Educated idiots
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27-11-2011, 10:07 AM (This post was last modified: 27-11-2011 10:30 AM by Peterkin.)
RE: Educated idiots
Karl,
I'm big on games and sports for the very young, partly because those are easy and pleasant ways to learn physical skills, co-ordination, co-operation and the concepts of rules and internal logic; partly because our children are becoming morbidly obese and lethargic.
But i don't like the organization of leagues, the uniforms, corporate sponsorship, the early morning hockey practice, travel, professional coaching, pressure to win, and all the expensive rigamarole that goes with the kind of sport programs we offer now. For a start, this kind of over-formalization excludes the underprivileged kids who most need sport in their lives. There was nothing wrong with the old-fashioned pickup games of soccer, hockey and baseball we used to have in every Toronto park when i was a kid. We just need to make the parks safe again, and maybe provide some (non-invasive) adult supervision to prevent injury, bullying and so forth. One principle we had that seems to have gone extinct was inclusion: Yes, dammit, like it or not, you have to let the little brothers play, too... and the fat kid, and the new kid and the slow kid. On the other hand, score-keeping was lackadaisical - if any.

As to choosing subjects early, i'm not so sure children do know what interests them by 10 or 12. They haven't been introduced to a fraction of the subjects that might interest them. Aptitudes and outlook, as well as influences, change many times between 6 and 18. So they must not be allowed to avoid trying things that perhaps frightens them or that they don't understand right away. Expose them to everything (gently) and make sure they at least attempt mastering as many subjects and skill-sets as possible, before choosing a life path.

The two worst things we do now, i think are
1.Isolating young people by strict age categories (chronology isn't at all the same as readiness level, or maturity or competence) and then failing to regulate that environment; creating an artificial Lord of the Flies island, where the adults stand back and allow peer pressure to rule the students' lives, social cliques to set the standard of appearance and behaviour, popularity, rather than accomplishment, determine status... letting the inmates run the prison.
2. Setting up role models and heroes who are not serious adults, but overgrown children themselves. People who play (sports, music, movies.... on-line poker!? the stock market?!) for a living - and are vastly overcompensated for playing. Or, increasingly, cartoon, video-game and imaginary people - who also don't work or have social responsibilities.

The reason for all this, imo, is that we don't think much about what kind of world we hope to create and thus fit our children for; we think only about the present world as it is - and it is a world controlled by and for money, not people.
An educational system serves the needs of a society; reflects the actual, rather than the stated, values of that society. In order to improve education - and our children's lives - we have to examine the values of our society.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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27-11-2011, 02:07 PM
RE: Educated idiots
Regarding sport it was primarily the financial drain on schools that I get frustrated with, the library is lacking, science labs & shop classes are theory only and the computers run on coal.
But the new gym looks great!
You can just see it over the teacher’s picket lines…

The informal game of rugby or cricket I enjoyed and I’ll still boot a soccer ball around if I get the chance.

The obesity problem is driven by paranoia; it’s dangerous out there… Just watch TV and I’ll make you a snack.
Cycling to school and you’ll get run over, and if you walk you’ll get taken so I’ll drive you.
So how do we make the parks and streets safe for our kids?
Higher police presence might be good, but at the detriment to what other department?

As for the bullying and caustic cliques I wouldn’t even know where to start to curb or better yet totally eliminate this destructive behaviour.

Age vs. readiness is something that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
The “no child left behind” is a wonderful idea that has been poorly executed and has led to the lowest common denominator setting the grade.
Why not do everything in units?
Good at math and you’ll progress as fast as you are able to and be constantly challenged.
Need help with English and you will only progress as fast as you are able to, and the help that you need can be provided as it will become obvious early on that you require it.

Re thinking and you’re quite right on my “by the age of twelve and you’ll know” comment.
The lack of exposure to other paths would be very detrimental.

Role models; why would you want to be a nurse and help people for such little money and a student debt when you can be the next realty(?) TV star?
No talent or higher brain function required.

A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. Friedrich Nietzsche
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27-11-2011, 02:51 PM
 
RE: Educated idiots
Another aspect of education is its relevance to real life. I have two examples from my own education history that stand out in this regard.

A very deep cave on the hill near my home fascinated us kids when I was sixteen. The cave went vertically down; impossible to climb into, and the kids in the neighbourhood made wild guesses about its depth. I put an end to the guessing game, days after we learned the Newtonian equations of gravitational free-fall. All I had to do was drop a stone and count the seconds until it landed. I was much admired by my classmates. Naturally, that success made a deep impression on me.

