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  #76  
Old 07-06-2010, 07:08 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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lead to demonstrably different social and economic classes
See, this is where you all lose me, acting as if the trades are "lesser" or no better than pumping gas. Journeymen can make 6 figures, and Masters often own their own companies. They are very often successful people any way you look at it.

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Deciding early on that, well, little Johnny isn't interested in Algebra or Literature, so off to trades for him seems to defeat that purpose.
What if Little Johnny wants to be an electrician? Why should he not be offered some vocational training, and be forced to stick to the college track (which is basically what all high schools do)?


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making sure those kids know the things that we all need them to know
Back to the OP. What do we all need them to know?

ETA: I don't think anyone should be pushed into anything, whether trades or college. I think that all kids need the opportunity to explore their own abilities and interests and be supported in that exploration. Unfortunately I don't see where any public institution is really capable of providing that level of individualization

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  #77  
Old 07-07-2010, 12:06 AM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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lead to demonstrably different social and economic classes
See, this is where you all lose me, acting as if the trades are "lesser" or no better than pumping gas. Journeymen can make 6 figures, and Masters often own their own companies. They are very often successful people any way you look at it.
Especially in a world where people with PhDs in history stack supermarket shelves and Masters in art theory work call centres. Those are two real examples. OK, neither of those people ended up doing those things forever, but it still illustrates that it seems education as a cultural signifier of class doesn't correspond with the economic realities of class any more.
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  #78  
Old 07-07-2010, 01:37 AM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

Stupid LadyShea made me read the stupid thread, so now I am going to post in it so I don't get grounded.

It seems as though the distinction 'vocation' is meaning not really vocation, but blue collar vs. white collar vocation. Because even if you set aside academia, lawyer, doctor, engineer, etc. are all vocations, too. And most white collar vocations don't directly require a background in the liberal arts, either.

And that's really what it is. The liberal arts. A basic understanding of the world around you. Things like literature, logic, mathematics, science, maybe also some basic understanding of government functions, etc. And really, everyone should come out of school understanding something about these things. People should know how their government works at a basic level, they should be able to read and write, have some practical knowledge of mathematics, and a broad understanding of scientific method and an overview of the various scientific disciplines and major ideas. The goal of public education should be to prepare people to be grownups and to participate in their society as human beings, rather than simply as functionaries.

And they should be somewhat familiar with the breadth and depth of things they don't know. You don't have to be intimately familiar with different economic theories or differential equations to have a very general notion that these things exist and what they're for.

And if we don't do that, we'll end up living in a culture where people get angry that maybe the government might take over their Medicaid, and public figures speak out against silly, worthless fruit fly studies.

Or, you know:


(And this is just some random link that's been making the blog rounds today.)

Thing is, though, yeah. This stuff could be integrated with acknowledged vocational studies and there is no reason that, with competent teachers and administrators, kids could both complete a basic liberal arts education AND get some lifestyle and vocational training (blue or white collar) by the end of high school. If the quality of education were reasonably competent, all but the most severely intellectually challenged kids should be able to come out of it with all of those things.

But the quality of much of our education system sucks, so until that changes, kids aren't going to be getting either.
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  #79  
Old 07-07-2010, 01:54 AM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

I like how that video ends on a vaguely racist note.

Also...

The stupidity!
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Old 07-07-2010, 02:38 AM
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IIRC, in Germany the track system of sending some kids to vocational education and some to university tracks, was mostly found to be based on class lines, rather than the actual aptitude of the children.
Well it is good that vocational education exists (I took green house and landscaping classes as electives in High school), in my experience those are the type of classes and "extras" that fall under the budget axe first.

While you are struggling to keep your child out of a dysfunctional education system, I am struggling to keep an education system relevant to the majority of children. If I can summarize our positions succinctly. There are a fair amount of good things about public education, including the specialized teaching available for those who need it. I think we had, and can have a functional education system, but there are significant barriers to that, as in any other social problem we're facing today.

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  #81  
Old 07-07-2010, 02:47 AM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

Vaguely racist?

Gives me the perfect opportunity to post one of my favorite Plognark images..

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  #82  
Old 07-07-2010, 05:21 AM
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IIRC, in Germany the track system of sending some kids to vocational education and some to university tracks, was mostly found to be based on class lines, rather than the actual aptitude of the children.
That would probably hold true here as well...but I am not talking about "sending" anyone anywhere, I am simply talking about offering additional opportunities for those who can't or won't go on to college.

