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Education-What is the answer?

Discussion in 'Alley of Dangerous Angles' started by Nakia, Feb 3, 2007.

  1. Nakia

    Nakia The night is mine Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    The Topic: USA on the Rest of the World has me thinking about what is wrong with education and what might be done to make it more meaningful.

    We have a lot of people on SP who are in high school/college/university. What would you change about the way you are or were taught?

    My personal thoughts on education:
    I believe that the first four or five years of schooling are the most important. And it is not just a matter of what is taught but how it is taught. Children want to learn, they are curious about the world and will drive adults crazy asking why, how, what, who, when, where. So what happens when they enter school? Why do so many lose interest in the learning process?

    Is teaching a child how to pass a test educating the child? What is education? Whose fault is it if a child doesn't learn? How much responsibility does a school have or what exactly is the school's responsibility? How much influence does a teacher have on a child?

    Each child is unique. Is there any way to make formal education capable of responding to the various needs, talents, intellect of each child?

    Is a strict, regimented curriculum better than a more open, experimental method?

    I think all these questions need to be addressed.
     
  2. Urithrand

    Urithrand Mind turning the light off? ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    I feel people lose interest in learning purely because they are *forced* to learn. I was always curious until someone forced a subject on me, then suddenly the subject was not so interesting. I love to pick up a book if it will further my understanding of a subject, but somehow if it qualifies as "homework" or "study" it loses its shine. This unfortunately does not apply to all students, some of whom do not want to learn at all, and I feel these people will *never* want to learn, but if learning is incorporated into a fun activity or made into a personal interest it holds a much stronger interest in the student.

    Eventually, I feel this is purely down to whether the person is a "learner" or a "doer" but there are ways to teach everyone, and the generic "Speak it, write it, examine it" attitude of schools leaves much to be desired. Individual needs need to be scrutinized, and teachers are often placed under too much pressure to generalise for a group.

    I'm a great believer in one-to-one tuition, but in nation-wide terms this is unrealistic. Grouping into learning styles as opposed to abilities is the way to go IMO :thumb:
     
  3. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    I didn't like to be forced, but forcing is necessary. Forcing is necessary because without forcing - in the broad sense - that is without any non-choosables or non-negotiables - the children just won't grow up into responsible people knowing that some things you just have to do and some things you just have not to do. Certain things are beneficial to learn but no child likes them. Those things need to be forced, for instance. So that's two things.

    However, forcing combined with lack of common sense is baaad. Very. Like having an exceptionally talented child - or just a bookworm that's 0.5 years ahead of the class - do some meaningless repetitive homework won't do anything good.

    Of course, direct physical compulsion is out of question. Direct physical compulsion is only good when you are defending one child from another. That is, when you have to deal with aggression. Otherwise, not really. And I only mean it as in stopping a child forcibly from beating another. Tearing the attacker off them victim etc. Even restraining should be allowed in some cases.

    I'm not a fan of grounding or having to sit for several hours in the headmaster's office and the like. Shouldn't look too much like prison. Cooldown is fine, but above it, it just looks awfully close to unlawful imprisonment.

    Next, aggression needs to be curtailed and also shown as something negative. There should be no tolerance for powerplays by bullies, either. No tacit approval of hierarchies based on the brawl. Or even on exploitation of the less smart by the smarter. Basically, no exploitation, no aggression etc. I believe police should be called in cases of extreme aggression or theft or sexual molestation or something like that. Teachers on their own come up with ideas like strip-searching a whole class of teenagers (good if separately) for some ten bucks reported stolen. Not like cops don't do that, but there should be special cops, well-trained, for that purpose.

    Speaking of, the system as of now doesn't really appreciate the dignity of the student. A teacher deserves respect for his position, but not for his very person until it's earned. There should never be any notion that a teacher or even just an adult person is somehow better, innately more respectable than a student, a child. Basically, I believe the material truth should be paramount in case of any conflict and transgressing against students by teachers shouldn't be waved away if the same level of transgression by students is punished harshly. Or if it happens between students. It's worse when you disrespect your teachers, but it's not good when you disrespect your peers, either.

