What does the American educational system (K-12) teach well?

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You are certainly correct that a system by itself doesn't teach much, but it is a system that ensures that the good teachers (i.e. those that can impart the knowledge and inspire confidence and learning to students) can thrive in a given school system and that bad teachers get rooted out. It is also a system that ensures that a curriculum is taught appropriately.

If a large number of students are (a) not learning what we as society think students should learn, and (b) there is evidence that students are "gaming the system", then that is a flaw in the system.
Sorry Stat, can't agree
In our system today many of the best teachers leave and the poor ones stay.
I'm speaking from experience....

Teacherman
 
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Actually it is worse than this. Teachers are strongly discouraged from failing students no matter how bad they are doing.


Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...uld-love-to-teach-but/?utm_term=.7eafb487852f

Again the quote “They are not allowed to fail" is worth noting. It doesn't matter if it's because they aren't showing up, studying, or turning in work. They are not allowed to fail. I've had friends quit teaching over stuff like this. It's bad.

-Dave K
Totally agree with you, Dave
Teacherman
 
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As honestly as possible.

But of course. Students who are not competent in the learning objectives should not be passed. How is passing them blessing them or the next teacher along the line (or the employer)? All the teacher who passes them has taught them is they do not really need to learn to pass. Once they learn that lesson, how can the next teacher expect to be successful? They know they will pass either way.

When I was an engineer, I developed test systems for wireless products. If a unit failed, it did not get shipped. Knowingly shipping it and billing the customer would be fraud. Blaming the quality of the incoming components is no excuse for fraud.

Likewise, sending students along and billing the taxpayer is fraud, regardless of the quality of the materials one begins with.
Agree, Doc
But that is our system.....
Teacherman
 
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Compared with ourselves, it is really interesting and perplexing that science is above reading. I thought surely we were at least gaining on literacy if nothing else. Apparently the literacy rate hasn't changed in the last 10 years. I've never met (that I know of) someone who couldn't read, but I would classify 95% of the people I have met outside of academic circles as being scientifically illiterate. (I probably judge harshly. I classify someone as scientifically illiterate if they do not accept climate change or if they believe in homeopathy or ghosts, for example.)

So, besides those three things, what else are we even teaching? I really don't know what goes on in schools these days.

-Dave K

Sorry Dave, Can't agree here.
Maybe you travel in exceptionally literate circles, but generally we suck at teaching reading.
When I say "we" I mean the American system - not me.
Teacherman
 
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I continue to maintain that on average, the US K-12 system does a more than adequate job for below-average students, an adequate job for average students, and provides excellent learning opportunities to above-average students across all content areas.
Sorry Stat,
A motivated teacher in any system, even if he is not the best at the subject, and if no administrators interfere, can do what you describe. A teacher should be able to extend a lesson any way he wants, if it is designed to help the student learn better. Not about being some genius teacher; but about looking for a way to help student make better sense of a topic or technique or concept.
Teachers, at least in my school, were not allowed to be creative. Again, I've said this before,
teachers are told when, where and how to teach their subject. Step out of line and you are in for a hard time.
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Teachers, at least in my school, were not allowed to be creative. Again, I've said this before,
teachers are told when, where and how to teach their subject. Step out of line and you are in for a hard time.
I was so saddened to hear of your experience.

The discusting thing is what you were trying to do is exactly what research shows leads to effective teaching ie forming good relationships with students. I think I have posted it before but will do it again:

Professor John Hattie, Director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne and chairman of the Federal Government's Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL)

John Hattie is a straight-talking academic with a passion for trying to understand, measure and share what makes a difference in the classroom.

His study on what really matters to help students learn and progress has been described as the 'holy grail' of effective teaching and he is arguably the world's most influential education researcher.

His 2008 book, Visible Learning, is the largest ever collection of evidence-based research into what makes a difference for students, ranking the factors which most improve learning. It was the culmination of 15 years of research, incorporating more than 50,000 studies on schools involving millions of students.

Professor Hattie found improving the quality of feedback students receive and ensuring positive teacher-student interaction led to the best outcomes. It is a pupil's ability to assess their own performance and to discuss how they can improve with the teacher that makes the most difference.

Somewhat controversially, he also says the evidence shows that factors such as class size, homework and public or private schooling are not nearly as important to students' learning progression as the quality of individual teachers.

Born in New Zealand, John Hattie grew up in the regional port city of Timaru, and after school worked as a house painter before going to university and gaining a teaching diploma. He gained his PhD in 1981 and has worked at universities around the world before taking up his position in Melbourne in 2011.

Notice my highlighted bit. What your administration is doing is the exact opposite. Its not as if its a secret - its in his very well regarded book. Why oh why dont administrators read and act on it. It just makes no sense.

Just as an aside there is a school in Australia that IMHO does it right:
https://tc.vic.edu.au/

No grades, flexible learning, no high stakes tests to get into university - you go when you are ready - many many innovative things, but overall its exactly what Professor Hatttie says - you form good relationships with students.

See:
https://www.9now.com.au/60-minutes/2017/clip-ciynzb06v00010gld6j8805xf

Students loving school - we cant have that can we?

Thanks
Bill
 
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