I think all kids should get the opportunity to learn what they need to live as adults while still in the public system (like lisarea said), though I would prefer some more pragmatic things be mandated, like consumer math.

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Well it is good that vocational education exists (I took green house and landscaping classes as electives in High school), in my experience those are the type of classes and "extras" that fall under the budget axe first.
Vocational education doesn't seem to exist everywhere, or maybe not anymore as they may have been axed like you said. I have been our of school for 25 years, and I haven't heard of HS vocational opportunities since, really.

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While you are struggling to keep your child out of a dysfunctional education system, I am struggling to keep an education system relevant to the majority of children.
Ya know, it started out, for me, as avoiding a dysfunctional system, but the more I look at it and discuss it, the more I think the whole current US system doesn't have the capacity to be functional...at least what I consider functional. And there's the rub again? What is a relevant functional system for the majority of children? What exactly does that look like?.

Except the universal free part, the rest of it doesn't even look very good "on paper" to me.

Are they examining and trying to incorporate the newest information on learning coming from neuroscience? According to a prominent neuroscientist, no they aren't. If they are, they don't talk about it.

Are they examining and trying to incorporate some of the theories on learning styles? Not if you look at the number of kinesthetic learners who are still labeled ADD or behavior problems, not if you look at the same old "sit at the desk for hours" mode of classroom management.

Are they examining and trying to incorporate some of the practices that more successful countries like Finland use? No, instead of reducing the number of compulsory years they are increasing them. Instead of shortening the school year they are lengthening it. Instead of discouraging competitiveness, which leads to stress, they encourage it. Instead of valuing innovation, individuality, creativity and out of the box thinking, they value testing and conformity and draconian policies.

From another standpoint, instead of encouraging the best and brightest in their fields to contribute to or participate in public primary education, they financially and academically disincentivise them from doing so.

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There are a fair amount of good things about public education, including the specialized teaching available for those who need it.
Yes, early intervention and special needs programs are amongst the bright points. But even that sometimes has some unfortunate consequences for the majority who do not need it.

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I think we had, and can have a functional education system
I don't know that we ever had one, again though, "functional" is a subjective term. Many of the questions I am asking and problems I am considering today my mother asked and considered 30 years ago when I was in school.

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but there are significant barriers to that, as in any other social problem we're facing today.
Yep

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  #83  
Old 07-07-2010, 11:39 AM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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Vaguely racist?
Maybe "unintentionally racist" would be a better description.
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  #84  
Old 07-07-2010, 11:48 AM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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Originally Posted by LadyShea View Post
Are they examining and trying to incorporate some of the practices that more successful countries like Finland use? No, instead of reducing the number of compulsory years they are increasing them. Instead of shortening the school year they are lengthening it. Instead of discouraging competitiveness, which leads to stress, they encourage it. Instead of valuing innovation, individuality, creativity and out of the box thinking, they value testing and conformity and draconian policies.
In their defense, I think that article said that US students already went to school for less days than Finnish students.

I wonder when the Finnish school day starts and ends tho...
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Old 07-07-2010, 02:43 PM
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Finnish students spend less time in class than students in any other industrialized nation.source

For younger pupils, the formal school day finishes at about 1pm
Maybe they have more days a year than the average American, but they spend fewer hours per day, apparently, and fewer total years, and don't give much homework.

Quote:

This is an introduction to what is probably the biggest difference between schools in Finland and the UK - that pupils spend nine years in the same school, combining the roles of primary and secondary schools.
source
Less strict segregation by age, which I think is better socially, but may or may not affect the academics.

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Children start formal lessons when they are seven and they stay here until they are 16, when they will decide whether to go to a more academic upper secondary school or to a vocational school. source
So the best public education system in the world, according to some, tracks kids when they are 16. It sounds like up until then, they are getting the balanced education lisarea talked about.

They eschew textbooks

They don't wear shoes


Their teachers are amongst the best and brightest (whereas here teaching is often considered a "fallback" position)
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In Finland, the teaching profession is highly regarded. Education is considered a science and there is such competition that only about 13 per cent of applicants a year are admitted to the teaching faculty. You do five years and qualify with a master's degree. We do not have teacher training colleges.'
Their schools are homey and comfortable

If US schools looked like this, I wouldn't be having any of these discussions. I might be having different discussions about Nanny States or some shit, but not these.

Now, Finland has only 5 million people. That's not even our largest city. I think many US social problems kinda stem from the fact that, well, we're huge. Huge is much more difficult to administer. Huge doesn't do turns and detours easily.

