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[P]
Real Education Reform

By yuo in Science
Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 11:16:20 AM EST
Tags: interesting, education, yuo, montessori, fire fire fire fire fire fire fire fire fire fire, don't be naive (all tags)

Let's face it, there's nothing wrong with you. Despite what you may think and despite what you may have heard from other people, you've actually turned out pretty well. What did you do today? Did you play a video game? That's great! Games are a big part of what life is all about. Did you go to work? I'm so proud of you! You're taking charge of your life. Right now, you're reading this article, which means that you're literate in the most useful language on this planet. You're a great person, and whatever path your life took to get you here has been largely successful.

However, I don't think anybody would say that our education system in its current incarnation is perfect. Luckily, your experience also puts you in a great position to discuss how to ensure that tomorrow's children live happy productive lives. That's why I think we can all agree to reform our education system by obliterating it. During summer break, the schools are more-or-less empty, and that's the perfect time to do some good.... I'll bring the matches if you spring for the gasoline. ;-)


I hope you've heard of the Montessori method of teaching. Some of its basic points are: Children are curious. Children learn from their environment. Children learn by observing, imitating, and exploring. Each child is different and has a different pace. Children are masters of self-directed learning, especially for practical skills.

"Well, shit, why do children need to go to school at all, then?" Well, when Maria Montessori was alive (she died in 1952 at the age of 81), there was really no alternative, and besides, children still need to be together to work on their social skills, which by the way, are the most important skills of all.

Remember how some people called modern times the information age? I think that's a bit of a misnomer. Whoever coined that term was obviously thinking about our access to information. In other words, we actually live in the communication age. Our ability to communicate with other people is one of the core values that makes us human, and we're communicating better than we ever have before.

Games are fun. If you don't believe me, go to the store and purchase a package of balloons. Blow one up (using your mouth) and toss it up into the air. If the balloon doesn't come down, then you probably blew it up with helium or something and you have to blow another one up with your mouth this time. Anyways, now bounce the balloon on your fingers and don't let it hit the ground. Are you having fun yet? No? That's probably because you're alone. Get a friend and bounce the balloon back and forth. Focus on the balloon. Change things up: hit it hard with your palm, and the next time just tap it with your finger. Give yourself a reason to play: if it hits the ground, then George W. Bush will find a way to stay in office for 4 more years. In the meantime, talk with your friend. Talk about the game. Call your friend a neo-con and hit the balloon toward his feet. If you're not having fun now, then you're not doing it right. You can't play this game and do anything else at the same time. Don't even think about other things.

Now, tell your friend to fuck off so that you can play a single-person computer game. I recommend Deus Ex. It's still fun, right? Of course it is. There are so many children who go to school and are taught in a social situation, and afterwards they go home and play video games alone. Class without curiosity can be boring (and it usually is). What are schools teaching children? That being around other people is boring and that you can have the most fun alone? I'm sure that isn't the intentional point of school, but, as Montessori knew, children learn through experience better than through lecture.

Games are learning. In other words, they're useful. That's why so many animals have evolved to enjoy games. It's an easy way to get experience with different things.

Games are fun. Games are learning. Learning is fun. Children want to play games. Children want to win games. Since you have to be smart and educated to win games, children will be smart and educated. We don't need to be taught anymore. During Montessori's life, information was difficult to obtain. Now, information is available whenever and where ever it is needed.

Instead of school, send children to day-care when they're young and let them do whatever they like as they get older. Our responsibility as adults is to provide them whatever they need, be it tools, places, clubs, encouragement, classes, better games, or whatever. (Class is different from school, by the way. Enroll at a class in a community college, and you'll notice the difference when you realize that you didn't get a diploma.) The reason that you're as smart as you are now is not that the education system taught you so well, but because it didn't effectively keep you from learning. So, let's make the world a better place, and burn the old system down.

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Display: Sort:
Real Education Reform | 105 comments (102 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
I heartily endorse this plan (3.00 / 2) (#1)
by bodza on Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 05:28:58 AM EST

School obviously didn't help you.

Also, s/Enroll/enrol/
--
"Civilization will not attain to its perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest." - Émile Zola

Then we agree... (none / 1) (#2)
by yuo on Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 06:04:18 AM EST

... except for your spelling correction. I always prefer proper American spelling over weird foreign-type spelling.

I wish I had thought of pants pants pants pants pants pants pants pants.
[ Parent ]

AmE/BrE difference (none / 1) (#19)
by Delirium on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 06:17:07 AM EST

Dammit people like you must review my papers. Regardless of whether I write "modelling" or "modeling", someone always complains that I didn't write the other one.

[ Parent ]
Possibly (none / 0) (#20)
by bodza on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 06:45:35 AM EST

but only if you studied physics or computer science at university in the early 90s. My red pen was indeed hated, but I redeemed myself by being that lecturer who always said, "This question will be in the exam" and followed through. Never changed the bell curve.
--
"Civilization will not attain to its perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest." - Émile Zola

[ Parent ]
lol montessori (2.80 / 5) (#3)
by lostincali on Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 07:27:57 AM EST

i knew a couple of kids back in middle school who had transfered in from a montessori school. they had to spend two or three years of busting their asses to get up to speed with the rest of us, especially w/r/t mathematics. why? because, like most things created by hippies, montessori schools are completely ineffective and probably retard kids' intellectual growth.

montessori is the communism of education -- it sounds great in theory until someone goes out and does it and you realize that it was invented by people with incredibly naive assumptions about human nature.

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."

lol yourself (none / 1) (#4)
by yuo on Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 08:09:07 AM EST

Are you sure you should be busting their chops over math? From all appearances, you seem to suck at one type of math called statistics. If you understood statistics, you wouldn't be making conclusions with a sample size of two. If your way is okay, then it's fair for me to say that attending a Montessori school will make you a billionaire.

Also, you say they "transferred in" to your school. Are you sure they didn't "drop out" of the other school?

And besides all that, I'm not even advocating Montessori, am I?

I wish I had thought of pants pants pants pants pants pants pants pants.
[ Parent ]

Lostinliberalism (2.50 / 6) (#5)
by Peahippo on Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 11:18:35 AM EST

Don't be too harsh on lostincali. He's obviously the product of a public school system, and as such, he depends on a majority feeling to reach his conclusions, NOT data. That he made such a critical error as assuming a sample size of TWO is sufficient to conclude all Montessori instruction is bogus, is to be expected from his sort of mal-educated person.

Remember, the public schools are indoctrination centers for the American Empire. They are not supposed to teach anything useful, since useful people are a threat to domestic control. That's the function of lostincali now ... the system taught him to accept the ruling of unions and government, and he's supposed to spit on anyone out there who suggests that people work for themselves.

Fortunately, real Progressives (yes, even aging hippies) work towards having more choices. Choice implies that you can make the WRONG choice. That's the base truth that people like lostincali can't accept. Even a failing system is the RIGHT THING to do since it is one of the natural results of a meta-system that allows CHOICE. In a system of REAL LIBERTY, you're free to gorge yourself as well as being free to starve.


[ Parent ]
oh shut the fuck up, you mouthbreather (2.00 / 5) (#6)
by lostincali on Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 11:59:50 AM EST

i've never attended a public school in my life. feel free to go back to misbehaving (read: sucking dicks) back on slashdot, it seems much more suited to your level of nuance.

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

oh keep spouting falsehoods, you mouthwronger (none / 1) (#40)
by Peahippo on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 11:47:48 PM EST

Regardless of where you were mal-educated, you STILL rely on a majority feeling to reach your conclusions, NOT data. Post the link that demonstrates the invalidity of Montessori educational techniques, or throat down the spurting cock of error YOURSELF.

There's nothing worse in life than a Libshit caught in a bias that he cannot support. Well, maybe there is .. a Conshit. Which one are you, fucktardo? Har har!


[ Parent ]
Montessori bad at math? (3.00 / 4) (#7)
by Sgt York on Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 12:19:13 PM EST

I must have used a different type or something. I did Montessori as a little kid, and when I left it to join up with the regular kids at the age of 6, I was working on division.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

well, congratulations. (none / 1) (#10)
by lostincali on Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 01:15:21 PM EST

but apparently it doesn't work for everybody.

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

Granted (3.00 / 9) (#12)
by Sgt York on Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 04:39:10 PM EST

But I that can be said for just about everything there is. My guess is that there are bad and good Montessori schools, and that our two anecdotes mean precisely jack squat.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

Montessori Students (2.66 / 6) (#13)
by cronian on Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 06:59:31 PM EST

Sergei Brin, founder of Google, attended a Montessori school before he went on to get a degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science and found Google . See here.

What is it with all of these conservative myths? I suppose by believing them, people can just keep allowing themselves to be exploited.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
conservative myth? (2.80 / 5) (#14)
by lostincali on Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 07:21:59 PM EST

what's with all of these liberal myths? you think that one person proves an entire system of education?

when people are left to their own devices, there will naturally be those whose curiosity drives them in a direction such that they win the internet lottery (as is the case with Brin, a man incredibly adept merely at being in the right place at the right time the only time that it counted). but these people would do well in almost any environment (yes, public schools included), so it hardly seems fair to characterize the montessori system based on such people.

for me, if i were left to my own devices, i would never have been forced to read all the classical literature that i did in high school. while i may not have liked it, at least i can follow a discussion about it these days. otherwise, i'd just be another one of you autistic dorks who read a ton of crap sci-fi and nothing else, completely unable to relate to anybody else.

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

Interesting: (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by dhk on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 02:13:25 AM EST

Your comment goes I knew a couple of kids back in middle school who had transfered in from a montessori school, but then you argue you think that one person proves an entire system of education?.

You are right that this is not more than anecdotal evidence and as such proves nothing. I hope you are aware that the same holds for your own previous comment to which cronian was just giving a counterexample.
- please forgive my bad english, I'm not a native speaker
[ Parent ]
again, missing the nuance. (none / 0) (#32)
by lostincali on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 05:56:21 PM EST

People like Sergey Brin would succeed no matter what education system they were run through; it is more instructive to look at how it helps people who are not otherwise so inclined.

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

So Sergey Brin is a god to you? (3.00 / 2) (#41)
by EMOTIVE GUY on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 01:07:49 AM EST

He's not a product of the environment he was brought up in but some super-genius who's urge to catalog the world's information just spouted from his genes?

