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People slipping through the cracks

  1. Nov 2, 2005 #1

    Pengwuino

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    Something I've been noticing a lot is that there are a LOT of students who have somehow slipped through a ton of cracks in the "system" of education. Today I heard something from a grad student that absolutely took the cake. He does tutoring and one day he is helping someone with their intro to mechanics work and he finds out something absolutely insane. The person had no concept of what volume was... he didn't know what it was! And there was nothing special about this person either... not foreign or "special" or anything that could remotely explain what was going on. Another time he had someone who (this is less spectacular) who did not know an ellipse was a shape!
    Now this stuff is 2nd grade information... and theres plenty of barriers meant to stop these people from advancing until they know the material... so what exactly is going on here? I mean you have to pass classes in every grade... you many times have to pass exit exams in high school.... theres math requirements in high school... theres math requirements to enter the university... theres even math requirements to get into that class. How are people doing this??? Does the educational system in the US need re-evaluating?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 2, 2005 #2
    mel hurtig wrote in "the vanishing country" that it's possible for someone in canada to get a phd in history without doing a single course on canadian history. i guess the world is a crazy enough place that it's possible but he didn't list the universities that don't have canadian history required for history students, so who knows.
     
  4. Nov 2, 2005 #3
    Referring back to Pengwuino's example...

    Well, I'm a HS senior and to pay for AP tests I have to tutor some people to pay for AP exams (really, it's a HS program thing-->not an individual project).

    One of the people I'm tutoring is taking AlgebraII and cannot multiply fractions :eek: Another person I tutor in AlgebraII cannot solve simple proportions. :bugeye:

    Whoever reads this thread MUST ALSO READ THESE:

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=96967
    and
    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=66263
    and
    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=95904

    Speaking of holes in the educational system :wink:
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2005
  5. Nov 2, 2005 #4

    matthyaouw

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    Perhaps the problem is that once it has been learned, in some cases it is just assumed that people will remember what they are taught forever, and it doesn't get touched on again until much later. I learned so much maths in high school, but I've simply not used it since, and as a consequence don't remember much of it.
     
  6. Nov 2, 2005 #5

    Pengwuino

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    But volume.... how can you "lose" that information? We literally deal with it every single day of our lives. I mean this isn't formulas we're talking about or properties... we're talking about their actual physical existance.
     
  7. Nov 2, 2005 #6
    But Pengwuino! Don't you realize that we are all equal? And that it's wrong to make people feel stupid by failing them? And that it racist to give bad grades to people who aren't white?
     
  8. Nov 2, 2005 #7

    Pengwuino

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    :devil: :devil: :devil: *beats Ape with a salmon*
     
  9. Nov 2, 2005 #8
    chomsky is a hardcore anarchist who believes in montessori/dewey/etc-style education. if you read his reviews on www.ratemyprofessers.com he's a very harsh marker. i would think that he believes in challenging a student just as much as anybody.
     
  10. Nov 2, 2005 #9

    Moonbear

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    Volume? Hmmm...let's see, that's the button you press on the remote control to make the TV louder, right?

    *stands back and watches Pengwuino stroke out* :rofl:

    Okay, I have to admit it's hard to figure out how someone got through life without knowing what volume means, though, an ellipse is a bit different. That's not exactly one of the shapes in the shape-sorter for 2 year-olds. I could see how someone would be taught that in geometry and just as quickly forget the name because there's no reason for most people to ever use the word again.

    Once in a while I get shocked to realize there are kids who don't know things that I thought every kid grew up knowing. One of our technicians was telling me the other day that she used to give farm tours to the city kids who would come on class trips to see animals. They had a hereford cow (one of the brown varieties...you know, like the rhyme "How now brown cow?"), and one of the kids asked her if it was a goat! Even if you've never been on a real farm, how do you grow up not knowing what a cow looks like? Hasn't everyone had the Playschool See and Say thing with the cows that go moo, and the pigs that go oink?
     
  11. Nov 2, 2005 #10

    ranger

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    Wow....well said.
     
