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Shawn On the Border

Do high school teachers not teach anymore?

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Ds16 is at the local public school, in 10th grade. As I've posted before, he has been struggling with the math and science. The work for these subjects is very challenging, but the teachers often don't teach the material. Mostly, they have the kids learn from the book or handouts, and they are there for questions (after the homework is due). His Culinary Arts class has only cooked a few times. Most of the time, the kids read the textbook in class and answer the chapter questions in writing. I thought he had a good English teacher until I asked ds if he took notes in class. He said they usually don't talk in class! Usually they are reading or writing essays at their desks. She gives them reader's study guides to answer questions and then asks for questions when they are done. REALLY?? Is this how they study literature now?

 

Yesterday, I brought ds13 to his new piano teacher. One of the reasons I chose her is because she teaches music theory. Most of the teachers around here teach theory through a computer program, and I thought it would be better to have a teacher. She showed us the books that she uses and said that she liked them, because the kids could learn the material on their own, and then she could answer their questions.

 

Am I out of the loop? Did I miss some great change in education since I was in school? When I was in high school, and even college, teachers taught the students the material. Then, they would go home and work on assignments. You didn't even need to read the book if you understood the lecture. I don't remember one teacher or professor that I had that expected the students to learn entirely on their own.

 

This really disturbs me- not just for my son, but for the kids who don't learn well on their own. Their must be a lot of kids that fall through the cracks. Ds16 is an advanced student, with a good memory. What about the kids who don't catch on so fast, who don't have parents to help them, push them, or pay for tutors? It is so sad.

 

Do you think it is this way in most schools? Are most public schools like this? I wonder if private school would be better, if they had smaller classes? I'm just not sure what to do for next year. Would it be any better at another school?:confused:

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That's a shame. I tend to remember almost every word of what a teacher says when he/she lectures in front of a class. Maybe I'm an auditory learner? Students need to hear the lecture (auditory), read the textbook (visual), and do their assignments (learning by doing). Maybe all three would be overkill for some students, but at least various types of learners would be "covered."

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Is homeschooling him an option?

 

Well, he wants to be at school with the other kids. He was homeschooled through 8th grade, and wanted to go to high school. He is very shy, and he doesn't have any real friends here yet, but still enjoys being around others. He has a real need to feel like most of the other kids. He doesn't want to be different.

 

The weird thing is that I'm already afterschooling him on the math and science. Really, I should work with him on other subjects as well, but I just don't have time. In a way, afterschooling is harder than homeschooling because of time constraints and following the school's schedule and assignments. So, in a way, he is being homeschooled for some of his subjects. However, I don't think he would like to come back home.

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I believe it. Great Girl makes steady money tutoring math to kids who go to the local high school and middle school, which are supposed to be respectable. These are bright kids who did well in elementary, but struggle simply because nobody has actually taught them the math. They and their parents say as much. One boy she tutored went straight from D's to A's once Great Girl was meeting him twice a week to teach him how to solve the problems he was being assigned. The boy said that the math teacher just wrote things on the board, gave them problems to work in class, and assigned them homework.

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That's understandable. Does your school allow him to register for some classes and take others at home? It would give him the time in school, and then math and maybe others you could work at home. I'd be hesitant to give up the science as the high schools tend to have great lab equipment. :D But if they're not doing much with labs, then I'd want to teach that as well. You may get some good suggestions on the afterschooling forum. Do they offer any additional help at his school? It seems like such a waste of class time to just have the students sit there and learn on their own. If that's what they're doing with math, then one suggestion would be to have him work one lesson ahead of the class. That way when he's in class, he can ask questions about the "homework" he's already done and had problems with rather than just working on the new stuff and not knowing what he needs to ask. Not sure if that made sense, but hopefully you kwim anyway. : )

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My niece in our local public high school has told me of classes where the teacher basically doesn't teach, similar to what the OP describes.

 

Dd16, who has just finished a semester at cc, has encountered this in her math and science classes there. It seems to vary from professor to professor.

 

On the college level, it seems to be not uncommon, but on the high school level, I find it unacceptable.

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I believe it. Great Girl makes steady money tutoring math to kids who go to the local high school and middle school, which are supposed to be respectable. These are bright kids who did well in elementary, but struggle simply because nobody has actually taught them the math. They and their parents say as much. One boy she tutored went straight from D's to A's once Great Girl was meeting him twice a week to teach him how to solve the problems he was being assigned. The boy said that the math teacher just wrote things on the board, gave them problems to work in class, and assigned them homework.

 

:iagree: with the bolded above. That's why I find this style of "teaching" unacceptable at the high school level.

 

Also, at the college level, they had access to a tutoring center, and to MyMathLab, which gives help if the student cannot proceed in a problem.

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My 9th grader takes two classes at the local high school: Honors chemistry and Principles of Engineering. The teachers definitely lecture on a regular basis. He does very little reading out of class although he does regularly do problem sets. The Chemistry class has a text book, but the teacher said at the beginning of the year they would hardly use it. The Eng class does not have a text book and they learn through teacher lectures and computer modules. So...yea I would think this is an odd approach for high school As PP said though, in college I think this is more likely. I know some family members had experiences where a college level class consisted of the teacher asking if there were any questions about the reading material. If there were no questions, the class was over.

