to focus on HS students first. Okay, so the second guy, well, I can't remember much about him except that I thought "this guy sucks." He seemed to be incredibly shy and reclusive -- a textbook nerd, if you will. While he may have been great working with computers, I could see that he was NOT somebody who should be working with students. The third guy was great. He laid out his plans of what he would do if he got the job, like getting all new computers, how he would network them, get internet access (this was in 1997, mind you). He had been a teacher for like 10 or 15 years and had a great personality and interacted well with everyone. So I recommended Mr. #3. On a scale of 1-10, I think I gave him a 10, the woman got a 3-4 and the first guy got a 4-5. So who did they pick? The picked the first guy, who had to be one of the people most unsuited to working with kids that I have ever met. This, despite my explicit recommendation that he not be hired. Apparently my report to the Board was for naught. So fast forward a year to my first summer home. I go to my old HS to check things out and I ask a favorite teacher what she thinks of the new computer teacher. Surprise! She hates him, as apparently do all the other teachers. From what I gather he thinks he has the ability to command anybody who walks into the computer room (oops, "electronic learning center"), including teachers. There used to be a woman who worked in the computer room and all she did was help people writing papers -- tell them the shortcuts in WordPerfect, help them with grammar, etc. Well, she got pissed off at the guy and quit. So now rather than somebody helpful to students we actually get somebody who hurts them by treating them like idiots. This is just one example of how screwed up the administration is in a school system. Another one is the "promotion" of the principal in the HS to some made-up position, like "assistant superintendent" because they wanted to fire her but couldn't because of her contract. So she gets a raise and a boring job. Anyway, this is all taking place in a school district whose website is just one huge gif with an imagemap. I don't know if this really relates to the article, but I always bring it up any time school administrators' idiotic ways are mentioned.
"Asking me who to follow -- don't ask me, I don't know!"

This would be a much better submiss... (4.00 / 2) (#20)
by rbb on Tue May 30, 2000 at 12:32:46 PM EST

rbb voted -1 on this story.

This would be a much better submission with the text of the "will/memory". Without it, this story lacks meat of any kind, and really doesn't ask people to think. Part of the story that is most interesting is that the article was pulled, but we aren't allowed to determine for ourselves whether the article was pulled because it was poorly written or because the administration just "didn't like it".

Um, tomorrow I'll see if I can get the text... (none / 0) (#28)
by goosedaemon on Tue May 30, 2000 at 05:19:18 PM EST

I don't have it at the moment--my father wanted to see the text for the same reason, to know if it was simply inflaming or bad or whatever. The English teacher should still be in as they're still calculating grades for a couple more days. Presumably I can get it and transcribe it. If I can't... well, I won't be posting it. :p

As for my rambling... uh, sorry, I'll try better next time.

[ Parent ]

Save copies always! (none / 0) (#50)
by Pelorat on Wed May 31, 2000 at 09:02:20 AM EST

Unless it was an in-class assignment, and it doesn't sound like one.. if they lose the one you turn in, you're not screwed! (and it's fun to go back and look at what you wrote years ago)

[ Parent ]
well, it doesn't look like I'll be able to get the (none / 0) (#56)
by goosedaemon on Wed May 31, 2000 at 01:13:09 PM EST

I know I wrote about a couple other topics, something about how good grades are inadequate and instead you should get free time or something like that, but... Eh.

[ Parent ]
As someone who had to drop-out of s... (3.00 / 1) (#14)
by octos on Tue May 30, 2000 at 01:07:24 PM EST

octos voted 1 on this story.

As someone who had to drop-out of school in order to move on in life, I have the same view of the current education system. Fixing something that has had such a long time to become broken and corrpt might be impossible, but the topic discussion could lead to some possible fixes and ideas for new methods of education.

You make an interesting point, howe... (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by slycer on Tue May 30, 2000 at 01:14:27 PM EST

slycer voted 1 on this story.

You make an interesting point, however, this becomes more personal. Some people learn better one way, some another. For example, in math class (way back - gawd I can't believe it was already that long ago), I sat and absorbed everything the teacher said, I never took notes, rarely did any homework, never discussed it with my peers, passed with an 87% - I actually could have skipped the final and still passed.

The above is not to brag, simply to show that some people actually DO learn by sitting and absorbing.

Another example is one of the other high-schools I went to (I hit a few before I finally just stopped going). This school was geared towards the students fully. I had to show up twice a day, roll-call at lunch, roll-call in the morning. The teachers were there for personal one on one questions or supervising their particular labs. Each course had x amount of units. These units could be completed however you wanted, but you had to hand in x per day. Meaning, I could (and did) Math 10 in 2 months, without even touching say .. social studies. It was a very unique school (I think Japan has one based on it) and a great oppurtunity. But there are a lot of people that do not do well there, simply because of the LACK of sit down and learn attitude. Me, I simply didn't go, I'd show up for morning, piss around doing really nothing, go for the afternoon roll-call, take off and get high. Pretty non-functional if you ask me.

Damn, I wish I could find a link for the school, anyways point of all the rambling, each person is unique, each has a different way of learning (proof - watch a couple of babies develop), and there is no blanket solution for this.

I wouldn't mind a good article conc... (3.00 / 1) (#10)
by Eimi on Tue May 30, 2000 at 01:20:11 PM EST

Eimi voted -1 on this story.

I wouldn't mind a good article concerning education and education reform, but...where's the beef? Maybe a more detailed proposal, thought provoking questions, etc. Tighten the ramble.