    As I hear news about teachers, it's either that they can't do anything or they get sued or sacked, or that they can do everything and anything they want at impunity. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but I just believe there's way too much leeway in being unfair, breaking promises, favouring some students over others, and the like. In turn, there's little leeway, too little, in punishing the real wrongdoers. This should change.

    However, for this to change, qualified teachers must be employed. No more unstable women running into hysterical fits whenever they hear a whisper in class, no more testosterone-laden guys who will punch students in the faces and the like. Humiliating students should be a grave offence for a teacher and should incur serious consequences. Mobbing is done not only by aggressive peers.

    What else? Better pay for teachers. More motivation. More protection - even though I still say more accountability. It's like with the uniform - you're given the protection of the state, but higher standards are expected of you than of the ordinary students. This should be the same with teachers.

    Next, no politics. No crappy force-laicisation actions, no forcing kids to attend religious services they neither want nor understand, nothing like that. No pro-gay actions. No pro-contraception-awareness-whatever among 13 year olds. No diversity trainings. No affirmative actions. No background points.

    As for the talented kids, getting back to them, they should always be given opportunities. Raising the requirements for the same grades is not the answer. :rolleyes: I'm not sure overachiever classes are that great for equality (though this could be fixed by teaching overachievers that they are same people as others in the meaning that they aren't their "betters", while they also have special obligations coming from their knowledge and talent), but leaving them in the same class may hamper them or otherwise do damage beyond what taking them out of the class could do.

    Another thing I didn't like in my school was the ever liked and always or almost always forced pairing. I didn't want to hold a boy's hand while walking no matter how cute it seemed to teachers or how it was in the pictures from years ago. I didn't want to be paired with random girls because I had the idea that I had to choose girls on my own for me. ;) Seating girls in boys' laps for transport purposes (crammed cars or busses and the like) is not a good idea, either, IMHO. It's not bad per se, but it's a bit egalitarian. Not sure that's bad per se, but not everyone likes that kind of fraternisation and sitting in someone's lap is something which if not fraternal, or somehow romantically legitimate (yep, I know how this sounds - I just mean expressing some feeling, some bond that really exists), starts looking sexual or at least somehow licentious. Let teachers better stay off that. Unless there's some coercion to be stopped or some irresponsible behaviour - to be stopped.

    Where are we arriving? Perhaps maybe at the idea that without proper cooperation between teachers and parents, with the support of the state, one pretty much can't do it right. So yeah, we need that cooperation.

    Oh, one more thing. Religious tolerance. Or respect for religion. Whatever. There was that mass at school, in the nearby church. An official school-related event. The teacher told us to leave early to arrive in class in time. Got an absence note. Or was it belated arrival. Whatever. Teachers should never force students to choose between them and their (students') religion, ever.
     
  4. Old One

    Old One The Old Warrior ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    When I was in the lower grades the teachers I remember are the ones who took the time to come over and try to suggest ways to do things and show me how to do what I was trying to do.

    I think the how is very important and will better allow content to be learned. I can remember from 50 years ago my first teacher laughing when she found out I could read but not spell anything. She told me she would help and did. I still can't spell worth a darn but she made me try and most important, want to. Children respond to attention and someone who shows interest. This to me is the key to letting and helping a child learn. Keep feeding them new things and be interested in what you are teaching and what they think. The "how" a person is taught early in class is very important.

    Teach the basics first and try to make success something to be proud of, and please, never let a child think you look down on what they can do. Encouragement and learning to read well help with any subject later. Keep standardized test that "fit all" out. No two children are the same. A great current interest in math would mean a high score right then and a lesser current following of history, well, the score would be lower...right then. Does that mean the child is deficient in history? No. Kids interest changes all the time and a good teacher notices and offers guidance while it last.

    ps. Well said Chevalier.
     
  5. Register Gems: 29/31
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    In short; the children shall learn whatever is taught, not just what is on the tests. However, in the school system the US employ these days, the tests are everything. That is not good. Not. Good.
     
