# American students not capable of attending college

Mentor

## Main Question or Discussion Point

This is horrific. How can we as a nation be ok with such an appalling lack of education? Only 31% of high school students could hit the benchmark for science in the ACT???

We have a serious problem, IMO.

For the high school graduating class of 2012, 52% took the ACT. That equals out to nearly 1.7 million students. By taking this standardized test, chances are they're planning on going to college soon. But are they ready? The ACT did a report on college and career readiness based on test scores to find out the answer.
The overall composite average score for the ACT test is 21.1, virtually no change since 2008.

In this study's findings, only one out of every four students is prepared in all four subject areas tested - math, science, reading and English. Just like the class of 2011, the overall composite average score was 21.1 out of a max 36. Though the amount of students who have participated in taking the exam has increased by 17% since 2008, the average composite scores have not seen any drastic changes.

A little good news is 72% of the test takers met at least one subject's readiness standards. On the other hand, 28% didn't reach any of the four subjects standard, while only a mere 24% proved their readiness in all four.
So what is it that sets the benchmark of college readiness for each field? ACT finds the minimum score needed on the subject area's test that shows there's at least a 50% chance in receiving a B or higher; or a 75% chance of receiving a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses. Listed below are the percentages of how many students reached the benchmark for each subject.

English: 67%
Math: 46%
Science: 31%
Appalling.

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Integral
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Having spent a little time in a high school classroom in the last few years I can speak from personal experience. The high school was about 80/20 Caucasian and Hispanic but there was no real obvious signs of racial tension. The equalizer was that being the blue collar school of a blue collar town they were all poor.

I volunteered in a electronics class, a metals class, and a math class. I was dismayed at the lack of discipline, interest or even caring. Many of the students were very intelligent and some of those were good students, others were major disruptions. Using their intelligence to disrupt and interfere rather then learning. It was disheartening to see so many with no aspirations or interest in college. With 2 major state universities less then 50 miles away, they would not even have to leave home.

My conclusions was the whole school system is failing to reach most students, we need a change. Not sure how to fix it, but it is broken.

chiro
You might also want to consider the culture and values of the various societies.

For example take a look at places like India and other parts of Asia like Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, and China. Education is really valued over there and the "sports-stars" in some those countries (like India) are the tech-entrepreneurs compared to the Hollywood movie-stars and the musicians.

Completely different set of values and ideals creates a different society and I'm afraid that this has a large impact regardless of other things like socioeconomic status or other kind of profiling schemes (like race): (it's not that these don't have an impact, but national cultural values do make a huge difference).

One other important thing to note is that a lot of these people in the Asian countries don't have a lot and education to them is a gateway to having a comfortable life of which many of us Westerners take for granted.

Where I live in Australia, we are very fortunate to be able to work in many kinds of jobs that give a comfortable enough life to be fed, keep a roof over our heads, and also to endulge in other hobbies and some luxuries here and there.

I see this kind of thing having a massive impact on the discipline and values of kids especially if they grow up in an environment where they "have it all" and don't have to worry so much about other things.

It is changing though quite dramatically though (i.e. the tables are turning) but it still makes a huge difference.

I was dismayed at the lack of discipline, interest or even caring. Many of the students were very intelligent and some of those were good students, others were major disruptions. Using their intelligence to disrupt and interfere rather then learning.
When I was in grade school the nuns literally stood us up and drilled us in the basic military postures: attention, left face, right face, about face, at ease. Then they moved to cueing us by clickers.

All our classes were in the same room but some classes were taught by different nuns. Whenever a new nun came into the class we automatically stood and said, in unison, "Good morning, Sister _________!"

An even minor breach of discipline meant staying after school an extra hour doing some horribly boring special assignment.

I thin some of these schools today could benefit from an onsite R. Lee Ermy; an intimidating drill instructor who would whip basic discipline into the kids in the first grade such that they always respected the teacher thereafter. The school drill instructor would also be in charge of those who had to stay after school for breaches of discipline.

chiro
When I was in grade school the nuns literally stood us up and drilled us in the basic military postures: attention, left face, right face, about face, at ease. Then they moved to cueing us by clickers.

All our classes were in the same room but some classes were taught by different nuns. Whenever a new nun came into the class we automatically stood and said, in unison, "Good morning, Sister _________!"

An even minor breach of discipline meant staying after school an extra hour doing some horribly boring special assignment.

I thin some of these schools today could benefit from an onsite R. Lee Ermy; an intimidating drill instructor who would whip basic discipline into the kids in the first grade such that they always respected the teacher thereafter. The school drill instructor would also be in charge of those who had to stay after school for breaches of discipline.
That kind of discipline is really really stupid IMO.

I understand why military people have to go through that: they basically have to be brainwashed to kill and they have to naturally be trained to do what they need to do. Thinking too much in a dangerous situation is not going to help you achieve your mission especially when the situation you are scared and the stakes are high: I get that for military training, but for school its just stupid.

