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Thread: The education system.

  1. #1

    Default The education system.

    I'm not summering every single school in the state, just the schools I grew up in, I have to confess, I learned practically NOTHING.

    I aced all the way up to year 11, I was that kid who did his work, I kind of realised I learned nothing in year 11, and realised that year 12 was just a "repeat" of year 11.

    I've learned more outside of school, than I ever did at school, I must say I suck at maths, not because I'm bad at it, I was never taught maths, that's right

    If you ask me a question like whats 53 * 64 I can't do it, because I don't know how to, same with fractions, algebra. (I feel like an idiot for not knowing something as simple as that) and this goes for all maths.

    Most of the people who went to my schools, couldn't critically think, didn't know the difference between proper research, and bullshit, for example if I got into an argument with someone first thing they will go on the internet and do is find a website that backs there argument, instead of "valuing such information", like for example MIT is much more reliable than the flat earth society.

    Worse is these people were A grade students, It seems that you don't get marked based on your actual work, but based on spelling and grammar, which surprisingly made my blood boil.

    I never learned basic skills, never learned how to do taxes, or better yet how to apply for a drivers licence, had to learn to do that all myself.

    Worse is half the people who went to that school, build up a "confirmation bias", such as having a A grade meant the work was 100% correct.

    I kind of gave up roughly around year 12, because I learned nothing, I was going to drop out, and go through the tafe system.

    In primary school, they would always do stupid nonsense like this.

    Oh, next year we are learning fractions....
    next year comes, oh you were supposed to get taught fractions.
    oh, next year they will be teaching you multiplication.
    Oh, last year they were supposed to teach you multiplication.

    Until, the point you came away from that school, not knowing how to spell properly or do basic math, infact all my friends who went to the same school, come to me because they can't spell basic words.

    That's also the story behind my bad grammar lol. I've put a hold on uni until 2018, so I can improve on my skills, and I'll be finishing off tafe / doing a diploma for the time being.

    Here is the thing, not putting everyone in a box here, but I'm sure that 99% of the people who went to my high school, would use the onion as a "source" for trust worthy research.

  2. #2

    Default

    In my conservative opinion..... there are a number of reasons for this.

    1. Trying to do too many different things in a short school day. Basic learning, the three 'R's, is like the machine language in a computer. You have to have that down cold before you can move on to other things. Back in the day, you'd write by hand, grind out problems by hand. Slow, time consuming, boring, but by the time you got through elementary school, the right answer to all the basic operations was burned into your synapses. A wrong arithmetic answer looked wrong, no calculator required. Bad grammar or spelling just looked wrong, no spell check required. Its appalling that anyone would even be allowed in a high school, much less a university without those basic skills.

    2. Increased and too early reliance on electronic aids. When you've always done your 'maths' with a calculator, you lose the sense of proportion that we learned by doing everything the hard way. Yes, its an electronic world these days, but using electronic toys isn't that hard to pick up if you know the basics, because you know what you're looking for. The faux time saving let schools think they could throw in all the touchy-feely crap that's confusing kids today.

    3. Teaching has become too much of a government job, with the attendant union attitudes. There are some who rise above the mediocrity, but not as many as there should be.

    4. There is no such thing as failure in school, and therefore no fear of failure. Public schools pander to the least common denominator with social promotion and grade inflation. When the bar is set low, there's never a reason to fly high. Like teachers, some students rise above the muck, but not as many as there should be. Parochial schools are better, but still nothing like they used to be. At the university level, everyone is told they need the piece of paper. The schools, teachers, and government agencies are only too happy to play along, building their bureaucratic empires and justifying funding in the process.

    5. Critical thinking can't be taught to someone who hasn't learned the basics properly, and doesn't need to be taught to those who have.

  3. #3

    Default

    The problem of this stems from the poor graduation rates we used to have 20 plus years ago. Schools were mandated to improve graduation rates (a major factor in how much funding they get). In order to do this they lowered the bar and moved up kids that weren't ready to be moved up a grade. However, our national rate of graduation went up something like 20% in just 20 years.

