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#1 of 32 Old 07-07-2011, 03:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been thinking a lot about public schooling lately, and I really can't think of realistic suggestions to "fix" the public schools because it seems to me that the lion's share of the problems are actually cultural problems.  Take, for instance, high school.  It has been tossed around that high school is useless and our high schoolers graduate with very little knowledge and few marketable skills.  Is this the schools' problem, or a problem with our culture, in that parents don't seem to want to accept that not all kids are "college material," or that not all kids have a desire to go to college?  Why the cultural stigma attached to vocational education at the high school level?  It seems that in order to not hurt any feelings, the schools do a disservice to a lot of students (that is, encouraging college entrance even though the student is at a remedial reading and math level, or graduate students who have no skills that are applicable in the real world if they were to go directly into the workforce).  Is this the solely the schools' doing, or a response to cultural pressure and expectation?

 

And what about parental involvement?  I adore my girls' school, but it relies heavily on a high rate of parental involvement and I know that the system of education this school uses would totally collapse if parents weren't heavily involved.  Seriously, I don't know how good schools function without parental involvement (and what does this say about our culture, as well, where both parents may need to work, or single parenthood, etc.  You know, stuff that would limit the amount of time a parent can get involved in the school)

 

What about afterschool enrichment?  Do parents feel that education is entirely, or almost entirely, the responsibility of the school system?  I've heard of "afterschooling" and to me, afterschooling is just normal.  Of course I take my children to enriching activities, to museums, performances, cultural events and celebrations.  Often we read relevant books beforehand and do a lapbook about the experience (like when we went to Mesa Verde National Park and Chaco Canyon, etc.).  We have stimulating discussions.  I suppose there are parents who do not do this, obviously, but is that the schools' fault or the parents' fault?

 

Sorry for how disjointed and malformed this post is.  Just something that has been bouncing around in my head for a while.  Anyone have any thoughts about this?  Of course, I would love to hear perspectives from those who are not in the US, or people who have witnessed the school culture in multiple countries.  That would be fabulous.  Don't want to exclude anyone, it's just that my own personal experience is with the American culture.


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#2 of 32 Old 07-07-2011, 06:11 PM
 
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In my area it is hard to get a job with a GED, there aren't all that many jobs that you can do with a vocational education and to get them you do need to be educated enough to study the material in a vocational training course that extends beyond the high school level.  Taking a few college level classes used to give people a boost up before the recession and now with unemployment so high there are many people with degrees getting jobs that traditionally went to kids just out of high school.  I think educators are responding to the realities of the job markets in their areas by encouraging kids to go to college.  Needing a slightly remedial class shouldn't hold someone back from college.  I know many people who needed one or two remedial classes then went on to be straight A students all the way to grad school.  Colleges and Universities would not have enough students to sustain the growth they like to see if they cut out remedial classes so public school teachers shouldn't have to encourage students to find a low paying vocation instead of going to college just because they will need a refresher course.

 

I have seen very good schools where there isn't a lot of parental involvement.  Many of the teachers I have worked with and talked to while going for my teaching degree didn't even want parental involvement because it usually meant they had to make things up for the parents to do so they would be out of their hair.

 

I am not sure what you are asking about with the after school enrichment stuff.  I don't think going to vacations, plays, and museums at home has had an effect on my dd's schooling but it is fun.  I also don't think it is a school's responsibility to make sure kids go to these places.  If you want to enrich your child's life by doing things you value then it is your responsibility to do that.  I believe that every parent does enriching things with their children even if those enriching things aren't as flashy as vacations and live theater.  There is a lot more to life than vacation, theater, and museums. 

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#3 of 32 Old 07-07-2011, 07:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Why so defensive?  What's so flashy about taking a local (was local then, we've moved since) camping trip, in a tent, to an important cultural site?  What's so flashy about going to a public festival and watching free performances?  Or going to a museum on free admission Fridays?  Judge much?

 

I know many people who have had to take FOUR SEMESTERS of remedial courses after high school.  That's not a course or two.  I don't see how graduating high school with a skilled trade is worse than going to college.  Why shouldn't people graduate high school as certified mechanics, veterinary technicians, medical assistants, legal assistants, dental assistant, and so forth?  Why not graduate high school with the equivalent of an AA?  That way, the guy down the street with a accounting degree can't steal your job.  But if you want a degree and can accomplish the work, go ahead and get one?

 

I just think it's cruel to tell a student who needs four semesters of remedial math that they can become a meteorologist with NO PROBLEM.  Not all kids can.  I couldn't, certainly.  But I don't have a mathematical/scientific mind.

 

And no, I don't like the vocational system we have now, and I think they need to be developed, and funded, much more.  But they never will be as long as the cultural stigma is attached to vocational education.


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#4 of 32 Old 07-07-2011, 08:31 PM
 
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ramama, in this case (this is a huge topic for me and gets me all passionate and triggered and thus words dont come out logically). so i'll post some links of views i share and which does a better job than i could. 

 

my basic philosophy is that our children are not being "educated". like you said they are being trained in a vocation (the video Fllyod's Brick in the Wall comes to mind). i come from asia. we did our GE in high school. so by the time we got to our 3 year degree program we chose either a 2 year general degree (ur major + 2 electives) or a 3 year which is like the 2 year but the last year you focus only on your major. i hate to see this focus on any subject from a vocation point of view. i feel our colleges are vocational institutions and i dont think education really starts till you do ur masters. that is why its hard to see my dd go thru a system i dont believe in. 

 

http://www.schooltube.com/video/2cb4889891b0c637f8f8/RSA-Animate-Changing-Education-Paradigms

http://www.ted.com/conversations/2236/why_is_philosophy_so_commonly.html

(there's some good discussion as well as too pontificated writings too. here is one of the answers to the discussion that i found very interesting. the question is - Why is philosophy so commonly taught in prestigious private prep schools and yet so rarely taught in public schools?

 

Apr 25 2011: Because the industrialists & Fabians who designed the American education system felt philosophy, critical thinking, logic, etc. were not useful skills for factory workers and that assumption is inbuilt at the base level of the modern approach to education. Private school was intended for the social elites and managerial class, and that is where the liberal arts are taught. As Woodrow Wilson put it,

 


  • "We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity in every society, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."

    Or as it was put in a pamphlet released by the Rockefeller education lobbying group, which was highly influential in the design of the American education system,

    "We shall not try to make these children into philosophers, scientists, statesmen, etc. We have not to raise up from among them educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not prepare them to be great artists, painters, musicians, doctors, lawyers, preachers, politicians, etc., of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple... We will organize children ... teach them to do in a perfect way the things their parents are doing in an imperfect way."

    There is no mystery here. The school system is functioning as designed and intended. What is mysterious to me is that people expect it to produce something other than it was designed to produce without fundamentally altering its operation. You might as well try using a gun to heal and improve physical health as use the education system to heal and improve minds.

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/liz_coleman_s_call_to_reinvent_liberal_arts_education.html


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#5 of 32 Old 07-07-2011, 08:59 PM
 
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Meemee, I just discovered ted.com two days ago and have been listening to talks non-stop - really inspiring thoughts.

