Author Topic: Imagine if schools...  (Read 616 times)

Dennis Chekalov

Imagine if schools...
« on: March 15, 2019, 02:26:47 PM »
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2019, 01:32:36 AM »
As a theory, that sounds good, but it's an oversimplification in real life.

The rationale behind exposing kids to a wide range of things is that when they are young, their interests often shift. When I was young, I wanted to be a doctor.  However, that interest didn't last. What would have happened if my education had been focused on entirely on that goal, deemphasizing or omitting anything not related?

A lot of kids change direction in high school or even later.

In other words, a lot of kids are talented in different areas and could go in a variety of directions. There's no easy way to identify in advance where their true passion lies. And talents aren't static, either. Some people may not be good at a particular thing until they reach a certain stage of development, at which point they are. When I was really young, I was very shy and didn't talk much. More that, someone might have determined that a profession involving less verbal interaction. However, my ability to communicate verbally grew as I got older. When I was in high school, I was a competitive speaking champ, and my two possible career choices were law and teaching. (I ended up in teaching, where I did very well, if I do say so myself.) No one looking at elementary school me would have ever predicted any of that and would doubtless have tried to focus my education in a different direction.

It's easy to make general statements about education. It's a lot harder to turn them into policies that actually work.


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dgcasey

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Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2019, 02:45:56 PM »
As a theory, that sounds good, but it's an oversimplification in real life.

It may sound like an oversimplification, but getting everyone on the same track with the basics is a no-brainer. Yes, a kid might be more talented in the arts and it would make sense to let them explore that, but not at the expense of learning to read or write or do a decent amount of math. Those three skills are skills the EVERYONE should have a basic proficiency in.

Does everyone need to become proficient in trig and calculus? No, not at all unless their future interests require those skills. How about writing at a doctorate level? Again, not necessary, but being able to craft a simple resume should be something almost anyone can do.

I'm beginning to think the problem with today's younger generations is they aren't learning the basics and the teachers aren't bothering to teach them. This makes it so much easier to mislead them. They begin to believe everything their profs tell them at school and we're seeing the effects of that every day.
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LMareeApps

Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2019, 03:19:48 PM »
Not sure what school's like where the person who wrote that is, but my kids have always been encouraged to explore and develop their passions and talents through their schooling - sport, music, art, drama, technology, environment/sustainability, creative writing, chess - are all activities offered to the kids. I've probably forgotten quite a few too.

In addition, as parents and carers, we're in charge of our children's extra-curricular activities where their talents and passions can be further nurtured. 

Schools are designed to cater for the masses, but they generally also provide opportunities for individual growth. They're not there to dictate direction for our lives, but rather to provide a foundation for the individual to build on once they choose their direction (whether that be while at school, or decades later).

I suspect what the person who wrote that comment lacked was not an education, but rather the passion or interests to pursue, or the support and guidance from parents/carers to pursue them in order to find their direction.

 
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Lysmata Debelius

Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2019, 03:28:02 PM »
It's not that the teachers are not "bothering" to teach them. Teachers are struggling to fit any kind of teaching around the mountain of admin and paperwork they have to do, and most that precious teaching time they have left is consumed by having to prepare their students for standardised testing. All of this to generate good looking numbers that the school authorities and politicians can use to prove how much they value education.



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idontknowyet

Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2019, 03:49:44 PM »
look up montessori schools. They aren't perfect but they are trying.
 

PJ Post

Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2019, 01:22:19 AM »
Imagine a society without social stigmas; a society where everyone is valued equally for their contribution regardless of the type of job they perform, or their gender or race or intelligence or disability. Imagine schools that allow children to learn and explore and flourish in many disciplines, to pursue their own happiness sans the social indoctrination of servitude, consumerism and class expectation. Imagine all of this within an adequately funded and egalitarian educational system. Imagine a graduating class full of confidence and self-reliance, a class of individuals with the common goal of following their heartís desire while simultaneously contributing, both large and small, to the betterment of our society and the lives it comprises.
 
