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jld

Low expectations?

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We have two different (maybe three actually) levels of low level kids in our school. The lowest - those physically not able to handle coursework and such things - I never deal with. They are "handled" within our school by a different organization with specially qualified people.

 

Then there are low level kids who are 100% with other kids their level - never mainstreamed except maybe for PE or maybe some shop classes (other areas I don't get to). They literally are working in elementary books and often have difficulties (though for some it is "will" not "ability").

 

Then there are low level kids meaning not honors or regular level. Their ability is more on par with middle school content. They are mainstreamed for classes in which they have ability, but placed into lower content classes in areas where they struggle. Some are 100% in the lower level classes.

 

I know those in the 3rd category are affected even though some have IEP's. Very few will score high enough to pass the new tests. Those that do may have been mis-placed in classes anyway, but seriously, unless the content of those classes changes, they haven't got a chance. (There has been talk about changing content, of course.) I "think" those in the 2nd category are affected based on what I've overheard those teachers talking about, but I'm not 100% sure as I don't get there too often and haven't specifically asked. It might be a case by case basis. If not, none will pass the new tests. I don't know anything about the 1st category. I don't even know if they got any sort of certificate in the first place.

 

Isn't it different if a child is on an IEP? The child would still have to take certain standardized tests with accommodations, however, even if the child does not obtain the scores required to graduate, I believe as long as a child has met the goals of his/her IEP that child would still be eligible for a regular high school diploma in PA. Has that also changed? I would imagine that more kids might end up on IEP's so that they can get regular high school diplomas. I think in some states special needs children are actually only getting certificates of attendance, and I think that is a shame. I think if kids are working to their ability and progressing from where they started (if they have the ability to do so) then those children should all be eligible to receive a regular high school diploma. Gosh, how awful for a child to receive a diploma that basically says they aren't up to par, that they haven't accomplished what other kids have. That child who has less ability/different abilities may have worked twice as hard to complete his education. A transcript will reveal what courses they have taken. Employers/colleges can ask for course descriptions. What we need to get away from is thinking that there is a "standard" that each child must reach with education. Not all children are capable of the same things. We need to respect and honor that. You make an excellent point, creekland, regarding the fact that many of these kids have talents in areas that are not recognized by what PA determines to be part of the standard package necessary to get that regular diploma. Imagine if as adults we had to undergo categorizing and labeling based on how we compare to our peers based on someone else's idea of what's important? Yikes. We should not expect that all children should be doing the same thing at the same time and make THAT the criteria for getting that high school diploma. Education should be tailored to the child. It shouldn't be based on comparisons with other children. Yes, there should be goals but not all kids can accomplish the same things and that should be acceptable. As far as I am concerned, a high school diploma should signify that a particular child has worked to his level of ability and has accomplished goals tailored to meet the needs of that particular child.

 

And isn't that what we are all really saying here anyway? That we should all be expecting the best of our kids and that we should all be doing our best to help them reach their potential? And I guess we all have different opinions on what that means because we all have different ideas of what's most important. But in any case, that's one reason I am homeschooling--to help my children reach their potential. Traditional school is not my idea of how to help my kids reach their potential.

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I started reading my dd's science textbook ahead of her and felt my brain numbing over. There has got to be a better way to study science!

 

When I first started homeschooling my oldest, it was very hard to get science=boring out of my head. Years of school science had made that connection to me. Then I realized that I had always been fascinated by genetics and read a lot about it, and I realized that - duh! - genetics is science! And I had developed an interest in epidemiology a couple years before starting to homeschool (after reading The Hot Zone), and I realized - LOL! - that's science too!

 

But while I was reading my dd's textbook (Science of the Physical Creation by A Beka), all of that came rushing back, as I nodded off, thinking, "This is boring!" :001_smile:

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I think maybe the problems happen when textbooks are the only thing done for science. If textbooks are used as only one part of science, then they can be seen as what they are: an attempt at an efficient way to teach the basic facts. I think textbooks need to be combined with articles about what research current scientists are doing, how science is currently being applied (technology and engineering and inventions), interesting science activities demonstrating basic principles, opportunities use scientific experiments on one's own to figure out something one is interested in, opportunities to do some reading and research in areas the areas of one's interest. The problems happen when there isn't enough time to do these other things, or when the student arrives in class without the skills to be able to do the other things, or when there are behavior problems involving bunsen burners and chemicals, or when the teacher doesn't know how to facilitate the other things well. I suspect that the faculty are hoping that if they do the textbook part, those students with the interest will do the other parts themselves. This is probably even true for some students. It might even be ideal because then it would be assured that the student was only working in areas of interest in a self-directed way. It creates sort of a vicious circle, though, because in non-scientific families, the textbook alone may not raise enough interest for the student to want to spend any of their precious extra time exploring something that seems so boring and so continue to think it is boring.

-Nan

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I think maybe the problems happen when textbooks are the only thing done for science. If textbooks are used as only one part of science, then they can be seen as what they are: an attempt at an efficient way to teach the basic facts. I think textbooks need to be combined with articles about what research current scientists are doing, how science is currently being applied (technology and engineering and inventions), interesting science activities demonstrating basic principles, opportunities use scientific experiments on one's own to figure out something one is interested in, opportunities to do some reading and research in areas the areas of one's interest. The problems happen when there isn't enough time to do these other things, or when the student arrives in class without the skills to be able to do the other things, or when there are behavior problems involving bunsen burners and chemicals, or when the teacher doesn't know how to facilitate the other things well. I suspect that the faculty are hoping that if they do the textbook part, those students with the interest will do the other parts themselves. This is probably even true for some students. It might even be ideal because then it would be assured that the student was only working in areas of interest in a self-directed way. It creates sort of a vicious circle, though, because in non-scientific families, the textbook alone may not raise enough interest for the student to want to spend any of their precious extra time exploring something that seems so boring and so continue to think it is boring.

-Nan

 

I asked my dd recently if she thought her Apologia texts helped her learn science better, or the articles in Odyssey magazine. She said they reinforced each other. She also mentioned all the Usborne books she read when she was younger, and how that was helpful. She even thought all the playing outside she did as a kid stimulated interest in science!

 

Nan, I think there is a lot to the idea that some kids are not going to be interested in science, no matter what. But if we do whatever we can to interest them, and maybe even make them at least try some formal science, then we can be assured we did as much as we could.

 

I'm not sure I could have ever been passionate about science, but I wish I had had the opportunity that dd has had to study math and science with Saxon and Apologia, at her own pace. From what she and others here have said, S and A are programs that average intelligence kids with a reasonable work ethic can handle, if they work every day over a school year or so. That's good enough for me. In school, if I didn't "get" the teacher or understand the text . . . well, I was out of luck.

 

And asta, what don't you like about Apologia?

 

And thanks for explaining about physics. So it's basically an IPS class that people want 9th graders to have? Sort of an intro to science?

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What I disagree with is that this is the ideal educational model to which everyone in the Western world should aspire, and anyone who deviates from this framework is doing their child a huge disservice and limiting their future options. I have absolutely no interest in giving my kids an upper class Italian education; we're not upper class Italians. I don't even have any interest in replicating my husband's upper class British education, because it did not serve him well.

Either you're reading very selectively, either I'm really bad at explaining what I mean. :confused: I'll take it's the second option, so I'll try to explain and write all of those disclaimers which I usually don't write as I assume they're self-understood.

 

I have never attempted to "prescribe" the Italian model to anyone on these boards, I don't consider it THE educational model and I DON'T CONSIDER IT UNIVERSAL (!). The kind of education that I'm giving to my daughters is modelled after the best education by Italians for Italians, the best of the world THEY come from. It might not only be less than ideal for somebody who doesn't come from that particular time-epoch they do and doesn't inherit the particular values, cultural baggage and heritage they do, but it might be downright WRONG in some cases to educate a child removed from that reality and out of touch with it that way. EVERY education, by its very nature, is mostly comprised out of PARTICULAR elements, rather than UNIVERSAL ones.

When I speak of deviations from the framework, I speak of deviations from the "standard" framework of the top representative educational model of the time and place the education takes place. Austrian students shouldn't be educated as Italians - but they "should" (again, problematic wording, but I'm putting my perspective here) be educated according to the BEST OF AUSTRIAN EDUCATION. They should be given the best default Austrian framework, the best default Austrian educational experience. Which will, as such, certainly share a lot of common ground with any Mittel/Mediterranean educational system, but it won't be identical. There are parts of Austrian experience which are unique to its system, just as there are parts of Italian or Hungarian educational experience that are unique to those educational systems.

 

Same thing with the American education, with one problematic aspect: there's an inherent lack of structure IN THE SYSTEM here, thus you get a broad flexible field and "anything goes" with regards to that. What I DISAGREE with is modelling your child's education according to the bare minimum of what such a "system" allows - I vote for educating your child according to the BEST of the experience. For example, going through all of what's standard math experience of the college-bound students (up to calculus, that is), doing all four years of foreign language (note that I'm NOT posing Italian standards as it's closer to TWELVE in some cases in Italy, and the minimum is FIVE), etc. - NOT the bare minimum gradaution requirements, but the best "model" that exists in the American educational experience.

 

Modifying your education, especially in core areas, according to th minimum graduation requirements ARE low expectations, which is what we're discussing in this thread.

Do you have a right to do so? Absolutely. Your school, your rules.

Will I think it's good? No.

Should you care what I think? No.

Am I going to vocally oppose your right to do so or criticize you for doing it unless you specifically ask me to? No.

Then what's the point of this whole thing? It's the subject of this discussion, we ARE discussing this thing right now so they pop up.