You say it is difficult to see your DD go through the school system.

Do you ever wish you could take her out of the system completely?

I hope I'm not out of line - my DS is only 5 months old so as much as I'd love for us to unschool, I have no idea what state (financially and emotionally) our family will be in when he's 'at that age'. 

I guess my real question is: how do you deal with your predicament?

Advice for parents at odds with the system but still tied to it?

 

(I'm new to this forum stuff... is this 'hijacking?' sorry if it is.)


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#6 of 32 Old 07-07-2011, 10:19 PM
 
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being a single mom taking her out is not an option. seh has the perfect personality for community unschooling. if i had a choice i would love to unschool her with a bunch of people (just her and me would not work).

 

how i deal with it is by choosing to live poor. so we have a fun time together and unschool her after school. like me she survives in school because of our afterschool 'activities' which is free time spent together. i would love to sign her up for music and acting (the not so nice side of living poor) but i think at 4th grade she will have some extracurricula activity. but i have to be careful because she needs just time to do nothing where she decides what to do.

 

i mean all along i have homeschooled her anyways when she gets into stuff. for instance since she was 6 she has been really into cooking. now she seriously watches cookign shows instead of cartoons. her favourite is alton brown from good eats because he gives a whole lot of other information too. 

 

i volunteer with her a lot too. have always from when seh was 2. she went with me - food shelters, weeding and cooking at our local organic farms, planting trees and setting up watering systems with our local resource conservation district and i also do interpretation for the local native american museum (she does certain parts of the talks i give). she goes to all my activist events and hangs out in my school with me. 

 

so in other words there is more to life than school. 

 

right now she is going to start 4th grade. but i am also researching high school options. because from her personality i see That is more important than an elementary school. she is already in one of the best schools in the district but for her its not the best. she just tolerates it. i might turn to a private school for high school (but seh can only go with a scholarship) and she wants to do foreign exchange student in high school too so we shall see how it works out. that is why i didnt put in that much effort for elem school. for her personality (which i really didnt get until after she started K) high school is more important than elem school. 

 

because she is a thinker she really demands a 'balanced' education. that is btw reality and book knowledge and between arts and sciences. from her interests now she is more interested of the ethics and morals behind each thing. and she also wants both science and arts in a deeper manner than just the skimming. if we come across GMOs for instance she just doesnt explore the science behind it - but also questions the ethics. 

 

so in other words i am trying to fill in the holes myself. no let me put it this way... to keep her a happy and inspired child i am putting in my time to answer her questions. it isnt something i introduce. its what she asks.  

 

ETA: btw yeah i am excited about ted talks too :) http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/wade_davis_on_endangered_cultures.html is one of my favourite videos out there. wade davis is one of my heroes. the following quote from him in this video is the very foundation of my parenting philosophy. "It means that a young kid from the Andes who's raised to believe that that mountain is an Apu spirit that will direct his or her destiny will be a profoundly different human being and have a different relationship to that resource or that place than a young kid from Montana raised to believe that a mountain is a pile of rock ready to be mined. Whether it's the abode of a spirit or a pile of ore is irrelevant. What's interesting is the metaphor that defines the relationship between the individual and the natural world."

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#7 of 32 Old 07-08-2011, 05:23 AM
 
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One of the "problems" of public school is the idea that everyone has a right to a free public education(not saying I don't agree with free public education BTW loL). Because of this Public schools have to take and educated any child that lives in their district. In some districts that's easy. There are plenty of parents on the PTO raising funds, for extras in the school. There are lots of local business who are willing to donate playground equipment and new smart boards, the children coming into the school are coming in ready to learn! the parents make sure they get the proper amount of sleep, they are doing educational activities/reading at home, the younger kids all go to preschool, the kids are living in normal stable homes with plenty of food to eat. 

On the flip side of that you have Public schools where the buildings are a mess, the schools are under funded, they lack parent volunteers, many of the kids are coming in ESL, many of the kids are very transient, many kids home lives are a mess. Schools in districts like this not only get less funding but they require more money because they are dealing with so many challenges in their students. Poverty is a huge and real problem in this country. Lead poisoning is/has been a huge problem in the NE cities. Children living in poverty here are much more likely to have lead poisoning which in turn affects their learning. Money problems create so much stress for parents. A loving mother who wants whats best for her kids may end up being a less than stellar mother do to her circumstances......... 

Anyway I don't believe all public schools are a mess and failing kids. I believe there are some big and real problems in our society that effect our kids education. Drugs are a big problem in the high school level and in the lives of many kids families. If a kid is on drugs they aren't learning the way they could be. If mom/dad is on drugs a then the child is living in sub par circumstances.  Being obsessed with boys/girls in the Jr and high school level takes kids focus away from learning. Parents not forcing kids to do homework/reading is a huge problem. Facebook and TV are sucking up older kids (and adults) free time so they are not engaging in more educational activities, like reading, is a huge problem! Being well read goes a LONG way towards being well educated. 

 

I think a few of the things public schools can do to help is to get smaller! Offer more choices to families. Smaller schools that specialize in different learning styles/methods. Offering the option to split up the sexes, particularly in the middle school level. Requiring children in the middle school/high school level to wear uniforms. Build magnet schools in the 'good" districts!!! Really do not build the magnet schools in the middle of a city known for it's horrible schools. No parent living in a "good" district is going to bus their kids there! Parents living in "bad" districts however will flock at the opportunity to send their kids to a "good" district even if it means a bus ride. Oh and LOOSE NCLB!!!! There is absolutely NO WAY 100% of CHILDREN WILL EVER PASS THAT TEST!!!!!!! It is an unachievable goal that is ruining Public schools! Find another way to hold schools/teachers accountable. All JMO :)

 

 

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#8 of 32 Old 07-08-2011, 06:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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     Quote:

Originally Posted by meemee View Post

ramama, in this case (this is a huge topic for me and gets me all passionate and triggered and thus words dont come out logically). so i'll post some links of views i share and which does a better job than i could. 

 

my basic philosophy is that our children are not being "educated". like you said they are being trained in a vocation (the video Fllyod's Brick in the Wall comes to mind). i come from asia. we did our GE in high school. so by the time we got to our 3 year degree program we chose either a 2 year general degree (ur major + 2 electives) or a 3 year which is like the 2 year but the last year you focus only on your major. i hate to see this focus on any subject from a vocation point of view. i feel our colleges are vocational institutions and i dont think education really starts till you do ur masters. that is why its hard to see my dd go thru a system i dont believe in. 

 

http://www.schooltube.com/video/2cb4889891b0c637f8f8/RSA-Animate-Changing-Education-Paradigms

http://www.ted.com/conversations/2236/why_is_philosophy_so_commonly.html

(there's some good discussion as well as too pontificated writings too. here is one of the answers to the discussion that i found very interesting. the question is - Why is philosophy so commonly taught in prestigious private prep schools and yet so rarely taught in public schools?

