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jld

Low expectations?

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Oh. I must have missed the many other posts.

Here is the context:

If there is a single prejudice about this nation that I still sort of hold to, since quite often I get to meet the embodiments of this concept, after ten years of living here, it's the one about, how the Germans put in their precise way of describing things, "der Fachidiot" - a blinkered specialist without context and without substantial education outside of his particular "Fach" that was cultivated from very early years.
...nearly all of us contacted back our professors to say thank you for making us study all of that, thank you for not giving up on us, thank you for not allowing me to become "der Fachidiot"
it's not an "economic enough" approach to raise our children as intellectuals... as people whose horizons are maybe a bit broader than those of your average Fachidiot... If something irks me, it's the "we don't need no math past algebra 'cause she's an artist" way of thinking.

Not only is America a nation of Fachidiots, but apparently anyone who allows an artistic child to skip calculus must also be incapable of speaking proper English.

 

Jackie

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My highschool experience and education before high school did not prepare me for this. I did well (well, average in math and sciences) but all the A's in biology, microbiology, anatamy & physiology meant little since the way I learned this material was often so pathetic. (And yes, I actually went to a decent public school and it was one of the best in my area). This is not to say that I didn't have some teachers that were better than others, but in the end it wasn't enough. And sure, you could get me on other factors (working to support myself left not enough time to study, my own lack of dedication sometimes, etc.), but in general it was my background, my high school education, that shut this door. My husband feels exactly the same. He can't even remember having to read but a handful of classics. Classics are not the end all-be all, but they, by their very nature, challenge and train the brain in ways that easier books cannot.

 

I'm not sure that better teaching of a specific body of knowledge is what causes one to succeed or not. I think it's more along the lines of the other things you mentioned -- study skills, dedication.

 

I did well in college. However, I had a pitiful high school education. The first year my school was at a home for unwed mothers so it was truly just pitiful senior citizens and minimal materials and no ambition from much of anyone. The other years were at 2 different schools where Vietnam evaders and idealistic hippies were teaching classes on whatever they wanted. I didn't even want to go to college until I was almost 20.

 

My oldest also did well in college, and his high school was pretty low quality. Also, he was a learn-it-for-the-test-and-forget kind of kid in high school, so he says he remembers very little.

 

What I (we) did have, one way or another (mine was through my father probably), was the drive and confidence to succeed if college is what we decided to do. And maybe being solid in basic math and reading, along with some thinking skills? Or maybe it was because we waited until we wanted a further education (my son was also 20, having started K at 6 and going into Army Reserves training at 19). By then, we were happy to work to learn, like many of us homeschooling moms are doing.

 

I'm not sure what education "should" be, but I do think that a certain body of knowledge is not it, in my view.

 

Julie

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Oh. :D I missed all of that.

 

My artist dd has taken math past Algebra 1, but I'm not going to say she cares a whit about it.

 

:D

 

 

Here is the context:

 

 

 

Not only is America a nation of Fachidiots, but apparently anyone who allows an artistic child to skip calculus must also be incapable of speaking proper English.

 

Jackie

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You do realize that the word fachidiot does not mean stupid, right? That fach + idiot is not a cognate?

 

In German, Fachidiot means someone who knows a lot about a particular field; a specialist. It has been translated into English (wrongly) as a "one track idiot".

 

 

a

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You do realize that the word fachidiot does not mean stupid, right? That fach + idiot is not a cognate?

Yes, I realize it doesn't mean "stupid," it means someone who knows a lot about one narrow field and little about anything else. Someone who has taken a strictly "utilitarian" approach to education, rather than pursuing the loftier goal of becoming "an intellectual." Apparently there are very few intellectuals in this country, and many many Fachidiots.

 

Jackie

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:iagree: As well, intellectual/educational elitism is no different than cultural, racial or ethnic, or financial elitism; aamof, they're all rolled up in the same big, ugly ball of wax.

 

:iagree:but sometimes people are really intellectual. There is very little tolerance in this country for people who truly know a lot about many things and can strategically make sense of it.

 

Thank-you for the def of fachidiot. I see this as where the "race to nowhere" leads.

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There is very little tolerance in this country for people who truly know a lot about many things and can strategically make sense of it.

:confused: Can you elaborate?

 

Jackie

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Yes, I realize it doesn't mean "stupid," it means someone who knows a lot about one narrow field and little about anything else. Someone who has taken a strictly "utilitarian" approach to education, rather than pursuing the loftier goal of becoming "an intellectual." Apparently there are very few intellectuals in this country, and many many Fachidiots.

 

Jackie

 

No, that isn't what it means.

 

It means someone who is a specialist. Someone who knows a great deal about one subject. It does not exclude being an intellectual. It simply means a person who is focused on one subject, so they have less time to give to other subjects.

 

In WTM parlance, it would be a child or person who was not as "well rounded" academically or professionally (depending on the conversation that was being held) as someone who did not specialize. That is all. It is not an insult, it is an observation.

 

And now I'm going to be attacked for the "well rounded" comment, so I'm going to bed.

 

 

a

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No, that isn't what it means.

Well that is exactly how EM defined it:

"der Fachidiot" - a blinkered specialist without context and without substantial education outside of his particular "Fach"

It was being used in all three posts, quite explicitly, to mean someone who is not an intellectual. If you have a problem with that definition, argue with Ester, not me.

 

Jackie

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No, that isn't what it means.

 

It means someone who is a specialist. Someone who knows a great deal about one subject. It does not exclude being an intellectual. It simply means a person who is focused on one subject, so they have less time to give to other subjects.

 

I'm sorry, but as a German native speaker I have to disagree:

by definition, Fachidiot is the term for a person whose focus is so narrow that he does not see things outside his specific field of expertise or subject, his "Fach". It is a person who not just has less time to devote to another field, but is not even interested in looking outside his specialty.

Fachidiot and well-rounded are mutually exclusive.

It may be a desired educational goal for some to become a specialist - but nobody has the goal to become a Fachidiot. That word has exclusively negative connotations.

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:iagree: As well, intellectual/educational elitism is no different than cultural, racial or ethnic, or financial elitism; aamof, they're all rolled up in the same big, ugly ball of wax.