I could make a very strong case that studying philosophy can foster a very clear, organized way of thinking just as well as calculus, and that studying cultural anthropology provides as useful a lens for viewing the world as reading Moliere in French.

This is a slightly utilitarian view, "what do I get by X"?

The point is that the standard areas are studied not only for the skills you acquire by studying them, but also for the content itself. I'm not getting here into the discussion of WHY those things are in the standard Italian curriculum - I'm just stating the fact that they ARE. And by the virtue of being there, they must be dealt with. Even if I consider Ibsen to be pretentious and his works of minimal artistic value - I still have to know him, because it's expected. The system is set up that way - some things, for whatever reasons, have fossilized to be more important than some other things. Those other things are delegated to free time.

 

I realize that things are much more in flux in the Anglo-American world and there is no such strict definition of what's "in", what's "out" and that the system isn't so rigidly prescribed. Good - more freedom for all of you. But you can't convince me that it's only about fulfilling minimal requirements and for the rest "anything goes" (as well as that "anything goes" FOR those requirements in the first place), and that that's what the best of the American education looks like. Even if there is no explicit consensus on these things, I suppose you can still find rigorous American models.

 

Take TWTM: it's a distinctly American system (European classical education is different than that), drawn from Anglo-American educational traditions, and from the best of those traditions. I disagree with the way high school is treated in TWTM (too "free" IMO, the structure gets broken), but as an overall system, it describes quite well one possible option of the best of the American education. I'm sure it's not the only possible option, but you take the best options and decide for yourself.

 

But agian I repeat, what we should be discussing here are people who DELIBERATELY CHOOSE to model their children's educations according not the best and not even the average, but according to BARE-BONES MODEL. Those are "low expectations".

It seems absurd to me that a student who graduates high school having passed calculus and having read Les Mis in French (but who knows nothing of anthropology and little of philosophy), qualifies as the creme de la creme of Western intellectuals, whereas a student who skipped calculus but can discuss Heidegger and the history of French Structuralism is a sad, limited, utilitarian-hedonist Fachidiot.

Actually, both basic Heidegger and basic French structuralism are part of the standard experience, at least on the level of having heard about them and being able to say a few coherent sentences about each. (By the way, no need to worry about philosophy in Italian schools - you have THREE years of it there and certainly at least come across these things in the overall chronological context, if not deal with them specifically.)

 

But, to your point - you're taking things out of context, as you know all too well it's neither calculus nor Hugo per se that are going to make you an intellectual, nor will an absence of any random element break you as such. But when one lacks A LOT of such elements standard in their culture - when one lacks calculus AND Les Mis AND Descartes AND chronological overview of history AND Dostoevsky AND Art History AND classical languages AND Kuhn AND Schrodinger's cat (again, keep in mind this is only an example and don't get back to me nitpicking what might be wrong with an example, try to see what I'm trying to say with that example) - one no longer has a comprehensive system behind his knowledge. His knowledge, his studies, are poorly "glued together" independent areas that don't make up a coherent view of the world and don't end up in an ability to relate to it both from scientific, historical and cultural standpoint, with regards to the specifics of his cultural baggage and some universals of the broader (Western culture) context. Education then becomes unrelated trivia contest for the most part, as there is no overall system to tie things together, and unnecessary specialization in a few areas studied at the cost of the context and breadth ofpre-university education.

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I started reading my dd's science textbook ahead of her and felt my brain numbing over. There has got to be a better way to study science!

 

I was just thinking this yesterday. My daughter started using Apologia's General Science this week and wow.

Talk about dry & boring. :001_huh:

 

I think we may do something else. (She's also not understanding much of what she's reading in the book anyway - I have to "rephrase" & explain a lot of what the author is saying because she doesn't get it.)

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I was just thinking this yesterday. My daughter started using Apologia's General Science this week and wow.

Talk about dry & boring. :001_huh:

 

I think we may do something else. (She's also not understanding much of what she's reading in the book anyway - I have to "rephrase" & explain a lot of what the author is saying because she doesn't get it.)

 

Have you seen their high school books? Dd really likes them. We haven't seen their General Science and Physical Science books to see how they compare. Thanks for your comment.

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Either you're reading very selectively, either I'm really bad at explaining what I mean. :confused: I'll take it's the second option, so I'll try to explain and write all of those disclaimers which I usually don't write as I assume they're self-understood.

 

I have never attempted to "prescribe" the Italian model to anyone on these boards, I don't consider it THE educational model and I DON'T CONSIDER IT UNIVERSAL (!). The kind of education that I'm giving to my daughters is modelled after the best education by Italians for Italians, the best of the world THEY come from. It might not only be less than ideal for somebody who doesn't come from that particular time-epoch they do and doesn't inherit the particular values, cultural baggage and heritage they do, but it might be downright WRONG in some cases to educate a child removed from that reality and out of touch with it that way. EVERY education, by its very nature, is mostly comprised out of PARTICULAR elements, rather than UNIVERSAL ones.

When I speak of deviations from the framework, I speak of deviations from the "standard" framework of the top representative educational model of the time and place the education takes place. Austrian students shouldn't be educated as Italians - but they "should" (again, problematic wording, but I'm putting my perspective here) be educated according to the BEST OF AUSTRIAN EDUCATION. They should be given the best default Austrian framework, the best default Austrian educational experience. Which will, as such, certainly share a lot of common ground with any Mittel/Mediterranean educational system, but it won't be identical. There are parts of Austrian experience which are unique to its system, just as there are parts of Italian or Hungarian educational experience that are unique to those educational systems.

 

Same thing with the American education, with one problematic aspect: there's an inherent lack of structure IN THE SYSTEM here, thus you get a broad flexible field and "anything goes" with regards to that. What I DISAGREE with is modelling your child's education according to the bare minimum of what such a "system" allows - I vote for educating your child according to the BEST of the experience. For example, going through all of what's standard math experience of the college-bound students (up to calculus, that is), doing all four years of foreign language (note that I'm NOT posing Italian standards as it's closer to TWELVE in some cases in Italy, and the minimum is FIVE), etc. - NOT the bare minimum gradaution requirements, but the best "model" that exists in the American educational experience.

 

Modifying your education, especially in core areas, according to th minimum graduation requirements ARE low expectations, which is what we're discussing in this thread.

Do you have a right to do so? Absolutely. Your school, your rules.

Will I think it's good? No.

Should you care what I think? No.

Am I going to vocally oppose your right to do so or criticize you for doing it unless you specifically ask me to? No.

Then what's the point of this whole thing? It's the subject of this discussion, we ARE discussing this thing right now so they pop up.

 

This is a slightly utilitarian view, "what do I get by X"?

The point is that the standard areas are studied not only for the skills you acquire by studying them, but also for the content itself. I'm not getting here into the discussion of WHY those things are in the standard Italian curriculum - I'm just stating the fact that they ARE. And by the virtue of being there, they must be dealt with. Even if I consider Ibsen to be pretentious and his works of minimal artistic value - I still have to know him, because it's expected. The system is set up that way - some things, for whatever reasons, have fossilized to be more important than some other things. Those other things are delegated to free time.

 

I realize that things are much more in flux in the Anglo-American world and there is no such strict definition of what's "in", what's "out" and that the system isn't so rigidly prescribed. Good - more freedom for all of you. But you can't convince me that it's only about fulfilling minimal requirements and for the rest "anything goes" (as well as that "anything goes" FOR those requirements in the first place), and that that's what the best of the American education looks like. Even if there is no explicit consensus on these things, I suppose you can still find rigorous American models.

 

Take TWTM: it's a distinctly American system (European classical education is different than that), drawn from Anglo-American educational traditions, and from the best of those traditions. I disagree with the way high school is treated in TWTM (too "free" IMO, the structure gets broken), but as an overall system, it describes quite well one possible option of the best of the American education. I'm sure it's not the only possible option, but you take the best options and decide for yourself.

 

But agian I repeat, what we should be discussing here are people who DELIBERATELY CHOOSE to model their children's educations according not the best and not even the average, but according to BARE-BONES MODEL. Those are "low expectations".

 

Actually, both basic Heidegger and basic French structuralism are part of the standard experience, at least on the level of having heard about them and being able to say a few coherent sentences about each. (By the way, no need to worry about philosophy in Italian schools - you have THREE years of it there and certainly at least come across these things in the overall chronological context, if not deal with them specifically.)

 

But, to your point - you're taking things out of context, as you know all too well it's neither calculus nor Hugo per se that are going to make you an intellectual, nor will an absence of any random element break you as such. But when one lacks A LOT of such elements standard in their culture - when one lacks calculus AND Les Mis AND Descartes AND chronological overview of history AND Dostoevsky AND Art History AND classical languages AND Kuhn AND Schrodinger's cat (again, keep in mind this is only an example and don't get back to me nitpicking what might be wrong with an example, try to see what I'm trying to say with that example) - one no longer has a comprehensive system behind his knowledge. His knowledge, his studies, are poorly "glued together" independent areas that don't make up a coherent view of the world and don't end up in an ability to relate to it both from scientific, historical and cultural standpoint, with regards to the specifics of his cultural baggage and some universals of the broader (Western culture) context. Education then becomes unrelated trivia contest for the most part, as there is no overall system to tie things together, and unnecessary specialization in a few areas studied at the cost of the context and breadth ofpre-university education.

 

This may be the best post you ever wrote. It's very clear what you mean, and I understand your POV in a way I haven't before. It is inspiring to me. Thanks!

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Ds is using Apologia's Physical Science book and likes it. We didn't do a formal science before 8th grade. We did a lot of jumping around and lighter programs, so this was his first experience with a traditional format. It's going well. Based upon this experience, I'd probably use or at least attempt the other Apologia texts for high school.