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  #86  
Old 07-07-2010, 03:46 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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Originally Posted by LadyShea View Post
See, this is where you all lose me, acting as if the trades are "lesser" or no better than pumping gas. Journeymen can make 6 figures, and Masters often own their own companies. They are very often successful people any way you look at it.
Sure, but more often they are not. You can't just look at the handful of people with a given sort of education who become unusually successful. I mean, people with business degrees "often" become upper management or even chief executives, but they are exceptions to the rule just as much as business owning tradespeople. There is a strong correlation between education and income. Here's a paper (PDF) from 2005 with some data. Granted, the numbers are sort of incomplete since, as far as I can tell, they lump unskilled labor with no college education together with skilled labor with no college...in my brief research this morning, I was unable to find numbers that drew a distinction).


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What if Little Johnny wants to be an electrician? Why should he not be offered some vocational training, and be forced to stick to the college track (which is basically what all high schools do)?
No one is saying Little Johnny can't become an electrician. I have no problem with trades classes being offered. Hell, I have no problem with basic trade skills being required learning, so as to expose kids who might not otherwise consider them to the fields.

Quote:
Back to the OP. What do we all need them to know?
I'm not a qualified expert! :tmhappy:

But, seriously, I think a number of people, including myself have made decent laypersons' attempts at answering this. IMO, at minimum, literacy, math, basic history, civics, basic economics, basic science.

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I think that all kids need the opportunity to explore their own abilities and interests and be supported in that exploration.
Sure. And part of that opportunity, IMO, is being required to learn the basics of fields that might otherwise be dismissed as prima facie uninteresting, and to learn foundational subjects that prepare them for other, more interesting, ones.

Also, I think we're all sort of all over the place, drifting between talking about elementary education and then high school level education. Obviously, I think older students who have mastered foundational subjects should be given more leeway in selecting what sort of more focused subjects they find interesting.
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Old 07-07-2010, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by LadyShea View Post
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lead to demonstrably different social and economic classes
See, this is where you all lose me, acting as if the trades are "lesser" or no better than pumping gas. Journeymen can make 6 figures, and Masters often own their own companies. They are very often successful people any way you look at it.
Especially in a world where people with PhDs in history stack supermarket shelves and Masters in art theory work call centres. Those are two real examples. OK, neither of those people ended up doing those things forever, but it still illustrates that it seems education as a cultural signifier of class doesn't correspond with the economic realities of class any more.
It does, though. People with advanced degrees, on average, earn more than people without, even if some PhD's have to stock shelves to make ends meet and some uneducated schlubs end up owning businesses.

ETA: I count myself as an uneducated schlub, btw. I dropped out of college during the dotcom boom to work IT and have never gone back, so I'm a "some college" statistic on all the charts.
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Old 07-07-2010, 03:52 PM
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Well so is amount earned the best benchmark of success? Maybe that's part of our problem (as a society) as well.
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Old 07-07-2010, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Qingdai View Post
While you are struggling to keep your child out of a dysfunctional education system, I am struggling to keep an education system relevant to the majority of children.
This is a very succinct way of stating what I tried to say earlier about differing priorities. Well, except that I personally am doing less "struggling" and more "spouting off on the internet".
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Old 07-07-2010, 03:57 PM
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Well so is amount earned the best benchmark of success? Maybe that's part of our problem (as a society) as well.
I don't know that it's necessarily the best benchmark of success, but I do know that I think public education (by which I mean both the standardized cirriculum and the public institutions that teach it) ought to have, as one goal, breaking down the correlation between birth class and earning potential by teaching everyone, regardless of class, what they need to learn to pursue higher education and, thus, higher earning potential.
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Old 07-07-2010, 04:17 PM
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Sure, but more often they are not. You can't just look at the handful of people with a given sort of education who become unusually successful. I mean, people with business degrees "often" become upper management or even chief executives, but they are exceptions to the rule just as much as business owning tradespeople.
Even an apprentice earns a living wage though. They may not become wildly successful, but they make decent wages from the start and progress steadily as they gain experience.
Quote:
Granted, the numbers are sort of incomplete since, as far as I can tell, they lump unskilled labor with no college education together with skilled labor with no college...in my brief research this morning, I was unable to find numbers that drew a distinction).
Yeah that sucks that they don't make the distinction. I will conclude however, that if an individual can't or won't go to college, which is something like 2/3 of high school grads, a skilled trade offers better opportunities than any unskilled job.