 

Is thinking we're better than an elitist for not being elitists, actually being another kind of elitist? If so, despite our best intentions, we've got ourselves stuck into that big, ugly ball of wax. I hope it's something nice like beeswax, because it seems un-escapable. I think this is the part of the conversation where we all say "Well that was interesting to consider, but I'm not inspired to change my opinion."

 

Rosie- From a country where Tall Poppy Syndrome is rife.

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Is thinking we're better than an elitist for not being elitists, actually being another kind of elitist? If so, despite our best intentions, we've got ourselves stuck into that big, ugly ball of wax. I hope it's something nice like beeswax, because it seems un-escapable. I think this is the part of the conversation where we all say "Well that was interesting to consider, but I'm not inspired to change my opinion."

 

Rosie- From a country where Tall Poppy Syndrome is rife.

 

 

:001_smile: A nice ball of beeswax is so much better than any kettle of fish.

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:iagree:but sometimes people are really intellectual. There is very little tolerance in this country for people who truly know a lot about many things and can strategically make sense of it.

 

Thank-you for the def of fachidiot. I see this as where the "race to nowhere" leads.

 

First of all, I'll back up. I'm sure that there is tolerance for intellectualism in this county- in fact, it abounds.

But, to be more specific, I think that we are so focused on "the experts," and their opinons, as well as PC thought that true intellectualism is going by the wayside.

For instance (in my own life- small circle, living in the middle of no.where) folks would far rather go to a Bible Study that is facilitated- watching videos, filling in the blanks, rather than truly reading the text, exploring the application, understanding the hisorical content, etc.

I think the academy is more concerned these days with filling in the blanks of color, race and creed rather than hiring, or training, who is the most qualified.

I can recount numerous situations over the past quarter century when my dh (who is an intellectual and polymath) was discounted (including at his place of employment) or, kinda, nicely made fun of for kwowing more than joe-public (0r even the other professionals with whom he worked).

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I can recount numerous situations over the past quarter century when my dh (who is an intellectual and polymath) was discounted (including at his place of employment) or, kinda, nicely made fun of for kwowing more than joe-public (0r even the other professionals with whom he worked).

 

And it starts in Middle school when kids are bullied because they excel academically and express a desire to learn. The prevailing atmosphere of academic mediocrity in school encourages this. Heaven forbid you bully the kid belonging to a racial minority - the school will take this up aggressively. But the gifted kid? -Nobody cares. (Ask me how I know and why I homeschool).

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I can recount numerous situations over the past quarter century when my dh (who is an intellectual and polymath) was discounted (including at his place of employment) or, kinda, nicely made fun of for kwowing more than joe-public (0r even the other professionals with whom he worked).

 

:grouphug:

 

I'm so sorry.

 

I'm not even going to put myself up on your husband's level, but how about when you get the hits from your own family.

 

ie: My uncle was an engineer at Texas Instruments many moons ago, and my parents ridiculed him endlessly (behind his back of course). I adore him. He is endlessly fascinating, can talk about anything and is over 80. I just plant myself next to him and absorb.

 

So, I've seen that.

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And it starts in Middle school when kids are bullied because they excel academically and express a desire to learn. The prevailing atmosphere of academic mediocrity in school encourages this. Heaven forbid you bully the kid belonging to a racial minority - the school will take this up aggressively. But the gifted kid? -Nobody cares. (Ask me how I know and why I homeschool).

 

That's why my 11 yo has never stepped foot in a school (and I'm very nervous for when he does eventually share time at tech). My dd15 is just as smart, but reigns herself in when in public school (for the classes she has to attend). It's so sad.

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Is thinking we're better than an elitist for not being elitists, actually being another kind of elitist? If so, despite our best intentions, we've got ourselves stuck into that big, ugly ball of wax. I hope it's something nice like beeswax, because it seems un-escapable.

 

Oh, I don't think I'm better than they; I just don't like them. :D

 

 

I think this is the part of the conversation where we all say "Well that was interesting to consider, but I'm not inspired to change my opinion."

 

:iagree:

 

Rosie- From a country where Tall Poppy Syndrome is rife.

 

.

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And it starts in Middle school when kids are bullied because they excel academically and express a desire to learn. The prevailing atmosphere of academic mediocrity in school encourages this. Heaven forbid you bully the kid belonging to a racial minority - the school will take this up aggressively. But the gifted kid? -Nobody cares. (Ask me how I know and why I homeschool).

 

Or even the kids who just does their homework.

My dh has always said, even if we send our kids back to school for some reason, no kid of his will ever go to jr. high.

I left out family reactions- they are not always so kinda, nicely making fun of...

not trying to turn this in to a pity party on any level. Just offering up observations...

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Mejane, they don't think they are better than you either. They just think their plan is better than your plan. And since you think your plan is better than theirs, I think you're even stevens.

 

 

Rosie

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Mejane, they don't think they are better than you either. They just think their plan is better than your plan. And since you think your plan is better than theirs, I think you're even stevens.

I think my plans are better for my kids. I don't think my plans are better for your kids or anyone else's kids. And I don't go around telling other people that their plans for their kids are "dangerous" or "utilitarian-hedonist" or likely to produce an intellectually-stunted "Fachidiot."

 

There is a difference there, subtle as it may be.

 

Jackie

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Mejane, they don't think they are better than you either. They just think their plan is better than your plan. And since you think your plan is better than theirs, I think you're even stevens.

 

 

Rosie

 

Well see, that's part of the issue. I often don't have a plan. I'm more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants gal, and it gets to be a drag feeling like you're doing your kids a disservice just because you don't force them to work ten hours a day memorizing the entire epics of Homer. Not that there's anything wrong with that. ;)

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memorizing the entire epics of Homer

 

Now THAT would be a project! <envisions a kid reciting an entire epic to an audience around an open fireplace> Bet video(news coverage?) of that would get you a spot in an elite university. ;)

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I think we each set individual goals for our dc. For some the goal of mastering a certain set of academic achievements is their goal. This is what is "expected" in their family. Another family's goals will be much different, thus the different expectations. Different expectations, not lower or higher expectations. Also, each set of parents bring two set of expectations. In my family a university education was expected. In dh's family being able to support yourself & a family was more important. If a university education was a route to be able to do that, all good, but it wasn't the be all, end all. The funny thing is that when dh was a teen (& for many years after) university education was paid for by the gov't in NZ. Today most students still recieve a "student allowance" for living costs & the gov't still highly subsidizes the cost of tuition, but it isn't free anymore.