 

Apr 25 2011: Because the industrialists & Fabians who designed the American education system felt philosophy, critical thinking, logic, etc. were not useful skills for factory workers and that assumption is inbuilt at the base level of the modern approach to education. Private school was intended for the social elites and managerial class, and that is where the liberal arts are taught. As Woodrow Wilson put it,

 


  • "We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity in every society, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."

    Or as it was put in a pamphlet released by the Rockefeller education lobbying group, which was highly influential in the design of the American education system,

    "We shall not try to make these children into philosophers, scientists, statesmen, etc. We have not to raise up from among them educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not prepare them to be great artists, painters, musicians, doctors, lawyers, preachers, politicians, etc., of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple... We will organize children ... teach them to do in a perfect way the things their parents are doing in an imperfect way."

    There is no mystery here. The school system is functioning as designed and intended. What is mysterious to me is that people expect it to produce something other than it was designed to produce without fundamentally altering its operation. You might as well try using a gun to heal and improve physical health as use the education system to heal and improve minds.

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/liz_coleman_s_call_to_reinvent_liberal_arts_education.html


Excellent food for thought.  Thanks.  So basically, we are holding on to an antiquated education system, but expecting different results.  Formerly, the rich students in private college-prep courses were the ones who went to college and public school students went immediately into the workforce.  Obviously such a society so deeply divided by class isn't what we want for ourselves, so now we expect public schools to do college-prep work, without fundamentally changing the system to that's possible.  Because right now, public schools are not doing a fabulous job of preparing for college (their new function), nor are they doing a fabulous job of training people for the workforce (the original function of the public school).  Interesting.  So, why is there a huge problem in our culture about actually doing something about it?

 

And, meemee, I am personally a college-lover.  If I could go to school for the rest of my life, I would.  So, yes, I tend to agree on a personal-experience level that true study feels like it begins in graduate school.  However, I don't buy the argument that college is necessary in order to do decent in life.  Only something like 17 percent of Americans have a bachelor's degree, so are we to believe that only 17 percent of Americans are doing okay in life?  What about the students who don't go to college?  Why are the schools trying to prep kids for college who cannot, or don't want to, go to college?  Aren't we selling those kids short?  What's wrong with vocational training for those who desire it?  No, I wouldn't agree to some sort of testing system which formally bars students from attempting college, or forces them along a vocational path that is not of their choosing.

 


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#9 of 32 Old 07-08-2011, 06:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deepfeet View Post

Meemee, I just discovered ted.com two days ago and have been listening to talks non-stop - really inspiring thoughts.

You say it is difficult to see your DD go through the school system.

Do you ever wish you could take her out of the system completely?

I hope I'm not out of line - my DS is only 5 months old so as much as I'd love for us to unschool, I have no idea what state (financially and emotionally) our family will be in when he's 'at that age'. 

I guess my real question is: how do you deal with your predicament?

Advice for parents at odds with the system but still tied to it?

 

(I'm new to this forum stuff... is this 'hijacking?' sorry if it is.)


I hope I didn't come across as at odds with the public school system.  I know you were specifically addressing meemee, but I just wanted to make clear that I am not a public school hater.  I am a very very very huge believer in the public school system.  I believe it works more often than not, I believe that public teachers are worth their weight in gold more often than not.  Even if I were an unschooler, or homeschooler, I would still feel like I have a huge responsibility towards public schools, because regardless of where my child is being educated, the vast majority of children are in public schools.  I know many people who throw up their hands at the thought of sending their child to the local public school, move to homeschooling, and wash their hands of public schools as a whole.  What good does that do our society?  We can't just ignore 90% of children!  That's ridiculous!

 

 

 


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#10 of 32 Old 07-08-2011, 07:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meetoo View Post

One of the "problems" of public school is the idea that everyone has a right to a free public education(not saying I don't agree with free public education BTW loL). Because of this Public schools have to take and educated any child that lives in their district. In some districts that's easy. There are plenty of parents on the PTO raising funds, for extras in the school. There are lots of local business who are willing to donate playground equipment and new smart boards, the children coming into the school are coming in ready to learn! the parents make sure they get the proper amount of sleep, they are doing educational activities/reading at home, the younger kids all go to preschool, the kids are living in normal stable homes with plenty of food to eat. 

On the flip side of that you have Public schools where the buildings are a mess, the schools are under funded, they lack parent volunteers, many of the kids are coming in ESL, many of the kids are very transient, many kids home lives are a mess. Schools in districts like this not only get less funding but they require more money because they are dealing with so many challenges in their students. Poverty is a huge and real problem in this country. Lead poisoning is/has been a huge problem in the NE cities. Children living in poverty here are much more likely to have lead poisoning which in turn affects their learning. Money problems create so much stress for parents. A loving mother who wants whats best for her kids may end up being a less than stellar mother do to her circumstances......... 

Anyway I don't believe all public schools are a mess and failing kids. I believe there are some big and real problems in our society that effect our kids education. Drugs are a big problem in the high school level and in the lives of many kids families. If a kid is on drugs they aren't learning the way they could be. If mom/dad is on drugs a then the child is living in sub par circumstances.  Being obsessed with boys/girls in the Jr and high school level takes kids focus away from learning. Parents not forcing kids to do homework/reading is a huge problem. Facebook and TV are sucking up older kids (and adults) free time so they are not engaging in more educational activities, like reading, is a huge problem! Being well read goes a LONG way towards being well educated. 

 

I agree.  The problem is, we tend to blame the schools for these shortcoming, when really it's problem with our culture.  Why are some schools funded more than others?  Why do "fancy" schools in high-income neighborhoods funded so well that they have every kind of sports team imaginable (perhaps even an pool!), the most highly-qualified teachers, textbooks in sufficient quantity that every student has one?  Why do schools in low-income areas struggle to find teachers, struggle to provide adequate materials to students and teachers, struggle to meet the education needs of their students?  Oftentimes, schools in these neighborhoods are a haven for children, a safe place when their world isn't safe.  Why aren't the schools being treated, and funded, like the valuable places they are?

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by meetoo View Post

 

I think a few of the things public schools can do to help is to get smaller! Offer more choices to families. Smaller schools that specialize in different learning styles/methods. Offering the option to split up the sexes, particularly in the middle school level. Requiring children in the middle school/high school level to wear uniforms. Build magnet schools in the 'good" districts!!! Really do not build the magnet schools in the middle of a city known for it's horrible schools. No parent living in a "good" district is going to bus their kids there! Parents living in "bad" districts however will flock at the opportunity to send their kids to a "good" district even if it means a bus ride. Oh and LOOSE NCLB!!!! There is absolutely NO WAY 100% of CHILDREN WILL EVER PASS THAT TEST!!!!!!! It is an unachievable goal that is ruining Public schools! Find another way to hold schools/teachers accountable. All JMO :)

 

NCLB needs to go, you will get no argument from me there!  I only slightly disagree with you on a minor technicality ;)  Public schools cannot make these changes.  These are changes that need to occur in our culture.  We expect more from public schools, we expect more from our students, we need to make the change and open our purses and fully fund schools.


