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Ideal High School Curriculum

By ehayes in Culture
Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 06:26:40 PM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

(for those of you not in the US, 'high school' is for age 14-18, and 16 is the cut-off age for 'mandatory' schooling)

Well, having just gone through the other article like this, I decided I'd toss out something I'd worked on a while ago... the ideal high school curriculum.

What can you think that you would like to have learned, that was practical to learn in high school?

For the purposes of discussion:

  1. ignore the fact that mandatory schooling is designed to produce peasants who can sit in one place for long periods of time and do arbitrary tasks which they do not understand nor need to understand. Hell, just go here and save me the trouble of pasting it all into here.
    But then ignore it, for this discussion. *grin*
  2. Anything that pertains to realistic sex or drug education would result in Federal intervention, so don't even bother mentioning it.
  3. Vocational training already is taught, some places. What would you want EVERYONE to know?

Around age 14, your brain has come close to finishing developing, and you can start learning some really complex stuff. All that time and effort in school at this age is wasted on French and Literature, IMHO... You could be doing so MUCH more with it.

Number one on my list is CPR and basic first aid. You can't have enough people with this knowledge running around. Forget D.A.R.E., this stuff REALLY saves lives.

Second, would be consumer things - like basic law, enough math to understand what '3.9%APR' means, and so on. Things that you usually end up learning later, at great cost to yourself, your bank account, and your credit rating.

Third, for me, would be basic psychology, sociology, and relationships. This way, at least you could cut down the number of Stupid Relationship Lessons you have to go through before you start to understand them.

I'm scared to go further myself lest my psychoses start showing, but I think you have the idea. What would YOU want kids to learn?


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Ideal High School Curriculum | 110 comments (107 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
At 14? (3.25 / 4) (#1)
by enterfornone on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 08:57:26 AM EST

Around age 14, your brain has come close to finishing developing, and you can start learning some really complex stuff.
I was always under the impression that it was easier to learn thing the earlier you start.

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
Some things yes... (4.50 / 2) (#2)
by ehayes on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 09:02:41 AM EST

Try explaining [leasing a car] versus [buying a car] to a six year old.
Then explain [buying a new car] versus [buying a good used car] versus [buying a not-so-good used car and fixing it up] ... then [opportunity cost] ...
NOT my favorite way to spend a Sunday.

Also, I wouldn't really have any objections to teaching any of this stuff earlier.
But 'high school' is right before they will become adults (legally) and also it's
a nice defined four-year period. This is the last chance you have to teach 'all'
of them, and I think they might be more receptive to some of it when they see
it looming over the next year.


[ Parent ]
True to some extent (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by ocelot on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 10:47:08 PM EST

I think that both are true to some extent - it just depends on the topic. Foreign languages should be taught as early as possible, for example, because people are designed to acquire language early. It becomes significantly more difficult as you get older. However, IIRC certain math concepts (for example) are simply not accessible to most people before the brain reaches a certain stage of development.

[ Parent ]
Cognitive Dev (none / 0) (#44)
by Sinter on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 07:12:03 AM EST

I was always under the impression that it was easier to learn thing the earlier you start.

Depends on the things. Some things, as the writer implied, are best learned later. For example, research shows that most people who (are ever going to) develop the capacity for significant abstract thought don't start doing so until their mid- to late 'teens.

The trouble with the current educational model in this regard has always been that it ignores individual differences. Some people gain the capacity for abstract thought at a much earlier age. But in the factory model, they all sit and listen to the same teacher, and all work the same workbooks, etc. The "brighter" ones (term used advisedly) then get to sit and wait for everyone else to catch up. This not only engenders boredom, it wastes the best learning years of their lives ... all to protect a simplistic democratic ideal.

[ Parent ]

well, nice, but... (3.57 / 7) (#4)
by fink on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 09:28:44 AM EST

There is no ideal. Everyone is so different. Either way, you still got a +1, sectional, from me.

Secondly, the system we have, as bad as it is, works for a reason: people are used to being spoonfed. I speak, by the way, from mainly an .au and .nz point of view; it's what I know best.

Nothing alters the main fact: the best teacher is life itself. No matter what "we" do, "we" will always forget to teach something - so perhaps the best thing to do is teach in a way that encourages lifelong learning - something that has been missing from primary/high school curricula for a long time.


Other languages (4.14 / 7) (#5)
by UrLord on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 09:41:52 AM EST

should be taught earlier in the curriculum. If a child is exposed to another language earlier in life he or she will better understand that language. Second or third languages should be taught earlier in the curriculum not in High school as it is now.

We can't change society in a day, we have to change ourselves first from the inside out.

immersion (4.00 / 2) (#65)
by mikpos on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 10:17:59 AM EST

Where I live (or where I used to live anyway; I asume it's similar all across Canada), we have French Immersion programs where students spend the majority of their school day in French classes, starting in elementary school (grade one). By the time the students graduate from high school, they're pretty decent at French, but there would still be a very substantial part who couldn't get their fluency certificate. I should point out that French and English are incredibly similar in many parts of grammar and vocabulary; if you were to try Japanese or Hebrew Immersion, I think you'd find it much less successful.

Anyway, my point is, putting kids (even relatively book-dumb kids) into Immersion seems to work well for one language. They still get their education, e.g. they still learn algebra and social science, but it's taught in French. My other point that expecting a third (or fourth or ...) language is unreasonable for most people, unless you expect them to go to class for 10 hours a day or something like that.

[ Parent ]

I agree... (none / 0) (#76)
by UrLord on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 01:35:22 AM EST

a second language is more reasonable than three but there are always those people who can easily learn SEVERAL languages. My German teacher knew German as her first language but also English, French, Italian and god knows how many others. In the school I went to she taught English, German, and French. So children should not be limited to 2 but shouldnt be expected to be able to fluently knew more.

We can't change society in a day, we have to change ourselves first from the inside out.
[ Parent ]

Not academic (4.25 / 4) (#6)
by Ming D. Merciless on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 09:56:07 AM EST

You're right in that CPR (and the use of those portable defibrillation machines that are becoming readily available), basic 'consumer' economics, common law, and social and personal skills are very important. However, these are the sorts of skills that the community and parents are supposed to teach. Furthermore, I don't think it is possible to learn how to relate to other humans, much less to operate in romantic relationships, without making the same boneheaded mistakes everyone else does. What is nice is to have a community and family supported system of values to hang those lessons on.

This (and the other things mentioned) are where we are failing both as parents and as a society these days. Please don't take this as some right wing rant because it isn't. I learned CPR in boy scouts. I also learned that I hate fascist para-military organizations in boy scouts and quit as soon as possible (no offense to the BSA or anyone out there who ever had a positive experience with scouting). I learned how to swim from the Red Cross at my local gym on summer breaks. You see? These are all vital things that the community or parents should be teaching our kids. And they aren't.

As far as school, I really believe that school should be about academics and the arts. I don't begrudge schools their role in youth sports either since our country doesn't have a system of youth sports clubs like other countries do. While it is not only desirable for a society's kids to learn practical skills, it is as important to learn higher order thinking skills that only study in academic subjects and the arts can provide.

To expect them to do the stuff that parents and the community should be doing as well is a death wish for the school system. On the other hand, the culture of the schools is frightening to say the least. I won't go into that here as John Gatto and Jon Katz both do so much more elegantly than I. So I guess in answer to the question of the article, in my own little corner of New York State, the schools pretty much already have the ideal curriculuum. The problem is in the school culture and the fact that they're asked to pick up everybody else's slack.

A little slice of 1987 on the internet. Visit KAOS -- Central NY's premiere BBS. Multi-user, telnetable, Citadel/UX.
The scouts isn't all bad (5.00 / 1) (#77)
by FeersumAsura on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:49:16 AM EST

no offense to the BSA or anyone out there who ever had a positive experience with scouting

I was in the Scouts in the UK from 11~15 and the cubs from 7~11. I enjoyed it, I learnt handy things and I made friends. It showed me how interesting the outdoors is. Every now and then a friend and I drive up to the fells, take a tent, firelighters, food and as just beer as we can carry. We walk ten miles or so, build a fire, cook the food, drink the beer and sleep. In the morning we get up and walk ten miles home. I wouldn't have done that if it hadn't been for the scouts.
Just beause it was founded by a homophobic (but gay) Nazi doesn't mean all the scout leaders are. I still see my old scout leader in the pub, we talk about home brewing and oher things. Just because you had a bad experience didn't mean everyone else did.

I'm so pre-emptive I'd nuke America to save time.
[ Parent ]
Mea Culpa Sir Robert Baden-Powell (none / 0) (#81)
by Ming D. Merciless on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:23:52 AM EST

I didn't mean to imply that everything about the Boy Scouts was bad. In fact, I used the BSA as an example of a community based organization that teaches exactly those sort of practical lessons that the original author of the article had advocated as the proper role for schools. The point of my little rant being that these are the sorts of things that are best left to the community and to parents. I contend that the schools should primarily be concerned with academics and the arts.

More on the Boy Scouts. I certainly think that in general Scouting is a good thing. I've seen it give direction and purpose to too many kids lives who wouldn't have had the benefit otherwise. In fact, in a way, the Scouts did the same for me, but perhaps not in the way that was intended. Although, that as they say, is another story.

So, let me apologize if my comment caused you offense. As I stated in my original comment, no offense to the BSA (nor the Boy Scouts of any other country) or anyone out there who ever had a positive experience with scouting.

A little slice of 1987 on the internet. Visit KAOS -- Central NY's premiere BBS. Multi-user, telnetable, Citadel/UX.
[ Parent ]
well.. (4.25 / 8) (#7)
by lucid on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 10:28:30 AM EST

While I wouldn't put it first on my list, I can see where CPR and first aid training would be a valuable practical skill.

Your 'consumer things' should probably wait for later, since teaching a 14-year-old about fancy banking is probably a waste. Around 17 or 18, though, its probably a different story. When I was 14 or 15, I took classes on business law and civil law. I remember nothing of it, and passed both with ease.

Also, your third choices are nice, and I see much value in teaching them to high school students, but I don't know that they would cut down on much of anything. Many doctors still smoke, if you know what I'm saying.

The problem with an 'ideal' curriculum is that the current system is not ideal, and is probably far from it. It certainly isn't the worst system, and I feel that it is better than many news reports would have us believe, but there is a lot of room at the top. But to get a more ideal system put into place, you would have to assuage parents' fears that their children are going to learn at least everything the parents learned in school. No English Lit class? Shock. Horror. No 'history'? No 'math'? No way. As pointless and unrealistic as the current scholastic divisions between 'branches' of human thought are, any extreme change in it will be met with a lot of resistance.

By the way, what I mean by divisions is this: English, History, Math, and Science are generally expected class-types to be seen on most or all class schedules. There is a lot of overlap here, especially between 'Math' and 'Science.' So what generally ends up happening is a student learns, say, a formula in a science class, and then learns it in math class the next day. Waste. Why not have two 'Science' classes instead, where there is time to go deeper into said formula, describing it, how it was developed, what led to its discovery, what formula if any was used to describe the phenomenon previously, etc. That's history, too. Three subjects overlapping.

An interesting suggestion by Neil Postman is to eliminate 'history' and 'math' and teach the remaining subjects as 'histories.' I feel this would be a more ideal system. Another improvement I would add is consistency or internal cohesion. For example, in high school, on the rare occasion that I would have to do a report for a class that wasn't 'English,' the bar was set far lower. Citations weren't always required, spelling errors weren't particularly minded, and as long as the grammar knob was set to 'minimal intelligibility' everything was fine. That is crap. Lessons learned in a different class are thrown aside immediately, proving in the minds of many students that it isn't necessary.

Also, more reports, less homework. Well-written essays and reports tend to put things students have learned into place, IMO, especially position pieces. Arguing for or against points constantly can tend to foster a deeper sort of learning than rote memorization.

Generally, homework does just the opposite. For example, 'Math' homework generally emphasizes memorization and application of a formula or small group of formulas, often forgotten after the chapter or test is done with. This doesn't impart a deep understanding of the workings of a particular formula very often, but is more reminiscent of Pavlov's dogs. "When this, then that." The whole "write out your work" craze that was sweeping schools just as I graduated was a nice try, but it's still the same old shit, with more work forced upon the student. Instead of having to ring a bell for an 'A', you have to ring a bell, and toot a whistle. Education.