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No one is saying Little Johnny can't become an electrician. I have no problem with trades classes being offered. Hell, I have no problem with basic trade skills being required learning, so as to expose kids who might not otherwise consider them to the fields.
Okay cool, we agree

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But, seriously, I think a number of people, including myself have made decent laypersons' attempts at answering this. IMO, at minimum, literacy, math, basic history, civics, basic economics, basic science.
Which is the base curricular guidelines for all US schools. Do you feel it's working?

Quote:
Sure. And part of that opportunity, IMO, is being required to learn the basics of fields that might otherwise be dismissed as prima facie uninteresting, and to learn foundational subjects that prepare them for other, more interesting, ones.
So all students should be required to learn the basics of all fields (culinary arts, animal husbandry, architecture?) That doesn't seem possible, so can you clarify?

Quote:
Also, I think we're all sort of all over the place, drifting between talking about elementary education and then high school level education. Obviously, I think older students who have mastered foundational subjects should be given more leeway in selecting what sort of more focused subjects they find interesting.
Agreed. :)


ETA: This discussion has made me realize my problem isn't at all with what is taught; I agree kids needs to know how to read, write, do math, how our government works, critical thinking and analysis, the scientific method, and history. My problem is with how, when, where, with whom and by whom they are taught.

Last edited by LadyShea; 07-07-2010 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 07-07-2010, 04:20 PM
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ETA: I count myself as an uneducated schlub, btw. I dropped out of college during the dotcom boom to work IT and have never gone back, so I'm a "some college" statistic on all the charts.
I am both uneducated and unskilled, as is hubby (though he has "some college" like you), yet I've been a homeowner most of the time since I was 19, I have cars, and go on vacations and all that. For the most part I have always made enough to live reasonably comfortably...and even my poorest portion of the program, which happens to be right now, we have food on the table and a roof over our heads and stuff.
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Old 07-07-2010, 10:07 PM
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Even an apprentice earns a living wage though. They may not become wildly successful, but they make decent wages from the start and progress steadily as they gain experience.
That's true. While I think that making sure everyone makes a living wage is a goal that we should pursue by various means, though, I think it's a different goal from trying to break the correlation between birth class and earning potential.


Quote:
Yeah that sucks that they don't make the distinction. I will conclude however, that if an individual can't or won't go to college, which is something like 2/3 of high school grads, a skilled trade offers better opportunities than any unskilled job.
Oh, sure, I agree. But the opportunities are still, on the balance, less than what someone with a degree has, as best as I can tell.

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Which is the base curricular guidelines for all US schools. Do you feel it's working?
Hmmm...I'll say "partially" with a side of "I don't really know enough to judge in detail". Very precise, I know.

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So all students should be required to learn the basics of all fields (culinary arts, animal husbandry, architecture?) That doesn't seem possible, so can you clarify?
I think there are probably at least three criteria I would use to judge which fields I think all students should learn:

1) Certain fields are more foundational than others. For example, no, all students should not have to study architecture. But, all students should be required to study mathematics, art, and possibly even building trades at a entry level.

2) To some degree, the fields we require all students to learn should be the ones that, in general, will deliver more economic value, as part of my stated preference for leveling the gap between students from differing birth classes.

3) I think that what lisarea called the liberal arts should be on the required list. That is, the basic stuff we need to master in order to think about the world with some degree of competence.

Quote:
ETA: This discussion has made me realize my problem isn't at all with what is taught; I agree kids needs to know how to read, write, do math, how our government works, critical thinking and analysis, the scientific method, and history. My problem is with how, when, where, with whom and by whom they are taught.
Oh, yah. That's a different topic, and one I'm probably not at all qualified to address.
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  #94  
Old 07-08-2010, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by LadyShea View Post
Jamie, it appears you've read some of the rebels (Gatto maybe?).

You may be interested in some of our past discussions as this one developed over time from those, and we have hit on some pertinent educational issues, like zero tolerance, autodidactics, schools as discipline camps/industry training centers (ala Foucault and Gatto), John Holt style unschooling, The Core Standards initiative etc.

Most has taken place in these two threads, but there are others here in the "Study Hall" forum
Homeschooling - Freethought Forum
The Great Meep Controversy of 2009 - Freethought Forum
lol sigh....

I'll have my husband post one of his essays for university on the nature of the American Public Education system... Gatto? We've taken it 20 steps further than Gatto lol.