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Ds is using Apologia's Physical Science book and likes it. We didn't do a formal science before 8th grade. We did a lot of jumping around and lighter programs, so this was his first experience with a traditional format. It's going well. Based upon this experience, I'd probably use or at least attempt the other Apologia texts for high school.

 

I think I'm probably just going to buy them and hope for the best.:D

 

Thanks for sharing your experience!

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Have you seen their high school books? Dd really likes them. We haven't seen their General Science and Physical Science books to see how they compare. Thanks for your comment.

 

My oldest used Apologia Bio and Chem. They were fine for him, but he got tired of Wile saying, "You'll learn this in a later chapter." :D

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Ester Maria - I am still thinking about this (in between relearning precalc and trying to figure out how to paint branches filled with snow). I see many facets of education discussed here and sometimes when I read your post I think you mean one thing and then I read it again and think you mean another and then I read it again and get a glimpse of something altogether different that I haven't thought through.

Isn't this the characteristic of great thinkers, that they make you see different things at each reading? :lol:

Kidding. ;)

 

I KNOW I'm bad at expressing myself, and here's why: I see my thoughts as little "threads" which are very intertwined. It's not a mess, they're intertwined in a very logical order, but it means that it's extremely difficult to deal with ONE thread without dealing with many other threads, and to overall represent in a linear fashion that which is meant, maybe, more in 3D with all sorts of connections. I'm also used to writing really lengthy elaborations of what I mean, and here I find myself in a situation that brevity is essential, and that I have to somehow squeeze into the format of the forum the thought which originally isn't in that format. So I get frustrated a lot, as you can imagine, or skip things which are obvious to me but might not be obvious to somebody who reads it, and so forth; but on the other hand, it can be a fun challenge. I really try to write clearly even if it ends up a whole disorganized mishmash of several things.

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Here is my rambling philosophy when it comes to standards.

 

The bar needs to be set for the particular child's ability. What one finds challenging, another finds easy. No doubt in some families the bar is set too low while in others it's too high.

 

I prefer to set the bar somewhat high. Setting reasonably high standards can help children build confidence and learn self-efficacy, two qualities that are just as important to me as mastering content and learning critical thinking skills. IOW, the process of learning is as important as the end result. I want my children to internalize that they are capable beings.

 

However, my children's self-worth is not dependent upon meeting my high standards, although I would like them to try their best. If they fail, I want them to figure out what happened, come up with a game plan for the next time and then we'll discuss it together. I might have a good idea what happened, but it's important for them to learn how to assess themselves. Afterall, I won't be making decisions for them their entire lives.

 

I also believe that parents should recognize, encourage and support a child's idiosyncrasies. The things a child finds fascinating are the seeds of their self-identity which should be developed, not squelched, IMO. Of course, this doesn't mean a child should study those interests exclusively -- there are many other nonnegotiable things they need to learn -- but I would definitely foster their interests along the way.

 

Anyway, my cookie break is beckoning me. Away I go! :)

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So trying again to understand what you think is a bad idea...

 

The US does have a basic framework. It is called 4x5: Four years each of math (through at least pre-calc), English (literature and writing), science (bio, chem, physics, and advance one of those), a single foreign language, and social studies (comprised of geography, government, civics, economics, US history, western history, world history, and social sciences like anthropology and psychology). Good public school encourage their better students to take these. Public schools don't have 4x5 as a requirement usually (unless they are exam schools) because they have to serve all students, including those on a vocational track. My public school requirements are fairly typical: pass the MCAS (10th grade exam), 3 years math, 3 years science, 4 English, 3 social studies, 1 physical education, at least 8 other classes, and 40 hours of community service. A student who is judged to be college material will be strongly encouraged to do 4x5 plus debate and some fine arts. My son, despite declaring he wasn't going to college and getting bad grades, was no allowed to take less than 4 years of science, math, English, and social studies, or less than 2 years of foreign language. They reluctantly, with many warnings, allowed him to stop taking Spanish after two years because he was so obviously technically minded and if he did go to college, was unlikely to do so for anything other than engineering. They encouraged him to take extra science instead. When he changed his mind about college much later, we were grateful that the school had insisted on the 4th year of math (which my son was flatly refusing to do). My state (and many others) tries to ensure that even homeschoolers meet these requirements. I am quite sure my school system would not approve my homeschooling application if I said I was not going to complete a math book every single year of high school.

 

So that leaves a few other possibilities for what you are unhappy about. Are you unhappy because the US has no national curriculum and you see us splintering into many subgroups for whom intercommunication is difficult? Are you unhappy because the framework, the basic requirements, are no longer as universal for the western world (we all tend to read To Kill a Mockingbird now instead of Les Mis)? Are you unhappy because our minimum requirements, although we do have them, are very low? Are you unhappy because US schools are not doing a good job of teaching to the minimum requirements? Or is it something else?

 

-Nan

 

I think you probably know this? So, since we do appear in the US to have some sort of basic standard, then what is

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Funny that you should use that analogy GRIN - I think of this as the ball-of-yarn problem, and I have to remind my children from time to time that many things are a ball of string not linear, and that they have to learn things like that by being patient and perservering even when they aren't understanding what they are learning, because it all is connected and when one pulls out one strand to explain, it doesn't make sense by itself.

 

This form of communication, a board on the internet, is only but so good when it comes to this sort of thing. It has its advantages, obviously - you and I can communicate despite never having met each other, not knowing anyone in common (or at least knowing we know), moving in completely different circles, and having an ocean between us.

 

I think our big problem is that we each don't know what the other doesn't know. We seem to be managing the language and cultural barrier ok (well, you seem to be coming to us).

 

-Nan

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Here is my rambling philosophy when it comes to standards.

 

The bar needs to be set for the particular child's ability. What one finds challenging, another finds easy. No doubt in some families the bar is set too low while in others it's too high.

 

 

 

 

Just for the sake of debate . . . is it helpful to have a standard for achievement? Rather than saying this is the best my child can do, and that's all, how about saying this is the standard he's expected to live up to, and if he doesn't, he hasn't lived up to it.

 

For example, I mentioned that someone here, might, say, do a few chapters of algebra, and say, well, this is the best my child can do, so I'll call it Algebra I. Should we have a definition of what Algebra I means?

 

I guess you could say that it may not matter, since colleges rely more on test scores from homeschoolers than transcripts. And many moms may make quite descriptive transcripts. And the whole beauty of homeschooling is that we set our own individual rules and standards.:)

 

(Once again, I am not arguing for more regulation! These are just questions running through my mind. They are not meant to be offensive in any way!)

 

But just, once again, fwiw . . . I think that we mothers may excuse things in our kids others might not. Others may challenge kids and be more honest about them than we might be. We mothers tend to be pride-protectors, both of our kids and ourselves. It's natural; we love our kids to pieces, and we want to protect our self-image. I'm just not sure it's always helpful.

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I started reading my dd's science textbook ahead of her and felt my brain numbing over. There has got to be a better way to study science!

 

When I first started homeschooling my oldest, it was very hard to get science=boring out of my head. Years of school science had made that connection to me. Then I realized that I had always been fascinated by genetics and read a lot about it, and I realized that - duh! - genetics is science! And I had developed an interest in epidemiology a couple years before starting to homeschool (after reading The Hot Zone), and I realized - LOL! - that's science too!

 

But while I was reading my dd's textbook (Science of the Physical Creation by A Beka), all of that came rushing back, as I nodded off, thinking, "This is boring!" :001_smile:

 

There was a post yesterday linking to an article saying that nearly all the science Americans know does NOT come from school. I forget which board it was on -- sorry! -- but you could do a search. Worth a look!

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I should have said that the "order" of physics first is one that others take, similar to the "order" Robinson is talking about. However, Robinson is talking about waiting until the student is ready for advanced physics before even starting the sequence? On that, he's got a unique viewpoint.

 

Julie

 

Just grabbing this quote from Julie because

 

Aside from the fact I can't stand Apologia...

 

The idea isn't that physics w/o math is better (it isn't, and to most colleges, it isn't even sufficient), it is simply the building block of science. Since most kids start their formal science studies in 9th grade, and do not have the math education necessary to study formal physics, some companies have come up with algebra-only physics courses; kind of a physics-lite, or physics 1. Then the child takes chemistry in grade 10, biology in grade 11, and physics 2 (calculus based physics) in grade 12.

 

The idea behind this is that a person cannot "fully" understand chemistry and biology without a basic grounding in physics.

 

HTH

 

 

a

 

What Asta says is what Robinson espouses. That no formal science be learned until the children have the maths to learn those sciences correctly--not watered down as is HS sciences (the link I posted before with the example being given that electrons did not 'orbit' the nucleus as HS children in the US are taught.) His children started with Physics, and were not allowed to begin Physics until they had finished calculus.

 

... why UK university-aimed pupils study three sciences simultaneously from ages 14 to 16. As the pupils' maths gets better they can move into the more mathematical areas of physics.

 

Laura

 

That seems to be a wonderful way to accomplish it.

 

But, to your point - you're taking things out of context, as you know all too well it's neither calculus nor Hugo per se that are going to make you an intellectual, nor will an absence of any random element break you as such. But when one lacks A LOT of such elements standard in their culture - when one lacks calculus AND Les Mis AND Descartes AND chronological overview of history AND Dostoevsky AND Art History AND classical languages AND Kuhn AND Schrodinger's cat (again, keep in mind this is only an example and don't get back to me nitpicking what might be wrong with an example, try to see what I'm trying to say with that example) - one no longer has a comprehensive system behind his knowledge. His knowledge, his studies, are poorly "glued together" independent areas that don't make up a coherent view of the world and don't end up in an ability to relate to it both from scientific, historical and cultural standpoint, with regards to the specifics of his cultural baggage and some universals of the broader (Western culture) context. Education then becomes unrelated trivia contest for the most part, as there is no overall system to tie things together, and unnecessary specialization in a few areas studied at the cost of the context and breadth ofpre-university education.

