S/O If college is a waste of time...... - Page 4 - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-12-2010, 12:51 PM
 
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or not necessary, is there any "real "value in an elementary, middle or high school education? What is the purpose? If college is designed to dumb down students, is primary education the same?
Does anyone really believe college is always a waste of time for everyone? I've never met a person like that.

I think the educational system in America sucks. It just does. The whole thing is messed up from beginning to end. That's one reason we homeschool.

That doesn't make me anti-education. If someone is going to be a doctor, the need to learn something beyond highschool biology. If someone's going to be a successful lawyer, they need an in-depth knowledge of the law and good training in public speaking, rhetoric, and debate. But someone who wants to be a mechanic does not need Anatomy, Physiology, and Biology in order to succeed at what he's doing.

Post-secondary education should differ for everyone because everyone is different and has different values and goals for their life. For some people, college is a waste of time, because they have what they need and it's just several more years of not getting on with the life they want. For others, college is essential.

But everyone can benefit from the "basics" education we recieve in elementary school, and most from the stuff we get in highschool. It is good to learn critical thinking skills. Since our society uses money and keeps track of time, good basic math skills are important. In any country, everyone benefits from being fluent, literate, and coherant in the "trade language" of that country, so that they can inform themselves, participate in business, participate in society, and pass that ability on to their children. To understand the existance of germs and their transmission is important for basic health. To learn the basics of the elements, and chemicals, and what can be done with them, and how not to kill yourself using them in daily life (say, bleach and ammonia) is important. Even if a single person may not use all that, their children may have aspirations to something else and so it is important to pass this baseline information on from generation to generation.
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Old 03-12-2010, 03:29 PM
 
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Well, since these communities are spending and building - they could be spending on the kind of information infrastructure that makes "homeschooling" possible, couldn't they? They could build libraries and community centres and broadband infrastructure instead of schools.
Not if they're getting funds from sources that have designated the money for schools. When my mom was in the military one year she was sent down to Panama to build school houses. I've heard of any number of similar mission trips from various organizations. Never heard of anyone going on a trip to build a library, community center, or set up even telephone lines. Because 1. the people doing the work believe in the public school system (or are under orders of people who do), and 2. those things take MORE resources than a school.
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Old 03-12-2010, 04:11 PM
 
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Never heard of anyone going on a trip to build a library, community center, or set up even telephone lines. Because 1. the people doing the work believe in the public school system (or are under orders of people who do), and 2. those things take MORE resources than a school.
Maybe not building libraries, but building up libraries!.
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Old 03-12-2010, 04:40 PM
 
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Not if they're getting funds from sources that have designated the money for schools. When my mom was in the military one year she was sent down to Panama to build school houses. I've heard of any number of similar mission trips from various organizations. Never heard of anyone going on a trip to build a library, community center, or set up even telephone lines. Because 1. the people doing the work believe in the public school system (or are under orders of people who do), and 2. those things take MORE resources than a school.
The schools are being imposed on these communities then? The community leaders and citizens are unable or unwilling to decide for themselves? They have no voice in the matter? They are passively accepting whatever is sent their way?

Homeschoolers could offer development aid and assistance too. There's nothing stopping them from acting, as well as theorizing and criticizing the development of educational systems.
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Old 03-12-2010, 04:51 PM
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The schools are being imposed on these communities then? The community leaders and citizens are unable or unwilling to decide for themselves? They have no voice in the matter? They are passively accepting whatever is sent their way?
Depends on the NGO, really, but a lot of times that's how it works, yes. Development agencies often decide for themselves what they want to give rather than asking the people what they want or need. And, of course, if someone is offering you a free school you don't really want to argue with them and say that no, what you really would like is a new road, or more cell phone towers, or whatever.

I think schools in the developing world are straw men, though. I mean, I think digging a well in my neighborhood would be a waste, too, or giving away anti-malarial pills and mosquito netting, that doesn't mean that they're a waste everywhere. If the only reasonable pathway to literacy in a certain time and place is schools, then yes, build schools... but that says nothing about their usefulness in other times and places.

 
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Old 03-12-2010, 05:45 PM
 
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I think the educational system in America sucks. It just does. The whole thing is messed up from beginning to end. .
Can you give an example of a public educational system that gets it right, outside the US? I'm truly curious what that looks like.