_______________________________________________
They told me to go easy on cock for a few days, but I didn't listen
- MotorMachineMercenary

[ Parent ]
no. (none / 0) (#48)
by lostincali on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 01:27:48 PM EST

stop mischaracterizing my arguements.

"The least busy day [at McDonalds] is Monday, and then sales increase throughout the week, I guess as enthusiasm for life dwindles."
[ Parent ]

Your argument appears to be that Sergey Brin (none / 1) (#53)
by EMOTIVE GUY on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 06:27:37 PM EST

would do great regardless of his educational system. That the Montessori schooling he underwent as a child had nothing whatsoever to do with his current success. If I am incorrect there, please correct me.

If that is indeed your argument, you're wrong for the following reasons:

  1. Environmental factors make up a large percentage of what a person is. To say that Sergey Brin put in a public school would have turned out to be the exact same and come up with the same conceptions and goals is rather ludicrous. It implies that his ideas and goals came from genetics rather than from environment.

  2. The original goal of Google, to catalog the world's information, belies a real curiousity towards the world and all the facets of it. A thirst for knowledge, so to speak. Montessori learning is all about embracing the child's curiousity and as such it's easy to posit that their Montessori schooling is one factor in the development of their goals and ideas for Google.

  3. You are a failfucking faggot who could hardly come up with a cogent argument. It's altogether likely that your entire spiel up above is just a pathetic attempt at trolling. While I am only analyzing why your arguments are wrong here, I would like to suggest you consider removing yourself from the gene pool. I know there's not much chance of you procreating except with a retard, but I can not bare the thought of what your doubly retarded children would be like.

In short: Fuck off and die you stupid cocksucking assmonger.
_______________________________________________
They told me to go easy on cock for a few days, but I didn't listen
- MotorMachineMercenary

[ Parent ]
Environmental outlier (none / 0) (#90)
by X3nocide on Sun Jun 08, 2008 at 01:43:56 PM EST

In case this discussion isn't dead, one should note that Brin's parents were both Soviet mathematicians. It stands to reason that Sergey is such an environmental outlier that you can't care about his success with regards to Montessori. He probably would have done fine in public schools as well.

pwnguin.net
[ Parent ]
Intelligent Debate to the rescue (none / 0) (#93)
by EMOTIVE GUY on Sun Jun 08, 2008 at 05:43:03 PM EST

You may be right, I'll need to research this and respond later if I care enough. Chances are I don't.
_______________________________________________
They told me to go easy on cock for a few days, but I didn't listen
- MotorMachineMercenary

[ Parent ]
I had the opposite experience (3.00 / 5) (#18)
by Delirium on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 06:11:52 AM EST

I can't speak for what a Montessori elementary education would be like, but I went there for pre-school and kindergarten, and I was somewhat astonished when I got dumped into the normal public-school 1st grade at how little math my classmates could do. It wasn't until seventh grade that they introduced simple algebra, which we had done in Montessori kindergarten (though it wasn't called algebra... there was just a computer game where we started out answering questions like "5 + 2 = ?" and as you got to the harder levels they started becoming things like "(1 + ?) * 5 = 25").

[ Parent ]
flavors of Montessori (none / 0) (#105)
by mdl001 on Thu Jul 10, 2008 at 09:37:20 PM EST

Unfortunately, Montessori is not a trademark, and anyone can claim they use the Montessori Method. However, there are at least two Montessori accrediting agencies. There is the AMS (American Montessori Society) and the more demanding AMI (Association Montessori Internationale). Look for their affiliates, if you want a real Montessori school. (I sent four kids to AMI schools for part of their elementary education, with good results for two of them; one of the others had brain damage from meningitis, and the fourth was hyperactive and created discipline problems they could not handle.)

[ Parent ]
we should give all kids high self-esteem (2.50 / 4) (#8)
by circletimessquare on Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 12:38:24 PM EST

regardless of actual accomplishment

so they all become self-entitled self-absorbed whiny twits when they enter their 20s, and have no idea how to actually fail, as everyone does at some point and which is a natural part of learning

oops, too late!

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

I disagree (3.00 / 4) (#25)
by Sgt York on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 10:44:34 AM EST

People like that are quite adept at failing.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.
[ Parent ]

I learned at Caltech... (2.10 / 10) (#9)
by MichaelCrawford on Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 12:53:15 PM EST

... that balloons filled with Freon, from automobile air conditioner refill canisters, are much more dense than air-filled balloons, so that when you throw them at someone, they travel straight there and hit them pretty hard, rather than decellerating quickly and dropping to the ground.


--
Looking for some free songs?


oh § (2.57 / 7) (#11)
by Aurochs on Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 01:22:03 PM EST


--
if you were walking through the woods with a baseball bat and some dude jumped on your back and started humping you, would you beat him off?
--[ Parent ]
I would be really curious (none / 0) (#23)
by GhostOfTiber on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 08:46:00 AM EST

to try R134.

IN FACT, I HAPPEN TO HAVE A LARGE SUPPLY OF IT.

Shh, don't tell the feds.

[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne
[ Parent ]

WHERE THE HELL DID YOU GET THIS LARGE SUPPLY? (none / 0) (#49)
by lawngnomehitman on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 01:54:58 PM EST

I needs me sum more for mah air comditionir!  ALSO BALUNS <- CLEARLY WENT TO MONTISURRI SKUL!

[ Parent ]
hm (3.00 / 5) (#15)
by livus on Sun Jun 01, 2008 at 09:11:34 PM EST

Games are learning. In other words, they're useful. That's why so many animals have evolved to enjoy games. It's an easy way to get experience with different things.

Ah, but here's the thing. Experience in what?

I'd bet my boots that a Cheetah who spent its kittenhood torturing small wounded animals for fun will have much better life skills than one that was plonked down in front of GTA IV.

Animals self-select games that teach real world skills. They then go on to live lives commensurate with the types of skills they acquired. In the west, we don't do those things.  

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

Dogs are animals (3.00 / 2) (#16)
by yuo on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 12:25:32 AM EST

Animals self-select games that teach real world skills. They then go on to live lives commensurate with the types of skills they acquired. In the west, we don't do those things.

example of a self-selected game

I wish I had thought of pants pants pants pants pants pants pants pants.
[ Parent ]

he's learning how to (3.00 / 4) (#26)
by Ezra Loomis Pound on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 10:57:32 AM EST

stop water with his head, just in case one day the cats break in bust up all the pipes.

:::"Let me tell ya, if she wasn't cut out to handle some fake boy online, well sister, life only gets more difficult, and you only get more emo as you age." --balsamic vinigga :::#_#:::
[ Parent ]
Interesting, but it doesn't (3.00 / 4) (#28)
by yuo on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 01:57:49 PM EST

explain this

I wish I had thought of pants pants pants pants pants pants pants pants.
[ Parent ]

youtube foils my fatuous generalisations!! (3.00 / 2) (#34)
by livus on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 06:18:12 PM EST

that said I tend to class domesticated social animals more with humans than with cheetahs etc.

I've seen dogs do some really odd stuff.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

It's drinking out of the sprinkler, idiot. (none / 0) (#70)
by Ruston Rustov on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 02:29:40 AM EST


I had had incurable open sores all over my feet for sixteen years. The doctors were powerless to do anything about it. I told my psychiatrist that they were psychosomatic Stigmata - the Stigmata are the wounds Jesus suffered when he was nailed to the cross. Three days later all my sores were gone. -- Michael Crawford
Maybe tomorrow. -- Michael Crawford
As soon as she has her first period, fuck your daughter. -- localroger

[ Parent ]
other way around, actually (none / 1) (#31)
by Liar on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 03:37:44 PM EST

Nature select animals based on the games they play. The cheetah kitten which plays with hyenas doesn't get the opportunity to be an adult.

It's not hard to find a nature television program which shows a litter of $SPECIES where one is more adventurous than the rest and is also one of the first to be culled from the pack.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
where did I say it should play with hyenas? (none / 0) (#33)
by livus on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 06:16:18 PM EST

I definitely was suggesting it should play with small wounded animals.

If you read that as somehow especially "adventurous" then that's something you bring to what I said, rather than something I intended to connote.

It's also not hard to find a junior feline who would quite literally jump at the chance to play with small wounded animals.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

not in so many words (3.00 / 2) (#35)
by Liar on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 06:58:44 PM EST

you did say, "Animals self-select games that teach real world skills" which makes it seem that the animals were self-selecting their activities when it's really the environment that makes the selection by killing off those who make unproductive choices. The result is a form of genetic conditioning to play with and kill animals smaller than itself and to avoid hyenas--the cheetah itself is only an expression of that conditioning.

The main reason I think this is important is that--with regard to the subject of Montessori--to let children choose what to play is to let them ignore the external forces that may have an enormous consequence in 15 years upon the decisions they are making as 10 year olds.

Not that you were making that case; it's a concern I was raising that dovetails from that final comment of yours.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
chickens eggs chickens (none / 0) (#36)
by livus on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 07:15:14 PM EST

sorry, I didn't mean to imply that anything sits around and decides what to do. I was speaking loosely.

But fwiw I do think your model works too much the other way, on the side of the environment, while mine was too far on the side of the organism. It seems to me that people get far too teleological about evolution.It's just not the glorious ascent people believe.

One of my points was more that certain artificially constituted external forces aren't even the same ones that conditioned the organism in the first place. So even if you did leave kids to go around following their instincts and being all Lord of the Flies and let the weakest die out, it doesn't really translate into real world applications, despite what the Iron Johns of this world like to believe.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

I think we agree (none / 1) (#38)
by Liar on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 08:01:07 PM EST

Even though I think that nature is over-rated, I think we still agree. Nurturing has a much bigger impact--especially on our species--than almost anything else. Humans exist as social creatures, we benefit more from communication, touch, and social status than we ever do from our genetic composition--it's a rare few who get more from their nature than they get from how they were raised, though genetics does have its influence.

But it would be strange indeed if we let genetics become the determiner in how to navigate to success (defined almost entirely by social metrics) within our species.

So, in a strange way, I think we're agreeing to exactly the same conclusion even though we're coming at it from opposing premises.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
yes, I think so too - and I agree with you here . (none / 0) (#39)
by livus on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 08:18:48 PM EST

I think we do come to the same conclusion.