 

Well, over here that would mean making a universal curriculum and in this political climate I would say--ain't gonna happen as much as I agree with you. There is no foundational curric for the whole country. Each state gets the freedom to pick and choose the best way they see fit. Of course you would think that with the goal of college schools would take a more unified approach but that is not the case. Some DO get to read those books, and most don't which is why I can understand Princeton saying ALL four years must be at Princeton. They have to shore up the deficiencies of this jumble of students and get them to the point where they can graduate from THAT institution and have it mean something.

 

IN the US we have no cultural literary baseline. There is no All children know the Iliad because it is heritage of Western Civilization. It's a mish mosh. And as free that is, there are deficiencies. Which is why many of us, I would think, chose to homeschool and homeschool classically.

 

 

So I get frustrated a lot, as you can imagine, or skip things which are obvious to me but might not be obvious to somebody who reads it, and so forth; but on the other hand, it can be a fun challenge. I really try to write clearly even if it ends up a whole disorganized mishmash of several things.

 

That's exactly how I feel most of the time.

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Oooh, not to get off track, but we have some great equine programs around here and also farrier schools (and they ain't cheap)....

 

 

We do, too, and those farriers make a metric boatload of money.

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There was a post yesterday linking to an article saying that nearly all the science Americans know does NOT come from school. I forget which board it was on -- sorry! -- but you could do a search. Worth a look!

 

 

I just read it and printed it out! Thanks!

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Just for the sake of debate . . . is it helpful to have a standard for achievement? Rather than saying this is the best my child can do, and that's all, how about saying this is the standard he's expected to live up to, and if he doesn't, he hasn't lived up to it.

 

For example, I mentioned that someone here, might, say, do a few chapters of algebra, and say, well, this is the best my child can do, so I'll call it Algebra I. Should we have a definition of what Algebra I means?

 

I guess you could say that it may not matter, since colleges rely more on test scores from homeschoolers than transcripts. And many moms may make quite descriptive transcripts. And the whole beauty of homeschooling is that we set our own individual rules and standards.:)

 

(Once again, I am not arguing for more regulation! These are just questions running through my mind. They are not meant to be offensive in any way!)

 

But just, once again, fwiw . . . I think that we mothers may excuse things in our kids others might not. Others may challenge kids and be more honest about them than we might be. We mothers tend to be pride-protectors, both of our kids and ourselves. It's natural; we love our kids to pieces, and we want to protect our self-image. I'm just not sure it's always helpful.

 

Our ps kids generally finish slightly more than half a book of Geometry, Alg 2 and Pre-Calc and call it a whole credit (and this curriculum is designed to be completed). Alg 1 only gets covered because they now require kids to take two years worth of Alg 1. They often finish half or so of the science books (Bio, Chem, Physics) and call it a full credit. When we switched to block scheduling teachers were dropping around 1/3rd of the questions from their finals because they were no longer covering that material. Planning meetings now mainly wonder how in the world we're supposed to find time to cover all that will be on the new state tests. In doing so, they are figuring out what could be cut elsewhere. Many teachers have also dropped final tests completely at this point.

 

Yes, I'm at a sub-par school, but we're only slightly below our state average, so there are many schools like ours.

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Our ps kids generally finish slightly more than half a book of Geometry, Alg 2 and Pre-Calc and call it a whole credit (and this curriculum is designed to be completed). Alg 1 only gets covered because they now require kids to take two years worth of Alg 1. They often finish half or so of the science books (Bio, Chem, Physics) and call it a full credit. When we switched to block scheduling teachers were dropping around 1/3rd of the questions from their finals because they were no longer covering that material. Planning meetings now mainly wonder how in the world we're supposed to find time to cover all that will be on the new state tests. In doing so, they are figuring out what could be cut elsewhere. Many teachers have also dropped final tests completely at this point.

 

Yes, I'm at a sub-par school, but we're only slightly below our state average, so there are many schools like ours.

 

 

This is so discouraging, creekland. Really glad we're homeschooling!

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This is so discouraging, creekland. Really glad we're homeschooling!

 

Homeschooling has worked for us. I just wish my youngest would want to come back 100%, but at least he's willing to supplement his courses to finish them (and then some).

 

With my school, I get discouraged too, but I love the kids and I like thinking I help out a little bit.

 

Did I mention we're testing AGAIN next week? That will be the third week this school year disrupted just for the testing (and I'm not counting the PSAT). We've only got till mid-Jan to finish each course, with Christmas break thrown in there and potential snow days and teachers will lose up to two more days of classes next week with others shortened.

 

It's not all the teachers and students fault overall education is lacking. It's a big mix with the whole system.

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I think equating a large number of school hours and a rigorous education is a fallacy. One can waste a lot of time and come out with mediocre results after a long school day ( just look at public schools), or one can work effectively and accomplish a lot in a few hours. So, comparing time spent is not really a good measure for academic rigor. My 8th grader for instance is required to do 5 hours of school per day only. In that time, however, she is doing challenging work far above grade level. So I definitely consider her education rigorous - even though she does not spend a full day on school work. Does that make sense?

:iagree:

Oldest dd is the same.

 

Lisa, I like this bit of what you said: " People who are required to work and think beyond their "natural" abilities grow in so many, many ways." Food for thought... I think many of us were never required to do much of this in public school and that contributes to our reasons for homeschooling. -Nan

:iagree: It is one of the reasons my children are at home with me.

 

 

What has been stated here about low standards resonates so clearly with me. I have a family member who "home schools" in such a manner that the children involved have marginal futures at best. These same children think they are brilliant because they have received A's for all work regardless of performance. It is quite sad.

 

There are many ways to arrive at a promising destination, but promoting a false sense of ability is quite dangerous. The students I know around here are completely deluded regarding their abilities. Regardless of how we define rigor, we will never serve our children well by promoting a false perception. My goal is to provide my children with a rigorous well-rounded education that will enable them to pursue whatever educational avenue they choose. I don't want to be the reason they are unable to pursue their dreams. Having people I love in this precise situation is a constant reminder to be vigilant and to focus on the long term, even when my children cannot comprehend it.

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Just for the sake of debate . . . is it helpful to have a standard for achievement? Rather than saying this is the best my child can do, and that's all, how about saying this is the standard he's expected to live up to, and if he doesn't, he hasn't lived up to it.

 

I think it's helpful to have a standard for achievement. I tend to look at it as something to tweak for the individual, if possible.

 

I do believe that some children cannot always live up to certain standards for various reasons (learning disabilities, severe problems at home, etc.). That doesn't mean they should give up altogether or not attempt a different course of action.

 

For example, I mentioned that someone here, might, say, do a few chapters of algebra, and say, well, this is the best my child can do, so I'll call it Algebra I. Should we have a definition of what Algebra I means?

 

Well, that sounds a little, er, misleading. LOL. Yes, IMO, a child would need to complete what is typically considered a course of Algebra 1. I suppose you'll have people who do otherwise. I run into a similar problem at my son's school when they make big promises that they don't deliver. For example, writing is hardly taught at all. Grammar is a joke. The school describes in detail how they teach these, but they're not taught well at all. It's frustrating to deal with the school at times. (Conversely, at other times, they go way beyond the stated goals. Then I love them.)

 

I guess you could say that it may not matter, since colleges rely more on test scores from homeschoolers than transcripts. And many moms may make quite descriptive transcripts. And the whole beauty of homeschooling is that we set our own individual rules and standards.:)

 

(Once again, I am not arguing for more regulation! These are just questions running through my mind. They are not meant to be offensive in any way!)

 

But just, once again, fwiw . . . I think that we mothers may excuse things in our kids others might not. Others may challenge kids and be more honest about them than we might be. We mothers tend to be pride-protectors, both of our kids and ourselves. It's natural; we love our kids to pieces, and we want to protect our self-image. I'm just not sure it's always helpful.

 

I think it's always best to be as truthful as possible. My kids are good at some things and not good at other things. I expect them all to attempt to reach a certain standard, though.

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Our ps kids generally finish slightly more than half a book of Geometry, Alg 2 and Pre-Calc and call it a whole credit (and this curriculum is designed to be completed). Alg 1 only gets covered because they now require kids to take two years worth of Alg 1. They often finish half or so of the science books (Bio, Chem, Physics) and call it a full credit. When we switched to block scheduling teachers were dropping around 1/3rd of the questions from their finals because they were no longer covering that material. Planning meetings now mainly wonder how in the world we're supposed to find time to cover all that will be on the new state tests. In doing so, they are figuring out what could be cut elsewhere. Many teachers have also dropped final tests completely at this point.

 

Yes, I'm at a sub-par school, but we're only slightly below our state average, so there are many schools like ours.

 

I found these issues also when I taught at a charter high school a few years ago. I didn't have most of my students for the last month of classes because Spanish wasn't a core course with an end-of-grade test. The ones who remained reviewed and did worksheets because I couldn't cover new material. Oh, and they also helped plan and made the decorations for a Spanish fiesta for the whole school.

 

There is a popular German high school textbook that has 12 chapters, and many teachers finish only about 8 of them in one school year.

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When I speak of deviations from the framework, I speak of deviations from the "standard" framework of the top representative educational model of the time and place the education takes place.