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  #95  
Old 07-08-2010, 05:43 AM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

as my wife suggested I do.....

The Purpose of Education

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COM 220

3/5/2010








The Purpose of Education
What would you say if you were to hear that the public education system is actually doing damage to our children instead of helping them? The youth of today aren’t being educated, and can never be properly educated in our current society. Education should entail critical thinking, good citizenship, and scholastic ability. These things cannot exist in our complex, rigid society that emphasizes commercial enterprise and domination.
Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is the process by which we examine events, ideas and thoughts without leaning on emotion, appeals to tradition and with the highest ideals possible - regardless of the outcome. Critical thinking threatens-or can threaten-order. There seems a constant tension between those who wish to freely think, and those who hold power in a society.
One of the first schools was founded by the Greek Philosopher, Plato. His Athenian “school” was something much unstructured. The Athenians considered the expert mind also to be the enslaved mind, being nothing more than a trained monkey that could spout facts. The ability to think critically was considered much more prized than to be knowledgeable. Plato was a pupil of Socrates, another Greek Philosopher. History shows how the ruling powers of Athenian Greece viewed free thought. Socrates was condemned to death for corrupting the youth of his day.
We only need to look into America’s recent past to see this fear on the part of the ruling powers. The mid to late 1960s and the early 1970's was a tumultuous time in America. Our military was mired in a war in Vietnam where there was no clear stake, other than to save the world from the “godless” Communist taking over of the world. While many young, mostly poor or middle class young men and women were fighting and dying in Vietnam, here at home, many other poor and middle class youth were daring to question the reasons we were in Vietnam and questioning the seeming rotting culture represented by the-as President Eisenhower phrased it-the industrial military complex. True authority is that which can be questioned. True authority can explain itself and justly. True authority need not couch its authority in terms of threats in order to compel obedience. University student protests against our involvement in the war were met with hostility and violence from authority, culminating in the Kent State University tragedy. Four Kent State students were shot and killed by National Guardsmen during a peaceful protest. After the shootings, the older town people would greet University students by holding up a hand and silently displaying four fingers-an implied threat. Those students had graduated from an oppressive, fascist system and finally imagined they had some measure of liberty. They tried to peacefully assemble, to speak freely, to partake in liberty and to show their independence from the lock step thought. The shots that rang out on the Lexington Green that began the American Revolution were dubbed “the shots heard ‘round the world.” The shots fired on the Kent State campus in 1972 were also heard around the world. Those shots killed the revolution that began on that Lexington Green.
Many of our influential mavericks hadn’t finished public schooling, or even had none at all, Like Thomas Edison, who held 1,000 patents. Another luminary that never finished public schooling was William Lear. “King Lear,” as he was often called, had an inventive, curious mind. Despite that-or because of that-he dropped out of school after the eighth grade. He hadn’t encountered the idea that a condenser coil couldn’t be made small enough to fit a radio into a car, so he built a condenser coil small enough and put a radio in his car. The experts claimed it couldn’t be done. Fortunately, Lear didn’t know what the experts thought they did. We are taught by experts. We expect sound bites from them so that the mediocre can grasp-with minimal effort-what the experts think they know.

The experts also have had sway in the public education sector. Since the 1850‘s, the learning dynamic has been changed four times. Each change has brought about nothing new. There was noted no increase in the performance of our youth. In fact, the literacy rate has dropped since WWII . (Gatto, 2008) In addition, our national public education test scores on math and science have fallen. Yet we not only continue to embrace the obviously faulty advice of education experts, we are eradicating innovation and consolidating power over public education into one geographic location and under one central agency. Centralization creates uniformity, and that can be argued to be a “good,” although uniformity defeats the individualism America was founded upon. Uniformity also denies flexibility required at local school districts to respond in a timely fashion to the particular needs of the respective school districts.
Good Citizenship
One of the first things a dictator or tyrant will do upon gaining power is to take over the media outlets and otherwise control the flow of information. Another term for that is centralization. For a citizen to partake in the governing process, they must be well versed in the documents and historical events that founded their government. One of the best ways to come to an understanding of these documents and events is via whatever education system one is part of. However, if we as citizens have no idea what our government is chartered to do and not do, there can be excesses and violations of those charters. In a speech at Georgetown University Law Center in 2009, retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter correctly stated that the republic "can be lost, it is being lost, it is lost, if it is not understood." He said this as he cited a recent survey, that showed over half of Americans could not name the three branches of government; the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary. This author could offer his own words to illustrate our lack of citizenship, but quotes from those in the trenches will tell the tale much more effectively than I could. For example;