 

Can you discuss it with the teachers/and or principal?

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There seems to be an educational push away from direct instruction toward a "guide on the side" approach. In this approach, the teacher works to coach the students toward learning through group and independent work rather than lecturing. Here's an interesting take on this.

 

There is also an emerging trend called the Flipped Classroom where instructors record their lecture and have students view it at home the day before class. The class time is then spent reviewing the materials and problems. I think this is a more promising approach than "guide on the side".

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I have addressed it with his counselor and the assistant principal. I specifically complained about the Chemistry teacher. I wrote the assistant principal a letter (it had to be in writing), requesting that my son have a different teacher. I then hand delivered it to her office, and saw her secretary hand deliver it to her. Half way through the next week, I went in to check on it, and she had not even looked at it. She certainly didn't seem busy, and she said that she would "try" to get back to me before Christmas break. Honestly, I don't think anybody cares. They were probably taught that way, and they think it's o.k. The sad thing is that a lot of kids will not live up to their potential.

 

I find it hard to believe that the best high schools and colleges teach this way on a regular basis. I see MIT lectures online, and they actually teach. I'm pretty sure that professors at my (very expensive) alma mater still teach. I would think that most expensive prep schools have teachers that teach. What has happened to our public education? I know some kids do well- this high school is one of the best in the state by test scores. Some kids will always do well. What about the average kid? What about the struggling kid?

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The problem with a lot of educational changes an innovations is that (like many new ideas), they don't work. In the city we used to live in, they gave up teaching long division in elementary school. Apparently, they never discussed this with the high school and middle school teachers. Many kids had to go to afterschool tutoring to learn long division with their algebra.

 

I have no doubt that great teachers can do a great job guiding kids to learn on their own. Perhaps they will learn the material better if they figure it out on their own. But, that is in an ideal world. Many teachers are overwealmed with teaching so many kids. I have a hard time finding time and energy to do this type of guided learning in homeschooling with 1-2 kids. Your average teacher is not going to do a good job with so many students. Sometimes I wish schools would not be so quick to try new things and focus on what has worked in the past.

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Dh is a public school history teacher, and he is not supposed to lecture too much or have the students read the textbooks too much. His students aren't even issued a textbook, but they have a classroom set for classroom use. He is supposed to do differeniated instruction, which means kids have choices on how they show they've learned the material (write a story, draw a picture, prepare a handout like brochure, etc.). Learning is supposed to be very student led with a lot of working in groups. I don't know about you all, but when I was in school and had to work in a group. The ones who were good, caring students did all the work, and the students who didn't care got a free ride and learned nothing. I don't know why the system is so convinced it's how learning should be happening now.

 

He does some lecturing, but he better have a power point presentation with little of him talking or he would be in trouble if he were evaluated during that lesson. He does have handouts for them because the wouldn't have material to study at home without textbooks. He is supposed to teach the state standards specifically, too.

 

My big question is that if learning is supposed to be so student-led, why do they need degreed, specialist teachers in the classroom? What they seem to want at his school is a teacher to be a project manager. I think if most of the parents at that school knew what the classroom was really like, there would be a lot of them at the superintendant's office complaining.

 

I met with a parent and student who were considering leaving school to homeschool. The student was in the highest level math class a student could be in for 9th grade (AP class that's a mixture of Algebra 2, geometry, and statistics). When I showed her a curriculum map for that math level in our state in order to ask if her teacher had covered those topics already, she looked clueless and didn't know at all if circles or functions. How does a student that is such an advanced topic not know if those had been covered already that year? It makes me think even the AP classes are watered down.

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Of course they do not teach. That is why the state of education is as bleak as it is. The "creative" reforms which turned what used to be an academic institution upside down into prolonged daycares would be comic, if they were not tragic. The only discussions I lead about mainstream education in the recent years have been about whether it has already reached the point of no return or there is, maybe, a theoretical chance of reversing the trend. Most people with whom I had those discussions honestly believe that, on a mass scale, in America, it cannot be reversed anymore - and that the kind of education we (they) have known will remain a privilege of ever smaller numbers of kids in ever smaller number of good schools (many / most of whom are private anyway). I am not sure what to think, but I tend to be a pessimist about trends in the education in general.

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Quite honestly:

 

I would clearly disagree if the students were in the habit of working outside of class -- but I know a few secondary school teachers who are now teaching this way because only 10% of their students were doing any homework at all, and they found that the results were better this way than with lecturing and having the students not do any practice problems.

 

I would believe this is also why it varies by district, depending on parent/student culture.

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My boys are in two different high schools and the teachers DO teach, as in lecture the students! Not every class is a lecture - sometimes it's online computer work (writing or researching), reading a book aloud, occasionally watching a movie or movie clip (Shakespeare, history, etc.) and/or working on a group project but it's MOSTLY a lecture.

 

My older ds, this year, has gotten into the habit of meeting with 2 of his teachers after class, before a test, to get extra help. His physics teacher has a physics "club" just for the sole purpose of reviewing for a test AFTER school. My ds loves this "club" because it's a group, and he doesn't have to be the one to ask the questions. He's learned that good students seek help if they want to be great students (ie get an "A").