One more thing that would lead to a better education system: fewer 'standardized' tests/proficiency tests at arbitrary 'milestones.' The teachers at the schools that administer these tests have no idea what any given test contains. From my experiences, these tests often contain information students haven't been taught at that point, but may have been taught to them had they gone to a different school. Who decides what questions are relevant? It isn't anyone the student knows, or anyone who has presided over them in a classroom.

Alright, so I suppose I didn't really answer your question. There are so many things that I don't know, I don't think I can reliably answer your question. For any one thing I propose, there are probably five that I don't know about. What I _do_ think is that the key to a better education system isn't as simple as different classes. While many people hurrah at children learning Calculus in the fourth grade, I find myself wondering how much of that will be retained later on. People cheer when first-graders can recite the Gettysburg Address by memory, but I think it ends up meaning jack shit. Of course, if I understand correctly, people also cheer and hurrah when overpayed sacks of shit on talk shows shame troubled people into tears, and send troubled children to 'boot camp' or prison to 'teach them a lesson.'

So now you know. I think.

Math (4.00 / 2) (#55)
by slakhead on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 06:54:59 PM EST


Do away with math?
You can't just do away with math. There should always be a little math involved with any education. As has been mentioned already, math helps improve rational thinking and problem solving and if there is anything we could do with more of, it is rational people.

Also, math homework does not often involve just memorization. The point of the homework is to have the students do as many problems as they need to do in order to understand the concept and the formulas involved. Memorizing formulas is useless unless you can apply them and understand their importance. Homework is supposed to do this but sometimes fails to fulfill its purpose. If you went farther into math than just the basic trig and algebra, you would see the importance of your earlier struggles when you are trying to integrate a function that is seemingly impossible to solve and then you remember (yes you had to memorize this but you could always look it up in a table) that, for example, (cos(x))^2 + (sin(x))^2 equals 1. Wow. 1. How simple is that? The point being, you learn it when you use it but you need to be aware of it before you can learn it. You are introduced to algebra so you can recognize it, but you learn it in calculus. You become aware of calculus in calculus but you learn it best in differential equations. And so it goes.

On the subject of "writing out your work" you couldn't be farther from the truth. Writing out your work is one of the most important things you could ever learn in school. In "Real Life", you are expected to solve problems and come to conclusions. Often times you will be working in teams with others and come to disagreements over the answers at which everyone arrived. How are you going to come to an agreement? Check your work! If everyone can show exactly the steps they went through to get to their results, then the problem can be quickly solved. This is a MUST for science and engineering. And as stupid as it may seem, writing out your own work improves your understanding of the subject because it makes your shortcomings clear to teachers, enabling them to help you improve in that area.

[ Parent ]
That's not it at all... (4.00 / 1) (#61)
by pb on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 01:23:13 AM EST

I think what he was talking about was the integration of related disciplines, wherever possible. I completely agree, by the way, because I remember a semester of high school when I took three classes that taught me about "e^x" with various and sundry constants. That means there were at least two hours wasted explaining exponential functions without memory, or something like that...

If you had a similarly in-depth explanation of cos(x)^2 + sin(x)^2 = 1, then you'd know why, because you'd know that cos(x) and sin(x) represent angles in a triangle, so you can map a right triangle onto a unit circle, and prove trivially that the length of the diagonal is equal to the radius... If you just memorize the formula or work through the problems without gaining an understanding of this, then you won't really learn.

There were many cool things I learned about math from just playing around. My understanding of it would have increased measurably if they had simply *taught* me some of these things. I would argue that background like this should be in any decent math course, and is often lacking. But then, I'm not going into math, either. :)

For example: using the standard calculus formula for a derivative, derive a general formula for an nth derivative. Or, take repeated integrals of a function, starting with 0; describe the series you get, and then describe what sort of functions you can describe with a function and its n derivatives...

I had a lot of trouble with calculus because of the sheer lack of explanation involved, and the focus on mindless problem solving. If my teachers had asked me one or two questions like this, I would have been fascinated; instead, I was bored beyond belief. I argue that this doesn't necessarily make me bad at calculus, just bad at learning it in the current system. But I'm sure that computer science will appreciate me much more than math will...
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[ Parent ]
Cool stuff (none / 0) (#75)
by slakhead on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 10:29:56 PM EST

Yeah I saw his point about integration of subjects but I just disagreed in a general way. I admit that without any practical applications, math seems like a waste of time. But there are some cool things you can do with math that have important functions in society.

We (my math class) just got done with a section dealing with calculating the content of mixing vats after time "t" based on rates of input and output. It is pretty basic stuff but it is used all the time in industry. It actually makes me wonder if the people who really use those ideas in their line of work even remember what they mean anymore or if they ever did...

On a lighter note, I am assuming you are refering to Taylor series when you mention your class on "e^x"...I am kind of upset that my calc teacher skipped that section. In a nerdy sort of way, I think it would be cool to prove what e^(pi*i) equals. There are also really useful in solving second order differential equations when you are dealing with functions that include something like "e^ix". If you recognize the function and you know the solution of the Taylor series, you know that "e^ix" equals "cos x + i * sin x" which makes things much easier.

I think the best way to teach kids math would be to first show them the inner beauty of mathematics so they could appreciate what they are doing on a basic level even if they didn't know what it was good for regarding practical applications.

[ Parent ]
woah there.. (none / 0) (#74)
by lucid on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 09:11:12 PM EST

"Doing away with math" is a bad description for what I was saying. I have always lost interest in math classes in about ten seconds. It seemed to me that it was a class where bullshit problems were invented and solved in a vacuum.

So what I _am_ suggesting is remove 'math' from the curriculum, and instead place a much heavier emphasis in maths in other courses. It always strikes me as a waste to learn formulas in an algebra class, and then 'learn' it again the next day in physics or chemistry or biology.

Physics without math is pretty much nothing. The same goes for chemistry and biology and all sorts of other fields. I am assuming that once you know something is important, and know _why_ it is important, you will not just know it, but understand it.

What I am trying to argue for is not to drop math, but to reintegrate it with fields that are castrated without it, allowing the teachers to emphasize it.

I also feel that having a 'math' course disadvantages students, or fools them into thinking of mathematical problems as question-answer dichotomy. Actually, when students are immersed in 'Real Life' problems, there will be many ways to find an answer, and sometimes many answers to find.

I hope this clarifies my position.

[ Parent ]
Wanna hear something odd? (3.60 / 10) (#8)
by regeya on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 11:05:50 AM EST

>Second, would be consumer things - like basic law, enough math to
> understand what '3.9%APR' means, and so on.

When I was in high school, I was a total underachiever, and one year the school counselor made me take a lower-level math course. We learned about things like interest rates and the various ways interest is compounded, your 3.9% APR, etc.

The little angels that took the higher-level math courses never had any classes on these sort of things, and learned the lessons on their own. Painfully, at times.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

Unlikely. (3.00 / 2) (#78)
by FeersumAsura on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:53:52 AM EST

The little angels that took the higher-level math courses never had any classes on these sort of things, and learned the lessons on their own. Painfully, at times.

I find this unlikely as it is just a simple geometric progression. The formula of which is taught to every 15 year old in the North of England. It is definately in all the A-Level sylabuses. I've met young children (13) who having just learnt the principles of % can understand the concept of APR.

I'm so pre-emptive I'd nuke America to save time.
[ Parent ]
Absolultely, but it won't happen..... (4.22 / 9) (#9)
by atom on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 11:22:27 AM EST

I completely agree with you that high school should be more applicable to real life. I never learned first aid or CPR, but I did have to sit through four years of Latin, another four years of English, and many other less than desirable courses. All that time and effort in school at this age is wasted on French and Literature, IMHO... You could be doing so MUCH more with it. - yes, I happen to agree, though I think it would be more fair to say that subjects like those should be by choice - perhaps high schoolers should have some kind of scaled-down major; some people LIKE French and Literature, but other (normal) people will have no use for it after the graduate high school.

I always thought there should be a "Real Life 101" type course. There's so many things that a lot of kids will understand, but ALL kids are supposed to understand. That would include stuff in your second point - simple banking, balancing a checkbook, etc. Not to limit this to only one course, but I'd find it far more valuable than an extra English or History course.

High school shouldn't be filling students with large amounts of four major subjects, 2 to 3 of which will never be used again. By the time a person is 14, he should at least know whether he prefers math and science to humanities, and be able to focus on the subjects that he will use in college and throughout his or her life. I do think a core curriculum is necessary, but on a much smaller scale than most are - a year or two of English, likewise in math - just because the absoulte basics are probably useful, and students may find interests they didn't know they had. But come year 4 of English, it's simply being taken to fulfill a school (state?) requirement, not because of enjoyment or because of usefulness.

But, of course, none of this will happen. Schools don't trust their students, and feel that they know better what the student needs most. There are many state laws that mandate certain courses that must be taken. Nobody's going to take the first step to be innovate enough to allow their students to learn in the best way for them.
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One of the problems (none / 0) (#17)
by aphrael on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 02:33:48 PM EST

with the social sciences is that they aren't taught in a way which makes their relevance clear.

Basic microeconomic theory is going to be useful for most people; a general understanding of how the government works is going to be useful for most people (and somehow, it's something that many people get out of high school without understanding, despite required courses in it!). History becomes useful if you want to understand *why* things are the way they are now --- which is ironic, because most history classes spend way too much time focusing on rome and greece and never get past WWII (which would be the most interesting part!)

[ Parent ]

Call me a cynic... (3.33 / 3) (#10)
by MeanGene on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 11:46:04 AM EST

... but I think that keeping significant part of the population ignorant and happy with basic chow provides for a stable society. Pardon my analogy, but an army consisting of only generals is as good as defeated.

I think it's a pretty obvious thing that (over-)educated people are always displeased with something. They tend to see how society feeds on its members.

Imagine the ensuing chaos if everybody in any given country decides to actively engage in some sort of "pursuit of happiness" instead of zombiing between work, shopping and watching TV commercials.

Happiness? (3.50 / 2) (#11)
by Khedak on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 12:07:41 PM EST

... but I think that keeping significant part of the population ignorant and happy with basic chow provides for a stable society. Pardon my analogy, but an army consisting of only generals is as good as defeated.

I think it's a pretty obvious thing that (over-)educated people are always displeased with something. They tend to see how society feeds on its members.

Maybe, but I don't think "overeducated" people are any less happy than regular people. I think if you think that's the case you're probably an "overeducated" person and you don't know what it's like to be a high school dropout, or someone who barely graduated. If you think our schools are designed to produce happiness, then you're either wrong, or they're doing a very poor job.

And on another note, there is such a thing as taking happiness too far. Have you ever read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley? It's about as far off the mark as 1984, but in the other direction: Everyone is happy, because they're conditioned from birth to be happy with whatever role society has decided to put them in. Nobody has freedom, but nobody cares (except the protagonist, who is unhappy...)

There's an old adage that says all progress depends upon unreasonable people, since reasonable people are happy with what they have. Happiness isn't a goal of society, and schools dont (and shouldn't) train people to be "happy" ... People must seek their own ideas of happiness. At least, that's my opinion.

[ Parent ]
Re: Happiness? (4.00 / 2) (#23)
by MeanGene on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 05:09:18 PM EST

Maybe, but I don't think "overeducated" people are any less happy than regular people. I think if you think that's the case you're probably an "overeducated" person and you don't know what it's like to be a high school dropout, or someone who barely graduated. If you think our schools are designed to produce happiness, then you're either wrong, or they're doing a very poor job.

If you read again my original comment, you'll see that by "unhappiness" of "overeducated" people, I don't mean any personal feelings. Somebody maybe ecstatic about his family life - and quite unhappy about the society in general.

I never said that schools are meant to produce "happy" people. They are meant to make people aware of their place in this life, and to make them content with it.

Large scale discontent produces social upheavals. Sorry to quote Marx here, but he said something to the extent that

"Revolutions happen when upper classes cannot rule the way they used to, and lower classes cannot subsist the wat they used to."