I know exactly what he means, I can... (3.00 / 1) (#17)
by feline on Tue May 30, 2000 at 01:27:50 PM EST

feline voted 1 on this story.

I know exactly what he means, I can soak up miles of tech. specs from manuals, but public school seems so uninteresting because all we're doing is being told answers and not why those answers are answers or how it can help us at all to know such information.

I've, of course, taken it upon myself to question what in the world we're doing this for. Some teachers say, 'It's been handed down to me.' I don't know about y'all, but that doesn't seem like a very good explanation. If these teachers don't really care about what they're teaching, they can talk to the school board about it or at least _try_ to make what we're doing somewhat 'non-pointless,' for lack of a better word.

And that part about the school not printing it, who even reads those piece of shit school publications, your message has reached more people just in this moderation run than it ever would at your school.

'Hello sir, you don't look like someone who satisfies his wife.'

No way to fix it. Gotta start over... (2.00 / 1) (#6)
by marlowe on Tue May 30, 2000 at 01:32:22 PM EST

marlowe voted 1 on this story.

No way to fix it. Gotta start over. What say we talk about charter schools?
-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --

...What are charter schools? (none / 0) (#32)
by goosedaemon on Tue May 30, 2000 at 05:47:46 PM EST

I've heard about them, but no one's really ever explained the concept to me.

[ Parent ]
Here's a link (none / 0) (#54)
by marlowe on Wed May 31, 2000 at 12:27:32 PM EST


--- I will insist on my right to question ---
-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Short answer: no. There's no way t... (3.00 / 1) (#4)
by eann on Tue May 30, 2000 at 01:33:41 PM EST

eann voted 1 on this story.

Short answer: no. There's no way to fix the school system (in the US, I assume) without starting over. And the odds of getting to start over are low enough to power a starship.

Unfortunately, as the author will likely soon discover, undergraduate work at major and/or state-funded universities is often almost as bad.

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. —MLK

$email =~ s/0/o/; # The K5 cabal is out to get you.

No, not likely. Your quite coherent... (2.00 / 1) (#15)
by Alhazred on Tue May 30, 2000 at 01:42:05 PM EST

Alhazred voted 1 on this story.

No, not likely. Your quite coherent also. You might ask yourself how you got that way? English class? Naaaahhh...
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.

Re: No, not likely. Your quite coherent... (none / 0) (#42)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue May 30, 2000 at 11:33:41 PM EST

I think the author is pretty coherent, but I also think that he's definitely in the above 50% of the population mark. As shown by his teacher's words, as well as his willingness to actually try to make a difference- here, at his school, and presumably discussing it with friends.

Did you know that the number one social activity for high-schoolers (according to my old roommate's brother) is drinking?

[ Parent ]

Re: No, not likely. Your quite coherent... (none / 0) (#45)
by forrest on Wed May 31, 2000 at 01:47:59 AM EST

More likely, you're the one who only has English class to thank for your mastery of the language.

You're == a contraction for you are
Your == belonging to you

Sorry, I know it's a lame grammar flame (almost as bad as a spelling flame), but it was so ironic ...

Although one may be exposed to the rules of English in class, one learns to write from motivation and experience.

[ Parent ]

No, I don't think there is a way to... (4.00 / 1) (#9)
by warpeightbot on Tue May 30, 2000 at 01:43:35 PM EST

warpeightbot voted 1 on this story.

No, I don't think there is a way to fix the current system... but here in Washington we're working on replacing it in a viable fashion. Paul Allen (if anything good ever came from Redmond, this is it) is sponsoring an initiative for charter schools - independent, privately-run schools funded in part with public funds, in part with tutition, and in part with a large chunk of Mr. Allen's portfolio, whose objectives are to be the best of the best of the best, first class, and the NEA be damned, as opposed to the current system, whose objective is to crank out well-indoctrinated little sheeple and provide sinecures for those who can't make it otherwise in a high-tech environment.

I don't think getting the teacher semi-out of the picture is the answer; it's the teacher's job to make the material interesting. There is something to be said for teamwork, too, but I don't think in academia it takes place of individual achievement. Too much emphasis on "diversity" and not enough on individual excellence is part of the problem with the current system. (Methinks the desire to get the teacher out of the picture is a reflection on the quality of teaching.... the kid thinks he knows the subject better than his teacher does, and he may well be right. (The minimum SAT score for entrance to Georgia Tech is 1100. The average SAT for those marking "Education" as the preferred course of study is currently less than 1000.) A proper merit-based faculty hiring and promotion system would take care of that little problem. But you can't do that in unionized schools.... so the proper solution is simply to begin replacing it.

In today's public schools, having an IQ much over body temperature is just as much a handicap to learning as having one down around the speed limit. It is our responsibility, that of those of us who have survived and become successful and are now having children of our own, to see to it that they get that which most of us did not: a grade school experience which was interesting, challenging, and fun. (WHAT? Education should be FUN? Hellyeah! This is the definition of success... having fun and getting paid for it! In credit hours, if not dollars....)

If you're not having fun,
you're not doing it right.

I agree with what you said. The "fa... (3.00 / 1) (#12)
by ishbak on Tue May 30, 2000 at 02:37:36 PM EST

ishbak voted 1 on this story.

I agree with what you said. The "factory" model of education does not teach intellectual subjects really, but obediance to authority. You succeed if you come to class on time and don't damage anything. Intellectually, you are rewarded in school not for understanding and thinking critically, but for reciting things that are given as fact by the teacher. Wrote learning replaces comprehension. Good topic.