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#11 of 32 Old 07-08-2011, 07:53 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramama View Post

 

I agree.  The problem is, we tend to blame the schools for these shortcoming, when really it's problem with our culture.  Why are some schools funded more than others?  Why do "fancy" schools in high-income neighborhoods funded so well that they have every kind of sports team imaginable (perhaps even an pool!), the most highly-qualified teachers, textbooks in sufficient quantity that every student has one?  Why do schools in low-income areas struggle to find teachers, struggle to provide adequate materials to students and teachers, struggle to meet the education needs of their students?  Oftentimes, schools in these neighborhoods are a haven for children, a safe place when their world isn't safe.  Why aren't the schools being treated, and funded, like the valuable places they are?

 

 

 

Funding for schools has traditionally been based on property taxes in specific districts.  I think that is why in the past (and still in my town), people strive to move to higher income neighborhoods or the suburbs because they have the best-funded schools....but, the highest property taxes.  I personally think there should be a better way to fund schools, because those who ultimately suffer are the poor who live in areas where there is most likely low property ownership or the property taxes are low.

 

So, while I agree that part of it is cultural (i.e. the original purpose of public education was to turn out good factory workers), a lot of it comes down to economics.  I also think the public school system varies by locale and state.  I grew up in West Virginia where, at the time, a vast majority of the high schools also had vocational training - either within the school or students could be transported to a local vocational school certain days of the school week.  West Virginia was and is very much a blue-collar state.  I would say that only about 10 of the people that I graduated with (out of about 175) went on to college.  Most either had already commenced vocational training, some went on to community college to learn a trade, some went into the mines (which was big back then), quite a few went into the military, etc.

 

Where I live now, there is a huge mix:  tons of college-bound kids; kids who remain in the family business; kids who study trades; kids with no direction at all (either no self-direction or no mentoring - parental or otherwise).  The public school system here varies.  There are highly desirable general schools and those are hard to get into (people have actually bought separate apartments so they can have an address in a specific school district); there are the specialized high schools which you must test into (Bronx High School of Science; Brooklyn Latin School; Brooklyn Technical High School; LaGuardia (of "Fame" fame); Stuyvesant High School, High School for Math, Science & Engineering, to name a few).  The specialized high schools are ones you have to test into and they are supposed to serve the needs of academically gifted kids.  These schools were a product of the state legislature and my guess would be that they were also a result of intense lobbying from both parents and educators.  Unfortunately there are still public schools here that fall through the cracks.  The city itself has designed and funded programs in the arts and sciences to offer various public schools that are underfunded and underserved.  I was once involved in a city-wide arts program and individual artists provided art and music classes for the kids.  My DH is a public librarian here and the library is also heavily involved with the public school system.  I think the city has found ways around the traditional funding of public schools in order to offer a better balance to underserved schools.

 

So ultimately, I think the quality and type of schools that you have depends on how education is valued in your locale as well as the economic culture.  While the high school that I grew up in was safe and good and all that, I actually think the public system here is pretty good despite its varying problems. 

 

Sorry, want to talk and talk but have to sign off.  Look forward to other comments.


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#12 of 32 Old 07-08-2011, 08:57 AM
 
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I have believed for a long time that American culture and parenting trends were interfering with our children's education. Our kids have everything. I would even see my impoverished preschoolers come in with 50 dollar shoes they'll outgrow in a week. It's become important in our culture for our kids to HAVE what we feel all the other kids have and so even the poorest will attempt to give "stuff" they can't afford. Kids grow up the center of the world and getting what they want never having to really work for it. The entitlement I see in the younger generation is ghastly. My DH hires (and fires) 20-somethings regularly and while there is occasionally a great kid coming in ready for entry level hard work and eager to prove him/herself and climb the ladder, most kids he gets want top dollar for minimal work and then scoff at half their responsibilities as "below" them. This translates into the classroom where kids want "A's" for nothing and I've seen parents race in practically rabid to fight for their child's grades having no concept of where that child truely stands in the class.

 

I don't think it's a matter of kids needing MORE parental involvement as much as APPROPRIATE parental involvement. Their egos are too wrapped up in the outward success of a child. Kids aren't allowed to crash and burn when they need to. They aren't given enough control over their schedule. They are BUSY but they aren't allowed to develop an internal drive. Often they go off to college with no idea how to push and manage themselves.

 

What we expect from our children behaviorally is a problem as well. When I was in elementary, you might have that "one" kid in your grade everyone knew was a challenge and parents sighed when they'd be in their child's class that year. Now, you can have 3 or 4 per class with far more extreme and regular rebellions. Parents are quick to defend their child, use labels to excuse behavior, deflect the issue onto someone else, ect. I've spent a lot of time in the classrooms and I'm shocked at the back-talk, the flat refusal to work, the constant disruption. I just don't know how a teacher can get anything done.

 

I do also feel that college is becoming a problem. Most jobs that now require a degree really don't "need" a degree. I see ads for receptionists that ask for college degrees when really, what they want is a quick and emotionally/socially mature individual. That individual could go very high in the company with practical experience alone. I do value a college education but there needs to be something inbetween. There needs to be a place for trade and gained experience.

 

I'm speaking generally of course. There are some fantastic, driven, hard-working kids and we are fortunate enough to know so many of them. I just see the other side too and it's not good. Everyone means well but we both push and baby innapropriately. Believe me, I put myself in this catergory. I find that I've given my kids far less responsibility in the household than I had as a kid (and I had far less than my parents who were working the fields as young as 6.) I often catch myself "worried" that I'm giving my kids too much work... like washing the dishes a couple times a week after dinner despite the fact that I did that every night growing up! I often catch myself defaulting to "let's make their life easier" as opposed to "let's give them the skills they need to succeed in life."


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And, meemee, I am personally a college-lover.  If I could go to school for the rest of my life, I would.  So, yes, I tend to agree on a personal-experience level that true study feels like it begins in graduate school.  However, I don't buy the argument that college is necessary in order to do decent in life.  Only something like 17 percent of Americans have a bachelor's degree, so are we to believe that only 17 percent of Americans are doing okay in life?  What about the students who don't go to college?  Why are the schools trying to prep kids for college who cannot, or don't want to, go to college?  Aren't we selling those kids short?  What's wrong with vocational training for those who desire it?  No, I wouldn't agree to some sort of testing system which formally bars students from attempting college, or forces them along a vocational path that is not of their choosing.

i am with you a 100%. i couldnt have said it better. i share the same thoughts and feelings with you. and thus i am in a quandry. i want dd to go to college to maybe get exposed to things which i wish they would get exposed in high school - the GE classes. and yet i want her to go to college to get the very education - actually grad school - to get the very education i am not sure i can give her. to open her mind and have a variety of subjects. 

 

i hate how the emphasis is if you are smart in a certain manner you have a greater or easier chance to succeed. i hate how one values a subject based on its economic advantage. not its moral or ethical value. 

 

and it scares me to death that obama and others discussing a new education policy involves a longer school day. yeah i would be all for it if it involved the extracurricular activities that we are all struggling to give our kids. but to be in that environment - omg it would completely EXHAUST our kids. 

