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View Diary: Fundamentally Opposed to Mandatory Standardized Education (88 comments)

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  •  Well, here's the problem. (4+ / 0-)

    I sympathize with a lot of what you say, and I do agree that the modern public school system isn't headed in the right direction and is vulnerable in the ways you describe.  But the way it's failing isn't along those lines.  It's failing because pretty much everybody over a certain income is no longer using the public school system.  It's all private/charter/homeschooling, destroying any hope of a common core for US citizens.

    That mandatory public school I attended (in the 70s/80s) is what taught me critical thinking.

    It taught in a SECULAR environment. Religious topics were off limits except for classes of things like comparative philosophy (something that didn't come up much until late in high school).

    There was none of this crap about teaching creationism as a valid scientific "theory".  There was no pushing of one set of religious values over others.  The closest thing to religious indoctrination was the "pledge of allegiance" which was in fact optional (I knew people and had friends that just sat it out, both because they had objections to it and also because, in one case, she felt stupid pledging anything to an inanimate object).

    A frightening percentage of modern adults in America were raised instead in private or homeschooled environments that taught everything through a religious prism.  (My wife spent a couple years in one of these.  When she read about brainwashing techniques in later life, she recognized a number of things they did).

    The relentless defunding of public schools, combined with a lot more emphasis on memorization caused by No Child Left Behind has damaged the institution.   Of course it was always damaged in any district without adequate funding - funding schools locally is just as stupid as privatizing them without any oversight on what is taught inside them.

    If we want citizens that can think outside of a religious box, we need secular, free, public schools, whose curriculum is standard across all school districts nationwide.    I don't have a problem with that curriculum only taking up, say, half the school day so there is room for arts, sports and other electives, which, yes, can include religious or cultural instruction.  (I think it is fine, for example, to allow a Jewish person or interested Gentile to study Hebrew, or Talmudic Law, or a special class on Israel or whatever in a public school if there is enough demand to support an instructor in a given district)

    But there needs to be a place where all American citizens have at least been exposed to the basics of what being an American citizen means.  This should include:

    Proficiency in math through Algebra & Geometry

    Proficiency in the English language, reading and writing, including things like business communication, and these days, effective electronic communication such as blogging, email, texting, twittering, etc.

    Civics courses that explain how the federal government works (more than the single senior course I received).  

    American history (there isn't that much of it, sheesh).  Preferably a history that includes women, people of color, etc.

    At least some World history, again hopefully not entirely Eurocentric.

    Exposure to the scientific method (we had Biology, Chemistry and Physics, but they were all optional)

    I'd also really like to put rhetoric/debate back into the curricula, but with a modern focus. Explicitly teaching people the mechanics of how others are persuaded helps a lot in understanding how advertising affects people, what a hard-sell is doing to your emotions etc.  Most young people graduate with no concept of this and have to be victimized a few times before they learn, unless they study the topics in college (eg, communications major, some kinds of business training).  About the only thing in this line I was taught in public school was to be forced to do a little public speaking and a single debate experiment a history teacher did that wasn't part of the real curriculum.

    Ideally some state-specific stuff too (I got a state history course, but not a state civics course).

    Finally, quite honestly, getting kids used to the idea of showing up to places on-time and doing things different from what they'd prefer is fairly important life training.  Most jobs and pretty much all important services (doctors, lawyers, etc) require you to pay attention to time.

    •  You make the whole case for the standards... (3+ / 0-)

      that I oppose, and I hear your fear of parents choosing different paths. I hear you on that tho respectfully disagree.

      But when you say...

      Finally, quite honestly, getting kids used to the idea of showing up to places on-time and doing things different from what they'd prefer is fairly important life training.
      I cringe.  IMO this is a recipe for a docile, corporatized, consumerist society of purchasing sheep and obedient worker-bees.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 05:13:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Some things you should be on time for (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ConfusedSkyes, Stwriley

        and may involve boring stuff part of the time, even though they are worthwile:

        concerts (as participant or audience)
        plays (as participant or audience)
        movies
        child care (dropping off, picking up kids from events)
        transportation (airplane, train, bus)
        sporting events (as participant or audience)
        restaurants that require reservations
        a date with the attracting sex
        a visit with parents/friends of your significant other
        meetings with co-workers
        most government and volunteering activities (phone banking, door knocking (at the outset), city council meetings, interviews with representative etc)

        The list goes on and on.   Also about 90% of jobs require you to be on time for the interview, on time for the job etc.  For some jobs (eg, when I did security guard work) being late or no-show without arranging to have your shift covered will get you fired faster than damn near anything else.