The other thing that is important to consider is that while people want dedicated workers who are productive and disciplined, they also want people that can think for themselves in some capacity.

The idea that you have a select group of people who make all the decisions and do all the thinking and just let everyone else be a grunt doesn't really work nowadays, and trying to run this formula in many non-military environments just doesn't work (and also these environments are just not the same).

The only thing these Sisters were doing was dog training: training the dogs when to sit, roll over, and when to eat.

People are finding out that this idea of the industrial revolution model of education where you educated someone up to the level where they could work on the assembly line but do little else is not working in todays environment.

IMO, the best way to get students to think would be to show the realities of probabilistically what would happen if they decided to choose a specific endeavor: if they wanted to be a gang-banger, show them what a gang-banger (probabilistically) turns out like. If they wanted to be a low-wage earner, show them what the outcome would probably be like.

If they are satisfied after you showing them the realities of the outcome, then that's their choice: people live and grow by their own choices and one of the worse things that you can do is to deny a persons right to think for themselves.

That's the only thing that separates humans (as far as we "know") from anything else.

Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
That kind of discipline is really really stupid IMO.

I understand why military people have to go through that: they basically have to be brainwashed to kill and they have to naturally be trained to do what they need to do. Thinking too much in a dangerous situation is not going to help you achieve your mission especially when the situation you are scared and the stakes are high: I get that for military training, but for school its just stupid.
I would say this is partially true. Being in the Air Force I went through basic training and to my knowledge its main purpose is to weed out those who simply cannot handle stress and those who cannot take orders and function in a military environment. Keep in mind that we are required to disobey orders that violate the UCMJ, which are the legal laws of the military, local/state/national laws, and any rules of engagements or laws of armed conflict in combat zones. This requires that someone NOT be trained to be a zombie killing machine.

My own personal reading on many different topics leads me to believe that this kind of school would in fact be beneficial to many people, but not all. Some people don't work well in that kind of environment, however I believe it is only a small minority that really can't handle it. (That doesn't mean that most would LIKE it.)

The other thing that is important to consider is that while people want dedicated workers who are productive and disciplined, they also want people that can think for themselves in some capacity.
I don't think this takes away your ability to think for yourself. It's more like manners in my opinion.

The idea that you have a select group of people who make all the decisions and do all the thinking and just let everyone else be a grunt doesn't really work nowadays, and trying to run this formula in many non-military environments just doesn't work (and also these environments are just not the same).
This isn't even the environment in the working military, so your argument is invalid. People in leadership positions are trained to take their subordinates suggestions into account, as you never know when someone may have a good idea. Being a leader doesn't mean you have to know everything about everything. That's simply not possible. You have to rely on your subordinates at least as much as they rely on you. They are extensions of yourself, and to ignore them only hurts yourself and the mission.

People are finding out that this idea of the industrial revolution model of education where you educated someone up to the level where they could work on the assembly line but do little else is not working in todays environment.
What? His post has nothing to do with a style of EDUCATION, but simply one of discipline and manners. I expect that the delivery of material to the students was practically identical to other schools.
IMO, the best way to get students to think would be to show the realities of probabilistically what would happen if they decided to choose a specific endeavor: if they wanted to be a gang-banger, show them what a gang-banger (probabilistically) turns out like. If they wanted to be a low-wage earner, show them what the outcome would probably be like.
There's a problem with this. People, especially young people, are notoriously difficult to convince that something they are doing will lead them the wrong way. You are telling them that they are wrong, and they don't like that. It is exceedingly difficult for the average person to seriously consider that they are wrong.

Instead, the only realistic solution I've ever seen is to get people motivated somehow. However, HOW to get them motivated is the hard part. This is also a problem in the military. Getting your subordinates motivated to accomplish a task quickly and efficiently is usually very difficult. It all depends on the quality of the people you have, the circumstances you are under, the work environment, and a thousand other reasons.

Staff Emeritus
2019 Award
Though the amount of students who have participated in taking the exam has increased by 17% since 2008, the average composite scores have not seen any drastic changes.
It's "number", not "amount". And this is from someone who presumably writes for a living. <sigh>

Fundamentally, there are no consequences to the predecessors to bad outcomes, so we shouldn't be surprised that there are bad outcomes. A failing sixth-grade student becomes a seventh-grade student, and a teacher with a classroom full of failing sixth-grade students becomes a teacher with another classroom full of failing sixth-grade students the following year.

chiro
I would say this is partially true. Being in the Air Force I went through basic training and to my knowledge its main purpose is to weed out those who simply cannot handle stress and those who cannot take orders and function in a military environment. Keep in mind that we are required to disobey orders that violate the UCMJ, which are the legal laws of the military, local/state/national laws, and any rules of engagements or laws of armed conflict in combat zones. This requires that someone NOT be trained to be a zombie killing machine.
The main point I was getting at is that in an environment like the ones soldiers and people like police face, they need to be trained in such an environment based on their job.