Here are the graduation requirements for Philips Exeter Academy, arguably the "best" private prep school in the US:

3.5 yrs English

3 years math

2 yrs history, including 1 yr US history

2 yrs science (biology + physical science)

2 yrs foreign language

1 yr art

.5 credit each Health, Computer Science, & Religious Studies

3.5 yrs PE

The "creme de la creme" of American prep schools does not require classical languages, reading literature in French, or calculus. They offer more than 450 different courses (including 3 anthropology courses) and they encourage students to customize their education. My kids will exceed Exeter's graduation requirements in every subject area, and will study many subjects in depth (like anthropology, philosophy, history of science, etc.) that 99% of American students never touch, even in college. I am hardly "enclosing them in a utilitarian-hedonist bubble" or "writing off entire aspects of the world and ways of thinking" just because I tailor their education to their interests and aptitudes, and don't require them to study Latin or take calculus or read literature in French.

 

...when one lacks A LOT of such elements standard in their culture - when one lacks calculus AND Les Mis AND Descartes AND chronological overview of history AND Dostoevsky AND Art History AND classical languages AND Kuhn AND Schrodinger's cat (again, keep in mind this is only an example and don't get back to me nitpicking what might be wrong with an example, try to see what I'm trying to say with that example) - one no longer has a comprehensive system behind his knowledge. His knowledge, his studies, are poorly "glued together" independent areas that don't make up a coherent view of the world and don't end up in an ability to relate to it both from scientific, historical and cultural standpoint, with regards to the specifics of his cultural baggage and some universals of the broader (Western culture) context. Education then becomes unrelated trivia contest for the most part, as there is no overall system to tie things together, and unnecessary specialization in a few areas studied at the cost of the context and breadth of pre-university education.

But that is precisely what the "standard" American educational package provides! And that is my biggest beef with the whole AP system, which theoretically represents the "top" educational framework in public schools: it provides students with a mass of testable facts in discrete subjects, without tying those facts together into a coherent, meaningful whole. And because many of those students are only studying those subjects and taking those exams as a means of getting into college, not because they love the subject, they promptly forget everything they learned as soon as the exams are over. In the NYT article linked in this thread, it was stated that HALF of the students entering the University of California system were forced to take remedial classes, despite having stellar grades. "They're spitting back but not retaining the information," because the information has no intrinsic meaning for them, other than as a means to an end: a standard transcript that looks good to colleges. I have no interest in emulating that model.

 

Even if I consider Ibsen to be pretentious and his works of minimal artistic value - I still have to know him, because it's expected. The system is set up that way - some things, for whatever reasons, have fossilized to be more important than some other things. Those other things are delegated to free time.

This gets to the very heart of our disagreement: I would never make my kids study something that I (and they) found boring, pretentious, and of minimal artistic value, just because it's part of the "standard package" in a certain type of school. I disagree in so many ways with what is the "standard package," even in the top American schools (and in American culture in general, for that matter). Most of us on this board who are purposely deviating from the "standard framework" do so, not because we don't know any better, but because we think our kids will actually get a better and more meaningful education that way.

 

Jackie

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I'm going to go way, way out a limb here, possibly beyond the point of no return, and throw out this just to consider: high school may not be as critical as we are all fearing it is.

 

(Insert here necessary disclaimers about yes kids need to know how to do math and read critically and write a decent essay, and how this is not an argument for letting your child do only what he or she likes, etc. etc.)

 

But, just to throw out a few examples, if your fantasies do not all revolve around your child getting into top tier private universities...

 

--I had a terrible high school education in California public schools, and I do mean terrible; I certainly produced little of what could be called the best I was capable of. I still got into the UC system, went to grad school, got a PhD. This is not to say anyone can do it with their hands tied behind their backs, but just to say that it can happen this way.

 

Do I regret not having the perfect classical high school education? Yes and no. Certainly some aspects would have helped make the path a bit easier, but they would have been a function of a generally better education rather than specific content or courses. However, I am having a wonderful time educating myself anew in middle age, learning science alongside dd, reading books she recommends to me that I never would have read otherwise, tracking down resources, etc. I read more now than I have since grad school, and I read very differently. Both my bad education and my good one (primarily grad school) have contributed important ideas and approaches.

 

--On a similar note, the boy in my high school class (of 640 kids) who had an amazing mathematical and scientific mind must have been bored crazy at that school. However, like me, he had plenty of free time to read and educate himself. He went on to Yale, Oxford, and finally Harvard Law; he's now the top scientific intellectual property law consultant in New York.

 

--My brother (I've told his story before) was kicked out of even our dismal high school, went to continuation school, never went to college, and is now the head of computer consulting for a national organization.

 

There's no doubt that kids can and will do more advanced and sophisticated work at earlier ages. But for many of them, research has clearly shown that burnout is a huge factor, and material that is crammed in at a rapid pace remains at the level of regurgitated facts rather than a coherent body of knowledge that can be applied to new circumstances. School of Dreams is a sobering look at this last aspect.

 

It is possible to overcome a mediocre formal education, and it is equally possible to be limited (both intellectually and as a person) by what seems to be a five-star one.

 

Homeschooling itself is a partial act of resistance against a troubled educational system structured to maintain the divisions between rich and poor, against one-size-fits-all education, and also against the centrifugal forces that pull families apart at ever earlier stages. I also resist the ideas that rigor comes in one form; that there is a perfect, ideal education, and that high school should be a pressure-cooker for all involved.

 

There's an alternative private school in my city, primarily geared to the needs of high-functioning autistic kids, Aspies like my dd, and kids with attention deficit disorders or dyslexic tendencies. I spent a number of hours with the head of that school a year and a bit ago when I was looking at schools. The kids are on a compacted, do-the-minimum schedule for UC entrance requirements, and doubtless many people on the board would be horrified at the low level at which that particular bar is set. The kids' real education is what they do instead of conventional homework or afterschool activities. One girl was obsessed with the Romanov dynasty; her homework was to go to extension classes at a local university and learn Russian. She got a full scholarship to Wellesley. Another kid wanted to become a certified scuba diver; he went on to college to learn to repair ships and underwater buildings/machinery and that's his job today. A couple are musicians, one a playwright.

 

The thing is that their college acceptance rate is incredibly close to the rate at the local elite prep school. Not that many go straight into the Ivies, as opposed to the (mostly) highly wealthy population that attends the prep school, with lots of parents who went to Harvard or Princeton etc. But the kids get where they want to go, and an impressive number get into really good schools.

 

Note that this does assume a child with passions or interests to follow. If you have a child who is disengaged with everything academic -- or everything in general -- the whole issue of where you set the bar is going to be phrased differently. If you have an all-around academically talented and conformist child (not rebelling against requirements and willing to work at academic subjects eight hours a day), the issue is once again different. If your child is intent on a career path which has one generally acknowledged trajectory, the issue will be answered differently yet again.

 

I guess part of what I'm saying is that "the bar" doesn't need to be set at a single height across every subject in every year for a child to succeed in university, in life, in a career, in becoming the best possible person.

 

More to say, but I have to make breakfast muffins, and I'll leave others to shoot me virtually.

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This gets to the very heart of our disagreement: I would never make my kids study something that I (and they) found boring, pretentious, and of minimal artistic value, just because it's part of the "standard package" in a certain type of school.

 

I like Ibsen, but I remember studying Tennyson at school. The teacher taught us the finer points of his poetry but also let us discuss (so long as we could back it up in concrete and technical language) why we didn't like it. Taking the leap and disagreeing with the 'holy' status of a standard text was what later gave me the last few marks towards my first class honours degree: in my final oral French exam, I trashed the poem that I had been given to analyse. I suspect it was considered great, but I found it anodyne. I backed up my opinions and was respected for it.

 

Laura

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I guess part of what I'm saying is that "the bar" doesn't need to be set at a single height across every subject in every year for a child to succeed in university, in life, in a career, in becoming the best possible person.

 

 

I'm not shooting... I'm agreeing with you! I think you worded things very well.

 

My youngest would do well in the school you mention I think... which makes it even more surprising to me that he wants to be in our ps.

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More to say, but I have to make breakfast muffins, and I'll leave others to shoot me virtually.

 

No shooting, I totally agree with you.

 

But that is precisely what the "standard" American educational package provides! And that is my biggest beef with the whole AP system, which theoretically represents the "top" educational framework in public schools: it provides students with a mass of testable facts in discrete subjects, without tying those facts together into a coherent, meaningful whole. And because many of those students are only studying those subjects and taking those exams as a means of getting into college, not because they love the subject, they promptly forget everything they learned as soon as the exams are over. In the NYT article linked in this thread, it was stated that HALF of the students entering the University of California system were forced to take remedial classes, despite having stellar grades. "They're spitting back but not retaining the information," because the information has no intrinsic meaning for them, other than as a means to an end: a standard transcript that looks good to colleges. I have no interest in emulating that model.

 

 

This gets to the very heart of our disagreement: I would never make my kids study something that I (and they) found boring, pretentious, and of minimal artistic value, just because it's part of the "standard package" in a certain type of school. I disagree in so many ways with what is the "standard package," even in the top American schools (and in American culture in general, for that matter). Most of us on this board who are purposely deviating from the "standard framework" do so, not because we don't know any better, but because we think our kids will actually get a better and more meaningful education that way.

 

Jackie

 

I don't disagree with you, but I DO think it's right to know WHO Ibsen is and WHY he is famous and what his body of work was. Not to study it in depth if the kid hates it. (And I would lead by telling them his work was thought scandalous for it's time. :D) In conversation, as a comparison to someone whose work they DID want to study.

