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What happens when you fail to invest in education (and no, I don't mean investment in excessive layers of school administration), the most important single item in our nation's success or failure?  You end up with this result:

An unprecedented study that followed several thousand undergraduates through four years of college found that large numbers didn't learn the critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills that are widely assumed to be at the core of a college education.

Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event, according to New York University sociologist Richard Arum, lead author of the study. The students, for example, couldn't determine the cause of an increase in neighborhood crime or how best to respond without being swayed by emotional testimony and political spin. [...]

How bad is this failure to learn the skills necessary to maintain  a well-informed citizenry, a critical component of any healthy democracy?  Pretty damn bad:

Forty-five percent of students made no significant improvement in their critical thinking, reasoning or writing skills during the first two years of college, according to the study. After four years, 36 percent showed no significant gains in these so-called "higher order" thinking skills.

Read more: link

By the time our kids get to college it is often too late to change habits por learn new skills that should have been taught to them in grade k-12 in my opinion. This study does not merely condemn colleges, it throws a harsh light on our primary education system on this country. In general, the US doesn't pay our teachers well (compared to other professions and other nations), nor do we reward them for excellence, nor do we often provide them with a system that accurately assesses their efforts (i.e., No child left behind ring any bells?).

One encouraging sign from the study is that students that majored in traditional liberal arts subjects -- literature, history, the social and "hard" sciences, and mathematics -- did better than their fellow students in other areas such as business.  Why was that so?  It was because those "liberal arts" students were required to do more reading and writing than their counterparts in many other disciplines. As one professor put it:

"We do teach analytical reading and writing," said Ellen Fitzpatrick, a history professor at the University of New Hampshire.

Maybe it's time to stop sneering at "book learning" and calling professors who emphasize critical thinking and analytical skills pointy headed intellectual elites and marxist-socialist propagandists.  This country needs to have a real discussion about the importance of teaching those skills, not a mud slinging contest.  

Because despite what some people think, we don't need ill-educated people such as Sarah Palin, who makes it a point of pride to point to her lack of intellectual ability, leading our nation by using their gut feelings and not their brains to make decisions.  We certainly don't need a generation of people who turn up their noses at science and academia, people who actively dispute their credibility and value to our society.

"The four corners of deceit: government, academia, science and media. Those institutions are now corrupt and exist by virtue of deceit. That's how they promulgate themselves; it is how they prosper." It is tempting to laugh off this and other rhetoric broadcast by Rush Limbaugh, a conservative US radio host, but Limbaugh and similar voices are no laughing matter.

More importantly, we don't need a generation of people who can't understand or analyze the critical issues we face as a nation voting for candidates based on manipulative and often misleading political attack ads that appeal to emotion rather than to reason.  In the past election, we witnessed the effect of the failure by so many people to discriminate between falsehoods and emotional appeals on the one hand and factually based arguments on the other.  The best guard against a continued dumbing down of our political discourse is a well informed public able to think for themselves rather than relying upon the words of demagogues and political con artists to set the terms of our national debate.

Originally posted to Steven D on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 04:59 AM PST.

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  •  Tip Jar (195+ / 0-)
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    "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

    by Steven D on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 04:59:24 AM PST

        •  was (22+ / 0-)

          and is.  And I insist constantly that it is the lack of critical thinking skills dooming this country.

          •  I agree. I think we should be teaching philosophy (35+ / 0-)

            and critical thinking, for an hour a day, all throughout K-12. Have kids analyze the classics of old (Socrates, Epictetus, etc) - and the classics of now (such as Howard Zinn.) Have them analyze news reports for spin and bias. Have them read scientific studies.

            But that won't happen, because the religious right would protest fiercely. Of course, such an education wouldn't HAVE to bump up against religion, but this is America, so it would.

            Here's to our last drink of fossil fuels - may we vow to get off of this sauce. Shoo away the swarms of commuter planes...and find that train ticket we lost.

            by terra on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:39:12 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Well Indiana at least intends this to be taught (8+ / 0-)

            Here's an excerpt of the learning standards for Language Arts.

            Expository Critique first surfaces  as a subcategory in 5th Grade

            These are the learning goals for Expository Critique from the 6th grade standards for Standard 2 -- Comprehension and Analysis of Nonfictiona nd Informational Text:

            2.6   Determine the appropriateness of the evidence presented for an author's conclusions and evalutate whether the author support inferences.

            2.7   Make reasonble statements and conclusions about a text, supporting them with evidence from the text.

            2.8   Identify how an author's choice of words, examples, and reasons are used to persuade the reader of something.

            2.9   Identify problems with an author's use of figures of speech, logic, or reasoning.

            Analysis and Evaluation of Oral and Media Communications is a sub-heading of Standard 7 - Listening and Speaking Skills beginning in the 3rd grade.   Here are the 6th grade standards:

            7.8   Analyze the use of rhetorical devices, including rhythm and timing of speech, repetitive patterns, and the use of onomatopoeia, for intent and effect.

            7.9   Identify persuasive and propaganda techniques (such as the use of words or images that appeal to emotions or an unsupported premise) used in electronic media and identify false and misleading information.

            7.16   Identify powerful techniques used to influence readers or viewers and evaluate evidence used to support these techniques.

            By 12th grade -- these are the standards:

            7.9 Analyze strategies used by the media to inform, persuade, entertain, and transmit culture (including advertising; perpertuating stereotypes; and using visual representations, specail effects, and language)

            7.10   Analyze the impact of the media on the democratic process (including exerting influence on elections, creating images of leaders, and shaping attitudes) at the local, state, and national levels.

            7.11   Interpret and evaluate the various ways in which events are presented and informtion is communicated by visual image-makers (such as graphic artists, documentary filmmakers, illustrators, and news photographers).

            7.12   Critique a speaker's use of words and language in relation to the purpose of an oral communication and the impact the words may have on the audience.

            7.13   Identify rhetorical and logical fallacies used in oral addresses including ad hominem, false causality, red herring, overgeneralization, and the bandwagon effect.
            7.14   Analyze four basic types of persuasive speech (propositions of fact, value, problem, and policy) and understand the similarities and differences in their patterns of organization and the use of persuasive language, reasoning and proof.

            7.15   Analyze the techniques used in media messages for a particular audience to evaluate effectiveness, and infer the speaker's character.

            Check out your own state's learning standards.  My bet is they are online and downloadable like Indiana's.

            •  Sorry about the typos (0+ / 0-)
            •  And how do you test that? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NYFM

              Isn't the ability to pass a test the sine qua non of the educational process today?

              Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. -susan ertz

              by graycat13 on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:43:50 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Noble goals (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NYFM

              But what counts as a passing mark?  I mean, what do they really have to do to pass?  

              If all they have to do is say that bias is present, then the standards are not very high even though the goals are quite laudable and impressive

              Youth lives by personality, age lives by calculation. -- Aristotle

              by not2plato on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:47:25 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The tests are not online (0+ / 0-)

                so what they need to be able to do to pass the tests I don't know, but Indiana's standards are very high.

                We are expecting more from every grade than  when I was in school.  

                At the end of kindergarten kids are supposed to be able to read and write simple sentences. (Where there is nothing funky happening in the phonics and nothing much is polysyllabic.)

                This seems weird to me because by law Kindergarten is not required, and it's only a half-day. For kids who had a good preschool education and enter knowing their letter and numbers and colors and able to do all the things Kindergarten focused on when I was a kid the golas make sense and will keep them from getting bored, but Indiana does not see to it that all children have a good preschool education, so at least half the kids in school are behind the moment they begin in Kindergarten.

                It does seem however based on Indiana standards that anyone who fully met them would be ready for college level material by the end of the 9th grade, if not before.  

                •  The standards are written as benchmarks (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Alexandra Lynch

                  In effect you can take anyone and test them and mark them at the grade level they fall under based on their demonstration of full compentency of an articulated standard.

                  Full compentencey means exactly that --- mastery.

                  Each grade builds on the standards from the grade before so mastery is the only way advancement makes sense.

                  Now of course that is not the way we grade or teach.

                  If one assumes the norm is mastery, I think most fully literate adults are functioning at about 6th grade level.

                  Anyone functioning at 9th grade level would be ready to do college level work and would need no remedial classes to get reading, writing and basic research skills up to snuff.

                  Anyone mastering the 12th grade standards would have analytical skills that were ready for  graduate level research after gaining some breadth and depth in a chosen discipline during undergrad.  College would not be teaching him or her how to think.  And and his/her writing would be sufficiently polished to be publishable in most any media channel.

                  If these standards were truly being mastered -- anyone with 12th grade mastery could do anything that did not require specialized knowledge or certification in advance of being hired, and would be well-equipped to be a life-long learner and auto-didact.  College would be an opportunity to expand one's depth and breath of study and experience, and to qualify one for post-grad studies.

        •  And you're back up! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Steven D, blueoasis

          I JUST read this article and then came here to find the info on the rec list. Great!

      •  I wish (4+ / 0-)

        I were surprised by this, but it's been painfully obvious for years.

        Good diary. T&R.

        One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.--A.A. Milne

        by Mnemosyne on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:11:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Get out of my head! (3+ / 0-)

        This Diary has been formenting for quite some time.

        I like your approach of critiquing the actul performances. As I see it, the lack of Critical Thinking is a no-brainer ... ill informed opinion is all around.

        I was considering "why"? rather than this excellent treatise on "how". ... and I might still. If I do, I will link your Diary as a preface, if you don't mind.

        I was also thinking how neat it might be, in DK4, for people to work collaboratively on Diaries.

        We do not forgive our candidates their humanity, therefore we compel them to appear inhuman

        by twigg on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:36:09 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nietzsche said something like (2+ / 0-)

          that you could tell the critical level of a person by how they handle a hypothesis.  

          If a person has no way of handling it except to either accept or reject it, they are at a low level.  If they are able to take parts of it and test it, they have gained something from the Enlightenment.  

