Schooling

Interesting:

http://www.wesjones.com/gatto1.htm

Boredom was definitely the overriding memory I have of high school. However, I mostly did my own thing anyway, so it wasn't that big of a deal. Here's a thought related to rabbit's article though - are MMORPGs popular because of our "conditioning"?

article wrote:

One afternoon when I was seven I complained to him of boredom, and he batted me hard on the head. He told me that I was never to use that term in his presence again, that if I was bored it was my fault and no one else's.

That's the part that I agree with most in the article. I hate it when people complain about being bored instead of actually finding somethign to do. I usually just resort to the old, "if you're bored then you're boring".

As for his issues with mass schooling, he's living in a fantasy world. Just think back to when you hear about those surveys in which massive numbers of people get simple things wrong (believing in astrology, dinosaurs and humans living at the same time, number of planets, et cetera). Do you really want these people homeschooling their kids?

His suggestions towards the end hint at the proper way to go about things. While the child is attending school, continue to challenge him at home. One doesn't have to choose homeschooling or public schooling, both can be done.

First off, while I do not believe in Astrology, myself, such a belief is hardly "wrong". It's really a minor faith in and of itself. I'd say anything that predicts the future in some way or another requires faith, not intellectual thought. Knowing how much people can be affected by a full moon, for some people, it may not be that much of a leap of faith to believe that the position of the planets and such has an effect as well...

That said, it sounds like he's not railing entirely against schooling in general, but rather the amount of busywork so many teachers give. I can remember a class where all we did was... Vocabulary, Notes, Quiz, Notes, Test, Next Chapter's Vocabulary, on and on. OCCASIONALLY we had an experiment or two, because what would a physics classroom be without one or two of those?

But, I can't imagine that many teachers not having some interest in their chosen field of study! I'm constantly reading books about history, government, the political process. Last week it was a book about the Freemasons, this week it's a discussion on the energy economy and the looming changes that will occur either peacably or hecticly. Psh, if teachers don't care, kick them out. If they're really in it for "the kids" as they claim, then they won't mind when they're replaced with better teachers.

Sorry, Demos, but I think you'll find that, in teaching along with every other profession, some people view it as "just a job." They're not in it for the kids, just the paycheque. Some teachers are wonderful, challenge their students and prepare new lessons over the summer, while other read the same textbook and give the same tests.

But you're young and impressionable, so I should probably be quiet

Demosthenes wrote:

First off, while I do not believe in Astrology, myself, such a belief is hardly "wrong".

It's certainly wrong when one tries to portray it as a science.

Demosthenes wrote:

Knowing how much people can be affected by a full moon, for some people, it may not be that much of a leap of faith to believe that the position of the planets and such has an effect as well...

That would make sense if people were actually affected by the moon.
http://www.straightdope.com/classics...
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...
http://skepdic.com/fullmoon.html

Demosthenes wrote:

That said, it sounds like he's not railing entirely against schooling in general, but rather the amount of busywork so many teachers give.

Unfortunately, busywork is a necessary evil when dealing with a classroom of children learning at different levels. One child's busywork is the extra time that another needs to finally take hold of the lesson.

Demosthenes wrote:

But, I can't imagine that many teachers not having some interest in their chosen field of study! I'm constantly reading books about history, government, the political process. Last week it was a book about the Freemasons, this week it's a discussion on the energy economy and the looming changes that will occur either peacably or hecticly. Psh, if teachers don't care, kick them out.

A teacher can't switch from area to area like you can so it isn't that much of a comparison. A first grade teacher can't wake up one morning and decide that instead of teaching little kids he's going to teach philosophy at Oxford.

Like it or not teaching is a job. Some people love it day in and day out and others are just riding out their tenure because they liked it when they were young and now they feel it's too late for them to change. Others love it one day and dread it the next. It's really not much different than any other profession in that sense.

