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  #251  
Old 09-17-2011, 07:10 AM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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Originally Posted by wildernesse View Post
But. The teachers would be a lot better off if they didn't say "Oh, we just finished this unit!" but if they said "We're just starting to learn about X". Then, when their students don't know anything, it's because they haven't learned about it yet.
Good strategy in many situations, I would think. "I just started this project!"

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This tactic also works better than giving the super a blank stare when she asks you what project/work the students did to demonstrate that they understood the concepts they supposedly learned. FYI!
Good to know! Whoda thunk that?
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This week on a school visit, she learned that the Native Americans who lived in their area probably got any feathers that they used in clothing/decoration from chickens.
Oh probbly, there's so many chickens and all

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I think she should be happy that those kids knew chickens are birds and have feathers.
True story, my friend had a big old argument with someone who was convinced that owls weren't birds. Apparently she was so convincing my friend actually questioned herself.

I was like "Feathers, wings, eggs, the whole flying thing. Yep, prolly a bird. Or a dinosaur"
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  #252  
Old 09-17-2011, 01:09 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

I should say that she also told me about projects that she saw that showed the students were learning in the same school. She said that the lower grades were doing great, but the upper grades not so much, which I would guess is the lazy habit of giving students with greater abilities less capable teachers.
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  #253  
Old 09-17-2011, 04:10 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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Originally Posted by LadyShea View Post
True story, my friend had a big old argument with someone who was convinced that owls weren't birds. Apparently she was so convincing my friend actually questioned herself.

I was like "Feathers, wings, eggs, the whole flying thing. Yep, prolly a bird. Or a dinosaur"
She was right, though. Owls aren't birds, they're just straight up motherfuckers.
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  #254  
Old 09-17-2011, 05:43 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

:orly::yarly:

I have to say my son's new school is night and day different. They have lockers, they have arts. There are parents coming into the office to volunteer for things before they're begged.
Part of the difference is that his old school was focused on discipline and avoiding any gang culture. The new school is based on arts, an actual educational philosophy and didn't piss off the parents in the neighborhood. Both schools were recipients of special funding some time in the 1980s for being poor performing schools, but chose different paths. His old school was the school chosen to be combined with another elementary school, against the wishes of both schools' community and parents.
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  #255  
Old 09-17-2011, 05:51 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

lisapea is a Juggalo
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  #256  
Old 10-18-2011, 07:51 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

Okay, I've complained before that college is oversold, and that a lot of the people in college probably shouldn't be there. This semester is really mercilessly hammering that point home to me.

I've been assigned to teach the very basic, Introductory-Level Biology course this semester. We're talking really, really basic stuff here. How basic? We've just spent three weeks discussing basic chemistry. And when I say "basic" chemistry, I mean basic chemistry. As in: "What is an atom?" That's the level we're dealing with.

I've spent the past three weeks explaining stuff that I would literally cover in one lecture in another 100-level class.

Another faculty member referred to this class as "Biology for the Brain Dead." Sadly, I can understand what he was talking about. The students who're taking it are doing so because they couldn't pass the test to get into Introductory Biology -- which covers Junior-High-level concepts.

This class (let's go ahead and be honest: that's not what it's called, but it's Remedial Science) covers Elementary-School-level subject matter. Dear Dog, I wish I was exaggerating, but I'm not.


So today was their second exam. During the last class period, several students were pointedly complaining about the "huge" amount of material this test would cover. I think I had to consciously suppress a look of shock at this, considering that if you removed the illustrations, my lecture notes for the past week could easily be fit onto a single piece of paper.

What's more, by far the biggest problem I had in making up the test was thinking of enough questions to ask. We had covered so little material that I found it quite difficult to come up with enough questions for an exam without repeating myself.


I'm going over the results now, and I don't know whether to tear my hair out or find a high building to leap off of. There are a few exceptions, thankfully, but for perhaps half the students in the class, I'm convinced that they haven't learned anything at all in the past several weeks. Not where chemistry is concerned, anyway. The responses to the "Matching" questions are bad enough, but the responses to the "Short Answer" questions all too often demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of even the most basic principles that we've been discussing for the past several weeks.