I've always been more on the side of nurture as the most important element, though of course nature/nurture isn't exactly a binary when it comes to highly social animals. (Even my hypothetical feline infant was probably given that prey-toy by a parent)

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

Can't we try them all? (3.00 / 2) (#21)
by bodza on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 07:09:23 AM EST

Do these methods have to run for the kid's entire education? Since they all seem to have some merit, maybe a few years of each is the best way:
Parent 1: Well, Mary just finished 2 years at Sudbury. Her class voted for her to go to Fort Benning next year.

Parent 2: That's great. Johnny majored in TF2 at Montessori High. Now we're sending him to St. Francis for some guilt and anal rape.

--
"Civilization will not attain to its perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest." - Émile Zola

comparing apples and sparkplugs (3.00 / 2) (#27)
by nostalgiphile on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 11:31:18 AM EST

American schools are quite okay at fostering creativity (compared to, say, here in TW), they're just a nasty soup of violence, stupidity, and raging hormones. Simply surviving them is an impressive achievement, as you point out, so I still think the major problem is getting rid of the psychotic, dangerous fuckers. To my knowledge, your Montessori schools don't have to deal with that rather large problem because they're privately run and you can simply turn these students out on their ears--public education is a whole different game, however. Try playing your little learning games while Bobby Blackheart beats in Johnny's big brains...

Yah, so if our next President is serious about reforming k-12 education he should first order that we study the Japanese school system more thoroughly and attempt something similar--i.e., a federally controlled system w/uniforms, behavioral codes, elimination of competitive sports, and parental non-interference. Need to find a balance between play and discipline, in short, otherwise its just going to continue to be so many Columbine scenarios in the making.

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler

The fuck are you talking about? (3.00 / 3) (#29)
by yuo on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 02:39:12 PM EST

Summary of your post:

Paragraph 1: American schools foster creativity better than Asian schools. But USian schools are dangerous cesspools.

Paragraph 2: We need to copy Japanese schools in America (Japan is in Asia, btw). Specifically, all of the things that allow students to be different (or presumably creative) need to be eliminated.

Japanese schools are not good. I don't know where you got that idea. A very small number of students die from violence in American schools, but Japanese schools murder the creativity of almost all of their students. I see it every day here in Japan. Children start out as happy and fun-loving individuals. By the time they graduate high school, all of their individuality has been stolen. Fuck, you wouldn't know if they had any to start with because they're all too tired from normal school, cram school, and several extracurricular activities that their parents expect them to participate in.

I asked a Japanese high school student about their literature classes. In America, we read books and all of the students made up a lot of bullshit whenever we were asked about the themes or whatever. In Japan, the teacher tells you what things mean. There is no room for interpretation and don't bother thinking. If your test doesn't match what the teacher said, you will fail. Is this what you want? Drones? Children who don't remember how to have fun?

You talk about bullying as if it's a problem. Well, I agree that the violence in it is a problem. I think that even the smallest amount of actual violence at that age should be punished severely. However, if I had to choose between bullying and no bullying, I'd choose bullying in an instant, even if it has a small amount of violence. Have you done a proper job of raising your child if he doesn't know how to stand up to a bully???

Are there really people in the world who misunderstand this issue so gravely? The point of raising children is so that they become adults! Adults are bullied, too, you know.

I wish I had thought of pants pants pants pants pants pants pants pants.
[ Parent ]

read it again (3.00 / 2) (#42)
by nostalgiphile on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 02:10:24 AM EST

particularly the sentence: "Need to find a balance between play and discipline, in short, otherwise its just going to continue to be so many Columbine scenarios in the making." Also, the part about the difference between public and private schools. You apparently didn't get that. Point is--the US already goes to far enough towards "nurturing" students, but not far enough in training them to be responsible, disciplined citizens/adults who are also capable of creative thought. Watching American television and looking at all the fatties on the streets convinces me of this...

Also, you seem to believe that Japanese students are "drones" -- they definitely are not in my experience (and I'd wager I have more Japanese friends than you to draw anecdotes from), but here in Taiwan they most definitely are because of some of the reasons you mentioned (esp. constant examinations).

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]

So, we need Kindergarten Cop. (3.00 / 2) (#44)
by yuo on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 10:39:46 AM EST

Anyways, it sounds like we probably agree on principle, but your thought process is still confusing to me. You seem to be focused on this dilemma between "nurturing" of the US system and the "training" of the Japanese system. To me, nurturing is the all-encompassing idea of raising something correctly, but I'm going to guess that your "quoty" definition is kind of a cross between encouraging and pampering.

To me, training is basically conditioning. I don't see how you can train somebody to be a responsible adult without giving them adult-like responsibilities. In Japan, children have to clean the classroom every day, and I can see a certain kind of value in that, but I have a hard time seeing how learning you have to suck it up and conform to doing robot-like activities will help you become a responsible adult.

Please explain to me how you can train somebody to be a responsible, disciplined citizen so that I can understand you.

Your comments on drones are typical. Foreigners, with the exception of laborers, are almost all exceptional people. In America, we think that Japanese people are smart, but that's because the Japanese people we meet come from better off families, or came in University. Locals always seem more average. But actually, I think I went overboard using the word "drones" because what I feel is more that they are all conformed to the Japanese ways and less that they have no individual personalities.

I wish I had thought of pants pants pants pants pants pants pants pants.
[ Parent ]

no, we need more homework (none / 0) (#57)
by nostalgiphile on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 02:49:50 AM EST

I (American upbring) live and teach at a college in Taiwan, have had many Japanese friends (granted, many of them well educated), and can see the difference between our system and their's fairly clearly. My American college students were generally capable of discussing things openly and could more or less articulate a vast array of semi-informed opinions, if pressed. My Taiwanese students can do neither because they've been put through the ringer of a harsh (rote memorization-based) testing system for 12 years. Their math and science skills are pretty good, but they're woefully ignorant of the world and don't even have the basic ability to begin learning about it.

Like the Japs, they have to wear uniforms and clean the classrooms, and work together, etc., but in fact they never quite learn anything at all up until the time they step into my classroom. They're what I'd call "drones" simply because they never learned how to learn except by short-term memory input...Since I teach these kids for a living I've actually put a great deal of thought into what needs to be done to remedy their situation and yes, basically I think more of your Montessori schools (or schools which focus on creative learning methods) would be a very good thing for Taiwan. (Mainly because I think they never had the opportunity to learn how to play).

However, for the US I'm not so sure...my own experience in US schools was pretty bad, although I think I came out of it okay w/my degree finally. At "State", where I taught for 2 yrs as a TA, I was constantly impressed by how few of my students were able to write intelligible paragraphs in their mother tongue, even as we had quite interesting discussions from the first week of class. This is partly attributable to having students from highly diverse backgrounds and who came from very different school systems, but it's also "cultural"--here in TW teachers are often regarded as something like cops due to Taiwan's slow-dying history of fascism, there in the US the teacher is increasingly something like a well-informed talk show host, mediating Jerry Springer-like between the mindless opinions of his students and occasionally taking a chair in the face.

That's how I remember it anyway--the US needs a system that will give teachers more authority, strengthen the students sense of responsibility over their actions/words, and eliminate the constant fear of violence. One way to do that is to keep the open-minded, nurturing teachers yet insist on uniforms, mutual cooperation, and, most of all, more homework. A mathematician friend of mine in the US is recently fond of bitching about how many of his college students can't even do long division but somehow got high school diplomas. How the fuck is that possible without epic fail all the way down the line? As near as I can tell, for the vast majority of usians, high school is a complete joke and all you do is play around for 4 years. And in short, they should be more busy and guided by a system that emphasizes the value of disciplined creativity.

As for the Japanese personality, you should read that book by Ian Buruma called Behind the Mask: On Sexual Demons, Sacred Mothers, Transvestites, Gangsters, Drifters, etc., and also read Confessions of a Mask by Mishima Yukio if you have the time.

Sorry if this is a bit rambling, Ive only had this one cup of coffee and haven't quite woke up yet...

"Depending on your perspective you are an optimist or a pessimist[,] and a hopeless one too." --trhurler
[ Parent ]

More homework? For long division? (3.00 / 2) (#61)
by Pentashagon on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 02:43:46 PM EST

What resourceful child doesn't just use a calculator on all their homework to begin with? Long division should be pressed into kids' brains in the classroom in their early years.

[ Parent ]
need to give better assignments, not more (none / 0) (#101)
by SwingGeek on Tue Jun 10, 2008 at 03:09:59 AM EST

I agree with you about most of this, but be careful when prescribing more homework. It's all too easy to issue a bunch of mindless assignments that don't teach anything but how to do the same kind of mechanical operations over and over again.

Case in point: I was helping a middle schooler with her science homework recently, and the questions were just like, look through the chapter, find the sentences, copy the sentence onto the paper. What we need is better assignments that provoke students to experiment, take chances, get it wrong, get it right, repeat.

I hardly remember anything from science classes in middle and high school, and I'd guess that's because it's presented in such a useless and boring context. I was always interested in science, but I had to pursue it on my own in the form of chemistry sets, electronic boards, and later, computer programs. If school had kept me busy with mindless work I not only would have been less happy, but I wouldn't have learned all the stuff I did on my own (which is probably just as much as I ever learned in school).

Regarding long division: I would bet kids can't do it because it doesn't matter. I doubt I could do long division very well (though I could do it fine in elementary school), because there's never a reason to actually do it. Either I can do a problem in my head, or if it's complicated, I use a calculator. I wouldn't expect high school students to be any different. We don't fault them for not knowing how to use a slide rule either...

[ Parent ]

Education isn't always fun (2.25 / 4) (#30)
by Liar on Mon Jun 02, 2008 at 02:44:46 PM EST

If you're giggling while studying the holocaust, there is something is wrong with you. There's also something wrong with any education method which treats the study of the Rape of Nanking in a fun way. Let's study the Iraq War because it's so kewl!

Focusing on play and fun misses the point of education. It fails to encourage discipline which is needed for difficult subjects which we should know and it encourages the same if-it-feels-good mentality that makes "Dancing With The Stars" a top rated television program.

There is no single "one-size-fits-all" program for improved learning except to demand that parents become actively involved with their children's education. That's the reason Montessori works: enrollment is voluntary and so the parents who are motivated to try it out are those who researched education methods and are taking an active hand in their children's schooling.