The school system really is in dire... (3.00 / 1) (#19)
by mafried on Tue May 30, 2000 at 02:39:39 PM EST

mafried voted 1 on this story.

The school system really is in dire need of change. The worst part is that we stifle all higher learning until students lose that `natural ability' to quickly learn that they had when they were little kids.

The question could be a bit more fo... (4.00 / 1) (#2)
by Pelorat on Tue May 30, 2000 at 02:56:54 PM EST

Pelorat voted 0 on this story.

The question could be a bit more focused.. what specific things were you wanting us to discuss? And don't go assuming that we're all agreed on the definitions of the 'problems'...

And I couldn't pass this up - "More what I mean is removing as much control from teachers, where debatably it never really belonged. Teachers still need to be there, of course--to maintain order and such." - it raises the question: how do you expect the teachers to maintain order if they have no control? Ask yourself what a pack of kids would do if they were given a room and told to study, but without any kind of threat of negative reinforcement. They sure as hell wouldn't ever study. A couple might, but most would take the opportunity to fuck off a little bit more. =)

Re: The question could be a bit more fo... (2.00 / 1) (#31)
by tidepool on Tue May 30, 2000 at 05:40:39 PM EST

I don't know about you. but I learned a LOT from 'fucking around'.

[ Parent ]
Re: The question could be a bit more fo... (none / 0) (#34)
by naasking on Tue May 30, 2000 at 05:55:58 PM EST

I think that you are considering children of a certain age, and of a particular type, ie. the ones you saw in your school when growing up. But you must remember that those kids were a product of the old system. They developed a distaste for knowledge and learning because of the inflexibility of the old system.

If a new education system were to be implemented, most students wouldn't have this same attitude. They should be allowed to develop their curiosity from a young age, and hence learn to appreciate knowledge in itself. By the time they reach an age where they would direct their own education(as in this example), they should understand fully the value of learning and see it as an enjoyable and rewarding, not a chore.

So this is a possibility, but not for students of the current system, but ones raised and educated in a new, more flexible system.

[ Parent ]
We have a class like this (5.00 / 1) (#39)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue May 30, 2000 at 07:52:33 PM EST

My senior year high-school computer class basically allows us to do whatever we want. We are in groups for the entire year, having two open-book group tests within the first month, and an open-book group final exam at the end. Other that the two test days, we work on a project. This project is worth 50% of our final mark, and can be a program or a web page. We find a client (usually a teacher) who needs a program, set up a contract with them saying what we will create, and have 4 months (i.e. one semester) to do it. We come into class and do the project every day, with the teacher doing pretty much nothing.

Most of the time everyone does their work, although you can do nothing for weeks at a time if you want (you'll end up having tons of work to do at home, but some people work better at home anyway). There are gigs of MP3's floating around the classroom, and several MPG movies. People will occasionally take a day off and watch movies, listen to MP3's, go on the internet, or whatever, but overall, people do their work.

If someone never works, their group's mark will decrease, and the group will make them feel guilty until they work. This usually works pretty well. But without the groups, there would definately be several students doing nothing, and I doubt this would work in anything but a senior class.

[ Parent ]

It never ceases to amaze me that th... (3.50 / 2) (#21)
by GreenLight on Tue May 30, 2000 at 03:13:29 PM EST

GreenLight voted -1 on this story.

It never ceases to amaze me that those who are IN the educational system (i.e. the students) always feel that they are best qualified to critique the system.

Re: It never ceases to amaze me that th... (none / 0) (#29)
by eomir on Tue May 30, 2000 at 05:29:39 PM EST

Who do you think would be better qualified? When millions of kids every day are saying "I can't stand school any longer," doesn't that make you think there is SOMETHING wrong with the school system?

[ Parent ]
Re: It never ceases to amaze me that th... (none / 0) (#57)
by GreenLight on Wed May 31, 2000 at 01:43:22 PM EST

After they have been out of the system for 20 years (as I have), they will probably see that it was not nearly as bad as they saw it then. I had the same kind of problems coping with high school, and would have been making the same type of arguments back then as kids are making now (we had no forum like this to air our views, of course). Kids would do well to learn to pay attention to what is being taught, pay attention to the teacher, study & remember what they are learning, and to think for themselves.
Contrary to what many are posting here, the American education system DOES teach the student to think for themselves, not just soak up facts that are being thrown at them. My American History teacher in HS, for instance, had several essay questions on EVERY test that were like: what do you think about these events, what do you think these events caused later, etc. There was recitation of facts, of course, because there is nothing wrong with having to learn to remember things.

[ Parent ]
Re: It never ceases to amaze me that th... (none / 0) (#33)
by bladerunner on Tue May 30, 2000 at 05:53:58 PM EST

Who is more qualified than those that spend 12 years (or more) in the system?
I loved going to school. We didn't have metal detectors or shootings. We rarely had locker searches (they usually occured when a student was caught with A LOT of pot or some other drug). When we 'stoners' had a disagreement, we didn't shoot each other, we used our fists. Then we got stoned and had a good time. I had teachers that genuinely cared about their students and teaching their students. I thank several for making me view reading as a recreational activity rather than a required activity. I don't think that I'd be reading 2 or 3 books a week if it weren't for them.
Teachers aren't compensated well enough for the work that they do. A lot don't care, because they love teaching. There is a saying that I heard once: (paraphrased big time) "Give an NBA all star a teacher's salary and see if they still love playing basketball."
-Ex-slashdotter. I love cats, but hate Katz.
[ Parent ]
Re: It never ceases to amaze me that th... (none / 0) (#52)
by fester on Wed May 31, 2000 at 10:25:13 AM EST

Uhhh, right. So then who is the most qualified to comment? People on the outside? Ever hear of something called "first-hand experience"?

