Attitudes towards education
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16-10-2012, 09:50 AM
Attitudes towards education
I guess this fits as well into the politics thread as it does anywhere else.

Universities = liberal factories?
My father-in-law makes statements all the time about how universities are supposedly just socialism factories (my interpretation of what he says, but that is the basic jist of it). My oldest brother has made similar suggestions by noting that universities are primarily inhabited by liberals and democrats in professorial positions. That last point is what my father-in-law is trying to use but is taking it to the extreme and drawing an unfounded conclusion from. It certainly is true that academics tend to be more liberal and more likely to be democrats (there are obviously some republican and conservative universities and professors, but they seem to be the exception and not the rule). My father-in-law and brother however, tend to lean towards the conspiracy that universities are doing that intentionally and not that those with higher levels of education tend to lean towards a more liberal viewpoint. I am starting to get really frustrated at this attack on colleges and universities. My father-in-law does not value education, and my brother is a bit bitter about education as he was unable to go to college while all of his younger siblings did (he has admitted to me that he wishes he had been able to go and would have been most interested in engineering, I think he would be more than capable of that field of study too). I think both of them have a strong desire to find some way to devalue what colleges and universities do and therefore lend credence to their decisions to not go and get an education (in both cases it might be argued that the decisions were not solely theirs to make, but that is another conversation entirely). Both have been successful without it and it could be argued very easily that they did not need it, but others do need it. Some of them need just to learn how to be independent and to learn how to learn.

Academia is overwhelmingly liberal, and that is basically how it has always been. It is not a new phenomenon being pursued by the Democrats and Political Liberals, instead it appears to be congruent with higher education. No one wants to touch that though, because that would suggest that smart people (more appropriate to say "educated people") are more likely to be liberal. That seems prejudice towards the uneducated, but it appears to be true. It should be no surprise then that both my brother and father-in-law are republican.


My second gripe
Attitude of the student
As someone who is still very much new to the realm of teaching, I grow increasingly more frustrated at the level of apathy displayed by my students. I understand that I teach labs for classes that are either A) Required to graduate or B) Uninteresting to them as a field of study. The point however is that the class is there to expand your basal knowledge, not to make you an expert in that field. It is also designed so as to help teach students how to learn, rationalize, and problem-solve. Too often I hear students say
"Screw it, I can't find the answer in the book. I'm just going to write something down because I am so over this right now."
That is almost verbatim of multiple conversations I heard just yesterday. Some of the answers are indeed not in the book. Those questions require *gasp* thinking. I lecture at the beginning of the labs and *gasp* I go over concepts that are integral to the assignment. It seems that most of the students are too busy to pay attention however and rather than taking notes, feel the need to ask me about something I said multiple times during my lecture. *sigh* I enjoy helping students, but not when they can't help themselves.

Aggressive disinterest
This is a bit different from above because some students don't just get frustrated with a question or lapse into momentary comas while I lecture, some of them don't seem to care about education at all. These students say things like
"I should have never taken this class"
or
They make statements about how the school is screwing them because they did not get into the program of their choice because *gasp* they weren't the most qualified.

Class curricula in the US are designed to educate students in their field of choice and in additional fields on a more general level so as to expand the students overall knowledge base and experience. If you don't want to have to take a class in the sciences as a business major, tough shit. It might do you some good if you will get over yourself and listen. Requirements are not the school trying to squeeze every last dollar out of you, that tennis class you took is. Those classes are money-makers and time wasters. The geology class improves your education, the tennis class gets you outside (where you can go anyways) for an hour to work on your backhand (that you can do anyways). Grow-up, you are in college.

The second point in this section is based off of a series of conversations I heard from some of my students during the summer. They complained about a program that they all thought was really good, until they did not get in. Then it was all about the politics and the areas they considered to be BS for getting into the program (like writing, I mean...who needs to be able to write well). The point they could not seem to register was that they were not admitted because they were not the most qualified. Hell, I wouldn't have admitted them into any advanced program either after having had them in class for a month. This sense of entitlement to get what you want (including an undeserved grade, especially as easily as I grade) is rubbish and detrimental to our society as a whole. The university does not owe you anything, you have to earn your placement, admission, and degree. I don't owe you a grade, you earn that by demonstrating your knowledge of the subject. You don't deserve anything, you earn it.