Oh, and poor presentation of the subject matter. -1.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
INTERNET SMACKDOWN ALERT PLZ READ (2.50 / 4) (#45)
by yuo on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 11:51:57 AM EST

Your comment doesn't make sense. When I say that it doesn't make sense, I mean that you've made several severe logical fallacies rather than present anything approaching a rational argument. Let's assume first that everyone should learn the truth about the holocaust just because it's so important. Then, you present the following false dilemma: Either you're a horrible person who giggles at genocide, or you have no fun learning about the holocaust.

I hope that I put that so plainly that you realize how indefensible and silly your comment actually is.

Your specific example about the holocaust is so perfect that I'd think we were in collusion if I were an impartial observer. WWII histories and novels are some of the best-selling books in America. It's not because of some shitty school forcing people to read against their wills, either. It's because WWII and the holocaust are interesting subjects. People have curiosity and satisfying your curiosity is fun, even if you're learning about something horrible.

Next, you go on about how some things cannot be as fun as Dancing with the Stars, but you don't really like that show. Seriously? This is your argument? That there are a lot of subjects that can't be fun? I'd be very interested in what major subjects there are that nobody finds fun or interesting.

Then, you say that Montessori works because the parents who have researched it and decided that it is better can choose to put their children into Montessori classrooms. Okay, let's not go into that logic too deeply, lest we end up chasing our tails. What I believe you meant to say is that Montessori appears to work only because the children who participate have parents who are interested in their education. This is a bare assertion that even manages to discount the research of the parents who it simultaneously glorifies.

Finally, you insult my presentation of the subject matter. I guess you've got me there. You're obviously better at presenting content than me, since you've expertly shown how to present a comment with absolutely no worthwhile content.

I wish I had thought of pants pants pants pants pants pants pants pants.
[ Parent ]

The Public Humiliation Of Liar (none / 0) (#47)
by VileTimes on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 12:29:53 PM EST

3'd for delivering on the Internet Smackdown promise.

[ Parent ]
You're so far from wrong you can't see it. (none / 0) (#52)
by Liar on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 03:52:01 PM EST

Point by point rebuttal.

First of all, the Holocaust is not World War II, so please don't conflate the two. What school taught you this?

Second, I would stress that my concern was on the emphasis of fun and play. Holocaust studies aren't fun--they don't induce mirth, people are not happier for having studied the holocaust, and I doubt they look upon their study with amusement. In fact, if we're at a dinner party and I start talking about the holocaust, I guarantee that someone will think, "Sheesh, he's no fun." No, holocaust studies are interesting--a term you are only now using. Surely you don't conflate having fun with being interested? But the important point here is that understanding the holocaust will be of great interest to those whose family was involved in it (surely not fun for them), of moderate interest to those with an interest in history or some related motivation, and not very interesting to large numbers in the society, including some of those whose families are holocaust deniers who wonder why people study something which never happened. So, let's assume we're in that group which finds holocaust studies interesting, it has the feature of also being relevant and this is a big difference from something being pursued for the sake of fun. Moreover, I have a greater interest in the Dorian Invasion but this has the feature of being not as relevant. Even if we let children's interest guide their education, they may study ancient Dorian Greece at the expense (in time) of the other because they have no context for determining relevance. I'm not saying to discourage a child who is interested in Dorian invasion theory, but that there be some requirement for study in recent history beyond what fascinates a child. Meanwhile, Transformers are fun as is "Dancing with the Stars". As a parent, I rank them low in terms of a worthwhile curriculum. Fun can provide significant distractions to education and can delay study of that which is merely interesting or not even interesting at all.

Third, I'm talking about things that fascinate children, not adults. If you want to see what children like, look at the subjects they read and write about. Cruise the children's book section. Lots of dinosaurs and not many Nazis. Fewer books had anything to do with the Holocaust. Teen and young adult literature offer not much of an improvement. When are they supposed to approach the subject for the first time if they never acquire the interest because they're too busy digging up archeopterix skeletons in their backyard?

Fourth, I'm not posting a false dilemma. I'm saying that some things we study are distasteful but those topics are nonetheless important for everyone to study. We all know people who say "math is hard" and they avoid it every chance they get. To say, "I'd be very interested in what major subjects there are that nobody finds fun or interesting," does not answer this concern and in fact actively tries to avoid it addressing this concern. For me, I hated studying economics. Fortunately, I acquired that knowledge so that when I started my own business or bought my home I already had some preparation so figuring things out took not as much effort as learning only after the need (and therefore interest) arose. I made more intelligent decisions as a result.

Fifth, I'm not saying that a particular subject is and always will be not fun to all people. But, for every person there will be some subjects that will be more fun and interesting to them than other subjects. Children gravitate towards the subjects that are fun for them and avoid the subjects that aren't fun to them. So, you'll have some kids who may only study cooking at the exclusion of basic math, some kids who study math but can't identify a noun, some kids who write like Dickens but thinks that only Columbus knew the world was round. It's because people only half-understand something that misinformation thrives. If fun or even interest is your guide for learning, how can you correct to the truth when the lie is so much more interesting?

Sixth, far from assertion, most studies on education shows that method matters marginally, at best. Private schools perform just as well as public schools when adjusted for socio-economic status. The only things that have shown to improve education is parental involvement and smaller class size. Do your own research, it's plentiful.

And, yes, parents too are misinformed. They either don't trust the public schools to educate (despite the research) or fear for their child's safety so they look to private schooling. However, that very interest and involvement is sufficient for the child to benefit. This, too, isn't assertion, it's called the Hawthorne effect where observation and interest alone improves performance. There's been almost 80 years of research on it.

See, I go by the old adage that an autodidact has the worst teacher. Montessori seems to systematize self-learning, which isn't a bad goal by itself, but given your treatment in this article fails to address the concerns I mentioned. Rather, you attack the concerns (and me) rather than address them.

So, I'm sorry you saw no content in my previous comment. I'm not sure why you treat something with which you merely disagree as content-less, but discussing this with you makes me more confident in believing that you don't know what you're talking about.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
Well, as long as you can admit I'm not wrong... (none / 1) (#55)
by yuo on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 10:28:10 PM EST

You can't have a point-by-point rebuttal. The point of telling you that your post was complete crap and a waste of time and full of logical fallacies is that I don't even have to make any points. Your crappy comment is there for everybody to see. I'm sorry, but you can't revise history and take away your first ridiculous comment.

I read your next comment, but it's all either new arguments or more logical fallacies. Really, I don't know what you're thinking. If you want to start a new discussion, you should make a different comment, otherwise, people will read your first comment and just give up on you when they read my response.

I wish I had thought of pants pants pants pants pants pants pants pants.
[ Parent ]

no, you're not even wrong (none / 0) (#56)
by Liar on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 10:48:56 PM EST

since you misunderstood the point of the post(that play is good for advancing some topics to some people but not all topics to all people), you can't even see what's right or wrong.

But, yeah, since you conflate WWII with the holocaust, you've convinced me that you really shouldn't be talking about education.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
Were you born psychic or something?? (none / 1) (#58)
by yuo on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 11:09:40 AM EST

you seem to think you can guess my thoughts without my saying them.

play is good for advancing some topics, but not all topics. yes, understood. i agree. my article doesn't address this because it is not necessary to show that children are experts on any given subject to demonstrate that self-teaching will make children smart enough to play games, or in other words, smart.

in my response to your initial comment, i discounted your assertion that all learning cannot be fun by saying it was obvious that anything interesting will be fun to learn about. this is in spite of you not coming close to a clear argument about it.

it's interesting that you are so willing to discount anybody who you think doesn't understand WW2. i'm sure i can find an area where you're not knowledgeable, and i guess that would be sufficient, in your rhetoric-filled logic-less world to discount anything you have to say.

Also, I don't even conflate WW2 and the Holocaust. They're pre-conflated, especially in the context that I mentioned. Even if they are two completely separable events, the same people were involved in both. All I implied is that you'll learn about the Holocaust if you read a lot about WW2. If you disagree with that, then maybe you don't understand the world as well as you think.

I wish I had thought of pants pants pants pants pants pants pants pants.
[ Parent ]

Starting over (2.33 / 3) (#65)
by Liar on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 05:02:03 PM EST

Because I think there is a worthwhile point of discussion here, but I'm not convinced you've ever addressed it. But I need to correct you on a few very basic misunderstandings of my posts.

For starters, I chose my words carefully in my first post. I never created the false dilemma you indicated. I only said that people who giggle with glee about the Holocaust have a problem. That doesn't imply people are not intellectually stimulated by the holocaust, if that's what you mean by "have no fun learning about the holocaust." You're putting words in my mouth as I'm only talking about finding genocide mirthful(the definition of fun). But let's pass that by, it's a semantic distraction. If you're really talking about interest and stimulation, fine, but that is another conflation (as is any labored association between the Pacific Theater to the Jewish Holocaust). It's ok to admit to a mistake, though.

I also never asserted, "all learning cannot be fun." You're wrong to say that I have. I said, "Education isn't always fun." This is to say that learning some topics may not be fun for some people. This is a significantly different sentiment and I think it's the root of why you haven't understood my concern. I find most topics interesting but I recognize this isn't the case for others and so I am concerned for education in all important topics while accepting that individuals differ.

Mistakes like this demonstrate that you're universalizing inappropriately. It's never reasonable to say, "Studying topic X is fun" because it won't be fun to all people--some people just don't find joy in math, it produces no pleasure in them and you can't make them find fun in it. For similar reasons, it's never realistic to say "A topic is interesting" because not all topics stimulate all people. What then?

Let's assume that the study of math remains distasteful to my daughter. How does Montessori teach it when my daughter finds it neither fun nor interesting, especially if its the children's interest that guides their education? You've consistently avoided answering this and as I am a parent, if you want me to take seriously your recommendation that we reform the school system by replacing it with Montessori, this is not a small concern.

I do, however, have a secondary concern that's more philosophical. This is the pre-eminence that Montessori (or maybe it's your presentation of Montessori) puts on the dimension of fun and play. A spoon full of sugar may help the medicine go down, but it will rot your teeth and you'll need to add more sugar to your increasingly large doses of insulin. For the overwhelming number of children, chores are chores, TV is fun, and there's no pleasure in responsibilities especially in the face of other more joyful activities. Yet, the chores must still be done. It seems that Montessori neglects the importance of inculcating responsibility and the discipline that it demands. Where there is joy, discipline is not required. Discipline is important when there is no joy, like a cop turning down an untraceable bribe or a child learning math only because it's important--either indirectly important through the disappointment of their parents or directly important like managing her finances.