Actually, all these books are pretty firmly listed in the "social studies" sections of my local bookstores/libraries. The End of Oil is a mix of economics and world politics, both of which I'll have to teach in a social studies class. The Freemasons books is mostly historical, discussing the influences many Masons had in the founding of the nation, as well as their roots. All of these books I read, for the most part, revolve around various aspects of social studies, whether its Government, History, Economics (to a much less degree, as I genuinely loathe the topic), or politics on any level from local to world.

That said, how can you say a teacher doesn't have range? Science teachers could be reading books like The Elegant Universe to help students better understand higher levels of physics, English teachers (I should think) should be consistently reading to find books that will be both fun and engaging, as well as educational, for their students. Math teachers... Ok, they're probably screwed.

Still, I guess this could almost be viewed as a critique on life in general... people doing what they dislike or hate or don't care about for the money. (A. Why anyone would pick teaching, with how little money there is there) Get out there and do what you love people, have fun with it and be creative!

That's a seriously interesting article, Aetius. I was copying a bit to quote what I thought was especially profound when I noticed that Crowley already had.

Although I can't speak for the sinister origins of our schooling system, he certainly describes the system as I experienced it with frightening accuracy. I'm going to have to think about this some more.

I can absolutely agree with this article, and it's a little tin-foil-hatty but not by too much. The problem is two-fold. First, there needs to be a better suggestion than "challenge your kids and educate them well." That is, provide a better alternative to the public school system. Second, the current system is status-quo and convincing people to break that cycle require a true revolution of thought. Call me skeptical, but I don't see it happening.

Here's my suggestion:
Allow taxpayers to opt-out of funding the public school system if they want to send their kids to a private school. This would force the public school system to compete and be more resourceful. More and more private schools would pop up and they'd have to compete on quality and price as well. Teaching would become more noble as a profession *and* lucrative; parents will pay all they can to get thier child a good education. Private schools today are only available to the wealthy elite who have money to burn. A tier of private schools available to the middle class would be a revolution in education.

Great article. Reading things like that make me all the more grateful for some of the great teachers I had during my education in high school. A few of said teachers would, from time to time, discuss with us (the class) on these very topics.

One of them often lamented the extent to which education has come to be standardized. It's easy to understand why the standardized tests we have exist as they do, but you have to wonder if anyone values the process of learning and education itself over the end "product" at times.

I can understand how an educator might be bored, but after reading that article, it makes me wonder if those educators are merely the end product of the system they now work for.

I've worked as a teacher in varying capacities, teaching mostly English and History.

I agree that a lot of teachers are bored themselves and either not really interested in finding ways to challenge students, or the ones who are interested find themselves confined by a system that doesn't want anything new or different.

I ran into (and up against on occasion) plenty of parents, students, fellow teachers and principals who were simply not interested in anything regarding learning. It was dismal really.

But I can't say it was all bad either. I had colleagues who loved their jobs, who turned those jobs into a passion and that did get through to those students who wanted to learn more, who were curious enough to venture out on their own. That was always a pleasure for me to watch.

I also taught a small group of students who had been home schooled. Two of them were moved up a year or two because they were incredibly bright and eager and bored only because they were not in anyway challenged by the work they were being given at the time. However as CannibalCrowley pointed out, there are some people who maybe shouldn't be homeschooling their kids.

A young man I was teaching had been homeschooled using the Bible, and nothing else. He could recite chapter and verse from the Old Testament, but could not do simple math or spell. He could barely read as his father simply repeated things until he had memorized them. We worked on the basic reading, writing and math skills together and I finally got him to stop calling me "Woman". His father had told him women were good for cooking, cleaning and having the babies. It was a challenge, but I always enjoyed being with the students.

I like baggachipz suggestion. I'd love to teach at a private school where it's not just standardized tests and school boards that get cranky if you try to be creative. It's not that teachers don't have range, there are just a lot or restrictions on how much of your "range" you can bring into the classroom.

Continue down two posts to see the real post.

