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Poll
Do you believe the United State's Public School systems are good for the future of America?
Yes 3
Maybe 2
No 7
Not Sure 0
Total Votes: 12
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Posted: 23 August 2007 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]
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My question is “Is our secondary schools promotive of learning or do they hinder it?” My own thought on it is that are current secondary school systems ,etc: High Schools and Middle Schools, hinder learning because a) they’re aren’t enough qualified teachers to teach the students and b) most schools censor so much information that there is very little worthful information in school libraries and internet filters prevent you looking at most sites because somewhere on a site there is a word that the school determines is an offensive. So my question is now your question to answer and debate.
  Sir Mark Quinton II

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Posted: 23 August 2007 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I voted “no”. I think as times change, the content of education needs to change to reflect the new evidences that have been discovered. The current curriculim seems to continue to teach old evidences, some which have been proven in recent times to acually be invalid evidences and have been replaced with new evidences. The edcuation system passes on content, but doesn’t really appear to teach students how to think for themselves, or point them in the direction of the importance of the bigger picture.

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Posted: 23 August 2007 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I really can’t answer that question without more details about what you mean by promote versus hinder. For instance, where would you place a school that can be seriously improved upon, but still makes students know more than they did when they entered it?

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Posted: 23 August 2007 11:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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theatheistheretic - 23 August 2007 10:57 AM

My question is “Is our secondary schools promotive of learning or do they hinder it?” My own thought on it is that are current secondary school systems ,etc: High Schools and Middle Schools, hinder learning because a) they’re aren’t enough qualified teachers to teach the students and b) most schools censor so much information that there is very little worthful information in school libraries and internet filters prevent you looking at most sites because somewhere on a site there is a word that the school determines is an offensive. So my question is now your question to answer and debate.
  Sir Mark Quinton II

Are you trying to make your point in a subtle way?  wink

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PC

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Posted: 23 August 2007 11:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I would also like to see schools teach students the various methods of how to learn.

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Posted: 23 August 2007 11:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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the PC apeman - 23 August 2007 11:43 AM

Are you trying to make your point in a subtle way?  wink

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Posted: 23 August 2007 12:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I think the question is too broad. As a parent of a first grader, I’m very interested in how public schools work, and I think there are good and bad elements to them. My daughter goes to a charter school, which is quite different from the traditional public schools in our district. So there is a lot of variation between schools, between areas with different levels of funding, between types of public schools, that I don’t think such a broad question is meaningful. Could the schools be better, absoltuley! Would I like them to teach science and critical thinking the way I believe it should be taught, absolutley! But I do think we have to be wary of making the perfect the enemy of the good. There is a lot of good quality teahcing, as well as lots of crap out there. In my state, the schools have gone from excellent to poor due to funding chan ges in the last 25 years, and yet I see some instructional techniques that are much better than when I went to public school here. So, it’s a mixed bag

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Posted: 23 August 2007 01:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I think the biggest problem is in grammar school.  It is during that time period that a child’s brain is doing the most development and most susceptible to influence.  At least of the time in which they are in the clutches of the schools.

This is a video which amazed me:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8863032177906819557

8 minutes into this video there is a section by PBS that says 20 of 23 people at Harvard couldn’t explain what causes summer and winter.  Doesn’t it ever snow in Boston?  Don’t they have any curiosity?  I could have explained that when I was in grammar school but not because they taught it in school, but because I started reading stuff in the encyclopedia to understand what I was reading in sci-fi books.

That is the thing about school, you are not supposed to be motivated by curiosity.  You are supposed to be motivated by pleasing the teacher and competition with other students.

That is why I think sci-fi books are good for grammar school kids.  And sci-fi from before Star Wars tends to be better.

http://booksliterature.com/showthread.php?t=1527

This video is scary and it’s from 1991.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7398714418354815608&pl=true

psik

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Posted: 23 August 2007 04:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Whoops!  I wanted to vote no, but it came out yes.  rolleyes  I’m not doing so hot today.  I’m getting old, even so, I think the public schools keep so much information from child that they can’t learn.  Not to mention, some states impose that faith based “Abstance Program”, which we all know alone does not work.  Oh, I’m not saying some people can’t successfully practice abstance.  What I’m saying is we are all human and it is foolish not to teach a full comprehensive sex ed course.  There are a few states that prefer Creationism AKA ID over REAL science.  They aren’t teaching science.  All this faith based stuff should stay in the religious schools and not secular schools, so that children can get a real education.  If parents want their kids to learn about abstinance and ID, instead of having a honest and real education then they can send them to a religious school.  They can waste their own kids minds if they want, but I don’t want them wasting my sons’ or my grandchildren’s minds.  A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but whatever floats parents boats concerning their children.  That’s JMO, though.

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Posted: 23 August 2007 04:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Mriana, I wasn’t going to vote because I think the question is far too ambiguous.  However, to help you out I voted “no”.  It doesn’t bring the vote into where it should have been, but at least it cancels out the mistaken yes vote.  LOL

Occam

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Posted: 23 August 2007 04:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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i voted no because it felt like the right answer and to help out mriana, but i liked my education. i only wish i paid closer attention and tried harder. i particularly look back with fondness at my high school. how many high schools have philosophy as a course?

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Posted: 23 August 2007 04:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Thanks, Occam and Truth.  smile

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Posted: 23 August 2007 05:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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American (and now also, English) schools don’t really do much for a child’s thinking abilities or their understanding of stuff, but they do seem to promote confidence.  In the real world, they will get the best jobs by brashness and blagging - confidence wins out over competence these days because of the psychometric culture that seems to want to homogenise everyone into the same bland entities.  In this regard, the modern school system prepares kids a lot better for the world of work than the old-fashioned way of teaching them and merit and all that sort of thing.