I never discount the benefits of joy and play in learning--more words you put into my mouth--but you can overestimate the value of joy. Children should learn that fun is not an appropriate motivation in some cases. For some kids, stealing is a game. Intimidating and beating up smaller kids is fun. Graffiti is artistic. Getting caught may not be fun, but escaping is and kids brag about it afterward. On a more global adult standard, driving an oversized vehicle like an SUV is a lot of fun (and useful for those 2 days in the year where its needed) even if it's bad for the environment.

Further, if we teach children the idea that "it's worthwhile because it's fun" then that will easily be misunderstood as "if it's not fun, it's not worthwhile." Yes, a logical fallacy, but one that many children will know when raised in an environment where they only do fun things and ignore the not fun things.

I've known too many flakey people who follow a topic up until it begins to get difficult and then stop. That makes sense because the intro is easy to learn and so they progress rapidly but then the returns diminish and so they stop having fun. They may find the knowledge fun, but the complexity of learning it "not fun" and in their eudaimonic math, they stop pursuing it. So, they master the introduction to many topics but master none at all. I know a few people like this and it seems such a disappointment because they are otherwise intelligent folk with enormous potential but no intellectual determination.

In short, fun is not the only factor in life, but you present it as the only factor in Montessori education. That seems a grave mistake.

Another concern (that I'm only now introducing) is the cost in time used to make things fun. "One plus One is two" is brief; "one purple monster and another purple monster is two purple monsters" lacks that brevity. For some topics, the cost in time is negligible, but with the volume of information that a child needs to master by adulthood, I'm not sure you can make all topics fun in a timely manner especially as the topics grow in sophistication and complexity. Related to this is my experience with teachers desperate to reach a level of interest and engagement who were cheerleading their topics but created significant distraction to the very material they were trying to teach. A child may learn addition by aggregating purple monsters, but they can just as easily be distracted by the rolling eyes on the monster, imagine where they came from, whether they have mommies and daddies. They'll know purple monsters inside and out but they still won't be able to add.

And finally, I'd also ask whether Montessori scales. Small class sizes always perform well but our schools can seldom afford that much staffing. What evidence is there that the Montessori method is any better than just reducing class size? Is it the method that is working or just the more personalized attention? Because if it's just a function of class size (as all reports I've seen indicate) then you're really not offering much. The one study I've seen on the subject was criticized because it didn't indicate the size of classrooms involved between the Montessori students and the control group. I was involved with a woman trained in a particular method for getting children to read, and she had remarkable results compared to the prior system. Children in her program learned almost twice as fast! She was also working with two kids at a time instead of eight. So, I've become suspicious of methods that claim results when the biggest difference is class size--the most obvious thing that parents usually get when they sign up their children for Montessori. From my experience, method has less to do with educational success.

Anyway, as a parent, and as someone who has been involved with many people in education (including in the education of youth offenders), these are my concerns that I see need addressing. To say it isn't important to address them, that the only thing that matters is the kid being smart, well that's good but not good enough. I care more for educated kids than smart kids. I care more for responsible kids than brilliant ones. IQ, g, or whatever it is that you're going after is a good only when it's used reasonably and responsibly and effectively.

It's ok to say that more study is needed. If the Montessori method is effective, I'm all for it. But there's a lot of snake oil out there and everyone thinks they have the cure-all. To suggest Montessori is an effective replacement for our current system seems premature in the extreme and this article only draws attention to its shortcomings in my eyes for the reasons I've repeated three times now.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
I like conflations ... (none / 0) (#81)
by icastel on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 04:16:27 PM EST

... especially when they're pre-conflated.

Just my two conflated cents.


-- I like my land flat --
[ Parent ]

My 2 cent... (none / 0) (#95)
by dhk on Mon Jun 09, 2008 at 09:39:36 AM EST

..for what's it worth... First, I like your argumentation and agree with most of your views.

However, there are some weak points in your arguments.
You argue that "and there's no pleasure in responsibilities especially in the face of other more joyful activities. Yet, the chores must still be done." This is correct, in principle, but in order to be conclusive it needs the additional assumption that there always will be important topics that are not funny enough for a significant portion of the children. While this assumption seems pretty justifiable from introspection it might be argued against: The fun, one might say, is not in the matter itself but rather in the process of learning. "The pleasure of finding things out", as the famous R. Feynman once called it. As long as we don't have conclusive evidence that it is not possible to make learning in itself "fun enough" your argument may be questionable.

Another weak point may be the time argument. It could be refuted if one could show that the extra time needed to make things interesting is compensated by the time you save when you refrain from teaching matters that children have to simply reproduce (instead of understanding the basic principles). Granted, you have to learn e.g. some dates and years in history. You don't have learn, however, a great many of mathematical formulae once you know how to derive them or - even better - how to solve mathematical problems.
- please forgive my bad english, I'm not a native speaker
[ Parent ]
Good points (none / 0) (#97)
by Liar on Mon Jun 09, 2008 at 01:24:08 PM EST

As for the time argument, I listed it as a concern rather than a problem since I'm not just not sure what is intended by the Montessori process and this article doesn't offer enough to figure it out. So, while I agree that making education entertaining may spur the process, without sufficient research there's no way to tell if it's actually the case.

For the first argument, though, I think we have to deal with these things more empirically. The way that Montessori is described here where the child dictates when she's ready, in any child, there may be an area of stagnation where she fails to progress. Just as some kids don't like mushrooms or going to bed on time, she may innately not like the subject or she may not progress because she spent so much time in one area that she fell behind in the other. Being the first in your class to learn multiplication tables is motivating; being the last often is demotivating and can even lead to defensiveness: "Why do I need to learn this? I'm getting all this praise for my writing." This happens in classrooms all around the world and we even encounter this behavior in otherwise brilliant adults: "Why do I need social skills? I'm a genius at statistics."

The "joy of learning" ends up being too abstract; we need to specify the joy of learning a particular subject within a particular context for a particular child. When we do that, we frequently find occasion when the joy of learning a particular subject is exceeded by the joy of learning a different subject or (as is more often the case) the joy of doing something else. We're surfing the internet right now instead of working or studying--is this a failure of our teachers to inculcate the joy of learning or the satisfaction of a job well done? Or is it a human tendency to take joy in things which distract from these other joys? I'd say it's evidently the latter.

So, I think you're right to point out the potential weakness, but I think if we take my original point to its full conclusion, it's still a good point.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
Again... (none / 0) (#98)
by dhk on Mon Jun 09, 2008 at 02:52:10 PM EST

I'm with for the largest part. And, I should have said that before, I don't have any formal background in education or even an amateur status. So all I can claim for my position is common sense and interest for the subject.

Having said this, I'm not sure whether your answer to my argument is right. Probably I'm mixing up Montessori with H.v.Hentig's "Laborschule"-approach here: There is no such thing as a "class". Surely there are occasion were you might excel in front of others, but I'd guess that there needs to be a certain climate that would give you the feeling that being a genius in, say, biology would excuse poor social skills.
I don't think that this atmosphere is prevalent in Montessori schools.

Probably more to the point: Yes, there are children who don't like mushrooms or going to bed. I still have to encounter a single (sane, healthy)child of whatever age that does not like to learn. Until, that is, it has had a long enough encounter with learning-unfriendly contexts. Some schools that I know of (in Germany) coming quite close to that (my mother used to be an elementary school teacher).

"We're surfing the internet right now instead of working or studying" That is funny. I, for one, am trying to follow an argument that is far from trivial and definitely not in my domain of expertise. In addition to that, I try to gain a limited expertise in English conversation. While this is not formally education, I'm trying to learn.
- please forgive my bad english, I'm not a native speaker
[ Parent ]
From what I understand about Montessori (none / 1) (#99)
by Liar on Mon Jun 09, 2008 at 06:37:01 PM EST

they usually encourage a range of ages in one classroom and encourage older children to demonstrate what they know to younger children. In my area, the Montessori schools have an age range up to 3 or 4 years difference. By comparison, most public elementary schools in the U.S. have one age difference per classes and there is a bit of sequestering from each: teach the 4th graders the math for 4th graders while the 5th graders self-study, and vice-versa.

Part of the difficulty is that there's many flavors of Montessori. One of the reasons I said this article was a poor presentation of the material is exactly this reason. Some schools put huge demands on the parents, some are little better than an expensive daycare facility. There's no certification or standards agency--just guidelines that educators can follow or ignore but still call it Montessori. I've been looking at a lot of pre-schools and there's a general idea of "children-leading-children" and "no more than 15 children per adult", and "hands on learning" theme that runs through all of the schools, but apart from that no two are the same--at least not in San Diego.

I agree that children are curious about their environment and satisfying that curiosity is pleasing. But I'm not sure that's what the point of this article is about, its focus is only on the productive capacity of fun and games. Children do have an innate capacity for fun, but that's the part I think needs to be channeled into productive behaviors. Learning may be fun for some, but I've met otherwise healthy kids who love sitting in front of the TV more than studying. I'm not sure we can always easily blame the schools.

There's almost always learning going on, whether it's improved hand eye coordination in a video game or mastering the right strategy in Donkey-King. Really young children love to hear the same story over and over again. A hundred times a day is not enough. For the child, this reinforces that the events at the beginning of the story produces the same outcomes at the end. The world is orderly and this comforts and pleases the child. Should this be indulged? Up to a point, yes. After that point, it's bedtime and she needs to get to sleep.

So, in almost any situation, we can say there's learning going on but the quality of that learning should be considered against the opportunity costs of focusing on something else. I wasn't trying to be rude about surfing the web, one of the reasons I still hang here is because there is occasionally good content, but are there better things we could be doing? Probably. It's natural to take the immediately fun instead of the long term endurance (in my defense, I'm doing report runs so I have a lot of downtime while my PC is eating a lot of CPU cycles). But while I'm writing here, I'm not working toward my Nobel Literature prize. I'd like my children to value their time a bit more highly than I have valued mine. Not to say this discussion isn't valuable or meritless. Just that there are more worthwhile things and for my children, I'd prefer something which does give them the greatest advantages. I have my concerns that Montessori, as described in this article, does not do this.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
Is it possible to study the holocaust (none / 1) (#50)
by lawngnomehitman on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 01:58:01 PM EST

WITHOUT GIGGLING?