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I agree with a pp who said that it might be because they can't get students to do any of that work outside of class. Homework completion rates are abysmal in many schools. Parents just don't care, schools don't feel like they can fail that many students, and the problem just gets worse.

 

It's funny, though, that what you describe is exactly how many homeschoolers handle high school (I would even say most of the ones I know IRL.)

 

We have had several different piano teachers, and they all handled theory in the same way. They teach it as it pertains to the songs they are teaching as they go, but the "book work" music theory is done by the student on his or her own and then checked by the teacher. It is supplemental to the instruction a (good) piano teacher does along the way.

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It's funny, though, that what you describe is exactly how many homeschoolers handle high school (I would even say most of the ones I know IRL.)

 

 

 

Yes. But the big difference, I think, is that this approach is used at home with only one (or a couple) students. And if the student hits a snag, or cannot learn something on their own, the parent steps in and teaches, or outsources the teaching. The parent presumably doesn't ignore the student's floundering for the entire school year.

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I wonder too if there isn't an issue with how much time the teachers have to prepare lectures. I have a few friends who are teachers, and the number of classes they have to teach has been high for about the past ten years, there is little time during school hours. And then with budgets being slashed recently they have cut staff, supposedly all "administrative". But what that means is that a lot of administration has been put onto the classroom teachers. So for example things like when collecting money from students they now have to double count it and do the associated paperwork themselves.

 

All of which cuts into lesson prep time.

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There seems to be an educational push away from direct instruction toward a "guide on the side" approach. In this approach, the teacher works to coach the students toward learning through group and independent work rather than lecturing. Here's an interesting take on this.

 

 

 

I didn't get to look at the link, but your description sounds like the direction our school is taking too. A couple of teachers have openly said how much they like it since they only have to lecture for 5 - 10 minutes tops.

 

Of course, it means our math knowledge is dismal as the vast majority of kids don't try/care and prefer to sit and talk about anything else. Then they'll copy down whatever is done in the "wrap up" without a clue about the hieroglyphics they are copying. Technically, the teacher walks around supervising, but with 6 - 7 groups per class, that means each group actually "works" for about 1/6th of the time (when the teacher is there). Some teachers don't even do that much and more or less openly allow cheating to achieve grades. Tests have been really dumbed down.

 

I'm ready to give up - and I would - except there are still some kids who care. Those I feel obligated to help (while trying to spur the others to care).

 

Most of the "old school" teachers have retired. The few left are counting the days. I've begun counting the days too. Youngest graduates in 2 1/2 years. At one point I thought I'd go full time then. At this point, IF I were to go full time, it would have to be at a school where kids cared more and they weren't trying the latest fads, but rather were open to things that actually work for the majority of the students.

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OK, I got curious enough to take the time to look at the link and delay heading to bed...

 

This study shows exactly what I've experienced.

 

http://educationnext.org/harvard-study-shows-that-lecture-style-presentations-lead-to-higher-student-achievement/

 

So many of us have experienced it that I can't quite understand the reluctance to change back. Anyone have ideas?

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My son's high school expects students to do readings and most assignments on their own at home. Teachers expand on the subject in class. If students need help, they may meet with the teacher or one of the retired teachers who tutor for free in the library throughout the day. For example, we have several retired math teachers in the library the entire day to help any student with math. They will meet the student before or after school if that works better, too. It's a great way for students to get one-one-one help.

 

Anyway, I've found that schools vary tremendously in content and methodology. My son's school is public, and I'm very happy with all of it so far. (Must knock on wood.) However, it was (and to some extent, still is) a royal pain to figure out what exactly the school is doing. That is probably my biggest gripe of all throughout the years.

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Quite honestly:

 

I would clearly disagree if the students were in the habit of working outside of class -- but I know a few secondary school teachers who are now teaching this way because only 10% of their students were doing any homework at all, and they found that the results were better this way than with lecturing and having the students not do any practice problems.

 

I would believe this is also why it varies by district, depending on parent/student culture.

 

This may be the case?

 

I know of a family who used to homeschool and now have their kids in public schools. One day, while at our home, I was surprised to have one of the kids (best chums with my teen) pipe up after seeing the new timeline in son's bedroom for World History.

 

He asked if he could help tutor my son. I smiled at the thought as we were still finishing up Ancient Rome and trying to get to the Dark Ages. But had taken a looooong time (we have too much fun with history) to get there. I normally try not to compare with this family schooling -- but he seemed so eager, I thought why not. I was then surprised to have my son correct our friend on certain topics he got wrong. (I was in the kitchen while the boys were in the bedroom nearby -- but I could hear them.)

 

Turned out the poor kid thought he knew more on history based on the assumption his class had completed Ancient Rome (in one week) and were now light years ahead. I found out the teacher teaches a segment of history (i.e. Renaissance) in 4 days and tests on Fridays. But the info is purely memorized twaddle that gets deleted in the kid's memory banks (at least in our friend) right after the test. We were kind to his helpfulness. I know whenever his siblings come over to visit, the younger ones (who were never homeschooled -- they have 7 kids) whine to the parents they want to be homeschooled as it looks like fun. ;)

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Ds16 is at the local public school, in 10th grade. As I've posted before, he has been struggling with the math and science. The work for these subjects is very challenging, but the teachers often don't teach the material. Mostly, they have the kids learn from the book or handouts, and they are there for questions (after the homework is due). His Culinary Arts class has only cooked a few times. Most of the time, the kids read the textbook in class and answer the chapter questions in writing. I thought he had a good English teacher until I asked ds if he took notes in class. He said they usually don't talk in class! Usually they are reading or writing essays at their desks. She gives them reader's study guides to answer questions and then asks for questions when they are done. REALLY?? Is this how they study literature now?