          This is a nation founded on the Enlightenment.  Sadly, our expansion and growth embraced the Romantic reaction against the Enlightenment.  As a result, our national mind is schitzo -- we have Enlightenment ideals, but we also worship the Romantic dismissal of science and reason.  Business leaders are admired for their gut reactions, as are many politicians and political thinkers.  

          Its probably always going to be that way.  

          But we could strengthen the respect for the Enlightenment somehow

          Youth lives by personality, age lives by calculation. -- Aristotle

          by not2plato on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:51:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've always reduced the tension to (0+ / 0-)

            the fact that the early settlers were the religious freaks of Europe with radical, anti-Enlightenment ideas.  The streams of immigrants over the nineteenth and early twentieth century brought with them the principle that government is a organism to be used for the benefit of the people, not something to be feared.  Of course, this is a simplistic analysis, but I think it captures the competing factions.

            •  Of course it does (0+ / 0-)

              And I think you have got that right as far as it goes.  But there is no doubt that the founders were Enlightenment thinkers, reading Locke and others, who developed what they called a political science, which was essentially a comparative study of governments and political forms.  

              Youth lives by personality, age lives by calculation. -- Aristotle

              by not2plato on Tue Jan 25, 2011 at 08:41:13 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Go ahead, Use what you like. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          twigg

          Steve

          "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

          by Steven D on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:26:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Kids are ruined by the time... (52+ / 0-)

    they come out of k-12. Not much profs can do but try to salvage as many of the flaming balls of stupidity as they can.

    Nothing quite like the experience of teaching 8th grade level algebra to college kids. lols

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:03:21 AM PST

    •  Math, Logic and Critical Thinking for all (54+ / 0-)

      This is something that needs to be part of the curriculum from elementary school.

      "Why do I need to know this?"

      "So you won't be taken advantage of by people who prey on ignorance."

      Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

      by freelunch on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:15:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  k-12 teachers can only teach what they know (16+ / 0-)

        and that's basically nothing.

        Parents are just as bad.

        (shrug) So the result is completely predictable. A few kids miraculously escape the efforts of k12 teachers and parents to make them as stupid as possible, and become decently educated in college. While the vast majority are simply intellectually ruined by the idiot factories (k-12 schools).

        I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

        by punditician on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:18:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My daughter is teaching elementary music (52+ / 0-)

          in a small Iowa town.  Fortunately she is even more liberal than I am.  Yesterday she had to correct some 2nd graders that Obama is going to take popcorn out of the movie theatres.  That is what she has to fight every day.  Fortunately, she is excellent at critical thinking and studied hard to be an excellent teacher.  I'm proud that she has the chance to correct young wingnuts one student at a time.

          Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought. - Henri-Louis Bergson

          by Iowa Engineer on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:37:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Something tells me (8+ / 0-)

            that would make her a target of some parents who would try to get her fired.

            liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

            by RockyMtnLib on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:45:50 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, she already appears to be a target of (17+ / 0-)

              punditician.

              Nothing like attacking a paint-by-number canvas with a roller brush, I always say!

              The horrible thing is, some small part of me sorta-kinda agrees with him. By consistently keeping k-12 teaching a low priority career (poor pay, lack of public accolades, punishing teachers for something they have little actual control over, etc.), we are guaranteeing that k-12 teaching will not be manned by people who can perform at maximum standards.

              Hell, if they're that good, they'll go and get a job where they're not treated like trained monkeys, and pays a hell of a lot better!

              But the vast majority of those who go into teaching do so because they love it, and so they do work hard at it, and are capable of good, solid work with students - but they're facing higher and higher obstacles to their ability to influence their students.

              I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

              by Daddy Bartholomew on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:59:08 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Fortunately not all Iowans are knuckle draggers (0+ / 0-)

              even though we have Steve King and voted out 3 Supreme Court justices over gay marriage.  Most parents will agree that seeing little Tommy singing and playing an instrument in front of admiring familiy members makes most music teachers welcomed and accepted.  They are already assumed to be liberal because, you know, they attended a "liberal arts" college.  Another nice thing is my daughter has raised over $2000 for the district through donorschoose.org, which got a huge shout out during the Keep Hope/Fear Alive rally (Colbert actually put my daughter's request on his main page!)  I'm very proud of her.  Besides, no board of education is going to touch a popular teacher that can get free money from the intertubes.

              Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought. - Henri-Louis Bergson

              by Iowa Engineer on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 12:28:11 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Ed schools are failing (21+ / 0-)

          That's one of the apparent results of this study.

          However, I think you paint too broad a brush about K-12. There are some good teachers and schools out there.

          We need to take a hard look at what students are being taught in ed school, however. Teachers need to have strong critical thinking skills. If they don't the students will be poorly taught.

          look for my DK Greenroots diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

          by FishOutofWater on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:02:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Shouldn't Ed Schools be professional? (5+ / 0-)
            Prospective teachers should finish a degree before they learn to be teachers. I don't think that ed schools are inherently a problem, but for too many who want to teach, the whole thing can be done in four years. That does not give them time to master a subject to see how mastering a subject works.

            Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

            by freelunch on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:13:33 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Probably not necessary (14+ / 0-)

              Ed schools need some work, but I'm not sure this is the path to take.  The simple fact is, you don't need to spend 4 years deconstructing the classics of English literature to teach a 7-year-old how to spell properly and write a complete, clear sentence.  Elementary education is far more about connecting with young people and transmitting the basics than it is about mastering anything.  Even an advanced high-school math teacher doesn't need to know the intricacies of number theory or fluid mechanics.  She needs to be able to teach, at most, mid-level calculus.

              To my way of thinking, teachers should be expected to know more about their subject than their students could reasonably be expected to ever need, and they should have the intellectual resources to acquire more knowledge if needed.  But they shouldn't be expected to master the field the way a working professional would need to do, because it's wasted time, and that time could instead be spent learning how to teach, how to communicate effectively with young people, how to organize and discipline a classroom, how to construct an effective test or homework, and so on.

              "...the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." RIP Senator. We miss you.

              by libdevil on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:31:21 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think we need to appreciate (9+ / 0-)

                The diversity among kids.  There are plenty of kids that can benefit from a competent teacher with good people skills and no advanced education.  However, there are also a lot of kids (generally more analytic and prone to questioning authority) who should be tracked towards teachers with more expertise who can clue them into the deeper questions provoked by what they're learning.  

                Above all, the 'sit down and shut up' approach to education needs to be avoided since it produces docile, easily-manipulated and unimaginative citizens...

                "If you can't lower heaven, raise hell!" - Mother Jones

                by al ajnabee on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:42:14 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Except for mathematics. (11+ / 0-)

                The simple fact is, you don't need to spend 4 years deconstructing the classics of English literature to teach a 7-year-old how to spell properly and write a complete, clear sentence.

                There is now evidence that the primary cause of mathophobia is mathophobic elementary school teachers---meaning that we have people teaching mathematics who are not only bad at mathematics, but who hate and fear it.

                When I was in college, our elementary education program had a core competency math requirement, a single course called MATH 111.  I know this because I was the TA, and about half the auditorium was elementary ed majors who were just about to graduate, having put off this one scary course to the very last second.  Next year, they'd be teaching math to kids.

                Arguably these people didn't need to learn calculus and trig in order to teach 2nd graders.  However, anyone who loathes the idea of taking those courses shouldn't be teaching 2nd grade math.  

                Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

                by Caj on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:03:18 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  What about teaching 2+2=4 as late as 6th grade? (3+ / 0-)

                  Elementary school math was a joke.  At the beginning of each school year, we had to go back to studying 2+2=4.  Most of the math curriculum in elementary school was nothing more than reviewing the math we studied in previous years.  (And no, I didn't grow up in a poor inner city neighborhood, in Appalachia, on a Native American reservation, on the backroads of Mississippi, etc.  I grew up in a middle class suburb.)

                  If I had a real math education, I could have had Algebra in 4th grade instead of 8th.  Is it any wonder that US kids are so far behind in math?

                  You might be a Rethug if you join forces with the tobacco lobbyists but condemn abortion, birth control, and gay marriage as crimes against humanity.

                  by jhsu on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:41:08 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  sounds like your school was an anomaly. (2+ / 0-)

                    Even inner-city NYC schools are better than that. Much better.

                    "We can have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few or we can have democracy, but we can't have both."-- Justice Louis Brandeis

                    by ubertar on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:49:48 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Actually, that sounds pretty normal. (2+ / 0-)

                    I took algebra in 8th grade, with vague hints of algebra in 6th and 7th.  I was more than prepared for college, and then for graduate study in mathematics.

                    Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

                    by Caj on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:50:17 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  What I did was (0+ / 0-)

                      hints of algebra in 6th grade math, 7th and 8th were life math and a little more algebra (I learned to budget and balance a checkbook in 8th grade math class, and they did a little recipe scaling), 9th was Algebra, 10th was Geometry, 11th was Calculus, 12th was Physics.

                      That was a factory town in Indiana in 1990. But I was on the college prep track.

                  •  Amen (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ChemBob, Alexandra Lynch, orestes1963

                    and for that matter, basic logic, the logic of sentences that was developed and mastered as completed as a science by Aristotle in 350 BCE -- was taught to 10 and 12 year olds in the middle ages.  

                    Now it is the rare college kid who can say what a syllogism is.  Journalists in this country are dumb as rocks in part because they have no idea what truth or facts are, and little sense of how to prove something other than having feelings and collective agreement.  And does anyone wonder why?  Most of them spent a lot of time with sophomoric English profs who teach that there is not such thing as facts and that all truth is just force of numbers.

                    Postmodern philosophy is the greatest assistance to right wing intellectual asininity the world has ever known.

                    Youth lives by personality, age lives by calculation. -- Aristotle

                    by not2plato on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:04:24 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  In the first college I went to (0+ / 0-)

                  the women who wanted to graduate with an Mrs. degree took el ed so they could teach Sunday school. (rolls eyes)

              •  Yes and no. I believe even K-6 math teachers (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sny, mrkvica, JanetT in MD, ChemBob

                should have a reasonable working knowledge of number theory; not a graduate level ability necessarily, but certainly enough to really understand what numbers are, how they fit together, history of number systems, different number bases, why arithmetic algorithms work, alternative algorithms, and so on.

