Educated idiots
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30-11-2011, 05:24 PM
 
RE: Educated idiots
(30-11-2011 04:45 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  Zatamon
What did you teach? It is most unfortunate that you gave up teaching.

I have taught Math, Physics and Computer Programming on College/University level for years, mostly on the undergraduate level. In Physics I specialized on basic-principle courses rather than specialized graduate-level ones because I am a lot more interested in the Philosophical foundation of science, as opposed to applications.

Quote: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.


The large class-size problem is one reason I left academia -- I had a choice: either I do a substandard job (by my standards) or I work myself into the grave. Neither option appealed.

I still have private students, part time, on a tutoring basis, and I am currently finishing my book on the fundamental principles of Classical Physics and the stories of their discovery.

It is going to be an unusual book because it can be used both as a textbook for college/university students as well as introduction to interested laymen. On one hand, I explain the principles, the story of their discovery and the scientists involved. I go quite deep into the science, way deeper than it is usually discussed in classes. However, to keep it entertaining, I tell a lot of stories, jokes, anecdotes.

On the other hand, after the verbal description is over, I go into detailed mathematical deductions, both of the principles (like the Conservation of Angular Momentum), as well as examples of application (like calculating minimum speed for escape velocity on Earth). I use basic algebra and elementary calculus, after I explain the concept and the method of differentiating and integrating.

Basically, I don’t treat even laymen readers as idiots who could not possibly understand these very simple concepts, if explained properly. I am trying to write the kind of book I would have loved to learn from when I was studying science.
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30-11-2011, 05:28 PM
RE: Educated idiots
(30-11-2011 04:38 PM)mysticjbyrd Wrote:  Wait, surely you are not suggesting that the students stop participating in any type of academics for four years?

No; only that they pursue academic subjects outside the classroom, in an informal, seminar kind of situation, and without exams. They should be able to read whatever they want, and discuss, with expert guidance, whatever they read.
A great deal of what kids are taught in middle school is lost, anyway, because they're too busy texting each other, showing off for the opposite sex, hiding their intelligence in order to gain social favour, and doing other unproductive things. Their concentration is shot to hell and their self-esteem is so fragile that any little setback can turn them off an activity or idea for life.
An awful lot of American high-school students are already below Grade 6 reading level; many are exiting secondary schools functionally illiterate.

Quote:You would have Juniors in High school with reading/writing/math/science skills of a 6th grader
If we did a better job in those first six years, that in itself would be a net gain. And why be stuck with designations like Junior in High School? How about a seventeen-year-old with a particular range of abilities and knowledge?
Quote: heck probably less after they spend four years forgetting everything they learned.
Not forgetting: putting into practice - as they now don't.

Quote:I think it would be a much better idea to just remove a lot of the worthless curriculum from schools.

Worthless to whom? For what? Different people need different skills and information. (Maybe they'll even need to write again when there are no more batteries.) Meanwhile, the practical tasks of survival are not being taught at all.

At this point, we are faced with the question of exactly what education is supposed to, is expected to, and ought to accomplish.
Produce employees? To do that well, we'd have to know what jobs will be available ten or 15 years in the future. So far, our predictions have not been terribly accurate. And nobody likes to admit that there will be fewer and fewer jobs, of any kind, everywhere, but especially in the west.

Quote: Starting at High school students should narrow their focus on the curriculum they wish they pursue,

Most people are not competent to map out their entire life at the age of 14. All they know is what they don't enjoy, so they drop subjects that would later be sorely missed - and never discover many, many subjects of which they are as yet ignorant. Again, it depends on whether you want to educate industrial cogs or high-functioning citizens.
Quote: rather than being forced into a ton of general study courses.
I don't know about a ton, but an introduction to as many as possible would be desirable for a well-rounded individual; life skills for everybody, and definitely history, philosophy, law and civics for anybody expected to become an enfranchised adult in a democracy.
Quote: Once at the college/university level there should be absolutely 0 general studies.
Throw them in the at the deep end of something they've never heard of before, because it wasn't taught in high-school? Okay - i guess if we did a good job up to that point, the students could handle it.

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30-11-2011, 05:52 PM
RE: Educated idiots
(30-11-2011 05:28 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  Okay - i guess if we did a good job up to that point, the students could handle it.

And this is why I firmly agree with Peterkins model. We won't just be teaching kids stuff, we'll be teaching them to handle stuff.

So many cats, so few good recipes.
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05-12-2011, 03:28 PM (This post was last modified: 05-12-2011 04:01 PM by mysticjbyrd.)
RE: Educated idiots
(30-11-2011 05:52 PM)Stark Raving Wrote:  
(30-11-2011 05:28 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  Okay - i guess if we did a good job up to that point, the students could handle it.

And this is why I firmly agree with Peterkins model. We won't just be teaching kids stuff, we'll be teaching them to handle stuff.
Yah its a great plan if we are all to become illiterate Amish, or we plan the graduate from college in our 30's.

There was a vocational school starting at 9th grade, and it worked quite well for people wanted a career as a diesel mechanic, carpenter, block layer, electrician, etc...
(30-11-2011 05:28 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  No; only that they pursue academic subjects outside the classroom, in an informal, seminar kind of situation, and without exams. They should be able to read whatever they want, and discuss, with expert guidance, whatever they read.
A great deal of what kids are taught in middle school is lost, anyway, because they're too busy texting each other, showing off for the opposite sex, hiding their intelligence in order to gain social favour, and doing other unproductive things. Their concentration is shot to hell and their self-esteem is so fragile that any little setback can turn them off an activity or idea for life.
Where are you getting this absolutely ridiculous idea that you cannot learn in a standard classroom setting during puberty?