The question of whether this is brainwashing or not is going to end up in a nasty debate (which ironically I think is good). The thing is that if you have a gun in your hand and you are ordered to kill someone, the military wants to know that you will pull the trigger when the time comes and not that you will have "second thoughts" about doing so.

This issue was prevalent especially in the first World War when they found that a lot of soldiers did not want to fire at the enemy even if they were firing back.

To "get around this", the idea of brainwashing became a standard way of training people to kill as best as they could program to on command since it is so un-natural for a person to kill another person.

It's just the nature of being a soldier and it "is what it is".

One might also want to ask the question why so many soldiers commit suicide and why they need psychotic drugs and mood stabilizers to do their job as well.

My own personal reading on many different topics leads me to believe that this kind of school would in fact be beneficial to many people, but not all. Some people don't work well in that kind of environment, however I believe it is only a small minority that really can't handle it. (That doesn't mean that most would LIKE it.)
I do agree but one important thing to keep in mind is that when people are rock-bottom, if they acknowledge this (i.e. the admit it genuinely) then people can change around and use their past as a reference to become a better person both for themselves and with other people.

To me I think it's better if people go down-hill earlier and recover later to become better people later on.

Having too much success and having too many external indicators of success from other people too early on can really screw up an individual: especially if they define their own image of themselves based on the external stimuli of other peoples praise if not managed correctly.

I would prefer for young kids to do all their screwing up early on in a controlled environment and to just "let it all out" so that they can mature a lot quicker than they are young not only because they were told to do so.

I watched a documentary yesterday of a filmed drug dealer in New York city. He made an interesting story that said he was this "hard *** rebel that did everything his own way" until he was in prison and got thrown in the hole repeatedly for being a rebel and it was only after those incidents that he changed and became more disciplined.

He had to go through his own way, but everyone will at some point have their own way.

I'm not saying no discipline like some artist beatnik, but what I am saying is that letting kids screw up and face what they have done as part of a reaction of their own action as opposed to just a preventative method to stop any such misbehaviour is going to be preferred.

I don't think this takes away your ability to think for yourself. It's more like manners in my opinion.
Usually in many societies and cultures, if you don't show manners you are excluded in some way as opposed to just punished in some other fashion and exclusion based on the way that is done normally by adults is a good lesson to use for kids.

This idea of detention where you have to write lots of stuff or do some crappy chore is stupid: the exclusion is something that is the real lesson.

The class clowns thrive on the fact that they get attention. Exclusion is a way of taking this attention away from them and to say that "you can do whatever the hell you want, just not here in this class: go somewhere else where you are welcome just don't come here".

This isn't even the environment in the working military, so your argument is invalid. People in leadership positions are trained to take their subordinates suggestions into account, as you never know when someone may have a good idea. Being a leader doesn't mean you have to know everything about everything. That's simply not possible. You have to rely on your subordinates at least as much as they rely on you. They are extensions of yourself, and to ignore them only hurts yourself and the mission.
What I said was a bit stupid, but the point I tried to make was that in a military situation, you need to just act without doing too much thinking which is why you do so many drills and so forth that it becomes second nature and why to a large extent they engage in brainwashing.

I'm sure that the leadership realize this, and this realization allows them to let the soldiers be brainwashed and to have the utmost discipline when it comes to making them trained killers.

What? His post has nothing to do with a style of EDUCATION, but simply one of discipline and manners. I expect that the delivery of material to the students was practically identical to other schools.
Unfortunately to a large extent, this is still the model of high school: it is indicative of the type of schooling we had introduced at the start of the boom of the industrial revolution.

You should contrast the differences in society and technology and take a look at how things are still being taught in high school: it's largely the same.

There's a problem with this. People, especially young people, are notoriously difficult to convince that something they are doing will lead them the wrong way. You are telling them that they are wrong, and they don't like that. It is exceedingly difficult for the average person to seriously consider that they are wrong.
It's not about telling them they are wrong: that is not what I meant.

What I mean is this: you ask the kid what they want to do. They say "I want to be pimpin the block and be a gang-banger". You say "OK great, do you know what a gangbanger does, how they live, how often they end up prison, what the chance is of getting killed before 30?"

You then take them into a prison and find one of the older gang-bangers that's been through it all and isn't afraid to tell this young kid what it's all about. The older guy has enough experience to know what the real deal is, and is old enough to realize that maybe, just maybe they can do something by telling the kid how screwed up life is.

The kid talks to someone who has done it: someone that the kid respects.

The kid can choose to ignore the old guy if he wants, and that's his choice.

But you showed this kid the probable outcome: the reality that stared him straight in the face and not some movie, music video or something else: they were there, they were speaking to the guy, and they now have an experience that they can't deny.