                If they don't, all they are doing is repeating algorithms to their students by rote until the students have them memorized - or not.

                I do agree that a teacher needs to know, in general, much more about their subject than they will ever need to pass on to their students, but that they don't need to be professionally competent at levels far, far beyond their students. It's just the math bit that touched a nerve.

                Most of my students (tribal college) have had exactly zero exposure to anything other than rote memorization of algorithms, and it shows. Spending time working with snippets of number theory and math history has enabled many of them to go through a complete transformation in how they approach and learn math. If they could get started on that in elementary school, I could well be out of a job.

                I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                by Daddy Bartholomew on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:57:10 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Problem... (1+ / 0-)

                  K-6 isn't stratified into individual subjects. One teacher is responsible for teaching every subject to the pupils in his or her care.

                  I doubt you'll find very few mathematicians who understand (and can competently explain to a layperson) number theory in a first grade classroom.

                  •  Yeah, it's a problem. But that doesn't mean that (0+ / 0-)

                    a competent 1st grade teacher cannot provide an atmosphere that encourages and develops the underlying foundations of number theory, such as pattern recognition and equivalence, or helping to foster the ability to think abstractly by using concrete objects and encouraging extrapolation.

                    I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                    by Daddy Bartholomew on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:40:27 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I see... (0+ / 0-)

                      Pattern recognition, thinking abstractly using concrete objects, encouraging extrapolation.

                      Sounds an awful lot like things that can be achieved through storytime, nursery rhymes, songs, counting, colors, and many of the things competent first grade teachers use.

                      Why do you need a higher degree in mathematics for that? A higher degree in educational theory sounds like it would be more useful, and let's face it, degrees ain't cheap. If I were to pick one or the other -- in terms of helping me to be a better teacher -- educational theory sounds like a better bet for my money.

                      •  Virtually all of my students have had story time, (0+ / 0-)

                        nursery rhymes, songs, etc., and their teachers didn't know jack shit about math. They did know how to work basic arithmetic problems, which is all that was really "required" of their students to learn.

                        Guess how that turned out.

                        I'm not arguing for a higher degree in math for K-6 teachers. I'm saying that they need to understand a hell of a lot more about math than they will actually teach to their students, so that they can intelligently choose what they expose their students to in order to provide proper foundations for math development. This can be accomplished without requiring a full degree in higher math.

                        Furthermore, the ability to recognize when a student is using a non-standard method of solving something (even in 1st or 2nd grade) that is completely acceptable mathematically can require knowledge that is not imparted in the usual undergraduate education courses. A teacher who fails to recognize a student who is literally "working differently" may well fail to give appropriate guidance to that student.

                        I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                        by Daddy Bartholomew on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 01:12:43 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Yaaay! (0+ / 0-)

                          This can be accomplished without requiring a full degree in higher math.

                          I agree! That's all I was saying.

                          Furthermore, the ability to recognize when a student is using a non-standard method of solving something ... A teacher who fails to recognize a student who is literally "working differently" may well fail to give appropriate guidance to that student

                          You apply this reasoning to math, specifically, I am thinking about all subjects. The idea that there is more than one way to skin a cat is where educational theory comes in. It makes teachers think about how students are working through problems and processing information as opposed to looking only at the end result --insert comment about standardised testing here --.

                          But it's also why I think it's important to have teachers taking continuing education classes to study the different educational theories. I realise this means that I am actually admitting that parts of NCLB were actually useful...

                          (looks over shoulder furtively)

              •  No, but you do need context (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mrkvica, Daddy Bartholomew

                and deeper understanding.

                Everyone needs to understand how, some people are driven to (and learn better) by learning why too.

                You may not need to be a number theory expert, but knowing that there are applications in fluid mechanics that the math you are teaching will be used for, or what number theory is, and be able to explain some of what more advanced math is, and it is not just more complex algebra, is useful.

              •  True (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                libdevil, orestes1963

                As far as it goes, you are entirely right libdevil

                But few if any ed school students know anything at all about critical thinking.  By that I mean how to work with an argument, how to distinguish reasons from conclusions and determine how closely related they are, how much support the premise provides the conclusion, etc.  

                Logic is a dead topic, and has been for a long time except in philosophy departments

                Youth lives by personality, age lives by calculation. -- Aristotle

                by not2plato on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:58:34 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Science departments too. (0+ / 0-)

                  You won't get very far in chemistry if you can't do all those things you listed.  You can pass undergrad courses well enough to get into med-school, I guess.  Or be a technician running an instrument or a reactor, but not to really work in research.  And most undergrads with science degrees will have picked up a lot of those skills along the way.  The problem isn't that logic is only for philosophy, the problem is that logic is only for advanced degrees.  A lot of what should be part of the general undergraduate curriculum (and still is, in the liberal arts and sciences) has been excised from vocational programs.  While Education is a valid field of study - combining elements of communication, sociology, psychology, and more - it's too often treated as a vocational program.  A lot of undergrad degrees are like that these days (even some advanced degree programs are vocational now).

                  Engineering, education, computer science: research, innovation, thinking, and learning happen in academic programs throughout these fields all the time, but undergraduate courses are about teaching the methods needed to reach a particular desired result.  They aren't about learning the underpinnings of the field, and getting deeper into the thought process that lets the student approach the subject in a meaningful way after they leave school.  They aren't about giving students the tools to evaluate and incorporate new information into their careers and lives.

                  In theory, there's nothing wrong with vocational education.  But it does tend to blur the line around what it means to be 'college educated.'  What we expect when we meet somebody with a degree in pharmacy or computer science or education is a lot different from what we expect when we meet someone with a degree in English or physics.  Functionally, the education one receives to become a teacher or programmer is closer to the education one receives to become a carpenter than it is to the education one receives to become a historian.

                  "...the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." RIP Senator. We miss you.

                  by libdevil on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:57:59 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  They should be free and professional (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              shenderson, on second thought

              I would totally support removing Ed from the undergraduate curriculum IF you also provided support for grad. students in Ed.

              There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

              by upstate NY on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:55:39 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  ha ha (0+ / 0-)

              they do not teach anything.  they are training -- not learning.  they are anti-intellectual influences from top to bottom

              Youth lives by personality, age lives by calculation. -- Aristotle

              by not2plato on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:56:09 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Ed schools are a waste of time (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FishOutofWater, orestes1963

            they are trainers in chalk board use, flash card use and class room management, etc.  They do not teach critical thinking, nor math, nor science...

            They should be shut down

            Youth lives by personality, age lives by calculation. -- Aristotle

            by not2plato on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:55:09 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I wholeheartedly agree (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              FishOutofWater

              After I graduated from college, I worked for a state university, so was allowed to take classes for free.  I thought it might be nice to get teacher certification, so I enrolled in Ed classes.  I lasted about a month.  It was the most assinine, self-evident material.  I could barely keep myself awake, it was so tedious- and useless.  

        •  Yeah, blame the teachers... (13+ / 0-)

          school is what makes kids stupid. /snark
          I'm so glad you were one of the few to miraculously escape. WTF?

          "We can have concentrated wealth in the hands of a few or we can have democracy, but we can't have both."-- Justice Louis Brandeis

          by ubertar on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:08:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Care to say that to my face? nt (5+ / 0-)

          "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 Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:10:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  crazy generalisation (10+ / 0-)

          there are lots of bad teachers, sure.

          there are also lots of outstanding ones who are completely constrained by the current educational standards.

          When I was in grades 4-6, I was in one of those gifted/talented programs--absolutely incredible experience.  About 2 months ago, I called my fourth grade teacher--I hadn't spoken to her in 25 years and she's now retired.

          But she talked at length about the increasing inability for good teachers to be creative in their classes--to encourage students to learn and think rather than pass some standardised test...

          It was depressing.

          You can blame SOME teachers--if they're awful (as some are) but it's much more a function of bad educational policy.

          •  Maybe we don't have bad teachers but good (8+ / 0-)

            teachers in a very bad system.  We try to produce educated children like factory widgets. No wonder they come out without critical thinking skills.  

            THE GREATNESS OF A NATION AND ITS MORAL PROGRESS CAN BE JUDGED BY THE WAY ITS ANIMALS ARE TREATED. -Gandhi

            by lakehillsliberal on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:08:46 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  well....I can certainly vouch for the fact (3+ / 0-)

              that, no matter what the system, there are always SOME awful teachers (had enough of them myself).

              But you're right.

              We're processing students, not educating them.

              •  I think we all have but honestly, I only had (0+ / 0-)

                one bad teacher in my entire elementary and high school life.  Nice lady, bad teacher.  In college, that is another story, I had so many TA's trying to teach complex concepts when English was not their first language(they spoke broken English at best).  It really was a crime.  

                THE GREATNESS OF A NATION AND ITS MORAL PROGRESS CAN BE JUDGED BY THE WAY ITS ANIMALS ARE TREATED. -Gandhi

                by lakehillsliberal on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:34:20 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  let me see...i'm going to break this down :) (0+ / 0-)

                  K: brilliant
                  1st: brilliant
                  2nd: Hilarious
                  3rd: Brilliant (just added me on fb)
                  4th: Phenomenal
                  5th: Decent, but outstanding program
                  6th: excellent
                  7th-12th: mixed bag.  Outstanding teachers were: 8th grade English, 11th grade history, 11th grade physics.

                  •  I don't think my teachers were brilliant or (0+ / 0-)

                    outstanding except for my first teacher(my Dad) but they weren't bad either.  They did their job, of course, my first teacher had their back(when needed) and also made sure they were doing their job by his standards(he tested me often in the early years).  It made a big difference.  

