Problems with the public education system

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teddy564339

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Since it seems like most of the members here are either in high school or haven't been out of high school for too long, I figured this would be a pretty good place to talk about education (and I didn't find any old threads exactly like this).

Being involved in education myself, I'm just curious to hear what you guys think the biggest problem (or problems) in the education system is. Now, this is certainly going to vary from country to country, so it might be a good idea to make a brief mention of where it is you're talking about.

However, it's very easy to spot problems in education. So, I'd also like to hear why you think the problems exist, and more importantly, any solutions that you can come up with.

Because I've found out that there's not really a "right" and "wrong" with most educational issues...almost any idea or solution is going to have problems in itself, and really it's a matter of people choosing which problems aren't as bad as other ones.


So yeah, I'm just curious to hear what people say, especially since so many people here are still in high school.
 
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Gil

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I would say conformity. They try to make everyone conform to their standards, and everyone who doesn't is labeled with some learning or emotion disability, and shoved into special ed.

Some of those teachers seem hardly qualified to be there, too.

That's not even the tip of the iceburg. Needless to say, I will NOT be attending public school much longer.
 

MysteriousVisitor

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I think one of the big issues is the lack of classical education in Public schools. Back in the day, people wen't tought facts near as much as they were taught how to think. Math skills, for example. American public school students (generally) suck at math. That isn't because of genetic infeiorirty, or lack of desire, or poor mathematics teaching. It is because math requires lots of thinking, and a classical education builds that foundation for later learning. Schools need to go back to basics. Throw out required higher math, complex science, and even technical computer classes. That is what higher education is for. Teach creativity, the written word, and critical thinking. Teach the students how to learn, how to think for themselves. That is how you fix education.
 

Jewbacca

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Throw out required higher math, complex science, and even technical computer classes. That is what higher education is for.
I Highly disagree with this, teaching people how to think is an abomination, they need to learn how to think on their own, and of course, there are many who do not have that ability. Public education is good once the school exceeds the standards. The main problem with America is that we force people to get an education, rather than give the opportunity to get an education. The problem really lies within the slow learners, many children could be fed vast volumes of information and process it all, but the problem with most public schools is that they sense the need to slow down the rate of information presented so the slower kids in the class can keep up, which could easily be solved by separating kids into different learning brackets earlier on in education. It just seems that America finds the notion that some are born to be workings and some are born to be thinkers as too harsh an ideal. I am 95% positive that if schools taught me faster, I would have had at least a bachelor's degree by this point in my life.
 

Gil

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Schools don't teach students to question authority, either. They silence it. Students are expected to believe everything they are told to them, without giving it a second thought, and this is simply DANGEROUS to society.
 

Mandy

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Teachers never answer my why are we learning this?

Hardly if ever can a teacher tell you why we are learning the material and where it will help us in life....
 

Fire2box

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There's something called a "Senior Project" once all of California's high school seniors had to do one and have it pass before they could graduate. Now only about 3 districts in California make it necessary I guess since we have the High School Exit Exam the other ones ditched it. That's my biggest problem is the VERY few remaining districts that think students should still do this sort of crap that's sort of a college thesis paper.

Hell getting out of high school doesn't mean shit anymore anyways as it is. It used to but now you can barely get any good jobs directly out of high school.

Also one time I was taking Government class and all we did was study about the founding fathers. We never did anything about the modern government not even Regan. The whole problem with this is you learned the same stuff in the U.S. History class, maybe not in as much detail. The latter is required BTW.
 

Jewbacca

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Hell getting out of high school doesn't mean shit anymore anyways as it is. It used to but now you can barely get any good jobs directly out of high school.
What do you mean by good jobs? you can still basically get the same jobs you could get, fresh out of highschool, as you did in the fifties. People for some reason think it's a necessity to go to college these days, but it isn't, all the technical degrees could, in fact, be tossed out the window and smashed on the streets, because there is no real need for those degrees, as they could obtain the same knowledge simply through apprenticeships.
 

Maverick

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Personally, I despise the lack of discipline in my school. There are so many assholes and dirtbags in my school, it's sickening. Yet the school administration doesn't do anything about it. On top of all that, they're always complaining about how the students have such poor behavior. I wish they'd just stick a suspension on all of the dirtbags, and keep suspending them till they're taught a lesson. I don't remember who told me this, but someone once told me the problem with my generation is that the adults always praise and let them run wild. But never criticize or discipline them. So my generation seems to think they can do whatever they want without consequences, and in my school they can, because no one will punish them.
 