[ Parent ]
Re: It never ceases to amaze me that th... (none / 0) (#68)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jun 02, 2000 at 05:34:02 PM EST

Well then, I'm out of the school system, and I still say it sucks, for the reasons other people have given. It's not focused on learning, it's focused on keeping the kids under control. Kids can't entertain their own interests/talents on their own schedule. Few adults do anything to change it because A) It's an entrenched institution B) They've had the crap beat out of them already. School taught them what happens to people who speak up, disobey, and buck the system. You get PUNISHED. I have a 3 month old and am considering home-schooling when she's ready. I don't want her to go through the same anti-intellectual hell I did.

[ Parent ]
the 'education factory' model was s... (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by neurophage on Tue May 30, 2000 at 03:13:34 PM EST

neurophage voted 1 on this story.

the 'education factory' model was something designed for an earlier age. I agree that we desperately need something more reasonable, even though its already too late for many of us. I went to the crustiest, most traditional school in my country and loathed every minute of it. I'm not saying I didn't learn anything there, I did- (despite the best efforts of some of the teachers) but that's not the point, is it? education is supposed to be, at the fundamental level, the passing on of knowledge gained by generations past to us so that we don't have to rediscover everything from the "okay, bang those two rocks together to make fire" stage. the problem is that there's so much raw data in there that the idea of "starting over" sounds more than implausible- it sounds impossible. I can just imagine the nightmares that would have to be endured by anyone who tried to actually implement any radical educational reforms here in sri lanka, where we have the dual legacy of an asian mass-private-tuition cram-till-you-die mentality as well as the chin-up-&-play-the-game-old-boy heritage of british colonialism. obviously, educational reforms are gonna be pretty lop-sided for a long time to come, largely because governments don't seem to assign a high enough priority to it. at least, mine doesn't seem to, which may be understandable since there's a war on. as far as america goes, things like arsdigita.org/university seem to suggest that at least the education-for-sale principle seems to be breaking down... hey, I hope there isn't a size limit on comments. I get carried away.
http://www.ctrlaltesc.org | hey, I just work here.

No harm to you, goose, but it was k... (1.00 / 1) (#24)
by jzig on Tue May 30, 2000 at 03:55:08 PM EST

jzig voted -1 on this story.

No harm to you, goose, but it was kinda long and redundant.

Is there a way to fix the problems ... (2.00 / 1) (#1)
by sakico on Tue May 30, 2000 at 04:04:38 PM EST

sakico voted 1 on this story.

Is there a way to fix the problems in the North American education system?

I believe no, but don't have enough motivation to rant about it right now. The biggest problem they have is the one size fits all mentality. A mentor/tutor or apprentice system works so much more effectively.

Re: Is there a way to fix the problems ... (none / 0) (#44)
by hypatia on Wed May 31, 2000 at 01:20:51 AM EST

It's not just the North American education system.

I went to school in the Australian system and loathed it. There aren't problems like metal detectors and locker searches (bag searches occasionally - like once a year), and no-one I ever heard of had a gun at school (some did have knives, and many had drugs and alcohol).

But anyway, that had nothing to do with my loathing. I just hated the teaching.

I found it better from individual teachers teaching a group of people they regarded as equals, but most of the time even they were trapped between a rock and a hard place, trying to teach the people who didn't want to be there, and those who wanted to learn but hated the teaching, and satisfying neither.

Teaching by essentially dictating to students (and it's worse at university with lecturing) is a bad way of getting people to learn - but it is cheap. It requires a low ratio of students to teachers than many other methods, and a smaller investment of time and energy from teachers (even though some of them expend a lot of energy).

Yes, one size fits all is bad and wrong. (I won't even go into how much I hated wearing a uniform - this is something all schools in Australia do.) And not only that, it spreads out to the students socially. Yes, the rest of the world is conformist too, but at least there's more than one prototype to choose, unlike at my school.

Are schools really after robots for students?

[ Parent ]
I like it but looks to be a bif off... (1.00 / 1) (#26)
by typo on Tue May 30, 2000 at 04:11:26 PM EST

typo voted 1 on this story.

I like it but looks to be a bif off topic.

The Industrial Revolution gave rise... (3.00 / 2) (#16)
by Anonymous Zero on Tue May 30, 2000 at 04:12:39 PM EST

Anonymous Zero voted 1 on this story.

The Industrial Revolution gave rise to modern public schooling as we know it, and unfortunately not even our grandparents can remember it being any other way. The problem is we're basically warehousing preteens and young adults on a daily basis. These kids are full of hormones and are anxious to do anything except sit quietly in a bare room for 8 hours everyday. And for the kids who can not sit still we drug them and punish until they learn to be passive and sit still for 8 hours.

It used to be in the days before the Industrial Revolution that kids were apprenticed into a trade, and granted it was extremely unfair for young girls who were only trained to be domestic servents, but at least in those days kids were being focused on something useful. Today kids are not learning anything of interest to them in public schools, they're energies are not being harnessed into learning useful skills, and a high school diploma is a just ticket to an unrewarding career in manual unskilled labor. Modern public school cirririculum should be more like 4 hours classroom and 4 hours of hands-on work.