 

I don't care if they study the Iliad, but I want them to know who wrote it and why it's important. There's a difference.

 

And, sometimes when we're reading stories, the beauty of the allusions are lost if they've not read _____. That makes me sad but it is by no means the end of their education.

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I'm going to go way, way out a limb here, possibly beyond the point of no return, and throw out this just to consider: high school may not be as critical as we are all fearing it is.

I *totally* agree with this, and I was thinking of posting the same thing. I did the absolute minimum in HS because I was incredibly bored and just wanted to get the h*ll out of there — so much so that I skipped 11th grade and graduated at 16. Everything of value I learned up to that point, I taught myself; my real education happened in college and grad school. I truly do not understand the concept that students must cover the entire Western corpus before they're 18. IMHO it's much more important for kids to be given the time and the tools to explore lots of different areas and find their passions, rather than going through an arbitrary checklist of state (or even cultural) standards. But clearly I'm in the minority on that one. :D

 

I guess part of what I'm saying is that "the bar" doesn't need to be set at a single height across every subject in every year for a child to succeed in university, in life, in a career, in becoming the best possible person.

Not only do I agree, but I would go further and argue that to do so would actually be a great disservice to many, many kids.

 

Jackie

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I'm going to go way, way out a limb here, possibly beyond the point of no return, and throw out this just to consider: high school may not be as critical as we are all fearing it is.

 

 

 

But it's really not. It's simply a 4 year stint in hopefully a VERY long life that can be full of opportunities to study and enjoy learning! I can attest to this. I WAS the kid at that high pressure high school---and I certainly did study to pass the test and get into college and move on. And I went from A's in English to being placed in remedial English in college!!! I was floored. :001_huh: I got all the way through Precalc----and to this day have NO idea what it is, what it is used for and even why I took it. I suppose I'll relearn it when my son studies Precalc with MUS and then I will really understand what it is and used for.

 

In fact, I learned great cramming and study SKILLS in high school. Much more than I ever learned in college---which consisted mainly of beer and pizza and socializing. But now that I am homeschooling my children----I am really learning. And learning SO much!!! I detested history in high school-----listen to the lecture, take notes, memorize, regurgitate facts on a test, write a paper or two. Blech! But really relearning history that is meaningful to today without memorizing ANY facts---wow! My kids remember facts because they find it interesting, not because 'its on the test'. Perhaps I am putting them at a disadvantage not requiring them to take regular standardized testing, not requiring them to cram and study for 2 days for tests in which I grade them and give a final grade and GPA. But then again, to be able to have conversations with my teenagers who can connect the dots from the past to today so easily----something that took me over 35 years----is quite an amazing thing. I love it that they don't know the pressures of maintaining a GPA, keeping up appearances with a resume and doing volunteer or other activities simply because 'it looks good for college' or have to name drop schools they are considering applying to because they know it sounds good. I have deliberately freed my kids from these pressures and false appearances that I was forced to live in my high school years. They are not working less or with lowered expectations on my part----they are just working differently towards different more 'real' goals in life.

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I'll go back and read more of the last posts when I have time... I am going off of the post that said that high schools issue credits for non-high school level classes all of the time...... So, really, what is high school level?? My ds, homeschooled K-12, goes off to college, and says I killed him, that college is easier than what we did (and I didn't do WTM). He is an English major, and he never does a paper a week!!! And that is with two higher level English classes! I took economics in high school, no text, we learned about the stock market (watched four stocks for a week or two), learned how to prepare taxes (the test was filling out a tax return), read four books (I only remember one, The Jungle) and took multiple choice tests just so the teacher knew we read the books. Ds did BJU, that text was many times harder than what I did, and really, I took more out of my course, ds's head was spinning from his. I am on my second (and last) homeschool dc, if you go too hard, they just cram it all into their short term memory to get the A, but don't take anything away. One of the reasons I homeschool is to learn, and actually remember what we do!

 

And, we hear of kids who were ill or for other reasons didn't do a rigorous high school program, and then they do very well in college. I am very close to radically changing dd's high school (but haven't mustered the courage yet...). She works from morning to bed doing school, school, school. Too much, not good. She needs time to get out and experience what is going on outside of our house!!!

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But it's really not. It's simply a 4 year stint in hopefully a VERY long life that can be full of opportunities to study and enjoy learning! I can attest to this. I WAS the kid at that high pressure high school---and I certainly did study to pass the test and get into college and move on. And I went from A's in English to being placed in remedial English in college!!! I was floored. :001_huh: I got all the way through Precalc----and to this day have NO idea what it is, what it is used for and even why I took it. I suppose I'll relearn it when my son studies Precalc with MUS and then I will really understand what it is and used for.

 

In fact, I learned great cramming and study SKILLS in high school. Much more than I ever learned in college---which consisted mainly of beer and pizza and socializing. But now that I am homeschooling my children----I am really learning. And learning SO much!!! I detested history in high school-----listen to the lecture, take notes, memorize, regurgitate facts on a test, write a paper or two. Blech! But really relearning history that is meaningful to today without memorizing ANY facts---wow! My kids remember facts because they find it interesting, not because 'its on the test'. Perhaps I am putting them at a disadvantage not requiring them to take regular standardized testing, not requiring them to cram and study for 2 days for tests in which I grade them and give a final grade and GPA. But then again, to be able to have conversations with my teenagers who can connect the dots from the past to today so easily----something that took me over 35 years----is quite an amazing thing. I love it that they don't know the pressures of maintaining a GPA, keeping up appearances with a resume and doing volunteer or other activities simply because 'it looks good for college' or have to name drop schools they are considering applying to because they know it sounds good. I have deliberately freed my kids from these pressures and false appearances that I was forced to live in my high school years. They are not working less or with lowered expectations on my part----they are just working differently towards different more 'real' goals in life.

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree::iagree::iagree::iagree:

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But it's really not. It's simply a 4 year stint in hopefully a VERY long life that can be full of opportunities to study and enjoy learning! I can attest to this. I WAS the kid at that high pressure high school---and I certainly did study to pass the test and get into college and move on. And I went from A's in English to being placed in remedial English in college!!! I was floored. :001_huh: I got all the way through Precalc----and to this day have NO idea what it is, what it is used for and even why I took it. I suppose I'll relearn it when my son studies Precalc with MUS and then I will really understand what it is and used for.

 

In fact, I learned great cramming and study SKILLS in high school. Much more than I ever learned in college---which consisted mainly of beer and pizza and socializing. But now that I am homeschooling my children----I am really learning. And learning SO much!!! I detested history in high school-----listen to the lecture, take notes, memorize, regurgitate facts on a test, write a paper or two. Blech! But really relearning history that is meaningful to today without memorizing ANY facts---wow! My kids remember facts because they find it interesting, not because 'its on the test'. Perhaps I am putting them at a disadvantage not requiring them to take regular standardized testing, not requiring them to cram and study for 2 days for tests in which I grade them and give a final grade and GPA. But then again, to be able to have conversations with my teenagers who can connect the dots from the past to today so easily----something that took me over 35 years----is quite an amazing thing. I love it that they don't know the pressures of maintaining a GPA, keeping up appearances with a resume and doing volunteer or other activities simply because 'it looks good for college' or have to name drop schools they are considering applying to because they know it sounds good. I have deliberately freed my kids from these pressures and false appearances that I was forced to live in my high school years. They are not working less or with lowered expectations on my part----they are just working differently towards different more 'real' goals in life.

:iagree:

 

I think the idea of a standardized one-size-fits-all "college prep transcript" not only does not guarantee that a student will be well-educated and well-prepared for college, it can actually get in the way of the two things I believe are the most important predictors of success in any area, including higher education: the ability to critically analyze, synthesize, and organize information, and a passion for learning.

 

Jackie

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I don't care if they study the Iliad, but I want them to know who wrote it and why it's important.

 

Gosh, you are ambitious. This is a question hotly debated among classical scholars.

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:banghead:

 

I cannot believe it's STILL not clear what I'm talking about. I truly feel like the above smiley now. But, I bought a chocolate bar for writing this reply, so hopefully I succeed :D (I'll probably feel sick after the third piece though, unaccustomed to such doses of sugar).

 

The minimal graduation requirements tend to be quite similar anyway (across schools and states), but the content they stand for is drastically different from case to case. What does it mean "four years of English"? It means nothing. It's not defined what content stands behind that. So what are we to do? We are to take the best possible experience of four years of English in the spirit of our educational tradition: not just for years of any English to satisfy the formal requirement. If the purpose of native language and literature classes is acquiring higher level literacy and familiarization with the general canonical stream of works produced in that language in the broader civilization context, it's quite clear what it's "supposed" to look like - and even if it's never going to be exactly the same in Italy, Austria and France, the reasoning behind it is very similar and is going to produce a similar "matrix" for the program (we can debate chronological or not, world separate from national or together, but you see what the program is made after). So it's not requirements that make a good English education, but the totality of experience, content, that's in the context of the goal of familiarization with cultural inheritance bla bla.

 

All the time you're talking about "standards" as of graduation requirements (X years of this, Y of that, Z other courses), and I'm talking about the content behind those formal requirements. When I'm talking about Italian philosophy standards, I'm not talking about the fact you have 3 years of it - I'm talking about the content they cover, which is more or less a historical overview of Western philosophy, with focus on ancient roots and Italian thinkers, and selected readings - which might not even be 100% identical from school to school, but the basic line is there, and the standards of what comprises a solid high school philosophy education are there - and most importantly, context and link to other classes is also there.

