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If you aren't homeschool (math/science related)...curiousity question


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Hubby said something yesterday which makes me curious because we are from a country that rank top 3 in PISA. The math curriculum we used in 4th-10th (1982-1988) has been modified for the US market.

 

Did your math or science teacher went beyond the curriculum?

 

Were there math or science clubs at school?

 

Did what you learn or your teachers in 6th-12th affect your choice of college major?

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I went to a US public high school. Fairly average one for middle class suburbs, I think.

 

Students were tracked from middle school into honors, regular, or vocational. The honors classes in math and science had different textbooks. Unlike some here, I do not remember my high school textbooks. We always had to put book covers on them; maybe if I had seen the cover of the book every day I would recognize it today. ;)

 

I wouldn't say we went beyond the textbook. However, in high school there was Mu Alpha Theta with a math club which you could join through teacher recommendation, and through that we went to competitions. I did not know of any students that were doing AMC or other math competitions. There were very few of us in MAT as it was.

 

There was an engineering club and engineering classes that had very small enrollment (that I wasn't interested so don't know about that) but no science clubs.

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Hubby and I are the same age and went through identical national curriculum. He has a mild math phobia despite a phd in engin while I find math fun but my first love for academics is science.

 

He commented that everything was teach to the exams and he didn't feel mathy enough to take the equivalent of Calc BC so he opt for Bio which he could ace with hard work.

 

My mom would use rolls of thick plastic film cut to size as book covers.

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I transferred into US public school in 3rd grade, graduated US public high school. Math and science were minimal and very formulaic. I was put into the advanced math group right off, but because I wasn't challenged well I kind of tuned out school work and got C's and D's with random A's. I wasn't selected to take the advanced math placement test for middle school because of my grades, so I didn't get to start Algebra until 9th.

 

I always loved science and math, but those subjects at school were lame. The most joy I got out of them was arguing my solutions with my math teacher (and proving him wrong!). But, I had a great 8th grade English teacher who encouraged me to sign up for the honors classes in high school. Her little act of faith in my abilities made a significant difference.

 

In high school I took honors across the board. I still wasn't advanced in math, but I took honors and AP sciences and competed on the JETS teams (Jr Engineering and Technology Society). It was small potatoes. This is the only math or science club I was aware of all through school.

 

I did have two excellent science teachers - bio and physics. The bio teacher's philosophy was to teach us at a level far above AP so we could pass the AP with no problem (which we all did). My physics teacher was a former NASA scientists, and also went above and beyond. My math teachers all were pretty pathetic instructors (except for one, but I only had him for a semester).

 

I started as an English major (and still ended up with an Englush minor), but I couldn't break from my love of science and biology in particular. BS in Zoology, BS in Seconday Science Teaching (bio, earth, and env sciences). I think my love of biology and ecology was always there, but my high school boo teacher put me on a path of confidence and curiosity which influenced my major.

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I went to several different schools in different states, and had radically different experiences.

 

My experiences at Los Angeles area schools (I started to write west coast and then realized that San Fran and Silicon Valley would probably be much better) were that they tended to be academically poor, with students and student families usually prioritizing sports over academics, and looking down on anything intelligent as "nerdy" or similar. However, some individual teachers were excellent. I'd say this mindset also fits what I see around me now where we live in Oregon. Though I have also in my mind been questioning the environment and wondering if some of what seems to be attitude and mental capacity (or incapacity) may actually be caused by environmental factors, not just be a matter of "attitude" or mental capacity.

 

My experience in New York City (whether Stuyvessant type special public schools or private) was that academics were excellent, with the specific school either emphasizing math and science or not depending on its particular orientation.

 

What I learned or failed to learn certainly affected my college major.

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I went to school in Russia. Math classes followed the general curriculum (I don't really remember now, but I think it stopped at about precalculus level). The differentiation was done during tests. My teacher had 16 versions of the same test, each pair of levels harder than the next (so 8 levels of difficulty). So for me it was like studying math by a regular public school textbook and taking a test from the challenging problem section of AOPS. Given that the standard practice was 1 mistake = 1 grade down, 3 mistakes = fail, it was interesting. When i complained once that I got 4 for the same exact work as my friend, who got 5, I was told that for me it was a 4-level work, while for her it was a 5. She did change my friend's grade to 4 though, but we both remembered the lesson. That teacher would probably be fired in no time in the USA for her manners and style, but math was and still is my favorite subject, and many of my classmates, even those  who hated her during school, went back after the college entrance exams to thank her.

 

Physics was OK, Chemistry was atrocious. Biology was average, but I was on the Olympiad team, so we were given free reign during classes and often spent them alone in the adjacent  teacher's room in the company of the dusty lab equipment. The subject I knew best is biology, but I also went to a biology club which produced All-Russian biology Olympiad winners.

 

I went to study economics in college, but it had nothing to do with my school teachers.

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I went to a below average public high school. I did have one absolutely excellent 8th grade algebra teacher who made me love math, went well beyond the curriculum, and organized a MathCounts team each year. He won a Teacher of the Year award for the state the year I had him and he deserved it.