 

When our dc reached their teens, we would often discuss their educational goals. We would always ask them "what will you do with the education you get?" They had to have a concrete goal of how they would put their education into practice in the "real world." Becoming a professional student was not an option. Becoming a "Jack of all trades, Master of none" was discouraged as well. My father told my siblings & me that our education was our inheritance, so use it wisely. When I look at the people who stand out in history, both in my native USA & NZ where I live now, the most successful people are the people who had the drive to follow their passions & did not let "their schooling get in the way of their education." (to quote Mark Twain ;) ) If you are solely educated the way generations before you were educated, you will most likely think the way they did. This is good for many people, but the great leaps in the sciences, the arts, etc. were made by those people who did things differently. Those are the examples I want my dc to follow.

 

JMHO,

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I think my plans are better for my kids. I don't think my plans are better for your kids or anyone else's kids. And I don't go around telling other people that their plans for their kids are "dangerous" or "utilitarian-hedonist" or likely to produce an intellectually-stunted "Fachidiot."

 

There is a difference there, subtle as it may be.

 

 

Ok, so emotionally charged words like that aren't helpful to the discussion. That's already been acknowledged by everyone concerned so we can all relax on that point now. While you might not go around telling people to their face that their doing things wrong, it isn't possible to go through life never thinking it. If we thought everything was permissible, CPS wouldn't exist. We may not like what our governments do, but we don't think anarchy is better.

 

Now we may not agree with judgments made by CPS at times, but do any of us really believe there are no standards? That there is no line under which no one should fall?

 

I don't understand what is wrong with this:

 

1. We are generally unhappy with the standards of achievement in American public schools.

2. We know that standards we'd be less unhappy with are a possibility because we've all heard of examples.

 

We're good so far?

 

How about:

 

3. We don't think one size can fit all.

4. We don't think the currently offered one size fits nearly enough.

5. We recognise that a tailored education with one on one tuition by experts is difficult enough for homeschoolers and probably impossible in a classroom setting.

6. We recognise that the current structures mean that some children will always slip through the cracks.

7. We are glad because if we know our children are the type to fall through the cracks, we can make sure they fall back into our house because we know useful things like "yes homeschooling is legal."

 

Now this:

 

8. If we think public schools should be doing a better job, we are actually judging about other people's children. We are judging that they aren't being educated as well as we think they should be.

9. Some judgments can actually help.

 

And:

 

10. Arguing about who has the right to mandate their ideas does not allow progress to be made.

11. We aren't going to get perfect even if we have the right to mandate our own ideas because we have to deal with other people :glare: (:lol:)

12. If someone's idea being applied would change the current system from "crappy" to "less crappy" in any way, it would be better to do it than not do it.

13. We will not be hurt by any changes in the education system while we retain the right to homeschool without following the government curriculum.

 

 

So, I hypothesise:

 

14. If Ester Maria's team of Educational Overhaulers hit the school down the street, it is entirely possible that we would think the school better than we do now. (Bill mightn't, but none of us live on his street.)

15. If Ester Maria's team of Educational Overhaulers stayed away from homeschoolers, we'd be quite happy with the situation. After all, we haven't lost the right to opt out.

16. We wouldn't care what the Educational Overhaulers thought about what we were doing, because there's nothing they can do to change it, so ner.

17. We would still feel this way even if we thought our team of Educational Overhaulers would do a better job than hers.

 

That took me ages to compose, so if you want to criticise, I think I deserve more than one paragraph of your time. :tongue_smilie::lol:

 

Rosie

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That took me ages to compose, so if you want to criticise, I think I deserve more than one paragraph of your time. :tongue_smilie::lol:

 

Rosie

With minor quibbles, I would agree with all of those, except #14. I think requiring all students in public schools to study classical languages, multiple modern languages, calculus, and an extensive list of books, the vast majority of which were written by and about dead white European guys, would not make the American educational system better. I think it would likely result in much higher drop-out rates than we have now, and lead to even higher levels of stress and anxiety in those who stay in school (see the Race to Nowhere thread). In fact, Ester Maria has said in other posts that those kinds of schools are only for the very top students, and those who can't handle that kind of rigor simply drop out and "learn their place in the food chain." I don't want kids who are dyslexic or ADD or even highly talented in arts or music but lousy at math or science being made to feel like they are intellectual plankton because they couldn't pass calculus or 4th yr Latin.

 

OTOH, if someone from the Finnish educational system wanted to come over here and give us some tips about improving education for everyone, not just the top 10% of students, then I would be all ears. :bigear:

 

Jackie

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Wow, Rosie. Some great food for thought, as always. I would just say that I think a couple of opinions out here are not on there. I'll try to explain. Never had anyone tell me to write "more" though :)

 

I don't understand what is wrong with this:

 

1. We are generally unhappy with the standards of achievement in American public schools.

2. We know that standards we'd be less unhappy with are a possibility because we've all heard of examples.

 

We're good so far?

I am

 

How about:

 

3. We don't think one size can fit all.

4. We don't think the currently offered one size fits nearly enough.

5. We recognise that a tailored education with one on one tuition by experts is difficult enough for homeschoolers and probably impossible in a classroom setting.

6. We recognise that the current structures mean that some children will always slip through the cracks.

7. We are glad because if we know our children are the type to fall through the cracks, we can make sure they fall back into our house because we know useful things like "yes homeschooling is legal."

 

Now this:

 

8. If we think public schools should be doing a better job, we are actually judging about other people's children. We are judging that they aren't being educated as well as we think they should be.

9. Some judgments can actually help.

 

And:

 

10. Arguing about who has the right to mandate their ideas does not allow progress to be made.

11. We aren't going to get perfect even if we have the right to mandate our own ideas because we have to deal with other people :glare: (:lol:)

12. If someone's idea being applied would change the current system from "crappy" to "less crappy" in any way, it would be better to do it than not do it.

13. We will not be hurt by any changes in the education system while we retain the right to homeschool without following the government curriculum.

Still sounds good to me.

 

So, I hypothesise:

 

14. If Ester Maria's team of Educational Overhaulers hit the school down the street, it is entirely possible that we would think the school better than we do now. (Bill mightn't, but none of us live on his street.)