Charlie

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The students aren't listened to, the people in charge don't care.

Example:
I went to a school, and it decided to change it's name. Now the new name was going to be the name of a hill that can be seen from the school... makes sense sort of...
Problem:
The idiots naming the school don't live in my town, so they had to look-up the name of the hill. I don't know what they looked in... but they found a misprint.
A
fucking
misprint.

The school is still spelt incorrectly, despite students pointing it out, despite local teachers pointing it out. I think that sums my school up really: it's spelt wrong, and they won't change it.

Bastards.

Now, the single biggest problem with high school is the fact that it's geared towards the people who don't want to be there. They get all the attention, all the money spent on them! Talk to a high school teacher, and all they say is "5 GCSEs C and above", that's all they care about. This government aim to have everybody get 5 Cs at least.
You know what?
If you're 15 years old and still don't value education enough to STFU then I think you should just be removed from schools, and left to die from joblessness.

It really annoys me, none of those pricks from high school are going to get jobs, unless they gain the mathematical skill to count in which case they might manage drug dealing.

Solutions:
Grammar schools.
Better choice: not everybody is academic, so have the people who hate the usual stuff and who plan on doing something more vocational learning that stuff from an earlier age.
Get rid of testing in primary schools, and focus on developing a love for learning.
Spend a lot of money on improving the behaviour of bad primary school students, including counselling for their parents. Nip it in the bud!
Less demand for schools to do well in league tables, or at least change the league tables so they are not about exam results alone.
Have a school council (of students) and actually listen to them.
Spell the pissing name of the school correctly!
Counselling in high schools for students.
Higher pay for teachers (more people wanting to teach, more choice for employers, crap teachers rejected).
Parents having more of a say in how things in schools are done (but well restricted since there's a lot of idiots about).

Why we don't have this:
Money! It's expensive, and the government seems to fear significant change.
 

teddy564339

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Ha ha...I've already noticed a few things about this thread that I've found interesting.

The first is...there have been a variety of problems mentioned, but not as much focus on why the problem exists, what potential solutions would be, and why those solutions have not been implemented (of course, as I post this, I noticed Charlie's post was very extensive ;) ). Like I said, it's easy to point out problems, and I think it's a good thing...and since many of you are students, it feels good to let out frustrations and anger towards a lot of the things that make public education so miserable for a lot of people. But...if they're not analyzed, how are they ever going to change?

Secondly...in just a few posts, I've already noticed some strong diversity and disagreement. This is part of the reason why so many problems exist...because there is so much disagreement about the purpose, point, and focus of education, in addition to the biggest issues and how they should be fixed.


The funny thing is, I could probably talk a lot about just about any of the issues anyone has mentioned...if only I had the time and energy. Because while I agree with a lot of the points mentioned, I also think there is a valid explanation as to why the problems exist and why they continue...even if the reasons are ones that a lot of people might disagree with.
 

MysteriousVisitor

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I Highly disagree with this, teaching people how to think is an abomination, they need to learn how to think on their own, and of course, there are many who do not have that ability. Public education is good once the school exceeds the standards. The main problem with America is that we force people to get an education, rather than give the opportunity to get an education. The problem really lies within the slow learners, many children could be fed vast volumes of information and process it all, but the problem with most public schools is that they sense the need to slow down the rate of information presented so the slower kids in the class can keep up, which could easily be solved by separating kids into different learning brackets earlier on in education. It just seems that America finds the notion that some are born to be workings and some are born to be thinkers as too harsh an ideal. I am 95% positive that if schools taught me faster, I would have had at least a bachelor's degree by this point in my life.
Are you intentionally convoluting my point, or are you just stupid? Perhaps you should look up the definition of a classical education before you start spouting bullcrap.

You teach them how to think for themselves, like they did back in the middle ages. Give students a classical education where they can think, and then they shall learn. Trying to teach when the students do not know how to learn is like building a skyscraper with no foundation.

The US educational system is based on the Prussian military model. This model intentionally precludes critical thinking from their curiculum. This made for good soldiers, but not good leaders. Compare how many great thinkers, leaders, and philosophers that have come out of a private educationial setting compared to those from a public school. You will find that the great people of both our time and the past have learned at institutions that require thought to suceed, not just good memory.
 