Now naturally, of course, I ask lots of questions during class, to try to get a rough idea of comprehension. And so I discover what topics I need to re-explain, in the hopes that it will make more sense the second time around. But if it hasn't sunk in by the fifteenth time around, I really don't think that it's going to.



These aren't bad people. But I'm of the opinion that with a few noteworthy exceptions, they're not capable of doing college-level work. Hopefully, they'll gain at least a little better understanding of basic biological principles by the end of the class. But I'd be willing to bet good money that at least half of them will have learned nothing whatsoever by the end of the course -- except, perhaps, that it was kind of fun to look through that "telescope thing" at the little green things inside plants: "atoms," I think they were called.

Very few of these students, if any of them, are in the class because they want to be. They're taking the class because they think they must. But I can pretty-much guarantee that anyone who's finding this course to be challenging will never manage to get a degree in Nursing or Physician's Assistant, or the like.


I honestly feel sorry for them, because I'm sure that most of these students have been told that the only way they'll ever be "successful" is if they get college degrees. But for far too many of them, I fear that this is a very remote possibility indeed.

We need better vocational training in this country, and we need to stop telling people who're manifestly unsuited to the demands of college that their only pathway to "success" is to get a college degree.
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  #257  
Old 10-18-2011, 07:56 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

I clicked [thanks] because I don't have any constructive to say in response to that. :sadcheer:
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  #258  
Old 10-18-2011, 08:09 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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As in: "What is an atom?" That's the level we're dealing with.
I know for fact I would ace this class.

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  #259  
Old 10-18-2011, 11:17 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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I honestly feel sorry for them, because I'm sure that most of these students have been told that the only way they'll ever be "successful" is if they get college degrees. But for far too many of them, I fear that this is a very remote possibility indeed.
There's been a lot of the "you can do anything if you try" ethos in the upbringing of the last generation or three. I think the meaning got corrupted from "really hard work can trump brains" into "everything is easy".

It must have caused a great deal of disappointment.
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  #260  
Old 10-19-2011, 12:19 AM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

Man, TLR, I feel your pain. We switched over to standards-based grading this year in physics, me and the other physics teacher. Normally grading is a matter of getting points for various things, and an A means over 90% of the points (or on a test with a HUGE curve to deal with the typical 50% mean score across all the classes). In standards-based grading, we have certain learning standards for each unit--3 to 6 different standards--and some overall process standards for the entire course.

It has split the class very clearly into those who can think clearly and take responsibility for their own learning, and the rest, most of whom can't do basic algebraic tasks, or learn much of anything new.

Of of the standards is unit conversions--they have to be able to convert meters to cm, or in the 2nd unit, meters/second into maybe cm/minute. About a quarter of our students cannot do this basic task, which is usually taught in middle school, and is certainly hammered home in chemistry, which they all took last year.

I think we're going to have a huge backlash from parents. The other teacher has already received a couple of nasty emails from parents, scolding him for not allowing students to do extra credit work to improve their grade. The standards are assessed on quizzes and tests, and there IS no extra credit work that can make up for the fact that a student has repeatedly demonstrated a complete inability do understand what is in the standard.

I agree that many of these students should be on a vocational track, and should not have college as a goal, at least not a 4 year college.
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  #261  
Old 11-03-2011, 08:28 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

I don't envy you in the slightest, TLR. In the end, I had to get out of academia because I found that I was spending most of my time as a glorified babysitter. And I didn't go to college for nine fucking years to be a babysitter.

Honestly, the only way out of this dilemma (in the US, specifically) involves making huge cultural changes, and that's beyond the scope of any one person, let alone any one university.
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  #262  
Old 11-03-2011, 09:49 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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Originally Posted by The Lone Ranger View Post
There are a few exceptions, thankfully, but for perhaps half the students in the class, I'm convinced that they haven't learned anything at all in the past several weeks. Not where chemistry is concerned, anyway. The responses to the "Matching" questions are bad enough, but the responses to the "Short Answer" questions all too often demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of even the most basic principles that we've been discussing for the past several weeks.