  6. Old One

    Old One The Old Warrior ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    @Register, Correct. Not Good
     
  7. Sir Fink Gems: 13/31
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    Part of it is the culture the child is raised in, both in terms of their home nation and the upbringing they get from their parents. If learning is encouraged and intelligence and wisdom valued, that's a good foundation. Too many cultures and families push materialism and hedonism on their children or some ignorant religious doctrine.

    Second, you can't put all the blame on teachers and schools or even the parents. At some point a child has to muster up their own desire to learn and pursue knowledge on their own. How many children these days have 300 TV channels to watch and the Internet to surf? There's a wealth of knowledge out there that they won't get in text books or in the limited number of hours they're in school.

    I once spoke with a high school senior who was a straight-A student but had no idea what Watergate was. Her excuse was they never got that far in History class. They didn't teach me about Watergate in school either but I knew what it was. Several Hollywood movies have been made about it and there are plenty of books written about it. Even the odd newspaper or magazine article touches upon it. It's just no excuse to say "well, they never taught me that in school."
     
  8. Morgoroth

    Morgoroth Just because I happen to have tentacles, it doesn'

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    I really don't understand what's so wrong with tests? How else do you suppose the performance of kids should be evaluated? I can agree that on earlier grades it might not be that important but later tests are really the only reasonable way to rate performance.
     
  9. BlckDeth Gems: 7/31
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  10. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    @Old One: Thank you. :)

    @Morgoroth: Tests aren't always professionally made, there's no such thing as perfect consistency between various tests' scoring methods even in the same course, with the same teacher. Sometimes it's easier, sometimes it's difficult. Also tests only check a certain fraction of the whole knowledge to be possessed. The probability is low, but it's perfectly possible to ask just for what the student didn't know, while he knew all the rest. Sure, fair tests are good, and thoughtfully made ones. But crappy tests are a disaster.

    @BlckDeth: How about 400 USD monthly?
     
  11. The Magister Gems: 26/31
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    I'm with you all on the whole "forced learning" subject, and the tests, but what about bad teachers?

    For example, I had a math teacher last year who knew exactly what he was talking about in everything Mathematical, but had a voice that would send even the most alert student to sleep.

    I ask you, what do you do about that?
     
  12. Gnarfflinger

    Gnarfflinger Wiseguy in Training

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    I wonder if a more flexible system should be in place for children of varying abilities. This would allow for the identification of problem areas, while not slowing down the more exceptional among the class. If a student has a better grasp of one topic, they should be able to advance faster in that area and free up more time for the areas where they struggle. Sure certain minimums need to be maintained, but you can give more advanced content for those that are ready.

    This may require more educators, and the learning would be mroe self directed, meaning less lecturing. The problem is that I don't know if children would actually follow the system though...
     
  13. Nakia

    Nakia The night is mine Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    Gnarfflinger, having worked in a system that did just what you describe I guarantee you that children thrive under such a system. And I am talking about children that had problems with the traditional form of teaching where everyone does the same thing.

    You are correct in that it takes more educators, especially in the lower grades where children will need help and direction. Until we, the parents and taxpayers, realize that our most important resource is teachers I doubt it will be implemented.
     
  14. Old One

    Old One The Old Warrior ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    Magister, you are giving the perfect example of an intelligent, knowledgeable, bad teacher. Unless he finds his own excitement and interest in what also in whom he is teaching how can he expect students to wake up and want to know more. He could and may be a good person however he could also be a disaster as a teacher. These people need to start teaching something new or be replaced by a person who can be a teacher not just a boring instructor.
     
  15. BlckDeth Gems: 7/31
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  16. Bahir the Red Gems: 18/31
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    $400 dollars a months? That's insanely low! How can a person in a western country be expected to live off of that? Teaching is an investment for the future; you'd think it would be a little more appreciated...
     
  17. Aikanaro Gems: 31/31
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    The current mainstream education system is pretty damn terrible, imo.

    There's a pretty strong meme in far left political forums that goes along the lines of; 'the current educational system exists purely to produce conformist consumers'. I'm not sure if this is the case - or at least if it is intentionally the case - but I'm pretty sure that there's an element of truth there at least.

    Rote learning of things that no sane person gives two ****s about is not a good way to encourage an interest in learning. Learning starts to become synonymous with 'hard, boring work' - and who wants to inflict that on themselves?