 

gosh i cant find this great talk on college education. i think its on ted talks but i cant remember. i heard this great talk on what college education has become. what it was meant to be and what it is now. 

 

this is for you ramama http://onpoint.wbur.org/2011/03/02/should-everybody-go-to-college http://www.wbur.org/media-player?url=http://onpoint.wbur.org/2011/03/02/should-everybody-go-to-college&title=Should+Everybody+Go+To+College%3F&pubdate=2011-03-02&segment=1&source=onpoint
 

today education is so much more important. and i cringe when i see the poor in developing countries look at education as a way to get out of poverty. they dont have any other option. and i dont fault them for it, but they have no idea what they are losing out while getting an education. for instance the profession of farming is dying. and we are losing all our ancient knowledge because generations of farmers are forced to leave that behind. no one is really questioning. or maybe its not encouraged. or encouraged only if it has a point or in a specialised area only. everybody is just getting herded. though this is a trend in education all over the world. 


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double post

 

 

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#15 of 32 Old 07-08-2011, 11:12 AM
 
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For me, I think the problem in public education is in the first few years of elementary where kids aren't getting a good foundation in the basics. 

 

I'd agree that it is problematic when people are taking remedial math after they graduate from high school.  Why is that though?  Perhaps they weren't being steered to take math throughout high school.  This recently changed in our areas but at one time you only had to take two years of math in high school.

 

I'm not against vocational training, but what happens if someone changes their mind, and they haven't received the type of education that will prepare them for college.

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Why so defensive?  What's so flashy about taking a local (was local then, we've moved since) camping trip, in a tent, to an important cultural site?  What's so flashy about going to a public festival and watching free performances?  Or going to a museum on free admission Fridays?  Judge much?

 

I know many people who have had to take FOUR SEMESTERS of remedial courses after high school.  That's not a course or two.  I don't see how graduating high school with a skilled trade is worse than going to college.  Why shouldn't people graduate high school as certified mechanics, veterinary technicians, medical assistants, legal assistants, dental assistant, and so forth?  Why not graduate high school with the equivalent of an AA?  That way, the guy down the street with a accounting degree can't steal your job.  But if you want a degree and can accomplish the work, go ahead and get one?

 

I just think it's cruel to tell a student who needs four semesters of remedial math that they can become a meteorologist with NO PROBLEM.  Not all kids can.  I couldn't, certainly.  But I don't have a mathematical/scientific mind.

 

And no, I don't like the vocational system we have now, and I think they need to be developed, and funded, much more.  But they never will be as long as the cultural stigma is attached to vocational education.

 

I actually wasn't being defensive, these things in my area aren't free.  We don't have local camping and you have to pay to a lot of money to get into those other things so here they are high end things to do.  Everyone makes judgement based on what they know.  What I know is that the things you listed are things that people with money do and that poor people are often looked down on as not enriching their children's lives because they find other ways to enrich their lives.  Obviously you also jump to conclusions and harsh judgement based on what you know.  That is just something people do.  If you don't want to hear feedback about a topic don't post it on an open public forum.

 

Vocational jobs in my area only pay at or slightly above minimum wage and there is definitely a stigma against teachers who encourage kids to focus their skills on obtaining a minimum wage job.  Students were also inappropriately routed into the vocational trades and there is a worry that this will happen, I am pretty sure minority groups are still very underrepresented in AP classes to this day and I think there would be a lot of concern that this would become a bigger problem if vocational schools were widely available.  I know many people who were routed into classes with lower expectations and who's families thought they wouldn't do much with their lives, my own family thought I wouldn't even make it through high school.  A lot of them have gone back to college and were able to do so because they had enough education to make it in college with one remedial math class.  The idea of routine kids into a trade, cutting out the education that makes it possible to change your mind later in life, and making expecting too little from kids okay again is very disturbing to me because I know how it felt to be the one who had too little expected of her and I know people who have gone on to do a lot more than I have to prove people wrong.  I have also supported my family on minimum wage and it is something I don't want for my child.

 

It would be nice if the system changed and everyone made at least a livable wage, but that doesn't seem like reality.  I don't think that offering vocational classes in public schools is going to be a viable way to change the way vocational trades are viewed, it may even do more harm because the market is already so flooded that it is hard to find a job with a livable wage even with an actual AA in a vocational field.

 

 

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One more thing about public education that I still find shocking....the schools that serve the most disadvantaged groups in our country simply don't have the same level of accountability to the communities they are to be serving.  Some of it is about funding....but some of it is not.

 

 

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I actually wasn't being defensive, these things in my area aren't free.  We don't have local camping and you have to pay to a lot of money to get into those other things so here they are high end things to do.  Everyone makes judgement based on what they know.  What I know is that the things you listed are things that people with money do and that poor people are often looked down on as not enriching their children's lives because they find other ways to enrich their lives.  Obviously you also jump to conclusions and harsh judgement based on what you know.  That is just something people do.  If you don't want to hear feedback about a topic don't post it on an open public forum.

 

Vocational jobs in my area only pay at or slightly above minimum wage and there is definitely a stigma against teachers who encourage kids to focus their skills on obtaining a minimum wage job.  Students were also inappropriately routed into the vocational trades and there is a worry that this will happen, I am pretty sure minority groups are still very underrepresented in AP classes to this day and I think there would be a lot of concern that this would become a bigger problem if vocational schools were widely available.  I know many people who were routed into classes with lower expectations and who's families thought they wouldn't do much with their lives, my own family thought I wouldn't even make it through high school.  A lot of them have gone back to college and were able to do so because they had enough education to make it in college with one remedial math class.  The idea of routine kids into a trade, cutting out the education that makes it possible to change your mind later in life, and making expecting too little from kids okay again is very disturbing to me because I know how it felt to be the one who had too little expected of her and I know people who have gone on to do a lot more than I have to prove people wrong.  I have also supported my family on minimum wage and it is something I don't want for my child.

 

It would be nice if the system changed and everyone made at least a livable wage, but that doesn't seem like reality.  I don't think that offering vocational classes in public schools is going to be a viable way to change the way vocational trades are viewed, it may even do more harm because the market is already so flooded that it is hard to find a job with a livable wage even with an actual AA in a vocational field.

 

 


I'm just gonna call this water under the bridge and move on.  I apologize if I took offense where none was intended.  There is nothing flashy about our family LOL.  If we are middle class (and I strongly doubt we are) we're clinging to the bottom rung.  I don't want to shut down the discussion or shut anyone out, and I find this post very interesting.  We really are not that far apart in our ideas, it seems, perhaps just coming at it from opposite ends.  I also am totally aware that this discussion is probably going in the direction of ideology and education theory, and may not provide any practical real-world answers.  That's cool with me :)

 

My main point has been that it seems that high school is not preparing students adequately for college, nor is it preparing students adequately for real-life.  The issues you bring up totally illustrate that point, and all the frustration that wells up from it.  There is something deeply wrong with an education system that churn out students, after 13 years of education, who are unable to make more than minimum wage.  That is wrong on so many levels.