[ Parent ]
It's holocaust, not lolocaust (none / 0) (#71)
by alba on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 06:33:27 AM EST

http://www.lolocaust.net/

[ Parent ]
Specious Education Reform Rhetoric (none / 0) (#43)
by starX on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 10:32:35 AM EST

The reason that you're as smart as you are now is not that the education system taught you so well, but because it didn't effectively keep you from learning.

No. You're wrong. The reason I'm as smart as I am now is because I've applied the natural gifts of intelligence I was blessed with within the educational system I attended. I chose to learn.

Granted it's a two way street. I had a good math teacher in 10th grade, I found the subject interesting and challenging, and so I did very well in geometry. I had a shitty math teacher in 11th, I found the subject overly complicated and obtuse, and so I didn't do so well in trig. I could have chosen to slack off despite the efforts of the good teacher, and I could have chosen to apply myself extra hard despite the failings of the bad one.

Somehow I came out of all of it intelligent enough to land a job as a software developer, cultured enough to enjoy a night out at the opera, and wise enough to see that the old system had its failings, but served me pretty well; I don't have any major concerns about sending my children into it.

"I like you starX, you disagree without sounding like a fanatic from a rock-solid point of view. Highfive." --WonderJoust

Vapid Longwinded Self-Indulgent Horse Pellets (none / 1) (#51)
by yuo on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 02:32:24 PM EST

The reason I'm as smart as I am now is because I've applied the natural gifts of intelligence I was blessed with within the educational system I attended. I chose to learn.
Wow, what a brave choice you made there. It's not like our education system failed you by only giving you the illusion of choice. "Succeed with us, or fail without us."
I had a good math teacher in 10th grade, I found the subject interesting and challenging, and so I did very well in geometry. I had a shitty math teacher in 11th, I found the subject overly complicated and obtuse, and so I didn't do so well in trig.
It's a good thing that you've decided now that you like math... no wait, you never actually said anything like that. All you said was that your interest in math depends completely upon something as unreliable as a teacher. It's quite telling that you don't even bother to talk about what subjects you find interesting. I wonder how this exciting tale will end.
I could have chosen to slack off despite the efforts of the good teacher, and I could have chosen to apply myself extra hard despite the failings of the bad one.
"These are two things I could have done."
Somehow I came out of all of it intelligent enough to land a job as a software developer, cultured enough to enjoy a night out at the opera, and wise enough to see that the old system had its failings, but served me pretty well; I don't have any major concerns about sending my children into it.
All joking aside, despite mentioning your job, cultured-ness, and wise-ness, you don't sound very proud of yourself. You don't see yourself as a self-made man? Are you just the inevitable product of what happens to certain material fed into the school machine? Are you prepared to devote 12+ important years of your child's life to the very thing that took away your love of learning and blinded you to its consequences?

I wish I had thought of pants pants pants pants pants pants pants pants.
[ Parent ]

Actually, schools are great... (none / 1) (#46)
by codejack on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 12:07:30 PM EST

...at what they are designed to do. They used to be about guaranteeing a certain minimum education level in diverse subjects, and they did it well; ask anyone who grew up in the 50's or 60's. Starting in the 70's, though, the Powers that Be started to realize how effective education had spurred the antiwar and environmental movements, and took actions to correct it, namely changing the purpose of schools from liberal education to conservative indoctrination: pledge to the flag every morning (why not the constitution? Oh yea, They don't like it), sit in neat rows while doing mind-numbing exercises, don't make trouble, and learn to be good little worker bees.

Crap. I grew up in the 80's, when this process was in full swing, but hadn't (yet) chased all of the good teachers off. My educational experience was a series of clueless, occasionally well-meaning, but utterly contemptible "teachers" who loved my intellect, hated my independence, and were puzzled by my lack of interest in school.

This experience delayed my entry into college, where I have found the rot has spread: My university just removed any requirements for admission; that's right, anyone who dropped out of the third grade (and can pay tuition) is now accepted. This might not be so bad, if the college were actually interested in educating these people, but they redesigned the remedial curriculum (sorry, that's "developmental", now) to be completely unintelligible, even to those of us with a strong education. I spent a semester tutoring "developmental" math, and discovered that the tests never ask for an answer to a problem, they ask for individual steps that a student would use if they were actually going to solve the problem! Needless to say, few of the students pass, and those that do quickly fail the college-level math classes. Also of note is the 30% increase in teacher salaries in the past 10 years, as opposed to the 140% increase in administrative salaries; and it's the free-market fanatics who oppose higher teacher salaries!

The fact is that our educational system has been sabotaged to produce an incurious, ignorant, and easily misled population, while those who can afford it send their kids to private schools, which generally hew to a higher standard. You want to fix it? Then start working with the unions instead of against them; give them their money and benefits, but insist on a compromise on teacher tenure: they should be removable, but through the unions, not the school board. Textbooks are also quickly becoming politicized, and so need to be reviewed, again by the unions.


Please read before posting.

You have accurately and articulately (none / 0) (#64)
by Wain on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 04:41:33 PM EST

summed up my entire life beginning from Kindergarten to the present, having just dropped out of college after entering it late and spending a significant portion of my time and money there.

Thank you for putting this so elegantly, it has helped refined my own distinctions about my life and educational processes.

[ Parent ]

Cue Pink Floyd (none / 1) (#54)
by localroger on Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 07:52:16 PM EST

We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control.

Actually I pretty much agree with this, as I've written before.

And that is what is so great about the internet. It enables pompous blowhards to connect with other pompous blowhards in a vast circle jerk of pomposity

So which game teaches $random_useful_skill? (none / 0) (#59)
by Pentashagon on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 02:14:15 PM EST

Most (popular) games are repetitive fine-motor muscle exercises, and sometimes just MMORPG grinds that even a paraplegic could play with one of those forehead pointers. I don't disagree that games encourage learning, I just don't think their spectrum is broad enough. You've probably seen the quality of grammar and spelling produced by most MMORPGs, for example. I know of no modern game that effectively teaches mathematics, outside of the educational realm (and those are mostly iffy).

Directed play is definitely the best way to learn things, but it requires astute direction, otherwise it narrows the interests of each person who gets to do the one thing they really like doing. Subcultures develop around those narrow areas of expertise, and when it's time for all the kids to get together and work on something there's communication barriers and a lack of general knowledge.

Hell, but what do I know? I was home schooled and got to do whatever I wanted to do all day long, except for a couple hours a day of "normal" school work. Maybe that's a better trade-off: Give kids a couple hours of school a day and 6 hours of play time, directed toward using what they learned to beat each other at contrived games. I know I thought more about mathematics and science on my own than I ever did while I was actually doing school work. Perhaps I'm the exception, though (in the real world, certainly not on k5. I expect most of you to have similar experiences. Only self driven learners [and trolls] would torture themselves by staying here this long).

The problem (2.50 / 2) (#60)
by acronos on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 02:14:19 PM EST

The problem with our education system is not the way we teach, but rather the way we pay for it.  The problem in our school systems is the same as the problem in workers unions, Cuba, and health care.  The entire thing is a "tragedy of the commons."  Essentially socialism.  The problem is that there is no incentive to be the best.  Why be the best school?  All of your students are required to go to the school they are assigned. (with a few rare exceptions)  Why be the best teacher? All are paid based on how long they've been there and punished for creativity not how good they are.  Why be a creative teacher?  Your entire curriculum is laid out by the government.  All of the innovative ideas, such as your own, would be tested and tried if the funding for the system were changed.  

To fix the system, parents should be allowed to send their child to any school they choose, with a complex busing system.  High school should work like college does.  The government should pay a fixed amount for each child.  Schools that don't have enough students go under.  In order to compete, schools would have to come up with creative ways to motivate teachers, or specific niches for special students, or creative systems that create the best learning environment.  Students would have to be allowed to fail.  It is the lack of choice; the inability to fire; the rigidness of the system - that is the problem.  All of this is caused by the way we fund it.

That sounds like a great idea! (none / 0) (#62)
by Pentashagon on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 02:53:30 PM EST

If you let parents choose who to give government money to, they're obviously going to send their kids to the school that hosts the most public functions that offer a free meal, and the ones that churn out the best sounding diplomas for high school.

Parents are the best people to decide how well a school has educated their child, since they have a very objective viewpoint and always compare their child fairly to other children using quantitative criteria and well founded statistical models. Parents also have a great deal of experience in reviewing textbooks for factual accuracy and not allowing subjective beliefs to color their evaluations.

[ Parent ]

sarcasm aside (none / 1) (#76)
by acronos on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 03:26:06 PM EST

Parents are the best choice for choosing the schools. I don't advocate doing away with all regulation. The public school system which receives government funding should have to meet public standards. Children who's parent's don't care are screwed no matter what school system exists. Under my system, parents who do care can save their kids from the crap that is our current system. Most likely, parents who care will congregate in one school, and the ones who don't or just want the grade will stay in the closest or easiest one one.

[ Parent ]
It's a race to the bottom (none / 0) (#84)
by Pentashagon on Fri Jun 06, 2008 at 03:10:05 AM EST

Parents who care will try to get their kids in the best school, but I bet they would do about as good as they do filtering all the television ads out. Most parents care about their kids, but few care enough to not let them be indoctrinated by tv ads and the uninformed consumer culture. "Wallmart/Pepsi/Rebock/McDonalds High School" springs to mind, with appropriate money-making schemes built in. I'm sure education would be of the same caliber as the wages and benefits that Mcdonalds and Wallmart offer.

Basically, despite hating both the government and big business, I realize that government can be a lesser evil when there's massive amounts of money to be made by cheating people. At least the public school system can't figure out how to turn a profit. If it could, it would get commercialized and become infinitely worse.

[ Parent ]

You keep talking about privatize? (none / 0) (#86)
by acronos on Fri Jun 06, 2008 at 10:22:51 AM EST

The schools systems should be non-profit.  Teachers wanting to keep their jobs should be adequate motivation to maintain competition.

[ Parent ]
Nonprofit works for me. (none / 0) (#88)
by Pentashagon on Fri Jun 06, 2008 at 02:43:28 PM EST

As long as Sony can't set up a school for the sole purpose of draining government coffers.