More importantly you aren't lecturing someone: you are letting someone who's been in the game tell the kid what really goes on.

If kids were faced with these realities, lots of them would change very quickly.

Instead, the only realistic solution I've ever seen is to get people motivated somehow. However, HOW to get them motivated is the hard part. This is also a problem in the military. Getting your subordinates motivated to accomplish a task quickly and efficiently is usually very difficult. It all depends on the quality of the people you have, the circumstances you are under, the work environment, and a thousand other reasons.
Motivation is not really a difficult thing.

You have two main types: forced motivation and real honest to god genuine motivation.

Forced motivation is basically a relative choice: you choose one thing because you don't want to do another. You may not like both, but the idea of doing the other thing is just not worth it.

It might be for various reasons: you need food on the table and a place above your head, or you need the next billion so that you go up a notch in the billionaire list with your name on there for everyone to read next to a picture of a massive yacht.

The above is basically choosing something because the alternatives are worse than the one you have. You have an alternative which you don't really like, but you do it anyway.

The genuine motivation is where you do something because you really want to. It doesn't mean that everything you do is what you like to do, but basically you believe in the end result and the means really justify what you do to get there.

This is a lot more powerful than the first and this knowledge is known.

Creating a dream that people latch on to is what the best leaders do, even if the dream is a lie and even if its moral usefulness is neglible or negative.

When you get people to do the 2nd, they become entirely different people. When you have the first, they will do whatever they have to at the very minimum until the clock rings and they punch their pay-check to go home.

There is a stark difference between the two, but one big thing about the second category is that a lot of people with the 2nd motivation do things on principle and this feeling of principle, contribution, and change for the better really does have an impact on a person.

People like to belong no matter what they tell you: even the psychopaths to some degree want the false love and praise.

A lot of the people who join gangs come from environments where they have been trampled on their whole life: the gang to them is a family or a bond. For the first time they have power through the point of a gun, and for the first time they have their fellow gang-bangers to share their money, their gun-downs, and their booze and bitches with.

This idea of a common cause is basically a formula for corporate CEO's, dictators, and even the Ghandi's, Buddha's and Christs of the world. It's purpose and final ends are whatever you make of them, but the idea is the same.

russ_watters
Mentor
The equalizer was that being the blue collar school of a blue collar town they were all poor.

I volunteered in a electronics class, a metals class, and a math class. I was dismayed at the lack of discipline, interest or even caring.

My conclusions was the whole school system is failing to reach most students, we need a change. Not sure how to fix it, but it is broken.
Blue collar town, parents probably didn't attend college, kids don't care about school. Doesn't sound like a problem with a school to me, it sounds like the problem is the parents not demanding that their kids take school seriously.

A large part of the problem in my opinion is that we treat education as an assembly line process to begin with. The emphasis is on injecting the student with whatever flavor of learning they are supposed to be getting at that particular moment, and then "graduating" them on to the next grade so that they can be injected with the next flavor of learning. It should be no surprise that what comes out is a jumbled, inedible mess.

Sure, we attempt quality control in the form of standardized testing, but that just means that the teachers modify the flavor so that it matches the test and inject a double dose in the hopes that some of it registers at test time.

No where in this process is the any actual emphasis on whether or not the students have mastered the material.

chiro
Most of the kids in a lot of schools don't want to be there and they will make it hell for the teachers, often going as far as they can without being kicked out of the class and if half the class is screwing up and you lose control, it will be shall we say: an interesting field trip for research psychologists on conflict resolution.

As I said before, it's largely baby-sitting. You can talk about pedagogy, techniques of learning, curriculums and all that but most of it is baby-sitting and getting everyone to shut the hell up.

They don't want to be there and I don't blame them.

Also it's really hard for students to be there when they aren't academically gifted but instead are gifted with their hands or have exceptional abilities in something other than in an academic setting.

If you have these people go through school that come to the conclusion that they are losers or under-achievers, this is really really the worse thing you could have.

No-one wants to be told that they are an under-achiever because they don't get something, so you get a lot of students put up a protective front and just carry on while getting horrible grades where they turn that into an attention seeking activity.

The other thing is that students are almost in-doctrinated to think that if they don't know something, they are stupid.

Most parents would be shocked but a lot are hypocritical since if they see sub-optimal grades they will belittle the kids on why they weren't good enough to get good grades.

You combine this situation where people are afraid to look stupid with the environment where people are avoided to regurgitate stuff from a textbook, to brown-nose and to do ignore anything that doesn't fit inside the "academic package box" will lead to all these problems.

I did a short practicum: one as a shadow teacher in a primary school (which was interesting) and one in a high school.