 

My question to you, keep in mind this is theoretical/idealistic and I know that it's not possible in our current educational system...what if a student could graduate high school with the equivalent of an associates degree in a specific field that interests them?  Look at your local community college's website and look at the programs they offer.  The student would still have the general education classes, but would also have a marketable skill.  If they work in their field for a few years while establishing their independence and growing up still a bit more, they can still go on to college.  They can totally change their field of study, or get further education that would enable them to advance in their current field.  I don't see it as either/or when it comes to vocational training and standard undergraduate study.  There are many people who support their families working in skilled labor.  There are many adults who go back to school.  There are plenty twenty-somethings who enter college for the first time.  There's nothing wrong with those people.  Hell, maybe they have it right.

 

I don't recall the exact numbers, but not all that many people work in the field that they got their undergraduate degree in.  For some people it's really hard to decide "what they want to be when they grow up."  Personally, I know one person in real life who works in a field that he has a degree in.  I have an English degree.  What the hell am I supposed to do with that? LOL  But seriously, at the age of 34 I am finally beginning to put it to some use (going for a masters in education).  If I could have taken a few years off between high school and four-year college and earned a living wage while doing it, I would have done that while I try to figure out what I really want to do with my life.  Of course, there are people who are highly motivated to go to college right away.  There are people who know what they want to do with their life seemingly from birth (my BFF knew from 5 years old that she wanted to be a marine biologist, and she got her marine biology degree, and I am envious of her focus and determination).  There are people who are so academically insatiable that they cannot fathom not going directly into a four-year university.  That's fine.  But I think that the vast majority of students do not fall in that category.

 

Just for the record, we had a very bare-boned vocational program where I went to school.  Very underfunded and with a HUGE stigma attached.  The "riff-raff" were sent there, the problem kids, the girls who were pregnant, and the boys who fathered children in high school.  The girls studied cosmetology and the boys studied auto mechanics.  And it was SO underfunded that these kids literally learning NOTHING.  Sad, but true.  I am not advocating for this kind of vocational education, but rather a quality vocational path that works.  Again, like you said, sending more children through our current vocational system would not work. I 100% agree.  But what if we had a excellent and viable vocational system?  What if there was some sort of alternative for students who can't or don't want to go to college, ever or not yet?  Again, theoretical.  I am, thankfully for everyone, not the dictator of America who is going to throw the educational system on its ear tomorrow LOL.

 

Maybe the term "vocational" is a trigger.  Is there a better term?  There seems to be a lot of baggage with the word (myself included).

 


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One more thing about public education that I still find shocking....the schools that serve the most disadvantaged groups in our country simply don't have the same level of accountability to the communities they are to be serving.  Some of it is about funding....but some of it is not.

 

 

Goodness.  So freakin' true!  And heartbreaking!


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#20 of 32 Old 07-08-2011, 12:31 PM
 
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It would be nice if kids could get both the education and a vocation that would serve them in the real world.  I think it would be very possible if teachers were trained to teach the important skills and material from textbooks and leave the rest alone.  I remember memorizing so much nonsense material in school that had no practical use in the real world and when I was going to college I had a professor talk about how wonderful she was for having her students memorize the names of all the rivers in Egypt.  I think cultural knowledge and understanding how geography shapes civilization is important, but teachers go about it in such long drawn out way that by the time you get to talking about how the rivers shaped the geography the children are daydreaming about recess because they thought that memorizing the river names for the test was the important information.  There are many subjects where teachers draw the topic out to death before getting to the point and if they could concisely make their point, or better yet guide the students into discovering the point, they could get a lot more done, students would understand that there was a point to the subjects they were forced to study in school, and there would be time for teaching practical skills.  It would be nice to be able to go to school for 13 years to be prepared for more than a job at McDonalds or school for 13 more years before you can hopefully have a secure job with insurance. 

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I may have an interesting take on all of this. I grew up in a poor area and am only 23 y/o now so my experience is pretty fresh still.

 

Our school system sucked. We didn't even have homework in HS b/c we couldn't take the books home...but we had security guards in every hallway...everyone acted out all the time. There were 3 stabbings in my 4 years there. It was ridiculous.

 

In 10th grade I got into the voc that was a part of this school. It completely changed my life. The ONLY kids who had any drive were the kids in voc. I did go to college after a year of partying and I wanted to be a nurse but the waiting list was 4 YEARS LONG so I gave up...I did general studies for a year and then got pregnant and had DD. I decided she needed me more than I needed to work or go to school. When we are done having kids and they are all in school (if we don't end up homeschooling) I want to be a MW..

 

The rest of the people in my voc class went to college only one dropped out besides me and even though there were only like 16 of us in the class I think that is pretty good considering...

 

Edited to add: 6 of the girls in my class were already mothers and 2 were pregnant by the time we graduated. So that is obviously not ideal either.
 

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For me, I think the problem in public education is in the first few years of elementary where kids aren't getting a good foundation in the basics. 

 

I'd agree that it is problematic when people are taking remedial math after they graduate from high school.  Why is that though?  Perhaps they weren't being steered to take math throughout high school.  This recently changed in our areas but at one time you only had to take two years of math in high school.

 

I'm not against vocational training, but what happens if someone changes their mind, and they haven't received the type of education that will prepare them for college.



 


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I have believed for a long time that American culture and parenting trends were interfering with our children's education. Our kids have everything. I would even see my impoverished preschoolers come in with 50 dollar shoes they'll outgrow in a week. It's become important in our culture for our kids to HAVE what we feel all the other kids have and so even the poorest will attempt to give "stuff" they can't afford. Kids grow up the center of the world and getting what they want never having to really work for it. The entitlement I see in the younger generation is ghastly. My DH hires (and fires) 20-somethings regularly and while there is occasionally a great kid coming in ready for entry level hard work and eager to prove him/herself and climb the ladder, most kids he gets want top dollar for minimal work and then scoff at half their responsibilities as "below" them. This translates into the classroom where kids want "A's" for nothing and I've seen parents race in practically rabid to fight for their child's grades having no concept of where that child truely stands in the class.

 

I don't think it's a matter of kids needing MORE parental involvement as much as APPROPRIATE parental involvement. Their egos are too wrapped up in the outward success of a child. Kids aren't allowed to crash and burn when they need to. They aren't given enough control over their schedule. They are BUSY but they aren't allowed to develop an internal drive. Often they go off to college with no idea how to push and manage themselves.

 

What we expect from our children behaviorally is a problem as well. When I was in elementary, you might have that "one" kid in your grade everyone knew was a challenge and parents sighed when they'd be in their child's class that year. Now, you can have 3 or 4 per class with far more extreme and regular rebellions. Parents are quick to defend their child, use labels to excuse behavior, deflect the issue onto someone else, ect. I've spent a lot of time in the classrooms and I'm shocked at the back-talk, the flat refusal to work, the constant disruption. I just don't know how a teacher can get anything done.

 

I do also feel that college is becoming a problem. Most jobs that now require a degree really don't "need" a degree. I see ads for receptionists that ask for college degrees when really, what they want is a quick and emotionally/socially mature individual. That individual could go very high in the company with practical experience alone. I do value a college education but there needs to be something inbetween. There needs to be a place for trade and gained experience.