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Posted: 23 August 2007 08:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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truthaddict - 23 August 2007 04:49 PM

how many high schools have philosophy as a course?

In France, all of them do. I think it’s even a mandatory subject, but I’m not sure.

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Posted: 23 August 2007 09:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I think the best explanation about the problems with education comes from Amartya Sen in a roundabout way. Sen’s most famous idea is that no independent democracy with a free press has ever had a famine, because the government is accountable to and can’t hide mass starvation from the general population. Schools are governed by teachers, principals, educators, curriculum writers, and parents, none of whom is accountable to the students. On the contrary, they all resist accountability by making infantilizing arguments about everyone younger than 25. This allows various factions to support policies that don’t work, because they’ll never be held accountable to them. The best they can do is raise test scores because everyone likes high test scores, but beyond that, they’re stuck. Consider the following:

- Teachers’ unions have a vested interest in giving teachers more power. They support smaller class size because it increases the demand for teachers, and oppose any attempt to impose a uniform curriculum; this despite the fact that in California reducing class size failed and in New York teacher-proof curricula helped (a bit). They and their allies tend to talk of education in almost magical terms, allowing them to claim success and failure arbitrarily rather than by any objective standards.

- Conservative, moderate, and realist educational reformers have a vested interest in pissing the teachers’ unions off. Hence they support giving principals unlimited power, and often even suggest scrapping the tainted public school system, even though students do no better in private or charter schools than in public schools. To them, education is reducible to a short list of factory-like goals. A few of them, like returning to traditional math, work. The rest stink.

- Liberal, socialist, and minority educational reformers believe the entire system is corrupt with tradition and capitalism and authoritarianism, and promote whichever policies sound the most libertarian and leftist: discovery learning, whole language, quotas for female and minority characters in readings. Of all the groups, they tend to produce the most uniformly awful solutions, some of which are throwbacks to the Johnny Can’t Read era.

- Another contingent of liberals and minorities insists American education has no problems whatsoever, if properly funded. These tend to be in bed with the teachers’ unions, as one of their favorite solutions is to increase teachers’ salaries (which are actually slightly above OECD average in the US). Their problem tends to be obsession with input over output. Jonathan Kozol managed to write a whole book about New York’s underfunded public schools, without ever getting around to mentioning that the city’s magnet schools, which have produced Nobel Prize winners and saturate the Ivy League, have per-student expenditures 15-30% below city average.

- Some educational reformers prescribe not an ideology but a method. The book I’m thinking of at the moment is Robert and Ellen Kaplan’s Out of the Labyrinth, a celebration of the Math Circle, where supposedly average 6-year-old children learn high school mathematics using discovery learning. Those reformers tend to be class-A teachers who generalize their personal mode of teaching to the rest of the world, usually with negative consequences. The Kaplans happen to champion a method that has been tried and failed in a regular classroom setting numerous times, but other reformers are not so easy to refute.

- Philosophers, intellectuals, and people who would like to think of themselves as intellectuals want to impose an idealized academic system on everyone else. To them, the solution to an authoritarian educational system is not necessarily discovery learning or more minority authors at the expense of the traditional canon, but rather vague appeals to “Teaching critical thinking” in schools. Explaining what they get wrong is difficult, as they never provide enough details for others to criticize.

- Scientists push for a back-to-basics approach to science, which emphasizes traditional rote learning. This is mostly an overreaction to creationism and to the left’s fuzzy science; however, modern American conservatism is an overreaction to the 1960s and early 70s, which hasn’t stopped it from being dangerous. At one point, PZ Myers of Pharyngula basically endorsed the idea that history classes should test students on memorizing lists of dates.

- Finally, parents usually want the educational system to work the way it did when they were kids. Although their delusions are technically less problematic than most, in fact they’re the most dangerous, because they’re the most prone to believing they know what’s best for the children, and thus are the likeliest to shun the ideas of outsiders. Even the intellectuals and the scientists, the two most arrogant groups in this typology, occasionally listen to others.

Note that I’m not including religious fundamentalists here. This is because they have no views about education except that they’re against it. To use an SAT-like analogy, Dominionism : education :: the left : foreign policy.

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Posted: 23 August 2007 11:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Schools are governed by teachers, principals, educators, curriculum writers, and parents, none of whom is accountable to the students. On the contrary, they all resist accountability by making infantilizing arguments about everyone younger than 25.

Apart from being overly cynical, you’re mistaken if you think parents are not accountable to their kids. Perhaps children can’t assess the most appropriate pedagogy for themselves (or am I “infantilizing” my 7-year old by assuming this?), but most parents who are involved in their kids lives and education get a lot of feedback, direct and indirect, and are monitoring what works and what doesn’t and always seeking the “best” methods, as they see them. And unless you think children should be governing the schools, which I think might have some problems, I’m not sure how you would suggest dealing with what you see as an accountability problem.

even though students do no better in private or charter schools than in public schools

Another sweeping statement I don’t feel is justified. I’ve spent a lot of time playing deuling statistics with other people about how to assess student performance in various kinds of schools, and it’s damned hard to find an ironclad scientifically unchallengable answer.

Most of the rest of your post is simple characterising, in an exaggerated and loaded way, the various positions different stakeholders take on education policy and then dismissing them all either because they have a perspective you don’t see as objective or with vague references to data showing they are wrong. This by itself, doesn’t prove your point, which seems to be that evrybody is wrong and the situation is hopeless. While I don’t expect a flood of research references to back up every statement you make, I think to be constructive in this conversation you have to do a little better than exaggerate and dismiss other people’s POV and offer nothing of your own.

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