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  #476  
Old 03-25-2012, 08:53 PM
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'A Test You Need to Fail': A Teacher's Open Letter to Her 8th Grade Students | Common Dreams
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  #477  
Old 03-26-2012, 12:32 AM
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I told you, didn’t I, about hearing Noam Chomsky speak recently? When the great man was asked about the chaos in public education, he responded quickly, decisively, and to the point: “Public education in this country is under attack.”

Yesterday, I made the mistake of logging onto Facebook. One guy was insisting that we should abolish public education entirely. He claims that it's "unconstitutional" (he's an absolutely unapologetic libertarian) and more to the point "un-Christian."

A few people pointed out that this would likely mean that a decent education would now be something that only the sons and the daughters of the wealthy would receive. He indicated that if this was in any way a problem, he was sure the free market would come up with a solution.


I don't know what was more chilling: the perfect willingness to abandon whole groups of people and essentially condemn them to generational poverty; the naked presumption that the well-to-do are somehow better and more deserving than everyone else; the outright assertion that anyone who isn't wealthy is simply lazy and that we should therefore feel no compassion toward the poor whatsoever; or the absolute, religious faith that the Free Market can and will solve every problem, if only it is allowed to. Or the fact that plenty of people seemed to be agreeing with him.

All our problems, apparently, are due to the evil, interfering government, and if only the government would step aside, the Free Market would magically solve all our problems and we'd all be living in a utopian state. Except for those lazy poor people, apparently, who'd get exactly what they deserve.


What kind of person actually believes that sort of thing?

As far as I can tell, quite a few Libertarians have a faith in the Free Market [Praise Be Unto It] that is literally religious. And like any good Fundamentalists, they have nothing but disdain for anyone who doesn't share their religious beliefs.
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  #478  
Old 03-26-2012, 01:02 AM
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I don't know what was more chilling: the perfect willingness to abandon whole groups of MINORITIES JEWS and essentially condemn them to generational poverty; the naked presumption that the well-to-do CHRISTIANS are somehow better and more deserving than everyone else; the outright assertion that anyone who isn't CHRISTIAN wealthy is simply lazy A FAG AND EVIL and that we should therefore feel no compassion toward the NON-CHRISTIAN poor whatsoever; or the absolute, religious faith that the JESUS Free Market can and will solve every problem, if only it is allowed to. Or the fact that plenty of people seemed to be agreeing with him.
:fixed:

And do not argue with . . .



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All our problems, apparently, are due to the evil, interfering ANTI-CHRISTHe's BLACK!(IAN) government, and if only the NigANTI-CHRIST(IAN) government would step aside, the JESUS Free Market would magically solve all our problems and we'd all be living in a utopian state. Except for those lazy poor people, apparently, who'd get exactly what they deserve BECAUSE THEY HATE JESUS.
:fixed:

Though to take it seriously, see how it fits with:

Quote:
What kind of person actually believes that sort of thing?

As far as I can tell, quite a few Libertarians have a faith in the Free Market [Praise Be Unto It] that is literally religious. And like any good Fundamentalists, they have nothing but disdain for anyone who doesn't share their religious beliefs.
is it any surprise that Libertarians tend to be "conservative" :cough: Fundamentalist :cough: Christians? Same lack of critical thinking. They are simply embracing good ol' Calvinism and are trying to prove to everyone--including themselves--that they are predestined to greatness . . . γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν.

--J.D.
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  #479  
Old 03-26-2012, 01:11 AM
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Yesterday, I made the mistake of logging onto Facebook. One guy was insisting that we should abolish public education entirely. He claims that it's "unconstitutional" (he's an absolutely unapologetic libertarian) and more to the point "un-Christian."

A few people pointed out that this would likely mean that a decent education would now be something that only the sons and the daughters of the wealthy would receive. He indicated that if this was in any way a problem, he was sure the free market would come up with a solution.