Keep going...

Mimble, I must say Kepheus is lucky to be with you. A teacher and a Firefly quote to boot :wink:.

I'm curious, what is it like teaching? I'm studying to become a highschool history teacher but I have no idea what the experience is going to be like or what it demands.

Vector wrote:

I'm curious, what is it like teaching? I'm studying to become a highschool history teacher but I have no idea what the experience is going to be like or what it demands.

It depends on the school district and your temperment. I did student teaching at a school where I felt I got more respect when I was working at a fast-food counter. Now I teach at a community college and it's a much better fit for me.

I'd suggest volunteering in a school (tutoring/helping teacher) to get a feel for it as an adult. The more practical experience you can get, the less of a shock it may be when you actually get into a school. I was faced with such a horrid experience that I almost dropped out of a masters program in my last semester. I was in a bad district, so not all are as bad as mine was.

My frustration is that at the high school level, there still was the pressure on the teacher where the responsiblility for student success is on the teacher rather than on the student. (We weren't allowed to assign a grade lower than a 50 to enable students to succeed.)

I'd say teaching at the high school level demands almost infinite patience and tact (dealing with administrators, parents, and students), and a real love for the students - not just for your subject. The hours are much longer than the school day, since you're doing prep work and grading at home as well as during any prep period. You don't just get summers off since there are the inservice days and the need to continue to take courses to keep your credential.

We're putting our son in the public system (a different district than I student taught in), but we'll keep a close eye on what he learns and how he does and I'll homeschool in an instant if we need to.

What specific questions do you have about teaching?

What specific questions do you have about teaching?

I don't really. Teaching is just something that everyone has always said I'd be great at. I have a tendancy to "teach" people things. I'm extremely patient when explaining things and I have knack for making normally boring subjects interesting. Strangely, I've always been hesitant about becoming a teacher; I avoided the possibility until my first year of university. Now I realize that I have no clue how to teach a class, communicate with students, etc. I know I have to volunteer at some schools and I'll definately go out and get some experience.

I'm shooting for math teacher, but haven't decided what level yet. Any good sources of methods to cut through the general malaise that most students have towards the subject would be much appreciated.

What is an inservice day?

Given the administration's push to funnel the student's along regardless of ability, what alternative leverage do you have over the students? Is there any? Will charisma alone be the only motivating factor when teaching them to factor?

I can't think of anything else, but I'm beginning to feel naive.

EDIT: If there's nothing to hold over students' heads, is there a viable reward system? Can I just throw tootsie rolls at initiative?

How do you respond to the students that have already suffered from the conveyer belt mentality and are completely unprepared for the subject material? How often is this a problem?

I teach math (surprise!) - and prerequisite knowledge _is_ essential. I actually often teach lower-level classes (prealgebra, algebra I and II) because at least then I'm not dealing with the frustration of students placed incorrectly and I don't often have to deal with mis-taught material.

Vector: I got into teaching by working in the tutorial lab at my undergraduate school. It's what got me loving teaching. It turns out that the college level is a much better fit for me than high school (even though what I teach is often middle school or freshman level math). I do much better teaching adults without the extra hassles of teenagers and hormones

Danjo: Join NCTM now! (www.nctm.org) As a student, membership isn't too expensive. It's a professional organization for teaching math in grades K-12. They publish journals (college libraries often will have them) at different levels (arithmetic teacher, mathematics teacher) geared towards techniques for teaching math. It can be very helpful.
An inservice day is when the students are out but faculty/staff are in school. Instead of being devoted to preparation and useful information, it often ends up being a day when you can (must) attend seminars and classes at different locations in your district. Sometimes the classes are useful, but mostly I found them to be a waste of time.

Professional development groups (like NCTM) are excellent ways to network and learn from other instructors in the same boat. They've got groups for most subjects - and discussion boards there are also good. Finding a mentor - or just someone for extra support is essential on the days you feel completely isolated and outnumbered.

