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#61694 - 11/23/11 06:03 AM the educational system
thedeadidea Offline
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Registered: 08/15/10
Posts: 209
Given the current state of education here in Australia and I have heard some of the U.S. systems. I am curious to see if anyone has any ideas that would remedy the problem... Aside from bulldozing schools and killing children that is.
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#61695 - 11/23/11 07:49 AM Re: the educational system [Re: thedeadidea]
TV is God Moderator Offline
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The opinion of this proud high-school dropout-

There's a big difference between the k-12 public education system and college. Each have different educational, economic, and societal problems. Effective education would set an environment requiring and conducive to personal study. Actual challenges make an intelligent person, not memorization and busywork.

My experience from the bottom up-

I'm not sure how much of elementary education has changed since I was one of those snot-nosed screaming little bastards but it seemed like they didn't really care too much about teaching you anything as much as making sure you played nice. There was the heavy stench of self-esteem and social skills obsession.
There was also this belief that human beings of all ages are supposed to be happy all the time. If at any moment a person was not happy then that was a problem.

"Middle school" wasn't really notable as anything but a slow transition from that to the the highschool method-

Highschool had a very simple formula that I assume is universal and probably age old in the US: Small amounts of memorization (usually about one thing a week) couple with ridiculously massive amounts of repetitive busywork. A typical day of a math class tended to be one formula and then several hundred problems, all identical with different values, where you used the formula the same way over and over. As time progressed the amount of busywork grew steadily while the rate of information remained stagnant. After looking into exactly what the GED was I knew I was wasting my time in highschool (And I would argue that every single highschool student is. The GED is a faster and smarter option for everyone.)

The k-12 system does very little to educate. It's focus clearly seems to be molding productive order-takers. People who shut up, do what they're told at the rate it's given, and put any amount of time or effort to please their authorities.

College on the other hand suffers from the issues of being an economic entity. The problem is colleges are seeing their education as a product. And because of this they have taken many business-smart steps that hinder the education. The fact of the matter is everything you'll learn in college is information already free all over the internet. College, while providing a much better education than k-12, is really just a drawn out certification system. We live in a world that's so driven by easy-numbers and faith in systems that real demonstrable results in your field can't compare to a piece of paper saying you can do those things.

I think it would be best to separate the college education from the method of certification. Certification of skill should be based on nothing but demonstrating your knowledge and ability in your field. Colleges should be in place as structured preparation for that certification.

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#61746 - 11/23/11 11:43 PM Re: the educational system [Re: TV is God]
Octavian Offline
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Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 81
I have worked as a teacher in both private and public high schools in Sydney.

There are some problems, but I think that the media generally likes to create a perception that everything, including education is in a constant state of crisis and emergency in order to sell papers or gain ratings.

My private school experience was enlightening. I worked as a teacher in one of Sydney’s most prestigious private boy’s schools. This school was well financed, well equipped and taught the young male children of the bourgeoisie. These children themselves were generally smart and hard working.

These children were being prepared to take on leadership/managerial roles in our society, hence the level of pressure being applied to them to be moral, assertive, hardworking, indoctrinated with bourgeois vales such as respect for private property, “friendly” competition was quite strong.

These children demonstrated a thorough knowledge of basic literacy and numeracy skills and possessed more or less polished social skills, had little desire for rebellion, and a real personal confidence which I think is consistent with a group of children whose social class enjoys financial security, and being in the leadership caste.

My public school experience was very different. The schools I taught at were under financed and under resourced so people had to make do with less.

I discovered that there were a lot of problems with basic literacy and numeracy skills in these schools, as if the basics in primary school had not been properly taught, or else there were declining moral values in these schools and therefore less of an effort applied by the children, or else the teaching methodology had changed due to the incorporation of more postmodern values in the curriculums and in the approach etc. Maybe it was all of these things.

Reducing everything to social class is not necessarily the best way to go to define individuals but I did find that many of the working class children I taught had limited expectations with regards to their futures. Many children wanted to leave school and didn’t really want to be there. Some, however, had a real desire to forge ahead and they had the talent to back it up as well.

There was a feeling from many of them that there was nothing special about all of this. The cynicism coming off some of these children was quite strong and I assume it was based upon a belief that their place within their society was more or less fixed and so there really wasn’t much point in looking towards something better. Some of them of course weren’t talented enough or hardworking enough and hence had to wear the result.

As a trainee teacher I was taught that engaging with students and getting them deeply interested in the potential importance of learning and knowledge was a key. I still think this is the case, but as always children and adults will rise to their natural place, their natural level, based on hard work, goal oriented behaviour and talent.

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#61753 - 11/24/11 06:37 AM Re: the educational system [Re: Octavian]
thedeadidea Offline
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Registered: 08/15/10
Posts: 209
I think there are a couple of interesting points both of you gents raised.