A couple of years later, I wanted to go on a hiking trip with two friends, and we needed a tent. My father had a huge old army tent, badly damaged by mildew. Still large parts of it were in good condition, so we decided to make a new tent from the sound fabric.

I used fairly complicated trigonometry to calculate the maximum size of the tent we could make from the available material, providing a large enough floor-space for three to sleep on and sufficient height for getting in and out. When we started cutting, we weren’t sure whether it would work. After all, it was only math! It worked! We made a beautiful new tent out of an old wreck. After that, I was sold on science.

If only teachers did this on a regular basis, making students aware of how the material they are required to learn is relevant to their lives, they would be a lot more motivated.
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27-11-2011, 04:44 PM (This post was last modified: 27-11-2011 04:48 PM by Peterkin.)
RE: Educated idiots
(27-11-2011 02:07 PM)Karl Wrote:  The obesity problem is driven by paranoia; it’s dangerous out there… Just watch TV and I’ll make you a snack.

Certainly part of the problem. Terrible manufactured food is another, and so is the preoccupation of parents with making a living, so that they have too little spare time; also the lack of extended family and neighbourhood involvement.

Quote:So how do we make the parks and streets safe for our kids?
Higher police presence might be good, but at the detriment to what other department?

More police is definitely not the answer! In the US, they already have a police presence in the schools - and call the cops on a misbehaving 8-year-old, ferchrissake! Because there are some abusers, all parents and teachers are now forbidden - or just frightened - to discipline children. So nobody does. So they run amok. And it doesn't make them happy or secure.
I think, more parental and generally concerned adult presence. We need to take possession of --- occupy? ---- our own neighbourhoods; public spaces, public buildings and all. It's not as if everyone in North America were employed full time: here is plenty of available human-power. We need a little more courage and a lot more involvement.

Nothing will improve - nothing will be solved - as long as we think inside the same old box and do things the same old way and accept the same old conditions and value system. We need different priorities and a very different power-structure.

Quote: As for the bullying and caustic cliques I wouldn’t even know where to start to curb or better yet totally eliminate this destructive behaviour.

From where we are right now, it's a difficult problem to solve. More teacher power and effectiveness might be a way to go. Student court, arbitration and conflict resolution appears to work for some schools.
Once you remove the pubescent menace, it becomes easier, and when you have a generation coming back into the schoolrooms that was trained right, the problem no longer exists. The transition is bumpy, but exciting, because it means experimenting with different forms of school governance.

I would suggest breaking the elementary school populations down to much smaller units, for a start. Keep children closer to home, in groups of playmates and siblings. There is far less likelihood of social conflict among kids who already know one another - and one another's parents and big brothers. Something a bit like the one-room country schools used to be, only with a much wider range of instruction. For example, a science or history teacher might have a circuit of five schools to visit for one morning or afternoon a week, and hir students might range from six- to 12-year-olds. Guest speakers and field-trips, of course.
I don't see the latest equipment being of great importance at this stage: allocate resources to adult involvement, rather than architecture and machinery.
Oh, and stop busing the children out of rural villages and small towns!

Quote:Why not do everything in units?
Good at math and you’ll progress as fast as you are able to and be constantly challenged.
Need help with English and you will only progress as fast as you are able to, and the help that you need can be provided as it will become obvious early on that you require it.

Yesss!

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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28-11-2011, 03:41 PM
 
RE: Educated idiots
I don't know about you, but I hate multiple choice tests.

What a cop-out for teachers!

When I was at school, from elementary, all the way to University, we had to stand up in front of the whole class and answer questions verbally, deliver a speech on subjects other than science and solve problems on the black board in math and science, while the class was watching our struggle.

We learnt to talk, we learnt to stand up in front of an audience and tell them what we knew and defend our knowledge if necessary.

When I was teaching at college, I never gave my students multiple-choice tests, which means that I was up till 1-2AM every night marking papers, making notes on test papers, explaining what the student missed or misunderstood, giving advice.

That is why I eventually left teaching -- too many students, too many classes, not enough time. Still, I miss teaching terribly, even today.
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28-11-2011, 05:29 PM
RE: Educated idiots
I have often thought about becoming a teacher, get into some shop class and run it like a true workshop.
I didn’t like or do well at school, but I could see the problems I had but could get no help when I sought it.
Unless you include dropping me back across the board in all subjects because I struggled with one “help”.
Didn’t feel like it, or actually help me ether.