 

I'm speaking generally of course. There are some fantastic, driven, hard-working kids and we are fortunate enough to know so many of them. I just see the other side too and it's not good. Everyone means well but we both push and baby innapropriately. Believe me, I put myself in this catergory. I find that I've given my kids far less responsibility in the household than I had as a kid (and I had far less than my parents who were working the fields as young as 6.) I often catch myself "worried" that I'm giving my kids too much work... like washing the dishes a couple times a week after dinner despite the fact that I did that every night growing up! I often catch myself defaulting to "let's make their life easier" as opposed to "let's give them the skills they need to succeed in life."

I remember learning about the phenomenon of the extended childhood in some class I took as an undergrad.  Probably adolescent psychology or something of the like.  It used to be that kids were adults at 18, or before.  Now it seems that true adulthood doesn't start for quite a few years after than, usually post-college.  Not for everyone, but for many.  You know, kids can't earn a living wage fresh out of high school, nor can they pay their own tuition, so they depend on parents for those things.  Even a minimum wage job worked during college barely covers minimum expenses (like car insurance, etc.) so they depend on parents for a lot of those things too.  Many parents want their kids to focus on study and not work while in college, so the kids depend on their parents to fund everything (including their partying LOL) and have no idea what a work ethic is when they graduate.  Then they get out of college and may even get a loan from parents for a down payment on a house, or a parent may buy them a car as a graduation gift.  That's ridiculous to me (and totally out of reach financially to provide that stuff for our kids).

 

I can't even pretend that my kids pull their own weight around here LOL.  They do a half-assed job cleaning their room every once in a while, and that's pretty much it.  I keep meaning to make a chore list for them, but haven't yet.  I had sooooo many more responsibilities as a child.

 

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It would be nice if kids could get both the education and a vocation that would serve them in the real world.  I think it would be very possible if teachers were trained to teach the important skills and material from textbooks and leave the rest alone.  I remember memorizing so much nonsense material in school that had no practical use in the real world and when I was going to college I had a professor talk about how wonderful she was for having her students memorize the names of all the rivers in Egypt.  I think cultural knowledge and understanding how geography shapes civilization is important, but teachers go about it in such long drawn out way that by the time you get to talking about how the rivers shaped the geography the children are daydreaming about recess because they thought that memorizing the river names for the test was the important information.  There are many subjects where teachers draw the topic out to death before getting to the point and if they could concisely make their point, or better yet guide the students into discovering the point, they could get a lot more done, students would understand that there was a point to the subjects they were forced to study in school, and there would be time for teaching practical skills.  It would be nice to be able to go to school for 13 years to be prepared for more than a job at McDonalds or school for 13 more years before you can hopefully have a secure job with insurance. 

Ain't that the truth!  I had a college professor (Medieval and Renaissance literature) who required us to memorize the reigns of all the kings and queens of Britain from William the Conqueror through the Stuarts, including the specific 13 days that Lady Jane Grey was queen.  Serious overkill.  I recently took some refresher courses at the community college level since there had been such a large break between undergrad and grad schooling for me, and from what I experienced there it seems that the focus is moving away from factual history to a more social history.  I can't really speak for what happens in public schools, but I hope it's following the same way.  I would rather my kids understand the causes and effects of the Civil War and the effect on our people, even if they only know that it happened "sometime in the mid-1800s", rather than them know that it occurred exactly between 1861-1865 and understand nothing of its impact on the average American and how it impacted our way of life and government.  I seriously hope things are a-changing.  DD1 is only going into 2nd grade this fall, so my experience is limited in that area.

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#23 of 32 Old 07-08-2011, 05:21 PM
 
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Ain't that the truth!  I had a college professor (Medieval and Renaissance literature) who required us to memorize the reigns of all the kings and queens of Britain from William the Conqueror through the Stuarts, including the specific 13 days that Lady Jane Grey was queen.  Serious overkill.  I recently took some refresher courses at the community college level since there had been such a large break between undergrad and grad schooling for me, and from what I experienced there it seems that the focus is moving away from factual history to a more social history.  I can't really speak for what happens in public schools, but I hope it's following the same way.  I would rather my kids understand the causes and effects of the Civil War and the effect on our people, even if they only know that it happened "sometime in the mid-1800s", rather than them know that it occurred exactly between 1861-1865 and understand nothing of its impact on the average American and how it impacted our way of life and government.  I seriously hope things are a-changing.  DD1 is only going into 2nd grade this fall, so my experience is limited in that area.


Well, that's the difference between a good history professor and a mediocre history professor in my opinion! (bolded part) I had history teachers in high school and college who were compassionate about the "whys."  Why was Lady Jane only queen for 13 days?  Because of the political  climate of that age.  She lost her head because of that climate and it will forever be ingrained into my mind.  I really do think it is about the passions of certain professors and teachers.  I mean, you can know all the facts, but if you aren't passionate about the whys then it is pretty much just information, not teaching of values, emotions, climates and the such.  I think my personal education was a series of fortunate accidents.  I just had professors and teachers who cared about what they did and the message they conveyed.  My college history professor is now deceased, and when I heard about it I got extremely emotional...not because I really knew about him as a person, but because he let me see into his mind and heart.  I find that the most intriguing part of education...the teachers who teach because they are passionate about their craft and subject.  

 


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#24 of 32 Old 07-10-2011, 07:08 AM
 
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I think with all the standardized testing in the schools our students are losing the ability to think creatively.  I don't know if this is a school or a culture problem.  I teach college students, and a lot of the "good" students are used to being told exactly what to learn for the test and exactly what they need to do to earn an A.  Often when I ask my students to think about a problem that may not have a right or wrong answer, but requires some analysis and interpretation based on what they know, they can't do it and/or they freak out.  And these are bright individuals.  

 

I think we need to stop putting so much value and emphasis on test scores and start teaching kids how to think, not what to think.  But people like results that are quantifiable and standardized test scores deliver on that count.  I think the recent scandal in Atlanta highlights some of the issues inherent in high stakes testing. 

 

Perhaps as a culture we should define a body of knowledge students should have by the time they reach the age of, say, 16, and worry less about if children are at the same exact level year to year and grade to grade. 


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#25 of 32 Old 07-10-2011, 01:01 PM
 
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While I agree with you about the foolish badness of high-stakes testing, the inability of college students to adjust to learning material that is open to interpretation may be a developmental issue. I am kicking myself that I can't find the book title now, but when I used to teach college a friend gave me an old book from Harvard in the 1960s that theorized about the developmental stages of young adults' intellect. 

 

Ha! Found it thanks to Google. It was Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years, published back in 1970. Wikipedia has an article summarizing it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_G._Perry

 

I'm sure others have debunked and/or fine-tuned these theories, but the main thing that jumps out is how college students in the 1960s were unable to deal with material open to interpretation--and we can think of their education as pre-lapsarian. 