 

Yesterday, I brought ds13 to his new piano teacher. One of the reasons I chose her is because she teaches music theory. Most of the teachers around here teach theory through a computer program, and I thought it would be better to have a teacher. She showed us the books that she uses and said that she liked them, because the kids could learn the material on their own, and then she could answer their questions.

 

 

I've told about this before, but we have a friend who is an award-willing math department head at a school in a large system. Her classes run this way -- lecture a little (maybe 5 minutes), demonstrate a problem, have everyone do one similar while she walks around checking, then she does another, and walks around checking. In a class period (not block scheduling) she usually gets two problems done, maybe three. She rarely assigns homework "because they'd never do it anyway." In a semester (90 days) she rarely assigns more than 100 problems of homework. She says that all of the teachers at her school are like this. My children do more than 100 problems a week!

 

I cannot imagine truly learning algebra without doing a lot of problems. Of course the textbook and having someone checking/remediating is important too.

 

Teaching has been my part-time career since mine were babies, but at that level I've been able to pick-and-choose. No way would I go back to school and get a teaching certificate for public school like some of my homeschool mom friends have. Locally they're under so much pressure not to teach, and I wouldn't want to commute far. That and teaching to the state test. I can't imagine.

 

And yes, our piano teacher teaches theory. Of course she could be my great-grandmother, so she's old school, to say the least.

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A good teacher is hard to find. An excellent teacher is even harder. But those who teach from the heart, who wakes up each day for their students, are rare jewels.

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I agree with a pp who said that it might be because they can't get students to do any of that work outside of class. Homework completion rates are abysmal in many schools. Parents just don't care, schools don't feel like they can fail that many students, and the problem just gets worse.

 

It's funny, though, that what you describe is exactly how many homeschoolers handle high school (I would even say most of the ones I know IRL.)

 

.

 

 

:iagree: But the other problem is that the kids don't have the attention span for a 20-30 min. lecture. They haven't been "trained" to pay attention for any length of time!

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I wonder too if there isn't an issue with how much time the teachers have to prepare lectures. I have a few friends who are teachers, and the number of classes they have to teach has been high for about the past ten years, there is little time during school hours. And then with budgets being slashed recently they have cut staff, supposedly all "administrative". But what that means is that a lot of administration has been put onto the classroom teachers. So for example things like when collecting money from students they now have to double count it and do the associated paperwork themselves.

 

All of which cuts into lesson prep time.

 

In high school, they teach FIVE classes/day usually. That gives them 30 min. for lunch and 45 min. prep period/day. That should be plenty of time to prepare if they've done their lesson plans over the summer.

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But the other problem is that the kids don't have the attention span for a 20-30 min. lecture. They haven't been "trained" to pay attention for any length of time!

But we are walking in circles with that problem (on the whole, I mean). The real reason why they do not have a 30 minutes attention span in 8th grade is because they did not have a 20 minutes attention span in 6th, which is because they did not have a 10 minutes attention span for a small lecture in early elementary, etc. IOW, it is a skill that builds on - we have stopped training children for this particular *mode* of learning (i.e. attentive listening) at a very young age with a switch to more "fun", but ultimately less efficient approaches.

 

Personally, I do not think the skill as such is lacking - kids manage to focus very well on very long movies they all watch. So, the *skill itself* to concentrate IS there - it is only about applying that skill to a somewhat different context. They lack that ability because they are simply not required, systematically, to learn this way - but I simply cannot be convinced they are incapable of concentrating if some other types of activities manage to hold their attention for hours at a time just fine.

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I agree with a pp who said that it might be because they can't get students to do any of that work outside of class. Homework completion rates are abysmal in many schools. Parents just don't care, schools don't feel like they can fail that many students, and the problem just gets worse.

This is the real problem, IMO.

 

I prefer a big failure rate to what is going on right now. It has reached the level at which the only way to describe it is by calling it a serious instance of intellectual dishonesty.

 

I have no sympathy for "cannot make the students do their work". If they prove incompetent on an exam which is in line with requirements and appropriate for the content taught, you fail them - why make problems when there are none? I had exams too with 10% passing rates on a first try - I see nothing "wrong" about those exams, if they are representative of the material taught. If kids do not learn, you fail them. That is the only way to be fair and just AND ensure the appropriate level of learning is actually happening.

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My boys are in two different high schools and the teachers DO teach, as in lecture the students!

 

My older dc's school has teachers who actually teach & discuss the material.

 

:iagree: w/ Lasthenia when she said..."A good teacher is hard to find. An excellent teacher is even harder. But those who teach from the heart, who wakes up each day for their students, are rare jewels."