 

He was the exception, with the rule being generally competent but not inspiring teachers in math and science.

 

If I had had some career counseling in high school or college, I probably would have ended up in math or science. They were two of my strongest subjects in high school. Instead, I received a lot of discouragement along the way and ended up in an "easier" major.

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I forgot to add that my math teachers were okay to good. The only really good science teacher was the physics teacher. He expected a lot and would give us much harder problems than were in the book.

 

For exams, he used college physics (algebra based) exams from the flagship university of our state. The exams were difficult and there was a curve (because otherwise many would fail it) but he would say he wanted us to learn how to think and to be prepared for what college was like, not just give the easy way out with an easy A.

Edited by Penelope
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I went to an extremely competitive, best in the state type public school. Several teachers had doctorates in their subjects, like professors. I had the chance to take electives that were much more like college courses - things like "Psychology and Literature." The teaching definitely went beyond the textbook. There were math and science clubs. I myself did not follow a high end math path, in part because I was in such a competitive environment. It was hard for me to find my level. However, I did take a decent senior year math class for people like me who had accelerated in math earlier but then not followed the "right" path to take AP exams - it was akin to a statistics course.

 

My high school experiences definitely influenced my college choices, though not always in a good way. I thought I would major in English in college - it was the subject I was most inspired by in high school. But then when I got to college, I ended up realizing that an English major path would mean taking at least two years of courses that completely repeated my high school education. I did a year of it and it just killed me that I didn't get to read anything new at all and nor would there be anything new on the horizon for at least another year. It was so dull. So I gave that up.

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I went to a public high school that had a school-within-a-school math/science magnet. We had JETS/TEAMS (Junior Engineering Technical Society/Tests of Engineering, Mathematics and Science), Mu Alpha Theta, and VACE (Academic Competition for Excellence), and stacks of math/science AP. High SAT scores were expected, and you basically could go to Ivy League schools, MIT, UVA, or If you're going to be an engineer, Duke or VA Tech.

 

As a music-focused kid who qualified for the magnet program, it was very frustrating because I was in all these advanced classes with kids who loved the subject, and for me, it was just something to get through. I was also identified with a visual-spatial processing disorder as a grad student, so the reason why things felt that they were harder for me than they were for my classmates was that they really were. I spent most of high school feeling inferior, and made a jump to college early mostly to get off the treadmill. Ironically, I ended up getting a math Ed degree/certificate as a grad student, first because the state of TX would pay for it, but later because once I got in the course work, I realized that I actually liked math and that the only reason I'd disliked it was that it was so highly competitive.

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I went to a small private school. We did not go above and beyond the curriculum and really, I didn't even have beyond Alg 2 and Geometry. (I had to homeschool for Alg 2 because the teacher was horrible and I was failing.) Other students were given the option of  "Advanced Math", but I'm not even sure what that means. haha

I knew what the minimum was to get into the college in my town, so I didn't push beyond that either. It made a huge difference once in college though. I had to take remedial College Algebra before I could pass the real class. My "Math for Education Majors" was actually pretty hard for me too. In school, we used a math program that didn't use the same terminology or teach the same as public schools, so I really struggled while others were saying it was super easy. 

I have realized, though, that not all of it was the school. Some of it was me. I was a very "late bloomer" when it came to mathematical understanding. Things that were taught in 5th grade, I didn't quite get until 8th grade when another teacher explained it. So, maybe my math experience was more affected by my brain than the teachers? 

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I went to a competitive public high school. We had a lot ofAP classes in math and science. We could go off campus to a specialized campus for engineering or medical related classes. I had a bad experience in Geometry which turned me off of math. My biology and anatomy teachers were useless and my Chemistry teacher was dying of cancer. I think I could have been successful in Biomedical engineering, my original major, but my math and science were so messed up in high school.

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Hubby said something yesterday which makes me curious because we are from a country that rank top 3 in PISA. The math curriculum we used in 4th-10th (1982-1988) has been modified for the US market.

 

Did your math or science teacher went beyond the curriculum?

 

Yes, and my kids' teachers as well. I went to average schools but they go to good schools.

 

Were there math or science clubs at school? Not my school, but at my kids' schools yes.

 

Did what you learn or your teachers in 6th-12th affect your choice of college major?

 

Yes, I learned that science is about obedience and memorization and hated it. I wanted to study math and ended up doing logic and philosophy. I had a good math teacher and good logic and philosophy teachers who encouraged questions.

 

 

Edited by Tsuga
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Public, competitive middle and high school in northeast. We moved between 7th and 8th, but there wasn't really any impact on me.

 

I was in all honors classes throughout school and all AP classes senior year. Math was: algebra in 8th, geometry in 9th; algebra 2 in 10th; algebra 3/trig in 11th; calculus in 12th. We had competitive math league and math clubs. I was in math league, albeit reluctantly. I was also in the science league. Both were competitive clubs against other schools. I was excellent at math, but I didn't like it much compared to things like English or bio. I had phenomenal instructors in all but geometry. To this day, geometry remains my least favorite. My science progression was earth in 9th; bio in 10th; chem in 11; physics and bio in 12th. Again, I had phenomenal teachers in all but chemistry and physics, which remain my least favorites!