                    THE GREATNESS OF A NATION AND ITS MORAL PROGRESS CAN BE JUDGED BY THE WAY ITS ANIMALS ARE TREATED. -Gandhi

                    by lakehillsliberal on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:51:30 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  i had pretty memorable elementary school years. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      lakehillsliberal

                      My school system, Montgomery County, had really quality faculty members (but that tended to fizzle out a bit into middle school).  I'm still in touch with a few of them.

                      Once 7th grade hit, the quality plummeted and people were just...passable.  

        •  Not sure where you went to school (8+ / 0-)

          but it sure wasn't Iowa.  

          I had a great public K-12 education.  My teachers knew a LOT.  From geometry through trig, advanced algebra to calculus, chemistry, physics, history.  We diagrammed sentences, so somebody knew grammar.  I still remember a little German, so somebody knew something about that.  I also picked up a little knowledge of metal-work and small engine repair, which you can't just wing.  Engines either run or they don't, you can't fake it with an internal combustion engine.  I took mine apart, put it back together, and it ran.  I guess a teacher knew a little bit about that.

          When I got to college, I was shocked at all the private school kids from the east coast.  Where I grew up, the only reason you went to private school was because you were Catholic, expelled for being a troublemaker (very few of these) or had developmental disabilities that sent you to a residential treatment facility.

          My math skills, reading, and writing all matched or exceeded anything that the private school kids could bring to the table.  All from good old public schooling, from teachers who apparently knew "basically nothing".

          What was different?  Well, in small city Iowa, almost nobody moved.  Almost everybody I started school with in my small (120 students) elementary school was still around to graduate with me from high school.  Frequently changing schools (associated with poverty) is a strong predictor of poor performance.  Not that people in my town didn't move, they did, but they moved within the school district, not from district to district.  They still had continuity.  Parents had expectations.  If your parents didn't, your friends' parents did, and some of it rubbed off.  Of course there were drugs and alcohol available, but most of us kept it to the weekends.  Most students, from all walks of life, participated in sports, band, art, or theater (or multiples of the above).  My music teacher knew more about music than you could ever hope to.  He taught us not just how to play the classics, but why they were classics, the discipline to play them well, and the joy and pride that come from fulfilling expectations of excellence.

          I'm sorry your educational experience was so poor.

        •  oy vey you got it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          orestes1963

          After 22 years of teaching logic and rhetoric in universities, I am not qualified to spend 10 minutes in a high school class room.  

          The schools of Ed in this country are a monopoly and a sorry, inexcusable joke.

          Youth lives by personality, age lives by calculation. -- Aristotle

          by not2plato on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:53:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I blame testing (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          vacantlook, Daddy Bartholomew

          In Florida, we have a huge emphasis on testing.  How schools do on these tests leads to rewards for higher performing schools.  Lower performing schools are left behind. What has not happened is a marked improvement in Florida schools.

          Now there is a huge push by our new Rethug governor to tie teacher tenure and salaries to test results.  With this huge emphasis on standardized testing, most of the year is spent teaching the test with decreasing emphasis on teaching critical thinking, creativity, and other life skills.

          Our infatuation with testing is leading to our public schools becoming factories that turn out test taking automatons.  

          The United States is not just losing its capacity to do great things. It's losing its soul.--Bob Herbert

          by gulfgal98 on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:20:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Worth noting (18+ / 0-)

        that we had a diary here a month or so ago that recommended de-emphasizing mathematics.  A surprising number of comments agreed.  

        Die energie der Welt ist constant; die Entropie der welt strebt einem Maximum zu. - Rudolf Clausius, 1865

        by xgy2 on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:21:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  And, I'd add, (13+ / 0-)

        law, sociology, and economics should be mandatory subjects throughout high school. It's not just critical thinking that's the problem, it's also people not having an analytic apparatus for thinking about society.

        Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

        by Dauphin on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:54:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There are many useful subjects (14+ / 0-)

          But math, logic and critical thinking are fundamental skills that allow you to understand things like law, sociology and economics. They also allow you to understand when you are getting BSed by someone.

          Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

          by freelunch on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:27:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, but society follows its own (5+ / 0-)

            laws and has its own tendencies. Even logic and critical thinking won't necessarily ensure you know whether someone is full of claptrap. I've seen physicians, physicists and chemists advocate terrible policies because they lacked knowledge about society, and all the critical thinking and logic they had didn't help them. An analogy: Hardware is useless without software.

            Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

            by Dauphin on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:48:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with you. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Daddy Bartholomew, Dauphin

          I'm a senior Sociology student at a state university in New Mexico. I am also an older returning student with many credits in various social science areas and even Geology. I do believe that this broad spectrum of classes helps me view the world with different critical thinking skills.

          Sometimes a background in math and science fails to promote a wide world view. I have members of my family who are in engineering. They spout the Republican and Fox talking points. They have a narrow focused view of the world and can't think outside the box about social issues. They never took a social science class in school. But they are caring people and I was surprised to learn, a few days ago, that one sister thinks the Tea Party is composed of idiots! Maybe there is hope...

          •  OK, I can't help saying this, but (0+ / 0-)

            most engineers are NOT scientists. They are generally not trained in the scientific method nor do they focus overmuch on hypothesis formulation and testing when confronted with realities contrary to their wrote education and training. Engineers are, at least at the undergraduate levels, taught formulaic methods that have withstood the test of time and the obligatory level of mathematics required to utilize those same methods.

            My experiences with non-PhD engineers has been largely witnessing them doing a great job when within the confines of their engineering education, but then floundering quite a bit when creative thinking or hypothesis development as a precursor to novel problem solving is required. Engineers seem to be often quite conservative and often more religious than the scientists that I know.

            Yes, I know this is a generalization and merely my anecdotal experience.

            Life isn't a battle between good and evil, it's a battle between signal and noise.

            by ChemBob on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:27:09 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Very good,... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ChemBob

              you had a great perspective. I think you are spot on. I was thinking more about math and science courses, differential equations etc. I guess they are good formula thinkers...that explains it! We also came from an upper middle class family with two parents who met in graduate school. They don't understand poverty...they sometimes think it is laziness. Thanks!

        •  Economics (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mrkvica, orestes1963

          is useless (at least as it is taught today) -- the world insists on contradicting their theories, and economists keep wondering where the world got it wrong.

          Maybe if they taught non-autistic economics...

          42 million Americans on food stamps. Trickle down starts any minute, right?

          by tiggers thotful spot on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:23:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  The right and (6+ / 0-)

        the political establishment in this country have hated the idea of a well-educated citizenry at least since the Boomer generation. Which represented the best educated (and highest number that went to college) generation in history. That led to a lot of "radical leftist" activity on campuses across the nation, and that led to Kent State, general public disgust with foreign policy (Vietnam), and the downfall of Republican wet dreams pinned to Tricky Dick.

        Zbignew wrote quite the definitive treatise on the problem, about how this could never again be allowed because an educated, critically thinking populace wouldn't swallow Corpo-Political crap without gagging. So the restructuring of education bottom to top took place for the purpose of producing a population of mindless 'consumers' trained solely to perform like trained seals. It's also why working classes were no longer allowed enough income to provide college education to their children, why kids without independent means were funneled into lifelong debt if they dared go to college, and why the costs of college have risen far faster than the practically nonexistent inflation rate.

        They don't WANT educated citizens who can find Iraq or Afghanistan on a map, can parse words well enough to understand what's crap and what's not, or can understand basic mathematics well enough to see waste, graft and blatant fraud in government/banking. In the end, all you have to do is engineer a nice economic depression, throw a quarter of the citizenry out of work (most of them forever, to create a more diverse class of 'poor'), loot their pensions, slash the safety net, etc. If they're frightened, struggling day to day just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, they won't be causing any trouble for the Masters of the Universe.

        Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

        by Joieau on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:08:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wow, very good (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joieau

          extremely well put. At nearly 61, this coincides quite well with my observations over the last 5+ decades.

          Life isn't a battle between good and evil, it's a battle between signal and noise.

          by ChemBob on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:29:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Another benefit (0+ / 0-)

          of tying down students with outrageous debt is that it limits their movement.  They are most often forced into a servile position (sticking with an unpleasant job, etc.) because they cannot afford another path.  It's really insidious.

      •  It looks like it's more simple than that (3+ / 0-)

        Language, language, language!!! The best predictor of math skill in a pilot group of end of the year K kids was their ability to construct a grammatical sentence. I had 16 measures of language & literacy and that was by far the best predictor. (Manuscript is under review).

        Talk to your kids. Talk to you kids about 'School English.' "We say it this way in school." Make them use whole sentences. Make them write in whole sentences. Make sure you tell them that 'subtract' means the same thing as 'take away.'

        I'm a child language researcher, not a math teacher. But, as a child language researcher, it really bothers me that typically developing 2nd graders (middle-income) don't know 'mice' & 'children' are plural for mouse & child, respectively. They don't have a clue what I mean when I say, 'tell me a sentence.'

        •  I'm not sure I know what (0+ / 0-)

          'tell me a sentence' means.

          Do you mean "talk to me in whole sentences"?

        •  Math IS language. There is substantial research (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          happymisanthropy, speak2me

          to indicate that they are essentially the same thing, in terms of brain activity.

          If only there were some effective ways of making use of this in a classroom setting, instead of keeping them so segregated! Even in terms of grant opportunities - there's a tremendous amount of money available for STEM grants, but English grants? Or trying to write a grant for English/math collaboration? Much, much trickier.

          I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

          by Daddy Bartholomew on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:45:24 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  That's foolish (10+ / 0-)

      there's lots of good k-12 schools in this country.

      Just because we're failing too many students, doesn't mean we should condemn the majority of the education systems which is working OK.  In fact, there are rumors out there that China wants of emulate the "critical thinking" aspects of our educational system . . . .

      •  No there aren't. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        princss6

        Else my freshman courses wouldn't have been populated by 80-90% idiots.

        Basically the bright kids are merely the ones who were lucky enough to escape the ebil ebil clutches of the idiot factories. No factory is perfect - all produce a certain percentage of lemons. In the case of k-12 schools, a "lemon" is a non-idiot.

