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View Diary: Another Bad Idea: Houston to tie teachers' pay to test scores (76 comments)

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  •  I will give you that some education is rote (none)
    learning, but I go farther and actually question...

    here's a question I debate among friends colleagues (i'm not a teacher by the way though I am an academic)...

    Do children still need to memorize the multiplication tables?  Why teach the abstract concepts and the show children how to use the technology to answer questions...

    why invent a calculator if we aren't going to utilize it, so our brains can focus on other things...

    I am not sure I have an answer I justify either way - but it seems that to exist and function in society we need to know more and more - for example, how many people know how to farm today?  I would guess that if you told someone in the 1700s that you didn't know how to skin a chicken they would be shocked...

    •  reliance on technology is bad (none)
      Do children still need to memorize the multiplication tables?  Why teach the abstract concepts and the show children how to use the technology to answer questions...
      The answer is an unqualified yes, they should memorize the table, and I'll tell you why.

      Relying only on tools for even simple multiplication is a bad choice.  All higher learning is based on a solid grasp of the fundamentals. If you don't know the multiplication tables I guarantee you will not be a whiz with Calculus or Spatial mathematics, for example.

      We don't want a generation of button pushers.  That's how you get adults on TV being interviewed who can't tell you their own state capitol, or how many branches of government we have, or the number of degrees in a circle.  

      Many of the educational building blocks used in the 1700's and 1800's are still used today: memorization of the alphabet, memorization of the tables, etc.

      Literally, there is very little rote memorization going on today, and it's a shame.

      Instant recall of the most fundamental building blocks is key to long term educational success and accumen.  In fact, I'd wager that you'd have better long term success if you asked kids up until 5th grade to do homework that only specified rote memorization tasks.  State capitals, countries, counties, numbers, figures, historical dates.  

      •  interesting... (none)
        All higher learning is based on a solid grasp of the fundamentals.

        I will respectfully disagree on two points:

        (1) learning is not entirely hierarchical if you mean that to learn calculus one must understand basic math.

        (2) higher learning is about the ability to abstract, conceptualize, and relate.  

        reliance on technology is bad

        unfortunately, I disagree here to - we have no choice but to rely on technology, as much as we don't like to, our lives and livelihoods are entirely dependent on technology and continued technological development.

        We don't want a generation of button pushers.
        I whole-hearted agree here.  We need to figure out a way to teach people to learn and continue learning and to question.  I resort back to the basic socratic or platonic methods of education: an individual must be able to objectively and subjectively question the reality in which they live and seek answers to questions.  however, the acquisition of the ability to paint like monet, IMHO, is equally as important as the ability to build a space shuttle.  

        so how do we teach people to be come life long learners?

        Many of the educational building blocks used in the 1700's and 1800's are still used today: memorization of the alphabet, memorization of the tables, etc.

        this is true, but the 1700 and 1800 hundreds were also the beginnings of the industrial movement and the education system was strongly tied to that correct?  Build a generation of skilled laborers who understand basic concepts and have a more standard set of skills?

        how does this apply in the post-industrial age we have entered and are entering?

        See I think we should teaching kids alegra, art, and the general concepts of physics/quantume physics beginning in kindergarten...  things like a+a = 2a instead 2+2=4 and along the lines of when you color the harder you push the more friction there is -

        I did some of this with my nephew, much to the dismay of his 2nd grade teacher - becuase "he asked too many questions"... :-)  I find that to be an amusing comment from a teacher...

        •  Virtually (none)
          all learning is build upon a few bricks - you absolutely cannot learn and master calculus without having a strong base in core mathematics, for example.  

          unfortunately, I disagree here to - we have no choice but to rely on technology, as much as we don't like to, our lives and livelihoods are entirely dependent on technology and continued technological development.
          Wrong.  You don't have to be dependent on it.  Substituting rote learning because it's easy to look up with technology is not the point.  THe point is that advanced thinking, problem solving, engineering, and interaction requires mental conformance, dexterity, and creativity.  You can't just focus only on the the creativity and dexterity, you must also focus on mental conformance which is forcing your brain to react correctly and aptly to a command.  And that is learned in one way: rote.

          It used to be that to be considered "learned" you could read and write, and probably speak, Greek and Latin.  Lowering the bar isn't helping us, it's only hurting us.  

          this is true, but the 1700 and 1800 hundreds were also the beginnings of the industrial movement and the education system was strongly tied to that correct?  Build a generation of skilled laborers who understand basic concepts and have a more standard set of skills?
          The difference being we don't have to stop at 4th or 6th grade.

          I did some of this with my nephew, much to the dismay of his 2nd grade teacher - becuase "he asked too many questions"... :-)  I find that to be an amusing comment from a teacher...
          I often run into this argument: but my child is so interest in XX.. it doens't seem right to force him into learning YY...

          What you are seeing is the beginning of an attention/focus problem.  There are infinite things to investigate and study.  If I stopped to dig into everyhthing that interest me I'd never get anything done.  