Now naturally, of course, I ask lots of questions during class, to try to get a rough idea of comprehension. And so I discover what topics I need to re-explain, in the hopes that it will make more sense the second time around. But if it hasn't sunk in by the fifteenth time around, I really don't think that it's going to.
It's like having a class half-filled with peacegirl. It must be torture.
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  #263  
Old 11-04-2011, 03:13 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

Without impugning the reality or significance of TLR's experience in the least, let me say this: There are still lots of good students. No doubt I'm lucky to get a fair number of them, of course, but in any case it isn't all doom and gloom.

They do at least most of the readings; they ask good questions in class; they feel the intellectual urgency of even recherche questions; and they propose answers with a charming and effective mix of bold creativity and epistemic humility.

"Two cheers for (some) students" maybe isn't the most stirring rallying cry; but it's worth noting that there really are some good'uns still.
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  #264  
Old 11-04-2011, 03:21 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

I emailed one of my previous professors about the possibility of independent study next semester and he wrote back within 6 minutes: "Yes! I have the perfect project for you!" Here's hoping it's not sharpening pencils all day. :giggles:
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  #265  
Old 11-04-2011, 06:23 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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Originally Posted by Clutch Munny View Post
Without impugning the reality or significance of TLR's experience in the least, let me say this: There are still lots of good students. No doubt I'm lucky to get a fair number of them, of course, but in any case it isn't all doom and gloom.

They do at least most of the readings; they ask good questions in class; they feel the intellectual urgency of even recherche questions; and they propose answers with a charming and effective mix of bold creativity and epistemic humility.

"Two cheers for (some) students" maybe isn't the most stirring rallying cry; but it's worth noting that there really are some good'uns still.
Absolutely!

I know that there are good schools out there with motivated and attentive students who actually want to learn. I've been lucky enough to have taught at such a place. And I absolutely loved it.

Which is why I'm hoping I can get out of this place.

The biggest problem at this school is the administration, I think. Between the constant pressure to "dumb down" the coursework and their clearly-evident lack of respect for their own faculty, that's bad enough. Factor in that they very clearly are a lot more interested in getting paying bodies in seats than in whether or not the students are actually learning anything, and the problem is greatly magnified.

And when recruiting students, they all but tell them "Come here and you're guaranteed to get a degree, regardless of your talents [or lack thereof] and effort [or lack thereof]. And with that degree, you'll be able to get a job -- or if you've already got a job, you'll be able to get a better one." So we've got an awful lot of people here who -- in my opinion, anyway -- really shouldn't be, because they're incapable of doing the work.

But I really can't blame the students. What other choice do they have?
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  #266  
Old 11-04-2011, 08:58 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

Jeez, it sounds like you work at DeVry or ITT Tech!

The "everyone goes to college" mantra needs to end. It has saddled a generation of young adults with mortgage-sized student loan debt and diluted the academic rigor of colleges and universities they attended.

Skilled trades, vocational schools, military enlistment, etc. are perfectly honorable avenues to perfectly respectable careers.
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  #267  
Old 11-04-2011, 10:27 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

There are plenty of vocational schools, but they're mostly private, for-profit ones like ITT Tech and DeVry.
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Old 11-05-2011, 01:05 AM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

I believe some states offer it for retraining and people getting state aid and stuff.

I was told last night that this big private company (shipbuilders), with a big government contract, is having such a hard time finding workers that can pass a drug test, and actually show up for work, that the state is offering free vocational training for those they hire... in like welding and marine electrical and CNC and shit. Pretty good deal for drug free people for whom the trad college route is suboptimal, I think.
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Old 12-05-2011, 07:39 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post

loooooool
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  #270  
Old 12-05-2011, 08:31 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

OMG I was totally thinking about this the other day. As part of my behind the scenes support for the Occupy movement, I was "following the money" on all kinds of imposed laws and chose NCLB on accounta my proclivity for educational issues. Did you know that it costs states billions to private corporations to purchase these testing materials and have them graded?