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I think schools in the developing world are straw men, though. I mean, I think digging a well in my neighborhood would be a waste, too, or giving away anti-malarial pills and mosquito netting, that doesn't mean that they're a waste everywhere. If the only reasonable pathway to literacy in a certain time and place is schools, then yes, build schools... but that says nothing about their usefulness in other times and places.
Yes, it is a strawman in the argument for continuing compulsive schooling here and now.

But, taking a look at places that are currently fighting for universal schooling is completely valid in face of claims that creation of compulsive schooling is motivated by desire for a standard citizenry.
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Old 03-12-2010, 06:06 PM
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But, taking a look at places that are currently fighting for universal schooling is completely valid in face of claims that creation of compulsive schooling is motivated by desire for a standard citizenry.
Universal access is very different from compulsory. I think that's a key issue that's being missed here. No one is arguing against universal *access* to schools, at least I don't think anyone is (and if you are, speak up now!). People are arguing against *compulsory* schooling, which is basically the system we have in most of the Global North today (albeit with varying amounts of freedom to homeschool... but this is a fairly new development, and 30 years ago homeschooling for children with access to public schools was extremely rare everywhere).

 
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Old 03-12-2010, 06:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post
In response to the OP - which said nothing about compulsory schooling, BTW -
The OP has consistently asked me if I think all schooling is a waste of time, even after I've clearly stated, more than once, that my issue with school is that it's compulsory. School has value for those who get something out of it - people who are motivated to learn and engaged in learning. School has no value for those who are there only because they're required to be there.

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Old 03-12-2010, 06:56 PM
 
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But, taking a look at places that are currently fighting for universal schooling is completely valid in face of claims that creation of compulsive schooling is motivated by desire for a standard citizenry.
Are those fighting for universal schooling fighting for it being a universal option, or a universal requirement? If the former, then what does compulsory schooling have to do with anything? If the former, then I can see the same issue arising in the (possibly not-so-distant, but it's hard to say) future. "Universal" doesn't mean "compulsory".


ETA: In other words...what Dar said.

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Old 03-12-2010, 07:23 PM
 
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Are those fighting for universal schooling fighting for it being a universal option, or a universal requirement? If the former, then what does compulsory schooling have to do with anything? If the former, then I can see the same issue arising in the (possibly not-so-distant, but it's hard to say) future. "Universal" doesn't mean "compulsory".


ETA: In other words...what Dar said.
The universal option wouldn't mean a whole lot to a girl whose family believes only sons need to go to school.

I'm not saying there are no problems with compulsory education. I am saying that there are valid arguments in favor of it, and that people who fight for them have good intentions.

I do think there should be allowances for homeschooling (and have homeschooled my own child in the past).
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Old 03-12-2010, 07:44 PM
 
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or not necessary, is there any "real "value in an elementary, middle or high school education? What is the purpose? If college is designed to dumb down students, is primary education the same?
I'm only talking about outside of the house school here, but I thought the main purpose was to provide daycare and put kids somewhere during the day. Ditto to training a semi-literate, compliant workforce.

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If homeschooling is a low cost, effective solution in North America, then it should be a good choice elsewhere.
The one thing I will point out is that homeschooling (in my opinion) does require having parents who are literate and able and willing to facilitate children's learning. In many parts of the world, this isn't yet the case. We have to educate adults before they can educate their children.

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Old 03-12-2010, 08:01 PM
 
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The universal option wouldn't mean a whole lot to a girl whose family believes only sons need to go to school.

I'm not saying there are no problems with compulsory education. I am saying that there are valid arguments in favor of it, and that people who fight for them have good intentions.
This is true. Universal is not going to mean much to a girl-child whose parents think only boys should go to school, and it probably didn't mean much to children who were sent to work because the parents wanted or needed the money.

That being said - the alternative isn't much better. Letting gov't decide that everyone should go to school is too intrusive. I prefer parental choice, with all its flaws, to governmental dictatorism.

------------

FWIW - I think more people are morely likely to find value in schools (both parents and kids) if they feel they have a choice in being there. Nobody likes to feel trapped or that they have to go somewhere.