 

That is precisely why I don't teach high school content to my kiddos. They need a professional teacher -- of which I am not. I wake up every day to teach my youngers because the ability and passion is there. High school chem & precalc.... not so much. :)

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OK, I got curious enough to take the time to look at the link and delay heading to bed...

 

This study shows exactly what I've experienced.

 

http://educationnext.org/harvard-study-shows-that-lecture-style-presentations-lead-to-higher-student-achievement/

 

So many of us have experienced it that I can't quite understand the reluctance to change back. Anyone have ideas?

 

OTOH, there are professors (also at Harvard) who have divorced themselves completely from a lecture model and teach ONLY by problem solving and group activities at a college level, achieving better results than before.

Look up Eric Mazur "Confessions of a converted lecturer".

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Look up Eric Mazur "Confessions of a converted lecturer".

 

 

I must confess that I did not watch the whole hour long video (yet). I do love, though, what he said in the beginning, which is that he (erroneously) originally thought that one of the most important things about teaching a class was choosing the right textbook. I think that's a lesson a lot of us could take take to heart, especially those of us who are "curriculum junkies", or always looking for a silver bullet by selecting a different textbook.

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I must confess that I did not watch the whole hour long video (yet). I do love, though, what he said in the beginning, which is that he (erroneously) originally thought that one of the most important things about teaching a class was choosing the right textbook. I think that's a lesson a lot of us could take take to heart, especially those of us who are "curriculum junkies", or always looking for a silver bullet by selecting a different textbook.

 

Yes, but he has all the information in his head - not all of us teaching at home have that distinct advantage. Some of our students are learning directly from the texts, so a good text is very important. Hopefully they'll reach classes like his, with a good foundation. :tongue_smilie:

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Am I out of the loop? Did I miss some great change in education since I was in school? When I was in high school, and even college, teachers taught the students the material. Then, they would go home and work on assignments. You didn't even need to read the book if you understood the lecture. I don't remember one teacher or professor that I had that expected the students to learn entirely on their own.

 

This really disturbs me- not just for my son, but for the kids who don't learn well on their own. Their must be a lot of kids that fall through the cracks. Ds16 is an advanced student, with a good memory. What about the kids who don't catch on so fast, who don't have parents to help them, push them, or pay for tutors? It is so sad.

 

Do you think it is this way in most schools? Are most public schools like this? I wonder if private school would be better, if they had smaller classes? I'm just not sure what to do for next year. Would it be any better at another school?:confused:

 

It seems to depend on the area. I went to a homework free high school back in the Jurassic, all work was done in class with the exception of band practice and term papers...most kids worked on their parents farm after school & what wasn't done in class was done in study hall. It wasn't a problem...kids did acheive SATs over 1400, back in the era of no test prep. I did not feel unprepared for college by not having the experience of taking notes in high school; I felt prepared b/c I did learn to read a textbook, follow a lecture, and ask pertinent questions. My evenings were free to learn life skills from my parents and to study anything I felt I needed to study.

 

My sons have teachers that vary in quality. The ones that are experts can get it all done in class, other than term papers and even they give a few days of class time to library research. The ones that arent there yet...well the school has a math teacher available every period of the day for free tutoring; and everyone else has 2 help sessions weekly after school. Some do better at the help session than in class at getting the point(s) across and no one has to go only to the teacher they are assigned. It's a little embarrassing for some when they are doing Regent's review and find that their students went to the better teacher's review. There is free help for everyone available all day - many bring their lunch and go get help. Afterschool tutoring is also available and includes a bus ride home. The biggest problem we've had is foreign languages -can't make up lack of practice & excel when the student is assigned the dud, but can scrape a pass by self-studying.

 

My younger son had an interesting observation on math. He is in a mixed class of Gr. 9, 10,11,12 students for Integrated Algebra II/Trig. This class is half lecture, half watch problems get worked. Ds excels, but his 'secret' is to tune out of the problems worked part and process as needs be. He rarely hears or writes down half of the examples b/c he is busy processing the others. That gives him the core ideas and enough practice in class that he can easily finish all the hw in the down time in the next class. He has yet to need to study - and I've been throwing Dolciani "C" problems at him to make sure periodically. My older son takes the same class, different section. He has to study as he is so busy taking notes that he can't process. He is essentially teaching himself at home. The class has no text - so hard to trust himself to process rather than take notes. He would do better in less time with a lecture, then work sample problem, then do problems yourself w/guide on a side.

 

My son taking chem finds he wishes the powerpoints from class were available at times, but the handouts have the skeleton outline. Many students memorize these and do fine, but ds is finding that working problem sets and using a review book with good drawings is better for his understanding and long term retention. Our district has a data bank of problems available online so he often does more than assigned in order to get the finer points down. It's a better chem class than I was offered; he will do fine in college chem as a result since he isn't loading short term memory.

 

Lecture prep has been cut down here by the divide and conquer method. Many teachers that teach the same class cooperate in lesson planning. The major publishers have materials available for powerpoints and databanks for problem sets. It's rare to see a teacher authored test or ppt slide.

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I have no sympathy for "cannot make the students do their work". If they prove incompetent on an exam which is in line with requirements and appropriate for the content taught, you fail them - why make problems when there are none? I had exams too with 10% passing rates on a first try - I see nothing "wrong" about those exams, if they are representative of the material taught. If kids do not learn, you fail them. That is the only way to be fair and just AND ensure the appropriate level of learning is actually happening.