    Too bad that came at the cost of a high school diploma meaning less than half it used to.

  4. #4

    Default

    Thank you!

    You pretty much summed what is without a doubt, my biggest complaint about the education system (at least in the United States). Bulimic Education.

    Like you mentioned, most students in these classes aren't really learning. They're essentially just cramming information, they'll vomit that information onto a scantron, and then be completely done with it, because in the U.S, we teach to the test, because schools will be determined on how much money they get from the federal government based on how their students score on standardized testing. If you just incentivize standardized test scores and your entire budget depends on these scores, everything will be taught so that you do well on those standardized tests. Now the issue of bulimic education has been around for a long time, but the problem was made a lot worse when school budgets got tied to test scores.

    I don't need to go into detail about how bulimic education doesn't work. Most people today can't remember the stuff they learned in school. For instance, if you look through my records, it will say "Gsmax has passed Trigonometry". But I didn't learn anything in that class. I don't know shit about Trigonometry. I just barely scraped by, memorizing the formulas just long enough for me to spit them out on a test. If you tested me on the subject, I'd do just as badly as I would've before I ever took the class. Some will claim critical thinking, and that may be true for some, but considering the fact that I'm surrounded by idiots, who all made it through school, it's clear to me that no. You likely did not acquire critical thinking skills from school. People nowadays care far more about whether you got an A in the class than what skills you actually learned from that class in the long term.

    Even in subjects that are supposed to be subjective, usually what you'll learn is what the teacher wants you to think of the book, and if you object, you're reading the book wrong. I could go on and on about how several classic novels are terrible and the narrative and symbolism you're required to see in them is garbage, but instead of learning to analyze the material for yourself and construct an intelligent argument using the source material to back up your claim, you dig through Sparknotes to see what your teacher wants you to say, and just go with that, then go on thinking that X is terrible (which it likely is), and that everything like X is terrible. That may not be bulimic education, but it is still another serious problem I have with how we teach literature in our current education system.

    I have always said this, and I'll continue to say this. Learning should both be relevant to your life, and it should not be painful. All the classes that I retained the information from, were both subjects that I'm naturally good at, and were easy classes that I enjoyed sitting in. The majority of stuff I learned, came from outside the classroom, from educational videos, and books I read on my own. A lot of stuff you actually need to learn, like the stuff you mentioned, is stuff that most people will scoff at and just say you learn on your own. Hell, some of the stuff they teach in High School can be garbage (Creationism), or misinformation that's dangerous (Abstinence Only Education). Not saying that learning should be cakewalk and that you shouldn't expand your mind, but I just really hate Bulimic Education, Schools that are based off Factory Lines, and as you said, putting people in boxes. Just a small sample of my many flaws with the education system in the United States.

  5. #5

    Default

    I personally don't feel that the education system failed me, but I had access to advanced placement classes and was able to take college classes my 12th grade year (thus allowing me to earn credits and graduate from university in 3 years instead of the usual 4).

    And, absolutely, some of the things that you are asked to do in school may seem irrelevant. However, I've found that having a wide breadth of knowledge has helped me so far in my life (granted, of course, that I've only been out of school for 7 years). I'm a computer programmer by profession, and I've found that the people that are laser-focused on technology and computers are good at the raw skill of programming but terrible at software engineering -- that is, the process of solving a problem with software. Almost every industry needs programmers, but chances are you won't necessarily be an expert in your company's particular industry. I don't know how much this applies to other professions, but I've found even having some random chemistry knowledge has helped me in my career so far.

    However, you are right, the education system (at least in the United States) is severely flawed. I think its probably a lot worse now than when I went through it. My wife was a 10th grade biology teacher for two years before settling on a career change. The biggest reason for her decision to leave teaching was that the system handcuffs teachers more than most people realize. My wife was very passionate about her subject, and wanted to give every student the opportunity to learn. Even if you didn't end up using biology in the future, it was her job to help spark an interest in you for your future. If you find yourself saying "hey, that whole thing about how cells reproduce was pretty cool," then you might have an interest in biomedical engineering, something the world probably will need more of in the near future, and that was what drove my wife.