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Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2019, 01:46:16 AM »
I'm beginning to think the problem with today's younger generations is they aren't learning the basics and the teachers aren't bothering to teach them. This makes it so much easier to mislead them. They begin to believe everything their profs tell them at school and we're seeing the effects of that every day.
Teachers are human, so occasionally they do make mistakes. However, it's a mistake to look at problems in the educational system and think that they are invariably caused by teachers.

Speaking from the experience of thirty-six years in the classroom, there are a lot of obstacles to instructional improvement. Teachers not bothering to do their jobs happens, but very seldom, and the effect is far less than that of other problems.

One of the biggest problems is that education has become a political football. Have you ever noticed how incumbents praise education or at least say it's improving, while challengers tend to attack it. Many of the quality assessments are politically, not educationally, motivated. And a lot of the data that's interpreted and misinterpreted isn't good data in the first place. Though some standardized tests in recent years have been somewhat better, the tendency in testing has been to assume that one can tell everything from objective test questions. That's a good mechanism for measuring factual knowledge but not a good one for measuring skills like analytical writing. The result is only a partial picture at best.

However, that isn't even the worst problem with assessment. Typically all these tests that are high stakes for the school are zero stakes for the student, at least in a lot of places (like California). In other words, students have absolutely no incentive to perform their best. State testing results for individual students don't get reported to colleges (California forbids posting them on transcripts), aren't part of the grade in any class, and just generally don't provide any tangible reward for students. Sure, there are some students will still do their best because that's the way they're wired. Struggling students will tend to score lower. Those two groups are scoring more or less accurately, at least for the elements the test can accurately measure. However, together they are a minority of students. The rest rocket through the test as fast as they can and let the chips fall where they may. For instance, I've seen students in Advanced Placement classes get a good grade in the class, score high on the AP exam (which theoretically measures readiness for college-level work), score well on the SAT, and bomb on state testing. What made the difference? Motivation. The students cared about the grades, the AP scores, the SAT scores, but not the state test scores. It it's those state test scores that are sometimes the only measure of school success. When schools have experimented with incentives, they've found that test scores rose substantially. Unfortunately, the system doesn't make it easy to incentivize test results.

Data-driven decision-making is a good idea--except when the most readily available data is garbage, and that's shamelessly manipulated for political purposes.

Aside from measuring student progress poorly, schools suffer from lack of funding (or at least inconsistent funding), systematic exclusion of teachers from decision-making in many places, and rapid administrative rotation (so the administrators often don't have much of a clue about local conditions and tend to make policy based on generic formulas rather than knowledge of the specifics). Do teachers have control over any of these things? No.

Teachers do have control over whether they stay in the profession, and one of our problems now is an enormous teacher shortage. In California, one large district started the school year with substitutes (many with emergency credentials) in 40% of its classrooms. A somewhat smaller and more affluent district started with 25%. Nor is the problem confined to California. So yes, you might now find an increasing number of teachers who are inexperienced and will probably be out of teaching before they get experience. You may also find more burned-out teachers, but that's a consequence of systemic problems, not something inherent to the teaching profession.

 


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Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2019, 01:47:05 AM »
Imagine a society without social stigmas; a society where everyone is valued equally for their contribution regardless of the type of job they perform, or their gender or race or intelligence or disability. Imagine schools that allow children to learn and explore and flourish in many disciplines, to pursue their own happiness sans the social indoctrination of servitude, consumerism and class expectation. Imagine all of this within an adequately funded and egalitarian educational system. Imagine a graduating class full of confidence and self-reliance, a class of individuals with the common goal of following their heartís desire while simultaneously contributing, both large and small, to the betterment of our society and the lives it comprises.
Amen!


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Anarchist

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Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2019, 02:23:55 AM »


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Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2019, 03:30:37 AM »

Speaking of using education as a political football...


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Rinelle

Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2019, 04:42:28 PM »
The benefit of homeschooling is that we can do just that!