In North Carolina, there is a move to teach nothing in American History that happened prior to 1877. (Shaw, 2010)
Sandra Stotsky, Ph.D. served from 1999-2003 as Senior Associate Commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education. From her experience, she writes “one large county in a relatively poor state candidly admitted that "even though all its teachers of American history are certified, few elementary and middle grade teachers are qualified to teach it." In grade 8, it explained, teachers of U.S. history may hold an elementary license for grades 1-8 that does not require one course in U.S. history, or they may have a social studies major-a major that does not focus on U.S. history. It further pointed out that those who teach United States history in grade 5 may not have taken a single U.S. history course in college.” The same was true for the wealthiest county of that state. (Stotsky, 2008)
“ In fact, an alarmingly low 31 percent of middle school history teachers and 41 percent of high school history teachers actually majored in history as undergraduates. At the elementary level, few teachers are required to take solid courses in U.S. and world history as part of their training. “(Stotsky, 2008)
In the wake of No Child Left Behind, many states scrapped their civics curricula to dedicate resources to reading and math. “ In late 2007, Mitsakos & Ackerman (2009) found that only 27 states retained civics in their public school curricula. More disturbing are findings that there is variation in the type of civics education being provided, depending upon the community. In 2005, Julie Jenkins presented at the Western Political Science Association annual conference on her research that showed that in wealthy communities, public schools taught very active forms of citizenship.” In contrast, students living in poor communities were given instruction that socialized them to be passive rather than active citizens. (Larson, 2010)
In the Senate testimony of Gilbert T. Sewall in 2003, of the American Textbook Council, and who has 25 years experience with history textbooks and publishing, Mr. Sewall outlined many of the problems with modern history textbooks. Among the litany were glaring inaccuracies, agendizing, declining literacy, chopped up formats and declining competition among textbook publishers. The newer textbooks are all but sanitized so no one’s feeling will be hurt and important issues are glossed over. For example, it is commonly taught that Lincoln fought the American Civil War to free the slaves. Instead, freedom for the slaves was part of why the American Civil War was fought, but that is only the social implication of the war. That war was also fought as a continuation of the state’s rights issue dating back to the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 and 99. Those resolutions opposed the Alien and Sedition Acts. Many New England Legislatures also opposed the Alien and Sedition Acts as being un- constitutional. So, the root cause of the civil war lay with an understanding, or at least discussion, of the American Constitution. Lincoln didn’t plan to free the slaves. He was talked into that. He then wanted to send all Africans back to Africa. He was talked out of that.
The focus of the momentous civil war was altered from that of a Constitutional issue to one of freeing slaves by the North, or the industrial portion of America. The lesson then is that industry is the savior, the “good.” Industry can solve all problems and usher in Utopia. Deceased Major General Smedely Butler, who served for thirty plus years in the Marine Corps, wrote a book titled “War is a Racket," in which he showed that all of the wars he fought in were fought for big business. This mantra that industry is savior - and needs to be protected at all costs - was picked up and mirrored by Frederick Taylor, the man who introduced scientific management; Psychologist John Watson who taught the eradication of emotional bonding between parent and child so the child could be equipped to be merely an industrial cog; and the educator Horace Mann.
Horace Mann, the so-called father of American Public Education and who said “The State is the father of our children" visited Prussia, and was so enamored with the order and ease of management found in the Prussian public school system, that he brought that system back to our shores. The Prussian system taught duty, discipline, respect for authority, and the ability to follow orders. The founder of the Prussian school system, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, on The Moscow (Idaho) Education (2010) website was quoted as saying, “Education should aim at destroying free will so that after pupils are thus schooled they will be incapable throughout the rest of their lives of thinking or acting otherwise than as their school masters would have wished.”
John Taylor Gatto, a retired teacher of some thirty years in the New York School System has said that one of the ways to break the will is to fragment subjects and divide the day up into hour increments so to discourage learning. Indeed, an hour -actually more like 45 minutes-is not long enough to delve deeply into any subject.
The ultimate question we face, is do we want a misinformed, ignorant, and docile citizenry, and if so, why? The question might be moot, since this seems the direction the public school system has chosen for years, under the direction of the centralized Federal Governments Department of Education and the experts in Education. So far, the public education systems seems to have been overtaken by not one dictator, but many, well intended though we assume they are, they are destroying critical thought and civic duty, unless civic duty is that the citizen does what he or she is told, buys what he or she is told to buy, and says what he or she is told to say. The Department of Homeland Security has labeled those who don’t accept that the Federal Government should have the ultimate power as being on the extremist and radical watch list. “…and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority..." Some of our founding fathers would be on that list, as would the U.S. Constitution itself. Our public school system has brought us to this point. I am sure Horace Mann and Herr Fichte would have been proud.
Scholastic Ability
When we engage in free or critical thinking, there is the possibility of us being put on a government watch list or considered subversive by those in power. The public have been subjected to censored textbooks and shut out from accurate historical facts. With those two things occurring, students are still expected to achieve high academic scores and do well within the public education system. Is high scholastic performance then possible?
In 1882, fifth graders read from the following authors in their Appleton School Reader: William Shakespeare, Henry Thoreau, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and others like them. In 1995, a student teacher of fifth graders in Minneapolis wrote to the local newspaper. That student teacher then listed perhaps twenty single syllable words such as “saw, that, can” and complained that she was informed that fifth grade students should not be expected to be able to spell such words. Her letter finished with the same question that I find myself asking, “Is this nuts?" (Gatto, 2003)
Prior to mandatory public schooling, many of our best and brightest were taught either at home or a pay for school in the finest traditions of a free market economy. That was part of the promise of America. More pay for schools existed in the North than the South, and largely for reasons of proximity. In the South, there was more agrarian industry, and so the population was less dense. Men like Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford, George Washington, Thomas Paine, Thomas Edison, and Mark Twain were either entirely homeschooled or had very limited public schooling. Twelve years of public school then is not needed to nurture genius or innovation. Proponents of public schooling will argue that our society is more complex and technologically sophisticated and that requires public schooling, and all twelve years of it. To answer this, we need only to peruse academic standards compared to other nations.
John Taylor Gatto, writes that the literacy rate declined from WWII to the Vietnam War. He arrives at this conclusion by using enlistment test scores. During WWI, the literacy rate was 96 percent. By the Korean War, that had dropped to 81 percent. Literacy was deemed if one could read at a fourth grade level. By the time of the Vietnam War (1964-1974), literacy had plummeted to 79 percent!
It eventually became apparent to educational experts that our literacy rate has been declining so the federal government began a massive spending spree on education beginning in 1970 as indicated by the graph below.