@ TVisGod Agreed on a few points.

-Education as commodity (college)
-Education as cultural expectation (schooling)

I also like your idea on the method certification being distinct.

@ Octavian
-not reducing the entire thing to socioeconomic
-pointing out the difference of values that socioeconomic factors can create

I think you are bang on in genuinely trying to create interest being one of the only few things a teacher/parent can do.
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Ive been pondering this for a while now as to how one could just magically improve the system and I couldn't find a pixie dust answer but i did find 2-3 things.

With regard to financing I know Australian schools at least in NSW have to purchase things for a hyper inflated price then what they could otherwise just purchase retail. It would seem that if they want to make more money for the schools the easiest way would be just let the schools and faculties buy and tabulate what they need as a public business.

I'd probably go with parents, teachers, student body that were personally invested might help. Particularly in a ways of a communication process and maybe facilitate something toward the ground where a genuine interest of education might be inspired in a few individuals.

But the root of the problem at least from my perspective is this education as commodity and the whole thing being standardized. The acquisition of knowledge itself becomes reminiscent of a sausage factory rather then anything that could be viewed an individually orientated or directed. Removing self effiacy from the question is to more or less kill any concept of enlightenment by extension.

I don't know what the solution is perhaps the lack of luke warm Weltanschauung processed within the comfort of a materialist age breeds placid concern and passion.

It would be more the essence of initiatory expectation as being given by the age in which you live I would recommend.

Age of information = Value in able to accquire, find, interpret information.

just as

Hunter gatherer age = value in skills of hunting and gathering.

or if that is just to much a tyrrany for those that want unwarrented liberty we could get Marxist about it and just go with something like this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQmiYLjjosg

Whatever the case the lack of clear reasoning as to WHY one should be educated needs to be addressed. Simply expecting a child or adolescent to do something because you said so seems like an unwarranted condescension as a whole.



Edited by thedeadidea (11/24/11 06:39 AM)

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#61757 - 11/24/11 07:38 AM Re: the educational system [Re: thedeadidea]
Asmedious Moderator Offline
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I went to public schools in the 70's and 80's. The biggest problem at that time that I was aware of was that the kids who truly wanted to learn and were interested in school work were placed in classes with the asshole idiots who were more interested in being disruptive and acting up, eventually bringing everyone else down with them.

It seems to me that in the U.S more attention and resources are geared towards problematic kids then those who wish to excel. There are more programs available to help the retards of society then to encouraging and helping those who actually have talent, skills and the desire to better themselves.


Edited by Asmedious (11/24/11 07:39 AM)
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#61758 - 11/24/11 08:58 AM Re: the educational system [Re: Asmedious]
thedeadidea Offline
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Registered: 08/15/10
Posts: 209
I wouldn't know Australia has a huge lets pick up the slack for idiots especially if they are indigenous people. But on the other hand scholarships are around the place and there is a fairly decently priced system of University making it as accessible as it is going to be for anyone to try to attend. Same with the tertiary system... Highschools still has a full population but a school organizes it's own system so stratified classrooms sort the wheat from the chaff. With the bottom class effectively being a babysitting and the top being something reminiscent of an educational experience.

Scholarships to fit into this scheme of helping the top as well of course you probably want to be near the top and one or more of the following poor, ethnic minority, religious, handicapped or have a crippled mother to access the full range of scholarship options.


Edited by thedeadidea (11/24/11 09:00 AM)

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#61771 - 11/24/11 06:49 PM Re: the educational system [Re: thedeadidea]
TV is God Moderator Offline
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I can't speak for any country but the US but I know around here the grading system for k-12 schools is not an environment for stratification based on intelligence or talent. It's a measurement of how much busywork you will bow your head and do. (This can be seconded by how many of my classes had a large chunk of the final grade based on a daily 'attendance' grade. That's right, show up and get an A every day.)

All public schools care about is looking good so they can keep funding. The best way to look good is to lower your standards of good.

College may still providing the education service but that doesn't change the fact that it's primary function is to be a pointless but necessary middleman (the best place to be in american society)

We have an education system that simply doesn't care about and almost discourages personal study or interest in anything that isn't part of the big test at the end.

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#61790 - 11/25/11 03:32 AM Re: the educational system [Re: TV is God]
thedeadidea Offline
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Registered: 08/15/10
Posts: 209
I actually got something sent to my inbox that said there was a pluralism and the inclusion movement in Australia. It was interesting.

>mix classes
>make teachers teach mentally handicapped or those with mental disorders
>allow no separation socially

It will be politically incorrect soon to call a spade a spade.

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#61832 - 11/25/11 09:13 PM Re: the educational system [Re: thedeadidea]
Octavian Offline
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Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 81
I appreciate what has been said so far here.

I think there are two basic points of view in public teaching and education, at least as far as my experience suggests.