[ Parent ]
That is the system we have now (2.00 / 2) (#63)
by TDS on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 04:19:50 PM EST

in the UK. It functions flawlessly. Oh hang on, no it doesn't, and it has completely fucked everything up beyond redemption.

Can you not see the obvious flaw in your little plan?
I'll give you a clue, schools don't function like Toyota factories.

And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]

Tell me more (none / 0) (#77)
by acronos on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 03:38:05 PM EST

I tried to see how you got that.  I see that children at 16 are allowed to choose where to go from there.  Children in the US are allowed to drop out at 16 too.  I don't see competition between schools.  Can you point me in a direction that shows that this exists, or better yet, something that analyses it's flaws?

From what I can find, the UK school system isn't doing that bad.

[ Parent ]

Re: Toyota factories. (3.00 / 2) (#82)
by TDS on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 05:58:19 PM EST

When you are 4, your parents will try to get you into a good primary school. The same thing happens at 11, you have a choice at both times. If you live in an area with separate Junior Schools (7-11) you will have a choice then as well. In the past you used not to have a choice (it was done by catchment so you could only exercise choice by moving house) and then when I was a kid there was a hybrid system where you were supposed to go to the local school but could try and opt out if there was spare capacity elsewhere. Schools receive payment per pupil although it is true they also receive other sorts of payment so it isn't purely on numbers.

This is how your competition emerges, there also publicly published league tables (there is testing from nursery schools upward for kids) and OFSTED reports for every school in the country.

The problem is that schools can't open up and close down capacity quickly. I'm sure the elite do better through competition, problem is it fails everyone who doesn't get in. Bad luck, you failed the lottery and didn't get into a good school. So we're now going to send you to a shitty school that because it is shitty is going to be strangled of funding. Obviously teachers will avoid working there so you are just going to get either no-hopers or temporary or even unqualified teachers. So it will be even shittier year on year after you get there until you fail your exams, leave, and drag the school down in the exam table rankings. At which point it will get even worse.

This sort of evolutionary rich-get-richer, poor-get-poorer system would be fine if there was infinite pool of schools available but it doesn't work that way. And in the end the aim of the system is not to select amongst "fit" schools but to educate children all of whom have an inalienable right to an education suitable to their needs.

If the popular schools could suddenly tack on another 200 per year capacity or something it would be fine, but it doesn't work that way. You wind up with a divisive system because the schools aren't competing for pupils, they are competing for good pupils and not everyone at 11 is necessarily firing on all thrusters, especially if they have in turn attended a failing primary school.

All it does is entrench class divisions.

The UK school system must be one of the worst in the world right now. It was bad enough when I through it.

And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]

Is this really a bad thing (1.50 / 2) (#85)
by acronos on Fri Jun 06, 2008 at 10:16:12 AM EST

The first part of your comment is not what I advocate.  School choice should not start until high school.  There are a lot of reasons, but they would make the post too long.  

I think you are not being realistic about the school system.  The reality is that schools teach to the lowest common denominator.  This means that the good students are wasted.  The bad students would be bad students either way.  By the time you get to high school, you should know how to read and do basic math.  This is the level of education that should be fully controlled by the state.  However, by allowing schools to focus on students who are all at similar levels of ability and achievement, curriculums can be better targeted at the reality of the situation.  

I said in another post, it is all about the parents.  Schools can provide the material, but only parents can make it stick.  No matter how much we would like schools to raise children, they can't.  With rare exception, children who have parents who care will do well, but children who have parents who don't will not.  This equation will not change in any system that I can think of.  The only system that could change this would be one that could do a good job of raising children - a school that could instill morals and a good work ethic.  This just can't be done in a cost effective method in public education.  You need daily one on one love and attention to accomplish this.

So I agree that it would cause the worst to sink to the bottom.  However, where we differ is I think they would sink anyway, and they would drag the others with them.  We also differ in that I think that schools targeted at special or underachieving students would arise that would be better than the current, on size fits all, system.  Lastly, we disagree that schools would just go under casually accepting their fate.  They would fight for the best students and have to improve the system to get them.  The two articles I quoted in the other posts seem to demonstrate this.

[ Parent ]

Yes, it is really a bad thing. (none / 1) (#87)
by TDS on Fri Jun 06, 2008 at 10:41:22 AM EST

We have banding and setting anyway, curricula are targeted. We already have specialist schools (in fact nearly all are "specalist" these days), it just doesn't pan out as you seem to imagine and frankly two random references isn't change my view of this. The first is based on data from 1997 and before, actually before the system I'm describing (ie. before New Labour were elected). It is furthermore an unpublished manuscript and hasn't been peer reviewed. In the case of the second, I haven't read it but it doesn't seem to allow for City Academies were are essentially a special sort of school with high levels of public funding (via PFI deals). These institutions aren't relevant to most people, neither are VA or Faith schools unless you think people should be made to convert to Catholicism or Islam in order that they get to learn to read. Again we say the diversion of public funds for lobbying special interests to the detriment of the majority.

And you seem to have a strange view of how markets operate, the worst doesn't sink to the bottom, everything but the very best sinks to the bottom. This is the classic contradiction of capitalism. So what you are really saying is that 90% of people should subsidise the education of the remaining 10% because they are already rich and more deserving. This idea of "bad students" I'd challenge, there are some unredeemable cases but I don't think they constitute the majority although certainly if you treat anyone badly enough over the time you increase the chances of people joining that group. The impact of funding cuts is not something that impacts on whether you have professional-grade sports facilities, I mean whether they can afford to employ enough teachers, provide books and fix the roof. I was at school in the 80s in the last funding squeeze, we shared 20 year old textbooks and were taught in huts because they couldn't afford to repair the school. 3rd world standards. OK so I made it out in one piece but lots of people didn't and they weren't thick or disruptive, they just failed one exam on one day when they were 11 and that was the end of them, all options totally cut off forever because of "competition". With your "tailored" curriculum bear in mind the effect that has is that at 16 those who failed an exam when they were 11 won't even be able to take the exams to allow them to take the qualifying exams to go to university or college.

In short, you need to say what is done to remediate losers in a market, and the answer that most people don't matter in a publicly funded service to which all children have an inalienable right won't cut it.

And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]

We are missing each other. (1.50 / 2) (#89)
by acronos on Fri Jun 06, 2008 at 02:57:22 PM EST

What I am envisioning would in no way lock out a student who takes a test at 11.  Any family can choose any school.  Note: High school starts at 13-14 in the US.  I understand your objection that there are only so many slots in the best schools.  But, that is not necessary, it is just useful.  There are no lack of college choices in the US.  The best schools are hard to get into, but there are plenty of good schools that are easy to get into.  There are also vocational schools which are probably the lowest common denominator.  All of these have their place.  I also understand your objection that the smaller schools, due to economies of scale, have less relative money per student than the larger schools.  Small schools would have to get a little extra funding until they cross a threshold, then they should be shut down.

As far "the worst doesn't sink to the bottom, everything but the very best sinks to the bottom.", this is not true.  There is a place for the best brand names; There is a place for the average product; and there is a place for the cheapest product.  Usually the cheapest product does the best.  There are a few industries where there is a duopoly, but most have many suppliers - all with a workable market share.  Only the monopoly is the true evil.  Government is a monopoly.  School systems where there is no choice are a monopoly.  There is no such thing as a different set of rules for socialism vs capitalism.  That is the fatal flaw in socialistic thinking.  The only salvation in these systems is elections, which are competition (capitalism).

[ Parent ]

I found this after my previous post (none / 0) (#78)
by acronos on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 03:48:26 PM EST

http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,,2033648,00.html

It seems to confirm my position.

[ Parent ]

and this (none / 0) (#80)
by acronos on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 03:54:15 PM EST

http://ideas.repec.org/p/lan/wpaper/000021.html

[ Parent ]
Hey, I love your free market dogma (none / 0) (#67)
by Elija on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 06:23:09 PM EST

It's so quaint and 1980s.

Why not just privatise everything and watch it turn into expensive, non-functioning shit ... and then claim that's a good outcome because, by definition, that's what the market wanted!


[ Parent ]

Too bad (none / 0) (#72)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 11:41:08 AM EST

that public school is already expensive, non-functioning shit.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Did you read my post (none / 0) (#75)
by acronos on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 03:19:15 PM EST

I don't advocate privatizing the school system. I advocate competition among schools.

[ Parent ]
Agree, it is about funding (none / 0) (#68)
by Liar on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 07:39:51 PM EST

Things like Montessori encourage class sizes of 10-15 per teacher (worst that I've found is 35 students, one teacher, one aide). Public schools cannot afford that. The best I saw was 40 students, 1 teacher, 1 part-time aide who was shared among three other teachers with similar class sizes.

Find a way to fund our schools at the level of a private school, and you'll see improvements. It really is that simple.


I admit I'm a Liar. That's why you can trust me.
[ Parent ]
Incentive of whom (none / 0) (#69)
by JetJaguar on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 01:16:01 AM EST

One question: Who does not have an incentive to be the best? The school? The students? The teachers?

I think it's kind of funny that we've got all these libertarian-like folks running around wanting to privatize the education system, claiming that choice is what people want. And, hell, maybe you're even right about that.

However, there's a missing link in all of these arguments about education reform. Everyone loves to give lip service to how bad our schools are, and everybody thinks they have a solution of one sort or another, but they all miss one rather obvious point, most people really don't value education. Parents don't really care what their children learn or how well they know it, they just want them to get good scores. And indeed, that is what everyone gets all up in arms about when test scores of US students are compared internationally.

So politicians give lip service, and maybe try to pass a few laws, but in the end it doesn't do anything because the same people that don't really value education are the ones that keep voting in these jokers.

It may be the case that the government should stop funding schools directly and force parents to pay for the schooling of their children out of their own pocket. At the very least, that might make parents start to think a little bit more about what they are paying for, instead of having the government dole out tax money.

In the end though, I doubt that there can be any meaningful education reform until we as a society really and truly value education. The fact that we keep electing C students to public office strongly indicates that appeals to emotion and authority are more important to making decisions than an intellectual education.



[ Parent ]
Incentives (none / 0) (#74)
by acronos on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 03:16:39 PM EST

Who does not have an incentive to be the best? The school? The students? The teachers

Yes, all of these lack incentive.

Parents don't really care what their children learn or how well they know it, they just want them to get good scores.