I'm actually just back tonight from teaching factoring (yes, college). I'm sure I'm completely mesmerizing when teaching, so that helps but I try to motivate them by also showing where they'll be seeing the factorization (useful for solving quadratic equations). I do try to think about what I've done that's effective and when a lesson doesn't go well (or a whole semester) try to figure out alternative ways of approaching it next time. After a decade, I'm starting to feel competent. But I'm still learning too.

There may be other teachers around here who'd want to weigh in... I tend to be very cynical about the whole educational system and have next to no respect for most administrators. There definitely are dreadful teachers out there and our system keeps some good ones out since the hassles just aren't worth it. I do have friends who went through the same masters program with me who enjoy teaching and are good at it. Rewards for teaching are there (and I love what I do) but if you're a good teacher, it's not an easy job - it tends to be a way of life.

It's going to be very interesting to see how I handle our son in the public schools... my husband (FuzzyCuddleWumpus) may have to run interference on occasions

(Sorry post so long... I've got lots of teaching opinions!)

John Taylor Gatto has an enormous amount to say about education. If you've not read his book, I recommend it.

We're in a quandary about what to do when the Duckling hits school age. I know a lot of the teachers in the public school where he'd go...and really, most of them are just as sweet as the day is long...but dumber than bricks. Seriously. Stupid. I'm surprised some of them don't need constant reminders to breathe and blink. Bless their hearts.

Stupid people tend to be vindictive towards super intelligent kids. (Of course, as a mom, I naturally believe my son is the smartest creature to have ever graced the planet. It's my job, it's what I do.) Trust me, I was beaten regularly with the "You think you're so much better because you're smart" stick by teachers, until my mother finally sent me to Europe where I could get a real education. (Also, she figured I couldn't get into trouble in a convent....near London. Silly mother.)

Do I think I could do a better job teaching my son than a system designed to create bench warming button pushers? Surely. And the areas I don't really excel in, such as higher math and music theory, the Duc understands and can explain. Among my friends are astrophysicists, engineers of every flavor, musicians, artists, dancers, writers, carpenters, builders, architects, artificial intelligence designers, information designers, memeticists, coders, dreamers, stoners, heathens, pagans and bible toters. It seems like we could probably find a subject expert if we need one.

But, neither the Duc nor I are particularly well socialized. We don't try to fit in, and thus, we don't. A homeschool kid from the black wearing, artsy, liberal, intelligencia hippy house, may be preloading him with a lot of baggage. (Gee...ya think?)

I'm not sure how we'll handle it.

I do much better teaching adults without the extra hassles of teenagers and hormones

Hmmm, yes...this might apply to me too.

I was talking with Danjo a little bit about this earlier and he told me I should post what I said to him when he asked my opinion on public schooling. I'm not going to get into how my high school experience went except to say I wasn't around for a lot of it.

I was a wild child, come and love me, I want yooooooooouuuuuuu.

Anyway, I am of the opinion that public schools are kind of like a big refinery. A refinery takes a raw material and produces a better material out of the other end. The problem is that in any refining process you are producing valuable goods on one end and waste out of the other. Schooling is so hindered by having to pander to, not the common denominator, but the lowest common denominator. I think if teachers spent more time teaching 10 kids five things rather than 20 kids one thing then our system would work better. You'd get a refined product of student out of one end and the by product out of the other.

Maybe a kind of trade school option or secondary school. I had a friend in high school that got expelled. The reason isn't important but he decided that he was smart enough to get his GED without going through the bull of getting accepted back into class. He got kicked out a year early, got his equivalency, and got into college before all of us. I met him later at college and he said it was the best thing he had ever done.

MathGoddess wrote:

(Sorry post so long... I've got lots of teaching opinions!)

Interesting, informative, and welcome opinions. Thanks.

Deva wrote:

John Taylor Gatto has an enormous amount to say about education. If you've not read his book, I recommend it.