 

When you get the people who make the laws and fund schools to agree with you, I think that you will see a far more honest system of evaluations.

 

Until then, well, if I'm a teacher and told "You have far too many students failing. You need to pass more of them." I can do one of three things.

 

a) quit my job/get fired.

b) Start passing people who fail the exams.

c) Start teaching differently in an attempt to MAKE them learn something.

 

Unfortunately, given that I like eating and not being homeless, and I refuse to do b), c) is my only real option.

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:iagree: But the other problem is that the kids don't have the attention span for a 20-30 min. lecture. They haven't been "trained" to pay attention for any length of time!

 

But many times it need not be a 20 - 30 minute lecture all at once. I find it works better if there is some explanation, some trying, then back to explanation. What doesn't work (to me) is a short intro, a long "figure it out yourself" time, then a short "wrap up."

 

 

This is the real problem, IMO.

 

I prefer a big failure rate to what is going on right now. It has reached the level at which the only way to describe it is by calling it a serious instance of intellectual dishonesty.

 

I have no sympathy for "cannot make the students do their work". If they prove incompetent on an exam which is in line with requirements and appropriate for the content taught, you fail them - why make problems when there are none? I had exams too with 10% passing rates on a first try - I see nothing "wrong" about those exams, if they are representative of the material taught. If kids do not learn, you fail them. That is the only way to be fair and just AND ensure the appropriate level of learning is actually happening.

 

:iagree: But the powers that be do not. They want to see every child passing and it's up to the teacher to make it happen. If the kids aren't motivated, we have to try to motivate them or change things to make it work. A big failure rate means a teacher will be out of a job at the K - 12 level. (I don't know that it goes back to K, but, in general...)

 

OTOH, there are professors (also at Harvard) who have divorced themselves completely from a lecture model and teach ONLY by problem solving and group activities at a college level, achieving better results than before.

Look up Eric Mazur "Confessions of a converted lecturer".

 

 

No offense, but I fully expect at the college level you have a LOT more interest and willingness to work on topic than you do at the middle school or high school level - esp at Harvard. At Harvard you also have a very slim cherry picking of very intelligent students who quite likely can think in this way. Extrapolating this to everyone has some serious flaws. ;)

 

And... I don't have the time to check out the link, nor is my home computer capable of watching videos (we live rural and don't have a fast connection at home).

 

When you get the people who make the laws and fund schools to agree with you, I think that you will see a far more honest system of evaluations.

 

Until then, well, if I'm a teacher and told "You have far too many students failing. You need to pass more of them." I can do one of three things.

 

a) quit my job/get fired.

b) Start passing people who fail the exams.

c) Start teaching differently in an attempt to MAKE them learn something.

 

Unfortunately, given that I like eating and not being homeless, and I refuse to do b), c) is my only real option.

 

:iagree: At our school they've changed the tests to try to help, so I suppose that's choice D. I have seen some graded tests where incorrect answers were given far more credit than they should have been too. Some teachers have also taken to assisting (giving strong hints) on tests. The dumbing down is at full speed ahead and has been for quite a few years. As I said before, many old school teachers have retired long before they really needed or wanted to. Many of those have switched to teaching at colleges.

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c) Start teaching differently in an attempt to MAKE them learn something.

 

Unfortunately, given that I like eating and not being homeless, and I refuse to do b), c) is my only real option.

I have no problem with it if the same material is still covered and a different teaching does not bring about the lowering of standards / decreased efficiency of teaching; if it does, however, I do not see any real difference between b) and c) - one did the same thing, only by different means. I can understand why an individual teacher, in a situation as it is, would do so, and I do not think anyone can judge it too harshly if existential matters are concerned; but it exactly the multitude of such little cases that helps maintain the status quo, because it is not "profitable" for anyone to speak up and refuse to play the grade inflation game. Sadly, but that is the current reality.

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This class is half lecture, half watch problems get worked. Ds excels, but his 'secret' is to tune out of the problems worked part and process as needs be. He rarely hears or writes down half of the examples b/c he is busy processing the others.

We were not allowed to look at the problems being solved on the blackboard when I was a kid. :tongue_smilie: Everyone was supposed to be solving every problem on their own in their notebook, while a student or a teacher was solving the same problem on the blackboard. It was not really a demonstration for you to watch, but something to check when you were done and then ask questions / see where you made a mistake or the kid who solved it on the blackboard did / etc.

 

Do teachers ever ask nowadays students to solve problems in front of the class or that, too, is considered "stressful" and "harmful" by modern pedagogy? It was often done when I was at school, so the "stress" of a possibility of being called out any time to actively show what you know in front of everyone also helped to keep us at least somewhat in form - and it allowed teachers to catch our errors in real time, and often prevent them from being undiscovered until the exam.

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I wonder too if there isn't an issue with how much time the teachers have to prepare lectures. I have a few friends who are teachers, and the number of classes they have to teach has been high for about the past ten years, there is little time during school hours. And then with budgets being slashed recently they have cut staff, supposedly all "administrative". But what that means is that a lot of administration has been put onto the classroom teachers. So for example things like when collecting money from students they now have to double count it and do the associated paperwork themselves.