Private schools exist because some parents DO value education. There are plenty of parents who care that can't afford private school.

It may be the case that the government should stop funding schools directly and force parents to pay for the schooling of their children out of their own pocket. At the very least, that might make parents start to think a little bit more about what they are paying for, instead of having the government dole out tax money.

I don't advocate this. I even wish the government fully paid for public colleges. I advocate giving a specific amount per child that goes to the school.

[ Parent ]

Competition vs cooperation (2.50 / 2) (#92)
by svampa on Sun Jun 08, 2008 at 03:18:51 PM EST

In human kind there are two opposite trends: Competition and cooperation. We are not lonely scorpions, but we are not ants or bees either.

We fight with no qualms to be the best one of our group, on the other hand we are able of solidarity, to sacrifice our life for the community. There are antisocial people 99% competitive and 1% altruist , and there are saints 1% competitive and 99% altruist as well. But, of course, there is a wide range between both extremes where most people are.

This is a bell curve, but it is biased towards selfishness or altruism, depending of the environment. The richer and safer people fell, the more selfish they are. If you feel safe you don't need anyone, and you don't expect anything from anyone. The more insecure they feel, the more generous they are... and the more they expect from other people.

The problem is that there is no incentive to be the best

You could have said "There is no incentive to be useful for the society". You don't think "we are all in the same boat, and we must collaborate", you think the society is a jungle and children must be educated and trained for competition. And, of course, schools must compete for funds as well.

The final result of that kind of education is that USA has the best scientists, the best business men, the best doctors and the best everything. Nevertheless it has the most dumb middle class as well. It has the best hospitals of the first world, but the worst healthcare system of the first world. It has the best universities, but the worst schools as well

That's part of your education because you have gown up in a rich society. There are other societies where helping you neighbor is more important than competition. They have problems enough just to survive each day, so competition to be the best one is considered as a childish waste of energy. Of course, even in such societies there is still a lot of selfishness, as in rich countries there is a lot of altruism.

You are right as long as you believe that a society with high level of competition is the best society. However, I don't mean that you are you are wrong, I am just pointing out that it is a matter of taste and there are other flavours



[ Parent ]
Competition vs cooperation ? (none / 1) (#96)
by acronos on Mon Jun 09, 2008 at 01:16:25 PM EST

"In human kind there are two opposite trends: Competition and cooperation."

This is a false dichotomy.  It is very possible to be both competitive and altruistic.  USAA is a non-profit organization that competes directly with for-profit insurance companies.  They actually distribute the profits to their customers at the end of the year.  They are totally altruistic and totally competitive.

"The richer and safer people fell, the more selfish they are."

Statistically this is false.  The richer countries are the most generous.  The people of the United States give more to charity than any other country on earth.  I have seen several studies that strongly demonstrate the opposite of your hypothesis.  The richer people are, the more generous they are.

Countries without competition to be the best are usually starving.  It is result of the lack of opportunity to excel (competition) rather than the cause.  You have it backwards.

[ Parent ]

competition vs cooperation (none / 0) (#100)
by svampa on Mon Jun 09, 2008 at 08:42:17 PM EST

This is a false dichotomy. It is very possible to be both competitive and altruistic.

Of course, I have never said it isn't. In fact when I say there is people 60% competitive, 40% altruist I mean that.

The people of the United States give more to charity than any other country on earth.

That is highly debatable. If you mean the absolute amount of money given to charity organizations, probably you are right. If you mean renounce to important things to help you neighbor, I am not sure.

An example: I live in Spain and here there are a lot of immigrants from Southamerica, some time ago I watched an interview to a woman from Southamerica. She was asked about what were the differences between Spaniard and Ecuadorian, she said "We are different. Spaniards prefer to have just a son, but they enjoy of a car and voyage every summer abroad. We prefer not having so many things but having more sons".

Another example, if you travel by the third world in a train, it is quite common that people share their meal with you. They are giving much more than someone in the first world gives a lot of money to Red Cross, but has a video, a DVD, two TVs, a PC, two cars an house. regular incomes etc.

Countries without competition to be the best are usually starving. It is result of the lack of opportunity to excel (competition) rather than the cause.

I haven't state any relation between about competition and standard of living. In fact, I don't think there is any relation, as counterexamples you have Sweden, Finland, etc where education is public and has one of the best level of the world.

A society may be competitive or cooperative, rich or poor, are unrelated. While in the other direction rich people is more likely to trust in their own forces, and expects the other do the same and don't disturb.

They are two kinds of societies, it is a matter of taste. The causes of poverty are very complex (corruption, lack of resources...)



[ Parent ]
giving (none / 0) (#102)
by acronos on Tue Jun 10, 2008 at 11:01:39 AM EST

"Of course, I have never said it isn't. In fact when I say there is people 60% competitive, 40% altruist I mean that."

Yes, but your totals always add up to 100%, which is wrong.  Without disputing a precise definition of what 40% giving is, it is quite possible to give more to charity than average and at the same time be more competitive than average.

"That is highly debatable. If you mean the absolute amount of money given to charity organizations, probably you are right. If you mean renounce to important things to help you neighbor, I am not sure."

http://www.american.com/archive/2008/march-april-magazine-contents/a-nation-of-g ivers
"households with total wealth exceeding $1 million give about half of all charitable donations. The American rich are generous, on average. "
"[The US poor give] away about 4.5 percent of their income on average. This compares to about 2.5 percent among the middle class, and 3 percent among high-income families."
Interesting that it is an inverted bell curve.  The middle class are similarly religious as the rich, and the rich give more than the middle class.  The explanation in the text of religion being the differences is easy when you consider that the poor in the US are FAR more likely to be religious.  With only a 1.5% difference in giving from wealth, and a 25% difference in giving from religion, holding religion constant is VERY likely to produce that the rich give more than the poor.  BTW, do look at the link.  It discusses the correlation of monetary giving vs other forms.

"An example: I live in Spain and here there are a lot of immigrants from Southamerica, some time ago I watched an interview to a woman from Southamerica. She was asked about what were the differences between Spaniard and Ecuadorian, she said "We are different. Spaniards prefer to have just a son, but they enjoy of a car and voyage every summer abroad. We prefer not having so many things but having more sons"."

In society as it exists today, having more sons is selfish not generous behavior.  It is the decreasing birth rate in developed countries that will save this planet.  In addition, each child is given fewer resources (attention, food, education, etc.)  This is a bad thing.  The poor almost everywhere on earth have more children than the rich. This is due to many factors that have little to do with generosity.  

"I haven't state any relation between about competition and standard of living. In fact, I don't think there is any relation, as counterexamples you have Sweden, Finland, etc where education is public and has one of the best level of the world."

I advocate public education.  However, studies in England, as was so interestingly pointed out in another thread line, show that competition between schools increased their effectiveness.  Also, students are given grades in these countries (competition).  Students have been shown to preform much better graded than in a pass-fail system.

[ Parent ]

There's some bigotry here (none / 1) (#66)
by Elija on Wed Jun 04, 2008 at 06:16:52 PM EST

Claiming that English is "the most useful language on this planet" or that social skills are "the most important skills of all". Obviously you can define "useful" and "important" so as to make these claims true, but you can also define them so as to make them false. Since you haven't defined those terms at all, all you're really doing is saying that a Chinese non-linguist introvert, for example, is some kind of Untermensch.


These things aren't opinions. (none / 1) (#73)
by yuo on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 02:01:29 PM EST

To be fair to you, I said one of these things without support specifically so that I could make fun of anybody who challenged me (this is the one about English). The other, I said because I felt nobody would disagree because it is so obvious.

By any reasonable standard, English is the most useful language on this planet. If you speak English, you're by far able to speak to more people than with any other language. That's why I said "most useful language on this planet" and not "most useful language anywhere on this planet". Maybe you need to study English more so that we can converse at an equal level. There, now I've made fun of you.

Social skills are definitely the most important skills of all, but I'm not sure I can say "by any reasonable standard". To be clear, I didn't say "the most important skills to anybody". I said "the most important skills of all." I think this is obvious to any rational human. I also think it is obvious that, without social skills, you greatly reduce your ability to improve any other skill.

At this point, I think it would behoove you to give me a standard where some other skill would be more important than social skills. Saying, "for this one dude" won't cut it because was not talking about people, but the general skill. Once again, study of English would help you here.

Also, at this point, unless you can give me a reasonable alternative, your accusation of bigotry is so unfounded and ridiculous that your original comment may as well be taken as, "I am a person who suspects something for no rational reason, and I am unable to think for myself. Please help me think or I will tell people that you are a bigot, even though I cannot come up with a way to explain that."

Finally, if you asked your Chinese introvert what important skill does he wish he did better and what spoken language does he wish he understood better, what are the chances that he'd wish for social skills and English?

I wish I had thought of pants pants pants pants pants pants pants pants.
[ Parent ]

Yes, you're a bigot all right. $ (none / 0) (#79)
by Elija on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 03:49:13 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Hurrrrrr. Hurrrrrr.... Durrrrrrrrrr.... (none / 0) (#83)
by yuo on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 09:47:42 PM EST

Sorry if you had trouble understanding. I'm not used to speaking to retards.

I wish I had thought of pants pants pants pants pants pants pants pants.
[ Parent ]

Ironic (none / 1) (#91)
by X3nocide on Sun Jun 08, 2008 at 01:50:02 PM EST

Have you prayed and wished for social skills recently?

pwnguin.net
[ Parent ]
No, because I'm not stupid. (none / 0) (#94)
by yuo on Sun Jun 08, 2008 at 09:56:50 PM EST

I am fairly happy with my social abilities, but they can always be improved upon. However, I don't rely on an invisible friend that I can "pray to" to provide me with them. I live in the real world where these kinds of things require effort.

I wish I had thought of pants pants pants pants pants pants pants pants.
[ Parent ]

The Underground History of American Education (none / 0) (#103)
by ouroboros on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 05:52:59 PM EST

is an incredible book, and I highly recommend everyone read it.  It's by John Taylor Gatto.  You can even read it for free on his website!

agreed - here's WHY you sould read it (none / 0) (#104)
by mdl001 on Thu Jul 10, 2008 at 09:28:23 PM EST

It tells the story of when, how and why the US educational system was changed from furthering critical independent thinking to making unquestioning cogs for the  industrial machine.

[ Parent ]
Real Education Reform | 105 comments (102 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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