[ Parent ]

I disagree, sorry (4.61 / 13) (#12)
by Broco on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 12:15:18 PM EST

Things that you usually end up learning later, at great cost to yourself, your bank account, and your credit rating.

I think this is a good reason _not_ to learn the things you suggested in high school. If you can learn things on your own, why take courses on it? The current method of school education, with homework, studying and exams, is well adapted to teaching you more abstract, intellectual subjects that you most likely wouldn't learn if you were left to your own devices. Like French, literature, and more advanced math; I gather from your article that you hated those subjects, and would never have learned anything about them if you hadn't been forced to.

Of course, is learning these subjects useful? In my opinion, yes. Learning a foreign language is always useful, even if you never plan to use it. It helps you gain a better intuitive understanding of your native languages, and puts you into contact with another culture. I can say from personal experience that learning Japanese has given me a heightened awareness of the grammar of French and English, and improved my writing. Studying literature also helps with language skills. And being able to express yourself clearly and understand other people's ideas is essential in any profession.

As for calculus and philosophy, those subjects help you think rationally. Surely logical thinking is something to be encouraged.

OTOH, in my experience it's poor at explaining things like "psychology, sociology, and relationships". I had 5 years of high school with a "morals" course that was meant to teach us exactly that. I feel I learned exactly nothing from all those courses. The teachers just spouted vague platitudes and common wisdom that can only be properly learned through experience. In fact, I would prefer courses like that being cut out from the curriculum.

Although I do agree with your CPR point, I _did_ learn CPR and first aid in high school. It only took a few hours of phys. ed. courses. I don't think it's necessary to cut out any French and literature for that :).

Klingon function calls do not have "parameters" - they have "arguments" - and they ALWAYS WIN THEM.

psych, sosh, and relationships (4.00 / 2) (#13)
by delmoi on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 12:33:58 PM EST

Actually, I think high school students should be taught Social Psychology, which is neither sociology nor psychology, but rather a separate field. Basicaly the study of human behavior with real scientific testing. Rather then spouting crap, they give you real data, and do real studies

And since the stuff they give you is based on real science, rather then folk wisdom, you can actually believe it.

And as far as relationships goes, nothing is going to prevent the problems you are going to have. Ironically Just this past semester I was having relationship problems with a girl who I was also taking the class with. It did give us a lot of terminology to use when discussing things, but ultimately it wasn't able to save the relationship (well, I wasn't able to get her to go out with me, we're still friends. But I ended up getting hurt)
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
My experience (3.50 / 2) (#14)
by onyxruby on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 02:07:16 PM EST

I know when I went to High School here in Minnesota my local educational institute required you become CPR certified to graduate. Since I was a certified CPR instructor at the time I got to teach many of them. I never once heard a complaint about this particular requirement for graduation. As for basic first aid, if you wanted, you could join the EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) class. By far the toughest class I have ever taken.

We need to require basic consumer things like 3.9% APR and what does this mean to your wallet vs 23.9%? Knowing how to balance a checkbook is something everybody needs to know in life, and high school would be the best place to teach it. Around here a single bounced check costs $50, and can even land you in jail if someone wants it. A slew of bounced checks from sloppy book-keeping can cost someone a fortune.

Don't know about all the psych stuff though. There isn't enough time in hs to teach people about that kind of thing. I have to disagree with you on this This way, at least you could cut down the number of Stupid Relationship Lessons you have to go through before you start to understand them being possible. To quote Jim Horning "Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement."

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.

I'm a High Schooler (3.50 / 4) (#16)
by LordHunter317 on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 02:33:37 PM EST

... and where I go to school the material sucks. It prepares you for ansolutely nothing. From all the returning college students I've learned that nothing I learn now will matter when I get to college, and I'll end up doing about 1/10 of the work I do in HS (and this is from peoiple who went to Harvard and MIT too).

The ideal HS curriculum would be 100% independent. Children would be taught from home whatever they feel like they need to learn and whatever is best for them. For example, I learn much better in a small group/1 on 1 then I do in even of a class of 30 being lectured. Course the county is to stupid to handle this kind of stuff.

I think we ought to declare a major when we enter into HS. Then, what we study is adjusted to what we want to learn. This way, I oculd have skipped a bunch of borning foriegn language credits and spent more time on Computer Science stuff.

Personally, I think most children at about the age of 14 or 15 are mature enough to have their own hand in desigining what they learn. Deep down, most of us have a good idea of what we want to do with our lives. However, the "experts" and the school board insist on us learning this and that, when we could really care less

Man cannot be wonderful. Man can only lift big rocks and grunt - Me to Ex-girlfriend
Broad Range of Learning (3.33 / 3) (#21)
by mattyb77 on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 03:08:18 PM EST

The typical ramp up the education ladder is shaped like a triangle. The lower the level of eduaction, the broader the education. When you get out of high school you are supposed to have a broad range of knowledge that allows you to function in the world.

When you go to college you can declare a major and specialize in something. You still get a broad range of knowledge, due to general studies and core requirements, but you've also got knowledge on something very specific.

If you go on to graduate school and get a Masters and/or a Ph.D. your studies become even more focused.

Employers want people that are well-rounded, and are able to problem solve and perform in a variety of situations. You also limit yourself when you only focus on one subject in school. You have no idea during those 4 years in high school what you're necessarily going to do for the remaining 45 years or so of your working life.

"I bestow upon myself the `Doctorate of Cubicism', for educators are ignorant of Nature's Harmonic Time Cube Principle and cannot bestow the prestigious honor of wisdom upon the wisest human ever." -- Gene Ray, the wisest human ever
[ Parent ]

Do they? (4.00 / 3) (#30)
by Ming D. Merciless on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 07:35:14 PM EST

Employers want people that are well-rounded, and are able to problem solve and perform in a variety of situations.

They say they do, but given general hiring practices and the actual Dilbert-esque workplace environment, well I have to wonder sometimes. Do employers really want well-rounded, intelligent employees? Or just mindless technicians that do their job and ask as few questions as possible?

Oh I know of lots of exceptions to the above, but in general I see this as being the reality of the situation.

Oh never mind my abortive little rant. I'm just grumpy today.

A little slice of 1987 on the internet. Visit KAOS -- Central NY's premiere BBS. Multi-user, telnetable, Citadel/UX.
[ Parent ]
Hiring (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by mattyb77 on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 02:31:15 PM EST

I think what you're saying is pretty legitimate.

I think employers would rather hire intelligent, well-rounded people, but I don't think it is one of those things that they necessarily think about during the interview or hiring process. I think it is one of those things that crops up later.

Also, having a college degree in anything is almost always going to mean more pay. I work for a Web hosting company, but if I had finished my history degree I know I'd have more money every month.

On the other end, do mindless technicians really go far? Do they ever go beyond being mindless technicians? Of course some of them do become mindless managers.

"I bestow upon myself the `Doctorate of Cubicism', for educators are ignorant of Nature's Harmonic Time Cube Principle and cannot bestow the prestigious honor of wisdom upon the wisest human ever." -- Gene Ray, the wisest human ever
[ Parent ]
As another highschooler, I disagree (4.50 / 2) (#39)
by Scooby on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 11:03:34 PM EST

I disagree that you should only learn what you want to learn. They used to have something like this, it was called apprenticeship. Your parants would pay for you to work and learn under a master of a profession. And guess what, if you decided later in life that you wanted to learn something else, you're screwed, it's all you can do. You MUST have a well-rounded education, not only will it let you have a lot of flexability in life, but also understand things a lot better.

I do agree with you that school should be more adapted to student's learning though. I end up teaching myself most of the stuff I learn.

[ Parent ]
And you think school is boring now... (4.11 / 9) (#18)
by jasonab on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 02:40:28 PM EST

>All that time and effort in school at this age is wasted on French and Literature, IMHO...

Ah, so we're going to replace higher thinking with lessons in credit. Why is this the realm of a school, and not the home?

While I'm at it, there was an interesting book written a few years ago on the concept of "shared cultural knowledge" (the title escapes me). The thesis was that we all used basic literally (and other) references to communicate, and these were being lost in school. In other words, literature wasn't being taught enough.

While I agree that basic law and psychology might be interesting, putting French and literature in the waste bin would be intellectual suicide.


America is a great country. One of the freest in the world. -- greenrd
You can't change high school first... (4.00 / 5) (#19)
by chrislindsay on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 02:51:47 PM EST

The problem w/ changing high school curriculums is simple: colleges look for a typical 4yrs English, 2 or more of Math, 4yrs of History, 2yrs of science to admit their students. If you want to change education, work from the upper levels on down.

No way. (4.50 / 16) (#20)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 03:00:28 PM EST

All that time and effort in school at this age is wasted on French and Literature, IMHO...

So you really want school to produce "peasants who can sit in one place for long periods of time and do arbitrary tasks which they do not understand nor need to understand."

CPR can be learnt in a few days. The meaning of "%APR" can be learnt in an hour. These things, while good to know (especially CPR), do not add much to your potential as a person, or greatly advance your intellect.

A language, on the other hand, has to be learnt over a few years, enables you to communicate with members of a different culture, and increases your metalinguistic awareness, i.e., your awareness about the way languages are structured and how those structures can be used to convey meaning. Simply put, people who know more than one language, put in an academic setting, are better at language than those who just know one.

Literature is also important to produce people aware of the cultural heritage of the world they live in, and not mindless consumers who buy anything they see on TV.


Here in Illinois (3.50 / 4) (#22)
by Miniluv on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 03:54:41 PM EST

I was required to take a health class in high school, that health class was not passable without passing the basic CPR certification. We were also required to take a "consumer education" class, which covered things like APR and what it means to your dollar, filling out basic income tax returns, balancing a checkbook, budgeting a monthly income, etc.

I am glad I had to take these, I feel I gained a lot of worth while education from just these two courses. Then again, I think I also gained worth while education from my Rhetoric of Cinema course, and "fluff" subjects like that got slammed pretty hard in the main story here.

The main point being missed is that not all education has to be focused on "practical" skills, especially in high school. Training towards a particular career path is best left in secondary education, i.e. university or trade school. High school is there to bring students to a certain minimum standard which society has deemed required to be a functioning member of the whole.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'

Whoa Nelly (3.80 / 5) (#24)
by GreenCrackBaby on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 05:27:28 PM EST

High school students take lots of english, yet 75% of people still can't spell worth a damn, nor do they understand how to string a sentance or two together. Can you imagine teaching these same people CPR?

"No no...you tilt his head back!"

"Are you sure?"

"I dunno...I skipped that day."

It's spelled "sentence" (4.14 / 7) (#26)
by Broco on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 06:15:08 PM EST

If you're going to accuse people of being idiots because they can't spell, you had better be real careful with your own writing ...

I hate this theory that there's one single value called "intelligence" that can be used to determine the sum total of someone's worth as a person. Though I guess it's convenient in ad hominem attacks, because it allows one to insult a person in his entirety based on a single weakness (such as English writing skill). But the truth is that everyone is made up of a plethora of subtly interrelated skills, none of which on their own make one "intelligent" or "stupid". And I would say that the intelligence and knowledge involved in proper spelling and grammar has no relationship whatsoever with performing CPR.

Frankly, people who say the majority of humanity is stupid (implicity putting themselves in the group of people who are intelligent) make my blood boil. Drop the ego. You aren't part of some great intelligent elite. You just have your skills in a different areas than some other people. And you're underestimating the capabilities of most of humanity even in those areas. It takes such incredible brainpower just to put together intelligible sentences that in comparison, spelling according to standard convention is trivial icing on the cake.

Sorry to dump this rant on you. I've just had it building up in me for a while ...

Klingon function calls do not have "parameters" - they have "arguments" - and they ALWAYS WIN THEM.
[ Parent ]

Stop putting words into my mouth (3.16 / 6) (#29)
by GreenCrackBaby on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 07:32:19 PM EST

You know, I was going to add a disclaimer to my original post saying that most would lump me into that 75% of people who can't spell, but figured that people would be able to see my actual point and not feel it necessary to belittle me for my english.

If you can point out where in my post I state that I can spell, then maybe you have a point.

[ Parent ]

Sorry (3.00 / 3) (#32)
by Broco on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 07:52:24 PM EST

Sorry, I misinterpreted your comment. I tend to infer too much from a text-based medium.

