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More ideas for education

  1. Jan 24, 2005 #1
    An important factor in motivating students to perform well in school is impressing on them the seriousness of education. Many students have a tendency to think of school as something peripheral to their lives. Sure, they know that a high school diploma will help them, but there is a tendency to think of schooling as an unpleasant obstacle to overcome instead of a valuable, practical activity. A realistic, real-world-linked program could help these poorer students to understand better the seriousness of education.

    First, all schools up to high school in economically poorer areas should be vocational. Everything the student learns in the school should be clearly linked to performing well in some job. College-prep courses should be available for those who want to take them--possibly as independent study--but for the bulk of the curriculum, the connection to surviving after school should be very clear. For example, an algebra course might be focused on electronics. Classes might have to be broken up into several small groups so that one person can learn math for electronics at the same time another person learns approximately the same level of math for carpentry. English should be business-oriented. History, beyond the absolute basics needed to participate in a democracy, should be optional.

    Exposure to adults who have made various life choices would be helpful. Guest speakers should be brought in frequently, including equal coverage of hoboes and professionals. Students need a healthy fear of destitution and a clear goal of obtaining and holding a moderate-pay job. If possible, the instructors should come from working backgrounds.

    Finally, schools need the unpopular idea of encouraging and enabling students to drop out of courses and school. Students aren't going to learn when they don't want to learn. Furthermore, students need a more distinct understanding of the connection between their choices and what happens to them. They need a sense of control. Every student should be in school because he chooses to, not because anyone is "making" him do it, and the same should go for every course in school that the student takes. If any student views any course as an obligatory impediment to what he wants to do, that student is not going to do very well in that course. But if a student is absolutely certain that he is in a given course because he _chose_ to be there, with the easy option of _not_ choosing to be there, he is more likely to care about the material and do well.

    There is another good reason to encourage students to drop out: in any poor area the money available for education is limited. School systems should spend money for good books and teachers on students who want to learn. School systems should not have to waste money on students who do not want to learn. It's an efficient allocation of resources.

    But the main thing is, schools should impress students that it is a harsh world and that the choice between failure and success is their choice alone, a choice made through education.

    I would have continued this in the other thread, except it was closed. Sorry, moderators, for my rather peevish post in that other thread.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 25, 2005 #2
    I am not really competent to comment on your rather elitist and functional approach of education except as a finished product of the local education system. Here in Hong Kong the education department is trying desperately to get students to stay in the schooling system whether in terms or vocational training or pre-degree courses. One of the reasons perhaps is that drop-outs are a destablising factor to society and a financial burden in the long run. I also think churning out merely functional/employable students is not in the best interest of the society. This is because for members of a society to exist peacefully they needed to be sufficiently happy with their lives and being employed is not exclusively conductive to that. I still go for the five traditional goals of well-rounded education: the culture of virtue, intelligence, society, physicality and aesthetics. And loving teachers can work miracles. Well I know, too old fashioned.
  4. Jan 25, 2005 #3
    Being employed is rather essential to happiness. From a comfortable middle-class standpoint it may not seem so vital.

    Loving teachers are excellent. In my proposed system, it would be best if all the teachers were loving. But where do you get loving teachers from? You can't hand out a test to measure "lovingness" to applicants for a teaching position. Practically speaking, you can only choose the system of doing things.

    I believe that if dropping out were enabled and encouraged, many people would drop out. Would they be more of a drain on society than if they had finished high school? Possibly a bit more, but someone who was a likely dropout is not likely to have achieved great things if he had remained in school anyway. A high school diploma would simply become more valuable if dropouts were encouraged to actually drop out. Furthermore, when you impress the students who stay in school with the relevance and importance of education, and if the students who stay in school view it as their own choice and no-one else's, you create a peer stigma against dropping out. It becomes soundly uncool to drop out. That might actually reduce dropouts, in addition to fostering a more proactive educational atmosphere.

    Trying to force students to learn against their will will never work. It must be their own choice, or else the schooling is ineffective.
  5. Jan 26, 2005 #4
    Yes I see your point. There are merits in your system. What do you do though with the dropouts? Do you have another system to give them a second chance or do you just let them be?
  6. Jan 26, 2005 #5
    Well, I think they should have the option of re-entering school. There could be "adult" high schools so that they don't feel uncomfortable in classes with much younger students. But this would cost a little more and the course selection would necessarily be more limited. Optimally there would be a social atmosphere so that drop-out adults could feel normal going to an ordinary high school, but it might not be feasible to create such an atmosphere.
  7. Jan 27, 2005 #6
    Interest should be cultivated on the first few lessons instead of just "starting on the syllabus". Here in Singapore, i think most schools spend too much time emphasizing on "study skills". And to many students, studying is not something they want to do, studying to them, is not fun, so they need fancy mindmaps or memory techniques to make it easier. I don't think an expert and avid RPG gamer would need such techniques to know how to find EVERY item in the game.