Re: The Industrial Revolution gave rise... (none / 0) (#30)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue May 30, 2000 at 05:39:51 PM EST

...and the "Information Revolution" has gradually reduced the age at which we "warehouse" children (I like the iamge that creates; it is quite accurate) until we are sticking TODDLERS IN DAYCARE! Why not let the state take care of everyone, cradle-to-grave??

[ Parent ]
It certainly will spark debate. It... (1.50 / 2) (#25)
by Vygramul on Tue May 30, 2000 at 04:20:54 PM EST

Vygramul voted 1 on this story.

It certainly will spark debate. It'll probably revive "Voices from the Hellmouth" discussions as well.
If Brute Force isn't working, you're not using enough.

Free PHS (3.00 / 2) (#27)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue May 30, 2000 at 04:45:57 PM EST

I've created a website(http://penfield.cjb.net - or http://www.penfield.f2s.com if cjb.net is down again) to criticize my HS admin(esp. the principal). I make somewhat different points than you, but I guess I see the underlying problem is that we've forgotten what schools are for.

They're supposed to be for learning. Security cameras and drug dog searches take time and money away from the learning process. Our school also has a ridiculous late policy(I discuss it on the site) which results in a net decrease in learning. What the fuck is the point of a school minus the learning?

Also, in creating this site, I've seen how little the people in the upper echelons of power in the school care about the students down below. Some - not all, but some - of these people just become bureaucrats, and stop being educators.

And while some students are eager to fight back, to take back the school(which I know sounds pathetically cliche);most, I think, just don't give a damn. And that is pretty depressing.

Re: Free PHS (none / 0) (#35)
by madams on Tue May 30, 2000 at 06:01:01 PM EST

Your page concerning your high school could easily describe my HS with a few name changes. My main beef with the high school I attended was with the administration. Most of my teachers were excellent, and many of the students were desperately trying to have an enriching experience. The problem is that the students and teachers had no control over anything relevent. All authority rested in the school board and the administration, and the parents (the "paying customers", if you will) were the only ones who had any influence over the administrators.

Mark Adams
"But pay no attention to anonymous charges, for they are a bad precedent and are not worthy of our age." - Trajan's reply to Pliny the Younger, 112 A.D.
[ Parent ]

Re: Free PHS (none / 0) (#36)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue May 30, 2000 at 06:49:28 PM EST

I agree. It's not the teachers. In fact, in discussing this with a couple members of the faculty, my impression is that the teachers are also unhappy with what our school is becoming. Unfortunetely, as you say, the power is very concentrated, and it's hard to fight it.

[ Parent ]
Re: Free PHS (none / 0) (#38)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue May 30, 2000 at 07:25:22 PM EST

Our school just moved into a new building. One of the first things I noticed was the security cameras. In some parts of the school, five cameras are visible from one location. There are no real crime problems at our school either. No metal detectors, drug searches, or anything, and people don't carry guns. However, I don't believe that drug dogs are an invasion of privacy, unless they open your lockers. If the dogs are only trained to sniff for drugs, then your privacy isn't really invaded unless you're breaking the law. I still don't think they should be doing this, as it creates an atmosphere of distrust and implies that students are criminals, but I don't think the privacy argument is valid.

Another thing that bugs me is the ads in our building. There are "Power-ade" and "Coca-cola" banners in the gym, where we are forced to go for assemblies. So people don't even have the choice to ignore them. We used to have a power-ade banner in the cafeteria, but somebody tore it down and it never came back (although I doubt it was to make any sort of political statement, they were probably just fooling around).

This new building is huge compared to our old school (we used to have two campuses, they're now merged into one). We have 3 minutes of travel time - it takes about 3 minutes to get from class to your locker, more with crowded hallways. And of course another 3 to get to your next class. Almost nobody arrives to class on time, and luckily teachers won't even mark people late until 5 minutes after the bell rings. I think the travel time is so short because the government says we need to have x minutes of class time in each course, and they adjusted the schedule so we get (in theory) the required time. If anyone tried to enforce it, we'd have at least half the school lined up at the attendance office every period.

[ Parent ]

Re: Free PHS (none / 0) (#46)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed May 31, 2000 at 01:50:30 AM EST

Well, sadly, I have to agree with you. Security cameras, drug dog searches, or even worse things like metal detectors and urine tests aren't illegal. The courts have been far more supportive of free speech rights than they have of search and seizure, in regards to schools.

And for something like drug dogs. You're right in a sense, that it's not a huge invasion of privacy(however, you could make the same argument for urine tests: that unless you're doing something illegal, they aren't gaining any info about you).

But these things, along with the way that the administrators don't give a damn what the students think or say, just creates such an awful atmosphere of distrust. I mean, early on in the year, we had a bomb threat, and our principal lied to us and said it was a fire drill. Since then, at every single fire drill we've had, including one just last week, I've heard one or more people speculate that it was really a bomb threat. I think the chance that that's actually the case is about nil, but I can't blame kids for thinking it might be. If you can't even trust her(the principal) to tell the truth about something so simple, how can you trust her to tell the truth on anything?

[ Parent ]
Re: Free PHS (none / 0) (#60)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed May 31, 2000 at 07:43:34 PM EST

Actually, they'd be gaining quite a bit of info about you with a urine test, probably including your DNA. This would be more like opening each locker and going through your stuff, and would be a definite invasion of privacy. With the drug dogs, they won't learn anything about you, not even your name, unless you have drugs. Even metal detectors are a bigger invasion of privacy, since having metal objects IS legal (and they would find out exactly what metal objects you were carrying).