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Old 03-12-2010, 08:04 PM
 
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The schools are being imposed on these communities then? The community leaders and citizens are unable or unwilling to decide for themselves? They have no voice in the matter? They are passively accepting whatever is sent their way?

Homeschoolers could offer development aid and assistance too. There's nothing stopping them from acting, as well as theorizing and criticizing the development of educational systems.
First paragraph: Was pointing out that it isn't necessarily a case of the community choosing how to allocate their own resources. It was being asserted that developing nations must think schools are better than libraries, community centers, and broadband because that's what was being built. If they were doing it entirely on their own resources, then maybe that is how they value those things.

However, I could still see them building a school, because (second paragraph) the other options you've listed are more expensive and labor intensive. Well, the community center wouldn't be more expensive to build, but to get it to have the level of classes and supplies that make community centers here so useful to homeschoolers? *whistle*

It only makes sense to say that homeschoolers should privately fund more expensive projects rather than supporting community efforts to build a school in another country if you're presuming that all homeschoolers think schooling is inherently evil and that homeschooling is a good choice for all families.
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Old 03-12-2010, 08:18 PM
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The universal option wouldn't mean a whole lot to a girl whose family believes only sons need to go to school.
I wouldn't begin to assume that I know more about what's best for any girl than her own family, barring any evidence of abuse, and I find it ethnocentric to assume that the values of the dominant cultures in the world should be forced onto those of other cultures.

That's a slippery slope, to say the least.

 
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Old 03-12-2010, 08:24 PM
 
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The universal option wouldn't mean a whole lot to a girl whose family believes only sons need to go to school.
When I say a universal option, I mean it. That does not mean that it depends on the parents. It depends on the child.

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I'm not saying there are no problems with compulsory education. I am saying that there are valid arguments in favor of it, and that people who fight for them have good intentions.
People can make an argument for or against almost anything. How valid I, personally, would find those arguments is hard to say. I also don't feel that I'm qualified to speak to what another person's (or group's or whatever) intentions may be.

I do think there should be allowances for homeschooling (and have homeschooled my own child in the past).[/QUOTE]
I find homeschooling to be in opposition to the spirit of compulsory education, but I am glad allowances are being made in many places.

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Old 03-12-2010, 08:45 PM
 
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Stormbride, am I understanding you correctly to say that the decision to attend school should be solely up to the child, not the parents?

Maybe I've got you wrong, but that's what it sounds like. You keep coming back to the difference between compulsory schooling, which you are against, and universal access, which you like.

But even though it's technically called compulsory in the US, isn't it actually universal access? No parent who wants to homeschool or unschool is forced to enroll their children in school.

Or, as I said, do you mean school should be universally accessible to children if they themselves choose to attend?
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Old 03-12-2010, 09:58 PM
 
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I wouldn't begin to assume that I know more about what's best for any girl than her own family, barring any evidence of abuse, and I find it ethnocentric to assume that the values of the dominant cultures in the world should be forced onto those of other cultures.

That's a slippery slope, to say the least.
Needs repeating.
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Old 03-12-2010, 10:42 PM
 
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I wouldn't begin to assume that I know more about what's best for any girl than her own family, barring any evidence of abuse, and I find it ethnocentric to assume that the values of the dominant cultures in the world should be forced onto those of other cultures.

That's a slippery slope, to say the least.
To the bolded: people argue for compulsive schooling for the children in their own country, their own culture. Ethnocentrism is a strawman.

As for the parents knowing what is best for their child, what about child labor laws? Are those equally inappropriate?
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Old 03-12-2010, 10:56 PM
 
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Stormbride, am I understanding you correctly to say that the decision to attend school should be solely up to the child, not the parents?

Maybe I've got you wrong, but that's what it sounds like. You keep coming back to the difference between compulsory schooling, which you are against, and universal access, which you like.

But even though it's technically called compulsory in the US, isn't it actually universal access? No parent who wants to homeschool or unschool is forced to enroll their children in school.

Or, as I said, do you mean school should be universally accessible to children if they themselves choose to attend?
*sigh*
I had a long, complicated reply typed up, had to log back in, and foolishly forgot to save it first. It's gone.

I don't have the energy to try to recreate it right now, but I do feel that universal access to education for those who want it is the key. My other post had a lot about what factors affect who wants it, and what role the parents play, but...*sigh*

I do think parents should be involved, especially for younger learners.