    I don't know how interest can be instilled, and it works differently for different subjects. And even if this interest lasts only as long as their final exams, its good enough. Physics, to me, was never something i was interested in the moment i was educated. But it was rather a few individual teachers whom have made me interested in it, and it would definitely last for life.

    I think the solution to every woe in education is interest in what is being taught and to me, i think the best solution is to have teachers who are truly interested in their subject and would want to pass on that interest to their students be it in the long or short term.
  8. Jan 27, 2005 #7
    That's exactly the problem, student motivation. I think, however, that for the majority of people, teacher involvement is not as important as peer involvement. A student will become interested in an activity if his peers value it; if the teacher values it, the student will probably not be as affected, seeing the teacher as outside of his "clan."

    For better students this will not be the case, since they aspire to be adults and consider adults as more of role models. But for the weaker students, promoting the image that education is cool, important, and "theirs" as opposed to the teachers', should be effective.
  9. Jan 31, 2005 #8
    Schools teach so many un-necessary things. Most students find topics uninteresting and abstract. They can't apply it to real life. There is too much pressure on students to perform in tests in India. I dont know about other countries. But your life depends on only one exam in High School. If u score poorly in that exam and get school first rank in other exams u are nothing. You cant go to the preffered college. You have to pay our 4,000,000 for medical seat in India if you dont get 297/300 in Physiscs Chemistry Biology(100+100+100). In Geography I have to lern where all the iron ore mines are located , coal mines are located, etc. What am I going to do learing all that? In history I have to learn where people were buried. I have to learn so many places and mark them on maps. I dont think even an expert cartographer can get full marks in our map exams. In Maths what am I going to do learning Rational expressions, about similar triangles, tangents, circles? What am I gonna do learning Shakespeare while I cant write a few scentences in good english? In Indian edjukayshun system you have to know each and everyline of the Govt. Text book, Guides byheart to get good marks. I have so much greviences against the present edjukayshun system.

    My father was born in a rich family but they lost all their money and went to the brink of poverty. My father used to work to get money not to buy food but to buy books and stationery. He used to go hungry but did not forget to read his lessons. His teachers used to punish him for not wearing proper uniform(He was too poor to buy uniform). Even then he didnt come out of school. He came out first class in his school exams. He got into college on scholarship. He used to walk to his college and did not have any books to study. He relied on his notes and his friend's books for studying. But he studied hard and got gold medal in his MD pathology exams. He used to own only 2 sets of pant and shirt during his college days. But now we're well off. . We should learn the essentialness of edjukayshun. If he had left his hopes we would still be poor.
    The present edjukayshun system in India will turn away all the economically poor aspirers since they need a lot of money to get useless edjukayshun.
  10. Jan 31, 2005 #9
    I absolutely agree.

    I don't think it's that simple.

    I was bored to death in High School. Looking back I can clearly see that my time would have been much better spent in a vo-tech school that focused on useful information.

    Educational formalism is the problem. It is slow to evolve, and tries to teach everything whether it's of practical value or not. The school systems need to change. You can't blame it all on student's lack of motivation.

    I believe that most students are motivated about one thing or another. What they aren't motivated about is sitting in class after class of subjects that they have no interest in. Who needs to learn all the gory details of all the individual battles of a civil war for example. Teaching the general public that there was a civil war and basically what it was about is all that is really necessary. That could be done in a single lecture!

    Making people sit through long classes of topics they aren't interested in is absurd.

    Let the students who have an interest in history or geography study those topics. Let the students who have an interest in mathematics or science study those. Students who are interested in the social studies or the arts can study that. Why do we insist on making everyone study everything? It's crazy and just wastes of everyone's time.

    Also, the students who aren't interested in a particular subject just end up distracting the class or falling asleep. Why do we do this to people?

    I personally would have been much better off studying nothing but science and mathematics all the way through high school. All of the other subjects were a waste of my time, and actually took valuable time away from the subjects that I was interested in. I could have done science experiments all day long! Or pondered mathematical relationship and their consequences all day long! Instead I was forced to sit through boring social studies, history, geography, and English classes wasting my valuable time and energy. No wonder I was bored to death!

    The people in charge of educational institutions need to get their heads out of the sand and start addressing people's needs instead of forcing an antiquated style of pedagogy onto them. That style worked years ago when there wasn't so much to learn in each subject. But nowadays the sooner a person begins to focus on what they are interested in the better!

    So my idea for better education is to focus on what the students are interested in, and quit wasting their valuable time trying to cram superfluous information into their brains.
  11. Jan 31, 2005 #10
    Neutron star, that's the first time I've ever seen anyone flat-out disagree with my premise and then rephrase my argument, advocating it. :rofl:
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2005
  12. Jan 31, 2005 #11
    To explain: Student motivation is the biggest problem, and the solution is not to force the students to learn somehow, but to give them things they want to learn and create a culture of useful learning.

    I have also in this thread spoken in favor of enabling students to drop courses that do not interest them, making education increasingly vocational, and in fact, specifically dropping history requirements.
  13. Jan 31, 2005 #12
    Exactly what I want!
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