 

I placed out of math thanks to AP credits in undergrad except for stats. I majored in Spanish and Psychology and went to grad school PhD for cognitive neuroscience. I took a bazillion advanced stats classes and still really hate stats.

 

My true math love remains in algebra.

Edited by deerforest
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i had sort of a weird high school experience. I went to a high school that was probably below average if there were rankings then, it was definitely below average in terms of reputation. We moved right before my freshman year from a more affluent area of town and I had people tell me that my future was going to be ruined because of the school. But I think that had more to do with the fact that it was more racially mixed than most high schools in the county (about 50% black and 50% white) and was in a lower socioeconomic area than anything really to do with the teachers or curriculum. 

 

I was able to take 2 AP science classes (Chem and Bio) and Calculus based Physics. I also took AP Calculus as well as a few other AP classes. For that time, that was on the normal to high level of AP classes. I don't really remember my teachers going beyond the textbook so much but one of the benefits to being in a school with not a lot of Honors level students was that our classes were really small. Calculus was 7 students. AP Chem was 6. And we were all in the same classes together since there was only one AP or Honors section of each class, kind of making a school within a school of kids who were interested in school and kind of nerdy. It was a weird safe place. 

 

There were no Math or Science clubs at school. 

 

My major wasn't really influenced by my high school teachers as I already knew I wanted to be a doctor from a very early age. I did take Differential Equations in college because my AP Chem teacher kept saying "one day when you take DiffEQ you'll understand this better" about various things in class. 

 

I did win a competitive scholarship from a local corporation that was STEM based. It was merit based, not need based and paid for a full ride at any college of the student's choice. The only thing you had to do was major in some kind of science, engineering or math. It was a fantastic scholarship that covered tuition, room, board, books and gave me a monthly stipend. They even paid for art supplies for the studio art elective I took and I know one other recipient had her Scuba gear for an elective paid for. I remember my teachers and the guidance counselor at my high school were really excited when I won. I think it was somewhat of a coup for them as the school's reputation was not good and I had beaten out kids from the "good" high schools and the local private schools. 

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But then when I got to college, I ended up realizing that an English major path would mean taking at least two years of courses that completely repeated my high school education

I skip the boring lectures but have to show up for tutorials. No class participation points so sleeping in class was generally amusing to my lecturers. Common for guys to fall off their chairs while sleeping.

 

  

I ended up getting a math Ed degree/certificate as a grad student, first because the state of TX would pay for it, but later because once I got in the course work, I realized that I actually liked math and that the only reason I'd disliked it was that it was so highly competitive.

Being surrounded by big fish in big pond, and add in exam centric culture, probably contributed to my hubby feeling that his math and science education was inferior to mine. I am rather oblivious to big fish and all my schools were big city schools.

 

  

I think I could have been successful in Biomedical engineering, my original major, but my math and science were so messed up in high school.

A few ex-schoolmates in my civil engineering cohort had trouble with chemistry because they assumed only math and physics were essential. They had to revise and catch up.

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. I took a bazillion advanced stats classes and still really hate stats.

 

 

I like stats tutorials and stats exams, just not stats lectures as I could learn from the recommended textbooks. My stats lecturer was boring but he tried his best to make it less boring.

 

 

I picked my major based on interests and job possibilities, but I would have dropped out if I had to make up deficiencies in both math and science...not enough money to be on a five year plan .

Having a good foundation did gave me time to enjoy college extracurriculars. Save me time having to catch up on deficiencies. Hubby had to catch up on calculus.

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I went to an adequate public high school in the Northeast (actually two, moving between states after 9th grade). Students were tracked for math. I took Accelerated Algebra for 9th (with some Alg. I and Alg. II topics), Geometry and Alg. II in 10th, Trigonometry/Alg. III in 11th, and AP Calculus in 12th. I was also on the math team in 12th. I'd say of our graduating class of just over 200, a dozen or two of us were what would be considered reasonably good (not impressive) at math by international standards--only five of us earned 5s on the Calc AB exam.

My school did not offer any AP sciences, but offered a second and sometimes a third course in one subject area so students could pursue it. Having started at a school in another state and taken Earth Science in 9th, I did Biology I, Chem I, and then Physics I and Bio II both in my senior year. Other students, like DH, took more advanced Chem and Physics, and some students did Bio III.

 

The teaching encouraged understanding somewhat, but assignments and tests were definitely the "plug-and-chug" model. I did well on the SAT math section, and statred college with a Calc 2 class that was mostly review. I got bored, because there was no real-world application for me, and decided I did not want to do four years of college math to go back and teach Algebra I in a middle or high school.

Edited by whitehawk
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Hubby said something yesterday which makes me curious because we are from a country that rank top 3 in PISA. The math curriculum we used in 4th-10th (1982-1988) has been modified for the US market.