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Old 03-12-2010, 11:28 PM
 
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I wouldn't begin to assume that I know more about what's best for any girl than her own family, barring any evidence of abuse, and I find it ethnocentric to assume that the values of the dominant cultures in the world should be forced onto those of other cultures.

That's a slippery slope, to say the least.
I'm mostly on the same page as you, Dar, but this one I disagree with. In any culture where lack of literacy limits options (ie. most, barring true Stone Age tribes, imo), I believe that girls should have the same access to educational opportunities that boys have. Depriving them of that deprives them of too many basic options later in life. It woudl be very difficult for an illiterate woman to leave a violently abusive husband, for instance.

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Old 03-12-2010, 11:31 PM
 
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Can you give an example of a public educational system that gets it right, outside the US? I'm truly curious what that looks like.
You know, I don't truly know. I might have thought school systems in Asia were better than ours, by the numbers, but we've encountered some folks who have experienced those systems and made us aware of some pretty big problems there too. Every system has it's problems, because the bigger a system gets the more room there is for error and inefficiency.

All I know is that my kids could not thrive in an American public school. I did not thrive in American public schools. There are no special issues. We're all moderately intelligent but not on a genuis level. It just didn't work well. We all have learned so much more and so much better in contexts outside institutional school. I do think the schools are sometimes holding-places for kids who don't really want to be there, and could learn better in a different situation. Somehow a disturbing portion of the population is functionally illiterate despite many decades of compulsory education. There's some failure going on here with the system.
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Old 03-12-2010, 11:43 PM
 
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All I know is that my kids could not thrive in an American public school. I did not thrive in American public schools. There are no special issues. We're all moderately intelligent but not on a genuis level. It just didn't work well. We all have learned so much more and so much better in contexts outside institutional school. I do think the schools are sometimes holding-places for kids who don't really want to be there, and could learn better in a different situation. Somehow a disturbing portion of the population is functionally illiterate despite many decades of compulsory education. There's some failure going on here with the system.
I'm not in the US, but can otherwise say the same thing. DS1 is thriving. He has just the right set of gifts to really do well in school. IME, as a student and as an observer (watching the other kids through my years in school and ds1's years in school), I'd say that a fairly small percentage of kids actually thrive in public school. And, honestly - there don't seem to be that many more who are thriving in the private schools (just based on those I've known, almost all of whom are, admittedly, from the same school). I wouldn't say that all the non-thriving kids are doing as badly as I did or anything...but that doesn't mean they're doing well.

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Old 03-13-2010, 04:43 AM
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Is it really so hard to believe in the good intentions of other humans? That people in the system want to help children? That people started to system to help children?
First, I think you're painting with a rather broad brush if you think that my cynicism regarding our educational system means that I don't believe in the good intentions of other humans.

I believe that free, public schooling was established to help children.

I believe that compulsory schooling was established to help continue a society where a very small percentage of people hold all the wealth. Our country was not founded on freedom or religious belief....not really. It was founded upon greed and freedoms for certain people.

I don't have much of a problem with public schools. I have a problem with compulsory schooling. And yes, I think there is a HUGE difference between the two, and they should be considered separate "educational systems."

My dad taught school for nearly 30 years prior to medical retirement. I have other family members, friends, and acquaintances who are teachers. I know there are people in the system who want to help children. I also know that there are people in the system who went for a degree in education because it's a fairly easy degree to get. Some go into teaching because they get off on being in control. Some do it for June, July, and August. Teachers are just people like anyone else, and I don't buy into the "let's put them on pedestals" mentality.

As for the system itself....it's broken. It may have been started to help children, but now it's just a money pit akin to trying to sail a ship with a hole in it. Focus isn't on learning; it's on making grades and scoring well on standardized tests.

When my ex and I split up, a friend and I moved in together to help make ends meet. We were both single parents with pre-teen children who had been friends forever. One day her daughter came home from school and I was trying to help her with her 7th grade math. She was extremely frustrated because although I was helping her to solve the problems, I didn't know the method they were using in her classroom, and she wasn't allowed to solve the problems by any other method or they'd be marked wrong. What sort of idiocy is that? Also, the crappy textbook she was using had virtually NO instruction in it, so I couldn't even learn the method in order to help her.

