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View Diary: A Response to TeacherKen and Dailykos Community (357 comments)

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  •  Good Day Governor (none)
    An important issue between American schools and foreign schools that out perform ours is that American schools try to teach more, while many of the foriegn schools try to teach less.

    Now the basic level logic is that if a school teaches more the students will know more. But that assumes that students are able to retain under the current set up, which often enough, they are not. Even for the brightest students, getting pelted by an over flow of information is rather dangerous. I myself am now a graduate student in physics, yet remember little from my middle school social studies class except we spent five boring weeks studying the Yukon territories of Canada and how to spell all the state capitals. I don't recal any of the names associated with the Yukon and I struggle to remember come state capitals, but as for what else we did, I don't havea clue.

    So if time was restructured in our schools to gain more time, then there will be a great push to add more to the ciriculum. Don't. Spend more time getting through the important stuff that we already try to get our students to learn, cut the flak, and go indepth. Going indepth into any subject, asking the big question of 'why?' instead of memorizing state capitals directly. (Memorization of state capitals could come if for instance over the course of a coulpe years students gained indepth knowledge of every state in the union. The capital would come up in context rather than on a blank sheet that needs to be filled in.) And do this for all areas.

    We need our kids to be curious. Teaching the why question will help keep them curious.

    Superior Military, Fair Taxes, Good Values-Democratic Mantra "But I won't be frustrated by the fire in your eyes as you're staring at the sun"

    by Izixs on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 09:43:55 AM PDT

    •  why alone doesn't cut it. these kids need to (none)
      memorize the state capitals. they need to memorize a lot of things. why is part of it but only a part. we need discipline. we need to teach american history and what it really means. the far right posts i see are full of nonsense that shows absolutely no understanding of the founding fathers, the constitution or the bill of rights.
      •  Speaking of why? (none)
        Why do students need to memorize the state capitals?  When in your course of work does this become important information unless you are Ken Jennings (jeopardy contestant).  And if you need to know them in your course of work, we now have the internet and you can look it up easily and quickly.  

        Boycott Citibank/Citicards. They are corporate thieves and terrorists.

        by tri on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 10:32:31 AM PDT

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        •  Disagree (none)
          Many kids now don't learn state capitols-- nor the states themselves, nor where various countries in the world are located... I recently had a geography course in which a significant proportion of the kids around me (generally around 10-15 years younger than I am) couldn't locate N. Dakota on a map.  We are in Montana.  That's next door.

          When do state capitols become useful?  Well... what about just in everyday conversation?  Someone says they're from a particular city... isn't it nice to know what state, or even general region, that's in?  Or... you're talking politics... nice to know where the state pols hang out?

          •  states and capitals (none)
            I think this thread of arguments is missing my point. That to learn certain things that are currently force fed through pure memorization in a way that won't lead to the students forgetting the information once they leave the class room a different approch is necessary. An approch that puts the states and capitals in context. Makes them actual ideas in the students head instead of just random facts. To learn the countries of the world by teaching the reason those countries are there in the first place. To teach algebra in such a way as to show its usefulness and how people came up with it. Basically, using mythos teaching instead of logos teaching. We can quibble all we want about weather certain information is useful or not, but with mythos teaching they'll be learning a lot more than the states and capitals, more than math and science. They'll be learning how things come about and why. Two keys to building critical thinkers.

            To modify a cliché phrase: So we can have our spelling AND arguements to spell.

            Superior Military, Fair Taxes, Good Values-Democratic Mantra "But I won't be frustrated by the fire in your eyes as you're staring at the sun"

            by Izixs on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 10:53:50 AM PDT

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            •  I just think maybe things have changed. (none)
              I've been out of HS 17+ years, how about you?  But I just put a kid through high school and there was certainly no danger of him getting pelted by an over flow of information.  Underflow is more like it.  And I think this is the case for many kids.  It's true that in-depth, meaningful study is the ideal, but kids also need some basic information on which to base that study.  I guess, in general, I am agreeing with your ideals, and my argument wasn't with you, it was with the person I replied to.  But it is not at all my experience that kids are getting too much raw information.

              Even back when I went to HS, the focus was turning to "learning how to learn."  Great, but also give me something to learn, pleez.  

              •  Applogies (none)
                Sorry, put the reply in the wrong place.