 

Did your math or science teacher went beyond the curriculum?

 

Were there math or science clubs at school?

 

Did what you learn or your teachers in 6th-12th affect your choice of college major?

 

I'm also from a country that's in the top 3 on the math part of the PISA (I looked at 2003 since that's the closest to when I graduated in 2002; PISA started in 2000, is done every 3 years, and my country was left out of the 2000 results due to technical problems).

 

Math/science teachers did not really go beyond the curriculum. Math/science teachers from 7th-12th grade had master's degrees in their math/science fields and got teacher certification after that. Calculus was introduced halfway through 10th grade, and due to changes in the national curriculum, it was going to be introduced at the beginning of 11th grade for next cohort. I recall my math teacher bemoaning how he started calculus at 12yo (I don't know what grade he was in... he may very well have skipped a grade or two for all I know, plus, he was from Indonesia and came to NL at some point, not sure if that was before/after 12yo). That said, geometry proofs started in 11th grade, so things just went in a completely different order, and it's not like we had separate classes for geometry, calculus, etc... it was all just 'math'. Our physics used some calculus in 11th and 12th grade (more than my university physics class used when I took that in college in the US, which was supposed to be calculus-based).

 

That said, they tracked kids into different tracks starting in 7th grade, with only about 15% of kids being in the pre-university track, and then in 10th-12th grade kids have some choice of what subjects to choose, so they could choose to not take physics. But basically, 11th and 12th grade are roughly the equivalent of taking APs full-time in the US, which is also why a BS in NL takes only 3 years to obtain instead of 4, and doesn't require a bunch of general education courses but only stuff in your major (first quarter in university the two classes for my major were cellular biology and biochemistry).

 

There weren't math/science clubs, but schools just don't do extracurriculars etc like that in NL. Our biology teacher once asked who wanted to try the biology Olympiad, so some of us tried, but none of us scored high enough to go anywhere. Our math teacher took some of us once or twice to some math contest for high school students at a university 30 miles away or something.

 

Not sure it affected my choice of college majors. I was leaning towards biomedical stuff in late elementary school, and that did end up being my first major in college (and sort of my 2nd, and even vaguely part of the plan of my most recent, which was library science, but with the goal of becoming a science reference librarian at an academic library - now, if only I'd *finish* a major at some point and graduate, that'd be nice).

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I went to a decent high school, one of the top 10 in my state but probably not great compared to

the nation. I won't say the education offered was very good, there were honor classes but no AP classes when I was there. By the time my brothers graduated 4 years later there were more options. There was a math club (don't remember the name) but it was coached by volunteers.

 

Right before my sophomore year, my dad finished his phd in engineering at a top 3 engineering school. He was very disappointed by our high school math classes. At his urging I finished the offered math classes at our high school by my junior year and my sister did by her sophomore year. This wasn't difficult. Our geometry teacher had been one of our mom's teachers, he was a coach, not a math teacher. Tests could be retaken as many times as wanted until you got an A, with your notes and he never changed the version of the test. You didn't have to know anything, just be able to memorize. Not all the teachers were this way, but only one of the math teachers was really good, I never had that teacher.

 

My sister and I together took pre-calculus and calculus for math majors at the local university. I basically started from scratch learning in that pre-algebra class. It was eye opening. Although I never went on to major in math or engineering I am thankful my dad recognized the need for better classes. My sister ended up taking more calculus her senior year of high school and eventually got her mechanical engineering degree.

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I'm also from a country that's in the top 3 on the math part of the PISA (I looked at 2003 since that's the closest to when I graduated in 2002; PISA started in 2000, is done every 3 years, and my country was left out of the 2000 results due to technical problems).

I find it kind of ironical for my own country to be able to top the PISA charts but for my hubby to still lack confidence and find his education in general lacking despite a national curriculum with all 9-12th grades aiming for the Cambridge exams in 10th and 12th.

 

The same way I feel that the Singapore maths series which was modified from our primary school textbooks in the 80s are not praiseworthy.

 

My home country is so tiny and education is centralized control by the govt. yet it seems there is great disparity in public school education received even for the college track kids.

 

For ECAs, I was the science club project lead and was bankrolled by the schools I attended for all projects and competitions. I just need to submit a budget each time and never was rejected and usually given more money. Math and astronomy were under the science club. My hubby didn't have that experience with recreational science clubs.

 

ETA:

We were having a discussion during a car ride about our kids math and science education plans which led to the discussion about hubby feeling that his education was just test prep.

Edited by Arcadia
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I find it kind of ironical for my own country to be able to top the PISA charts but for my hubby to still lack confidence and find his education in general lacking despite a national curriculum with all 9-12th grades aiming for the Cambridge exams in 10th and 12th.

 

My home country is so tiny and education is centralized control by the govt. yet it seems there is great disparity in public school education received even for the college track kids.