I believe I have ranted enough but now for my series of pleas. These are especially to those who are currently students.
1) You have a responsibility to learn the material, no matter the subject or your interest in it.
2) I don't owe you anything other than an opportunity to learn the material and demonstrate your knowledge or lack thereof.
3) Excuses are pointless and only demonstrate your desire to shirk responsibility. Things do happen, overcome them and do your job. That is what your professors have to do.
4) Not all instructors are created equal and not all are treated equally. On your instructor evaluation forms, write suggestions and criticisms but make them constructive. These are the ways in which instructors can improve and the means by which adjunct faculty who are rubbish at their job can be eliminated.

A final question. I am not far removed from being an undergrad (just over 3 years ago I got my BS) but I apparently lack the ability to connect with some of my students.
How do I actually engage them, keep them awake and off of their cell phones? I mean, I tell brief stories about 10 ft long centipedes and such, but I only get brief moments of attention during these moments. Do I need to just start calling out students not paying attention? I have tried to avoid this so as to not make it seem like I am micro-managing them. Do I just tell them I am going to treat them like adults and start grading like a raging badass? That seem rather capricious.

Is this place still a shithole run by a dumbass calvinist?
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16-10-2012, 10:58 AM
RE: Attitudes towards education
Well i`ll pitch in . I live in Romania , and saw early school from the comunist perspective , then college from the "liberal/westernized" perspective

The ideea that schools are socialism factories has at least some basis in reality. Education was seen entirely differently in communism as oposed to the democracy we have now . Education was a priority and good results were something one was really proud of . It was "cool" , as oposed to "geeky" i see nowadays. One of the reasons for that was that the state ran everything , there was basically no "job market" , the state placed you into a job in your field of knowledge as soon as you were out of college. (you could change the job , sure , but you could not be jobless...noone was jobless , people had id cards that stated there workplace , if you were found by the police without such an id card , aka not employed , you`d be in trouble) , and the better one did in school , the better the job they got , the more money that one made
Ofcourse this meant that those with lower education got worse jobs , and more often then not , they couldn`t do much about that , the only way up was wuth education. That caused a lot of the anger people had for communism before the revolution actually .
However , the education system was rock sollid . I remember learning rank 2 equations in the 5th or 6th grade (that was 11-12 yo . At the same time we had to memorize the periodic table of elements and solve problems using newton`s law and laws of friction and the derived forces from that in physics , and so on . By the time i was 15-16 , i was living for a long time in a democracy , but the curriculum (sp?) was largely the same . Biology was about the structure of the cell , the anatomy of animals , with live disections in laboratory , etc , math was about immaginary numbers , eolution was hammered in our heads years ago , when we had to collect all sort of insects and write papers about how they evolved and addapted to certain enviroments.

Nowadays , everyone laughs at school , the cool thing to do is skip it , the ideal is to steal or scam or fuck your way to wealth . There are few precious places of learning left , slowly drowning in countless religiously founded "schools" . Highschool kids cant do basic multiplication or read a paper aloud . I`ve not seen a library (phisical one) in years

Now i`m not saying communism was great or anything , i`m glad it`s over , however , as far as education goes , it was really doing it right . Sure there was a lot of propaganda about our "hero leader" mixed in it all , but people left school valuing knowledge , respecting facts , informations and science .

My dad is allmost 60 now , he can run three digiitx x three digits multiplications in his head in seconds , and was allove the internet today looking up information and numbers on the materials used in that guy that jumped from 40km with the parachute`s costume . He was surprized the thing didnt catch fire at that speed.
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16-10-2012, 11:09 AM
RE: Attitudes towards education
(16-10-2012 09:50 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  I guess this fits as well into the politics thread as it does anywhere else.

