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Education Part ll

  1. Oct 21, 2005 #1
    This is the second part to an earlier writing about education in the United States. As you may recall, I advocated for the privatization of all schools from kindergarten to graduate studies. This piece will focus on the curriculum that needs to be followed.

    Everytime I encounter someone in the workplace, I am reminded of just how much we have failed to properly educate United States citizens in the fundamentals of communication: reading, writing and speaking. Few would argue that the time is long overdue for the United States to "get back to the basics" of a fully functional education system. We need to exclusively focus on the development of communication skills from kindergarten to eighth grade along with annual testing that measures apptitude and interest. Training in mathematics should be limited to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Unless communication skills are fully mastered, there is no need to advance to high school.

    For those who graduate to high school, the emphasis could evolve into a curriculum of philosophy, sociology, economics, psychology, science and religious studies. Books such as "For Dummies" and "The Complete Idiot's Guide" could be used to foster an understanding of different religions. Athletic activity would be strictly confined to cardio vascular exercises and all sports would be eliminated. While there would still be an emphasis on communication skills, the focus would now be on developing a foundation of basic knowledge so as to be able to graduate to college. Testing for apptitude and interest would continue through high school increasing the chances of picking the right field of study . Those not continuing on to college would enter some type of apprenticeship training for the purpose of learning a trade. For those who do graduate to college, the student would continue to study an advanced version of the same curriculum as high school but only for the first two years then they would complete their education by strictly focusing on coursework designed to train them in their field of study. Nearing graduation, internships would be required to begin the transition to the working world. Think of how different our society would be if our education system could just teach the fundamentals of reading, writing and speaking.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 22, 2005 #2
    After I read this the first thing that popped into my head was Ali G.:rofl: When I saw his "interview" with Andy Rooney I just about lost it!
  4. Oct 22, 2005 #3
    I think education should be available to everyone, all of their life.

    It would be nice if people without an aptitude for learning were allowed to go into work study or apprenticeship at a young age. This way they could develop skills that suit their abilities, instead of being forced through an education system that they will ultimately fail. Later in life they may wish to add to their education, I prefer that it be through an education institute, as opposed to the advanced criminal training they will receive in a penal institute.
  5. Nov 5, 2005 #4

    good points...
  6. Nov 5, 2005 #5
    I think the problems with education stem from our culture.

    A local op-ed piece by a teacher made the point that there is a marked correlation between children's actual attendenece in class and their performance.

    Here's another neat study I found

    Purposefully, "in class." Not just "in school."

    That in total, if they considered time out of class being hauled down the principals' office, or time simply not anywhere to be seen in school, that the core group of kids who don't show up alot in class are generally most likely to be the lowest performing group.

    Also, the group least likely to have their parents demanding to know why they aren't doing well in school, or bothering to show up at parent-teacher conferences, etc.

    Earth shattering revelation. We just ignore it in our self flagellation over public policy debates on education.

    Another data point in the argument that education is taken, not given; it can merely be well offered for pick-up, not delivered to the door.

    It's not just that kids arenlt going after their education by the throat, as if their life depended on it; in some cases, they're showing up with blatant contempt.

    Get rid of the hip hop wannabe contempt that shows up with some kids in school, and education will flourish accordingly. But, that contempt is a cultural thing, in fact, a popular culture thing.

    It is insane to angst about 'failures of education' in a society that smirks at popular culture contempt for education.

    The proper response to kids failing in school is a parent saying, "If you want help, ask, but in the meantime, give me that damned iPOD before I strangle you with it, and hand me your damned cell phone and pager, too. That, and you won't see the car again until I see a B Average."

    Not, 'What the Hell is dem lazy teachers doing, not teachin'?' But, that stupid sentence summarizes our institutional response to a perceived 'crisis' in education.

    Another coulple cultural factors: TV, and the internet.

    Hey, I am not a teacher; I only love them.

    Literally, I married one, and my big sis, who just retired after 30 years of teaching, brought me lunch today, and we went for a long walk in the park, talking about her still favorite topic; education.

    She was a middle school English teacher(as was my wife). To further complicate matters, at the same school, with the same first name, and thus, during just slightly offset epochs, with the same last name, as well. No doubt, leads to confusion at the reunions.

    But, she also ran the in school TV Studio, the kids produced a daily news show in the school, morning news before class kind of thing. So, we've been talking about how much TV has changed, as a medium. I mean, we are now 2 or 3 generations into this experiment, and it has not been static at all.