Did this spending work? Did this major infusion of cash at tax-payer’s expense garner us scholastic excellence across the board? According to The Wall Street Journal, Americans spend the second highest on education as a percentage of its GDP, and yet ranks 28th academically among other nations. In recent PISA exams given in 57 countries, America was outperformed among 15 year old science students from such countries as Canada, Taiwan, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Estonia! In math, we were outperformed by students from Slovenia, the Slovak Republic, New Zealand, Norway and Poland.
According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, in 2003, United States students ranked 24th out of 29 nations in problem solving capabilities, well below the average. Some educators would propose that this is a natural occurrence showing the difference in socio-economic levels, and yet the Unites States also had the widest performance gap of all 29 nations. According to All4ed.org, “The differences between the science scores of two children with different socio-economic backgrounds are higher in the United States than in almost any other country.”
This situation would be alarming if the public school system is failing to accomplish its goals. If the goal is to make docile, ignorant, malleable, dull citizens, though, the public school system is performing admirably. Considering the goals of the Prussian public school system, it would seem the American public school system is in fact living up to its expectations.
Consider the words of William Torrey Harris, author of the 1906 work, “The Philosophy of Education”. “Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.”
Or then Princeton President Woodrow Wilson, speaking before a gathering of business men prior to WWI: “We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.”
Conclusion
I could continue to post such quotes from noted movers in the early years of the public school movement. They would all point to the same goal; to raise up a small ruling class of industrial giants and political leaders that are benefited by a massive docile and compliant population that fears and obeys authority blindly, has sludge for brains, and little individual will save what they are told they must have and do. That is Tyranny, and from a school system that is Socialist. Under such a system, there is no room to teach of liberty, the Constitution, the philosophy of Locke and Hume. There is no room for critical thinking. There is no room for real knowledge or the love of learning. Yes, our public school system has performed admirably. But, that is not the America our founders intended. There can be no real education of the masses in our current society.
References
(2008, February 29). Where the Brains Are. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from WSJ Error Page - WSJ.com sort.html?s=1&ps=false&a=up
Gatto, J. T. (2003) Intellectual Espionage. Message posted to Intellectual Espionage - John Taylor Gatto
How Does the United States Stack Up? (2008). Alliance for Excellent Education. Retrieved from http://www.all4ed.org/files/IntlComp_FactSheet.pdf
Larson, Anita. (2010). Don’t Know Much About Government? (We might start out that way). Retrieved on March 7, 2010 from Don’t Know Much About Government? (We might start out that way) « ASPA National’s Weblog about government-we-might-start-out-that-way/
Moscow Education (Idaho). (2010). Right-Mind. Retrieved from http://right- mind.us/blogs/moscoweducation/archive/2008/12/29/65022.aspx
Shaw, Julia. (2010). It Will Be as if the American Founding Never Happened. Retrieved March 2, 2010 from Nothing found for 2010 02 05 It-will-be-as-if-the-american-founding-never happened/
Stotsky, Sandra. (2004). What Happens When History Teachers No Longer Understand the Founding? Retrieved on March 5, 2010 from EducationNews.org history-teachers-no-longer-understand-the-founding.html
Stotsky, Sandra. (2004). The Stealth Curriculum: Manipulating America’s History Teachers. Retrieved on March 2, 2010 from http://www.edexcellence.net/detail/news.cfm?news_id=331
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  #96  
Old 07-09-2010, 07:14 AM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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Thing is, though, yeah. This stuff could be integrated with acknowledged vocational studies and there is no reason that, with competent teachers and administrators, kids could both complete a basic liberal arts education AND get some lifestyle and vocational training (blue or white collar) by the end of high school. If the quality of education were reasonably competent, all but the most severely intellectually challenged kids should be able to come out of it with all of those things.
Totally agree. I have a "college prep +" high school degree, which in my school meant that I completed requirements for both college prep and vocational programs. I have a vocational degree in business administration, but I took AP classes, also. My vocational degree was more relevant for most of the paying work I did until I graduated from law school.
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Old 07-09-2010, 01:33 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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Originally Posted by LadyShea View Post
Jamie, it appears you've read some of the rebels (Gatto maybe?).