I do not agree with abolishing public education, I would agree that education should be more open to the 'free market' with more freedom for parents to choose where their children and money go. Open competition would either improve public education or destroy it.
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  #480  
Old 03-26-2012, 02:00 AM
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Education for all is needed for any representative form of government to work and to provide the basic platform for a dynamic and healthy society. So I am all for it. But as it stands in the US it has become too entrenched and could use a little creative destruction.
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  #481  
Old 03-26-2012, 02:06 AM
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No question there. The U.S. educational system is deeply flawed, and in terrible need of restructuring.
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  #482  
Old 03-26-2012, 02:35 AM
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No question there. The U.S. educational system is deeply flawed, and in terrible need of restructuring.

It is the exclusivity that is the problem, for the most part they are the only game in town and can do whatever they want, there is a lock on the students and the money. That exclusive hold needs to be broken so that public education will need to produce or fail.

There is also the need to remove the requirement for manditory attendence for a certain age, the 12 years of education should be avalable for any age when the student is ready for it.

This might require some relaxing of the child labor laws.
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  #483  
Old 03-26-2012, 03:45 AM
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I don't think exclusivity is necessarily the problem. Besides, it has never been exclusive, there has always been private competition. I think the major problem is that the educational system we have today is perfectly designed to meet the needs of 19th century America in the era of rapid industrialization. It's kinda like the military. It is always perfectly prepared to fight the last war. The next war is another question. The same with education. It is preparing people to compete in an age that has been over for at least 30 years. And the problem isn't that somehow the people in private education know how to prepare today's students for tomorrow, because they don't. We are at a crossroads, and it is now obvious that the old ways will no longer do. And that is all fine and good, but now what?

In a situation where the path forward is not clear, it is time to let a thousand flowers bloom and see who survives. Or to put it more bluntly, throw whatever we can figure out at the wall and see what sticks.
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  #484  
Old 03-26-2012, 03:56 AM
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I don't think exclusivity is necessarily the problem. Besides, it has never been exclusive, there has always been private competition.
The exclusivity is that even if you take your child out of public school and 'home school' them, the public school still gets their tax money. Private competition does not reduce the funding for public education so there is no pressure to improve. If the tax money followed the student, then it would not be exclusive. Private schools are paid for above and beyond the taxes. I 'Home Schooled' my youngest daughter her last year and my tax bill did not change. What we paid for that education was extra.
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  #485  
Old 03-26-2012, 04:01 AM
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The early, basic education will always work, it is only the later stages that will need to adapt to changing conditions, HS and secondary education.
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  #486  
Old 03-26-2012, 04:09 AM
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I don't think exclusivity is necessarily the problem. Besides, it has never been exclusive, there has always been private competition.
The exclusivity is that even if you take your child out of public school and 'home school' them, the public school still gets their tax money. Private competition does not reduce the funding for public education so there is no pressure to improve. If the tax money followed the student, then it would not be exclusive. Private schools are paid for above and beyond the taxes.
I think your analysis is overly simplistic. Property taxes are a sunk cost. No matter what you do, you are not getting them back. But even so, even the poorest parents who do not want to send their kids to public education find a way. Now certainly it doesn't help public schools one bit that there is a week coupling between their funding and their performance. However one could also argue that like health insurance and military service, the broader the public participation you have the more likely you will have a good system. So one could argue that the public school systems are not exclusive enough, because if rich parents were forced to send their kids to public schools, those schools would get a whole lot better.

However I contend that the problem is more basic than that. It's not a matter of social and political theorists, as well as education theorists as a group knowing what to do to education and that the current entrenched system is fighting them (and there is certainly some of that). I would argue that the social, political and educational theorists are well prepared to educate students for the last century, but not for this century. They don't know what to do!

The world has changed a lot in the last forty years.
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  #487  
Old 03-26-2012, 04:16 AM
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Speaking of tests you need to fail. When I was in High School I had to take a course called "Health & Family Living". It was a sort of combination health, sex-education, etc. class. One of the units was on drugs (and the evils of same). The teacher began the unit by a giving us a test. I got one question wrong. I got an "F" on the test. The teacher explained the logic behind his grading. Simply put, we shouldn't already know the stuff on that test because we hadn't yet been taught any of it and if we already knew it it must be because we had been up to no good. Fast forward to the end of the unit. He gave the same test again. Once again I got all but one question correct. The one I missed was the same one that I got wrong the first time I took the test. This time I got an "A" on the test.