        I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

        by punditician on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:38:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You regard you students as idiots . . . (11+ / 0-)

          and it sounds like they're meeting your expectations.

          go figure.

          •  Only 80-90% of them. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Steven D, shenderson

            Regarding my expectations, well it underwent radical reconstruction after my second or so year of teaching. Had to match my expectations to reality.

            I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

            by punditician on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:47:37 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  imho (13+ / 0-)

              it's because uni is no longer left to people who want to be there.  college is no longer about the pursuit of knowledge and higher education; it is now regarded as a step on the way to a career.  so you get every idiot and his/her brother attending, because that's what you do, donchyaknow!

              i will never forget two episodes from my "knowledge and reality" class.  one was the class was discussing this one concept -- i don't remember that part -- and i piped up with an answer/explanation.  the guy who asked the question said something to the effect of "i was asking the professor, not you."  like, hellooo!  philosophy class...we freewheel the discussion all the time.  that's kinda the point!  

              so anyhoo, he came up to me after class and said "i'm sorry about that.  i didn't mean to offend you, but it's just i'm paying to study here and i'm paying to learn from the professor.  i can't learn anything from you."  i was all "d00d...if you can only learn from a paid teacher, i don't know what to tell you."  the kicker?  when the professor answered the question, he basically said the exact same thing i had!

              then there was the time we were discussing descartes' third treatise, and by "discussing" i mean "ripping it to shreds."  we were just destroying it.  and then little miss bimbo pipes up with "well, if he's wrong, why are we studying him?"

              * bangs head on desk *

              Judging from picturebooks, apparently Heaven is a partly cloudy place. - Rilo Kiley

              by Cedwyn on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:48:51 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The reason I prefer in person courses (9+ / 0-)

                to distance learning is that I learn as much from the other people in the class as from the professor.

                They ask questions I wouldn't think of asking, either because I know the answer, or it's a blind spot in my knowledge but either way the asking of a question I hadn't thought of teaches me something about the way other people are thinking and about the subject.

                "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -- George Bernard Shaw

                by Inspector Javert on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:42:49 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I agree that the classroom is the best, (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Cedwyn

                  however, I am finishing my degree online. It's is perfect for working adults, and most of my courses were taken in the classroom. We have discussions where everyone participates. I remember only a few people speaking in the classroom. I think more students feel free to express themselves in a distance learning class....or at least, they do in all the courses I am taking.

              •  I'm guessing you mean Third Meditation... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Cedwyn

                but yah to the experience you related. lols

                I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

                by punditician on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:43:09 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  yah...whatever he called them (0+ / 0-)

                  the one in which he "proved" the existence of god, but not without violating one of his own precepts first!  LOL

                  Judging from picturebooks, apparently Heaven is a partly cloudy place. - Rilo Kiley

                  by Cedwyn on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:34:39 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It's ok. Kant has his "Critiques"... (0+ / 0-)

                    Pascal had his "Pensees", Descartes his "Mediations" - all of those freaks had their own lookhowcooliamwithmyownoriginalthingma! going on.

                    lols

                    For Descartes though, it gets way cooler a bit later in time, when Newton absolutely rips Rene to shreds (vortex theory of the universe) in Book 2 of his Principia. Might be the greatest smackdown in intellectual history. The Russell-Frege brouhaha would be in the running as well.

                    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

                    by punditician on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 05:56:53 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not sure it's fair to blame K-12, (20+ / 0-)

          that seems sort of simplistic to me. We live in a culture of stupidity, where ignorance is no longer stigmatized. It's TeeVee and the consumer culture. Television penetrated 50% of American homes around 1954. We're dealing with 3rd and 4th generation television-heads, people who don't read, parents who put their spawn in front of the box at birth. Add to this a 30-year class war and it's hard to see how K-12 could do any better. Blaming the schools and, by extension, the teachers is simple-minded scapegoating.

          When a President goin' through the White House door does what he says he'll do, we'll all be drinkin' that free Bubble-Up and eatin' that Rainbow Stew - Merle

          by Azazello on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:49:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  And the paradigm of that culture of stupidity... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sparhawk, princss6

            is the mere existence of the education major.

            And I'm guessing you simply deliberately read over the part where I said parents are just as bad, just for the sake of getting your zomgteachersaretehawesomez outrage going.

            I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

            by punditician on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:57:32 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Bad guess, I saw that. (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mrkvica, gatorcog, ByTor, Anak

              I don't think you really understand what's going on here. A child's success in the early grades is determined before he/she ever gets to an "idiot factory". I'm not outraged at all, disappointed maybe, not outraged. You're aware, I'm sure, that your bullshit opinion could have come from any ditto-head. I keep tryin' to tell you people:
              It ain't that simple.  

              When a President goin' through the White House door does what he says he'll do, we'll all be drinkin' that free Bubble-Up and eatin' that Rainbow Stew - Merle

              by Azazello on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:10:10 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The predictable result... (0+ / 0-)

                of having idiots teach kids: kids turn into idiots themselves.

                As I have repeatedly said, and you have repeatedly ignored, that predictable end result almost certainly over-determined by other environmental factors.

                But change the rest of the environment as you wish - kids will still turn into idiots as long as idiots are permitted to teach them.

                I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

                by punditician on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:19:38 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Will you be offering a solution? (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mrkvica, ByTor, Anak

                  How do you propose that education be improved? What makes you better at teaching than those who do teach?

                  Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

                  by freelunch on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:37:23 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  hmmm. they probably turn into assholes, too, (6+ / 0-)

                  as long as assholes are permitted to teach them.

                  FWIW, I agree with much of your criticism of k-12 education, and the process that produces "certified morans", but ....man o man, I see so much of this attitude (i.e., my students are all idiots and my colleagues mostly morans).

                  However justified it may seem in light of the facts, I really don't think it's helpful for people with this attitude to be in the classroom, unless they're REALLY good at pretending they don't think 80-90% of their students and colleagues are idiots.

                  People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered: forgive 'em anyway. --anonymous

                  by b4uknowit on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:30:24 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  "unless they're REALLY good at pretending..." (0+ / 0-)

                    I only let the facade slip once in my 7 years teaching at a few uni's. It was pretty embarrassing, but I quickly moved on - shit happens.

                    It was actually pretty funny - was going over the previous night's homework problems for the first 10 or so minutes of class (as usual). I did one, and then a kid asked for another one which I started in on. While getting the 2nd problem rolling, one of the brighter kids piped up with "isn't that basically the same problem as the last one you did?", and unthinkingly muttered "they're ALL the same problem".

                    Then I looked up at the class and she (the bright kid) and a couple of others who were bright enough to comprehend what I'd said were looking at me with this aghast expression on their faces. And I was like "whoops that was out loud wasn't it?" in my head.

                    It really wasn't that big of a deal - I just apologized, made some self-deprecating quip, and moved on. Everybody seemed ok - no blood, no foul as they say. lols

                    But one slip in 7 years isn't a bad facade-maintenance record. And anyway, neither me nor my colleagues were mad at the kids themselves for not being able to do material meant for 12 year olds - we were really mad at their k12 teachers and the kids' parents for bringing about such a craptacular situation.

                    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

                    by punditician on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:19:49 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You keep saying the (2+ / 0-)

                      the parents and k-12 educational system are responsible for the kids being ill-prepared for college (I agree). What I find problematic is equating this "ill-preparedness" with "intelligence" or "brightness."

                      And it sounds like what you're most mad about is that you're getting "cheated" out of your profession as a professor--reduced to the mundanities of teaching material designed for 12 year olds instead of highfalutin' "college" level stuff.

                      You're right: most of them are coming to college hopelessly ill-prepared, but that does not mean they're "idiots" or "stupid"--it means THEY have been "cheated" out of the education they should have gotten before you got them. And if that means you have to teach rudimentary whatever...oh well.

                      If you have to put on a facade to make your students believe you believe in them, in their intelligence and their ability to succeed (under your direction), I doubt that you're fooling them.

                      If you really think they're stupid, they probably know that, and who knows? the feeling may well be mutual!

                      People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered: forgive 'em anyway. --anonymous

                      by b4uknowit on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:28:15 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Eh. Pedantic semantics... (0+ / 0-)

                        "Ill-prepared", "dumb", etc.. Whatever. Use whichever term makes you feel better - it all comes to the same. The kids can't think at a middle school level. If the lollipop terminology makes you feel better, rock on with it.

                        And there's nothing highfalutin about (actual) college-level material. It's merely the lol state of education today that would lead anyone to say such a thing.

                        But yah, obviously I could never be epistemologically well-placed enough to say for certain what they actually thought of me. Of course, no one is ever so well-placed as to be able to say what anyone thinks of them for certain. Not sure how much mileage you expect to get out of that rather prosaic fact. lols.

                        All I have to go by is what is presented to my senses - behavior in class or my office, teacher evaluations, kids recommending my classes to other kids, and all of that sort of thing. None of which makes it absolutely certain that you're wrong. (shrug) Such lack of godlike absolute certainty bothered Descartes, but not me, so much.

                        I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

                        by punditician on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 12:24:12 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  The problem is the university itself (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        b4uknowit

                        Universities who accept ill-prepared students are doing them and the society a disservice.  Can't we collectively agree that if you have not mastered basic writing skills and high school level math (which is not that sophisticated these days) that you should not be attending a university?  Attend a community college or get private tutoring.  

                        This approach would also apply pressure to the K-12 school system because parents will demand that their children get an education that will allow them to attend college.  

                        I confess I am a bit of an academic snob.  I find it insulting that we have college students who ask:  will this be on the exam?  and instructors who give multiple choice questions (and not the difficult, tricky type) or other fluffy exams.  As a side note- I know people who in Freshman English had vocabulary questions on their exam!  Outrageous.

                        •  I, too, am a bit of an academic snob. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          orestes1963

                          And I use the concept of "vocabulary" in the broadest sense in my classes at community colleges (where I work because I CHOOSE, not because I couldn't get a job anywhere else: believe me, if I wanted to, I could).

                          I've written about the problems with ill-prepared students here.