15. If Ester Maria's team of Educational Overhaulers stayed away from homeschoolers, we'd be quite happy with the situation. After all, we haven't lost the right to opt out.

16. We wouldn't care what the Educational Overhaulers thought about what we were doing, because there's nothing they can do to change it, so ner.

17. We would still feel this way even if we thought our team of Educational Overhaulers would do a better job than hers.

 

That took me ages to compose, so if you want to criticise, I think I deserve more than one paragraph of your time. :tongue_smilie::lol:

 

Rosie

I'm not sure on these.

 

First, it doesn't at all address what I see as the major problem in American education, and that is that every student has a right to be in that classroom regardless of attitude or ability. You can set all the standards you want, but it aint gonna happen in a lot of USA classrooms. The last ps classroom I was intimately involved in was a 2nd grade teacher trying just to get through the basics while facing a classroom of children with Down's, autism, aggression, learning issues, ESL, disinterest, and of course bored advanced kids. There's only so much a teacher can do.

 

And it doesn't address what to me is a big fact and that's that Ester Marie type standards are not relevant to every family's life.

 

So for the situation in the USA, I'd propose more like this, when you get down to it:

 

14. Universal, compulsory education shall consist of reading and math. Maybe throw 'riting in there. These will be studied and studied and studied. Studied until they are a solid, unbending base for all students. Studied until students beg for more advanced work because they are bored. Studied so that all students can build their life choices upon this solid foundation.

 

15. Other fields of study can be designed by Ester Marie. And all the other creative folks on here could design fields, too.

 

16. These other fields I suppose would be required to admit all students, but ALL teachers would have the right to ask students to leave if they were not an appropriate candidate for the class based on behavior, interest, etc. Classes would not be held back or raced forward just because of the needs of the few; the class syllabus would stand as advertised. However, other classes would be provided, based on the requests of families, as staff abilities allowed. I suppose that some teachers would find no one had signed up for their courses and those would be set aside, at least for the time being. Those teachers would have the choice of developing a desirable course or bowing out of the school.

 

17. Parents would have the right to make ALL educational choices for their children, based on the assumption that children cannot always see the bigger picture and often will make choices based on non-educational factors. This would be an effort to prevent teachers from losing students due to high standards. Each family could allow child input as they were comfortable.

 

 

How's that for crazy ideas?

Julie

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. In fact, Ester Maria has said in other posts that those kinds of schools are only for the very top students, and those who can't handle that kind of rigor simply drop out and "learn their place in the food chain." I don't want kids who are dyslexic or ADD or even highly talented in arts or music but lousy at math or science being made to feel like they are intellectual plankton because they couldn't pass calculus or 4th yr Latin.

 

No, people shouldn't feel like intellectual plankton for not passing calculus or 4th year Latin, but I do think people need to be robust enough to be able to handle being told they can't, if indeed they can't, kwim? The attitude that a C is the best they can manage is respectable. "I have tried and am only passing by two marks so I'm quitting in favour of something else where my hard work will pay off" is recognising your limitations, which I think is a very sensible thing to do. We aren't actually capable of doing anything we want to do. Sometimes hard work isn't enough. Demanding that the standard be tweaked so we can have a better grade for our level of work isn't ok. I think it is behaviour that makes a person plankton-y, not their abilities or lack thereof. Doing what you can with what you've got is always honourable. Sooking that you aren't making cut-offs into this that or the other program when you don't meet their requirements is poor sportsmanship. The honourable thing to do would be to study harder and try again, or to accept it's beyond your capability and find something that suits you better.

 

(I'm not accusing anyone here of being a sook ;) I'm talking about hypothetical persons.)

 

OTOH, if someone from the Finnish educational system wanted to come over here and give us some tips about improving education for everyone, not just the top 10% of students, then I would be all ears. :bigear:

 

 

So how do you feel about streaming students? I assume you approve, if it's done well, because one size doesn't fit all. How about we let Ester Maria's Education Overhaulers loose on the stream for the top 10% and delegate the rest to Finland? :tongue_smilie:

 

First, it doesn't at all address what I see as the major problem in American education, and that is that every student has a right to be in that classroom regardless of attitude or ability. You can set all the standards you want, but it aint gonna happen in a lot of USA classrooms. The last ps classroom I was intimately involved in was a 2nd grade teacher trying just to get through the basics while facing a classroom of children with Down's, autism, aggression, learning issues, ESL, disinterest, and of course bored advanced kids. There's only so much a teacher can do.

 

Yeah. This is tricky stuff. I know it goes against the cultural grain, but I don't think every student should have the right to be in any classroom their parents want them in. As I said above, I think we, on behalf of ourselves and our kids, have to be able to bow out graciously. It doesn't make sense to have the right to something you aren't capable of attaining, kwim? How you balance that with the right to try, because everyone has the right to try, is beyond me.

 

Now I don't have kids with disabilities (for the moment, anyway) though I've hung around in enough places to have some info to form an opinion with. I would like to know from those for whom these issues are personal, do you think students (both the average kid and the differently-abled) are better off with this inclusive model? From my experience, I would have to say, over all, no. But the old system where deaf kids went to deaf schools, blind kids went to blind kids, regular kids went to regular schools and everyone else went to an undefined special school was dodgy enough that trying the current model was worthwhile.

 

I need to put the rest of your post, Julie, into another post coz I can't think about it properly in this one.

 

:)

Rosie

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16. These other fields I suppose would be required to admit all students, but ALL teachers would have the right to ask students to leave if they were not an appropriate candidate for the class based on behavior, interest, etc. Classes would not be held back or raced forward just because of the needs of the few; the class syllabus would stand as advertised. However, other classes would be provided, based on the requests of families, as staff abilities allowed. I suppose that some teachers would find no one had signed up for their courses and those would be set aside, at least for the time being. Those teachers would have the choice of developing a desirable course or bowing out of the school.

 

17. Parents would have the right to make ALL educational choices for their children, based on the assumption that children cannot always see the bigger picture and often will make choices based on non-educational factors. This would be an effort to prevent teachers from losing students due to high standards. Each family could allow child input as they were comfortable.