Teacher's jobs are really glorified child-care for adolescents and young adults and if the teachers ever get to find a class where they can teach and really get to those one or two children that really want to learn while everyone else is trying to cut them down (yes the tall poppy syndrome is rife in a lot of schools like the public ones in poorer areas) then it will make the teachers semester, but those aren't typical days.

Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
I'm not saying no discipline like some artist beatnik, but what I am saying is that letting kids screw up and face what they have done as part of a reaction of their own action as opposed to just a preventative method to stop any such misbehaviour is going to be preferred.
I don't see how you can justify this. I see it as a much more acceptable to keep people from screwing up in the first place. This is why we teach our kids morals, values, hard work, etc. Changing ones self is very difficult and it is far better to already know how to successfully live your life as a productive member of society.

Usually in many societies and cultures, if you don't show manners you are excluded in some way as opposed to just punished in some other fashion and exclusion based on the way that is done normally by adults is a good lesson to use for kids.
I can't see any good reason to use exclusion over other types of acceptable punishment in general.

This idea of detention where you have to write lots of stuff or do some crappy chore is stupid: the exclusion is something that is the real lesson.
Perhaps. All I can say is I know I don't like being forced to spend my time doing something I don't want to do. But like all punishments, it doesn't work on everyone.

The class clowns thrive on the fact that they get attention. Exclusion is a way of taking this attention away from them and to say that "you can do whatever the hell you want, just not here in this class: go somewhere else where you are welcome just don't come here".
Perhaps, but I don't see this as addressing the problem, just making it go somewhere else. And I don't see how this keeps attention away from the person either. In fact I see the opposite happening if memory serves me correctly. Of course this can be a necessary step if need be.

It's not about telling them they are wrong: that is not what I meant.

What I mean is this: you ask the kid what they want to do. They say "I want to be pimpin the block and be a gang-banger". You say "OK great, do you know what a gangbanger does, how they live, how often they end up prison, what the chance is of getting killed before 30?"

You then take them into a prison and find one of the older gang-bangers that's been through it all and isn't afraid to tell this young kid what it's all about. The older guy has enough experience to know what the real deal is, and is old enough to realize that maybe, just maybe they can do something by telling the kid how screwed up life is.

The kid talks to someone who has done it: someone that the kid respects.

The kid can choose to ignore the old guy if he wants, and that's his choice.

But you showed this kid the probable outcome: the reality that stared him straight in the face and not some movie, music video or something else: they were there, they were speaking to the guy, and they now have an experience that they can't deny.
I don't see this as a realistic option for most people. Especially since most students have no idea what they want to be, or they want to be things that are exceedingly unlikely, like movie/sports stars.

Motivation is not really a difficult thing.
Getting people motivated in the sense of your 2nd term is VERY difficult and is what practically everyone talks about when they speak of "motivation". It is not easy at all for most people.

Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
Chiro I do agree with your post #11.

chiro
I don't see how you can justify this. I see it as a much more acceptable to keep people from screwing up in the first place. This is why we teach our kids morals, values, hard work, etc. Changing ones self is very difficult and it is far better to already know how to successfully live your life as a productive member of society.
I'll give you an example.

Lets say you have an asian kid with asian parents who force the kid to have a tonne of discipline: basically lots of study, really high grades, and a top student in the academic sense (probably with extra-curriculars as well, but relevant to academic ranking and getting into good universities).

Then the kid gets into university and maybe they are moving away from home and for the first time they have all the freedom they want.

Some of these people have never had this kind of freedom before and they can't get enough of it: so much to a point where they start flunking classes and for some of these people, get kicked out of university altogether.

For the ones that don't screw around, some get into university and they realize that they hate what they are doing and end up losing interest to a point where they are probably better off not having done the course.

I'm not saying everyone does this, but the point is to highlight how forced discipline does not translate into natural discipline and can in fact turn out to be the exact opposite.

I can't see any good reason to use exclusion over other types of acceptable punishment in general.
People want to belong: if they didn't want to belong to a particular group they would leave. If the kid really gives a stuff about learning something and wants to be part of the learning experience (and to be around their friends who also give a stuff) they will want to get back in the classroom.

If the kid doesn't really want to be there at all, then this needs to be addressed ASAP and this is a much bigger issue than a simple misdemeanor.

Perhaps. All I can say is I know I don't like being forced to spend my time doing something I don't want to do. But like all punishments, it doesn't work on everyone.
I'd refer you to the above example about how forced discipline does not only not work, but can make things worse.

Perhaps, but I don't see this as addressing the problem, just making it go somewhere else. And I don't see how this keeps attention away from the person either. In fact I see the opposite happening if memory serves me correctly. Of course this can be a necessary step if need be.
You can't have a class clown if they aren't in the class, and when the clown is not there it means that everybody can get on with what the rest of the class wants to do.

The clown wins when they control the class and that means being in the room, getting the attention and running the show: they do it for a reason, to get attention and to be laughed at (even if people are laughing "at them" as opposed to "with them").