We had a bomb threat at our old building about a year ago. The fire alarm went off, as usual nobody really believed it was dangerous. Students had been pulling prank alarms that month, we had already had 3 or 4 (the record was something like 7 in a week at our other campus). Nobody said anything, we just walked outside casually, thinking it was fake. Most teachers didn't even know. We had been standing like 10 feet away from the building, when they found out what was going on (after 10/15 minutes) they sent us away from the school (one of them did tell us it was a bomb threat after we asked them). It turned out to be just a prank (some kids from the school phoned it in from a nearby payphone), but we would have been in real danger if there was an actual bomb and nobody knew. Still, nobody lied to us and said it was a fire drill.

We had a (planned) fire drill a couple months ago (it was in the middle of a March "heat wave", i.e. May/June weather, a good day for one), nobody even knew what it was. The fire alarm in our new building emitted such a high pitched and unusual sound nobody realized it was a fire alarm, not even the teachers (the older teachers probably couldn't even hear it :-). "What's that noise? Why are there strobe lights flashing in the hallways?" "I don't know, just sit down and do your work." After about 5 minutes, we had an announcement over the P.A. system - "Please evacuate the building." We were one of the first classes outside too, no teacher in the entire school realized it was the fire alarm (who designed this thing?). Students aren't the only ones being left out of the loop here.

[ Parent ]

And Why, Exactly, Does Your Site Point to the ACLU (none / 0) (#71)
by uberfreak on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 05:03:44 PM EST

Just curious...and the second site is inaccessible entirely.

[ Parent ]
Try John Taylor Gatto (5.00 / 2) (#41)
by RobotSlave on Tue May 30, 2000 at 09:44:57 PM EST

If it's critique of American public schooling that you're after, you might want to start with an essay by New York State's 1991 Teacher of the Year, John Taylor Gatto, titled "The Six-Lesson Scoolteacher."

Much of the education debate is noise, but I've seen Gatto quoted by all sides of it-- The Jesus freaks, the tree huggers, the voucher pushers, the Marxists, the libertarians, the WTO conspiracy theorists, the UN conspiracy theorists, and the less extreme voices, too :).

I'm interested in reading what folks think of Gatto's essay. I certainly had a strong reaction the first time I read it, and I still think its a pretty convincing indictment. I'm less convinced by the suggested direction for a solution, but it isn't developed in the essay, so there's not much to argue against.

YES! (5.00 / 2) (#47)
by rusty on Wed May 31, 2000 at 03:43:37 AM EST

I am so glad to see someone else saying what I've been saying ever since graduating high school. The public schools must go. They are, as Gatto points out, an institutional structure designed to process and homogenize our population into a shapeless mass of helpless conformity, and have long outlived their purpose, if indeed there ever was a better purpose than that to begin with.

Let's be charitable, and say that the aim of national public schooling was simply to ensure basic functional education for everyone. Face it-- we now have, as a nation, the resources to ensure that. We've long ago surpassed that criteria, though, and formed our schools into crucibles, into which young minds are poured and out of which they are stamped as identical dull ingots, ready for their dull corporate jobs. Is it any wonder that corruption and wholesale corporate cowardice are the order of the day in the adult world now? Who ever taught anyone anything other than "Listen to your boss (teacher). Obey the bell (clock in & clock out -- nothing else matters)." Who ever let them learn any different?

I went to a very small private school called Falmouth Academy for grades 7 through 12. While my public school friends were learning how to fit in, we learned how to be whoever we were, and still get along socially. We learned that teachers were just people like us, and they had no special deep wisdom or power. This, despite what everyone would assume might happen, made us respect them more, on the whole, and made it awfully clear in the rare instances when they were trying to bullshit us.

We didn't have punishment really, because none was really needed. When someone did something wrong, they were taken aside and given a very stern look, and it was made clear that you had disappointed everyone. Not that you "broke the rules", but that your behavior was inappropriate, and that everyone expected better from you. In one case, a student was expelled, but mostly it was for deliberately and repeatedly acting out because she simply didn't want to be there.

It was not utopia, and it didn't always work. Adolesence is a difficult time for most people, no matter what the circumstances. But it worked most of the time, and the people I know from high school are generally less screwed up and more aware of who they are and what they want than people who went through the public school grinder. Interestingly, many people from my class, despite being very smart, had a really hard time with college, myself included. Colleges, many of them anyway, appear to assume that their students have been properly "prepared" by high school, and then present themselves as glorious bastions of freedom, while mainly cloaking the same six lessons in a better vocabulary. They didn't quite know what to do with someone who saw their "freedom" as a giant step backward from the intellectual freedom of high school. I went to William and Mary, by the way, and dropped out senior year because it was eminently clear to me that school was getting in the way of my education.

And to conclude this overly long rant, I want to say that the one big problem with most schools today, the single thing that above all else should condemn them to the dustbin of history, is the fact that they uniformly fail to teach the love of learning. If a student likes to learn, she will learn for her whole life, and the school has done it's job. If she does not love learning by the time school is over, then the school has failed the student, and all of us.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: YES! (none / 0) (#55)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed May 31, 2000 at 12:29:02 PM EST

On the flip side, I had a similarly great experience in public schools. The private school I attended earlier was garbage. Great teachers, mostly great peers, etc.