                          Yeah, it sucks, but whattyagonnado? Teach? Heaven forbid. A professor? Who's actually in it for the sake of teaching what needs to be taught? Perish the thought!

                          Here's the "vocab" list for my first session (tomorrow) at a community college.

                          infinite regress
                          first cause
                          rejoinder
                          doctrine
                          creatio ex nihilo
                          ferret out
                          empiricist philosophy
                          primacy
                          sensory experience
                          leap of faith
                          argument from analogy
                          ploy
                          Agnosticism
                          Hermeneutics
                          ambles
                          signify
                          beget
                          array
                          delve
                          metaphysics
                          existentialism
                          intelligent design (vs. evolution)
                          baffled
                          bewildered
                          teleology/telos
                          Aristotle
                          St. Augustine
                          Martin Heidegger
                          guru
                          post hok hokum
                          treatise
                          attribute
                          essential versus accidental properties
                          Socrates
                          omniscent
                          garner
                          Stoics
                          Nietzsche
                          at first blush
                          Leibnitz
                          Candide, Voltaire
                          Leonard Bernstein
                          take precedence
                          “principle of sufficient reason”
                          optimist/pessimist
                          infinity/eternity
                          relativity
                          analogous
                          free will
                          Isaac Bashevis Singer
                          “twinkie defense”
                          determinist
                          garb
                          Spinoza
                          Jonathan Edwards
                          process philosophy
                          Alfred North Whitehead
                          culminating
                          speculate
                          supersede
                          Occam’s razor
                          Isaac Newton
                          Rudolf Carnap/Vienna Circle

                          It works because I don't think my students are stupid; I just know that they are "ill-prepared". My job is to prepare them, after the fact.

                          The problem with most "academic snobs" is that they take it personally--and it's about their egos and what they envisioned their jobs as "professors" to be. But our damn job is not about us and parading our "superior" intellect before an admiring audience of hyper-prepared, hyper-"bright" onlookers. Our job is to teach what needs to be taught--by any means necessary, if need be.

                          And as far as I can see--whether you're talking community college or ivy league university--the need be there.

                          People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered: forgive 'em anyway. --anonymous

                          by b4uknowit on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:09:21 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Welll done (0+ / 0-)

                            I agree with everything you say.  My point was an, er, academic one, as it is unlikely that the standards will be raised at any level of education. Barring that revision, I think all teachers need to do their best to educate their students:  challenge them to think, compel them to explain their answers, expose them to a range of ideas, etc.  I may be an academic snob, but I am an avid proponent of a good education for all.  I was raised in a working class family (my father actually could not read).  It wasn't until I left that Jesuit school that I got an excellent education.  I want that opportunity for everyone.

                            Your vocabulary list is quite interesting and much more challenging than what I experienced at a private 4 year Jesuit university (I fled after one year).  The word I remember most was tepid.  My colleagues were shocked that I knew the meaning of the word.  I asked them if they were given vocabulary in high school as prep for the SAT.  They had been.  

                            Keep up the good work.  I have a great deal of respect for the work you do, especially in providing good instruction to needy students.

                  •  Basic respect (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    b4uknowit

                    is a requisite for every teacher in my view.  How can you teach students if you think they are idiots?  If that is the case, isn't your time better spent doing something more productive?

                    •  Works for me... (0+ / 0-)

                      Of course that would eliminate about 95% of kids who would go on to become education majors. lols

                      But that would be just fine, by my lights.

                      I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

                      by punditician on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 02:06:19 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  you're lucky you aren't submitting your (0+ / 0-)

                        posts to one of my (community) college English classes, because there would be ample room for improvement if you were! If you wrote the way you write here, you'd be a C student in my classes--and yeah, there would be specific "citations" pointing to violations of hard-core grammatical rules.

                        Would I be entitled to consider you "stupid" or just "ill-prepared" for a proper grammar class, like 101?

                        See what I'm sayin'?

                        People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered: forgive 'em anyway. --anonymous

                        by b4uknowit on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:12:42 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

            •  I always wondered... (4+ / 0-)

              ...what the point is of an education major.

              So; you now know how to teach people generic "stuff", but don't know any particular subject matter? How can you teach stuff if you don't know anything?

              (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
              Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

              by Sparhawk on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:43:29 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Precisely. And it's even worse than that... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sparhawk, princss6

                Education majors don't, for example, take math (full stop) classes - they take math education classes. They've basically created this entire world of non-knowledge for themselves. And they impart their nothingness to the kids. Which yields the predictable result.

                It should be noted that I commonly make a similar criticism of philosophy majors. If it were up to me, there would be no undergraduate philosophy major, but rather graduate-only. Point being: first learn an actual real topic: math, history, biology, physics, whatever. THEN go into philosophy.

                I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

                by punditician on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:49:01 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  get out of the classroom (5+ / 0-)

                  if you despise your students and fellow teachers.

                  Please,  do it for all of us.  

                  It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

                  by sayitaintso on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:06:21 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  God forbid... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...that someone has high standards and recognizes non-value-add activity.

                    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                    by Sparhawk on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:12:04 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Education majors (9+ / 0-)

                    Education majors are of limited utility. Pedagogy is not yet a science, and too much time is wasted in Depts of Education trying to treat it as science.

                    Instruction would be much sounder if teachers, especially those teaching Jr High and High School, had majors in real subjects (History, Economics, Physics). If Biology teachers had BAs and MAS in Biology to defend Evolutionary Biology rather than caving in to ignorant Creationists.

                    At my University Ed majors have significantly lower GPAs. Ed majors taking one of my Intro surveys average one to two grades below other students. I think this reflects the very low status accorded teachers in this country, as well as the lack of intellectual rigor in many Ed courses.

                    On more than one occasion I've had Ed majors complain about how "unreasonably hard" my course is by explaining, "I'm going to be teaching third graders. So why do I need more than a third grade understanding of World History?"  

                    •  They've sort of got a point (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      denise b, ByTor, Anak

                      They're going to be teaching 3rd-graders.  They probably don't need a MA level understanding of world history.  To just be functioning adults, they need more than a 3rd-grade understanding, let alone to teach the subject.  

                      "...the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." RIP Senator. We miss you.

                      by libdevil on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:42:15 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Ex nihilo, nihil fit (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        ChemBob

                        as they (and soon, the diarist's daughter) say...

                        I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

                        by punditician on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:45:12 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Teaching credential !=MA (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        mrkvica, LanceBoyle

                        You are required to spend two years to obtain a teaching credential for multiple subject teaching (teaching K-6), yet it's not equivalent to an MA, in that it doesn't require a thesis. It does, however, still require a two-year investment in pedagogy, along with hands-on teaching internship for... I forget how many hours off the top of my head now.

                        Educational school students seeking credentialing to teach multiple subject learners do have to invest two years into their work, yet are not required to study anything other than pedagogy. Education credentialing is most often sought after by return students who haven't looked at a GE educational pattern for sometimes 20 or 30 years. In my observation, this is not in the least bit atypical. Yet other than a multiple choice state administered test, no content knowledge is refreshed or required at all, no more than one class in math, or history, or political science may have been taken, and it could be thirty years prior to the appropriation of the credential.

                        States may vary slightly here.

                        But I know firsthand from many, many friends that the very best undergraduates who go straight into particularly multiple subject education credential schools often defect out of frustration with the singular emphasis on pedagogy and classroom management. In other words, the students who stay in tend to be far less invested in an actual academic topic in the first place. For a teacher at any level, that's inappropriate.  

                        "There are always two parties; the establishment and the movement." - Emerson

                        by mahakali overdrive on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:34:45 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  Yup. Their defense of stupidity... (0+ / 0-)

                      is the stuff of legend. Except that it's real.

                      GRE scores are another place to see it. The BRIGHTEST of the ed majors are the WORST of the GRE people.

                      And that test has been substantially dumbed-down even.

                      I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

                      by punditician on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:42:48 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  I can speak to this (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Sparhawk, mrkvica, LanceBoyle

                      At my University, at the undergraduate level, we have an education track in various majors to get around a certain test. It is widely acknowledged that this track produces students with a lower content knowledge and generally lower performance in their department.

                      In order to teach at a public school, in this state, you need further credentialing of one to two years through a school of Education, proper. You do not, however, have to hold a BA in your subject even if you plan to teach that subject. Moreover, the curricular focus in that credentialing program is solely on pedagogy, not on content.

                      Thus a student with a BA in say, Geology, that is twenty-five years old can enroll in the credentialing program, study one year of pedagogical practices, take a content-based State test, and then teach that subject (based on their passing a multiple choice test only) to junior high and high school students.

                      That is one place where I feel serious problems lie.

                      "There are always two parties; the establishment and the movement." - Emerson

                      by mahakali overdrive on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:24:20 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Try again. (0+ / 0-)

                      Instruction would be much sounder if teachers, especially those teaching Jr High and High School, had majors in real subjects (History, Economics, Physics). If Biology teachers had BAs and MAS in Biology to defend Evolutionary Biology rather than caving in to ignorant Creationists

                      They do. Secondary teachers have to major in the subject they are teaching as well as take a minor in a related subject. And to keep your certification, you have to take a certain number of college credits every year...either in educational theory or in your actual subject.

                      Wow...so much ignorant teacher-bashing from people who claim to be learned.

                      •  Inaccurate. (0+ / 0-)

                        In Texas, for example, you can get certified by majoring in "Interdisciplinary Studies," a euphemism for an Education major (used precisely because the latter developed a reputation of lack of rigor). A smattering of intro surveys from other disciplines is included in the IDS major, but just a smattering, and recently our IDS Department has scaled back its requirements in History because students complained the courses were too hard.

                        Those preparing for the certification test are discouraged even from from minoring in subjects like History or Political Science; they are instead pushed to minor in "Composite Social Studies," a shallow farrago of Intro-level surveys in various Social Sciences. Their subject mastery is a mile in breadth but an inch deep. The logic behind this: their improved "marketability." Such graduates can be more easily forced to wear multiple hats, teaching several different subjects (while coaching, of course). And the generality of their training makes it harder for them to bargain for higher salaries.