  12. Nov 2, 2005 #11
    I definitely believe in differant types of intelligence and that people have differing strong points and weak points. My comment was really just a joke about the direction that things have gone here in CA where Pengwuino and I live. There are seriously schools here that still want to institute the use of "ebonics" in the class room and say that asking students to learn and be proficient with the english language is racist (hence the comment about racism). They are also against testing senior high school students to be sure they have actually attained an education before they graduate them so as to not let people slip through the cracks. When a school tested out this idea and several students failed the exit exam they protested that we would be ruining these kids' futures by not allowing them to graduate.
     
  13. Nov 2, 2005 #12

    Pengwuino

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    Yah I remember that. Im sorry but putting someone out in the real world with no skills is going to ruin someones future must quicker then hurting their feelings by holding them back. I mean when did feelings become so important.
     
  14. Nov 2, 2005 #13
    From what people have been posting here at PF, it seems there is a huge problem, and it is starting to worry me. Public education has never been perfect, but it used to be basically reliable in a way it doesn't seem to be anymore.
     
  15. Nov 2, 2005 #14

    Math Is Hard

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    Agreed. It's a very sad state of affairs. The recent California high school exit exam scores speak volumes:
    http://www.latimes.com/news/education/la-093005exit_lat,0,1534949.story?coll=la-home-headlines [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  16. Nov 2, 2005 #15

    Pengwuino

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    I think we can start looking here for our problem. You don't have a "chance" to "EARN" things. You just earn them. You don't go to work and do your work for the "chance" of earning your paycheck. People are acting like this is anything other then something you work at an earn. If you can't pass this test, then you have not earned what a diploma signifies.
     
  17. Nov 2, 2005 #16
    This is a pretty deadly problem in and of itself.
     
  18. Nov 2, 2005 #17
    oh well now i understand then, that IS crazy :uhh: i can't believe that's even taken seriously
     
  19. Nov 2, 2005 #18

    Pengwuino

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    Well you don't want to offend anyone by not allowing made-up racial inspired languages that further create racial problems through its use.

    Or something like that....
     
  20. Nov 2, 2005 #19

    Moonbear

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    When the ebonics thing first came out, my reaction then is the same as it is now...that is racism! Deciding that because a kid is black and growing up in an inner city they can't learn proper English, and to then handicap them by not even trying, you just don't get any more racist than that.

    I agree with this wholeheartedly. I see too much of trying to sugar-coat everything to avoid hurting kids' feelings rather than giving them the constructive criticism and honest evaluation that they need to improve.
     
  21. Nov 3, 2005 #20
    A girl in both my maths b and physics classes was unable to add and subtract fractions from each other for the majority of year 11.
     
  22. Nov 3, 2005 #21
    The problem with ebonics is twofold in my opinion. Firstly, it is a valid language and is a distinct derivative of English in the sense of Linguistics. Secondly, I don't hear a national outcry to ban the use of "ya'll" in southern school systems or making new englanders pronounce the r's on the end of words ("pahk ya cah in Hahvahd yahd"- translated as- park your car in Harvard Yard). These regional variations get slowly integrated into the national mindset and accepted gradually. By the time kids in middle school are having children, the issue of ebonics will no longer be an issue (I think). How do you decide what is the correct version of a language that can have extreme variation on a very small scale? If you doubt this- go to Wisconsin. Stay in Green Bay for a couple days- you will begin to see the local dialect in action. Then go to a little town called Two Rivers which is 20 miles away. This area has an insane accent and pronounciation scheme that is clearly distinct from the local area and the rest of the state. If while you are there, and you ask them what town you are in, I would bet you good money you wouldn't understand what came out of their mouth corresponded to Two Rivers. So who decideds what is proper grammer, prounciation, etc. in a country that does not have a national language? (And if our forefathers would have decided on one, there would have been a good chance it would German).
     
  23. Nov 3, 2005 #22
    My wife and I owned a store for a while and we saw some amazing examples of our educational system at work. We had an employee who thought a ten percent discount was $1.00 no matter what the value of the object being discounted. And he thought that 3% tax was 3 cents, ALWAYS, again, no matter how much the item costs.

    After he left us for school, guess what he took in college? Accounting! :yuck: Some teacher had a lot of work ahead of them.
     
  24. Nov 3, 2005 #23

    Chi Meson

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    I have been following the rants on this and that other thread. And I have been holding my breath until now. So as you all might know, I am a public high school teacher. Allow me to open the view to the "other side."