 

Now, the major American problem is that THERE IS NO PRESCRIBED CONTENT, that is, everything is very free. Why I personally think that such "customized" education is a terrible choice is a whole OTHER discussion (and yes, I think the American school system is very bad the way it's set, even if I get to appreciate the freedom behind it from time to time), what I'm talking about here, in the context of low expectations, is not taking the best possible experience and not educating your child with such an experience in mind, with a meaningful whole, but compartmentalizing various bits here and there and, worse, doing it deliberately poorly.

Are you unhappy because the US has no national curriculum and you see us splintering into many subgroups for whom intercommunication is difficult? Are you unhappy because the framework, the basic requirements, are no longer as universal for the western world (we all tend to read To Kill a Mockingbird now instead of Les Mis)? Are you unhappy because our minimum requirements, although we do have them, are very low? Are you unhappy because US schools are not doing a good job of teaching to the minimum requirements? Or is it something else?

All of that, minus literature (that's a bit more complex).

 

I guess my biggest problem with America is its freedom, i.e. the fact that freedom (in all aspects) comes with such dire side-effects. As much as I love that free spirit (which, truly, you can hardly find in the rest of the world), that much it frustrates me when it comes to education (and health), as I think that's the area that one isn't supposed to be that "free" about.

Maybe I just take the whole education thing way too seriously, though.

But that is precisely what the "standard" American educational package provides! And that is my biggest beef with the whole AP system, which theoretically represents the "top" educational framework in public schools: it provides students with a mass of testable facts in discrete subjects, without tying those facts together into a coherent, meaningful whole. And because many of those students are only studying those subjects and taking those exams as a means of getting into college, not because they love the subject, they promptly forget everything they learned as soon as the exams are over. In the NYT article linked in this thread, it was stated that HALF of the students entering the University of California system were forced to take remedial classes, despite having stellar grades. "They're spitting back but not retaining the information," because the information has no intrinsic meaning for them, other than as a means to an end: a standard transcript that looks good to colleges. I have no interest in emulating that model.

Wait a second, we're again talking of so many different things here (and I agree with you here, by the way). There's

(i) formal graduation requirements;

(ii) required content or the lack of it (-> this I complain about);

(iii) overemphasizing of nonsensous standard testing (this too, but right now it's not directly the topic);

(iv) grade inflation and the going down of educational stanndards (a HUGE problem, but, again, not a direct topic here).

 

American system as a system has many faults and there I agree with you. However, when talking of optimal educational experience, I don't mean the scheme of the system's requirements, but its concretization in the best experiences that we know of, those with a meaningful whole you wish to provide, but which won't necessarily be in every experience in such a "free" system. Which is why say, you take the best you have / can have in your culture, which reflects it and the best of its educational tradition (doesn't necessarily mean education according to the newest pedagogical fads or what standard tests like), all in the spirit of your culture, inherited cultural baggage and values.

 

Now, you may say that America's virtue lies precisely in the LACK of that and the LACK of any unity regarding those lines and that American education par excellence is chaotic and undefined and self-chosen since there are no societal expectations with regards to the knowledge of content... and you might be right. The chaos that exists in education might as well be representative of it - but that's again a whole new topic.

Most of us on this board who are purposely deviating from the "standard framework" do so, not because we don't know any better, but because we think our kids will actually get a better and more meaningful education that way.

But from what I see (not only in this thread), you're not deviating from the "good" typical educational experience of your time and place in sense of not doing what you're supposed to; you're expanding it. Your kids still cover all they're "expected" to know (possibly also because the expectations are not so narrow and so defined in your culture). The whole point of this thread are people who DON'T cover that, who DON'T provide a meaningful whole, who DO teach random bits of untied information and whose standards don't even reach the typical "good" experience in the context of the standards (content and requirements), let alone go above and beyond that.

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No! I absolutely agree with everything you're saying! And I think Gatto has been crying out for this sort of education for all kids, not just those who have focused interests. I think some kids who have no apparent focus might gain one rather quickly if they are let out into the world to become involved in some sort of meaningful work. And I think that this sort of real world, focused learning acts differently on the brain and spurs better memoryof the thing studied; better recall of other, peripheral things; and a desire to go on and gain other learning experiences, as well.

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Gosh, you are ambitious. This is a question hotly debated among classical scholars.

This debate is also a part of general knowledge.

Not everybody has to study Greek, notice the patterns of orality and debate the orality or literacy of the Greek culture at that point, pros and cons of single or multiple autorship theories, the amount of historicity or lack of it in Homeric epics, and so forth - but I would definitely expect an educated person anywhere in the Western civilization to know what Homeric epics are and what's the fuss about them (including authorship fuss, on the basc level). I think that's what she meant.

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I'm going to go way, way out a limb here, possibly beyond the point of no return, and throw out this just to consider: high school may not be as critical as we are all fearing it is.

 

 

 

I agree with a lot you wrote - but I also want to offer a different perspective. I am amazed how easy it is to learn as a child what is very hard to learn as an adult. While I was in school, acquiring two foreign languages was virtually effortless- they were part of the curriculum, ten years of Russian, eight years of English , and it was no big deal, you just learned it.

If I compare this with the effort I have to make to learn a language as an adult, oh my. First, everybody knows that languages are easier to learn when young, and second, never has one as much free time and as few responsibilities - I simply don't have the hours to invest in French that I had back then to learn languages in school.

 

This brings me to another aspect which is often mentioned: the opportunity to get a college education later in life. In my capacity as an instructor I encounter these students every semester. They are usually very motivated and hardworking - and they usually struggle to learn the material and pass the class. I can not recall any "non-traditional" student who every got an A in my class. So, whereas it is certainly possible to catch up on things not learned while young, it is a lot more difficult- and many of them tell me that they regret not having gone to college right after high school.

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Gosh, you are ambitious. This is a question hotly debated among classical scholars.

 

This debate is also a part of general knowledge.

Not everybody has to study Greek, notice the patterns of orality and debate the orality or literacy of the Greek culture at that point, pros and cons of single or multiple autorship theories, the amount of historicity or lack of it in Homeric epics, and so forth - but I would definitely expect an educated person anywhere in the Western civilization to know what Homeric epics are and what's the fuss about them (including authorship fuss, on the basc level). I think that's what she meant.

 

Yes. Exactly. one of those moments where I thought that would be obvious...:001_huh:

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I'm going to go way, way out a limb here, possibly beyond the point of no return, and throw out this just to consider: high school may not be as critical as we are all fearing it is.

Well, it both is and isn't, if that makes sense.

 

Nobody's life is sealed after they graduate from high school, it's not four years that are going to define your future to the point of no return and it's not that your learning outside of your chosen discipline will suddenly stop after high school.

However, high school is quite a unique period, life-wise: the one of great mental flexibility, yet being unburdened by "life" yet, and possibly the last epoch of your life in which you can truly dedicate yourself to the building of the general structure of your knowledge, since after that you'll be too busy with technical specifics of the field you delve into and with "life" and most of the learning outside of that you do will not be radical re-setting of the system but, rather, continuing on a certain base... that's more or less finished by graduation. Which is why I think such a base is still important, and high school is in a certain way the period to make it.

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I agree with a lot you wrote - but I also want to offer a different perspective. I am amazed how easy it is to learn as a child what is very hard to learn as an adult. While I was in school, acquiring two foreign languages was virtually effortless- they were part of the curriculum, ten years of Russian, eight years of English , and it was no big deal, you just learned it.

If I compare this with the effort I have to make to learn a language as an adult, oh my. First, everybody knows that languages are easier to learn when young, and second, never has one as much free time and as few responsibilities - I simply don't have the hours to invest in French that I had back then to learn languages in school.

 

This brings me to another aspect which is often mentioned: the opportunity to get a college education later in life. In my capacity as an instructor I encounter these students every semester. They are usually very motivated and hardworking - and they usually struggle to learn the material and pass the class. I can not recall any "non-traditional" student who every got an A in my class. So, whereas it is certainly possible to catch up on things not learned while young, it is a lot more difficult- and many of them tell me that they regret not having gone to college right after high school.

 

Maybe this is because of your field and the math background (or lack of it) you say is so crucial to learning physics? In literature, often (although not always by any means) the older students returning to college outperform the prep school kids by miles. A lot of wonderful literature passes over the heads of very bright 20-year-olds, simply because being able to analyze its formal features intellectually is different from having the life experience to understand some of the content. Furthermore, older students have usually read more on their own, and so bring a wider contextual understanding to a particular work that a younger student will probably not have.

 

With languages the issue is quite thorny. I know the generally accepted wisdom goes much as you have noted. But I think it also depends on the context in which one is learning. If you're sitting by yourself over a textbook and grammar, it's going to be a lot harder than if you're living in a culture, working with people who are bilingual, using the language daily, watching the news in that language, working with tutors, etc. It also depends greatly on the priority you have for learning the new language, whether it's a hobby or a necessary life skill or something you yearn to do. As I noted in an earlier post, my friend in her late 30s moved to Cambodia and is managing to learn Khmer, a very difficult language for Westerners, because she is living and working with Khmer speakers. Maybe she isn't learning as fast as she would have in her teens or twenties; I don't know. But she is able to function in most meetings now without an interpreter -- this after three years living in Cambodia; she is putting together materials to be used in schools, in Khmer; and she's considering living there long-term.

 

I also have referred more than once on these boards to the fascinating story of the man who became the Western authority on Chinese history and technology; he had never done more than vaguely note that China was indeed a country on the map before he met a Chinese scholar visiting Britain, and fell in love. He was in his mid to late twenties by then. Over the next decade he not only learned Chinese but visited the country for a couple of years, researching the Chinese archives and interviewing scientists and workers for material for his multi-volume, encyclopedic history of Chinese technological history.