:iagree:

I agree with English, math, and writing being compulsory subjects, but I would also allow some choice within those subjects. E.g. kids could choose a semester of Russian literature and a semester of Shakespeare or Science Fiction or whatever, instead of everyone plowing through the same 5 lb textbook full of brief excerpts of this and that, all predigested and with the analysis handily written out in bulleted lists so the student knows exactly which bubbles to fill in on the test. And I think students should have some math choices, too, once they finish Alg II. I don't even have a problem with requiring four years of science and social studies if there were a much wider choice of topics, especially more interdisciplinary courses.

 

I totally agree with the idea of teachers being able to drop any kids they felt were holding the class back, and with parents having the final say in terms of class choice (meaning, parents who want to determine the coursework can do so, and parents who want to let their children choose their courses can do so as well).

 

I also think students should be encouraged to design and carry out independent study courses and individual projects, either with a teacher or with outside mentors. And I think the artificial separation between "vocational skills" courses and "college prep" courses should be eliminated. If a college prep student wants to take a semester of auto mechanics or wood shop or typing, they should, and if a future auto mechanic wants to take a class in Russian literature, they should do that, too.

 

Jackie

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So for the situation in the USA, I'd propose more like this, when you get down to it:

 

14. Universal, compulsory education shall consist of reading and math. Maybe throw 'riting in there. These will be studied and studied and studied. Studied until they are a solid, unbending base for all students. Studied until students beg for more advanced work because they are bored. Studied so that all students can build their life choices upon this solid foundation.

 

~Is there anyone for whom writing should be negotiable? These things can be streamed, of course, but I'm wondering if there is anyone who should be streamed into "oral only- no writing."

~Critical thinking sort of stuff really needs to be mandatory, I think. I don't know enough about it to float hypothetical recommendations though. Should logic be contained in this mandatory core? Or should those skills be taught through the electives?

~Is it just because I'm a foodie, or should nutrition and health be mandatory? I don't mean a full course consisting only of reasons you shouldn't smoke, drink and do drugs. (I don't know what your health courses require, but I get the impression it is treated as a box to tick, not the meaningful course of study it could be.) After all, bad health practices cost individuals and society a heck of a lot of money and anguish.

 

15. Other fields of study can be designed by Ester Marie. And all the other creative folks on here could design fields, too.

 

~Electives are already available, yes? :confused: We have electives here from year 9. But I won't get started on the quality of them right now :glare: Since this is hypothetical-land, we can assume the electives have been written well and are being delivered well.

 

16. These other fields I suppose would be required to admit all students, but ALL teachers would have the right to ask students to leave if they were not an appropriate candidate for the class based on behavior, interest, etc. Classes would not be held back or raced forward just because of the needs of the few; the class syllabus would stand as advertised. However, other classes would be provided, based on the requests of families, as staff abilities allowed. I suppose that some teachers would find no one had signed up for their courses and those would be set aside, at least for the time being. Those teachers would have the choice of developing a desirable course or bowing out of the school.

 

~You have to die before you get to heaven, remember :lol:

~Where do the kids who don't want to study at all go? I wonder how many kids would be interested in completing a core subject diploma while working. But that's another idea for another conversation.

 

17. Parents would have the right to make ALL educational choices for their children, based on the assumption that children cannot always see the bigger picture and often will make choices based on non-educational factors. This would be an effort to prevent teachers from losing students due to high standards. Each family could allow child input as they were comfortable.

 

~As someone who has never regretted winning an argument with her father about dropping maths in year 12, I can't agree with this one. ;) Parents with less than stellar educations don't necessarily see enough of the bigger picture either. Don't get me wrong, I wish I had attained that level of mathematical education, but I wasn't going to as that badly prepared 17 yo in those classes. I am going to either the year after next or the year after that though coz now I'm a big girl. :tongue_smilie:

 

I think something very much like this would suit Australia well too. Our schools are usually K-6 and 7-12, so some differences would probably be necessary.

 

Imagine being able to run African history courses or other such fun stuff. You can teach the discipline of history no matter what the content is, but unfamiliar content like that will do so much more for interesting a student in the world than another repeat of stuff they've covered a zillion times. *sigh* (I loved my African history classes at uni :D I should have asked the professor to be my kids' godfather, heheh.)

 

Rosie

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How about we let Ester Maria's Education Overhaulers loose on the stream for the top 10% and delegate the rest to Finland?

Well, I was in the top 10%, and I would have hated that system. My DH is in the top 1% in terms of IQ, but was probably in the bottom 25% grade-wise in exactly the sort of rigorous, classical, European private school Ester champions, because he's dyslexic and he sucks at languages. Needless to say, he hated it and considered a great deal of it a total waste of his time.

 

A school that requires every student to follow the same, very structured program, which includes multiple languages, huge amounts of challenging reading from a very specific booklist, and the most rigorous math and science, is only going to work for a very small subset of the population who (1) are not only gifted, but equally gifted in languages, math, and science, and (2) actually want that sort of education and that sort of rigid structure. And I think that particular subset of the population is best served through private schools or charters (or homeschooling, of course). We happen to have both a classical charter and an IB charter in our school district, and neither of them are full, so I don't think there's a huge segment of the population clamoring for that particular educational structure. The program that includes robotics has a long waiting list, though.

 

Jackie

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Well, I was in the top 10%, and I would have hated that system. My DH is in the top 1% in terms of IQ, but was probably in the bottom 25% grade-wise in exactly the sort of rigorous, classical, European private school Ester champions, because he's dyslexic and he sucks at languages. Needless to say, he hated it and considered a great deal of it a total waste of his time.

 

Well that sounded angry. If you're angry about your past experiences, I don't blame you, but I don't think we need to be angry about anyone's hypothesising until someone hints it's going to become reality. Whether it makes us glad or sad, no one here has that power!

 

What I think you mean here was "I think we need to be careful about what we are calling the top 10% because this idea definitely wouldn't serve kids well if IQ was the only criterion considered and there was no way for those with a high IQ to opt out." Am I warm?

 

If we say that the top 10% means those who have the ability and interest, could you allow that this isn't an idea with no merit?

 

And I think that particular subset of the population is best served through private schools or charters (or homeschooling, of course).

 

My oath. But I bet those who don't want to homeschool and can't afford a private school want the state to provide for their kids and the state has an obligation to do so. How would you wangle things to get these kids out of the public system? Scholarships, maybe? If the government spends $14,000 per student in a public school, maybe it would be better paying for these students to be elsewhere?