But that was long ago, and they've since been forced into split sessions.

[ Parent ]

Re: YES! (none / 0) (#58)
by warpeightbot on Wed May 31, 2000 at 02:11:38 PM EST

They didn't quite know what to do with someone who saw their "freedom" as a giant step backward from the intellectual freedom of high school. I went to William and Mary, by the way, and dropped out senior year because it was eminently clear to me that school was getting in the way of my education.
Good call, Rusty, on getting out....

On the other hand, going to Georgia Tech at the time I did, and managing to get a support job while still an undergrad, managed to give me both the theory and the practical experience (respectively) I needed to start a career, while managing not to totally rob me of my sanity. Most of the profs and instructors at Tech were interested in figuring out how things worked, not in jamming our square peg heads into their little round holes. I only ran into one fellow seriously interested in doing that, and he was, of all things, a philosophy prof. Even the history types were interested in learning new stuff.

In short, a lot of one's success in college depends on choosing the right college. I know a lot of folks who ended up at Georgia Tech who would have done much better elsewhere; my little sister turned green when she saw our psych curriculum (she's a successful psychologist with her degree from Tennessee). She simply wasn't cut out for five quarters of calc.... and I would have suffered mightily under her statistics courses, which she breezed thru without complaint.

(ObOnTopic) Unfortunately, without intervention from parents (that's us old farts) there isn't much choice in the matter until you get to the college level. It is this lack of choice, and in most cases severe lack of excellence, that needs addressing. It is that excellence that instills the love of learning Rusty mentioned that will drive you to succeed, whether or not you end up with the little piece of paper that says you met all their stupid requirements.

B.S. == just that.
M.S. == More of the Same
Ph.D. == Piled Higher and Deeper
D. Sc. == Deeper and Still Coming(*)
(*)Doctor of Science, an advanced degree given by English universities... and MIT here in the States

[ Parent ]

Re: YES! (none / 0) (#61)
by teach1 on Wed May 31, 2000 at 09:37:09 PM EST

While I do agree with some of what Rusty says I also think he has forgotten a rather large part of the population. We (Rusty and I) come from a family which teaches the love of learning (although Rusty gives all the credit for that to his high school teachers). Love of learning and other "useful" lessons of life that Rusty alludes to are not ONLY taught in school. Friends, family, society, culture, AND school teach these things. As a public school teacher in a rather poor area of town I would like to say that it is incredibly difficult to be one of the few people trying to teach love of learning and becoming your own person to children who don't eat unless they are in school, who brush their teeth only in school, who move from shelter to shelter during the school year, who get hit with belts as a system of discipline, whose mother leaves them alone at night because she can't afford a babysitter while she makes the few dollars she can, who do not own a winter jacket, crayons, scissors, glue, or even a telephone. I try my best, although it's extremely frustrating to do so in a country that doesn't acknowledge my effort, to be the light in their life. I go to school every day with the goal of teaching these children NOT to be drones, to follow their own paths and achieve their own dreams. But frankly they don't really know what this even means. Survival on a day to day basis overhwelms a lot of children today and it's a shame. It's also extremely difficult to overcome. So I guess if there is a message I would like to convey here it is to please try not to be so hard on "all teachers and the whole educational system" because those of us who care about INDIVIDUAL life-long learners are here, we just sometimes get buried under many other factors.

[ Parent ]
Re: YES! (none / 0) (#66)
by rusty on Fri Jun 02, 2000 at 02:35:29 PM EST

Yes, good point. Family and social situation does have a lot to do with it, and we were lucky in that respect.

Your situation brings up my other major point about school here. I know you're teaching elementary, but what happens later on to these kids? Generally they go off to high school, or drop out. The US does not have a good "technical-track" or skills-based secondary education system. What is more useful for the majority of your students: learning about the fall of Rome, or learning how to fix a car? I'd say the second. In the US, tech/vocational school is seen generally as lower-class and doesn't seem to work all that well. In much of the rest of the world, learning a trade is a very valued and respected choice, as an educational path. This is another one of my gripes, then-- the US system is still heavily "one size fits all" and "like it or leave it" based. We need more flexibility, and I think only free competition for students can create that. Centraslly managed beauracracy has *never* managed to create flexibility, and it never will.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

solution... (none / 0) (#49)
by johnmeacham on Wed May 31, 2000 at 06:54:53 AM EST

the obvious solution is to have serveral super-intelegent seed kids interspersed with other kids and give them ample oprotunity and willingness to teach and encourage other kids... obviously these seed children should be cyborgs. sorry, im in a silly mood, finishing up school myself. for an actually very interesting take on education (and many other things) i would recommend 'the diamond age' by neal stephenson....

Re: solution... (none / 0) (#62)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jun 01, 2000 at 09:37:02 AM EST

he obvious solution is to have serveral super-intelegent seed kids interspersed with other kids

Cool, geeks to pick on! No one likes anyone that appears smarter than they are. Then again spelling intelligent, intelegent you wouldn't know that now would you?

[ Parent ]

Any kid who picks on a cyborg will be eliminated f (none / 0) (#65)
by marlowe on Thu Jun 01, 2000 at 05:24:33 PM EST

gene pool, as he should be.

--- I will insist on my right to question ---
-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Not real sympathetic right now (none / 0) (#51)
by error 404 on Wed May 31, 2000 at 09:47:45 AM EST

My kids are in some rather excellent art schools within the public system.