Quote:An awful lot of American high-school students are already below Grade 6 reading level; many are exiting secondary schools functionally illiterate.


Many is an exaggerating term. And there are always reasons for this that need to be fixed. Simply calling academics off surely is not going to solve the problem...sorry.

Quote:If we did a better job in those first six years, that in itself would be a net gain. And why be stuck with designations like Junior in High School? How about a seventeen-year-old with a particular range of abilities and knowledge?
That's not even an answer to any particular question, rather a cliche answer to every question you don't know the answer to.

Quote:Not forgetting: putting into practice - as they now don't.

I used to work as a carpenter during the summer months of college, and do you know what I learned about the practical uses of math, reading, etc... Not shit! In fact, I learned several tricks that were not only faster that applying mathematical skills, but simply superior.

Quote:Worthless to whom? For what? Different people need different skills and information. (Maybe they'll even need to write again when there are no more batteries.) Meanwhile, the practical tasks of survival are not being taught at all.
That's why you have to look at my proposal as a whole, not in parts. Once you have the fundamentals down, every subject is worthless to everyone except the people of that discipline.

An engineer doesn't need to know the history of the Minoan empire, or the reason that Sigmund Freud was a crackpot.

Quote:At this point, we are faced with the question of exactly what education is supposed to, is expected to, and ought to accomplish.
Produce employees? To do that well, we'd have to know what jobs will be available ten or 15 years in the future. So far, our predictions have not been terribly accurate. And nobody likes to admit that there will be fewer and fewer jobs, of any kind, everywhere, but especially in the west.
True.

Quote:
Most people are not competent to map out their entire life at the age of 14. All they know is what they don't enjoy, so they drop subjects that would later be sorely missed - and never discover many, many subjects of which they are as yet ignorant. Again, it depends on whether you want to educate industrial cogs or high-functioning citizens.
True, that's why I suggest to start to narrow down their focus, not completley eliminate choices. They might not know for sure, but they should have to a general idea of what sort of classes they do not like.

The schools themselves could help narrow down their choices as well. No point in having 1/3 of the class focus on English. They could place people who are uncertain into a more general studies curriculum until they become more certain.

Quote:I don't know about a ton, but an introduction to as many as possible would be desirable for a well-rounded individual; life skills for everybody, and definitely history, philosophy, law and civics for anybody expected to become an enfranchised adult in a democracy.
Yah, the absurd number of general studies we presently undergo sure has worked great for that goal. What is it? 85% of Americans believe in the tooth fairy, and over half believe any Bull shit they hear on TV, while voting completely against their own best interests.

I am not completely against general studies, at least in the earlier years. You are right they are needed. In fact, my idea actually allows quite a large number more general studies to be allowed into the curriculum in place of overlapped useless studies. Philosophy is a good example of a general study that could be useful to just about anyone. However, philosophy was not taught in my high school, instead, I got a 13th dose of English and history!!! From which I learned next to nothing, and absolutely nothing useful to my discipline today.

Quote:
Throw them in the at the deep end of something they've never heard of before, because it wasn't taught in high-school? Okay - i guess if we did a good job up to that point, the students could handle it.
I have never met a single person who has suggested that they found general studies at the university level useful.

At best it might have helped some people who were undecided to pick a major. But the reason these people don't know what they want to do is because we just throw so much at them. They never have to narrow their focus of study, and one day they get to college and they are instructed to pick a major by the first year.
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05-12-2011, 06:04 PM
RE: Educated idiots
Mysticjbyrd, i was unaware that you had a model. It sounded more like tweaking the existing system - mainly by removing subjects you don't consider useful.
If there is a model that is structurally or philosophically different from the one in general use in America today, i missed the basic principle.
Maybe we're just thinking in different shaped boxes.

And wouldn't it be just frickin ironic if the Amish were the only ones equipped to survive in the post-collapse era?

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05-12-2011, 06:37 PM
 
RE: Educated idiots
I have spent many years both being a student in school and teaching in school (high school and college).

A lot of it I now consider wasted time, as far as knowledge I acquired is concerned.

What I got out of my education is the following:

- Become familiar with what kind of knowledge/sports/trade is available out there, should I wish to look into it.

- Learned basic rules of human interaction, both with peers and adults

- Acquired a few basic skills like reading and arithmetic

That’s about it all.

I have learnt a hell of a lot more since I left school, on my own, following my own interests. Even at University I spent most of my time in libraries, researching what interested me and cramming for exams when I had to.

I think making young people spend 12 years in elementary and high school is a horrible waste of time and could be condensed to way less than half. Of course, it is convenient for the parents who wouldn’t know what to do with them if they were not locked in schools. Also, it helps to keep them out of the workforce – convenient to governments who don’t have to think about how to use them constructively.

In the olden days well-to-do parents could hire tutors and educate their children out of the school system, and many of them became incredibly productive adults, at a shockingly younger age, without the straight-jacket education system we have now.

Peterkin is right – tweaking the existing education system is a total waste of time.

We need a brand new approach that is based on intelligent appraisal of both the young person’s and society’s best interest, instead of shoving them into overcrowded classrooms, with very little supervision and guidance, with their raging hormones and confused minds, just to keep them out of our hair as long as possible.
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