Universities = liberal factories?
My father-in-law makes statements all the time about how universities are supposedly just socialism factories (my interpretation of what he says, but that is the basic jist of it). My oldest brother has made similar suggestions by noting that universities are primarily inhabited by liberals and democrats in professorial positions. That last point is what my father-in-law is trying to use but is taking it to the extreme and drawing an unfounded conclusion from. It certainly is true that academics tend to be more liberal and more likely to be democrats (there are obviously some republican and conservative universities and professors, but they seem to be the exception and not the rule). My father-in-law and brother however, tend to lean towards the conspiracy that universities are doing that intentionally and not that those with higher levels of education tend to lean towards a more liberal viewpoint. I am starting to get really frustrated at this attack on colleges and universities. My father-in-law does not value education, and my brother is a bit bitter about education as he was unable to go to college while all of his younger siblings did (he has admitted to me that he wishes he had been able to go and would have been most interested in engineering, I think he would be more than capable of that field of study too). I think both of them have a strong desire to find some way to devalue what colleges and universities do and therefore lend credence to their decisions to not go and get an education (in both cases it might be argued that the decisions were not solely theirs to make, but that is another conversation entirely). Both have been successful without it and it could be argued very easily that they did not need it, but others do need it. Some of them need just to learn how to be independent and to learn how to learn.

Academia is overwhelmingly liberal, and that is basically how it has always been. It is not a new phenomenon being pursued by the Democrats and Political Liberals, instead it appears to be congruent with higher education. No one wants to touch that though, because that would suggest that smart people (more appropriate to say "educated people") are more likely to be liberal. That seems prejudice towards the uneducated, but it appears to be true. It should be no surprise then that both my brother and father-in-law are republican.


My second gripe
Attitude of the student
As someone who is still very much new to the realm of teaching, I grow increasingly more frustrated at the level of apathy displayed by my students. I understand that I teach labs for classes that are either A) Required to graduate or B) Uninteresting to them as a field of study. The point however is that the class is there to expand your basal knowledge, not to make you an expert in that field. It is also designed so as to help teach students how to learn, rationalize, and problem-solve. Too often I hear students say
"Screw it, I can't find the answer in the book. I'm just going to write something down because I am so over this right now."
That is almost verbatim of multiple conversations I heard just yesterday. Some of the answers are indeed not in the book. Those questions require *gasp* thinking. I lecture at the beginning of the labs and *gasp* I go over concepts that are integral to the assignment. It seems that most of the students are too busy to pay attention however and rather than taking notes, feel the need to ask me about something I said multiple times during my lecture. *sigh* I enjoy helping students, but not when they can't help themselves.

Aggressive disinterest
This is a bit different from above because some students don't just get frustrated with a question or lapse into momentary comas while I lecture, some of them don't seem to care about education at all. These students say things like
"I should have never taken this class"
or
They make statements about how the school is screwing them because they did not get into the program of their choice because *gasp* they weren't the most qualified.

Class curricula in the US are designed to educate students in their field of choice and in additional fields on a more general level so as to expand the students overall knowledge base and experience. If you don't want to have to take a class in the sciences as a business major, tough shit. It might do you some good if you will get over yourself and listen. Requirements are not the school trying to squeeze every last dollar out of you, that tennis class you took is. Those classes are money-makers and time wasters. The geology class improves your education, the tennis class gets you outside (where you can go anyways) for an hour to work on your backhand (that you can do anyways). Grow-up, you are in college.

The second point in this section is based off of a series of conversations I heard from some of my students during the summer. They complained about a program that they all thought was really good, until they did not get in. Then it was all about the politics and the areas they considered to be BS for getting into the program (like writing, I mean...who needs to be able to write well). The point they could not seem to register was that they were not admitted because they were not the most qualified. Hell, I wouldn't have admitted them into any advanced program either after having had them in class for a month. This sense of entitlement to get what you want (including an undeserved grade, especially as easily as I grade) is rubbish and detrimental to our society as a whole. The university does not owe you anything, you have to earn your placement, admission, and degree. I don't owe you a grade, you earn that by demonstrating your knowledge of the subject. You don't deserve anything, you earn it.


I believe I have ranted enough but now for my series of pleas. These are especially to those who are currently students.
1) You have a responsibility to learn the material, no matter the subject or your interest in it.
2) I don't owe you anything other than an opportunity to learn the material and demonstrate your knowledge or lack thereof.
3) Excuses are pointless and only demonstrate your desire to shirk responsibility. Things do happen, overcome them and do your job. That is what your professors have to do.
4) Not all instructors are created equal and not all are treated equally. On your instructor evaluation forms, write suggestions and criticisms but make them constructive. These are the ways in which instructors can improve and the means by which adjunct faculty who are rubbish at their job can be eliminated.