On the one hand, as a teacher, you want to really grab students by the throat and have them go: "wow "I can really use that," or "wow, that has really impacted me and has changed my world view."

That is a bit of idealism, but sometimes that actually happens in the classroom and when it does teaching is fantastic.

So there's a tendency to try to teach like that and tailor teaching so that happens. So less structure, more idealism, more time spent discussing and gaining knowledge dialectically.

On the other hand, there is a need to determine that certain knowledge and skills have been learnt and understood, and this needs to be measured and needs to be applicable for everybody, so you therefore have rational planning, a curriculum, testing and evaluation and forms of strafication.

The need for rational planning and the need to reach common outcomes, as per guidelines, can and do interfere with the notion of a teaching which inspires.

One type of teaching (which you can't escape) tends to be perceived as a form of indoctrination and control, requiring discipline to make it work; while the other is almost utopian in the way it works. Very difficult to reconcile in the classroom.


Edited by Octavian (11/25/11 09:15 PM)
Edit Reason: Marked

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#61840 - 11/25/11 11:23 PM Re: the educational system [Re: Octavian]
thedeadidea Offline
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Registered: 08/15/10
Posts: 209
Constructivism = Idealistic but often to impractical as a whole to get all content done.

Honestly if I had to say who had it down pact it would be Vygotsky
I think his theory extends beyond the realm of education for children and opens a world of autodidatic education as initiation. But that would be drifting far too far afield....

I think as far as participation in the system beyond Idealism more people like yourself couldn't hurt. I had a brief insight into some of the private discourse of some staff rooms in schools.

Behind those doors are absurdity my friend. If you can still remain an idealist behind there you have the stuff for teaching. I had the stuff for a stand up comedy routine I got 30 dollars for at an open mic night that and a valuable lesson of institution and psychology but it was not for me.

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#62247 - 12/06/11 06:22 AM Re: the educational system [Re: thedeadidea]
Mordred Offline
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Registered: 05/03/10
Posts: 25
I'd like to think I have a somewhat unique view on this issue, at least within the context of American education. For my 9th grade year, I went to a public school, in a town of 8,000 or so people, in the middle of nowhere, Missouri. For my 10th grade year, I went to Baltimore School for the Arts. Then I dropped out. Now, I'm at a state university.

Since Kindergarten, we are told we don't need to know math, or science, or even how to read and write our own language. Rather, we are told multiculturalism is more important. Political correctness is more important. We are told what to think, and not how to think.

At Middleofnowheresville high, my classes were dull at best, but most of the time infuriating and insulting. We would memorize dates, formulas, poetry and other drivel, without any explanation of their context or purpose. The best was our sex ed class, which was centered around the idea of "Second virginity"! Ultimately, it became obvious that much of the hidden curriculum was geared towards creating useful idiots, who would vote for the incumbent.

At BSA, I thought things would be different, and they were. My chosen major (music) took half of my 10 hour school day. My theory class was rigorous, and my private instruction even more so. I learned concertos I thought impossible for my level. In english, we read classics. Physics was actually interesting.

And yet, no one ever asked us what we thought. Only, what we had memorized. And, in doing so, they inadvertently created droves of unthinking voters. Voters who, on their pedestals of self-righteous, multiculturalism, will vote for whoever appeals most to their senses of political correctness, and makes the most appealing promises.

In one school, there is a political agenda clearly pushing for conservatism, and the other liberalism. But both are just as guilty of creating decidedly uncritical thinkers. Syntax is useless if you have nothing to say.

Ultimately, the only possible solution I see is the abolition of teacher unions, and federal funding. Boards of Education should be responsible to their individual constituencies, and not Washington. Yes, politics will still be present, but not to such a ridiculous extent. Board members would be responsible directly to parents, rather than indirectly to lobbyists.
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#70811 - 09/12/12 02:54 PM Re: the educational system [Re: Mordred]
Le Deluge Offline
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Registered: 08/05/12
Posts: 1790
Public schools in the US actually differ in quality. You have differential incomes (and property + parcel taxes) in some districts. Charter schools, magnet schools, schools that cater towards the more adept students. As a general rule though? We definitely have a problem. Our students continue to slip behind other industrial nations in virtually every subject. Critical thinking is not taught in many public schools. They are geared towards rote learning of standardized tests we subject kids to.

My answer? Well hell, I have a 5 year old nephew. He is attending a private school. We will scrutinize it closely. If necessary, we will vet other schools. We are happy to date. School choice would be my answer. It would not render uniform results (it could not by definition) Homeschooling is an option. More local control of schools may be key. I believe we have federalized education to our detriment. No Child Left Behind and its progeny have rendered questionable results.

Seriously though, parents! Teach your kids the love of learning. You will get out of higher education exactly what you put into it. Your true education may well lie elsewhere.
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