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  #488  
Old 03-26-2012, 05:06 AM
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The teacher explained the logic behind his grading. Simply put, we shouldn't already know the stuff on that test because we hadn't yet been taught any of it and if we already knew it it must be because we had been up to no good.

And that is extremely arrogant on the part of the teacher, to think that the teacher was the only source of information is not only arrogant but stupid as well. I can only hope that that teacher retired or quit shortly after that. In Pa. while I was teaching the Gov. passed a law that regulated corporeal punishment. The principal came into the Teachers Lounge and said we should not tell the students yet and we could get away with paddeling for awhile. I commented later to another teacher that the students probably knew the details of the bill before we did. The principals comments were not only stupid but illegal as well. There are a lot of things that I have learned outside of formal education.
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  #489  
Old 03-26-2012, 05:15 AM
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the broader the public participation you have the more likely you will have a good system.

This I must disagree with, more money will not always fix a broken system. It's like saying if you pay more you will get better people, WRONG, if you pay more you will get people looking for a higher wage, more money does not always get higher quality, especially with people.
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Old 03-26-2012, 05:48 AM
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the broader the public participation you have the more likely you will have a good system.

This I must disagree with, more money will not always fix a broken system. It's like saying if you pay more you will get better people, WRONG, if you pay more you will get people looking for a higher wage, more money does not always get higher quality, especially with people.
I didn't say the more money. I said broader public participation. There is a difference. But in this case I don't think it will help. Because even though participation from the powerful and well-off families is missing from public education, if they all sent their kids to public schools it is likely to have no impact. In software there is a saying, building the thing right is not the same as building the right thing. In the case of public education, it is doing neither. And as far as I can tell nobody knows what is the right thing to build let alone build it right.
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Old 03-26-2012, 06:27 AM
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the broader the public participation you have the more likely you will have a good system.

This I must disagree with, more money will not always fix a broken system. It's like saying if you pay more you will get better people, WRONG, if you pay more you will get people looking for a higher wage, more money does not always get higher quality, especially with people.
I didn't say the more money. I said broader public participation. There is a difference. But in this case I don't think it will help. Because even though participation from the powerful and well-off families is missing from public education, if they all sent their kids to public schools it is likely to have no impact. In software there is a saying, building the thing right is not the same as building the right thing. In the case of public education, it is doing neither. And as far as I can tell nobody knows what is the right thing to build let alone build it right.

OK point taken, but it only works if the 'broader participation' is accepted by those in control. If the adminstration and staff persue their own agenda without regard to anyone elses opinion, because they are the experts, public participation will fall on deaf ears. Parents and teachers are not always on the same page or at the same level of knowledge about the subjects.
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Old 03-26-2012, 06:48 AM
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the broader the public participation you have the more likely you will have a good system.

This I must disagree with, more money will not always fix a broken system. It's like saying if you pay more you will get better people, WRONG, if you pay more you will get people looking for a higher wage, more money does not always get higher quality, especially with people.
I didn't say the more money. I said broader public participation. There is a difference. But in this case I don't think it will help. Because even though participation from the powerful and well-off families is missing from public education, if they all sent their kids to public schools it is likely to have no impact. In software there is a saying, building the thing right is not the same as building the right thing. In the case of public education, it is doing neither. And as far as I can tell nobody knows what is the right thing to build let alone build it right.

OK point taken, but it only works if the 'broader participation' is accepted by those in control. If the adminstration and staff persue their own agenda without regard to anyone elses opinion, because they are the experts, public participation will fall on deaf ears. Parents and teachers are not always on the same page or at the same level of knowledge about the subjects.
The situation you describe would lead to low participation and a flight from public schools. But if the powers that be in education actually had a good plan for preparing today's students for what they might encounter in the future then how deaf their ears were would not be a major concern. It might even be a good thing, it's not as if the public in general has a clue. But the situation as I see it is that all parties are clueless and nobody wants to get a clue.

What's even more tragic is that we live in a time where we have many good and effective models of behavior modification (which is essentially what education is all about) but we are unable to act because we have a political system that is controlled by the extremely vocal minority and economic interests.