Using the "absolutely everything is wrong in public schools" mythology that I'm hearing so much of here, the rat-bastard lying sack of crap superintendant Spence Corte jerked $31 million and 50 teachers today.

So trashing public schools is moving my kids from a great creative environment into the drone factory you are all complaining about. Thanks.
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

Re: Not real sympathetic right now (1.00 / 1) (#59)
by warpeightbot on Wed May 31, 2000 at 02:29:55 PM EST

[rant about good public schools deleted for brevity]

I hear what you're saying. I got similarly lucky with my public system; about the time I was born the town that was to become where I was raised suffered the second Yankee invasion, this time out of Fort Wayne and South Bend, Indiana.... biiiig catholic school territory. The poor little cathedral had nowhere near the facilities to handle the influx, so the community leaders went to the superintendent of schools and said, "We're used to Good Schools. We're also used to paying for them. Get us the best you can possibly get, we'll pay." And they did. And I was an unwitting beneficiary of all this.

I agree with you, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.... but there are a LOT of places where it IS broke. And no, we don't need more money thrown down the same black hole. What we need is for the parents of the kids in schools which ARE broke to get involved (I've got a steak dinner that says the above poster already is involved in his/her good school) and mandate a new private or semi-private system answerable to the standards of excellence for both its students and its teachers. This is where the ultimate responsibility lies, is with the parents, who vote and who pay the taxes and whose children lie in the path of this juggernaut.

That's one reason I'm not signing the initiative here in Washington for more public school funding. It's just a big slice of pork, with no provision for salaries and promotions to be based on merit. "Fuggeddabowdit!" Show me a plan for excellence rather than just throwing money. And Keep It Simple, Stupid.

[ Parent ]

Re: Not real sympathetic right now (none / 0) (#64)
by error 404 on Thu Jun 01, 2000 at 10:19:38 AM EST

Well, you are right about my being involved in the schools I'm talking about.

Essentialy, what is happening here in Milwaukee is that the vermin are attempting to re-segregate the school system, and if that means destroying some of the best schools in the country, so be it. "No More Forced Bussing" is the headline, never mind that it's been many, many years since Milwaukee had forced bussing - it is all based on voluntary participation in magnet schools. We have city-wide specialty schools, which are being defunded in order to pay for vouchers (which go, in many cases, to schools that exist in name only - no teachers, no classrooms, the "administrators" sometimes have the sense to take the money and run before they get caught) and for a goofy neighborhood schools initiative that involves building lots of classrooms in the face of declining enrolment and teacher layoffs.

The mythology is that everything is wrong with the public school system, and that any change must be an improvement. So we get a new superintendent riding in on a white horse every few years with a "reform" plan, add another layer of management, fire a few teachers, realize the latest white knight is a fraud, and repeat the process.

Meanwhile, we hear that throwing money at the problem won't solve it. Which might be more convincing if I ever heard it used, say, on the DoD or subsidies for cranberry farms.

The sad part is that it is extremely simple: the public school system used to work, economicaly, because it was cheap to hire women. In order to hire skilled professionals on a large scale (Sure, there are a few people willing to live in poverty in order to teach. But try telling the board of directors of any company that the CEO should get paid less (including options and such) than the janitor because CEO work is important and fulfilling...) in a competetive environment, you have to pay. I'm not a teacher - I can't afford to be one. The other part is class size. When you have to deal with 30-40 eight year olds, you are going to use factory techniques, because that's what it takes to keep that large of a group from total chaos. That's the economics: teachers are either talented professionals making huge personal financial sacrifices or losers who can't get a real job, and either way they treat kids as production units because the productivity demands (students per teacher) are too high for dealing with them as people. And moving the process to some politician's approximation of a free-market system won't fix the basic economics.

Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]
Ivan Illich (4.50 / 2) (#53)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed May 31, 2000 at 12:18:12 PM EST

Another agitator for the reform of educational systems worldwide is Ivan Illich. He wrote a book about educational reform in the 70's called `Deschooling Society'. Illich's thesis is that compulsory schooling promotes class inequality. He points out that while nearly all of our `social machinery' has been upgraded since then, our educational models are firmly rooted in the late 1800's-- the era of the European imperial nation-states, whose only requirements from an education system was to produce cannon fodder who knew which way to point a rifle. So much has changed since then, yet any attempt to modernise the way we teach people is resisted.

Illich is fairly well represented on the Web; any search engine should turn up some interesting stuff.

Look you little brats (none / 0) (#63)
by Anonymous Hero on Thu Jun 01, 2000 at 10:02:53 AM EST

School is a system of detention centers adults keep you kids in until you're old enough to go get a job. Some of you little animals need more secure institutions than others. Just have a look at inner city schools. There's little cosmetic difference between them and jails. Suburban rug rats are a bit more fortunate, going to soft 'minimum security' facilities.

Personally, I think that all of you should be locked down 24/7. then there'd be some real learning going on. And the sentencing time period should be much more open ended than it is now. None of this get to grade 12 and out stuff. IMO graduation requirements should be based on a much more real world model. Like say successful completion of 2 years hard labor, or something like that.

Too many people go through their whole lives never really working a single day their whole life. They think that they're working hard, but give them to me for a day, and I'll open their eyes to the truth. By the end of the day they'll regret the day that they were born. Once you've felt that way you've begun to experience the real working world. Until then stay in school for as long as you can. You have no idea just how easy you have it.

Time is money.

Edumakashun does(n't) werk! | 70 comments (70 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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