          The teacher was probably just tired of having answer all the questions, but the larger issue that needs to be addressed is one of mental discipline.  

      •  That's what they said (none)
        about the erasor, too.
      •  Hmm (none)
        When I was a kid, and still as an adult, I could never remember my 7's on the multiplication chart.  Being a smart kid, I used the fact that I knew my 5's and 2's and just added them seemlessly in my head and was able to get the right answers.  My learning of the basic facts of my 7's was based on my ability to 'think' of how to overcome a problem. It wasn't about memorizing.  I contend that I 'learned' more having to figure that out then if I just able to memorize my 7's

        BTW I still think of 7x7 as 35+14.

        If all my homework up until 5th grade was just about memorizing facts I would have hated every minute of school.  I lived for the times we got to do plays, guess which things would float or sink, write stories after interviewing our grandparents on what things were like when they were kids ect.  

        I'm glad you are not my kids teacher or part of my school board. Yikes!  It seems like your education philosophy is suck all the life out of 'em early and quick fill it up with disjointed facts.  Because what the world really needs is a bunch of trivia wizzes.

        Does the devil wear a suit and tie, Or does he work at the Dairy Queen- Martin Sexton

        by strengthof10kmen on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 01:48:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  re-read (none)
          It seems like your education philosophy is suck all the life out of 'em early and quick fill it up with disjointed facts.

          You completely misread what I said.

          I didnt say up until 5th grade all WORK should be rote; I said all HOMEWORK should be rote.

          •  Fine (none)
            If all of my HOMEWORK up until the 5th grade was rote I would have hated school....(insert the rest of my comment in here)

            Does the devil wear a suit and tie, Or does he work at the Dairy Queen- Martin Sexton

            by strengthof10kmen on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 02:47:54 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Jumping to conclusions (none)
              you can learn everything you need to memorize in about 15 minutes a day, five days a week repetition.

              in programs that use this technique the average kid has far more time to be a "kid", and less hokey unproven time wasted on "experiential" learning and garbage that is highly subjective.

              •  That's nice for the 'average' kid (none)
                if true but what does it do for the non-average kid, the kid who does not learn well though rote memorization.  I'm guessing most of this memorization comes from things that are written(books, maps, flash cards ect) so a bright dyslexic child will quickly be made to feel stupid, getting poor grade on all their homework, and hating school.  For that child the 15 minutes a night will most likely be hours.  

                You are welcome to teach your kids how ever you want or to hope your kids teachers teach however you want. Drill away if that's what you feel is best. My opinion is that I would not want you or someone who subscribes to your views on this as my kids teacher, school administrator or schoolboard member and am glad most of my elementary school teachers didn't agree with you. Although I was asked to memorize math facts and my states and capitals(got them all) I also was given homework that sole purpose was to spark my curiosity and probably give the kids who didn't learn best through memorization or reading a chance to show how smart they were.

                Does the devil wear a suit and tie, Or does he work at the Dairy Queen- Martin Sexton

                by strengthof10kmen on Thu Jan 12, 2006 at 08:45:06 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  no bullshit (none)
                  true but what does it do for the non-average kid, the kid who does not learn well though rote memorization.
                  Memorization is a skill that literally is the last refuge of the mentally handicapped, diseased, or challenged.  It is, actually, the only way the functionally retarded have to make it through life.  

                  The method of memorization is up for grabs - but between audio, visual, and direct reptition there is little evidence to suggest that any child can't memorize, especially if started reasonably early with drills to enforce mental discipline.

                  I suspect the reason most people object to such fundamentals of building blocks is because it's a no bullshit business.  If for a week you are supposed to be working on memorizing the new england states and their capitals based on studying a map and reciting the names in alphabetical order, and your kid goes to school and can't do it, then it's a no bullshit answer.  The only answer is the 15 minutes per day practice wasn't done.   There is no bullshit diagnosis, no bullshit condition, no bullshit reason why you as a parent couldn't sit with your child for 15 minutes a night and go through the states and the map quietly and directly.  

                  And that's the bottom line question.  Next time you watch the Jay Leno show and they ask someone a question like "What century did World War II happen in"? and they say the "1500's", you know the reason.  The reason is bullshit faux education.  Every American should know that for America World War II started Decemeber 7, 1941 at Pearl Harboor (or maybe the 8th, when we declared war offically) and ended with V-J day on August 15th, 1945.  

                  A lot of education is about experience, and learning, and the love of knowledge, etc.  However, some of it is no-bullshit memorization and recall.  

        •  education can be interesting but not all the (none)
          time. sometimes rote is the best way. i used to have slow learners and i used old time honored tools such as spelling bees and diagraming on the board. i kept it simple in order to get the basics to them. you have to learn the basics and that may just be rote. it is essential. of course, you can include and should such things as art, music, and pe. but the basics has to be there for the poor student will go nowhere.

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