                        I'm not interested in teacher-bashing. Teachers are far too important. But in the US teachers are ill served by Education departments, with the result that they're very easily proletarianized and the profession is left unable to draw and retain talent.

                •  As part of my education degree (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mrkvica, on second thought

                  I took calc and stat. Not for education majors. Actual math department classes. I can't speak for all schools, but I was required to take actual math credits as part of my degree program.

                •  "Reading great thinkers is useless" (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  freelunch, mrkvica

                  and so are you.

                  Here's a concept that's new: no undergraduate should be allowed to graduate without reading Cicero's Rhetoric. A biologist or physicist who can't recognize a demagogue is more dangerous than a monkey with a handgun, and your preference is to arm the whole fucking jungle.

                  --- Perma-ban or bust. - opendna

                  by opendna on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:01:27 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  In the early years (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Anak, on second thought, orestes1963

                it's about child development and classroom management. The latter is not easy, you couldn't do it. It doesn't require a degree in math to teach 3rd grade arithmetic. It takes knowledge about how young brains develop and how to reach them. Do you really think we need math PhDs to teach elementary algebra, or that they would want to ?

                When a President goin' through the White House door does what he says he'll do, we'll all be drinkin' that free Bubble-Up and eatin' that Rainbow Stew - Merle

                by Azazello on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:23:58 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Re (0+ / 0-)

                  It takes knowledge about how young brains develop and how to reach them.

                  ...which requires knowing math (statistics, algebra, etc).

                  I would not want a teacher without a college-level math background teaching my kids anything (i.e. at least calculus and certainly statistics). Even early childhood people need this background. It would be very difficult for me to trust their credentials otherwise.

                  "I'm going to teach your kid, but I don't understand statistics or calculus, but I'll be OK, promise."

                  Sure.

                  (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                  Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                  by Sparhawk on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:48:24 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You don't know what you're talking about. (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Anak, anafreeka, on second thought

                    You believe that a college-level math background is required to teach phonics to kindergartners ? That's absurd. Why don't you save your wisdom for issues that you understand, if there are any ?

                    When a President goin' through the White House door does what he says he'll do, we'll all be drinkin' that free Bubble-Up and eatin' that Rainbow Stew - Merle

                    by Azazello on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:53:39 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Re (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      happymisanthropy, speak2me

                      You believe that a college-level math background is required to teach phonics to kindergartners ?

                      That's exactly what I believe. If you don't understand statistics, how are you going to be read literature about effective methods of teaching ("70% of students learned this fact after being taught using this method, but that might be correlation bias because of this other factor...")?

                      Secondly, the ability to pass college-level math courses tells a lot about your general skill set, work ethic, your own capacity to learn new things, and your capacity to understand what is going on in the world, all critically important skills for someone teaching young children.

                      If you expect to be entrusted with the awesome responsibility of having 15-20 kids under your care and having their early learning shaped very strongly by what you do and don't do, it is reasonable to expect that you have math skills.

                      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                      by Sparhawk on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:00:43 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I repeat, (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Anak

                             you don't know what you're talking about.

                        When a President goin' through the White House door does what he says he'll do, we'll all be drinkin' that free Bubble-Up and eatin' that Rainbow Stew - Merle

                        by Azazello on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:07:09 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Lolz (0+ / 0-)

                          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                          by Sparhawk on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:08:57 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  Kids benefit from being around the well-educated (5+ / 0-)

                          The correlation is very strong. It's not just genetics. Environment is extremely important. It's not just parents. The more highly-educated people in a child's life, the better the results for the kid.

                          That does not mean that all of the highly-educated need to be educated in the same way, but that having people who are educated and respect it will help children in ways we haven't completely identified yet.

                          Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

                          by freelunch on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:17:06 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  The ability to prove Chebyshev's Inequality (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            mrkvica, Anak, on second thought

                            is useless in a K-3 classroom. It is no easy thing to keep 20 kids paying attention and on task. So many critics of K-12 education don't really understand what the job entails. Oddly, this doesn't prevent them having strong opinions.

                            When a President goin' through the White House door does what he says he'll do, we'll all be drinkin' that free Bubble-Up and eatin' that Rainbow Stew - Merle

                            by Azazello on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:32:26 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Re (0+ / 0-)

                            The ability to prove Chebyshev's Inequality (0 / 0)

                            is useless in a K-3 classroom.

                            Other than the fact that you are someone who knows how to solve that problem, which implies that you have knowledge and discipline. Additionally as I point out above, the ability to read and understand statistics is critical when teaching those grades because you won't even be able to read scholarly educational material without it.

                            Ten times out of ten, I'd rather have that person than "math isn't my thing" or "I can't do math".

                            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                            by Sparhawk on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:38:40 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  1) It's not an either-or choice... (0+ / 0-)

                            between having actual knowledge and classroom-skillz. It is perfectly possible to have BOTH. (Well, probably not possible for education majors, which is the problem - lols.)

                            1. That dude or dudette at most knows the idiot's version of what Chebyshev had to say, and has no idea what a measure is, or what Jensen's ineq says, or anything relevant and real.

                            The number of k12 teachers who can intelligently answer the question "why do we multiply matrices the way we do?" is vanishingly small. And that's not right. And the problem generalizes.

                            I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

                            by punditician on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:50:25 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  K-12 teachers can't read the scholarly journals (0+ / 0-)

                            because K-12 schools can't afford the subscriptions to scholarly journals. Not that it really matters, mind you: The most influential statistical studies in education are basically fraudulent. Grant funding from testing corporations and text-book publishers has corrupted the field, and laboratory methods never work properly in a classroom environment.

                            --- Perma-ban or bust. - opendna

                            by opendna on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:08:42 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I once taught 2/3 graders in a university (7+ / 0-)

                            town. One Friday a month, some of their university parents would come in to teach a bit.

                            It was hilarious. They spoke to them like they were college students and after a few minutes--maybe 2 and a half--the kids just phased out and got fidgety.

                            No matter how much you know, you first gotta know how to teach age-appropriately.

                            Other than that, yeah, I agree with you that it probably was a good experience for the kids, even though they didn't learn much of anything about the subject matter.

                            For the US State Department and its allies, it is all a ruthless chess game, and every pawn matters. - Mark Weisbrot

                            by Anak on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:17:56 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  Sorrry for not having been more (0+ / 0-)

                          of a support for you yesterday against these two elitist imbéciles--I was on my way out of the house.

                          In any case, you provided me with some laughter when reading how these clowns responded to you.

                          Take care.

                          For the US State Department and its allies, it is all a ruthless chess game, and every pawn matters. - Mark Weisbrot

                          by Anak on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 02:44:30 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  You'd better be prepared (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Anak

                        to pay teachers a LOT more than they get now.

                        The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. --Bertrand Russell

                        by denise b on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 03:34:55 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

              •  Let me explain... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Daddy Bartholomew, Azazello

                "Education majors" are usually students who plan to be elementary school educators. They study educational theory (how little brains actually acquire knowledge), they study children's developmental issues and how to spot and teach them (dyslexia, for example).

                At the secondary level, you have to major in what you plan to teach and minor in another related subject. Many teachers have math-science degrees, or English-history degrees. My hs math teacher majored in Physics and minored in Calculus, for example. My Spanish teacher minored in French and could teach either.

                So there you are. That's their "purpose". Just because you know the subject doesn't mean you know how to teach it, or how to handle a classroom of 30+ students with different developmental needs.

                The subject matter is actually the easy part. Most teachers enjoy the subjects they actually chose to take into the classroom and try to teach, so that's not an issue. Learning to teach is actually the most challenging part of the whole business.

                •  x2 (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  on second thought, Azazello

                  Took me quite a while to learn how to teach, and I came from a background of doing one-on-one tutoring for GED and ABE. Much of that was in the context of a community college ABE center, so there were many, many students, but I worked with each student individually.

                  Going into an actual HS classroom? Totally different.

                  I will say that I benefited very, very little from the education courses I took. I learned to teach in the classroom. (Not that I did any damage to my early classes; they just didn't get as much as I could have given them a few years later.)

                  On the other hand, once I learned how to teach effectively, I was able to better appreciate and use the information and techniques from my education courses.

                  I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

                  by Daddy Bartholomew on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 12:03:36 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I agree somewhat... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Daddy Bartholomew

                    I can't say that I learned how to be a teacher in my methods classes. I learned how to teach in my classroom, in front of real students.

                    That said, I would say that teaching is like driving. Reading the manual and knowing the rules doesn't entirely prepare you for actually being behind the wheel, but there has to be a basic level of knowledge before you can begin the practicals. Likewise with Ed schools.

                    Which gets me to my other point: the main thing I like about ed schools is the internship. This is where student-teachers are placed in classrooms and monitored by both the supervising teacher and a representative from the college of ed to ensure they're meeting certain criteria. That's where teachers are made, and that's the real purpose of ed schools, if my experience is anything to go by.

            •  When a person becomes a parent... (5+ / 0-)

              I believe that h/she has an unwritten contract with society to raise that little person as best as h/she can so that the child can become a responsible, law-abiding, productive member of society.

              Of course, that's easier said than done, with parents working two jobs, etc.

              On one hand, as the father of a 9-year-old, I agree with your sentiments on parenting. I see so much bad parenting that it makes me want to cry.

              One small, seemingly insignificant example: I coach my son's Little League baseball team. One of the kids on our team didn't see to have much of an arm. No big deal, of course, but during a practice, he picked up the ball with his left hand (we assumed he was a righty because he had a righty glove) and threw the ball much better than he ever did with his right hand.

              The team's other coach and I looked at each other and laughed, realizing that the boy was a lefty.

              The boy doesn't have a father, and his mother doesn't appear to be on the ball, to be honest. So, you might say, what's the big deal about throwing a baseball? By itself, not much. But it makes you wonder: What other kinds of things is this kid missing in his development?