Anyway, I wasn't trying to attack you specifically but the idea of an absolute level of intelligence. If you don't believe in that, great! :) Please don't take it personally.

Klingon function calls do not have "parameters" - they have "arguments" - and they ALWAYS WIN THEM.
[ Parent ]

English (2.75 / 4) (#33)
by enterfornone on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 08:28:50 PM EST

The problem is that most "english" classes are really literature classes. I learned plenty about deciphering the hidden meanings in plays and poems, but nothing about how to write and speak good.

I was lucky to get a good french teacher who ended up being forced to teach us our own language before we could learn another.

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
This is so sad... (none / 0) (#68)
by glothar on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 10:35:13 AM EST

While it makes me sad to point this out, your French teacher still didn't get everything across to you.

Should be: "but nothing about how to write or speak well"

I'll agree that my grasp on the English language was greatly improved when I learned French, however, English literature classes should at least give you some understanding of how to form a sentence in English. Even more important is the ability to form a thought in English.

Everyone here is saying: "I haven't received any useful knowledge from my foo class." Sure. That's because you already know it. You may have forgotten a lot of the information, but it probably made an impact. Since many of the people are able to form coherent, logical arguments, I'd say that at least English classes have served their purpose.

[ Parent ]

-1 to this because.. (3.50 / 2) (#25)
by flameboy on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 06:02:15 PM EST

Ok I have voted this -1 because the author seems to not have done enough research. I for one had been on 3 first aid courses through my school before I left. The first one was when I was about 11, and I was taught cpr even then (admitadely (sp) most others in my class weren't taught it because they where not physically strong enough to apply it safely at the time). Also through school I took a junior lifeguard course. These were not outside school hours, they were part of classes. I was also taught about credit rating, banking, tax system in my maths classes. As for teaching basic psychology, sociology and relationships well I think that the best way to learn about relationships is to have some.. a lot of stuff can't be taught and psychology and sociology aren't normally taught until after school is because the majority don't want to learn about those two fields. I agree that current schoolong systems have problems, but they are more basic than this (just ask any teacher). I personally feel that maths should be further encouraged (and more explanation of where maths is usefull in the real world).

I for two (none / 0) (#27)
by ehayes on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 06:52:44 PM EST

> Ok I have voted this -1 because the author seems to not have done enough research.
> I for one

Well, I for one had real sex education, including birth control information, in my
CATHOLIC junior high and high schools. (at least, it checked out with everything I
was reading after school)

However, that doesn't mean that everyone had such a thing.

Which was the point of the article - what should everyone be required to have?


[ Parent ]
Ummmm....they DO teach that stuff (3.66 / 3) (#28)
by DesiredUsername on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 07:27:31 PM EST

And not just in high school. Besides your obviously bitter ranting about "peasants" (just because many people ARE peasants doesn't mean high school did it or that high school was designed to do it) you list the following items:

CPR and first aid: I learned this is PE class. I think I was in 8th or 9th grade.

Basic Law: Civics class for gov't related things, debate club for some of the rest

"3.9% APR": I first encountered interest rate problems in 6th grade (or was it 5th?). Several times thereafter (like the exponentiation method later on)

Psychology/Sociology: A class was offered at my HS, but I didn't take it. However, it may have been required for freshman/sophmores--I joined that school as a junior.

I was in school A (in Iowa) through grade 7, in school B (in Iowa) through my sophmore year and then in school C (in Missouri) for the last two years. 3 different schools in 2 different states is probably a fairish sampling.

Play 囲碁
peasants (3.50 / 2) (#31)
by danny on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 07:38:05 PM EST

Don't knock peasants - they do resist the system, it's just that they have very limited resources and face opponents with vastly more power.

[900 book reviews and other stuff]

The Best Curriculum is NO Curriculum (3.66 / 3) (#35)
by Logan on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 09:23:29 PM EST

I find the ideas of mandatory schooling, standardized curricula, and public funding of the above to be wrong. It is based on the unfortunately misguided idea that there is one set of values which every person should know and endorse. A curriculum in a mandatory school is just another way of saying "indoctrination," and indoctrination is the surest way to condition a student not to think. Lumping a large group of intelligent children into a single classroom and force-feeding them values without considering for a moment the interests of the children should be considered child abuse, in my opinion. And I do believe that most children are intrinsically capable of intelligence.

The ideals set forth in the Sudbury model of schooling seems to resonate most strongly with my beliefs. However I have no experience in such a school, which seem to be all or mostly elementary schools. A close alternative for parents with the time and resources is home schooling. Basically, given freedom and resources, a child will learn. A child that is force-fed knowledge does not typically develop intelligence; on the contrary, he or she is induced to avoid learning to learn and appreciate learning. A child left to his or her own devices is happier, less bored, and not only accumulates a wealth of information pertinent to his or her own interests, but also acquires the ability to learn. If one has the ability to learn, one can do anything. But if you believe, as the author of this story seems to believe, that people are mindless brutes who must have good ideas beaten into them, mandatory public schooling and government-mandated curricula are the way to go.


Sudbury Model (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by MrAcheson on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 01:02:27 PM EST

I'm not sure if this is the correct model of education or not, but we have some schools near where I grew up that were designed to work on the "kids can choose their own work level" style of education. It was a dismal failure.

Why? Because if you let a child, especially a young child, pick their own classes and interests they inevitably pick none at all. In other words they totally slack off and play hookey. Children do not have a concept of long term goals in education and systems where the child can essentially walk into (or more importantly out of) any classroom requires a level of responsibility that children and often teenagers lack.

The reason children are set down in a classroom and instructed is because they aren't disciplined and attentive enough for anything else. Their attention spans and ability to focus are just too short. Besides there are basic skills that everyone in a society needs to know, why not teach them in a group environment? Everyone needs to be able to do the 3Rs. Everyone needs basic composition skills and math skills, if only to count their drawer at the end of their shift at McDonalds and write their boyfriend a postcard when they go on vacation.

These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.

[ Parent ]
You Must Know Mentally Challenged Lazy Children... (3.00 / 1) (#71)
by Logan on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:46:15 PM EST

... because all the children that I know are quite curious and active. Perhaps what you seem to have observed among children is simply the product of a forced curriculum. A child whose every interest is thwarted is of course going to be lethargic and unattentive. But children do have natural interests. They will be attentive to things they are interested in, and it is an assumption under the Sudbury model that children have and develop interests. Do you remember your childhood? Did you never have the urge to learn something? Did you never learn from even your most idle playtimes?

As for the development of what you call "basic" skills -- if knowing these skills would be useful, an individual will choose to learn them. When a child naturally comes to the conclusion that a certain skill would be useful, the child will not only take measures to acquire that skill, but will also strongly desire to acquire that skill. Don't you agree that one learns best when one wants to learn?

The reason children are set down in a classroom and instructed is not because they aren't "disciplined and attentive enough for anything else," but because either the parents or government desire for the children to be out of the parents' hands and immersed in some doctrine (whether that doctrine be the tenets of religion or the tenets set forth by a government in order to make content, accomodating citizens of us all). Have you ever been around children? Perhaps they lack what you call "discipline," but they can be very attentive when it strikes their fancy. Have you ever observed that children learn how to speak fluent English, usually without ever being submitted to some sort of formal curriculum? Children are curious, and they pick up things from their experiences, regardless of what they do. Every experience is a learning experience, regardless of whether one wishes to learn or not. If a child associates dread and boredom with the concept of learning, it is likely that the child will grow up to hate learning, and hate thinking. However, left to his or her own devices, a child at play is a child learning, imagining, and exercising creativity, and enjoying it. This is an environment in which intelligence would thrive. Perhaps we should encourage such play rather than stifle it.


[ Parent ]

Most children are lazy and stupid. (none / 0) (#84)
by marlowe on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:14:23 PM EST

The real question is whether a school should cater to such a majority, to the detriment of the minority.

I think there should be two school systems: one for those destined to flip burgers or be cannon fodder in future wars, and another for those who actually have some mental aptitude. These two systems should be entirely separate, designed on different principles, and with teachers trained in entirely different methods, each appropriate to its respective clientele.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
You Suffer From Some Misguided Stereotype (2.00 / 1) (#89)
by Logan on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 07:00:54 PM EST

Every child I've ever known (excepting those with birth defects) has always been extremely active and curious... at least up until the age they started going to school. Most parents would complain that they can't keep up with their children. Is this laziness? Or do you reserve that term for someone that doesn't fit into your ideal of how a person should behave?


[ Parent ]

No, I suffer from having known actual children. (none / 0) (#96)
by marlowe on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:21:26 PM EST

Lazy, stupid children.

No, they weren't preschoolers. But they were Boston Irish, which may have had something to do with it. Those people actually regard laziness and stupidity as virtues.

Come to think of it, the teachers were lazy and stupid as well.

And by the way, just what bearing has the character of preschoolers on the question of how to educate children of school age? I'm having a hard time seeing what your point could possibly be.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
My Point (none / 0) (#98)
by Logan on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 06:33:55 PM EST

My point is that, until children enter public schools, they are actively learning little kids. They enjoy learning about things they care about. Then you throw them into a rigid indoctrination process and they begin to wilt. You meet with resistance, and assume what you see is laziness or stupidity. My point is that people tend to label children who don't fit into their ideal of what a good, attentive child should be as simply lazy and stupid, when in fact the child just doesn't desire to be what his or her elders want him or her to be. So my point is that if one encourages the pursuit of their own desires, and they will maintain this healthy, curious, and attentive behavior that they exhibit before school, and will be prepared to face whatever life may bring them.


[ Parent ]

Active but Unfocused (5.00 / 1) (#97)
by MrAcheson on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:44:39 PM EST

Kids are naturally curious and also naturally adept at learning. They are however not naturally focused. If you allow a child to learn whatever whenever they tend to learn a little about a lot but not in enough depth to do any good. You end up duplicating your effort on review every time you teach them something new on subject you have already covered. The ammount of time necessary to teach a child a simple lesson adequately is far longer than their attention spans. Therefore your "free range" education ideas tend to have problems for a majority of the children you are trying to teach.

Also there are things kids need to know. At some point you will have to sit them down and teach them these things anyway even if they choose not to learn them themselves. Kids need basic math, reading, and writing skills. If they choose not to learn them then they must be made to learn them. Period. To do any less would be to handicap them. Sometimes you must do things for childrens own good whether they like it or not because you know better than they do in the long run.

BTW people learn by experience and repetition. We learn by rote. How do kids learn english? By mimicing their parents and others until they get it right. BTW kids are usually taught fluent english by parents, etc. using childrens books and other tools. They don't simply pick it up by magic, it is a long systematic educational process that takes place for essentially all their waking hours for months to years. Likewise people learn math, reading, etc by trying it until they get it right. This is true of little children and of adults.

The problem in most education is that you need to reward people for their efforts. When your parents were teaching you how to read, they would tell you how good you were doing as you went. It made you feel good and positively reinforced you desire to learn. Likewise most students need positive feedback with education and if class sizes get too large or a teacher is poor this feedback suffers and the children lose their incentive to learn. Most children do not learn things purely for their own long range benefit, they lack the farsight for that. Most children learn because others make them feel good when they learn something.

Perhaps education needs to teach children to learn things for their benefit not because others want them to, but this is a long range problem not a short range one.

These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.

[ Parent ]
Educational reform (3.83 / 6) (#36)
by ocelot on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 09:45:03 PM EST

Uh oh...the topic I can't resist ranting about...I'll try to keep it reasonably short.

I think that education should be individualized around the student's strengths and weaknesses. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like there's an expectation that people should do equally well in all subjects. If you're smart, you'd better be taking high level English, Math, Science, Foreign Language, and everything else classes. You're either honors or you aren't. And the more advanced classes you take, regardless of relevance to future life, the higher your prestige. This seems just wrong to me. Wouldn't it make more sense to focus in on the areas where you have particular strength/interest?

I don't really agree with the idea that 14 year olds are ready to focus in on one area of study. At 14 I was convinced I wanted to be a marine biologist. I still don't really know what I want to do, but it sure isn't marine biology :) I think that eliminating subjects of disinterest and allowing for exploration of subjects of interest would make more sense than focusing in on one particular subject of interest.