 

Rosie

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Well that sounded angry. If you're angry about your past experiences, I don't blame you, but I don't think we need to be angry about anyone's hypothesising until someone hints it's going to become reality. Whether it makes us glad or sad, no one here has that power!

 

Rosie

 

I think you've hit on something, Rosie. (pardon the pun)

 

Perhaps there are many people who are angry about their own childhood/adolescent experiences, and this has bled into not only why they are homeschooling, but also into why they are defensive about how they are doing so.

 

I hadn't thought of that.

 

Beyond that, I think you have made some wonderful hypotheses. I do know, from having a SIL who works with all of the "different learners" at a middle school (eg: gifted, special ed, etc.) that there does exist a system for teaching kids who can only learn orally. At least in some places. She has a couple of kids who come in for her to read everything to them. Not because *they* physically can't read, but because they are a specific type of auditory learner that cannot process information well while reading out loud to themselves. One of the kids is a certified genius. If you think about it, he will actually do really well in a lecture format; it is the "worksheet" mentality of middle school that is kicking him in the head.

 

Lastly, I will have to (obviously) defer to regentrude on the German definition. I was going off of the Goethe Institute. Native speakers win out over over-priced language courses any day. ;)

 

 

asta

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Well, I was in the top 10%, and I would have hated that system. My DH is in the top 1% in terms of IQ, but was probably in the bottom 25% grade-wise in exactly the sort of rigorous, classical, European private school Ester champions, because he's dyslexic and he sucks at languages. Needless to say, he hated it and considered a great deal of it a total waste of his time.

 

 

Jackie

 

Well, I was in the top 10% of my high school, and I would have loved that kind of education. Do we cancel each other out? :)

 

 

My oath. But I bet those who don't want to homeschool and can't afford a private school want the state to provide for their kids and the state has an obligation to do so. How would you wangle things to get these kids out of the public system? Scholarships, maybe? If the government spends $14,000 per student in a public school, maybe it would be better paying for these students to be elsewhere?

 

Rosie

 

I was miserable in my high school. I later found out that I have an extreme reaction to fluorescent lights, and that was what had caused many of my problems throughout my school years. Anyway, my guidance counselor actually suggested that we might be able to get my township to pay for me to go to a private school for my senior year, but then during a meeting with her, my parents, my English teacher, and my principal, the principal suggested that I just forget about high school and go on to college for my senior year. So I did.

 

You know, I have never really thought about it before, but there is definitely an anti-intellectual feeling in America. I certainly have had times when I don't show all I know (and I don't even consider myself that intellectual).

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~Is there anyone for whom writing should be negotiable? These things can be streamed, of course, but I'm wondering if there is anyone who should be streamed into "oral only- no writing."

 

 

 

 

My dd who is in high school has dyslexia and dysgraphia. At age 12 she couldn't really write at all. She had intensive tutoring and now can write in a beautiful cursive, very slowly and with horrible spelling (she is always asking how to spell things). I don't even really know if she could write a paragraph by hand in a school situation. I don't know if she will ever be able to take her own notes in college. But she knows tons and tons and tons - she just can't write it down. :tongue_smilie:

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Well that sounded angry. If you're angry about your past experiences, I don't blame you, but I don't think we need to be angry about anyone's hypothesising until someone hints it's going to become reality.
I think you've hit on something, Rosie. (pardon the pun)

Perhaps there are many people who are angry about their own childhood/adolescent experiences, and this has bled into not only why they are homeschooling, but also into why they are defensive about how they are doing so.

I'm not sure why you thought that "sounded angry." I would not want to be stuck in a school where I had no choice about what courses to study; that's why I left HS at 16 and went straight to college, where I was very happy. I was just pointing out that being in the "top 10%" doesn't necessarily mean a student would want that type of education. Why does that sound angry? :confused:

 

I'm also not sure why there has to be some non-rational explanation for why KarenAnne and I would disagree with Ester on these issues (it must be the cold medication, or childhood trauma, or PMS, whatever...). It is possible to disagree about these issues on a rational, intellectual level. I have no doubt that my kids are getting an awesome education that will serve them well in the future, whatever they decide to do; I have no need to "defend" that. I am, however, fundamentally (and quite rationally) opposed to the idea that there is one model of education, with very specific content, which is the "best" education, and that different is inherently less. And I would believe that even if I'd had the most perfect (for me) high school education possible. And I did have the most perfect (for me) college and graduate education possible, so I'm actually quite happy with my overall educational experience.

 

Jackie

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I'm not sure why you thought that "sounded angry." I would not want to be stuck in a school where I had no choice about what courses to study; that's why I left HS at 16 and went straight to college, where I was very happy. I was just pointing out that being in the "top 10%" doesn't necessarily mean a student would want that type of education. Why does that sound angry? :confused:

 

It sound angry because you said the idea sucked and didn't counter with a modification or better model.

 

I'm also not sure why there has to be some non-rational explanation for why KarenAnne and I would disagree with Ester on these issues (it must be the cold medication, or childhood trauma, or PMS, whatever...).
It's you saying those things aren't rational. "I had a crappy experience with that" sounds rational enough to me. Cold medicine is a perfectly good reason for fuzzy thinking, especially when the person taking the meds has said they are and might be a bit fuzzy. Let's not start on PMS, though in case someone's PMSing because then we'd be in for it. You really dont' need to feel as though someone is accusing you of being irrational because no one is.

 

If you are interested in back and forth discussion, rather than restricting yourself to shooting down ideas, you could apply yourself to the question I asked you. You have indicated that it is a topic close to your heart.

 

And I think that particular subset of the population is best served through private schools or charters (or homeschooling, of course).
My oath. But I bet those who don't want to homeschool and can't afford a private school want the state to provide for their kids and the state has an obligation to do so. How would you wangle things to get these kids out of the public system? Scholarships, maybe? If the government spends $14,000 per student in a public school, maybe it would be better paying for these students to be elsewhere? RosieRosie

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I'm sorry, but as a German native speaker I have to disagree:

by definition, Fachidiot is the term for a person whose focus is so narrow that he does not see things outside his specific field of expertise or subject, his "Fach". It is a person who not just has less time to devote to another field, but is not even interested in looking outside his specialty. Fachidiot and well-rounded are mutually exclusive.

 

I'm glad this finally came out - glad you're here regentrude :001_smile:.