 

I think the PISA scores have limited value. I think it's great that (for the year I looked at), my country scored #1 for percentage of kids scoring at least a level 2 in math (meaning, the fewest completely math illiterate kids), but if you look at the mean vs the standard deviation for the various countries, there is a lot of overlap between the countries. Yes, some are statistically significantly above/below the OECD mean, but most aren't, and even then, I'm not sure how much it really matters. The spread within countries is bigger than the spread between countries.

 

Some teachers are going to be better than other teachers, and some schools are going to be better than other schools, even if they're all using the same curriculum standards. I don't know if in your country the teachers/schools can pick the books, in mine they could (probably still can), but there are very clear standards on what needs to be taught so it's all probably pretty similar. I was in an above-average school as well, but socio-economics played a role in that too - the secondary school I attended had a reputation for being 'snobby', and the doctors' kids etc attended it more often than other schools in the area (we have school choice). I chose the school because it had a bilingual program and the other schools didn't.

 

My dad thinks he's bad at math (he says that in high school one year his teacher told him he'd give him a C if he promised to never touch math again). He's a CPA, and was one of very few who passed the CPA exam on the first try. Not that being a CPA involves a lot of math - it's not really an algebra/calculus kind of occupation. But he's smart, I think that with a better teacher he probably could've learned math and felt more confident with it. And then there are studies showing that Americans feel way overconfident in their math abilities, and the further east you go, the less confident and the more competent people become wrt math. Cultural differences. I don't know, not sure what I'm trying to say.

 

I spent a year as an exchange student in Thailand, and I remember being in math class one day and being pretty confused as to what they were doing (I think maybe they were doing something with matrices? I don't recall - we did not cover matrix algebra in high school in NL). And then when I took the SAT in the US they had stuff about irrational numbers and we hadn't covered those at all in NL. But in Thailand they put 45 kids in a classroom, and they basically put the highest achieving kids in one class, then the next group in the next, etc. I'd graduated high school in NL, but they put me in 11th grade in Thailand because the 12th graders were too stressed out studying for the college entrance exam to be fun classmates, and they put me in the 10th of 12 classes because the top were too serious about studying, and the bottom were maybe goofing off a bit too much (the 1st was the lowest, the 12th class was the highest ranking). It was kind of weird. In NL we track kids, but just in 3 levels basically - pre-university, pre-college, and pre-trade-school. Of course, in NL, if you graduate university-track high school you can get into pretty much any major in any university, and everybody sees all the universities in NL as being equally good/prestigious, so there isn't the stress to get into the 'best' place like there is in the US or Thailand. There is a little bit of stress about passing your exams and graduating, but there is a big difference between trying to be 'good enough' rather than trying to be 'the best'.

 

I don't feel math/science was just test prep, but I do feel that we didn't get enough of the 'why', or how it all came about. We were taught some stuff of the history of science, but with huge gaps. So, we learned about Thompson's (iirc) "plum pudding" model of electrons and atoms, but not a clue how he came up with that other than "well, he was just guessing, he didn't know better". I think it's just very hard to give a thorough education.

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My dad (the AP calculus teacher) was the head of the math team at my school, and although I took all of my calculus classes at a local college through a special program, I was on the math team every year.  I like math; I like that it has tidy little answers, and I like its little patterns and tricks.  I definitely credit my dad for giving me both confidence in my math skills and warm fuzzies about math.  But I can't say that that my school really inspired me to love it.  I never had a Jaime Escalante sort of teacher in math.  (See: Dad was an AP Calc teacher; I watched Stand and Deliver a few times.)  More math in college just didn't appeal to me when there were other things I wanted to study more.

 

I never liked science.  Chemistry wasn't unpleasant; our teacher was nice, and since it's a lot of math, it wasn't difficult.  But aside from a few units here or there, science never really thrilled me.  I actually find it more interesting now that I'm the parent teaching science to my own children.  I do have my share of science olympiad ribbons, but when you only have about 150 kids in a class, the same few kids do all the geeky academic competitions.

 

Now, I DID have a couple of teachers who were really inspiring.  I've always liked literature and reading, and I had several teachers who were really good, especially a drama teacher who really made drama interesting.  I also always liked history, but I didn't LOVE it until tenth grade European history.  Our teacher was challenging and inspiring; I loved that year so much, especially the early part. 

 

And that is why I have a degree in medieval history.

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I don't know if in your country the teachers/schools can pick the books, in mine they could (probably still can), but there are very clear standards on what needs to be taught so it's all probably pretty similar. I was in an above-average school as well, but socio-economics played a role in that too - the secondary school I attended had a reputation for being 'snobby', and the doctors' kids etc attended it more often than other schools in the area (we have school choice).

In 1st-6th grade during my younger brother's time, textbooks, workbooks and teachers guides were published by a statutory board for all schools. Now it is back to private publishers getting govt approval for their books. We have school choice based on National exams scores in 6th and 10th.

We have tracking and then grouping/ranking within the tracks from 2nd grade. For example the first 40 academically ranked kids go to A class, next 40 to B, and so on. Very similar to your experience in Thailand. Being in the top class for 11/12th does not guarantee a place at public universities. Scoring very well at the Cambridge 'A' exams or IB exams does get you a place but may still be rejected by School of Medicine or School of Law which goes by minimum scores and interview.