A final question. I am not far removed from being an undergrad (just over 3 years ago I got my BS) but I apparently lack the ability to connect with some of my students.
How do I actually engage them, keep them awake and off of their cell phones? I mean, I tell brief stories about 10 ft long centipedes and such, but I only get brief moments of attention during these moments. Do I need to just start calling out students not paying attention? I have tried to avoid this so as to not make it seem like I am micro-managing them. Do I just tell them I am going to treat them like adults and start grading like a raging badass? That seem rather capricious.

I'm going to do this quickly, and come back and expand, later.

The "liberal factories" argument can be turned on it's head, by asking "why is that". One could just say "so, are uneducated folks, just all conservative ?"
It's a case of correlation/causation fallacy.

The student's shock that they have to actually work and compete was the point that David McCullough made in his speech at Wellesley, last Spring
that made such a HUGE row, and made the national news.
They have been told for SO long they are "special" they actually believe it.



Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein Certified Ancient Astronaut Theorist
The noblest of the dogs is the hot dog. It feeds the hand that bites it.
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16-10-2012, 11:31 AM (This post was last modified: 16-10-2012 12:23 PM by Diablo.)
RE: Attitudes towards education
We waste too much time educating people in bull shit that isn't important. Then when you get to college, you do the same shit! General education is an utter joke. A BS degree should take 2-3 years to get, not 4-5! Those extra 2 years are filled with nothing but inconsequential information that won't be useful to you in any way.

Art Class. The isn't important to 99.9% of people. Very few people are artist, and a class is not necessary to appreciate art.

Reading BS novels. Novels are forms of entertainment. Reading skills can be developed by reading relevant material that is not a mere waste of time.

English in general. There is no valid reason to teach English every fucking year! Foreign languages would suffice if anyone thought it was crucial, and many other classes can be used to give you practice in writing papers.

History. This falls into the same category as English. Its not necessary to teach this shit every single year! I think back to many history lessons that were completely and utterly pointless, such as the history of Virginia. The old saying that history repeats itself is a lie. It doesn't even kind of make sense.

And you could go on and on. Kids today are forced to memorize too much Bull shit! That is why we continually fall behind in important aspects such as math and science.


With that said even math and science are not perfect. A good example, we spend a lot of time in useless calculation theory, instead of useful interpretation and real world problem solving. Things such as projectile motion, and derivatives and integrals are easy to understand conceptually, but the mathematics are quite complex. So, why initially focus on the complex problem solving when computers can do that for us? Statistics is a great example. In the past Statistics was a graduate level course in mathematics, however, with the introduction of computers, calculators, its been brought all the way down to the High school level of education.
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16-10-2012, 12:32 PM
RE: Attitudes towards education
Diablo , this is exactly the basis of the entire anti-education thing , at least where i am

"if it doesnt make you any money why bother learning it?"
right?

Literature and History ae just as important as math an science . We are human beeings!History repeats it`s self is a lie...really? history is pointless? The science that tries to find out who we are and how and why we do what we do? really?

I can not immagine myself in a mindset where i`d conssider history a waste of time

Why focus on complex problem solving? To shape problem solving minds . People built computers , computers are tools

I bet you allso consider a 3`rd degree ecuation too complex? Statistics is easy , basic facts about statistics should be known by everyone

You think learning is only usefull in sofar as a m,eans to make money/a living?

Don`t even get me started on art! To say such things about art is showing you to be reeally irresponsable with your words
Better to stay quiet and be thought a fool then to open your mouth and remove all doubt
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16-10-2012, 12:42 PM (This post was last modified: 17-10-2012 11:53 PM by Diablo.)
RE: Attitudes towards education
The only purpose history serves is that its sometimes interesting. Besides that, distant history is never useful for anything. History in that regards does not repeat itself, because the circumstances are always radically different. Just like some people find reading novels to be entertaining. Its not useful information.

"if it doesnt make you any money why bother learning it?"
right?"

No.

If it doesn't serve any purpose in the real world, why bother learning it?