When she was 3, my daughter wanted to be an astronaut, so we spent months exploring everything space and astronaut related. Then she got scared of heights, and didn't want to go into space, so she wanted to be a palentologist! That was a fun stage. Next it was geology, followed by chemical engineering. The latest is dance! I'm sure there are many others in there I've forgotten! What she will eventually do, I'm still not sure, but when she decides, I'm sure she'll have plenty of skills to learn what she needs to learn. The best thing is, every single option has required some level of reading, writing, and maths, so those never get missed out.

In a classroom though, it's much harder to do. (Yep, teacher here as well.) With the best intentions in the world, you can't follow the interests of 20-30 different kids! (Sudbury schools are perhaps the exception, but there aren't very many schools working on that model unfortunately.) The best you can do is try to make the subjects you do follow as interesting as you can. Some teachers do this better than others.
 

VanessaC

Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2019, 09:10:07 PM »
Using education as a political football is not limited to the US - I'm in the UK and have relatives in teaching who are incredibly frustrated by the constant changing / shifting priorities and the massive amount of admin required.

I have had some bad teachers in my long-ago school days, but this thread made me realise that one of the reasons I remember them is because they were the oddities.  The vast majority of my teachers - across different schools, and in different countries - were at least good, and often excellent.

Personally, I'm all for teaching the basics - everyone who has that capability should be able to read, write, and do simple maths. After that, unfortunately it does vary in different areas about what opportunities students have to try out different things and that can come down to politics, resources, and I'm sure a whole list of other things.

     

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Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2019, 01:42:19 AM »
Using education as a political football is not limited to the US - I'm in the UK and have relatives in teaching who are incredibly frustrated by the constant changing / shifting priorities and the massive amount of admin required.

Modern schooling was invented as a political tool. The 19th-century Prussians wanted to take in curious, creative kids and churn out compliant soldiers and factory workers.

We have a factory model of education in a world where most of the factories have gone and very few kids who come out of those schools will ever set foot in one (except, perhaps, to see all the cool robots that are making stuff without a human in sight).
 
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Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2019, 01:44:33 AM »
Using education as a political football is not limited to the US - I'm in the UK and have relatives in teaching who are incredibly frustrated by the constant changing / shifting priorities and the massive amount of admin required.

I have had some bad teachers in my long-ago school days, but this thread made me realise that one of the reasons I remember them is because they were the oddities.  The vast majority of my teachers - across different schools, and in different countries - were at least good, and often excellent.

Personally, I'm all for teaching the basics - everyone who has that capability should be able to read, write, and do simple maths. After that, unfortunately it does vary in different areas about what opportunities students have to try out different things and that can come down to politics, resources, and I'm sure a whole list of other things.
I too had a very small number of bad teachers, and when I became a teacher, I had a very small number of colleagues who weren't really doing the job. Most of the time, they were excellent.

Not so the system in general, and a large part of the problem stems from the politics. Amazingly enough, what constitutes good education doesn't change every time there's an election, but you'd never know that from looking at education policy in the various states.

My favorite example is the common core standards. They have their flaws, but none that couldn't be fixed with relatively minor adjustments. The ideas behind them (that there are anchor standards that should be focused on throughout the educational system, and that basic education shouldn't differ radically from place to place in our increasingly mobile society) are good ones. Unfortunately, President Obama embraced them. (Despite what one sometimes reads, even from people who should know better, the CC wasn't a federal initiative; it was developed by many state education departments working in concert.) Once Obama embraced them, they became a partisan issue rapidly. Several Republican presidential hopefuls who had initially endorsed the CC attacked it, and thing went downhill from there. Instead of discussing how to fix issues with the standards, we ended up with a straight binary save 'em or junk 'em kind of debate.


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Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2019, 01:52:24 AM »
Using education as a political football is not limited to the US - I'm in the UK and have relatives in teaching who are incredibly frustrated by the constant changing / shifting priorities and the massive amount of admin required.

Modern schooling was invented as a political tool. The 19th-century Prussians wanted to take in curious, creative kids and churn out compliant soldiers and factory workers.