                I've been out of high school about 4.5 years now and can actually say I had a decent experince as far as high school went, but part of that is that I purposefully took advanced and AP classes were this moddel of teaching is fairly dominant. In lower level courses that I did take, and even more so in middle school, there was plenty of lip service ideal of teaching X but not much of it in practice by a number of teachers. The difference between the two styles was like if knowledge and thought were legos, the upper level courses were building a lego city in our brains, taking each piece from outside and putting it in its proper place, while the lower end and middle school classes were like putting the legos in a shot gun and spraying us with them hoping a few would fall into place.

                For a while I didn't realize the nature of the difference but I knew something was amiss. For a while I thought it was because the advanced classes moved quicker. But on reflection I found out that the advanced classes did move quicker, but they moved in a reasonable fashion, while the other classes did not.

                Superior Military, Fair Taxes, Good Values-Democratic Mantra "But I won't be frustrated by the fire in your eyes as you're staring at the sun"

                by Izixs on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 11:30:44 AM PDT

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                •  You're pretty smart for a 22-year-old! (none)
                  Sorry, I thought I was talking to someone much older. :)

                  It sounds like, in our case, the different experiences are due to the teaching level, or "tracking"-type-stuff.  You were in AP classes, "my" kid in special ed.  I found his education, though very kind and well-meaning in general, to be extremely content-poor.  And he was not in any way intellectually-impaired, just a kid w/ some initial emotional/behavioral problems.  

                  While I'm glad to know that at least some of the very bright kids are getting a good education, I am concerned for what these inequities mean for the future structure of our society.  I have a young daughter who is very gifted, but I am kind of opposed to special gifted programs and so forth on principle.  But is that therefore going to doom her to a crappy education, because that's what everyone else gets?  I just wonder.

                  •  GT (none)
                    Some gifted and talented programs are good and useful, but others run similarly to the special ed system. I've actually seen both ends of the spectrum as the GT program for my school system had a very poor GT teacher for elementary who made the program suffer, while the high school instructor was much better (not perfect, but good enough for what the programs official goals were). So it really takes a careful eye to figure out if a GT program will help or hurt a student. A good policy would be, independant of giftend and talented programs, encourage her to take the more difficult classes. Just because she doesn't have that note by her name in the records signifying GT status doesn't mean she can't reap the benefits of quality classes.

                    To tell you the truth, the only two things that I got out of my GT experiences that have had a major impact on my education were the requirements for participating in community service activities (real ones, not the one's they made the entire school participate in which usually amounted to spending one day every few years picking up trash out back), and that it my status gave me some leverage in a couple areas. Middle school math was taught very poorly, I almost failed seventh grade math. But since in high school I was able to prove my abilities in the Math II+ first semester, and because I was a GT student, the teacher was more willing to let me study and test out of Math III that spring. This shift allowed me to take calculus in high school, get an excellent AP score in the subject, and skip two classes when I got to college.

                    But it shouldn't of had to be like this. If the math was done right in middle school I shouldn't of been on the brink of failure there, then needing the leverage in high school wouldn't of been necessary as I would already be allowed into the advanced classes due to my record.

                    Yeah, I'm still a little bitter about the whole thing.

                    Superior Military, Fair Taxes, Good Values-Democratic Mantra "But I won't be frustrated by the fire in your eyes as you're staring at the sun"

                    by Izixs on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 12:40:12 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  i am thunderstruck that you would even ask (none)
          that question. the young are not learning. they need to know things like this for basic understanding of this country and the world. and sometimes making them get off their butts and memorize is the only way to do it. like with poetry! have you ever watching leno on the street and see how pathetically stupid the populace is?
          •  Bullshit. (none)
            I don't expect my students to memorize poems.

            I expect my students to TALK INTELLIGENTLY about poems. Every day.

            Are you training drones, or are you teaching thinkers?

            "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

            by Geenius at Wrok on Sun Oct 09, 2005 at 08:42:49 PM PDT

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    •  I agree (none)
      This is true in all the subjects.  I am reading a book about integrated math courses.  One of the chapters talks about how we have added new and richer mathematics to our curriculum without taking anything out making it impossible to teach all of the topics that have been deemed "essential".

      I think we need huge fixes across the board, but I don't see how to get broad, sweeping change to work especially when such a huge portion of the population believes the problem is that we no longer teach "the basics" and advocates memorization and rote learning because "it worked for them."

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