The solution is to not let them have the attention which means exclusion: if the rest of the class sees that the student is eliciting the right effect from the teacher like constant verbal corrections without exclusion then the clown is winning: if you just send a direct message that "you are not wanted here, other people want to learn" and do it initially that sends a very strong message to the clown and the class.

I don't see this as a realistic option for most people. Especially since most students have no idea what they want to be, or they want to be things that are exceedingly unlikely, like movie/sports stars.
People mature really quickly when they are in those environments.

The reason why the kids have false ideas about being a movie star or a sports star is because their vision of the world is really distorted and because they are inexperienced.

I'm not saying that you just let the kid see any crack head, whore or gang-banger but the right kind of person would probably do the kid a really good deed if that kids idol is 50-cent where the kid is in a dodgy situation at home where he is un-aware of what really goes on.

Gangs know this: let me give you an example of gang recruitment policy.

The gang member sees a kid, probably in a poor region school. The recruiter goes up to the kid with a pair of really nice shoes that are expensive.

The recruiter is all nice and friendly and eventually says "I'll tell you what, since you like these shoes I'll let you have them, and later on you can pay me back."

The kid gets the shoes.

Then a couple days later (or soon enough), the recruiter says "Hey there, how you enjoying your shoes?" Kid loves them. They they say "you know, you gotta pay me for those shoes, other-wise I'm taking them".

Kid can't possibly afford the shoes, ends up getting sucked in to the gang and becomes recruited.

The kid doesn't realize that what they are getting themselves into.

This is the reality.

Getting people motivated in the sense of your 2nd term is VERY difficult and is what practically everyone talks about when they speak of "motivation". It is not easy at all for most people.
Everyone knows the difference between the motivations, and everyone will tell you whether they are in the first case or the second case in some way.

The people in the first will always say why they are doing it: whether it's because they need the next pay-cheque to live, or because they have a massive mortgage or something else: it's very obvious after a little while.

The other thing is that people also have ideas of things they would like to try but use the reason of the alternative to justify sticking to the alternative even though they aren't satisfied.

In terms of the genuine motivation, it's not going to happen in one day: it's a continual process and it may take many many tries.

The biggest thing is to get people to be honest with themselves and then ask them to go over the trade-offs for choices both potential and the ones that have been already experienced.

If people are in deep with commitments that come from the previous choices they have made, like having a mortgage with kids, and lots of loans, then they have to live with that choice and for them, that's a learning experience.

For the others though that don't have those deep commitments, if they have been introduced to think about the trade-off's with their decisions then it's up to them whether they pursue the path of genuine motivation or not and you can't do anything else for them but do that.

The other thing is to ask people whether they do something because they've been told and believe that something is "genuine" vs the first kind, and this requires people to be honest with themselves and you as well.

It's really a thing of honesty: if you are OK with what you are doing and acknowledge all of this then that's OK (but usually this is a bit contradictory for the first kind).

It's usually going to be more or less a thing of security for a lot of people, and for others it will be the fear of failure (which is a form of security), if it's not something that people have just been "told" to believe.

Ultimately, people have to discover the genuine motivation for themselves which means not listening to shysters who promise that they have all the answers which means doing a lot of experimentation and not being afraid to take a risk or two after doing a lot of deep consideration and understanding the spectrum of the consequences that come with it.

All of the below info is just my opinion.
Well let me use a couple of analogies. As much as we like to think of ourselves as advanced, we are no different than the animals that surround us. In a pack, the Alpha Male is usually the head of the pack. There will be those few select members, who will challenge the Alpha, and there will be the MAJORITY who “accept” their place. In schools we place a “mental barrier” on individuals. We separate students into groups, the AP/Honors/Ranked students and then theres the rest. Well, these top ranked students are expected to attend college, and many will attend whether their parents attended or not. There will be those few “regular” students who will fight for a place among the “gifted” but the MAJORITY will be perfectly comfortable with their place. What does this have to do with low ACT scores? Well, it’s a trickle down effect. If someone feels inferior they will most likely perform in an inferior manner. It won’t matter if they have the best teachers in the world if their mentality is the same. I like to think of the mind like an engine with eternally lasting components. If your engine is clear you can fuel it time and time again and it will in theory, work forever. However, once there’s “gunk” it will eventually stop performing at an ideal level. You can put as much fuel as you want but the gunk will not allow all the fuel to pass through the engine, and if there’s enough gunk none will pass. Well, the fuel is knowledge and the gunk is the feeling of inferiority. The more inferior you feel the less knowledge you will acquire. How do we fix this? We fix the thinking of the “regulars”. How do we fix the “regulars”? I don’t know ask a sociologist.
Sorry for my rant ladies and gentlemen.