 

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I think with all the standardized testing in the schools our students are losing the ability to think creatively.  I don't know if this is a school or a culture problem.  I teach college students, and a lot of the "good" students are used to being told exactly what to learn for the test and exactly what they need to do to earn an A.  Often when I ask my students to think about a problem that may not have a right or wrong answer, but requires some analysis and interpretation based on what they know, they can't do it and/or they freak out.  And these are bright individuals.  

 

I think we need to stop putting so much value and emphasis on test scores and start teaching kids how to think, not what to think.  But people like results that are quantifiable and standardized test scores deliver on that count.  I think the recent scandal in Atlanta highlights some of the issues inherent in high stakes testing. 

 

Perhaps as a culture we should define a body of knowledge students should have by the time they reach the age of, say, 16, and worry less about if children are at the same exact level year to year and grade to grade. 



 


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#26 of 32 Old 07-10-2011, 01:13 PM
 
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This is the reason I would give for the problems in US education: a general lack of resources. There's almost no evidence for making all decisions about students based on standardized testing, but when we don't have the money to pay highly-qualified teachers to staff classes with a decent teacher-student ratio, standardized tests seem like an attractive way to industrialize and teacher-proof education. At the same time, when many students don't have access to books and libraries, and are physically at risk in the school building, how can they achieve anything?  

 

My SIL has been teaching in a school where the students don't have access to books. She wrote a grant so that the children in her class would get some books. One of our local school systems has a program in Italian language instruction, because someone in the district went to get money from the Italian government. That's very embarrassing, really. It's only going to get worse because of the housing bubble--the combination of schools and municipalities investing in junk bonds, foreclosures decreasing the size of student populations, and the general downturn in property values (since many schools are funded through property taxes)--it's all made of lose. 

 

The whole school reform bs is coming out of a desire to pretend that you can get the same results in all schools even if the students are very poor and the teachers are all relatively inexperienced and standing in front of huge classes. 

 

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I may have an interesting take on all of this. I grew up in a poor area and am only 23 y/o now so my experience is pretty fresh still.

 

Our school system sucked. We didn't even have homework in HS b/c we couldn't take the books home...but we had security guards in every hallway...everyone acted out all the time. There were 3 stabbings in my 4 years there. It was ridiculous.

 

In 10th grade I got into the voc that was a part of this school. It completely changed my life. The ONLY kids who had any drive were the kids in voc. 



 


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#27 of 32 Old 07-10-2011, 08:16 PM
 
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you know one other thing that i notice with other countries we admire - teachers get a freer hand in their classroom than they get here. i am not sure if they are held accountable, but they have much more input about the needs of the child. they are trusted for instance to define the curriculum of the class, doing the differentiation to help all the different levels of the students. 


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#28 of 32 Old 07-14-2011, 05:01 PM
 
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I think that trying to paint public schools with a broad brush is ridiculous.  There are bad public schools, for sure, but there are also excellent public schools.  So when I hear the hyperbole about our failing schools, I roll my eyes.

 

That said, I do think that most of the problems in education are societal problems, that no amount of standardized testing or teacher blaming is going to fix.  We currently have the largest income gap in modern history in the US.  That, in and of itself, is hugely problematic.  And given that schools are funded largely through local school taxes, it's not surprising that some schools struggle.

 

I also think there are parental and family issues that are very problematic.  We live in a culture where anti-intellectualism is glorified.  If a kid's parents don't value education, chances are good that he won't, and if he isn't sent to school ready to learn if he is sent to school at all, there's not much a teacher can do. 

 

The standardized testing is a farce.  The tests themselves don't measure student achievement or school performance.  They are a political tool, manipulated to give the aggregate results that are politically desired.  A great book on the subject is Phillip Harris's "The Myths of Standardized Tests: Why They Don't Tell You What You Think They Do."

 

I have nothing against vocational education, but I don't think it's a panacea, either.  In the past, vocational programs could educate students to be skilled workers in a largely manufacturing economy, where there were ample jobs that paid pretty well and could be used to support a family.  Those jobs just don't exist.  Most decently paid positions require a college degree.  Whether you really need the degree to do the job or not doesn't matter if the employer isn't going to hire you in the first place.

 

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#29 of 32 Old 07-15-2011, 05:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think that trying to paint public schools with a broad brush is ridiculous.  There are bad public schools, for sure, but there are also excellent public schools.  So when I hear the hyperbole about our failing schools, I roll my eyes.

 

That said, I do think that most of the problems in education are societal problems, that no amount of standardized testing or teacher blaming is going to fix.  We currently have the largest income gap in modern history in the US.  That, in and of itself, is hugely problematic.  And given that schools are funded largely through local school taxes, it's not surprising that some schools struggle.

 

I also think there are parental and family issues that are very problematic.  We live in a culture where anti-intellectualism is glorified.  If a kid's parents don't value education, chances are good that he won't, and if he isn't sent to school ready to learn if he is sent to school at all, there's not much a teacher can do. 

 

The standardized testing is a farce.  The tests themselves don't measure student achievement or school performance.  They are a political tool, manipulated to give the aggregate results that are politically desired.  A great book on the subject is Phillip Harris's "The Myths of Standardized Tests: Why They Don't Tell You What You Think They Do."

 

I have nothing against vocational education, but I don't think it's a panacea, either.  In the past, vocational programs could educate students to be skilled workers in a largely manufacturing economy, where there were ample jobs that paid pretty well and could be used to support a family.  Those jobs just don't exist.  Most decently paid positions require a college degree.  Whether you really need the degree to do the job or not doesn't matter if the employer isn't going to hire you in the first place.


I agree.  The problem I see with public schools is not that some are bad and some are good, just that there is such a wide difference in the first place.  Some consistency would be nice :)  I think on this a lot, and the vocational thing was just something my brain grasped onto at that moment, but really I think it's a cultural problem.  Now, how do we fix that?


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#30 of 32 Old 07-15-2011, 07:23 AM
 
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It would be nice if kids could get both the education and a vocation that would serve them in the real world.  I think it would be very possible if teachers were trained to teach the important skills and material from textbooks and leave the rest alone.  I remember memorizing so much nonsense material in school that had no practical use in the real world and when I was going to college I had a professor talk about how wonderful she was for having her students memorize the names of all the rivers in Egypt.  I think cultural knowledge and understanding how geography shapes civilization is important, but teachers go about it in such long drawn out way that by the time you get to talking about how the rivers shaped the geography the children are daydreaming about recess because they thought that memorizing the river names for the test was the important information.  There are many subjects where teachers draw the topic out to death before getting to the point and if they could concisely make their point, or better yet guide the students into discovering the point, they could get a lot more done, students would understand that there was a point to the subjects they were forced to study in school, and there would be time for teaching practical skills.  It would be nice to be able to go to school for 13 years to be prepared for more than a job at McDonalds or school for 13 more years before you can hopefully have a secure job with insurance. 


Our school system has a "career center" where kids can go for their jr and sr years. They can come out with the training to go into field like dental assisting, being an LPN, welding, construction, mechanics, cosmetology, etc. Their website said that 54% go on after graduating to college, tech school or some other training so I guess they must be able to get the college prereqs if they want to have that as an option.

 

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