If someone wants to take the extra time to expand their education on trivial things that serve no purpose, then they have the right to do so. However, it is not fair nor wise to force such trivial matters onto the whole of society.

Atm its almost as if we are throwing anything and everything at these kids. It feels like there was this huge competition to get subjects into the classroom, and the end consensus was to just put everything in. Whats more, to force everyone to learn it too.

If you think its fun to memorize the phone book, thats great. Go for it! But don't force us to do the same, because your bias opinion has declared it to be intellectually stimulating.
Whats more you actually think its a liberal idea to force us to memorize the phone book, when it is obviously communist in nature as we students have no say in the matter.
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16-10-2012, 01:07 PM
RE: Attitudes towards education
How narrow and naie view you have here fiablo

What`s the }purpose} you`re talking about then? Do tell me

Right now (I assume you`re in the US) , your curiculum over there is incredibly small . I mean , i`m pretty sure we here throw a loot more stuff at kids . I mean i`ve looked at manuals , stuff we get kids 14yo to learn here is college only over in US .

"The only purpose of history is that it`s sometimes interresting" ...really? Are you mocking/trolling me now? Distant history is never usefull?

History is knowledge of the past . Remembering the past is perhaps the first and maybe the most relevant intellectual pursuit of man . Without our past we are nothing . Not knowing of our past is tragic . To discard the whole ideea of the past beeing really really important in understanding the present and beeing able to plan for the future...is..i`m at a lack of words . My english skills dont allow me to really say it how i feel it now.

Dont you ever stop to think about what life was about 100 years ago? 1000? What do we have in common with the humans back then? what changed? How did we work our way to where we are now? I mean , how can you claim to want to understand theworld today without understanding it`s past? Or are you saying you dont want to understand the world today? Fair enough , you`re free to chose ignorance

But i strongly believe that no kid that goes into public education should get out of there without thorough knowledge of , at the very least , the last 200 years of human history . Yes , call it "forcing" if you want...but then look around you and tell me how , when the same insanity that plagued this world for thousands of years , the insanity out of witch we crawled out just a few generations ago , the insanity that still echoes today , the insanity that lead to wars of extermination , to hatred of undescribable proportions , to sooo much ennergy and human life spent on pursuits of someone`s hallucinations , the same insanity is threatening to take over again. How can you have an oppinion on insane people like romney or the creationists and homophobes , the mysoginists that are about to take over US (your country?) ., and tell me how history doesnt repeat it`s self

You have a responsability to keep your mind sane , and that means educated . US is tone of the centers of sanity and , allow me to say , light in the world today . Europe , to a degree aswell, but if US falls back into the dark ages of anti-intellectualism and ignorance , the whole fuckin world will follow cheering. If the US gives up on these principles about knowledge , reason , science , it will be because it`s people will , on an individual level . And i`m honestly scared that noone else will stand for those things in this world , where billions and billions of people are full of hate for what the world is and looking with lustfull eyes to the "days of old" , to the "days of tradition , when things were good , when people had gods and honor and rituals"...because noone can be bothered to read any fuckin history and realize we`ve been "here" before , and we`ve allways sank back into that darkness

but now i`m just ranting here
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16-10-2012, 01:33 PM
RE: Attitudes towards education
Look . Growing up , i`ve been sorounded by lots of people who hated America with a passion . I ended up one of them . The fact that America bombed serbia , that beeing just a few hundred kilometers from where i am , had a lot to do with the anti-americanism i grew up in . America bombed our neighbours , our friends , and it got personal too , people around me lost family there in the bombings . So we hated America . Americans were stupid we said , ignorant redneks , we thought ourselves soo much better

We werent ofcourse , but we sure thought that way. A lot of people still do , a LOT . A lot of people here are hatefull and ignorant. I lost a job by slaping my boss when he said he`d wish hitler would return to deal with the jews ruining our economy

Me? Well , this useless thing called history is what saved me . History helped me a lot to understand context , to see the big picture. Without it, i`d probably still be the idiot spewing anti-american garbage over beers with friends.