This is horrific. How can we as a nation be ok with such an appalling lack of education? Only 31% of high school students could hit the benchmark for science in the ACT???
I took the ACT test. The Science section is a joke (actually, the whole thing is a joke). One must speed-read through very large passages with absolutely no time to ponder the results. I couldn't even finish half of it before the time ran out. The ACT and SAT test how well you can do the ACT and the SAT. They have absolutely no bearing on one's aptitude for learning, or of one's knowledge.

As proof, I'm currently an aerospace engineering junior at one of the best engineering schools in the country. To be perfectly blunt, the ACT and SAT can both go to hell.

chiro
All of the below info is just my opinion.
Well let me use a couple of analogies. As much as we like to think of ourselves as advanced, we are no different than the animals that surround us. In a pack, the Alpha Male is usually the head of the pack. There will be those few select members, who will challenge the Alpha, and there will be the MAJORITY who “accept” their place. In schools we place a “mental barrier” on individuals. We separate students into groups, the AP/Honors/Ranked students and then theres the rest. Well, these top ranked students are expected to attend college, and many will attend whether their parents attended or not. There will be those few “regular” students who will fight for a place among the “gifted” but the MAJORITY will be perfectly comfortable with their place. What does this have to do with low ACT scores? Well, it’s a trickle down effect. If someone feels inferior they will most likely perform in an inferior manner. It won’t matter if they have the best teachers in the world if their mentality is the same. I like to think of the mind like an engine with eternally lasting components. If your engine is clear you can fuel it time and time again and it will in theory, work forever. However, once there’s “gunk” it will eventually stop performing at an ideal level. You can put as much fuel as you want but the gunk will not allow all the fuel to pass through the engine, and if there’s enough gunk none will pass. Well, the fuel is knowledge and the gunk is the feeling of inferiority. The more inferior you feel the less knowledge you will acquire. How do we fix this? We fix the thinking of the “regulars”. How do we fix the “regulars”? I don’t know ask a sociologist.
Sorry for my rant ladies and gentlemen.
That's a really good question.

My take on this issue is this: the first thing is that people to realize that failure on the road to perfecting ones craft is inevitable and that failure is not an indicator of the person themselves being a failure as a human being.

This is important because a lot of people think that failing is a sign that they are a failure as an individual and that no-body ever fails.

People dominate other people by using fear tactics that if you fail, you are worthless and a lower class citizen than those who didn't: basically they try to install that not only did you fail, but that you have failed now and forever.

So the first thing is get people to realize that failure is imminent when developing yourself and for striving to reach new heights in development and to hone your own craft and talents: i.e. tell people that although people are born with talents and abilities, they need to hone them with time, effort, energy, hard work, and a lot of bumps on the road and if they haven't found their interests or talents, to get them experimenting as much as they can especially at the youngest age possible.

The other thing is to ask them to be honest with themselves if they want to develop: there will be trade-offs and uncertainty/risk with each choice. People need to be honest with themselves if they want to start off with something: if they don't want to be inferior they need to say that they are dedicated to honing their skills as much as necessary to meet the benchmarks.

If they don't want to meet those benchmarks, then OK, that thing may not be for them.

Finally, people need to be reminded that one endeavor is not more "important" or "superior" than another and this is a problem that makes people feel inferior.

One of the biggest things about inferiority is that people see themselves being inferior in terms of comparing what they do to what others do, even if they do what they do exceptionally well.

People like to feel wanted and respected and as such, want the social gratification for what they do.

What most people don't realize is that a lot of people that do their jobs don't get any praise usually outside their own small network of colleagues and possibly from their partners and kids for what they do: i.e. to the rest of the world they are invisible or don't exist.

These people help keep the world going and nobody even knows their name.

They don't get praise and they do something that needs to be done (and often something which everyone else would not do).

Mentor
Please, let's stay on the topic of education in the US and not go off on tangents. Thanks.

Gold Member
It's "number", not "amount". And this is from someone who presumably writes for a living. <sigh>

Fundamentally, there are no consequences to the predecessors to bad outcomes, so we shouldn't be surprised that there are bad outcomes. A failing sixth-grade student becomes a seventh-grade student, and a teacher with a classroom full of failing sixth-grade students becomes a teacher with another classroom full of failing sixth-grade students the following year.
Bingo!