    Turns out, though, teachers are forced to teach to standards that don't make any sense. This, unfortunately, limits their ability to teach stuff that is actually interesting or useful. Additionally, every student is different. But teachers can't teach to individuals, they have to teach to an entire class. This means that some students are bored out of their minds because the class goes too slow. But it also means that some students are struggling to keep up. As a teacher, my wife constantly had to grapple with how to keep the high-achieving students engaged while helping the low-achieving students as well. It is not easy. After school was done, she would spend an average of 4-5 hours per night working on lesson plans and trying to come up with innovative ways to teach the curriculum, while at the same time touching on the aforementioned standards.

    Teachers also barely have any power or authority. Students who are continually disruptive in class are sometimes hard to punish (especially if they're on the school sports team). My wife attempted to give a hockey player detention (just one day) and she was called my the principal demanding an explanation, because the principal received an angry phone call from a parent. Why does this matter? Well, the student's antics were a distraction in class. The overwhelming opinion of students is that school is a waste of time and stupid, and now you have someone causing a disruption that shatters the already tattered attention spans of the students.

    I also personally believe that parenting has something to do with it, too. My own brother-in-law is really struggling in high school right now, and his parents (my in-laws) just shrug and say "I didn't do well in school either." Quite frankly, I'm not sure how my wife ended up as smart as she did. But that's a bigger societal issue that is outside of the scope of this post

    Anyway, I understand your frustration. But I also feel that learning (even if it seems dumb and irrelevant) is never wasted. You become a deeper, more interesting person because of it. (of course, our very existence on this forum makes us particularly interesting, but I digress)

  6. #6

    Default

    One of the things I have griped about for a long time, particularly with math education, is the tendency to teach it by rote rather than foster conceptual understanding. In my opinion this is the wrong way to learn mathematics. By way of example, students are taught to memorize the quadratic formula, but are never shown where it comes from. It's presented as just a magical formula that will give you the answers if you memorize and follow it. The formula is not hard at all to derive, you just apply the technique of completing the square to a quadratic equation that has a, b, and c in place of numeric coefficients. Deriving it should just about be a homework assignment. Unfortunately, most students are no longer even being taught the technique of completing the square... why bother when there's this magic formula you can memorize, right? >_<

  7. #7

    Default

    As long as the lower levels of the public school system is populated by teachers who went into elementary education because of the low level of math required, and are basically math-phobes, we will have students who are scared of or hate math. Kids pickup on the non-verbal signals that adults give and teachers who are uncomfortable with any math beyond addition and, maybe subtraction, send "math hard" signals.

    Since most elementary teachers are women, these signals tend to resonate with girls even more. There is no intellectual capability reason that girls should not be doing as well as boys in the STEM area. I believe that the early training has influenced girls that math is not meant for them. That is both a shame and a waste of human talent.

    I have taught college-level programming and some of my best students have been women. However, women have rarely made up over 1/3 of the class. And this is a field where the pay is good and, in general, there is little, if any, pay discrimination based on sex.

  8. #8
    MarchinBunny

    Default

    Ya, I never been one to like the education system. But ... I would not goes as far as to say it failed me either. It just could have been loads better.

    Something I always hated is how much homework often counted toward your grade. You could literally have 100% on every test in the class, and still fail or get a horrible grade because you never did the homework. To me that is a little absurd.

  9. #9

    Default

    I'm glad I got to go through the Australian education system. Public school students are more likely to pass university than private school students here.

    I can understand how some people in the USA.. or even many.. get a poor education. From my time spent in the USA I was amazed at how much my friends thought education was memorising dates in history. What a useless skill to have. It seems like most of the education system is designed to impress voters... ie, parents. Homework, lots of facts, less play, etc.
    Next comes teacher quality. I have two American friends who are teachers. One was a Geologist and did a 6 month course and is now a teacher. Luckily she is a natural teacher. Her husband did a technology course and then did a 6 week course (wow!) and became a teacher in Massachusetts. He is not a natural teacher but, lucky for voters, he only works in the low-socioeconomic schools. You know.. the schools that really need the highest quality teachers.
    I did 4 years of learning to be a teacher and still wasn't ready. Finland, the top education system, requires teachers to have a masters degree. I've done 4 jobs since leaving school and teaching was by far the most exhausting and intensive job I've ever done.. .and I used to labour building swimming pools 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week for the entire summer period. (Around 3 months)
    Teachers also don't get paid enough in the USA. My friends both had a second job. She was the director of a summer camp and he worked at a clothing outlet. My starting salary was higher than her salary after ten years of teaching and as head of department.