 

While the actual definition is not very nice, I had never looked it up thinking it was an invention because it didn't sound very Italian and was a combination of "fachist" and "idiot" which to me is even worse than it's actual definition!

 

So it would also be helpful in the future to define terms (and redefine them in future posts for those who don't read every post on the board) from foreign languages that are not common and could have negative connotations.

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It sound angry because you said the idea sucked and didn't counter with a modification or better model.

 

 

Rosie

 

Did she say the idea sucked, or did she say she, personally, would have hated it? Also, I think in post 379 she gave an opinion of a better model.

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I can recount numerous situations over the past quarter century when my dh (who is an intellectual and polymath) was discounted (including at his place of employment) or, kinda, nicely made fun of for kwowing more than joe-public (0r even the other professionals with whom he worked).

 

I found this very common when I was teaching in ps. It was a huge turn-off for me, and is one of the reasons we homeschool.

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Didn't Ester Maria say at some point that she didn't necessarily think her language-heavy program be right for the US, but that she thought we would be better off trying to give more of our student population a more standard educational package? I know she has posted a lot about languages, both classical and modern, but that is her field and many of the posts were in response to specific questions (many from me) asking her how she teaches languages and literature, was taught languages and literature, and her ideal of how languages and literature should be taught. Were you involved in the discussion about teaching Klingon and reading Dr. Suess in Latin? I have asked her a lot about education in general and the differences between the above and education in the US. Often, her answers are aimed at a particular person (like me), so that when she says, "you would be doing your children a disservice" she is thinking of specific children, like mine, who are studying multiple languages despite being headed for technical fields. I think in the posts here, she was extending that conversation, only to discover that most of the people had not been involved in those past conversations. It is sort of like when you walk into a room towards the end of a debate, when much of the polite, of course that would be different and that would be an exception and it wouldn't apply to this part is already over and people are being emphatic. When she figured out what was going on, she backpeddled, naturally, and tried to explain that for Italians, it makes a certain amount of sense to study years of Latin, and that she was beginning to understand that it wasn't that we had a national body of knowledge that we were mistakenly abandonning but more that we had never had a good one in the first place, and other things like that.

 

It is all too easy to assume that if somebody (like me) asks questions about something or tries to understand something, it does means that they agree with that person, when it really might just mean that they are trying to understand. There are advantages and disadvantages of almost everything and it is worth understanding so that one can maybe find a way to get the advantages without the disadvantages. Ester Maria, as far as I can tell, thinks that everyone should be held to a high standard and people will rise to that standard and that everyone deserves to be educated to a high standard. That sounds like Teach Like a Champion and some of the other modern books on education. Although I don't always agree with everything she says, I find great value in figuring out where I don't agree and where I do. She has patiently helped me to define my educational goals, helped me figure out why something I am doing isn't working, helped me to learn about the world, and I am grateful for that. Other people here have, also. I do hope this rather acrimonious thread won't make anybody go away for a long time. I missed Eliana when she left for a few years. I think as the semester finsihes up and people are cleaning and shopping for the holiday season and the days are short, we all tend to post more hastily and briefly than we perhaps ought when discussing something with such political implications. Goodness knows, I've strewn my share of confusion. Ester Maria, Correlano, and KarenAnne, I hope you will forgive me. I need you all.

 

You know, I think English would be better off if it had more forms of the word you. Maybe we should all use one and the southern you-all more.

 

Humbly,

Nan

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It sound angry because you said the idea sucked and didn't counter with a modification or better model.

I said my husband sucked at languages. I never said that a classical education sucked or that your idea sucked. I said that *I* personally would not have wanted to go to a school like that, despite being in the "top 10%" that you suggested would be sent to schools modeled on EM's ideas. I have no doubt there would be some people who would enjoy it, but the fact that 10% of the population might be capable of it doesn't mean all 10% would want it.

 

If you are interested in back and forth discussion, rather than restricting yourself to shooting down ideas, you could apply yourself to the question I asked you.

Rosie, I answered your question in the previous post, before you even asked it: I said I thought that the choice of private schools, charter schools, and homeschooling was capable of meeting the rather limited demand for that sort of rigidly-structured education. I said that there is a classical charter school and an IB charter school in our school district, neither of which are full, and since charter schools are free, just like public schools, clearly the demand here is not high. It is considerably less than 1% of the student population. In fact, thousands of parents choose to pay $15K+ per year to send their kids to private schools rather than put them in a free classical charter which has a very rigidly structured curriculum.

 

If the question you feel I didn't answer was do I think students who want an elite classical education should be given $14,000 scholarships to attend private schools, my answer would be no, I don't think people should be singled out for special treatment just because they want a classical education. If there are enough people who want that education in that community, they can form a charter, and if that doesn't work they can homeschool. If that's not possible they can do what everyone else does, and try to get the best education they can within the system. If I were looking for ways to "wangle [certain] kids out of the system," high-ability kids who would prefer a classical education are not the first group I'd try to help. I'd be trying to rescue the kids who are being bullied or who are failing because their needs aren't being met, not the kids who would simply prefer a different educational model.

 

I don't understand your claim that I just shoot down other people's ideas and don't propose alternatives; I've been proposing alternatives throughout this entire thread. I believe students should have more freedom, not less; I believe students should have far greater choice in the courses they take, including math and English; I believe students should be encouraged to design and carry out independent study courses and individual projects with teachers or outside mentors; I believe students should be given more opportunities to tailor their education to their interests and abilities and should be given more time to find and explore their passions. I have said these things repeatedly throughout this thread, including in direct response to a previous post of yours.

 

Jackie

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Rosie, I answered your question in the previous post, before you even asked it: I said I thought that the choice of private schools, charter schools, and homeschooling was capable of meeting the rather limited demand for that sort of rigidly-structured education. I said that there is a classical charter school and an IB charter school in our school district, neither of which are full, and since charter schools are free, just like public schools, clearly the demand here is not high. It is considerably less than 1% of the student population. In fact, thousands of parents choose to pay $15K+ per year to send their kids to private schools rather than put them in a free classical charter which has a very rigidly structured curriculum.

 

 

Just noting that in Chicago the IB and (few) classical schools are extremely difficult to get into, and the demand for both is high. Interesting how this varies from one locale to another.

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Just noting that in Chicago the IB and (few) classical schools are extremely difficult to get into, and the demand for both is high. Interesting how this varies from one locale to another.