You may be interested in some of our past discussions as this one developed over time from those, and we have hit on some pertinent educational issues, like zero tolerance, autodidactics, schools as discipline camps/industry training centers (ala Foucault and Gatto), John Holt style unschooling, The Core Standards initiative etc.

Most has taken place in these two threads, but there are others here in the "Study Hall" forum
Homeschooling - Freethought Forum
The Great Meep Controversy of 2009 - Freethought Forum
lol sigh....

I'll have my husband post one of his essays for university on the nature of the American Public Education system... Gatto? We've taken it 20 steps further than Gatto lol.

Jamie
Why the sigh? I simply pointed you to some other discussions we have had you might find of interest.

The essay formatting didn't translate well to the forum, making it difficult to read, but I didn't see anything in there that is new to me. Perhaps you can point me to the section you feel is most important?

Last edited by LadyShea; 07-09-2010 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 07-09-2010, 01:35 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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I'll have my husband post one of his essays for university on the nature of the American Public Education system...
mrs. coberst itt
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  #99  
Old 07-10-2010, 05:33 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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Note that I didn't really follow the story closely, so I don't know whether she was given the option to keep up with her education in some nonstandard way while sailing around the world or whatever. If not, then that's pretty stupid.
She was not, they require all kids be in state schools
That's not really true. There are private schools of all kinds of religious denominations and philosophical leanings. It is just that there is a curriculum to follow. They can add to that.

And like Adam I am not going to lose any sleep over this kid not getting to go on some kind of cool trip. The main reason she (and her father) want that (or more to the point why they think that can't wait a few years) is that she would be setting a new record. I don't see why that should trump everything else.
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Old 07-10-2010, 07:17 PM
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Default Re: Fucking education! How does it work?

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That's not really true. There are private schools of all kinds of religious denominations and philosophical leanings. It is just that there is a curriculum to follow. They can add to that.
Sorry if I misunderstood. Do the private schools follow a state mandated scope and sequence, or even specific curriculum, or do they have autonomy to teach differently than the public schools?

Quote:
some kind of cool trip.
Solo circumnavigation is a bit more than a cool trip in my view. It's not like flying on a plane somewhere and staying in hotels. It's more akin to climbing Everest, or training for and competing in the Olympics. The skill and preparation required is staggering.

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I don't see why that should trump everything else.
Why should a state mandated curriculum trump her attempting to attain a lofty goal that requires dedication, skill, and maturity?
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