    Brabbitt - That is disgusting. Homework in elementary and middle school has NO PROVEN BENEFIT. It only has benefits in high school. However, 100% on every test also means nothing. Tests .. test.. a moment in time. Ongoing assessment through teacher observation is the most accurate form of assessment. Tests are only one part but, unfortunately for the USA, they are seen as the main form of assessment.

    Even the Australian education system isn't what it should be. It is completely biased towards girls and is slowly being taken over by the politicians. Less play, more desk work, more standardised tests, more homework, less play, more sitting.. and did I mention less play? Finland has 4 hours of school a day and 1 hour of that is play.

    Here are some of the ways education is biased against boys.
    Starts too early - Most boys aren't developmentally ready for school until around age 7. Guess what age Finland starts school? One Australian state recently pushed back the starting age because they found middle socioeconomic to high socioeconomic kids performed worse the earlier they started school.
    Sitting cross legged- Boys aged 5 have hips that aren't designed to sit cross legged. This causes them minor pain, they fidget, then they get told off. Guess what their opinion of school is from an early age?
    Play - Kids learn through play... not by sitting at a desk. Yes, we need desk work for some things but the majority should be play based. This is more of an issue for boys because the testosterone boost they get at age 4 makes it hard for them to sit still. Someone used the example of fractions. When teaching Year 3 (8 year olds) I never once used a worksheet. Playdough, cooking and blocks along with some recording in their books on what they had done.
    Creativity and imagination - Boys love to play physical games. This is a biological fact. Some don't, but most do. Schools, and society, tell boys this type of play is wrong and they shouldn't do it. So they stop imagining and instead play the pre-approved games that they are told to play. Why is imagination and creative play so important? Let me change it to a word that society loves to hear. "Innovation." The acceptable word to call creativity so you don't look like a hippy. Creativity is a better indicator of future life happiness and earnings than academic success. Children, but boys to a greater extent, get creativity stamped out of them. There was actually a very good study that showed children's decline in creativity through their education. They were 'creative geniuses' at age 4 but by age 12 they were mediocre.
    Rough and tumble play - An important stress outlet for boys, especially under age 10. Boys aren't allowed to rough and tumble. Boys can't remove stress as they were meant to so they either do it in other unacceptable ways or they don't release it. Depression is highest among boys under age 10 but is lower after that age. Conduct disorder (crime and such) rears it's ugly head after this age. Mental health is another important indicator for life success.

    I could go on but I haven't ranted about this for a while so would have to go back and re-research the facts.

  10. #10
    MarchinBunny

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aidy View Post
    Brabbitt - That is disgusting. Homework in elementary and middle school has NO PROVEN BENEFIT. It only has benefits in high school. However, 100% on every test also means nothing. Tests .. test.. a moment in time. Ongoing assessment through teacher observation is the most accurate form of assessment. Tests are only one part but, unfortunately for the USA, they are seen as the main form of assessment.
    In my opinion 100% on every tests means a whole heck of a lot. It means that the person at any moment in time, is able to answer the questions. It's not like people just know the answers for the tests and then immediately forgets after, that wouldn't make a whole lot of sense unless they are cheating or if they have some sort of mental disability.

    In fact, I would say Teacher observation is the absolute worse way to go about it, because then you would have to worry about bias more than we do now. Two students could be equally doing well, but because the teacher likes one student more over than the other, can really change how they observe. Also to call it accurate when such bias exists, makes no sense.

    Tests are literally ... do you or do you not know the answer. There is no way you can get anymore accurate than that.

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