Do you have a specific book in mind? I looked him up after reading the article and found he had a few out. I don't have the background to discern whether his points are sinister propaganda meant to sell a franchise loosely based on reality or a completely valid viewpoint of our education system, so I'm a bit wary of buying into it. I imagine it's really somewhere in between but I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:

I had a friend in high school that got expelled. The reason isn't important...

Nuts to that. The reason was the best part.

More questions! Why in middle and high school are students shuffled around so much? I can see the idea of having teachers focused in on specific subjects, but why is there so little overlap of individual classroom populations? I hardly had any classmates that followed me from one class to another even though we all pretty much had the same classes to one degree or another.

This segued from a point the article made that the U.S. school system keeps up with the rest of the world until about fourth grade before it drops off. Fourth grade was exactly the point in my education where classes started to split up, moving from one teacher to another. Coincidence?

I think its more that most people start changing the mantra from "Yay! School is fun! Let's learn!" to "Get your homework done." I did my minor on education and this is one of the biggest things that stand out. That is to say this is not the only problem, but one that I noticed does not get enough attention.

Danjo Olivaw wrote:

This segued from a point the article made that the U.S. school system keeps up with the rest of the world until about fourth grade before it drops off. Fourth grade was exactly the point in my education where classes started to split up, moving from one teacher to another. Coincidence?

Forth grade is also the last point the U.S. keeps up the pace deemed benefical to learning. From that point on, we ask increasingly less of our students relative to what they can deliver.

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:

Schooling is so hindered by having to pander to, not the common denominator, but the lowest common denominator. I think if teachers spent more time teaching 10 kids five things rather than 20 kids one thing then our system would work better.

Isn't that why kids are split into different learning levels? That goes double for high school where you're allowed to pick your own classes. The smart kids end up in AP classes and independent study programs while the dumb ones are still trying to grasp Great Expectations in their senior year after 3 previous tries.

Staats wrote:

From that point on, we ask increasingly less of our students relative to what the average student can deliver.

I had to make that important fix. As for the why, too many schools listen to whining parents who don't want to face the fact that for some reason their child isn't learning as well as the others. Instead of working on the problem on their own, they expect the school to either dumb things down or simply pass the kid anyway.

Forth grade is also the last point the U.S. keeps up the pace deemed benefical to learning. From that point on, we ask increasingly less of our students relative to what they can deliver.

I remember 4th grade being the time of longer school days and more homework, not less. I think that the cause of 4th grade++ malaise is more likely to be cultural. I remember the 'learning is for nerds' attitude beginning sometime around there.

CannibalCrowley wrote:

Isn't that why kids are split into different learning levels? That goes double for high school where you're allowed to pick your own classes. The smart kids end up in AP classes and independent study programs while the dumb ones are still trying to grasp Great Expectations in their senior year after 3 previous tries.

I'm saying the effort you just described is a waste of resources.

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:
CannibalCrowley wrote:

Isn't that why kids are split into different learning levels? That goes double for high school where you're allowed to pick your own classes. The smart kids end up in AP classes and independent study programs while the dumb ones are still trying to grasp Great Expectations in their senior year after 3 previous tries.

I'm saying the effort you just described is a waste of resources.

I say that packing 30 random kids in a room and teaching to even the median ability is unfair to both those above and those below that ability and both groups will be bored and/or frustrated. Is this Harrison Bergeron or something?

Deva, are there any Montessori programs in your area? We have had both our daughters enrolled here and have been very pleased with their educations. My oldest(12 going on 19) has just recently made the transition from the Montessori program to a smaller middle school(unfortunatly, montessori programs that go past sixth grade here are not very common) and she is doing excellent and has a far better grasp on the material then her fellow students who come from the public schools. Then again, I live in Arizona and our public schools suck by and large so your mileage my vary.