Gil

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Another thing - Stop spending thousands to upgrade your computers every two years, while teachers still are without working pencil sharpeners!!!!!!:damnpc:
 

starshine

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I Highly disagree with this, teaching people how to think is an abomination, they need to learn how to think on their own, and of course, there are many who do not have that ability. Public education is good once the school exceeds the standards. The main problem with America is that we force people to get an education, rather than give the opportunity to get an education. The problem really lies within the slow learners, many children could be fed vast volumes of information and process it all, but the problem with most public schools is that they sense the need to slow down the rate of information presented so the slower kids in the class can keep up, which could easily be solved by separating kids into different learning brackets earlier on in education. It just seems that America finds the notion that some are born to be workings and some are born to be thinkers as too harsh an ideal. I am 95% positive that if schools taught me faster, I would have had at least a bachelor's degree by this point in my life.
I actually agree 100% with you there.

Even if you take a look at all the "alternative" schools we have in Canada, for those who screwed up in regular school, all they do is baby the kids. Then they screw up again - oh look - let's baby them some more! To the point where they are teaching kids that don't want to learn, and aren't really going to learn anyways.... just show up for the perks they get. When instead they could use that money to help kids who actually *want* to learn.

A lot of the time, too, if a child is learning to slow, they will just place them in a special-ed class where they could very well do worse, because face it - when you learn to slow for your brain, you get bored, and will most likely act out, get bad grades, because you're just too damn bored.

One thing I have to point out though, which I think you meant but just to make sure...... The classes have to be separated into the learning categories. (Which they do do a pretty good job of here in highschool, just not in gradeschool).
 
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I'll start at the top and work downward:

I think one of the big issues is the lack of classical education in Public schools. [...] a classical education builds that foundation for later learning. Schools need to go back to basics. Throw out required higher math, complex science, and even technical computer classes. That is what higher education is for. Teach creativity, the written word, and critical thinking. Teach the students how to learn, how to think for themselves. That is how you fix education.
Agreed. Also agreed that this is the #1 problem/issue that we face. Bear in mind, we see this at the university level and must address it - we used to be able to depend on a level of independent and critical thinking, but this assumption seems ill-made these days and can lead to some very wide gulfs between what the professor tries to impart to the student, and what the 17- or 18-year-old is able to frame.

I will niggle a small bit, though: I do not think that creativity can be taught. However, I do think it flourishes as the result of having a working knowledge of what has come before, where we "fit," and what will come after. It flourishes in the presence of a classical education and is cultivated with the leisure (ala Josef Pieper, not the "leisure" that we know) gained through education.

It sounds like you'd enjoy a book that I myself adore: Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind. Its main premise is yours and mine: that we no longer have a common grounding, understanding, or "shared terms" that we bring to the classroom. In just the time since I have come and gone through primary and secondary (and post-secondary) schooling, this gulf between master and apprentice has become a yawning chasm.

I posit that we are effectively "blind" without the knowledge gained through classical studies.

Schools don't teach students to question authority, either. They silence it. Students are expected to believe everything they are told to them, without giving it a second thought, and this is simply DANGEROUS to society.
Absolutely correct; more so on the second point (its danger to society), but true enough in most high-school settings on the first. Frankly, I run courses to the same end that makes Zen study attractive to me: that nothing is sacred, and that the students may, can, and should question things that I say. Questions lead to learning and through being able to structure the world around you (and its actors). Frankly, my approach is how dare I deprive someone of the single most important and shaping thing in life (questioning and wondering) that we can do? Of course, occasionally questioning leads to a comment of, "that's a good question. In fact ... I'd like everyone to give it some thought tonight and turn in a short response to me before tomorrow at 5pm."

I Highly disagree with this, teaching people how to think is an abomination, they need to learn how to think on their own, and of course, there are many who do not have that ability.
I think we may be looking at a difference in semantics here: would you agree that it is best to give people the means, tools, and training by which they may think on their own? You may be right in pointing out that not everyone may think on their own; I think what the OP for your comment (quoted above) and what I would agree to would be that the means, tools, and training are requisite. In effect, give people at last the opportunity to learn to think on their own.

Public education is good once the school exceeds the standards. The main problem with America is that we force people to get an education, rather than give the opportunity to get an education. The problem really lies within the slow learners, many children could be fed vast volumes of information and process it all, but the problem with most public schools is that they sense the need to slow down the rate of information presented so the slower kids in the class can keep up, which could easily be solved by separating kids into different learning brackets earlier on in education.
Hang on... This was done (at least in my schools in the 'States) quite early on. This is why I have known more or less the same peer group of about 15-20 ever since the 5th grade; we all went through various "gifted" incarnations within school and didn't really see coursework outside of 10-15 students. Looking back, this was phenomenal, as we had a loose agenda and could go explore different ideas as they cropped up in the coursework.