You could say that a great deal of our problems in all sorts of areas stems from what currently passes as political discourse in this country. When I was a kid the nation watched one of three networks at 6pm for one hour each week day which for the most part all gave the same news and it was a much more moderate country and thus more open to discussion and compromise. And the extremists were outcasts. Now we live in the PC age where all points of view are valued and thus all points of view have the same value which averages out to zero and nothing gets done.

Some views are better than others, and clearing identifying ideas as stupid is important so that people will know what to ignore, even if the advocates of the stupid idea get hurt feelings because it was called stupid.
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  #493  
Old 03-26-2012, 07:02 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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The situation you describe would lead to low participation and a flight from public schools.
Exactly this. The whole 'free market' canard just doesn't work with education. The biggest impact more 'open competition' has had and will have is that those who can afford it go to private schools and those who can't go to public ones, which now have less funding and less pressure to shape up, because everyone with financial or political clout has fled to greener pastures.

If wealthier parents had to send their ivy-league-bound kids to the same schools their groundskeepers send their kids too, it would seem a hell of a lot more likely that both would be able to get an education that's actually worth a damn.
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  #494  
Old 04-01-2012, 09:23 AM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

Why Research Universities Must Change

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The airwaves are rife with predictions of disruptive change coming to the economic model of higher education. It is no wonder that parents paying and borrowing for a college education steer their children toward practical majors that seem to promise instant employment, and discourage them from studying the liberal arts and sciences in pursuit of a well-balanced education. A private interest in education today means a purely economic one.

From this inversion of values flows our second problem: a redefinition of the purpose of undergraduate education. Fifty years ago, when I started college, there was a widely shared view in America that the purpose of a college education was to prepare students to become educated citizens capable of contributing to society. College was in the public interest because it gave graduates an understanding of the world and developed their critical faculties.

Today, many Americans believe that the sole purpose of going to college is to get a job -- any job. The governors of Texas and Florida are quite clear on this point, and draw the corollaries that college should be cheap and vocational, even when delivered at major research universities like the Universities of Texas and Florida. A university education is more than ever seen as strictly utilitarian. The reasons are clear: a) as more students and families pay a large share of the costs, they naturally want a ready return on their investment; b) the most desirable jobs in this highly competitive job market require a college degree; and c) the gap in lifetime earnings between college and high school degree holders is huge.

Today, as many Americans hold a purely instrumentalist view of undergraduate education, they want a detailed accounting of its value. Hence our third problem: close public scrutiny and political accountability. Parents want to know, what did my daughter learn, and how does it contribute to her career? State legislatures want to know: what is the graduation rate at our university? How many undergraduate students do faculty members teach? And much more.
This matches my own observations. In real life I don't know a single college student or recent college graduate who attended college because they had a passion for learning. Maybe I am looking at my past through rose colored glasses, but it seems to me that this was not the case when I was a college student. This year marks the 35th anniversary of my graduation from college (admittedly it was a small private liberal arts college, not a major research university) and, to the best of my recollection, most of my classmates did not view their college education as primarily being vocational education. Nor was that view held by most of the faculty. In fact, I recall that my alma mater was engaged in a major debate over whether or not to offer a degree in Social Work. The concern being that offering a program that was narrowly directed toward a specific vocation would undermine the sense of value attached to a liberal arts oriented curriculum. At that time the only such program offered by the college was the nursing program and those students, despite the demands imposed by the nursing curriculum, still had to fulfill the requirements imposed by the liberal arts curriculum. They were never just nursing students.
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  #495  
Old 04-01-2012, 04:13 PM
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If I already had gainful, steady employment that I didn't hate every minute of, I would still want to further my education for its own sake. What I enjoy about going to college is gaining knowledge and understanding, I'm just not in a position where the economic benefits can be viewed as ancillary in any respect.

However, in recent years I have come to realize that I am not representative of the majority of the population here in the good old US of A.
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  #496  
Old 04-26-2012, 10:01 PM
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I'm grading the final lab exams in my introductory Human Anatomy & Physiology class.

For a question which asked the students to identify the left ventricle of the heart, one wrote "Brain." On another question, asking them to identify the corpus callosum of the brain, a student wrote "Aorta."