 

Clearly these two people are bright and talented. But they do give us some lovely examples of enormous, seismic changes of course in mid-life and of the possibilities of educating one's self entirely anew. On the other end of the scale is sociological work in the slums and jails and asylums of any number of countries, where adults learn how to read, write, and do math; learn to run businesses for the first time; take courses in agriculture, breeding, and health to re-invent their own and their village's futures. I also see myself as an example: I was basically scientifically illiterate before I started homeschooling my daughter.

 

I don't think that learning in adults has been studied anywhere near enough; scientists are just now coming out with some theories about the continuing plasticity of middle-aged brains. Perhaps over the next decade or so there will be new ways of thinking about how older adults learn.

 

But as with everything else, I also feel certain that some people are going to be at their peak learning frame when they are younger, and some will come into their own when they're older. For every anecdote one of us has about a student who wishes she'd had a better high school education or gone to college young, there's another about someone who feels her education was wasted on her in youth and she did her best learning in later adulthood.

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I agree that this is very frustrating. Sigh. Thank you for keeping on trying to explain.

 

From this bit, it seems like you are describing the third way that I talked about in an earlier post:

"But from what I see (not only in this thread), you're not deviating from the "good" typical educational experience of your time and place in sense of not doing what you're supposed to; you're expanding it. Your kids still cover all they're "expected" to know (possibly also because the expectations are not so narrow and so defined in your culture). The whole point of this thread are people who DON'T cover that, who DON'T provide a meaningful whole, who DO teach random bits of untied information and whose standards don't even reach the typical "good" experience in the context of the standards (content and requirements), let alone go above and beyond that. " (Ester Maria)

 

Am I totally wrong?

 

And I am guessing that the bit that you are finding worrisome and most worth talking about here is:

"Now, you may say that America's virtue lies precisely in the LACK of that and the LACK of any unity regarding those lines and that American education par excellence is chaotic and undefined and self-chosen since there are no societal expectations with regards to the knowledge of content... and you might be right. The chaos that exists in education might as well be representative of it - but that's again a whole new topic." (Ester Maria)

 

And that bit means that you think the US would be better off if we all read the same books each year in English and covered the same topics in biology? Yes? No?

 

If I have that right, then where do the state standards come in? Many states have educational standards that schools are supposed to follow. They mostly (I think?) focus on skills, not content, but when it comes to things like science, content is also defined. Obviously, they are failing miserably to produce students who at the end of their education remember those standards, but that is another topic.

 

My town's school system has only recently laid out a coherent course of study, one that covers all the years. We have combined with another town for high school and that forced everyone to begin teaching the same things in elementary school. This happened about the same time as the state adopted standardized testing and state standards. The result has been absolutely dismal. Teachers must now teach to the test, rather than either their area of expertise or in areas that they feel their students are lacking. The best of our teachers are complaining bitterly that they no longer are allowed to be good teachers. And yet, it seems that you are saying that Europeans manage this fairly happily? How?

 

So, I am now wondering two things:

 

It seems, from your description, like we are working more hours at school for much less return (in the way of education). Why? Is it that we are doing a poor job teaching?

 

And it seems like there is so much knowledge in the world, valuable knowledge. Who is to say which is best? Are you saying that it doesn't matter which knowledge is taught as a base, as long as it is the same across an entire culture (as long as it isn't terribly obscure or arcane)? Is it not a good idea in a large country to have a certain amount of diversity, given the large amount of knowledge to be covered?

 

And rather a shot in the dark: Could what worries you be explained in the context of our term "great books" or "the great conversation"? People here argue that if one hasn't read the classics, there is a ton that one doesn't understand (like a large piece of one's cultural underpinnings GRIN). And that makes a certain amount of sense. Is that what you are talking about?

 

-Nan

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Nobody's life is sealed after they graduate from high school, it's not four years that are going to define your future to the point of no return and it's not that your learning outside of your chosen discipline will suddenly stop after high school.

 

 

I guess you are assuming your particular version of high school here, as you have previously said a kid who isn't exposed to certain things on your list will indeed be handicapped by a lack of that knowledge.

 

As usual I find myself in an outlier position, because I definitely think my mind is more flexible now, more capable of adjusting to new things and approaches, more able to shift perspectives and step away from assumptions, than it ever was in grad school. The whole idea of mental flexibility peaking in the high school/college years is an interesting one, because more and more studies are showing that teenagers' brains are not yet fully developed and that many, many teens suffer from rigid thinking patterns. This may be the result of a lot of different factors and some lucky people might be free from them; but I think that mental flexibility in some areas is quite possibly accompanied by rigidity in others -- and this probably holds true for all stages of life. The places in which we are flexible, able to deal with ideas that challenge our assumptions, able to formulate new world views, probably morph and change throughout life.

 

Either that, or I've got a mutant brain. It's possible...

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My town's school system has only recently laid out a coherent course of study, one that covers all the years. We have combined with another town for high school and that forced everyone to begin teaching the same things in elementary school. This happened about the same time as the state adopted standardized testing and state standards. The result has been absolutely dismal. Teachers must now teach to the test, rather than either their area of expertise or in areas that they feel their students are lacking. The best of our teachers are complaining bitterly that they no longer are allowed to be good teachers.

My ideal public school would be staffed by teachers who were passionate about their fields of expertise, and were allowed to teach what they wanted, however they wanted. There would be a choice of 10 or 20 English classes, not just English I/II/III/IV, and students could choose the ones they were interested in. Ditto with math and science and history and other subjects — just like college. I think students would be far more enthusiastic and engaged, because the teachers would be more enthusiastic and engaged, and everyone would be studying/teaching subjects they were genuinely interested in. As we go further and further down the path of a one-size-fits-all, measure-everything-with-a-test education, the worse the teaching gets and the less the kids learn. We are clearly not preparing kids for college when 50% of incoming students at UC are taking remedial classes! If we want kids to be better prepared for college, then (IMHO) we should make HS more like college and less like elementary school.

 

And it seems like there is so much knowledge in the world, valuable knowledge. Who is to say which is best? ... Is it not a good idea in a large country to have a certain amount of diversity, given the large amount of knowledge to be covered?

Exactly.

 

Jackie

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I guess you are assuming your particular version of high school here, as you have previously said a kid who isn't exposed to certain things on your list will indeed be handicapped by a lack of that knowledge.

 

As usual I find myself in an outlier position, because I definitely think my mind is more flexible now, more capable of adjusting to new things and approaches, more able to shift perspectives and step away from assumptions, than it ever was in grad school. The whole idea of mental flexibility peaking in the high school/college years is an interesting one, because more and more studies are showing that teenagers' brains are not yet fully developed and that many, many teens suffer from rigid thinking patterns. This may be the result of a lot of different factors and some lucky people might be free from them; but I think that mental flexibility in some areas is quite possibly accompanied by rigidity in others -- and this probably holds true for all stages of life. The places in which we are flexible, able to deal with ideas that challenge our assumptions, able to formulate new world views, probably morph and change throughout life.

 

Either that, or I've got a mutant brain. It's possible...

 

I am a much, much better learner now than I was in high school. I know how to study, take notes, etc. I also am more flexible in my thinking and I'm not as rigid - 'this way is right and none other' - as I was in my youth. I know a lot more about a lot of different things than I did in high school or college.

 

I have no reason to suspect my kids will be different. Their maturity rates are documented as being behind their peers.

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Maybe this is because of your field and the math background (or lack of it) you say is so crucial to learning physics? In literature, often (although not always by any means) the older students returning to college outperform the prep school kids by miles.

 

Oh, I absolutely understand how life experience would have an impact on the understanding of literature.

OTOH, life experience contributes hardly anything to an understanding of calculus; so in math and physics, older students do not gain an advantage form their life experience, but are at a disadvantage because they find it harder to learn new abstract concepts.

 

 

But I think it also depends on the context in which one is learning. If you're sitting by yourself over a textbook and grammar, it's going to be a lot harder than if you're living in a culture, working with people who are bilingual, using the language daily, watching the news in that language, working with tutors, etc. It also depends greatly on the priority you have for learning the new language, whether it's a hobby or a necessary life skill or something you yearn to do.

 

It has been my experience that even with total immersion, there are vast differences between adults and children. Immigrant kids become fluent in the language of their new country within a few months - immigrant adults typically take much longer, some never manage, despite living and working with native speakers. And almost no adult immigrant learns to get rid of his accent, even after decades - something kids have absolutely no trouble with.

 

Most adult people, however, do not have the luxury to move to the country whose language they wish to learn - I have to sit and learn French with a book and CDs and with occasional meetings with a tutor. I can not surround myself with native speakers. Boy, do I wish I had at least taken the measly two years of a third foreign language our high school offered... back then, I had thought it not worth studying a language for only two years.

 

 

As I noted in an earlier post, my friend in her late 30s moved to Cambodia and is managing to learn Khmer, a very difficult language for Westerners, because she is living and working with Khmer speakers...

... before he met a Chinese scholar visiting Britain, and fell in love. He was in his mid to late twenties by then. Over the next decade he not only learned Chinese but visited the country for a couple of years, researching the Chinese archives and interviewing scientists and workers for material for his multi-volume, encyclopedic history of Chinese technological history.

 

Clearly these two people are bright and talented.

 

And they did have the freedom to move to another country to live there - something that would be much harder for an adult who also had a family and a spouse with a job.

Not all obstacles are in the brain chemistry; some come from being in a different place in life, with different responsibilities, which make it much harder to devote time and resources to self-education (I see how much harder college is for my students who have children).

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