We have a factory model of education in a world where most of the factories have gone and very few kids who come out of those schools will ever set foot in one (except, perhaps, to see all the cool robots that are making stuff without a human in sight).
Actually, historians differ on the extent to which American educators like Horace Mann were influenced by Prussian models, but even if American education started that way, its resemblances to that model are now only superficial at best.

As far as creativity is concerned, the Chinese have been looking at education to see why it is that American students seem to be more creative than those in the Chinese educational system. For instance, before I retired, my school hosted a visiting delegation from Shanghai, and other cultural exchanges were attempted, all with the explicit purpose of figuring out how American schools fostered creativity. Certainly, the Chinese didn't see us as taking in creative people and churning out compliant ones. I also read an essay by a former Chinese professor currently working in an American university who tried to provide support to Chinese students there. She commented that the students educated in China had excellent grasp of facts and principles but were less adroit in applying them to new and unfamiliar situations than their American educated peers.

That's not to say that schools don't sometimes adhere to outmoded philosophies, but it's a mistake to think that, for the most part, they're geared to a factory model.


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Edward M. Grant

Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2019, 02:16:15 AM »
As far as creativity is concerned, the Chinese have been looking at education to see why it is that American students seem to be more creative than those in the Chinese educational system.

China has historically been a 'tall flower gets chopped down' society, where creativity was discouraged. Particularly in the latter half of the 20th century where they would literally be killed for not doing what the Communists told them. Even ignoring the potential damage to the gene pool and merely looking at the social aspects, it's not exactly surprising that few people want to stand out there.

Quote
That's not to say that schools don't sometimes adhere to outmoded philosophies, but it's a mistake to think that, for the most part, they're geared to a factory model.

Yet in the post just above this one, you're talking about how schooling should be standardized across the entire country. That is, quite literally, a factory model; take in a wide range of kids, feed them through the same machine, and produce a standardized product.

And I don't have to spend long on web forums to see that either Putin has a ton of low-quality post-generating bots, or American schools are churning out vast numbers of kids who all spout the same nonsense and run to a safe space whenever someone questions it.
 
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Bill Hiatt

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Re: Imagine if schools...
« Reply #17 on: March 19, 2019, 02:47:10 AM »
As far as creativity is concerned, the Chinese have been looking at education to see why it is that American students seem to be more creative than those in the Chinese educational system.

China has historically been a 'tall flower gets chopped down' society, where creativity was discouraged. Particularly in the latter half of the 20th century where they would literally be killed for not doing what the Communists told them. Even ignoring the potential damage to the gene pool and merely looking at the social aspects, it's not exactly surprising that few people want to stand out there.

Quote
That's not to say that schools don't sometimes adhere to outmoded philosophies, but it's a mistake to think that, for the most part, they're geared to a factory model.

Yet in the post just above this one, you're talking about how schooling should be standardized across the entire country. That is, quite literally, a factory model; take in a wide range of kids, feed them through the same machine, and produce a standardized product.

And I don't have to spend long on web forums to see that either Putin has a ton of low-quality post-generating bots, or American schools are churning out vast numbers of kids who all spout the same nonsense and run to a safe space whenever someone questions it.
I'm not saying schooling should be standardized across the entire country. What I'm advocating is not that different from the "teach the basics" idea that dgcasey and Vanessa have mentioned earlier. Nothing in the Common Core Standards could be construed as wanting all students to become standardized products. But are you arguing against the idea that all students should be literate? That all students should be able to do basic mathematical computations? That all students should be able to write coherently? I'm sure not. Yes, the CC goes further than that, for example by encouraging the development of critical thinking and analytical writing, but do you really disagree that all students should be able to do both? The CC gives schools a lot of latitude in how they teach students to reach those goals.

It's not that the states were ever so far apart that one of them was literally producing students in large numbers who couldn't read or write, but as someone who worked in a district with a lot of student movement (including a lot of new students from out-of-state), I can tell you that the differences were enormous. If a kid's family moves from one state to another, that shouldn't put the kid at an enormous disadvantage, but it often was.

I suppose one could argue that the CC's emphasis on college and career readiness sounds a little like a factory model, and I'd be the first to say that preparat