If those were only a couple of isolated instances, I wouldn't be so desperately wanting to tear my hair out right now. I can only assume that -- knowing that the final exam would cover the Cardiovascular and Nervous systems -- a rather significant percentage of the students simply memorized (or attempted to memorize) a list of terms that they thought would be relevant, and then applied them more or less at random on the exam. That's the only possible explanation I can think of for why someone would identify part of the heart as the "brain" or part of the brain as the "aorta."

Once again, I'm confronted with the heart-breaking reality that a very significant portion of the class has evidently learned nothing at all during the past several months.

And more than half the class failed to turn in their final homework assignment at all. True, it's not worth a whole lot of points, but to fail to turn it in at all speaks volumes about their dedication to learning the material. Especially since all they have to do is read the assigned chapters in their textbook and fill in the answers.

But then, that would mean actually reading the textbook -- something I'm absolutely convinced that probably at least half of them do not (and will not) do.

But you can be sure that a significant portion of them will soon be sending me outraged e-mails demanding to know why they failed the course. It's tempting to write back and ask, "Where is the surprise here? You failed every single exam, and didn't even bother to turn in the final assignment. Why are you surprised that you failed the course?"



President Obama has recently been talking about how we need to make it easier to get a college degree in this country. On the one hand, I'm in absolute agreement: in my opinion, there's absolutely no excuse for the fact that many poor and middle-class kids will never be able to attend the college/university of their choice, because they can't afford to. It's shameful, in fact.

Everyone who wants to attend college -- and who can and will do the work -- should be able to. Period.

On the other hand, we really have oversold college, I think. Every day, I'm forced to deal with the fact that a significant percentage of our college students simply cannot or will not do college-level work.

But the Administration (here I'm talking about the Administration here at the college, not the Obama Administration) relentlessly pressures us to keep our "retention" rates as high as possible, and to get as many warm bodies in the seats as possible.


But the fact is that a lot of these kids should not be in college. There's no shame in that. A lot of them demonstrate absolutely no interest in learning anyway, and are clearly interested in getting a degree only because they see it as a necessity for getting a halfway-decent job. And some of them are apparently incapable of doing college-level work.

We really need some proper sort of vocational training in this country. And we need to stop pretending that "everyone" can -- or should -- earn a college degree. It just winds up frustrating an awful lot of people, students and instructors alike -- not to mention saddling an awful lot of students with loads of debt.





I really wish I didn't hate this place so much ...
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  #497  
Old 04-26-2012, 10:20 PM
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LadyShea LadyShea is offline
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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But you can be sure that a significant portion of them will soon be sending me outraged e-mails demanding to know why they failed the course. It's tempting to write back and ask, "Where is the surprise here? You failed every single exam, and didn't even bother to turn in the final assignment. Why are you surprised that you failed the course?"
I think "You failed every single exam, and didn't even bother to turn in the final assignment." is the answer you absolutely should send
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  #498  
Old 04-26-2012, 10:51 PM
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The Lone Ranger The Lone Ranger is offline
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

Okay, a student just identified the left lung as the heart.

You'd think I'd be used to this sort of thing by now, but it never fails to leave me completely gobsmacked.

This is just too depressing. There's a nice arboretum not too far away; I'm gonna go take a walk ...
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  #499  
Old 04-27-2012, 05:04 AM
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lisarea lisarea is offline
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

Dang, TLR. That bothers me so much, because I really do wish everyone had some remotely reasonable liberal arts education, just for purposes of voting and serving on juries and participating in society in general. Not necessarily a college degree, but just some fundamental understanding of the basics, you know? The kind of things kids should be getting by the time they graduate high school, but aren't.

I guess it's not going to happen anytime soon, but I'm not going to stop wanting it anyway.

On a brighter note, this looks really promising, especially for home schooling or home supplementation:

TED-Ed Launches Innovative Customized Learning Web Initiative | GeekDad | Wired.com
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  #500  
Old 04-27-2012, 05:09 AM
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Angakuk Angakuk is offline
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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Originally Posted by The Lone Ranger View Post
Okay, a student just identified the left lung as the heart.

You'd think I'd be used to this sort of thing by now, but it never fails to leave me completely gobsmacked.

This is just too depressing. There's a nice arboretum not too far away; I'm gonna go take a walk ...
That student deserves some credit for that answer. The lung is certainly closer to the heart than the brain.
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