 

School was social hour to me so the not so great teachers impact was negligible compared to hubby who is studious. Homeschool was not legal then.

 

My occupation choice was probably heavy influenced by my extended family of mostly engineers in their own business and some private sector accountants. Very applied math focus.

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Most of my teachers weren't really excited about math, as far as I could tell.  For me math was easy but not in any way exciting.  :)  My high school math teacher was known for overtly discouraging girls from going beyond in math.

 

I don't remember much about science prior to 5th grade.  From 5th to 7th, I had a nasty science teacher.  I think he liked science, but he was mean and scary.  I didn't like science at all, except for health/biology.  I did enjoy 8th grade earth science, 9th grade health and 10th grade biology.  My biology teacher was a really good teacher.  He did the animal kingdom really well, but almost totally skipped plants.  It was better than just doing all of it half-assed.  I remember getting 100% on the final exam (without studying).  I guess I must have learned something.

 

I graduated early, so I didn't take any more pre-college science.  Chemistry and Physics did not sound interesting to me, though I might have enjoyed them if I'd taken them.  My goal upon entering college was to be a special ed / elementary teacher.  I took college biology and physical science, both of which I enjoyed and did well.  But that was it for my formal science education.  (Unless I'm forgetting something.)

 

I think I might have liked science more if it had been taught by more female teachers, or perhaps by warmer male teachers.  :P  I wonder now if some of the science teachers in my schools were older, mellower geeks.  :P

 

I should also note that in my youth, kids decided what they were going to take in high school.  It was not a given that anyone did more than the absolute minimum required to graduate.  There were intelligent kids who were in general studies by choice.  In my case, I knew it would be better to take more math and science, but graduating early took precedence for me.  I hated the high school environment and just wanted to be done.

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Oh, and there was a math club at my high school.  I certainly never darkened their doorstep.  :p

 

I have a brother who was very very mathy-sciency-nerdy.  He took all the college prep math and science courses.  He also read college math and science textbooks at home, for fun.  I think he was in the math club.  :)

Edited by SKL
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If I had had some career counseling in high school or college, I probably would have ended up in math or science. They were two of my strongest subjects in high school. Instead, I received a lot of discouragement along the way and ended up in an "easier" major.

That's really unfortunate. I felt like I got the opposite -- since I was competent at math and had high math SAT scores, especially being a female, I was strongly encouraged to go into engineering. Even in the mid nineties, they really wanted to see girls in STEM fields. Liberal arts were kind of discouraged; even wanting to study education was barely tolerated (and probably only because everyone knew my dad was a teacher in that town). Luckily, I didn't listen. ;) My university was full of engineers, and the math and science sequences are intense. They're a lot of work even if you want to be there; I can't imagine mustering the effort otherwise. My brother, otoh -- I'm good at math, but he's GOOD at it -- STEM was right for him.

 

Of course, I didn't really find that I wanted to read and discuss tons of obscure literature either, and when I took a lit class related to my major, I think I was the only non-English major in the class. I got the material just fine, but they GOT it. Thankfully my university had a lot of niches, and I mashed up interests in obscure history and early child development and had a blast. And now I have been running an early childhood development lab at home for fourteen years and have way too much fun doing history with my big kids.

Edited by happypamama
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Hmm that is an interesting question.

 

In a lot of ways my elementary school math experience determined my math experience through the rest of school.  I was a very stubborn kid when I didn't see the point of something, and so I didn't do any of the basic memory work for math.  I mananged to look like I was doing fine though, and no teachers caught on, until we were more seriously into fractions.  At that point, no one really told me what I was missing, though I knew there was a problem, but it made math so tedious.  I did manage to graduate with academic math but it didn't stick much. 

 

It didn't help much that my grade 6 teacher was really a dud, especially in math, despite it being the first year of the pull-out enrichment program.  I really turned off from school and it took years to start paying attention or become engaged again.

 

I did learn a lot of science in my elementary school years, but not in school.  Natural history was my passion at that age and I spent a lot of time reading about it, and doing things like mucking around in ponds.

 

In middle school (7-9, here) I had a really gifted teacher for math and science.  He did not teach according to the math text - they had changed to a program that did not introduce algebra until grade 9, and he thought that was nuts.  He was a good math teacher, and I did actually enjoy his class.  I enjoyed his science class as well, he was very hands on and loved his subject.  He was quite encouraging to me personally and I suspect if I'd had another year with him it might have made a real difference.  He required us to do a science project every year, but there were no clubs that I remember. We also had some great field trips.  (Though, as enrichment students there was always a full-year project which sometimes had science elements.)

 

In high school math was a dud for me because of my own issues.  They also started semestering then which I found difficult with math.  My teachers were mixed I think.  I did take computer science though which was a math elective and I really enjoyed that.  The teacher suggested I consider computer science as a university subject which was such a shock to me after my bad math career.  The kids who were honours students took an extra math course in grade 12 - they had regular math and a separate calculus course, both with the same teacher.  They really did a lot of interesting things with math. 