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Old 03-13-2010, 07:11 AM
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To the bolded: people argue for compulsive schooling for the children in their own country, their own culture. Ethnocentrism is a strawman.

As for the parents knowing what is best for their child, what about child labor laws? Are those equally inappropriate?
When members of a country or culture decide to institute laws for their own people, that's one thing. It's generally done with an eye to cultural norms, and when it works, it's because those in power have been sensitive to those norms and instituted reforms that take them into account, or include culturally valid reasons for changing them. The countries of the Maghreb since the end of colonialism are good examples of this, when it comes to schooling for girls.

When the North comes in and tries to dictate to other countries and cultures how they should be running their country and raising their children, that's another, and that's ethnocentrism. That's what a lot of NGOS development workers do - that's why the Peace Corps has such a bad rep in a lot of places.

Instituting Western-style child-labor laws in some countries would be a disaster. Heck, they don't work well in some areas of rural America (where they're often ignored anyway, IME).

 
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Old 03-13-2010, 07:21 AM
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But you can't simply give them that access in isolation from the culture they life in. In many cultures, for example, an uncircumcised would be culturally ineligible for marriage, leaving her destined for a life of poverty. Legislating an end to female circumcision does nothing to help her, unless it's done as part of a culturally-informed program designed to give accurate information about the dangers of the procedure as well as provide other options. *Making* someone do something never works as well as giving them information that leads them to agree with you about what should be done.

(Although really, perhaps a culture that thinks things like ear-piercing, braces, boob jobs, nose jobs, labia jobs, tummy tucks, etc., are all acceptable ways to modify a child or woman's body is not in such a great position to talk about female genital cutting... but I digress...).

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I'm mostly on the same page as you, Dar, but this one I disagree with. In any culture where lack of literacy limits options (ie. most, barring true Stone Age tribes, imo), I believe that girls should have the same access to educational opportunities that boys have. Depriving them of that deprives them of too many basic options later in life. It woudl be very difficult for an illiterate woman to leave a violently abusive husband, for instance.

 
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Old 03-13-2010, 10:59 AM
 
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When members of a country or culture decide to institute laws for their own people, that's one thing. It's generally done with an eye to cultural norms, and when it works, it's because those in power have been sensitive to those norms and instituted reforms that take them into account, or include culturally valid reasons for changing them. The countries of the Maghreb since the end of colonialism are good examples of this, when it comes to schooling for girls.

When the North comes in and tries to dictate to other countries and cultures how they should be running their country and raising their children, that's another, and that's ethnocentrism. That's what a lot of NGOS development workers do - that's why the Peace Corps has such a bad rep in a lot of places.

Instituting Western-style child-labor laws in some countries would be a disaster. Heck, they don't work well in some areas of rural America (where they're often ignored anyway, IME).
I agree with your comments on ethnocentrism. But I am talking about what people and leaders want for their own countries. Compulsory schooling was instituted in America (US) by Americans. Child labor laws were instituted in America by Americans. Are the child labor laws in America inappropriate because parents know what is best for their own child?

Again, I understand that there are problems with compulsory (which I keep mistyping "compulsive"....probably my subconscious commenting on how I am compulsively replying to this thread ) education. I also understand that there are very good arguments for it, especially in a climate where some parents don't believe their child needs an education. I can understand a society that stands up to say to their own people "Yes, your child needs and education, and it is educational neglect if you don't provide it." If they decide to look the other way in some circumstances (such as child labor in rural America), that's their option.

I believe the option to homeschool/unschool is appropriate, with the end result in the US being universal access to school rather than truly compulsory schooling, as Zine pointed out.

eta....I'm not even arguing that compulsory schools are (or are not) appropriate in the global North. Just asking people to look at the true motivations of people who pass the laws at the time they are/were passed.
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Old 03-13-2010, 11:54 AM
 
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First, I think you're painting with a rather broad brush if you think that my cynicism regarding our educational system means that I don't believe in the good intentions of other humans.

I believe that free, public schooling was established to help children.

I believe that compulsory schooling was established to help continue a society where a very small percentage of people hold all the wealth. Our country was not founded on freedom or religious belief....not really. It was founded upon greed and freedoms for certain people.