    Flash back. Maybe 3 b/w stations. A lot of snow in between.

    Not only that, but the production values were much cruder, much simpler, not nearly so slick. Hey, TV really sucked when we were kids.

    Thank God, I think.

    Flash ahead. Maybe 200 stations. We have entire generations now that have no idea what snow is. ("Huh? Think of it as the cable was always 'out' on all but 3 channels.")

    So, not only two orders of magnitude more choices, but slicker as well. And, by necessity, competing for attention.

    My sister and I have both noticed a marked change in production values. Sub fractional second scene changes, no static shots at all, or rarely. They KNOW that you are flying by with that remote, so now they are bypassing the frontal lobe completely, and going right at the brain stem with the flashing pretty colored lights. They have to hook the passive stimulation of the brain directly, and quickly, and consistantly, or they know they will lose the ratings fish.

    So, rapid, hand held, dynamic scene changes, a hand held camera being controlled by a crack crazed man on fire.

    Boom-boom-boom,,,,you can see the synapses being passively fired off, a direct shot right at the brain stem, the frontal lobe is free to chill, don't worry, we'll get you your mote of seratonin, don't sweat it.

    A giant ADD experiment.

    Oh, and video games. An entire nation of passive drivers being grown. Ask the average teenager what the cheat codes are for GTA-2, and he'll spit them back rote. Ask the average teenager to describe how a video game is created, and they'll answer, "It's burned at Electronic Boutique; d'uh."

    Now, let's examine, it's Monday morning, and a teacher must stand in front of the classroonm--a long, static shot--and engage those synapses.

    Cartwheels indeed. Fireworks. What's next? Thongs?

    And, that is not even addressing the cultural content of what is being spewed, pretty much characterized as "education is a joke, its not what you know, its who you know, never mind, we'll give you an Extreme Makeover, and you, too, can be a celebrity on one of those PSAs talking about the importance of education for 15 seconds during the 24 hours of ridiculing egg heads and glorifying gangsta wannabees."

    The Internet is a hugely valuable research tool--as long as you've already honed the tool. As long as you've already exercised the "I love to read and not just stare" muscle.

    Otherwise...it can be a disabling crutch. I've had this lurking suspicion ever since the 70s, when I first bumped into automated design tools.

    Hey this is great....but it might be a layer of abstraction too far from the spinning machines. I mean, suppose this is the only level of abstraction you've ever been exposed to. It allows you to design an actual instance of a spinning machine, in a purely vocational manner, far removed from either theory or practice. That's great. That's very productive and efficient. The question is, does it exercise the right muscles that will encourage synthesis and generation of the next family of spinning machines? Or, does it shepherd the user into a dependency, making some horizons easier to ponder than others, and insulating the user from whole classes of alternatives?

    Well, that, to me, is the Internet. It is one thing to use it as a tool of research, and for one thing, to be effective, you had better show up with a love of reading before you ever click that first mouse click.

    But, what happens if your first steps are that mouse click, long before you've already fully developed that much different set of muscles in your brain?

    We don't really know, but we're finding out. It will be different in ways we can't imagine, maybe not all bad. But, not all good, either.
  7. Nov 6, 2005 #6
    I'm still in High School, so I don't have a background in older education, but I think I can comment on what you've written.

    I've stopped watching television at all (I don't even have a TV), and I think it has helped me intellectually. I still watch movies and occasionally television shows on DVD (no commercials).

    I agree that our culture promotes ADD. I've said as much to one of my friends who actually wants to get on medication to help him concentrate. I even told him how to solve his concentration problem, but he insists that it won't work for him.
  8. Nov 6, 2005 #7


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    Staff: Mentor

    ADD, "true" ADD is something that seems to respond to medications that balance chemicals in the brain. I'm not going to go off topic on it, but it can't be be "solved" by concentrating.

    I would disagree with any religion in schools. Unless you just meant talking about it's social and political implications.
  9. Nov 6, 2005 #8
    Yes, I know that "true ADD" is chemical. What is the name for the same effects from a non-chemical cause?
  10. Nov 6, 2005 #9


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    Staff: Mentor

    absentmindedness, day dreaming, just not paying attention, not interested, all of those are temporary distractions that can easily be put aside, but when a person wants to pay attention and can't, that's more serious.
  11. Nov 6, 2005 #10
    Ok, thank you for the information.
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