It just seems that America finds the notion that some are born to be workings and some are born to be thinkers as too harsh an ideal. I am 95% positive that if schools taught me faster, I would have had at least a bachelor's degree by this point in my life.
And I'm 99% sure that if we, as parents and parents-to-be, home-school or otherwise inform our children that they can CLEP out of coursework and take other avenues to their education, High School would be done at 14 for many. For me, I gained the following skills in High School that I didn't have before:
  • Calculus
  • Physics
  • Social Skills
It's a short list, to be sure, but the last item encompasses also hearing others muddle through their own thinking, and acting as a sounding board for my own. And this was valuable. High School was a maturation process in the worst possible way, just like undergraduate work: it was a trial by fire. With society stripping away all other rites of passage, I think the largest and most compelling reason I can come up with for even going to high school is this: a social rite of passage.

You're brilliant. I'm brilliant. But Joe Sixpack is an ignoramus. And it takes a few years of training to deal with Joe. I have acquaintances from all walks of life, and can always find something to take back and puzzle over. Not all of life is intellectual, not all of it experiential; I find that hanging with the heavy equipment operator down the street for a Pepsi or beer from time to time is good, liberating even. I understand where you're going with the "Gods and Clods" argument, but I will point out that society needs both - I certainly have no idea how to sew my own shirts or cobble my own shoes; let someone do that who is happy doing that.

And this last point leads me to another thing that irritates me: our dim view of community colleges and trade schools in this country.

Not everyone will get a college degree. Christ, not everyone should get a college degree. Rather, if someone likes working with engines and tinkering with air/fuel mixtures, then they should be able to go through a technical school and receive gainful employment. Sure, I'm a bright guy, but my "bright guy" card won't do crap for me when my car dies out on the highway. I have a huge deal of respect for plumbers and electricians and mechanics and artists; I'm clumsy. And overly cautious. And can't draw. I can't do what they can do. So we need a mix of people in society with a mix of education and income levels, and should move away from encouraging and understanding undergraduate education as a rite of passage.

This point made, there is a list of things that men should know or know how to do:
  • Be able to change a tire. In the dark. On a busy highway.
  • Know how to change your own oil.
  • Know how to field-dress a wound.
  • Know how to sew (marginally; enough to close a slashed sleeve).
  • Be able to do the laundry without ending up with pink underwear.
  • Cook a quiche.
  • Know how "quiche" is pronounced.
  • Explain why the sky is blue.
  • Know how to start a fire a few different ways.
  • Know several Greco-Roman stories.

To this list, I should also add one more item, this for the married/engaged/girl-friended man:
  • Leave the "things a woman should know" list to a woman to make.
 

TheFoxxehAssassin

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Well, here in Texas, we have these yearly tests. They aren't end-of-the-year, but are in Feb.-April. These TAKS tests (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) completely shape the way our teachers teach us. They say, "This will most likely be on the TAKS test," or "This is in preparation for the TAKS test,"- something like that. If we didn't have these tests, we could most certainly focus more on the actual things we were learning, rather than worry about a test so ridiculously easy, almost anyone is allowed to pass. And, by that, I mean ANYONE.

The test is incredibly stupid, and after they are over, we basically just review. These last 2 months are precious hours, and days that could be spent learning new material. I seriously think that if these tests were abolished, Texas would be a smarter state. (Not saying it isn't already.)

Also, the material on the tests themselves is sometimes just plain pointless. The writing test, for example, focuses mainly on the prompt the writer is given. Now, think for a second: How many times in our lives are we going to be required to write a 2-page narrative about our favorite memory? Let me think... NONE!

Now, while these skills of writing may, and probably will, come in handy, they seriously need to expand the work that is accepted. Instead of giving the author an exact prompt to follow, how about giving them a chance to write a poem, or a story? Also, I do believe the writing process isn't all that required to know by heart. Sure, it definitely is useful, but really? I mean, is it seriously required to know that the writing process is Brainstorm, Pre-Write, Rough Draft, Revise, Edit, and Final Copy in that order? No.

On other subjects that are almost completely useless, like say, Texas History, there is almost nothing learned in these classes that is required later in life. Sure, the facts may be cool to know, and it is somewhat important to know about the Alamo, but some things are just plain useless. However, we do have higher-level thinking projects, and they are very important. The class should be renamed from Texas History, to just plain Social Studies. Not only does it give a much wider array of the curriculum given, but it doesn't just focus on history.