Integral
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Blue collar town, parents probably didn't attend college, kids don't care about school. Doesn't sound like a problem with a school to me, it sounds like the problem is the parents not demanding that their kids take school seriously.
That is not a small part of it. But how do you conclude from that the schools do not have a problem? The lack of parenting skills is definitely a root cause but that must be acknowledged and addressed by the schools at schools. I am certain that I do not want the government to step into homes and demand cooperation from parents. I would not be happy with the degree of discipline imposed by Zooby's school either. As I said I am not sure how to solve the problem, but the first step in problem solving is problem identification. This is where school systems need to look at themselves very closely asking themselves "are we doing the best we can" . As long as we continue with the current methods we will continue to sink.

russ_watters
Mentor
I was responding to your conclusion where you said "it"/"the school system" "is broken"/"is failing to reach most students". That implied to me a complete focus on failures by the schools and lack of attention to potential failures by the parents and students. That aside, yes, we are on the same page in believing both schools and parents have flaws1 and I'm in near complete agreement with your above post. Where we differ appears to be mostly in the angle from which we view the problem and therefore our focus. I see the problem as being more about the parents and you appear to see it as being more about the schools. Your focus seems contradictory to me though in that you said the students don't care, but then seemed to imply that it is the school's job to make the students care. Regardless of if this is what you meant, that is a real and serious logical disconnect that is a big part of why we are pushing against a brick wall with this problem:

We live in a free society. In a free society, you can't tell people what to think. You can't force them to care (militarized schools notwitstanding: I'm not a fan either, in general). You can't force parents to force their kids to care. So the government focuses on only what it can focus on: the schools, not the students/parents. And since the government can only directly regulate the schools, the dialogue and debate on the issue focuses on the schools. We've had this discussion countless times and it always focuses on the schools until someone (often me) points out that the students and parents matter too. We barely talk about - and can't even address if we did - one of the primary sources of the problem. This is a huge disconnect.

So here's my proposal:
Accept reality.

Some parents won't push their kids and therefore the kids won't learn. That's not my problem, it isn't your problem (even as a teacher!), it is their problem. If they want to fix it, great! If they don't, that's fine too. Even a developed country like the US still needs ditch-diggers! Personal responsibility/freedom to fail is the price of/other side of the coin of freedom.

How would this manifest as policy? It means benchmarking schools against themselves. A school shouldn't be graded against other schools based on their test scores, it should graded based on improvements in test scores. If you hire a new teacher and test scores go up, that's a good teacher and a success story, regardless of whether those test scores are still way below other schools.

And here's the magic of this policy/philosophy: It will improve outcomes. Why? Because by publicly acknowledging that it is up to the parents and students to decide if they pass or fail, personal responsibility will get back into our culture. Today, we focus on the schools so much, we are telling parents/students that they don't have to care: if you fail, it isn't your fault, it is your school's fault. The primary way government can get parents/students to care again is by removing the government crutches/excuses for failure. So:

If students fail, fail them and hold them back. If they are repeatedly disruptive, expel them. If a teenager quits school to work, count their income with their parents' for tax purposes (including determining welfare benefits)2. If they are over 18 and can't find a decent job, hold back their welfare checks until they get a GED.

Making people personally responsible for their own success/failure is the essence of conservative social philosophy. Right now, we are only seriously addressing half the issue (the government's half) and pretending that the other half of the issue either doesn't exist or is also the government's fault. That appears to me to be the basis of liberal social philosophy (everything is the government's fault/responsibility).

Notes:
1. One obvious problem I see with schools: Unions. There was an article this spring about a young teacher who received both a Teacher of the Year award and a pink-slip at the end of the school year. Seems that union rules require layoffs based strictly on seniority. Speaking of personal responsibility, now we've told this rising star of a teacher that it doesn't matter if she's any good. Wonder if she'll work as hard at her next job...

2. A coworker of mine went through a nasty divorce. His wife had sole custody of their son and he paid child support. The son talked about dropping out of school as a senior, to work. the father was able to convince him not to, but unsurprisingly he ended up failing to graduate. So he's in summer school. And now, even though the kid is over 18, the law grants an extension of child support since the kid is still in school. So the mom is being rewarded and the dad punished for the mom's bad parenting.

WannabeNewton
To be fair most of the kids who take the ACT are in the midwest or the south....

lisab
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
To be fair most of the kids who take the ACT are in the midwest or the south....
That's true - it's not taken much in the Western states compared to the SAT.

Also, in some places it's required of all students, not just the college-bound:

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That kind of discipline is really really stupid IMO.
This kind of discipline is meant to squelch the disruptors at the start. 3/4 of any class doesn't need it. The 1/4 that does will seriously undermine the learning environment if they're not defused.

I recommend you go into a school such as those described by Integral and try your proposed technique on a high school class with a long history of not respecting the teacher and see how far you get.

The low grade military drill was not about mindlessly following orders, it was about who is in charge of the classroom. In all cases, if that's not the teacher, it's going to be the most disruptive student and his/her gang.

this kind of discipline is meant to squelch the disruptors at the start. 3/4 of any class doesn't need it. The 1/4 that does will seriously undermine the learning environment if they're not defused.

I recommend you go into a school such as those described by integral and try your proposed technique on a high school class with a long history of not respecting the teacher and see how far you get.

The low grade military drill was not about mindlessly following orders, it was about who is in charge of the classroom. In all cases, if that's not the teacher, it's going to be the most disruptive student and his/her gang.
bingo