 

For science in hs we all had to take a new grade 10 general science course that was a kind of unit study  It was based around the breathalyzer - we looked at all the different elements that went into it.  It was ok, but a bit shallow - I had a good teacher though.  One thing we did in that class was symbolic logic which I found fascinating.

 

After that we had more choice - I took grade 11 chemistry, which I did poorly in, my math issues held me back.  I did enjoy the lab work (my partner was mathy but completely impractical so it was a good partnership.)  I had the same teacher as I'd had for science 10 and she was quite interesting and engaging.  I also took grades 10 and 12 biology, and I enjoyed those quite a lot, though the teacher was a little boring - nice, but he really spoke in a monotone (which maybe was a result of having had a stroke.) 

 

One class I learned a lot from in hs was oceanography - it did not actually count as a science credit though, it was an elective like art, and it was a streams, not just academic.  I learned a ton about things like erosion though, wave action - much of the physics I learned in school came from that class.  We learned all about corals and their ecosystems, about salinity, about ph levels.  There wasn't much math which I think is why it didn't count as a science credit, but it's probably what I remember most from hs science.

 

ETA - We also don't have separate high school math courses here - it is all integrated into math at the 10, 11, and 12 levels. 

 

I finished grade 12 with 'arts math, academic - which means ok for arts in university.  But I knew by then I wasn't going to study a science. Which is sad in a way because I really did love the natural sciences and am still very interested in ecosystem studies.  But by then it was clearly out of reach.   I had been thinking seriously about a trade, and I know now that I would have had to go back and solidify my math in order to do that, but nothing I got from school would have made me realize that.  The vocational track in high school was, as far as I could see, woefully neglected.

Edited by Bluegoat
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. Which is sad in a way because I really did love the natural sciences and am still very interested in ecosystem studies. But by then it was clearly out of reach. I had been thinking seriously about a trade, and I know now that I would have had to go back and solidify my math in order to do that, but nothing I got from school would have made me realize that. The vocational track in high school was, as far as I could see, woefully neglected.

There were a few rare people who redo 12th grade and took the college entrance exams again to get into the school (specialisation) they want. For example a good grade in Bio was required for pharmacy school. So someone like me who drop Bio in 10th and decide in 12th that I would really like to apply for pharmacy could take three subject exams again this time including Bio for college applications.

 

Others went to polytechnic and hope to do well enough to transfer to public universities 2nd year. The direct transfer rate is very low to public universities but higher as a mature student who has worked a few years after his/her polytechnic diploma.

 

VoTech track starts at 7th grade back home but there was a social stigma to the 7th-10th grade VoTech programme even though graduates from the programme earns a good starting pay and easily earn more than an academic professional depending on skills. The govt. renamed the programme to a fancier name and did a marketing campaign with the rebranding. Now it is not as looked down and seen as a good path for kids who prefer hands on to book work.

 

The VoTech path from 11-13th is at the polytechnics and the diploma is well regarded at the workplace. It is not hard to use the diploma to gain admission to universities in the commonwealth. Many friends use their diploma to get into the 2nd year of their school at universities and so graduate in 3 years for a 4 year bachelor with honors programme.

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There were a few rare people who redo 12th grade and took the college entrance exams again to get into the school (specialisation) they want. For example a good grade in Bio was required for pharmacy school. So someone like me who drop Bio in 10th and decide in 12th that I would really like to apply for pharmacy could take three subject exams again this time including Bio for college applications.

 

Others went to polytechnic and hope to do well enough to transfer to public universities 2nd year. The direct transfer rate is very low to public universities but higher as a mature student who has worked a few years after his/her polytechnic diploma.

 

VoTech track starts at 7th grade back home but there was a social stigma to the 7th-10th grade VoTech programme even though graduates from the programme earns a good starting pay and easily earn more than an academic professional depending on skills. The govt. renamed the programme to a fancier name and did a marketing campaign with the rebranding. Now it is not as looked down and seen as a good path for kids who prefer hands on to book work.

 

The VoTech path from 11-13th is at the polytechnics and the diploma is well regarded at the workplace. It is not hard to use the diploma to gain admission to universities in the commonwealth. Many friends use their diploma to get into the 2nd year of their school at universities and so graduate in 3 years for a 4 year bachelor with honors programme.

 

THe qualifications weren't an issue really - I could have made them up easily enough - our system in Canada is far more flexible, and universities seem to be more flexible.  heck, I have a friend who went to university without finishing high school, and not as a mature student either.

 

It was more a matter of going back that far would have been a significant amount of work and time, and high school was pretty penitential for me - what an awful place I would not have wanted to stay there.  I had other interests by then as well.

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I went to a high school in the surburban NE with a good reputation. It was a small, somewhat diverse school, and the only tracking seemed to be advanced, general, and special ed. I think there was AP Bio but I don't remember AP classes besides that. I don't remember having books at all in math and science. I remember taking notes and studying notes, not studying from a book. There was a math club but it wasn't super active. I remember going to one or two math meets and not doing particularly well.