 

All of which cuts into lesson prep time.

 

I agree with you BlueGoat. Most people assume that teaching lessons is a very simple job. I had a guy tell me one time when I was a part time teacher that "Your job is very easy. You just need to move your arm to check papers." He was a boxer. I could've punched him myself. Really, a lot of factors go into lesson prep and high school lessons are theoretically the hardest to prepare of them all. Just writing the detailed lesson plan will take much time. Then you have to think about the approach, the method, the strategies: and these may differ everyday (this sort of thing can't be planned during the summer, believe me, unless you're going to have the same classroom dynamics everyday). You have to keep the flow of the lessons smooth, and even if you've only got five (I had eight) it's all a different battlefield, so to speak. Add to that all the other tidbits - checking papers, communication with parents, preparing daily materials, classroom management, school activities and memos - and you wonder why teachers spend lunch just recharging.

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Do teachers ever ask nowadays students to solve problems in front of the class or that, too, is considered "stressful" and "harmful" by modern pedagogy? It was often done when I was at school, so the "stress" of a possibility of being called out any time to actively show what you know in front of everyone also helped to keep us at least somewhat in form - and it allowed teachers to catch our errors in real time, and often prevent them from being undiscovered until the exam.

 

Yes, at my son's high school, students have to go in front of the class to explain how problems are solved, perform parts of literature (his lit. class will be performing Henry V in spring), give short speeches, etc. This probably varies from school to school.

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But many times it need not be a 20 - 30 minute lecture all at once. I find it works better if there is some explanation, some trying, then back to explanation. What doesn't work (to me) is a short intro, a long "figure it out yourself" time, then a short "wrap up."

 

 

No offense, but I fully expect at the college level you have a LOT more interest and willingness to work on topic than you do at the middle school or high school level - esp at Harvard. At Harvard you also have a very slim cherry picking of very intelligent students who quite likely can think in this way. Extrapolating this to everyone has some serious flaws. ;)

 

 

And... I don't have the time to check out the link, nor is my home computer capable of watching videos (we live rural and don't have a fast connection at home).

Creekland,

 

If you can find a way, I would definitely suggest watching the lecture that regentrude posted. The speaker is entertaining, and he has real data collected over a number of years to back up his assertions.

 

If you make it through to the end, he discusses how he puts these methods into practice in an actual class, and the method is much like you describe -- ask a question, require the students to be silent and answer via iClicker -- this way he can see who knows what. Then he tells them to convince the people sitting next to them of the correct answer and allows the kids several minutes to discuss the problem. He asks them to vote again, and then he spends 3 - 5 minutes lecturing on the topic and explaining the correct answer.

 

So the method he purports is not mostly "guided" discovery. He does mention that he thinks this method works because the students have an easier time of convincing each other of the correct answer because the ones who understand are "closer to" their period of not understanding. They can better see how to explain the concept because they remember not understanding it and how they got to knowing it. He says that it's often very hard for an expert to explain a new concept well because he doesn't really remember a time when he didn't know it. Dr. Mazur's explanation made a lot of sense to me. I know that I spent countless hours banging my head against a wall trying to explain certain math concepts to my oldest. They just seemed so obvious to me....

 

I was also skeptical after watching the first part it because I wondered how a study conducted at Harvard (where students are very capable & motivated) would apply elsewhere. He does address this and uses examples from community colleges as part of his data.

 

After watching the whole thing, I did wonder how/whether this method would work in a high school setting because one might lack the motivated students. The presentation might argue that conducting the class in this manner would engage the students better and help them to become motivated, but my gut says I'm not so sure about that in a high school setting.

 

Anyway -- I thought it was a really interesting lecture and if you can find a way to download it and watch it later, I'd strongly suggest it.

 

Brenda

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I have no problem with it if the same material is still covered and a different teaching does not bring about the lowering of standards / decreased efficiency of teaching; if it does, however, I do not see any real difference between b) and c) - one did the same thing, only by different means. I can understand why an individual teacher, in a situation as it is, would do so, and I do not think anyone can judge it too harshly if existential matters are concerned; but it exactly the multitude of such little cases that helps maintain the status quo, because it is not "profitable" for anyone to speak up and refuse to play the grade inflation game. Sadly, but that is the current reality.

 

Don't forget also that many parents will come in protesting angrily if their darling failed, even if their darling did absolutely zip. If you don't START with support from the principal, the principal will either fire the teacher or just change the grades himself.

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Yet another reason why homeschooling is so important and becoming even more so as standards decline even further. I want my kids to actually be educated, not according to today's standards, but to much higher standards.

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We were not allowed to look at the problems being solved on the blackboard when I was a kid. :tongue_smilie: Everyone was supposed to be solving every problem on their own in their notebook, while a student or a teacher was solving the same problem on the blackboard. It was not really a demonstration for you to watch, but something to check when you were done and then ask questions / see where you made a mistake or the kid who solved it on the blackboard did / etc.

 

The Teaching Gap by J.W. Stigler and J. Hiebert describes the differences between US, Europe and Japanese methods of teaching.