I don't have much of a problem with public schools. I have a problem with compulsory schooling. And yes, I think there is a HUGE difference between the two, and they should be considered separate "educational systems."

My dad taught school for nearly 30 years prior to medical retirement. I have other family members, friends, and acquaintances who are teachers. I know there are people in the system who want to help children. I also know that there are people in the system who went for a degree in education because it's a fairly easy degree to get. Some go into teaching because they get off on being in control. Some do it for June, July, and August. Teachers are just people like anyone else, and I don't buy into the "let's put them on pedestals" mentality.

As for the system itself....it's broken. It may have been started to help children, but now it's just a money pit akin to trying to sail a ship with a hole in it. Focus isn't on learning; it's on making grades and scoring well on standardized tests.

When my ex and I split up, a friend and I moved in together to help make ends meet. We were both single parents with pre-teen children who had been friends forever. One day her daughter came home from school and I was trying to help her with her 7th grade math. She was extremely frustrated because although I was helping her to solve the problems, I didn't know the method they were using in her classroom, and she wasn't allowed to solve the problems by any other method or they'd be marked wrong. What sort of idiocy is that? Also, the crappy textbook she was using had virtually NO instruction in it, so I couldn't even learn the method in order to help her.

/rant
Coming from someone who has taken a whole bunch of math classes over the years, that is not crap. You are not always being taught a specific way to solve problems to just solve an individual problem. You are learning the technique to be able to solve more complicated problems in the future. Sometimes the technique is more important than the answer. I suspect that is why she was expected to do the problems with a certain technique.

 
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Old 03-13-2010, 03:27 PM
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Coming from someone who has taken a whole bunch of math classes over the years, that is not crap. You are not always being taught a specific way to solve problems to just solve an individual problem. You are learning the technique to be able to solve more complicated problems in the future. Sometimes the technique is more important than the answer. I suspect that is why she was expected to do the problems with a certain technique.
There are many techniques. People have been solving mathematical equations for...erhm....a REALLY long time. And I, too, have taken math classes. There is more than one way to skin a cat.

And this is a 12yo we're talking about. Pre-algebra. Sorry, I think it's crap.
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Old 03-13-2010, 07:59 PM
 
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But you can't simply give them that access in isolation from the culture they life in. In many cultures, for example, an uncircumcised would be culturally ineligible for marriage, leaving her destined for a life of poverty. Legislating an end to female circumcision does nothing to help her, unless it's done as part of a culturally-informed program designed to give accurate information about the dangers of the procedure as well as provide other options.
Well, honestly, if a ban on female circumcision was fully enforced/enforceable, the cultural change would have to follow. If uncircumcised women were still ilegible for marriage, nobody would be able to get married at all. The problem I see there is that it's not.

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*Making* someone do something never works as well as giving them information that leads them to agree with you about what should be done.
I definitely agree about that, but it also makes me sick to think of girls being genitally torn up during the education period, yk?

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(Although really, perhaps a culture that thinks things like ear-piercing, braces, boob jobs, nose jobs, labia jobs, tummy tucks, etc., are all acceptable ways to modify a child or woman's body is not in such a great position to talk about female genital cutting... but I digress...).
hmm...I don't think there's any acceptable way to modify a child's body, unless it's a medical situation. Braces, however, aren't always purely cosmetic, so that one's a gray area to me. As to the others? I don't care for any of it (although sometimes, at least some of those procedures - tummy tuck comes to mind - also serve a function other than cosmetic). However, I feel any of them is an acceptable way to modify a woman's body, if she really wants to have the modification. I think it's messed up, and the popularity of cosmetic surgery blows my mind...but I think people should be allowed to have it if they want it and understand the risks and potential ramifications.

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Old 03-13-2010, 08:01 PM
 
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Coming from someone who has taken a whole bunch of math classes over the years, that is not crap. You are not always being taught a specific way to solve problems to just solve an individual problem. You are learning the technique to be able to solve more complicated problems in the future. Sometimes the technique is more important than the answer. I suspect that is why she was expected to do the problems with a certain technique.
This is verging OT, but if the method is that important, then the work should be done in class, or a textbook that actually includes the method should be provided. The situation in the post you were quoting is ridiculous - and common. It was already common 30 years ago.

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