    FIrst of all: whenever somebody has not learned something, the fault is not automatically that of "the public schools." OK, someone did not know what volume was. I remember a 1st-year student at UVA who didn't know what an "anvil" was. Some people forget things becuase it is not important to them. This is why I can't speak German anymore.

    There are problems, no doubt. Some teachers are bad teachers; some teachers should be kept away from kids at all times; but answer yes or no to the following questions:
    "Should we try to hire better teachers?"
    "Do teachers get paid too much money?"

    You can answer yes or no to either one of these questions (and that is your perfectly valid opinion), but if you answer yes to BOTH of these questions, you need to take a basic course in economics.

    I am fortunate eneough to teach in Connecticut which compensates teachers better than 48 other states. IF my school offered me the salary that they give to teachers in some other states, I'd say "Why bother?" I'll take my Physics degree and put it to use elsewhere. You get what you pay for, and for decades the pay for teacher throughout this country has been deplorable. Consequently, we still have many deplorable teachers.

    Across this country we do have teachers who are teaching because they can't do anything else (in Connecticut they are disappearing through attrition, but it takes several years). Compound that with a generation of kids who have less responsibility than ever before; who have grown up in a culture of complaint; who have an excuse for everything and nothing is their own fault...

    deep breath

    Here's an analogy. Imagine there is a town dentist. The teeth of this dentist's patients are clean and white and there are no cavities. The dentist tells the kids to brush three times a day, what not to eat, etc. What a great dentist! THis is a private dentist though, he only allows kids with clean teeth to be his patients. On the other side of town the kids are given lots of candy and junk food by their parents. The parents never make the kids brush their teeth. THe parents don't care if the kid skips a cleaning appointment. This dentist is REQUIRED to take everyone who can't afford the expensive private dentist, but all his patients have rotten teeth. What a lousy dentist, huh?

    I teach a class of AP/IB physics. Students of mine have gone to MIT(2!), Harvard, Yale, Brown, BC, BU, UVA, Stanford, on and on and on. THe best schools in the country. THey went throught exactly the same schools as the rest of the students. I teach also a class called "Foundations of General Science" in which the students are surprised to find that the earth goes around the sun. Again, they went to the same schools, same classes as the MIT-bound kids.

    "Hold those kids back then" I hear eveyone cry. OK, so, the most difficult students, the ones that cost the most resources, are to stay in school longer, for more years, BUT the school budget is already "way too much" and must be cut. Have you taken that economics course yet? [/RANT]
     
  25. Nov 3, 2005 #24
    Chi,
    I don't know about the others, but I don't find the teachers at fault. Perhaps the system, but not the teachers. I find more fault with parents. Especially parents who support stupidity through their actions. For instance when children misbehave in school, instead of supporting the teacher, the parents are in there defending their little deliquents. Or when a child doesn't learn and the parents still want the child pushed through so they won't drop behind their class.

    Also, parents should be aware that not every student is college bound material. Vocational education is a good option for many of these children.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2005
  26. Nov 3, 2005 #25
    At the college level, I am most amazed at two areas that "should be" ingrained in the students. these students have all had 12 years of education, and I don't understand why they have problems in these two most basic areas.

    The first area that leaps out at me, is poor writing skills. (Some participants here have writing skills could use some attention.) Communication is one of the most fundamental skills that needs to be learned. It's basic. My students routinely write answers to essay questions - that are completely incomprehensible. Every error is made, from sentence fragments to run-on sentences to no paragraph breaks to spelling errors --- I simply have no idea what answer they are trying to express. When this poor communication is demonstrated in conversation as well, I begin to think that these students have difficulty with thinking in a clear and logical manner. And no one wants to have a nurse that is unable to follow or participate in a medical discussion.

    The second area of poor prior learning that I see, is basic math skills. I am sure everyone on this forum understands dividing by ten, and you would be stunned by the numbers of pre-nursing college students that can't work with exponents, for example, or compute serial ten fold dilutions.

    I don't know what the solution is, but I think insisting on excellence (even in an area like written language, that the student may feel is unimportant), worksheets, and assigning grades fairly must be part of the solution. Also, alerting a student to an area that could use work, as uncomfortable as that is for all concerned, is really in the best interest of the student's ultimate success.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2005
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