But that is one of the reasons why I would like to teach, to help those who often opt for the shop classes to escape the academia as well as learn something they have an interest in.
If you find something like maths hard it may be an application of it that can give a new perspective to aid in understanding.
Do the standard area of a cylinder calculation on paper, dull eh?
Now do it with a piston and use the crank stroke as the length.
Multiply by the amount of cylinders your engine has and you have the displacement or CCs if you wish.
Maths, so important.

And I have always liked to teach people things as I often gain a better understanding of it myself.
And I like to see the light go on.

The big thing that worries me is the fact that I’m male.
Just so many horror stories…
But I shouldn’t let that stop me.

And the money is rubbish, but if I didn’t have a mortgage I’d be happy with it.
I’d want a few more years formal training first too. But I’d like that regardless.

Those who can do
Those who can’t teach
And those who can’t do ether critique.

A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. Friedrich Nietzsche
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28-11-2011, 08:02 PM
RE: Educated idiots
Karl, there may be a way into teaching that you can try right away, if only to discover whether it's something you want to put that much effort and sacrifice into.
Look around for night courses for adults, tutoring through service clubs, or after-school programs in community centers. I don't know what the funding situation is where you live (Crappy, yes?) but there are always openings for volunteers.

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28-11-2011, 09:50 PM
RE: Educated idiots
I would like to but would be unable to commit to any set times.
I’m a shift worker, 12 hour shifts, 8-8 (ether am or pm) and no true set roster.
But it’s a job I enjoy.

I used to do mixed martial arts and often took the class when the instructor couldn’t make it.
It was something I looked forward to, being constantly kicked in the nuts by enthusiastic twelve year olds I could have done without though!
But I then damaged my knee (again) and had to give it a miss for awhile under medical advice.
And that time has stretched out…

I would imagine you would be right on the funding situation, no one wants to pay but everyone has their hand out!

I once taught my then 9 year old daughter (turns 20 in a month) how to weld one day so she could make an insect for a school project!
I was so proud! I still have the bug!

Enough of the thread jack!
Back to the problem at hand…

A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything. Friedrich Nietzsche
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30-11-2011, 04:38 PM
RE: Educated idiots
(25-11-2011 10:35 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  - Between 12 and 16, classroom time is largely wasted. Adolescents can't concentrate well on academic subjects. During those years, they should be out on practical projects: build things, repair stuff, grow vegetables, drive vehicles, milk cows, cook, sew, dig, paint, scrub, weld, hammer... do real work under the tutelage of adults who know how to use tools and draw plans. In their spare time, they can learn music and art, read, dance, play sports and moon over the opposite sex. But, for heaven's sake, don't give them so much leisure to agonize over what they think of one another. Keep them busy and get them physically tired - while growing strong, independent, competent and confident.
(In these projects, they will see exactly what math is good for, and why clear, precise communication is important: they will appreciate the role of theory; why you need to understand how things work.)

Wait, surely you are not suggesting that the students stop participating in any type of academics for four years?

You would have Juniors in High school with reading/writing/math/science skills of a 6th grader, heck probably less after they spend four years forgetting everything they learned.

I think it would be a much better idea to just remove a lot of the worthless curriculum from schools. Do we really need to know cursive? Or who Edgar Allan Poe was? Or the history of the state of Virginia? Do we need an English and History class every single year?

I actually learned more about English in French and Latin class than English after I got in High school. And the old cliche about history repeating is just that, a worthless cliche. A debate and/or philosophy class would be infinitely more valuable and useful.

Starting at High school students should narrow their focus on the curriculum they wish they pursue, rather than being forced into a ton of general study courses. Once at the college/university level there should be absolutely 0 general studies.
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30-11-2011, 04:45 PM
RE: Educated idiots
I agree with mysticbirds last post almost fully. The only difference being that I think some generality at the collegiate level is still good. But certainly not to the degree that it currently is in the US (Why the hell do I have to take a social science if I am a physical science major and even worse, why do I have to take a worthless art class?).

Zatamon
What did you teach? It is most unfortunate that you gave up teaching.

As for the multiple choice tests, I feel that in some classes (very large ones) they are the only realistic way of testing the students. But they should not be bullshit and they should not try to trick the students. Small classes where assignments and discussions determine grades is much better by far.

“Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.”
—Thomas Henry Huxley
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