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:
CannibalCrowley wrote:

Isn't that why kids are split into different learning levels? That goes double for high school where you're allowed to pick your own classes. The smart kids end up in AP classes and independent study programs while the dumb ones are still trying to grasp Great Expectations in their senior year after 3 previous tries.

I'm saying the effort you just described is a waste of resources.

And your solution would be?

Didn't say I had one. Maybe a trade school for the kids that don't get the academics or just choose not to go that route. Perhaps splitting the schools themselves up into different centers of learning for different aptitudes.

I didn't say I had all the answers and I'm not trying to pick a fight based on my arguments, I'm just trying to work out the problem with the rest of you to find the flaws with the system.

Deva wrote:

John Taylor Gatto has an enormous amount to say about education. If you've not read his book, I recommend it.

Do you have a specific book in mind? I looked him up after reading the article and found he had a few out. [/quote]

I think Dumbing Us Down was his first book, and the one that converted me to the mostly anti-school as it now functions crowd. You can also read the entire Underground History of American Education online for free.

To address something that Chiggie touched upon, I believe that a huge factor in the failing education system is a direct result of trying to fit everyone into the same academic mold, while denigrating and destroying the trade skill programs that gave previous generations an opportunity to go on to a financially stable career after high school.

I also think that school doesn't teach some things that everyone *should* know, but may not be able to learn from their parents.

Everyone (not y'all...society at large), wants to dance around the issue, but lets face it, not everyone wants to/needs to/should, go to college. I grew up with guys who built cars. These were smart guys, they read, they could discuss world events, they understood basic algebra and geometry...but they had absolutely no interest in going to college. They wanted to work on cars. Wouldn't it then make sense for these guys to be able to spend their elective hours in auto shop, rather than cramming for SAT/ACT...a test which bears no relevance on their future? (For the record, those guys are now building cars for NASCAR teams...and I can say I knew them when they hijacked a semi to tow my Mustang down to get her outfitted for nitrous...)

But even college bound kids should know how to check the oil, check the other fluids, refill the fluids, check tire pressure, change a tire, dry off a spark plug, safely change a battery, hell we could even save *changing* the oil for the advanced students...but everyone who operates a car should understand how the damn thing works.

Home Economics...a class that has all but disappeared from the American school system...and I would be willing to bet even money that we can trace the rise of obesity and bankruptcies back to the point when kids stopped learning about nutrition, how to cook basic dishes, create a budget, and balance a freaking checkbook. Every adult needs those basic skills. It's like being able to sew on a button, or tack a quick hem...there's no excuse for people not to know that.

Lots of careers don't need a college education, and it's absurd to raise kids to believe that they're inferior if they don't go to college. It's insane to have an education system where the entire goal is to train kids to sit in more classes. Vocational education really needs to make a comeback, and this time, it needs to be designed and marketed as just as valuable as the academic track.

Just as we need architects; we also need plumbers, and AC folks, and master builders and craftsman and masons. We need mechanics. We need truck drivers and guitar players.

Back when I was in grad school, I did some long-term substitute teaching in Austin. Because I wasn't afraid of "delinquents", I was assigned to the juvenile detention center. Those kids were amazing, once I figured out how to connect to what they needed to be able to learn. Once we threw out the "recommended" books, and started working with material that they could relate to, they couldn't wait to read. These kids went from being labeled functionally illiterate, to discussing To Kill a Mockingbird in less than a month. From not understanding basic math to being able to balance a checkbook and create a budget. Because I was teaching them stuff that mattered to them, and that they would use, they paid attention and learned. (Well...that and the fact that they were locked in...I mean, talk about your captive audiences...)

Long ass way of saying: There should be a Vo-Tech track in school. School should teach something practical. Not everyone wants to be the intelligencia, no matter much the intelligencia wants you to believe that. Budding MBAs should be clubbed like baby seals. (That last one I just threw in to keep the meme of clubbing MBAs like baby seals alive and strong. Because, it's our duty as humans to stop them from breeding.)