    The selection of subjects is also far too narrow and that you're required to attend all of them means that it's pretty much guaranteed that you're going to end up forced to learn something that is of no interest to you. There needs to be a more diverse range of things to learn and no compulsion to learn it for learning to be enjoyable.

    Let's face it - nothing that you learn past primary school is actually necessary to becoming an at least marginally useful person in society. Thus it doesn't really matter whether students choose not to use their time to learn - it's not like they would be learning in a normal school either - they'd just be attacked for their disinterest (leading to even less interest?).

    The only reason people apply themselves in school is because they want to. They'll do this because they're either interested or they think that it will benefit them in some way. Clearly these people would have no problem with a less oppressive atmosphere in school where 'work' wasn't shoved down their throats.

    (I fear that this is turning into a disorganised rant ... oh well...)

    Another thing that pisses me off about the current system is the whole idea that you must be in competition with everyone else. I don't *want* to be in competition with anyone else. I want to be judged on my own merits and by how well I do in my own subjects of interest, not in how well I do against my peers in subjects that I just don't care about.

    School is like an MMORPG - a mind numbing level grind. Instead of showing off your badarse sword of doom or your level 96 ranger you show off your test results, gained by slugging through lesson after lesson of dullness. Something seriously needs to be done about this.

    Possibly finally: I really hate the hierarchy that schools are arranged in (should be no surprise...). This basically goes: Principal -> teachers -> student leaders -> students, where students have absolutely no say and the principal is the dictator.

    I fail to see why democracy can't be applied to schools. It would certainly break students out of the apathy that they have about school affairs if they actually had some say in them. At my school there was a student-leader committee called the 'School Spirit' committee, whose goal was to make the students all patriotic about their school and the 'house' divisions - but honestly - how can anyone be inspired to care about something that they've never had the chance to meaningfully contribute to?

    So my solutions are: Student-led learning, where they decide what and when they learn, with teachers there to offer assistance, explanations, and guidance. Competition is eliminated by not testing students, or by testing them in such a way that the results can't be applied as a measure of how 'good' they are overall. Decisions in the school would be made in a democratic fashion - and none of this representative democracy bull****. A school is a small enough environment that direct democracy can be used easily enough.

    And that is my rant, as someone who has just left high school. I'm sure I could go on longer, but I'm not sure if you can take any more bitterness from me :p I leave you with some links:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_school
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summerhill_School
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unschooling
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudbury_model
     
  18. Argohir Gems: 10/31
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    Our educational system is very unbalanced. I can say here in Turkey, education is just theoretical. We have one of the most difficult theoretical educations. I think some things that are taught in high school in some other countries are taught in primary school here. But you did nothing experimental. You can go to university without entering a laboratory once.
     
  19. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I would get around 2500$ a month if I got a full time teaching job matching my education and I think that is a bit low but not horrible, this is before taxes though.

    As for education it all boils down to making the children/youths *want* to learn. Sounds simplistic and it is in theory but how to get your pupils want to learn is a whole other issue and each teacher will have to find his own way and each pupil need to be approached in its special way. If you have to resort to pure discipline and force you have already failed.
     
  20. Register Gems: 29/31
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    Exactly. My fiance, god bless her soul, got the equalient of A in math but she doesn't know how to multiply correctly. She is not stupid, she merely hates math(who can blame her?) and learned only what you need to learn at tests.

    That's the problem. Everyone sees education only as something to test and rate, rather than something to be taught. I'm not saying that we should completely abolish tests, but rather downgrade them and put the emphasis more on other parts of the education.

    **** yes. I failed in most of my courses in High Schools, flunking it entirely, and that was mostly because I excelled in some subjects(History, Philosophy, Religion, Social Science, and related subjects) but because I could not end them prematurely I was dulled with them, being forced to do trivial tasks I could've used for learning other subjects such as Math, Chemistry, Biology, and related subjects that I have a really hard time learning. Instead, I become bored and I ended up having an average attendence of 35% over my entire High School years, giving me about 75% of the courses which I failed, many that I can safely say I was very learned in both before and after.
     
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