I`m saying , I dont think anyone can see the "big picture" , or see it as it really is , without history. And seeing the big picture matters a lot. History has changed who I am and has changed my life , no doubt about it. I can not immagine my atheism growing and taking shape without history

Now i`m no historian . I wont throw dates at you , or names . But i think i have a pretty good ideea of the general picture , and i`m working to corect any flaws i may have there
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17-10-2012, 08:50 AM
RE: Attitudes towards education
I used to agree with the notion that learning all of the unnecessary information to my major was pointless. Then I began to realize that while I viewed the physical sciences as more important, not all did. I prefer a science and math heavy curriculum personally, but others simply do not. For those individuals who want to go into business or art or any one of a number of professions, a basic education in the sciences is still something I think they need, and not something they would get if only pursuing classes related to their major. I hate art, but I took a class on film to fulfill that requirement and learned something about how to look at films differently. I walked away with a new appreciation for it, and that is the point of taking some sort of art class. History provides a context by which to understand what is happening today. Sure, some of it might seem irrelevant, but it has a huge impact on areas that may be unrelated to your future profession. For instance, learning about Rome helped me to understand how much of an impact it adopting a new religion would have on that religion (although some disagree on this forum, but that is because of a warped view that their religion is different than all other religions).

Here is the simple fact about all of the "time waster" classes like art and history, you take them to expand your basal knowledge. You take them because an education means educating yourself in all areas. They provide context for understanding different problems. The greatest discoveries all seem to come from people with different backgrounds than the field they make their ground-breaking discovery in (look at DNA). A different perspective is sometimes necessary.

Taking classes related only to your major is good and can be done in a few years, we call that a masters degree.

Is this place still a shithole run by a dumbass calvinist?
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17-10-2012, 10:42 PM
RE: Attitudes towards education
(16-10-2012 11:31 AM)Diablo Wrote:  We waste too much time educating people in bull shit that isn't important. Then when you get to college, you do the same shit! General education is an utter joke.

***sniped***

With that said even math and science are not perfect. A good example, we spend a lot of time in useless calculation theory, instead of useful interpretation and real world problem solving. Things such as projectile motion, and derivatives and integrals are easy to understand conceptually, but the mathematics are quite complex. So, why initially focus on the complex problem solving when computers can do that for us? Statistics is a great example. In the past Statistics was a graduate level course in mathematics, however, with the introduction of computers, calculators, its been brought all the way down to the High school level of education.

The problem is that we use an education system that was developed in Prussia at the end of the middle ages. You see, the king had a problem. most of his population was apprenticing under skilled craftsman or tradesmen and he was running out of every day run of the mill laborers. Everyone wanted to be a blacksmith or a farrier or something. No one wanted to pick crops. In order to solve this problem, he came up with the idea of formal schooling for everyone which would teach you everything you needed to know except for how to put all the information together.

You see, if you want to build a house you need to know a bit about the materials to build a house, you need to know some geometry, maybe a bit of history so you know how other people have built their houses. You need to know a LOT of different things to design and build a house that's going to stand for a long time and protect you from the weather. So the kings schools will teach you everything you need to know to build a house. Everything that is, except how to build a house.

That is what we do. We teach our students everything they need to know to build a house except how to actually build the house. It guarantees that those who have the aptitude, drive, determination and all that to succeed will have the opportunity to succeed while leaving the king with a steady stream to average guys who never figure out how to put all that information together to become something greater. That steady stream of average Joes can pick the crops and run Taco Bell Drive thru windows.

The most recent stats I could find from a quick google search were from Feb of 2011. the chart at http://mat.usc.edu/u-s-education-versus-...fographic/ shows the US spending more than any other nation on earth at $7743 per student per year on education. Second to the US is the UK spending $5834 per student. you can look at the chart for the rest of the numbers but the interesting thing is that for our investment we are only 3rd in literacy rate. Finland is 1st in literacy and they only spend $5653 per student. The US comes in 10th on that chart for math test scores and 9th for science test scores out of the 12 countries in the comparison. The fact is we spend more per student than anyone else on the planet and we aren't getting our moneys worth out of it. We need a major overhaul of the school system if the US is ever going to become the great nation it use to be.

This is the opening scene from episode 1 of an HBO show called The Newsroom. At 3:15 a student asks the panel what it is that makes America great. One of the people on the panel gets the answer exactly right.



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