 

In our local high schools, I know from relatives that they don't use a lot of textbooks. They also did not when my kids went to public elementary and middle school. My dd is in a private school and uses mostly ebooks and every student is required to have an Ipad for that reason. At that school, there is a push for teachers to have plans to be concept based and independent from whatever textbooks they use.

 

I think all of this make it hard to judge if teacher went or now go beyond the curriculum.

 

My problem in school was that I never had to work hard. So when the time came when I actually had to work hard, I felt very stuck and never learned the skills to address academic challenges. That really didn't happen until grad school. Before that I was considered gifted. I have undergraduate degrees in East Asian Studies and Economics and graduate degrees in an Asian language and literature and library science. I only took math at the college level, not science. But now I like to read some science for fun.

Edited by Tiramisu
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I attended an all-girl, Catholic high school in NYS that was academically mediocre.  I floated through without much thinking and did well (through calc AB, which was the highest option).  No math/science clubs.  The math teaching was not memorable except where it was particularly weak and indeed we students disparaged two math teachers in particular.

 

Had I been exposed to something like the AMCs or AoPS early on, that might have changed everything, including my college major.

 

Some sort of encouragement or mentorship, or guidance of any kind, might have helped also.

Edited by wapiti
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That's really unfortunate. I felt like I got the opposite -- since I was competent at math and had high math SAT scores, especially being a female, I was strongly encouraged to go into engineering. Even in the mid nineties, they really wanted to see girls in STEM fields. Liberal arts were kind of discouraged; even wanting to study education was barely tolerated (and probably only because everyone knew my dad was a teacher in that town). Luckily, I didn't listen. ;) My university was full of engineers, and the math and scizence sequences are intense...

I got the pressure toward STEM fields as well and I did listen, and it was a horrible fit in college. After year in engineering with many gifted classmates who found the work easy, (I had worked super hard for the A's I got in high school math/science), I switched my major to English with a technical communication emphasis.

 

I went to a pretty average small city high school. I took math through calculus in high school, and took the AP for calc even though it wasn't officially an AP calc class. We had no actual AP classes at my school. Biology and Chemistry were taught by pretty decent teachers but physics was a huge joke. The teacher wanted his class to be known as an "easy A", so he would seriously give out answers while students were taking tests! I don't know that any of the teachers were really going "beyond the curriculum" - I think it was all pretty standard fare. We had a math team that competed in regional competitions (I was on it, but I was a pretty weak team member), but no science extra curriculars.

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I went to a very good public school in NYS that sent lots of kids to Ivies, Duke, etc. I felt for a long time I got a very good education there. But then I spent time thinking about my H.S. education, and realized that the good education was more in the humanities areas. I took APs in every subject basically except science - I regret not taking any science, but didn't have good experiences with HS teachers. (I did have two phenomenal middle school science teachers.) I also realized that despite taking the AP in Calc BC, I don't think I had any particularly good math teachers. In fact, there was one teacher in particular, where for a long time I thought he was amazing. He had his own curriculum and text (which would not be allowed today), and was clearly very good at math. He is the only person I would describe as going beyond the curriculum. He touched on very advanced topics and gave us a lot of competition math questions, yet he didn't explain things at all. We followed along with algorithms and understood nothing. Years later I would realize, oh that was linear algebra or a multivariable calculus concept when we did that in that class. In retrospect, it seemed he was following some model where he wanted learning to be discovery-based. But the thing was, with the exception of 2 very gifted kids who both wound up at Harvard, those discoveries didn't happen - and the whole class was upper middle class students, very bright and hard-working or gifted. It has affected my perspective of constructivist learning in math secondary education. He also ran the math club and you could do some math competitions - but there was never any teaching involved, of strategies or anything - it was always whether you got it or not on your own. I was astounded that when I described some other eccentricities of this person to my husband years later, which I thought gave him cache and mystique, my DH responded that he sounded like a narcissist. In retrospect, I feel like I could have learned so much more or taken another path involving more math and science. In college I pursued different things, including quantitative subjects like economics, math, and comp sci, but stayed away from bio, chem, physics, geology.

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Calc based physics was a weeder of sorts. Kids who found it difficult avoided picking engineering as school of choice in college even if they manage an A through hard work.

 

My hubby went to elite schools (college prep for kids aiming for Oxford and Cambridge) in 7th-12th, thought he had a good education in comparison to his neighborhood schools. When we discuss our education experience was when he felt shorted by his elite schools. Hubby won't have survived with discovery based methods without handholding initially.

 

The class I did something else the least was the one by the incompetent calculus tutor. The whole class had fun spotting his mistakes. It was so bad that we got our principal to sit in as witness. The other calculus tutor was great and my parents hire private math tutors to go beyond the book.

 

ETA:

My parents would be approximately middle class and could afford tutors for any subject I exceed my school teachers. Lots of retired teachers and SAHM ex-teachers happy to tutor.

Edited by Arcadia
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