        And ALL jobs require you to do stuff that you don't enjoy, no matter how good a job it is or how flexible it might be with respect to hours.

        The modern world requires a healthy respect for time, as does any human interaction that is in "real time" (as opposed to emailing, blogging and texting).   The kid needs to learn that somewhere, and to me, a respect for time is part of being a good citizen of the USA.  

        •  Agreed, but self-motivated/directed people... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          reconnected, FloridaSNMOM, angelajean

          IMO make the most highly motivated, there when they need to be workers.  If you are doing a job that you freely chose and you like doing I think you are much easier to work with than if you are doing one you hate because you have to.

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

          by leftyparent on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 06:13:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If greblos could see your kids, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            angelajean, FloridaSNMOM

            especially your daughter, who wrote a post here, he would see the innate responsibility your children take "in excess".  You can't teach responsibility, it has to be taken on by the individual...Just ask Mittens.

            You can demand it, but it won't stick on an unwilling participant.

            If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

            by rosabw on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 04:22:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Kids need to learn the importance of time (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          greblos, angelajean

          management. I don't necessarily agree that schools teach that. They expect you to do it instinctively more then they teach it. That's part of the problem kids with ADD/ADHD have, they are expected to just know how to manage time, when they need more instruction on it.
          I have dyscaluculia that wasn't diagnosed until college. Part of my disability is the inability to sense how much time passes, another part is inverting numbers. I have a real problem with time management as a result. Because of how this was  handled in school, between loud buzzing for between classes, which could have been helpful in some instances (except I never learned how to handle this on my own, it was done arbitrarily), and assignments due at proscribed intervals, I became paranoid about time. I set alarms for everything. Cell phones have proven helpful in that, but I used to be chronically late from breaks, or I'd go out to clock in six times thinking I was.  Or I'd panic if I wasn't early, because I couldn't tell if I was going to be late.
          Never once did public school ever teach me how to be 'on time' other than the buzzers between classes, which I relied on during school but did me absolutely NO GOOD any other time.
          So while perhaps for people with a good time sense the current system would help them be 'on time', for the kids that really need it, it doesn't really help with real world skills.

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 06:55:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Fair enough (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rosabw

            As with many of my things on my "If I was king of the world I'd make sure schools teach.." list, not everyone can learn the same way.

            Maybe there should be an explicit class for this for those who somehow don't arrive at school equipped with time management skills, and another one for basic social behavior expectations (which could teach something like how to behave in a sit-down restaurant for kids whose families can't take them there, and how to behave with dogs, cats and other commonly encountered animals for people whose families don't have pets or working animals)

            Certainly I could get behind "firearm education" classes taught the same way "driver's education" classes are.

            I'd like the curriculum to reflect the kinds of things people encounter in life, and for kids to have to show they've mastered these skills - regardless of HOW they mastered them.  I'm all for diagnosing conditions that interfere with "typical" learning patterns and providing help early on that front, even whole separate tracks for some disabilities, just as we must do for severe sight or hearing disabilities.

            Bottom line though is that the real world doesn't care about any of that.  We want our kids to graduate able to function in the real world.  That means learning strengths AND weaknesses, playing to the strengths and overcoming weaknesses.

            To do that needs some benchmark for what an adult needs to both know and be able to do.

            And that is where the public school curricula comes in.  

            I don't care HOW all this is taught.  But we are doing an increasingly poor job of it, and I don't see homeschooling as the answer.  Most parents have neither the time, the training or the inclination to be teachers.   I don't see private schools as the answer either.  Too many have agendas, be they "make as much money as possible" or "cram my religion down the throat of the students."

            At least with the public schools, the citizens in theory have some influence over what is taught and how it is taught.  But it is nearly as dysfunctional as our health care system at the moment.

            •  Maybe the best answer (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rosabw, gramofsam1

              is all of the above. Some kids will do best home schooled, some private schooled, some taught in smaller classrooms, some in more 'typical' situations. The point is to open it up, to have more options not less.
              And yes, in some cases home schooling is the answer. Especially when a school district can't or won't do what's best for that child. Unfortunately, "no child left behind" leaves way too many children behind.

              "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

              by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 08:27:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I think all kids need to leave school learning one (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gramofsam1, FloridaSNMOM

              thing - how to find answers.

              This may sound trite, but when it comes down to it, kids that know how to problem solve. We don't teach much real life problem solving in school - we teach how to choose the correct answer on the multiple choice test and real life doesn't often look like a multiple choice test.

    •  Democracies need skilled voters (0+ / 0-)

      If everyone knew the basics of economics and statistics we would be safer from deceives and tyrants.

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