Require work experience. Set up a system of apprenticeships/internships and let high schoolers choose one a semester or something. This would both help them decide whether they were interested in a particular field and give them real world experience. And hopefully help teach responsibility and earn them some money, too.

I don't agree with getting rid of foreign languages...I think that we should learn more of them, actually. But that needs to be at a younger age. Start in kindergarten, when it's natural to learn new languages. Not middle/high school, which is exactly the time when you start to lose that ability.

Require students to work to the best extent of their abilities. If a student is doing A work compared to the rest of the class, but could be doing a lot better, they shouldn't get an A. Don't limit what level classes students can take based on age/grade level. Conversely, don't punish students who truly don't do well in a subject. Yes, people tend to need a minimum level of competency in all subjects. But why not focus on the strengths instead of the weaknesses? But in any case, get rid of the lowest common denominator form of teaching, and teach towards what the student is actually capable of.

Have a holistic education. Integrate the different areas of study as much as is reasonably possible. Use one subject to teach another. Give real world relevance to as much of what is being

Essentially, I think more needs to be changed in how things are taught than the actual subjects being taught. I do agree thought that a basic First Aid class - and more than just a week in PE - would be a good idea :)

High minded ideals (none / 0) (#57)
by Miniluv on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 07:54:37 PM EST

Your ideas sound great in theory, unfortunately I struggle to see how they'd be anything other than a theory. Some of them are much more workable than others, and in fact exist in a lot of places.

Set up a system of apprenticeships/internships and let high schoolers choose one a semester or something
When I was in high school just a few years ago there were quite a few students who did exactly this. Several worked at local automotive shops because that's what they wanted to do, others worked on construction sites because they wanted to gain those skills. Unfortunately there was a sort of stigma about the program, perpetuated by the students and their parents not the faculty, that this sort of program was only intended for people who were definitely not doing college and who aimed towards blue collar work. This could be changed however by partnering with businesses of a different sort to target students with different skills.

Integrate the different areas of study as much as is reasonably possible. Use one subject to teach another. Give real world relevance to as much of what is being
This is more a function of the individual teachers and their organization than the system as a whole. In schools with team teaching strategies this is much more realistic, and in fact happens a fair bit. I went through 7th and 8th grade in a team teaching environment and major units were coordinated as much as possible. In history when we reached WWII our literature class read books and short stories about the war and it's effects, and our history class would frequently discuss the factual and historical relevance of those stories.

The point I'm floundering about trying to make is that there's a certain amount of "tailoring" that is feasible, and a lot of places are already doing it. Instead of just hounding the places that don't, perhaps it'd be more constructive to applaud the places that are and help them spread the word that these things do work, and do add value to education. Once we've got people liking and applauding the model we want, then we can start encouraging the districts and schools who don't do these sorts of things to change.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

somewhere over the rainbow... (4.00 / 1) (#72)
by ocelot on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 04:53:01 PM EST

Your ideas sound great in theory, unfortunately I struggle to see how they'd be anything other than a theory. Some of them are much more workable than others, and in fact exist in a lot of places.

Well, the title of the post is ideal high school curriculum, not ideal within reason :) And aiming higher than is necessarily workable isn't a bad thing. It provides incentive to make the smaller changes. I also think that while a large amount of tailoring may not currently be feasable, it will be moreso 10-15 years down the line as technology becomes more integrated into schools. In my own ideal little world, the majority of instruction would be provided via computer, at the student's own pace. Not that teachers would be replaced, but that their role would be different.

The problem I have with the changes suggested by the author is that they don't really do much to address what I consider to be the main problems with public school currently. And actually, mine don't either. I have a much longer and more radical version written up :) Perhaps I'll post it as a diary sometime

Unfortunately there was a sort of stigma about the program, perpetuated by the students and their parents not the faculty, that this sort of program was only intended for people who were definitely not doing college and who aimed towards blue collar work.

Yep, same with my school, though at my school the faculty perpetuated the stigma as well. Not directly really, but by not encouraging those who were college bound to enroll in those programs. To some extent they can't encourage the students who want to go on to a "good" college to do so, because of the value these schools place on academic work.

Removing the stigma is a large part of what I'd like to see.

This is more a function of the individual teachers and their organization than the system as a whole. In schools with team teaching strategies this is much more realistic, and in fact happens a fair bit. I went through 7th and 8th grade in a team teaching environment and major units were coordinated as much as possible. In history when we reached WWII our literature class read books and short stories about the war and it's effects, and our history class would frequently discuss the factual and historical relevance of those stories.

I've also had classes like this - in 8th grade my history and english classes were essentially the same, and I guess my 7th grade english teacher also made a token effort towards integrating what we were learning in history into our work. It's a start, anyways.

To some extent it is up to the individual teachers. To some extent it's up to the school administration. To some extent it's up to whoever teaches the teachers.

Once we've got people liking and applauding the model we want, then we can start encouraging the districts and schools who don't do these sorts of things to change.

Can't argue with you on that point :)

[ Parent ]

typing (3.66 / 3) (#38)
by ajaxy on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 10:57:20 PM EST

Effective touch typing should be a middle school graduation requirement.

Why? (3.00 / 1) (#42)
by Dacta on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 03:53:04 AM EST

I don't touch type (I three-finger + thumb on space bar type) and I program professionally. The day I spend more time typing code than I do thinking about how to solve problems is the day I'll learn to touch type - but I don't see that happening for a long time yet.

[ Parent ]
how long have you been working? (none / 0) (#67)
by mikpos on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 10:25:51 AM EST

...because in a few years, injuries from bad typing habits might catch up with you ;)

[ Parent ]
*S*` (none / 0) (#80)
by Dacta on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:28:43 AM EST

Three years.

I'm not too concerned about typing injuries - more about spinal injuries from bad posture - but that is another discussion!

[ Parent ]
It is (none / 0) (#56)
by slakhead on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 07:02:13 PM EST

In my middle school it was a requirement.

I heard an argument a while back saying something to the effect that modern CEOs were losing power to their secretaries because they had no typing skills are were therefore at the mercy of the hired labor and temps.

Seems a bit silly though.

[ Parent ]
keyboard layouts (none / 0) (#66)
by mikpos on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 10:24:06 AM EST

I've wondered about this in the past: if we're able to teach students en masse (e.g. at public schools), wouldn't it be an opportunity to get past the QWERTY layout? It appears to be an easy way out of the chicken-egg problem, anyway. You could probably teach them two layouts (QWERTY, plus some other), since it's not like they have anything better to do, anyway. This is all assuming that people are like me and don't like QWERTY :)

I disagree with your point in general, though. Middle schools (or elementary schools for those of us with no middle schools, I would assume) serve two purposes: (a) babysitting; and (b) making sure a relatively decent number of their graduates make it through high school. The second is ridiculously easy: I could have literally not gone to a single day of elementary school and still passed high school perfectly fine; the only things you need from elementary school in order to pass high school are (a) reading (grade 1) and (b) arithmetic (grade 1). Grades 2-8, you might as well just get them to play dodge ball all day (which doesn't sound half bad, actually).

[ Parent ]

Ideal curriculum (4.25 / 4) (#40)
by Anonymous 6522 on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 11:05:19 PM EST

First, I would like to say that I learned CPR in my gym classes, and what 3.9%APR means in my high school economics class. Learning this stuff was mandatory in my school. I also took a year of psychology, and a half year of sociology. These classes, while interesting, didn't teach me anything useful about relationships. My junior high health classes tried to teach us about relationships, but this was lecture-syle. Some things just must be learned from experience.

D.A.R.E. was a waste of time. It only discourages 6th grade kids from smoking weed. By the time kids actually get the chance to do drugs, D.A.R.E. has been long forgotten. If schools really want to stop drug use, D.A.R.E. is not the way to go.

High school should be a time when you learn about what intests you. You shouldn't be bogged down with classes that you find both uninteresting and useless.

You say that learning about French and Literature is wasted time, when you could be doing (I'm assuming) Math and Science. I agree with that, I didn't like Foreign language and English ether, but not everyone wants to go into a career heavy on math and science. Some people want to become writers, go live in France, etc. They should be able to take less math and more of what interests them.

Forcing people to take classes that they aren't interested in helps no one. Everything the student learns is forgotten after the test, and the teacher has to deal with a class of students that don't want to be there. Having a class full of apathic students also discourages the students that are actually interested. They'll be less likely to participate because of the pressure to conform.

Thanks for that link to John Gatto's essays. It changed how I look at the American public school system.

As a highschooler, my ideal curriculum (4.00 / 8) (#41)
by Scooby on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 11:21:05 PM EST

From my (albiet limited) experience with high school, and learning, this would be my ideal curriculm:

  • Everything MUST be intregrated. When I was in 6-8th grades, I was in the first multi-age class of my middle school, and one of the only in my state. In it, all the academics were taught intregrated. When you learned science, you learned math, and writing, and how it applies socialy, etc. Everything was intregrated.
  • Science is currently taught backwards. In most schools, you take biology, chemistry, then physics. This is just wrong if you really want to learn anything. Physics should be taught first. It tells you what the world is. Next should be Chemistry. It teaches you how these thigns you learned in Physics work and interact. Finally, last is Biology. It then teaches you how these things interact and apply to life. Learning it this way would give many students a much better understanding of science
  • Math shouldn't be taught like it is now. Currently, it seems to me that math is just taught as memorizing formulas, equations, etc. This is just plain wrong. If you want to learn anything, it needs to be taught so that you can learn the basics of anything, and apply it to everthing else. You shouldn't have to memorize everything, if you know some of it, you should be able to work the rest out. I've seen to many kids in my math classes that can't grasp what we're currently doing, even though it's just an extension on everything we did previously.
  • There should be many classes specializing in specific feilds, but your education should not be limited to these fields. Student's interests change. In 8th grade, I wanted to learn networking and such, now I abhor it, I'm much more interested in programming. Next year, I could not even be intersted in computers all together. Sticking to an interest decided in freshman year is wrong. You can't do anything later in life, and without a well-rounded education, you won't understand many things.
  • There should be Real Life(TM) classes taught, but not the only classes. Yes, things like CPR, First Aid should be taught, but they'd fit in well with classes like Biology, etc. They don't need to be specific classes.
That's the curriculim part, here's my ideas on how school should be run:

  • Homework shouldn't be graded. Yes, it should be counted for credit/half-credit/no-credit, but why in the world would you grade something you're learning? It just doesn't make sense. If you're learning it, you're bound to make mistakes. It's the fact that you're trying to learn it that should be counted, not that you can get it all right
  • School should start at 9am+. It's been proven that teenager's minds just don't operate as effeciantly until about 9am. There've been a few schools I've read about that have tried this, starting at 9am. Their grades and test scores have gone up atleast 20% in everycase. My school recently changed from starting at 8am last year, to starting at 7:25am this year so that we can use block-scheduling now. The principal at my school was strongly against this, he tried to get a 9am start, but it just didn't get through. Go figure =/
  • Block scheduling is a great idea when implimented well. My school just started block-scheduling this year. (For those that may not know, it's when you take a set of classes one day, then another set the next, alternating). This works out nicely on paper; you learn more per class period, and don't have as much homework to do. In actuality, it seems that we've been learning less. Instead of teaching more and different information in one class period, it seems like teachers are just teaching the same thing, only extending what was taught in one 50minute period to one 90 minute period. And instead of less homework, they pile 2-3days of homework into 1 day. Sure, we have 2 days to do it, but still, it's more homework. Granted, this is probably due to the first year we have it. Still, block scheduling would be a great idea if done correctly.
I had a few other ideas, but I kinda forgot them :-O. Oh well :)

I agree with most you say, except homework... (none / 0) (#53)
by Drakantus on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 04:55:25 PM EST

During highschool and middleschool I rarely did my homework. I had very bad grades because of this, but I did pass every year. I did fine on tests and any work done in class. Homework should be removed entirely-if more time is "needed" to teach something the school day should be extended. If a student wants to study extra at home, thats fine- but everyone learns differently and some (me specificly) can't stand doing busy/practice work- which homework was mostly.