 

Do teachers ever ask nowadays students to solve problems in front of the class or that, too, is considered "stressful" and "harmful" by modern pedagogy? It was often done when I was at school, so the "stress" of a possibility of being called out any time to actively show what you know in front of everyone also helped to keep us at least somewhat in form - and it allowed teachers to catch our errors in real time, and often prevent them from being undiscovered until the exam.

 

School here is full inclusion. This practice is stressful to many included children, so of course it is not allowed.

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Brenda,

 

I also found Dr. Mazur's lecture very interesting. It sounds like he has found a great way to connect with his students (which says a lot with classes of 150+). The students are more involved with what they are learning, so perhaps it would be more interesting that just listening to a lecture. The students have to pre-read his notes to prepare for the class, so they would be more prepared. Also, it would keep any slackers on their toes, because they know they would have to participate. Of course, there aren't too many slackers at Harvard, but it is a good idea for other schools as well.

 

Although his method seems like a good idea (and he seems like an entertaining and informative professor), this is not being done at our local high school. I'm sure they would still call it "guided learning", but there is not much guiding going on. The students learn from their books, sometimes do homework, and are tested on the material. In class, the teachers ask for questions, or give them assignments to do in class. Sometimes the assignments are with a group, and it seems like the best students do most of the work. I was surprised when my son told me they didn't talk much in English class. This is mostly a literature class, and they are given class time to read or work on study guides. I really don't see much "guiding" at all. The teachers don't even give much feedback on tests and essays. Many tests aren't even returned, because they are graded by a computer (on a separate piece of paper). How would a student know how to improve?

 

When I was young (in the 70's), I went to an elementary school that was tied in with the local university. No doubt, we were the guinea pigs for the School of Education (we were in the same building). We had open classrooms, no grades, and a very relaxed atmosphere. In third grade, my teacher told my mother that we didn't need to learn about history or geography, because we could just look it up (I think I saw smoke coming out of her ears). My junior high school was laid back as well. When I moved and went to a more traditional school, I was given clear guidelines and expectations. I had homework that corresponded to the classwork, and I thrived. I know there are many learning styles, but it seems like many kids today are just guinea pigs for the current trends in teacher education. Instead of adding, or tweaking what has worked in the past, they totally change the approach. How long will it take to realize that an approach doesn't work?

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I know there are many learning styles, but it seems like many kids today are just guinea pigs for the current trends in teacher education. Instead of adding, or tweaking what has worked in the past, they totally change the approach. How long will it take to realize that an approach doesn't work?

 

I felt like this when my oldest was in ps elementary school. They had switched to a new math program (Investigations), which as supposed to be more discovery-based. That program, and a few other issues, caused us to homeschool, so for us, it really was a blessing. However, for the kids who stayed in the system, they had to suffer for 5 or 6 years before the administration realized that standardized test scores were slipping, and they changed to a new program.

 

The sad thing is that all of the children in the program for those 5 or 6 years cannot "get back" the time they lost not learning math. Their math understanding will likely suffer for a long time. I guess that's why once dh and I understood the state of things, I went and talked to the principal about our concerns. At that point, I realized that the math program wouldn't be changing in time for my son to learn math, so we needed to make a change. I afterschooled math for one year, and that just gave me the confidence that hsing could work, and we've never looked back since.

 

It's sad to say that the time cycle required to change something that is not working (at least in our local ps) is just not quick enough to help the students that are experiencing the problems.

 

I sincerely hope that you can find a workable solution for the issues at your child's school -- whether it be extra tutoring, afterschooling, or the like. Parenting is tough, especially when the institutions that are supposed to be helping you are not.

 

Best wishes,

Brenda

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Do teachers ever ask nowadays students to solve problems in front of the class or that, too, is considered "stressful" and "harmful" by modern pedagogy? It was often done when I was at school, so the "stress" of a possibility of being called out any time to actively show what you know in front of everyone also helped to keep us at least somewhat in form - and it allowed teachers to catch our errors in real time, and often prevent them from being undiscovered until the exam.

 

This is how it was done when I was growing up. If you can get up in front of the class, tell the chapter in detail, work out problems in front of everybody and answer questions from previous material, you really know it! And yes, you never knew when you were going to be called and in which class, so any given day you had to be 100% prepared for everything. Unlike here when students just have one science class, we studies phisics, biology, chemistry every semester, all of them. I never thought I would say anything positive about USSR, but I wish my kids could grow up with same teaching methods. I don't know how highs chools work here, but from what I am learning, I am becoming very concerned and frankly puzzled.

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This is how it was done when I was growing up. If you can get up in front of the class, tell the chapter in detail, work out problems in front of everybody and answer questions from previous material, you really know it! And yes, you never knew when you were going to be called and in which class, so any given day you had to be 100% prepared for everything. Unlike here when students just have one science class, we studies phisics, biology, chemistry every semester, all of them. I never thought I would say anything positive about USSR, but I wish my kids could grow up with same teaching methods. I don't know how highs chools work here, but from what I am learning, I am becoming very concerned and frankly puzzled.

 

With all of the negatives about USSR, I never heard that they did badly in STEM w/their bright kids. As a matter of fact, a lot of our push for improvement was done to try to keep up with them (during the 1960s, when we did get some really good curriculum, along with some stinkers.)

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