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There you have it. A concise summary of what’s wrong with present corporately driven education change: Decisions are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.
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  #271  
Old 12-06-2011, 01:26 AM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

On the one hand, given how clearly some teachers manage to produce better results than others, it makes sense to judge teachers in part on how much change they produce in their students.

On the other hand, it sounds like the current round of tests are... not good.

You'd think it wouldn't be THAT hard to create meaningful tests.
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  #272  
Old 12-06-2011, 01:30 AM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

It's not only hard to create meaningful tests, but it is hard to create tests that remain meaningful.
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  #273  
Old 12-06-2011, 03:56 AM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

Well, yeah. But.

Arguably, academic-stream education isn't simply supposed to train one for the comfortable routines in which we may eventually find ourselves; it's supposed to train us in a way that keeps our options open for further education of many sorts -- including, e.g., technically mathematically demanding fields where the tested elements from the article really will be relevant.

And, yes, success in many fields or careers tends to involve promotion to a level that changes one's job to some variety of HR or other; but it doesn't follow that HR-training is the most relevant training to achieve success in most fields or careers.

And I hate hate hate hate hate "real-world". Dumbest meme ever. The real world contains schools.

There's a provocative message here about accountability in setting one's teaching and learning accountability metrics. The lack of accountability from those who use "accountability" as a political bludgeon on educators needs a lot more time under the spotlight. My experience is that politicians and civil servants find it expedient to pad curricula beyond the point of teachability, so that they can be seen as standing up for excellence while teachers and students get to take the fall for failing to meet the targets (due to unions and being those goddamned kids today, respectively). But I see red flags, and the prospect for equally cynical politicking, when I see raging against curriculum elements that don't emphasize what works in "the real world".

Finally, the test showing a mismatch between the Caribbean-house-owning rich guy and the Grade 10 student expectations? Well, let's see this guy and hear his personal life story. Because I'm going to bet that some significant unearned privilege plays a serious role in his success; and unless the counter-proposal afoot is to inculcate privilege through the miracle of revised standardized testing, there's going to be a bit of a gap in the reasoning from "Hey, this guy couldn't do the test and he's in the 1%!" to "Nobody needs to be able to pass this test in order to succeed!"
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  #274  
Old 12-06-2011, 05:57 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

It's still hard to shake the feeling that I spent a good three-quarters of my life up to present doing rote-work with no value. Nearly all the skills I used at any job I've ever had were things I learned on my own initiative.

Yet there are valuable things which are difficult to measure, like a more complete perspective of the world, and effective learning methods. Being difficult to measure, it's difficult to know if they did a decent job of instilling these in anyone, either.

I don't think the article is really helpful. Taking the test with no preparation isn't really fair. I knew some advanced math in high school and college that I'd be hard-pressed to use now -- but could probably relearn with less practice than from scratch, if I had to. And though I don't remember all of it the basic concepts remain useful.

Whether the test measures anything meaningful is a different question.
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Old 12-06-2011, 06:14 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

Two of the most important abilities I have for navigating the "real world" are resourcefulness (knowing how to find and assess information) and critical thinking/problem solving. Being a good reader is the most important basic skill, in my opinion, because if you can read and comprehend well, you can learn most anything you want by, you know, reading.

I have not found any use for more than basic math/algebra, but I am not an engineer or scientist or anything like that, so my real world experiences should not be any kind of benchmark.

All that being said, we have a real issue here in that the actual goals of our educational system are not well defined by anyone, so all proposed or implemented remedies are just shots in the dark. It's like they're hoping one of the solutions will somehow identify the actual problem rather than vice versa.
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Thanks, from:
Crumb (12-06-2011)
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