[ Parent ]
Fellow High School Student (none / 0) (#102)
by eofpi on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 02:12:01 AM EST

I'm in the eleventh grade in an International Baccalaureate program in the United States, and I have met with similar experiences as you appear to have, and have reached similar conclusions on most. I had started writing something very similar to your post, but it turned into a rant and may or may not be posted to this board at a later date.

However, on the block scheduling, that is one of the many modified block schedules. The official block schedule (the way I understand it, so I may be wrong) is where you take half of your classes one semester, and half of your classes the other semester. I have been at two high schools in two different states, each of which has a different style of block. The style I just described is the style that was at my first high school, which I was at for my freshman year. My other high school, which I have attended since sophomore year (I'm now a junior), uses a schedule I call perverted block. It is similar to your block schedule, where half of the classes are on one day (say, odd classes), and the next day has the other half of the classes (say, even classes). However, friday has all classes (in the case of my school 6 classes, hence the odd-even division in the other days). I agree that when block is implemented well, it does work. But so does anything else that is ill-implemented in the public school system.

I'll stop here before this turns into another rant.

Note: the above message was written around 2 am local time, so please pardon any spelling, grammar, and/or logical errata.

[ Parent ]
The idealist position (3.50 / 2) (#43)
by Simon Kinahan on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 07:11:48 AM EST

OK, since I'm well out of compulsory education now, I'm going to be idealistic about this. Most of what we learn in school passess in one ear and out the other. Most of the rest manages to stay lodged in between for long enough to make it onto the exam paper, and gets lost soon afterwards. The only things we actually manage to remember are the ones we either use often enough for them to become engrained skills, or things we were interested in in the first place, which never needed to be drilled into us.

So, I would suggest reducing compulsory schooling to the minimum necessary to produce functioning members of society. English language, basic maths, what the Americans call civics, and local and regional history, and thats it. You can teach all that in primary school before the age of 12. Beyond that I believe that children should be allowed to select the subjects that interest them, and the emphasis in teaching should be on making lessons interesting and relevant. I firmly believe that children, with a little guidance are quite able to choose the subjects most appropriate to them. Oh, and remove grading as well: if there are no grades, there's no commodity being "sold" in schools and kids simply will not go to lessons they are going to end up failing.

I know this is terribly inconvenient for employers, who want the education system to produce carefully branded, graded indentured servants. Well, tough. If you want to find out how good someone is at maths, maybe you'll just have to engage your brain and aska few probing questions.


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
Reducing compulsory schooling? (5.00 / 1) (#94)
by marlowe on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:12:21 PM EST

If you want the minimum necessary to produce functioning members of society, then for a lot of public schools, that's gonna amount to a substantial increase, not a reduction.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Why did I say 'French and Literature' ? (4.00 / 5) (#45)
by ehayes on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 09:07:49 AM EST

Total years of language study: twelve

Number of times after graduation people asked me to translate something in a language I had taken in twelve years of schooling: ZERO

Total years of literary interpretation classes: four

Number of times after graduation I have been asked to interpret symbolism in a literary work: ZERO

Those classes, therefore, fall into the 'complete waste' category for me. I would not object to having either as electives... but I think there are more important things to be taught, and that SHOULD be taught as 'mandatory' before you start allowing electives.

In addition, everything I've ever read about languages says that the best time to learn them is WELL before first grade (6yrs). High school is not going to teach any real foreign language skills unless the entire day is conducted in whatever language, from homeroom to picking up dudes/babes.


Boooring... (3.00 / 2) (#48)
by Gernsback on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 04:12:29 PM EST

Boy, you lead a boring life. You should a) get out and travel more. b) stay in and read more. If you have read one piece of fiction, or even non-fiction, you are being "asked to interpret symbolism in a literary work" As for the language thing. Why did you bother spending twelve years studying languages that you were never gonna use?
[ Parent ]
You missed the point... (none / 0) (#51)
by Drakantus on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 04:39:07 PM EST

You may be "interpreting symbolism" while reading, but it sure isn't a skill that requires four years of practice to use. Your argument: he reads books, so therefore needs four years of literary interpretation to be able to understand them. By that reasoning, everyone needs four years compuer science because they will probably use a computer. Also you need four years of drivers eductaion- if you can't understand a books meaning after one year of class driving a car certainly isn't any easier. You also need four years of marketing, because you will certainly run into a lot of advertising over your life. You need four years of unarmed combat because there is a very good chance you will at some point be mugged. You need four years of sign language because you never know when a serious injury may damage your ability to speak.

[ Parent ]
This is known as "slippery slope" (none / 0) (#64)
by Elmin on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:32:17 AM EST

Maybe so, but you're approaching this from the wrong angle. ehayes was saying that he has had NO opportunity to use his four years of literature training. This, to my mind, can mean one of two things: a) he has not read any literature, which is either unlikely or unfortunate, or b) his four years of training were so misguided that he does not even understand what interpretation of literature really means. Reading a book without understanding it can sometimes be entertaining, but many books have important messages, and such readings put the reader at a disadvantage. In my experience, the more reading you do, and the more discussion you have about it (in your mind or with someone else), the better you understand literature, and the more you gain by future reading, as well as past reading.

It takes a long time, probably many years, to arrive at a complete understanding of mathematics. By the psuedologic in your post, it would similarly take many years to understand dirt. If you want to question the usefulness of reading comprehension, that is not the way to do it.

[ Parent ]
Not all of us never meet foreign people. (2.50 / 2) (#79)
by FeersumAsura on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:10:49 AM EST

Total years of language study: seven
Number of times after graduation I have neede my language skills: countless
Total years of literary interpretation classes: four
Number of times after graduation I have been asked to interpret symbolism in a literary work: ZERO

Don't forget that many people speak to foreigners a huge amount. I know enough French and German to cope, I have learnt to get around the differences when speaking to Swiss Germans and can understand a bit of Welsh.
This may seem pointless but I use this frequently, even if they can speak fluent English trying to speak their language shows that you at least make a bit of effort.
Learn a language because not everyone speaks English.
But that does bring me to a funny story, I was in New York about two years ago and some one asked me "What language do they speak in England?" For those of you who may not know it's English.

I'm so pre-emptive I'd nuke America to save time.
[ Parent ]
I have a theory about foreign people... (1.00 / 1) (#83)
by marlowe on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:04:04 PM EST

which is mine and I own it. It goes like this:

All the foreign people who are worth talking to know English. They learn it in school. And that's how it should be. English is the international language of comemrce, science and aviation. Anybody who can't or won't learn English is a loser. And rarely does a loser have anything to say worth listening to.

If you learn Spanish, you can eavedrop on the conversations of the cleaning crew. Or you can watch Telemundo and understand what's being said. I doubt you'll find either one to be worth the effort, however.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Have you ever been to Europe? (3.00 / 2) (#90)
by FeersumAsura on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 07:29:19 AM EST

. English is the international language of comemrce, science and aviation. Anybody who can't or won't learn English is a loser. And rarely does a loser have anything to say worth listening to.

Actually you'll find that in Europe German is the premier scientific and engineering language, especially amongst mechanical engineers. Why are all the best mech engineers for power station Swiss and German? I don't know the answer to that but many of them are incredibly intelligent people who speak poor or no English.
This closed minded attitude is all to prevelant among Americans. Just beacuse you live in a giant country with a mind numbing, all pervasive culture does not allow you not to think about other countries.

I'm so pre-emptive I'd nuke America to save time.
[ Parent ]
wow... (none / 0) (#107)
by turtle on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 01:23:03 PM EST

I think I'd rather be loser than be associated with such narrow minded drivel.
"When you're right, you have no need to be angry. When you're wrong, you have no right to be angry." ~~ Mahatma Ghandi
[ Parent ]
Rationale for Diverse Subjects (none / 0) (#105)
by dagoski on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 02:48:16 PM EST

So many of the posts I've read here bemoan the fact that people have to sit through years of 'useless' subjects like literature for foreign language. Everyone discusses how they have never used that subject after they graduated and that the class was a waste of time. Looking at what you have and have not used misses the point of a well rounded curriculum: The point is to give a student choices. You never know when some odd class you took will be useful or whether it will enrich your life. I'll throw out a couple cases in point. Spainish: Although it was a fun class, and useful growing up in LA, I never saw how it fit into my scientific interests. I often wanted to ditch it in favor of extra math and sci. Later on after I was in college I stumbled across Victor Vorghes, an Argentinan author I believe. His stories often play tricks with time in a way that an english language author has a hard time doing. Vorghes showed me that time was mutable and subject to perception the same as anything else is, preparing me for the concepts of relativity and quantum mechanics. Music: My folks made me take music lessons as a kid right on up til I went away to college. To put it bluntly, I suck, but musical training opened up new worlds of human expression. The same with art. Its hard to put a material value on a broader persepctive, but my life is much richer for having the exposure. Literature: I'm 32 now, and my career as a scientist is a long vanished dream; I just didn't make the cut in grad school. Now, almost fifteen years since my last lit class, I'm achieving some success as a writer and hope to begin publishing stories this year. I'm also hoping to finish my first novel this year as well.

In my example, a diverse education in HS and to some extent in college has given me the ablity to decide what I want to do. And more importantly, its given me options when things didn't quite work out. Coming from that experience I'd push for a diverse 'liberal arts' education in HS. I definitely believe that students should have more control over the classes they choose. I also believe that academic classes need to be rigorous and push students to their achieve their potential. However, we have to keep in mind that college is not a vocational shcool and as such its not something everybody should do. For me it was the best experience of my life. But, other people just want to become skilled workers either in the traditional sense or in the new IT industry. I'd argue that neither person is well served by a college prep curriculum, or college. So, there needs to be good solid vocational traning available at the secondary level either through the HS or through regional centers. College is for people who are in love with learning and want to study something for the joy of it. College is not really about acquiring work skills and is infact as waste of time for such people. Anyway, this is degenerating into a rant.

[ Parent ]
Missed the point (3.25 / 8) (#46)
by Inoshiro on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 02:23:56 PM EST

You obviously missed the point of High School. Congratulations -- you lose.

If you want a purely practical education, there are plenty of trade schools and the like around. Just go do shop, etc. If you want to have a decent understanding of abstract concepts, be able to build correct structural statements in any language, understand what your fellow humans are saying, have the basis for understanding everything you can see in nature, etc, AND learn how to pick up babes/etc.. that's what High School sets the groundwork for. You follow it up with university to finish the transition.

There are two groups of jobs in the world: shit jobs, and careers. Go work some shit jobs and think before you dump all over the education system. Note: I don't think the system's perfect by far, but you're focusing on the wrong things which are wrong. This whole piece seems to be written from a teen "I-know-everything-and-by-the-way-fuck-you" point of view. That view gets old fast :p

[ イノシロ ]
No one lost anything.... (none / 0) (#50)
by Drakantus on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 04:30:07 PM EST

Sure there are trade schools- at additional cost and time. Besides which, the author isn't suggesting highschool teach trades (did you really read the article?), he is saying there are better things to learn then language analysis. Things like basic first aid, basic law, those sort of things. Your idea that high school gives you a decent understanding of abstract concepts, allows you to write properly, understand others, and understand nature- perhaps that IS what highschool is intended for, but please step outside and take a look at the world. The average person (who has complete highschool) does NOT understand abstract concepts, can't write properly, missunderstands others all the time, and has enough respect for nature to recycle when it's required by law. BTW... "Congratulation -- you lose"- where did that saying come from? I see it all the time and always followed up with empty arguments and circular reasoning. -Drakantus, someone who has finished highschool

[ Parent ]
Sayings (none / 0) (#58)
by Inoshiro on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 08:33:01 PM EST

I just made that one up. If you're hearing it all the time, it's because you're trying to flesh out your argument ;)

Highschool's really easy. A lot of people just don't Get It. Show up, pay attention. It's 6 hours a day max, 1 of which is lunch. So 5 whole hours, for 5 days. It's like a slightly involving part time job if you simply show up. Just doing that can get you passing with 70s and having a decent understanding of the issues.

Take it a step further, and you're in the 90s. But few teens seem to have the proper perspective, I know I didn't. But after heading back to upgrade a few marks, as well as take the remaining two math classes I wanted (there are 4 at the grade 12 level in this province), I had a better appreciation for a lot of what I learned, and I learned it in a way that'll stick with me longer. I look forward to university.