On the higher-level thinking projects, we are given a chance to study a problem that is in our society, say Global Warming, and perform tests and interviews with people to better understand the subject. Now, by interviews, I'm talking about mayors, senators, and the superintendent. By tests, we perform research on the subject, and draw conclusions, and even come up with solutions to problems.

Okay, enough ranting. I think I bored you all. In summary, the education system needs to be fixed. Drastically. More emphasis on the curriculum, rather than just passing the grade, or even grades for that matter.
 

Korey

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Uhhhh well were growing up in a pretty fucked up world. Our education system, at least where I live, Edmonton, is imo as good as it can get. By the end of your 12-13 years of regular school you should have a pretty good idea of how you want to live your life and what you want to be. There are all kinds of opportunities and with ambition anyone can achieve whatever they want. If were discussing how strict schools are, and the intensity and speed of lessons, well theres always private schools if thats what you desire...

If the education system was "perfect", it would turn people into robots.
 
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Another thing - Stop spending thousands to upgrade your computers every two years, while teachers still are without working pencil sharpeners!!!!!!:damnpc:
Actually they should get rid of most their computers. Computers aren't needed to teach any class that isn't about the use or programming of a computer. There are these neat things called libraries, they are full of books, audio media, video media, magazines, and all sorts of other things. They are great places to learn. Students need to learn how to find facts, without using google, which may or may not lead you to real facts.

I'm not saying that students shouldn't use computers, they are great for producing reports, term papers, etc., but they shouldn't replace having a teacher teach, or be the primary source of research.

To h3g3l:

To add to your list of things a man should know how to do add these:
Change a diaper (on an infant, not yourself)
Give understandable directions.
Write an understandable paragraph.
 
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...[T]he writing process is Brainstorm, Pre-Write, Rough Draft, Revise, Edit, and Final Copy [...]
In "writing for consumption" as I (try to) do now, I find the following steps are involved:
  1. Brainstorm: A polite way of saying, "figure out what hasn't been said before and say it in a way that's not too far ahead of the curve to publish."
  2. Pre-Write: My computer needs updating. And I should really pay some bills now. And eat lunch. Oh, now it's dinner time. Okay, let's outline this pig.
  3. Rough Draft: Hey, I have words on the page. What ho, this is good stuff! Let's sleep on this for a week and come back to it for major edits.
  4. Revise: It's about as good as I can make it now. Let's allow a colleague to take a look... Okay, I have some more work to do.
  5. Edit: It's as good as I and the professors can make it. It's bullet-proof. In it goes for submission!
  6. *Wait anywhere from 3-12 months for feedback*
  7. Final Copy: "Revise and Re-Submit." Oh, good, they're interested. Let's see ... reviewer #1 ... okay, valid points, yes, yes, yes, minor changes, great. Reviewer #2 ... oh dear. Christ, did he even READ what I wrote? Why ON EARTH is he suggesting I read this article?? This has nothing to do with the paper! Crap - he has no idea where this paper went, AND he's bashing me for it.
  8. Final Copy: Let's show this to an expert in the field. Yeah, I figured reviewer #2 was full of crap and himself. Ah, you know him? And you say he's a jerk? Great.
  9. Final Copy: Either rewrite in full or re-publish the conceptual piece as a full-blown study. In a journal that permits 2500-word articles. Stupid reviewer #2 - do you even know what journal you're reviewing for?? Also, how on earth can I sum up his points while respectfully telling him that he's missed the entire point of the article - AND that this isn't my fault (as the other reviewer got it just fine)? How is a 2x2 conceptual piece this difficult to "get?" Gaahhh!
  10. *Rip hair out*

To h3g3l:

To add to your list of things a man should know how to do add these:
Change a diaper (on an infant, not yourself)
Give understandable directions.
Write an understandable paragraph.
Argh - hopefully that last one wasn't directed at me.
 

BromeTeks

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I think quite a few problems could be solved in my school if..
A: we got rid of the incompetent teachers, such as my history teacher who tried to teach us that girls have no colons 0.o; or, the one mentioned here
B: stop showing favoritism to the athletes. If they deserve to fail, then bloody fail them.
C: Work harder on instilling an educational curiosity in students, making them want to learn (As far as I can tell, I'm just about the only person with any scientific curiosity in my class, as portrayed by the Time I was about to blurt out, "Seriously, am I the only one who's ever even looked at a book on quantum and nuclear physics?" Then I realized who I was talking to.)
D: stop putting so much emphasis on the football game tonight, all of you. you could be using this time to teach us rather than discuss how likely it is that we will lose the game.
 
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