 

And here we have neither to choose from. The few private schools around are either expensive and quite a commute or small and rather low-end academically. Our high school doesn't offer AP either.

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And it starts in Middle school when kids are bullied because they excel academically and express a desire to learn. The prevailing atmosphere of academic mediocrity in school encourages this. Heaven forbid you bully the kid belonging to a racial minority - the school will take this up aggressively. But the gifted kid? -Nobody cares. (Ask me how I know and why I homeschool).

 

It happens here too. Fortunately, right now, my youngest is reveling in his designation as the "smart, quirky nerd." I am having to battle a little bit of sinking toward the common denominator though. It's sad. I'm seriously thinking of taking in our own Asian exchange student for academic company if we can afford it when his middle brother leaves and youngest is here by himself.

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Mejane, they don't think they are better than you either. They just think their plan is better than your plan. And since you think your plan is better than theirs, I think you're even stevens.

 

 

Rosie

 

Re: Elitists. Some (not all) do indeed think they are better than everyone else. I know several and they aren't afraid to mention it either. It's just as bad as prejudice IMO. (And yes, it often works both ways, but we're not in the camp that personally has to worry about that aspect.)

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Friends of ours were just saying how grateful they are that they won the lottery and got their children into Boston Latin. It was interesting talking to them about the advantages and disadvantages. Apparently, they have the same problem getting rid of bad teachers as all public schools. I have a cousin in an excellent private classical school and I hear about the disadvantages of that, as well. I keep thinking there must be something in between those classical exam schools and the high school Creekland teaches in, something that gives those students a choice of a more academic education, teaching academic skills at the same level as the classical schools but applied to a content more suitable to American diversity; or a choice of a more applied education. It seems like we have the framework in place to teach multiple ways already. What we have is a shortage of teachers. Perhaps with the internet and faster audio and visual computer technology, we now will be able to set up a system with even more choice. It takes a fairly large student body to support even as simple a choice as high, medium, and low levels of 10th grade math and English. When you add educational style (applied, classical, etc.) and choice of content into that, you wind up needing many, many classrooms. It might be interesting to look at Maine or Clonlara's alternative graduation requirements. I looked at them when I was deciding what our own educational goals were going to be. They were easier to use than the 4x5 system, for us anyway.

-Nan

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It seems like we have the framework in place to teach multiple ways already. What we have is a shortage of teachers. Perhaps with the internet and faster audio and visual computer technology, we now will be able to set up a system with even more choice. It takes a fairly large student body to support even as simple a choice as high, medium, and low levels of 10th grade math and English. When you add educational style (applied, classical, etc.) and choice of content into that, you wind up needing many, many classrooms.

I think if high schools were run more along the lines of community colleges, that would help with some of those issues. Maybe a retired English teacher who loves Shakespeare would be interested in teaching a couple of semesters on that topic, maybe a young and enthusiastic engineer would like to do an all-day Saturday class on robotics and could use his company's lab on Saturdays; maybe some of the adjunct professors who are teaching at CCs would take on an extra HS class as well. Having teachers who are experts in their field being able to teach subjects they love might be more effective than having subjects taught by teachers who were trained in "educational methodology" but don't really know their subjects that well. Maybe freeing up current HS teachers to teach the things they love the way they want, to students who have chosen to be there, instead of being forced to teach a checklist of standards to a bunch of kids who have no choice, would result in fewer teachers burning out and giving up.

 

Also, many courses could be presented via Distance Learning options. At our CC (and Uni, for that matter) that can mean a totally online course, a course that's mostly done independently but meets for labs or discussions once/wk, a course that includes video lectures at specific dates and times which students are expected to "attend," or several other permutations. This would allow any student within the state to take a course, without having to provide thousands of extra teachers or classrooms.

 

Jackie

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I agree. I think something like the cc system would be better. It has its problems with unenthusiastic teachers, learners, and behavior problems, and online classes have their own set of problems, but it might be better than what we have. I think my biggest regret homeschooling, even bigger than all the things I've bungled, is that my poor children had unenthusiastic me as a teacher. Often times, they added their own enthusiasm or found someone who added theirs, but still...

 

My middle one was madly scrambling to finish an unscheduled online class last weekend. Sigh. It was less than inspiring to do 8 hours of Rosetta Stone at a whack.

 

-Nan

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But you've essentially just pushed the American college system down into high school. I think you still have the issue of students not mastering a set of skills and core knowledge before allowing them to pursue their individualized interests. I don't mind more specializing at the high school level, IF by 8th grade you have students who are prepared to write well on their chosen interests, can research and read deeply, have a foundation of mathematical skills making higher science courses possible. I'd say a general understanding of chronological history and geography are also necessary. If all these things can be mastered by 8th grade, fine, open up high school to a broader smorgasboard of courses. As it is right now the problem at the university level is not a lack of choices taught by professors who are passionate about their particular subjects, but students who have not yet mastered the skills to LEARN those subjects. Because high school did not adequately prepare them. If you make high school similar without requiring preparation in the K-8 years, interesting subjects and individualization won't make up the difference. So *somewhere* in the course of an education, there has to be a mind well-trained in the verbal and mathematical arts. A core progression of content and skills on which the student can build.

 

 

 

I think if high schools were run more along the lines of community colleges, that would help with some of those issues. Maybe a retired English teacher who loves Shakespeare would be interested in teaching a couple of semesters on that topic, maybe a young and enthusiastic engineer would like to do an all-day Saturday class on robotics and could use his company's lab on Saturdays; maybe some of the adjunct professors who are teaching at CCs would take on an extra HS class as well. Having teachers who are experts in their field being able to teach subjects they love might be more effective than having subjects taught by teachers who were trained in "educational methodology" but don't really know their subjects that well. Maybe freeing up current HS teachers to teach the things they love the way they want, to students who have chosen to be there, instead of being forced to teach a checklist of standards to a bunch of kids who have no choice, would result in fewer teachers burning out and giving up.

 

Also, many courses could be presented via Distance Learning options. At our CC (and Uni, for that matter) that can mean a totally online course, a course that's mostly done independently but meets for labs or discussions once/wk, a course that includes video lectures at specific dates and times which students are expected to "attend," or several other permutations. This would allow any student within the state to take a course, without having to provide thousands of extra teachers or classrooms.

 

Jackie

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