[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
Taking it a step further (2.00 / 1) (#60)
by ehayes on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 09:46:00 PM EST

> Take it a step further, and you're in the 90s.

Not always the case when all of us were in high school, Ino.
I went through it in the '80's. I have friends who went through it in the 70's, as well as friends who finished last year. The pattern remains substantially the same.

> But few teens seem to have the proper perspective, I know I didn't.

Mmmmm, perhaps some of it should have been better saved until you had the proper perspective and you could appreciate it?

I'll admit that Shakespeare is a whole lot more interesting, now that I don't have a test on it this week to worry about. That doesn't change the fact that I had to study it in high school, most of what I 'learned' is gone, and I could have spent my time, the teachers time, and the other students time, learning other things.

>But after heading back to upgrade a few marks,

This is interesting - I've never heard of such a thing. Going back to high school to improve your grades? How old are you? And where are you?

> as well as take the remaining two math classes I wanted (there
> are 4 at the grade 12 level in this province),

Province? The United States doesn't have provinces... perhaps you are not in this country?

And, we had three or so, including college calculus and accounting - but this is not average, and does not reflect what the rest of the world learns. I personally had (blah blah blah), which you don't care about I'm sure; the point of the original topic for discussion was, "What should be MANDATORY for EVERYONE (even the average)?" and NOT "What can the exceptional do?"

> I had a better appreciation for a lot of what I learned

In other words, teaching it to you the first time didn't do much good.

Which leads me quickly to think either:
a) put your skinny ass to work, since the schooling isn't getting through; or
b) teach you something else during that time.

> and I learned it in a way that'll stick with me longer.

Now, tell me why you wasted the time on the first attempt.

> I look forward to university.

I sincerely hope you find what you look for, but I doubt it.

The point of the entire article, Ino, was that making certain things MANDATORY (that are mandatory now) are wastes of time for most of the population, and there are simultaneously things which MOST people will NEED and DO NOT HAVE by the time they are legally out on their own.

Maybe you should take a step back and re-read the original post.

[ Parent ]
"MANDATORY" is the problem, not the solu (4.00 / 1) (#62)
by Elmin on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:11:49 AM EST

I'm not sure this is what Inoshiro was trying to say, but here's what I get out of his story:

The first time was useless because it was mandatory, easy to float through, and not particularly interesting when viewed from the "wrong perspective." EVERYTHING in high school is this way. If something is mandatory, students are less likely to view it in a way that will make it interesting to them. By making things such as CPR and personal finance mandatory, you ensure that many students will not pay much attention. Certainly, there are always the select few who recognize right away the importance of learning these things -- but the subjects you mention are not terribly inaccessible, and anyone with foresight and a small spark of intelligence could probably figure out where to learn on their own, without high school, or at least after it.

Take law, for example. You can go check it all out at the local law library, if you want. It takes maybe five minutes to explain where that is, so what's the problem? The problem is that in order to understand the laws, you have to learn some literature analasys, and in order to understand their significance, you need to learn some logic and philosophy. What was all that about wasted brain power?

This is precisely why mandatory schooling was instituted in the US in the first place; to avoid a situation where the public can be controlled through sheer ignorance and lack of comprehension skills. Maybe you should take a step back and read the original post, too.

[ Parent ]
Oh, so that was the point of high school? (none / 0) (#100)
by marlowe on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 02:14:57 PM EST

In that case, why didn't high school actually attempt to accomplish any of those things?

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
The curriculum doesn't matter... (4.50 / 2) (#49)
by Elmin on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 04:27:32 PM EST

...nearly as much as the environment. The high school environment is not well suited to learning.

Really, though, that doesn't matter so much. For me, high school was nothing but a long, tortuous preparation for college, and nothing I learned from the curriculum there really matters for me anymore. It's nice that the math I'm taking is now review, and that I've already got a head start on Japanese, but that's about all I gained academically from the experience.

On the other hand, I don't think high school is pointless. It was necessary, for me at least, to realize first how pointless it was academically, and then figure out why, so that I would be well prepared for a real learning environment later on.

So, back to your question: Kids probably won't want to learn anything useful in high school, and you can't force them to. IMO, the only useful way to change this is to make it a sort of beginner's university, where students can learn how to learn. Of course, this would be worthless to those who have no intention of going to a university, and I have no experience to help suggest how high school might be improved for them.

Finally, you mention literature as a waste of brain power. I have to challenge you on this. It provides a base level for communication. This is also provided to some extent by television, but literature is better for this, in my opinion at least. In addition, literature is great excercise for the mind. Here is an example: Two years ago, I started homeschooling, which continued for a year. During that time, I read tons of books, and wrote hardly a word, but when I started school again, I found that my writing and general knowledge level had risen drastically.

Of course, high school literature classes are not particularly useful for learning to appreciate literature (see above), but that doesn't make literature itself a waste of brain power.

Not a waste. (none / 0) (#59)
by thopkins on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 08:36:19 PM EST

My high school in Virginia is not a waste, I am quite challenged by the curriculum. If anyone these days takes mostly AP classes, they will probably agree with me. Most high schools these days do have hard classes.

[ Parent ]
I agree as well, but... (none / 0) (#63)
by Elmin on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:22:26 AM EST

That was not my point. However challenging your AP classes are, the emphasis created by the so-called learning environment is not on the comprehension and learning of the curriculum. Instead, it is all about getting good grades so you can get into a nice university. In the end, as I have said, this is not a bad thing -- getting into a good university is great for learning, and for some people, simply rejecting the system in a rational way can be very revealing and sometimes ultimately useful. If you don't see, the need, though, there's probably no point in doing it, so you can just ignore me and my rantings in that case.

[ Parent ]
Practical learning methods (none / 0) (#70)
by Erf on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 02:12:56 PM EST

High school should be a place where practical, useful skills are picked up -- and knowing how to learn is an extremely valuable skill in the real world. From that point it becomes possible to pick up pretty much any other skills you want.

(On a related note, it would also help to teach folks why all those mindless excercises are actually useful. It took me a long time to really appreciate the whole "practice" concept.)

It would also be nice if people learned how to think. This is probably closely related to learning how to learn. Too many people lack any sort of deductive or logical reasoning skills, which has resulted in so many myths and misunderstandings and paranoia, etc.

My point, I guess, is that learning how to learn is very important to more than the future university students, but to everyone.

...doin' the things a particle can...
[ Parent ]

My base courses (4.40 / 5) (#52)
by br284 on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 04:51:21 PM EST

(Sorry for the prior identical post, I hit the wrong button to preview. :-( )

I go to an Ivy League school, and everyday, I am struck by the sheer number of people who would be completely worthless to themselves and society if some catastrophe were to strike tomorrow. The unfortunate thing is that they do not realize it, and an attitude of "why should I be able to do this, if I can hire someone to do it when I become a professor myself?" Now, while I am not advocating that everyone should spend their time to become a jack of all trades, some basic skills would be nice. Here's would be my basic required classes.

- Personal Finance -- I meet far too many people who can describe the macroscopic workings of the global economy and do not know enough about personal finance issues other than how to send the bills home to daddy.

- CPR and other related things -- I would not ususally include it, but the more I think about it, the more I like it and wish that I had been required to learn it in high school.

- Civics and government -- While these classes are already taught in high schools, I feel that the whole participation aspect has been painfully left out. While knowing what each thing does is important, I would also include instruction from a citizen's perspective on where they are in the civic landscape and what they can do to interact with the rest of the system.

- Basic tool use -- While it should be simple for people to figure out how to use things such as cresent wrenches, pipe wrenches, and othe such tools, I think that some class that actually had the students using the tools would be extremely beneficial. I'm not advocating that people become masters of the "Super Welder 9000", people should at least know how to use basic tools effectively. My syllabus would include screwdrivers, socket sets, saws, hammers, jacks, and wrenches. (Sadly enough, I am not trying to be funny here, some people here are truly that inept.)

- Basic computer concepts -- what is a file? how do i navigate a hard drive? how do I find something online? how do I use a wordprocessor? and similar types of questions would be covered.

- Practical writing -- how do I make a resume? how is a business letter structured? how to I read a contract? what types of contracts are out there? and so forth.

- Practical law -- what are my rights as a consumer? what recourses are made available to me through the legal system? how do I bring up a complaint to the system? what are cops allowed to do? what are they not, and what actions require my permission? what happens when I write a bad check? and so forth.

- Consumer science -- advertising awareness, comparision shopping, tax awareness, and other topics of this type.

This for starters, but I think that my point is being made. If the market for academics were to cease to exist tomorrow, I would like it if some of these people would be able to support themselves in other ways than that which they were trained.

Your parents should teach you this stuff (none / 0) (#86)
by LordNimon on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:54:18 PM EST

With the exception of CPR and maybe civics, everything above is something that a parent could easily teach his child. I'm not expecting the school to teach my children these things. In fact, spending a weekend building something in the back yard or taking them comparison shopping would be fun.

Lord Nimon
Yes, I use OS/2 Warp.

[ Parent ]

Our parents should teach us everything. (none / 0) (#93)
by marlowe on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:09:14 PM EST

Then we wouldn't need schools.

Yeah, that's what we need. Make it a law that if your parents fail to teach you what you need to know in life, they get hauled into family court for child neglect.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
I'm in the system at the moment.... (3.50 / 2) (#54)
by jdtux on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 06:41:20 PM EST

the Canadian educational system anyway. what we need are some good teachers, teachers that aren't conformists, especially since this is a small school and there's no reason to be.

Technology is a BIG thing. As aforementioned, actually understanding how to navigate a hard drive, what's in the different folders, what a folder is. Also how to install and uninstall.
And the teachers need to know more! We have a "technology" mentor who doesn't barely knows how to use FTP to put a web page up!

That's all I have to add :)

Same here! (Ontario Catholic) (none / 0) (#87)
by CYwolf on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:56:56 PM EST

I'm lucky that I never relied on school to do my real learning, such as my programming languages and general computer knowledge. The only courses we have (probably similar to yours) are a Gr. 10 - introduction to computers (skipped it), Gr. 11 - introduction to Visual Basic (hah! skipped it), and Gr. 12, Gr. 13 - more VB garbage.

Plus, our computer department head is a Mac person, and routinely talks about 'Win93'. o_O
Plus the teachers of the programming courses (if you'd like to call them that) have only taken the most basic training in that area; the more skilled teachers always move up to better paying positions.

Geh. It's frustrating. Hopefully I can finish getting the credits I really want, soon, and turn my skills into cash!

Back on topic with the article... I found all of our educational system's attempts to teach about technology to be laughable. A child can only put up with so many typing courses where the teacher's job is to tell you to look at your fingers and stop that damn touch-typing.

I also would have liked to learn Latin, or some language other than French (or on top of, mon ami). Japanese is an optional (non-credited I think) course at my high school now; I regret missing the inaugural meeting. School would have been much more enjoyable if I was just given textbooks and gobs of free time, at least in the fact/formula-memorization courses like Science and the Maths.

One thing that's finally being changed somewhat (from what I hear about the new curriculum) is the amount of repetition and carry-over from year to year. God, what a waste of time! I'm (almost) sorry I wasn't born a few years later.

My final nitpick is about the abundance of multiple-choice tests. The whole purpose of these is to make the teacher's job easier, even if it makes grading less subjective. Multiple-choice tests do not usually incorporate any problem-solving or advanced thinking at all. All the child is proving by answering correctly is that they managed to memorize one bit of information for the duration of the test. The only technique I've seen to make these questions harder is in the obfuscation of the language, by using double-negatives and other stupid traps.

(I could also complain about all the time-sucking religious education I've been subjected to, but I probably could have done something about that.)

Hehe. Looking back, I should have used smaller words. ^_^

[ Parent ]
My thoughts on this subject (3.00 / 1) (#73)
by damion on Mon Jan 29, 2001 at 07:46:42 PM EST

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this in the past fourteen years of secondary schooling. My major issue is with the way homework is used in the class. For years, I've hated the classes where homework has been a substantial portion of the grade. This is because my tests were evidence of my learning, meaning that I deserved a good grade. Meanwhile, people who only studied for tests, forgetting everything the next day got higher grades because they spent hours every night doing homework and extra credit and the like. As such, I think that homework should be constrained to maybe 10% of the final grade. This way it gives some reason for people to do the homework (forcing them to learn if the classes aren't enough) while still being a low enough percentage that the kids who don't need the homework can still get a decent grade in the class. Another thing is, I'm taking a class called Anatomy and Physiology this (my senior) year. I'm having a ball, and it seems like it's all stuff that should be standard knowledge. Other people have mentioned making CPR classes and the like mandatory, when they would fall in the scope of a class like this, which covers how life works from the ground up. So as a practical knowledge class, something like this should be a must. I also agree with those that have said that the way sciences are taught is back asswards. Unfortunately, I can understand why it is the way it is. Most people I've met aren't able to get a good grasp on physics even in their senior year, let alone freshman. For a person like myself, the order of the sciences has caused me much consternation these past few years, but if it were reversed I just don't think it would work. Perhaps it would be better to give flexibility, allowing students to choose their own tract, but that isn't as relevant to me as it used to be.

I don't understand (none / 0) (#91)
by vanillicat on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 07:53:20 AM EST

I don't follow. If students were doing the homework a nightly basis, and studied for tests, and did well, it seems to me that they'd be more likely to retain the information than people who had less incentive to do homework (under your system), and who would be more likely to cram. It is cramming that usually results in poor storage of the information, not nightly study.

[ Parent ]
Don't teach people facts (3.00 / 1) (#82)
by Tyberius Prime on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 01:05:16 PM EST

At least not only facts.

I'm going to a German Humanist Gymnasium and we do a lot of things that, as facts or skills, will never be needed again in our further live. But they try to teach us how to think and communicate our thoughts.

Unlike the US (I spent a year there in highschool) there are virtually no multiple choice tests. Every test requires you to write a text, often 6 pages or more, to get your point across. Most of the time you're to write down your own position on that particualar problem (especially in languages and social sciences). You loose points if you use too much wrong grammar or misspell to many words.

Oh, and things like one foreign language trough grades 5 through 13 and one from 7 to 11 are a must. Unfortunatly they don't require you to take latin, but offer a 'computer science' class instead. Wortless. Those who couldn't use a computer before couldn't do it after either. That should be in the first few grades (learning to touchtype isn't that different from learning to write, is it?).

But, and I should really mention this, German school is segerated after grade 4. Only the top ~20% recieve this level of schooling, the rest get's a more practical approach with only 10 years of school in total.

Sorry for the long personal story, but I thought it might fit in.

The good thing about multiple choice questions... (none / 0) (#85)
by marlowe on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:19:05 PM EST

is that the grading is absolutely objective. It can even be done by machine.

By contrast, the merit of an essay is very much a matter of interpretation. What if you write a really clever essay, and it goes right over the head of some dimwitted teacher? Or what if the teacher takes a dislike to you?

No essay questions for me, thankew. There are too many problems.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
..and the bad thing is.. (3.00 / 1) (#95)
by artemb on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:17:14 PM EST

..that multiple choice tests do not really test one's understanding of the subject the test is supposed to measure.

Understanding the subject would give you high scores on the test, but having high scores on the test does not prove that you understand the subject. For all I know one can have excellent memory, cheat sheat, lots of luck or a combination of these and get high score without understanding the problem.

[ Parent ]

Not necessarily so. (4.00 / 1) (#99)
by hjones on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 09:33:37 AM EST

We can test a student's understanding of subject by asking him to make a deduction from the principles of a subject. Present the correct deduction as one of five multiple choice options, with all the others being wrong deductions, some of them very subtly so.
No amount of memorization will help the student much here. In order to know the correct answer, he'll actually have to think. And in order to reason correctly, he'll actually have to understand the subject matter.

"Nietzsche is dead, but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. And we -- we small-minded weaklings, we still have to vanquish his shadow too." - The Antinietzsche
[ Parent ]
True. Theoretically, that is. (none / 0) (#101)
by artemb on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 05:16:09 PM EST

Present the correct deduction as one of five multiple choice options, with all the others being wrong deductions, some of them very subtly so.
Yes, it would improve correlation between understanding and the score. Quite possibly it can be made good enough. Unfortunately my experience is that more often than not you can make correct guess merely because other answers are obviously (i.e. not subtly at all) wrong. Another weak point of MC tests is that having N answers with one of them guaranteed to be true makes answering the question by eliminating wrong answers much easier. That does miracles when you have some basic knowledge of the subject but not good enough to make proper deduction in forward direction. Besides, there are only very limited number of options you have to choose from while in normal test where you're given the problem only and no answers at all your set of possible answers is infinite.

Bottom line is that if we want to test knowledge and reasoning we'd better test knowledge and reasoning, not some side effects which could be produced by other means.

[ Parent ]

Testing accuracy (none / 0) (#104)
by RadiantMatrix on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 09:45:16 PM EST

Unlike the US (I spent a year there in highschool) there are virtually no multiple choice tests. Every test requires you to write a text, often 6 pages or more, to get your point across.
Multiple choice is more accurately called "multiple guess" because it rewards the attempt to take a guess. In certain environments, the ability to take an educated test and/or grade completely objectively (i.e. standardized tests) is valuable. However, it is usually a waste.

The school you describe sounds like it has jumped from frying pan to fire - long essays are not very accurate measures of knowledge/understanding. As you increase the length of an essay, the potential to BS your way through it also increases. Granted, long essay has it's use in some situations (philosophy and composition spring to mind). But it is usually overkill and tends toward overly subjective grading.

The ideal form of testing for understanding is the short essay form. If you cannot completely answer a "knowledge question" in a concise manner, then the subject is probably beyond the High School level.
I'm not going out with a "meh". I plan to live, dammit. [ZorbaTHut]

[ Parent ]

subject selection. (3.50 / 2) (#88)
by steven on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:43:04 PM EST

Many posts I have read mention the perceived importance of being able to select the subjects one studies. I believe this concept is flawed, for two reasons.

  • Many high school students are not mature enough to decide which area of study they should focus on. I know I wasn't, and spent four years wasting my time learning a language I have never used (Even when I spent 1 month in that country).
  • Schools which allow the student to decide, in part, their curriculum, often do not allow the student to choose more than two subjects until they reach grades eleven and twelve. This means the student is forced to decide between subjects and make decisions that they do not fully understand at the time, thus limiting their future subject choices. When the student reaches grade eleven, and have decided that the subjects they elected in the past have been a waste of time, they find it hard (or are not allowed) to pick up the subjects they would rather have done.
  • In my opinion, students are allowed to focus their studies from a time when they do not know what really interests them, and can not (for one reason or another) change courses. Students should spent more time learning 'the basics' of english and math (with more emphasis on practical math than theoretical math) before being allowed to decide their future. What good comes from churning kids out of high school who have not worked for 4 years because they were locked into a subject they did not like? Kids will be kids, arguing for more rights to 'decide for themselves', while not understanding what they are actually deciding.


    beyond Wiping One's Own Ass 101 (4.60 / 5) (#92)
    by atomic on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:45:49 AM EST

    when i went into highschool, i was a spiky haired little punk intent on 'freaking people out.'

    when i left highschool, i was a spiky-haired intelligent whole person, capable of critical thinking and who knew what i wanted in life, what my ideals were, and where my priorities lie. i didn't mature like this because of some course in cpr. i took that on the side. i didn't figure out who i was and where i was going because i knew how to balance a checkbook. for those of us who want to learn beyond Wiping One's Own Ass 101, these classes alone would have been torture.

    i read books. i took classes that analysed these books. i wrote research papers. i compared major religions. i compared african cultural rituals. i know where they are talking about on NPR when they say "the Balkans." i can converse with another human in beautifully structured English. i could converse with nuns in Vatican City in broken but well-meaning Latin. i went to Italy with my Latin class and my friends and i still talk about 4 years later. i spent time in the library scoping out books of my own interest. i read Kafka, Rand, Keirkegaard, Kant, Douglas Adams, Ferlinghetti, Sartre. i picked and chose which one's i thought were great and which i thought were bullshit. i took art classes which have to this day allowed me to see things fully, to interpret every bit of information taken in by my eyes.

    the result? i can communicate on every level of human intelligence, even if i am in over my head knowledge-wise. i can know what i believe, or disbelieve based on a web of facts and philosophy. i have enough critical thinking skills to understand 3.9%APR without having to take time out of Calculus to do it.

    i can also recognise that without a basic knowledge of literature and analysis, one can't write a coherant article about how much high school curriculum sucks.


    "why did they have to call it UNIX? that's kind of... ewww." -- mom.
    Smallness! (4.00 / 1) (#103)
    by RadiantMatrix on Sat Feb 03, 2001 at 09:38:25 PM EST

    Apparently you didn't learn to use capitalization in High School.

    Seriously, though, you make a very valid point - part of the reason High School was useful to me is it presented opportunities to be exposed to a variety of insights. If I had to make a change to the system, I would simply adjust it to make more resources readily available to students who are willing to go beyond the "basic societal function" classes in the current system.

    My problem with the system is that you have to be extremely hungry for knowledge - and be fortunate enough to have a teacher or two who will nuture that hunger - to gain something from the resources available.
    I'm not going out with a "meh". I plan to live, dammit. [ZorbaTHut]

    [ Parent ]
    relationship training (none / 0) (#106)
    by deacon on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 10:52:43 AM EST

    IMHO, no amount of schooling will "cut down the number of Stupid Relationship Lessons you have to go through before you start to understand them." Every relationship I have is completely different from every other relationship I have, and they have all had their fair share of Stupid Relationship Lessons built in. And I still don't understand many of them...
    "How do men act on a sinking ship? Do they hold each other? Do they pass around the whiskey? Do they cry?"
    being a high school student myself... (none / 0) (#108)
    by anticlus on Tue Feb 06, 2001 at 11:51:53 PM EST

    I go to a nice school, but even though I am in a good mix of different classes, I wish that I could just ignore some subjects.

    I wish that after 8th or 9th grade we were able to choose ALL of our classes, to an extent. I wish that we had majors and minors. I would like to work specifically on computer and general sciences. I hate English (more specifically, I hate my english teacher) and I dispise Language (Yo soy en espanol). I wish that general education classes, the requirements, didn't count for much of your grade point average. Spanish and English are the only reasons that I have a shitty GPA and I just hope that universities can overlook some of that and see some of my more impressive accomplishments.

    I don't believe the class setups are the problem. (none / 0) (#109)
    by Dissention on Tue May 01, 2001 at 11:58:08 PM EST

    Rather, the way they are taught and who teaches them. (btw, I am currently a junior age 17 attending a small backwards hick H.S. in MN) I seem to be able to like nearly any class (no matter the subject matter) as long and only as long as the teacher is able to A.) make what is taught interesting in some aspect and/or B.) it is being taught so I know I'll remember what I learned a month/year/decade from now. Algebra is a prime example of this, I honestly am not good at it in the first place, but I am completely unable to remember the methods less than a month of learning them. Seeing very little to no way to distinguish problem types I often find myself approaching a problem completely wrong. I believe it has much more to do with the standard "here, memorize this for the test on Friday then forget it all" set-up most schools have. There is very little to no reward for long term memorization of what you learn. But since the topic is not about how should we teach but rather what should be taught I'll stop there and now onto the real topic. My school has a very nice system for allowing a mix of required classes and electives. Some of the requireds are well deserving of that position, but others such as advanced math courses are not. I also really despise economics being a required course. Many of you have mentioned that schools should teach more useable knowledge rather than technical. The problem is most students WILL learn the real life knowledge (even if it is hard-learned and costly) where as few will ever have another chance to get a taste of the technical courses, this is why I believes schools are right to ask students to take these courses. For the most part our school systems are very excellent in their set-up, the problem is the implementaion, poor teachers, out-of-date teaching methods, poor classes, and focus on regurgitation of knowledge rather than application.

    Hrmm, sorry about the text block... (none / 0) (#110)
    by Dissention on Wed May 02, 2001 at 12:00:56 AM EST

    I intended for it to be spaced and paragraphed, someone mind explaining to me why it was compressed?

    [ Parent ]
    Ideal High School Curriculum | 110 comments (107 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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