              Ideally, a child is raised by two loving adults who instill that child with good values and bring different items and interests to the table.

              "Ideally," of course doesn't happen as much as it should, and in no way do I mean to insult single parents. I have great respect for single parents, though I do question the sanity of people who choose to be single parents. When my wife goes away on business for three or four days, I'm ready to pull out my hair by the end of her trip. I can't imagine what a lifetime of being a single parent would do to me.

              It's hard being a parent, and our society doesn't seem to do much to help.

              •  My wife and I often wonder about this too. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mrkvica, BenderRodriguez

                Jesus, it's hard enough with two parents. I taught my son basic skills in every sport I could. We would encounter other kids in the park and it was distressing to see how many boys didn't know how to hold a baseball bat.

                When a President goin' through the White House door does what he says he'll do, we'll all be drinkin' that free Bubble-Up and eatin' that Rainbow Stew - Merle

                by Azazello on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:57:53 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  And how do you do that (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Azazello

                when you work ten hours, and have an hour's commute each way to get home? Even when both parents are there, if both are doing that, then it's going to be very hard to then second-shift into being a parent the way kids need, let alone do all one should do outside of school to maximize their time in school.

                It's a societal problem.

          •  Resistance (10+ / 0-)

            Some of my students invest far more energy in resisting study than pursuing study.

            My experience has been that there are two reasons for this.

            Some of my students were asked to do so little, were challenged so infrequently, in K-12 that when they enter University they just can't imagine being expected to do serious work.

            And some of my students have absorbed right-wing agitprop and embrace the market model of education: they think they're automatically entitled to good grades without any work because they've purchased educational product.

            Jared Loughner is a classic example of the latter. In his disordered mind Pima Community College was a "scam" and a suppressor of "free speech" because one of its profs had dared to give him a B on an assignment.

            We're going to be encountering more armed resistance to study, I guess.

            •  For me, it's so tiresome, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mrkvica, on second thought

              college teachers blaming their K-12 colleagues. How could it be that simple ? There are economic considerations, both absolute poverty and income inequality have effects, and huge cultural issues. Have you noticed the relationship between ignorance and certainty ? The less people know, the more certain they are in their opinions. The two commenters above are perfect examples. Not only does scapegoating school teachers play into the hands of the corporate/conservative elite, it is objectively wrong-headed, oversimple to the point of falsehood.  

              When a President goin' through the White House door does what he says he'll do, we'll all be drinkin' that free Bubble-Up and eatin' that Rainbow Stew - Merle

              by Azazello on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:49:26 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It's not scapegoating K-12 Teachers to (5+ / 0-)

                point out that they're underpaid, denied respect and autonomy, and ill-served by the inadequate training they get in university Depts of Education.

                My mother was a seventh grade teacher, and I saw how hard she worked and how little support she got. Job stress eventually gave her a stroke and killed her.

                •  I agree. (0+ / 0-)

                  Powerful forces are currently waging a War on Public Education. Forgive me if I took you for a soldier on the other side. Education cannot be "fixed" until the society as a whole is.

                  When a President goin' through the White House door does what he says he'll do, we'll all be drinkin' that free Bubble-Up and eatin' that Rainbow Stew - Merle

                  by Azazello on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:38:44 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  I was looking at my bookshelves last night (5+ / 0-)

            and the thought came into my head that one of my small bookshelves, maybe 45 books, contained more books than the average American will read in a lifetime.

            I got very very sad.

            Of course I'm also ready to divorce my wife because she records and watches Jersey Shore.

            "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -- George Bernard Shaw

            by Inspector Javert on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:44:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  add to the "pay no mind list" (6+ / 0-)

         Punditician is very set in the belief that teachers, education majors, students, parents, etc. are all unintelligent forms of life. All you'll get by arguing with Punditician is snark, demeaning comments, and blanket dismissals of any attempt to engage in a meaningful intellectual exchange.  Punditician’s comments seethe with a hatred of the education system with some unexplained origins that must have been very scaring. I’ve given up arguing with the taunts from Punditician and I can only vow to make sure none of my students leave my classroom so disturbed.

    •  There's a lot colleges can do. (5+ / 0-)

      Not much profs can do but try to salvage as many of the flaming balls of stupidity as they can.

      There are many things colleges can do right away to address these problems.

      For starters, they can beef up the core competency requirements for all liberal arts majors.  These often only require one basic course in mathematics, which kids will often postpone until their senior year---with no requirement for science, or logic, or history.  

      Colleges are naturally resistant to this, firstly because administrative offices are generally averse to getting into fights with departments, and secondly because they are trying to entice more and more people to come to college, and making it harder to pass is not consistent with that goal.

      Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

      by Caj on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:30:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica

        There are inevitable turf wars between departments when core curricula are redesigned.  The end result is typically breadth at the expense of 1) depth, and 2) the basic skill set, irrespective of discipline, that includes math, logic, writing, critical thinking, etc.  As a result, all of my classes at any level include remedial critical thinking and statistical literacy components -- and I teach at a selective private U.

        In Rand McNally, they wear hats on their feet, and hamburgers eat people!

        by cardinal on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:15:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was a TA at snooty private U for several years (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cardinal, mrkvica

          And I share your experience.  I initially thought the kids there were the best of the best the nation had to offer, until I had to read their papers.

          One of the reasons you'll get turf wars is that departments are already struggling to fit an entire major into 4 years; there is no time to squeeze in extra courses in "critical thinking."  

          If I worked at the Dean's office, I would solve this by taking some of the intro courses and making them really intensive.  Most college courses don't really require kids to study in advance of lectures or spend 3 hours a week on homework (although allegedly this is the standard assumed by academic affairs.)  Make intro to oral communications genuinely hard, for example, doubling the content to include debate as well as speech, and have daily homework on identifying rhetorical arguments.

          Then I would show the departments that my slate of megadeath courses would satisfy the college's core competency requirements in less time, and have the kids ready sooner.

          Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

          by Caj on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:35:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I was a TA at a public U (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            freelunch, mrkvica, eru, happymisanthropy

            Teaching stats. I had and have no interest in teaching, but it was something to pay the bills and gave me a tuition waiver to boot.

            I took it very seriously, and put a lot of time into preparing my material. Imagine my dismay when the most distressing part of the job was dealing with disciplinary shit (students texting, or reading the school paper). Here I am, a 23 year old grad student, trying to find ways to shame 20 year old business majors into paying attention. I told one that he is an adult, and there is no reason to act like he needed to be here- he could go anywhere else he wanted and text to his heart's desire.

            After seeing the caliber of work produced by business majors, it didn't surprise me one bit to see the financial crisis this country has gone through.

            The nursing students were generally very good though.

            Now where did I put my shot glass?

            by aztecraingod on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:17:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  asdf (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              saluda, mrkvica, eru, Pete Rock

              The nursing students were generally very good though.

              That's because nursing school is a professional school.  Unlike liberal arts students, who are basically like high school kids with more freedom, nursing students have the implicit understanding that they have to show up for class, prepare for it, and conduct themselves as professionals and adults.  

              Caj's better half is Portuguese, and apparently all college in Portugal is like professional school in the USA.  You are expected to take class as seriously as you would a 9-5 job, and the professor has broad, sweeping powers to flunk you.  You really do study all night and must be prepared for each lecture, and really be there on time every day and ready to spar with the teacher.
               
              This produces researchers with impressive skillsets and work ethics, who can do in one week what other people can't get done in a semester---although being Portuguese it still takes them like three goddamned hours to make their way out the door at the end of a dinner party.

              Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

              by Caj on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:28:30 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Recc'd for an original comment (0+ / 0-)

                geee, there are some places where college is mainly serious  development and structure for a student to become a skilled professional and not just a finishing school catching up on K-12 incompletes?

                cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

                by Pete Rock on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 12:07:46 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  You are right (0+ / 0-)

                in that the only place standards still exist are in competitive professional programs which lead to guaranteed high paying jobs (mostly health care). It is simply supply and demand. Those degrees are worth something becuase you can't get them just anywhere and the outcome is employability in the stream of health care dollars. Health care is a closed artificially supported economy that sucks in more wealth than most fields that employ huge numbers of workers. It is funded by mix of huge streams of government money and a deducted employment tax -- called premiums. And the demand is supported by regulation which keeps the free market forces at bay, allowing the professions to set their own terms. The professional certification or license is your ticket into that economy.

                Along with the top tier of universities, health care professional schools are in demand because they provide a degree worth something. The rest of academics finds itself in a buyers market. Students pick up on that quickly, and, in the American tradition, they aren't going to work if they don't have to. So, your school can make them study, but they will go somewhere else where it is easier if you try to control their effort with grades. Soon, you won't have a school. The other alternative is to give them credit no matter what they do, and you can stay in business and provide quality education to the few who actually want to learn and know how to work. State schools are every bit as beholden to the market forces as private schools. Their funding is almost always tied to enrollment.

                Students nowadays have been misled into believing that quality education comes from elite professors -- the rock star mentality. The problem is, it doesn't. Quality education comes from hard work by students. Students have many choices on where to go, and they will naturally take the path of least resistance. This voting which students do with their feet is the most powerful force controlling academics -- it affects the bottom line of all institutions except the most elite universities and the professional schools which lead to some kind of license that can be exchanged for health care dollars.

                Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't.
                Mark Twain

                by phaktor on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 12:43:22 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Aye... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              phaktor

              Of the majors with significant numbers of people in them, the bottom 3 in terms of intellectual horsepower are probably (starting with lowest):

              Education
              Psychology
              Business

              Note, however, that the financial crisis isn't the result of idiots breaking nice things, but rather the result of smart people stealing nice things.

              I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

              by punditician on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:34:00 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  logic (0+ / 0-)

        even the philosophy department shuns logic.  Well, not really.  They gave it to their best prof, but he did nothing but assign problems out of the book.

        Candidate Obama was right: When both parties serve the same side in the class war, voters may as well cling to guns and religion. Bitter since 2010.

        by happymisanthropy on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:43:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I disagree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica, happymisanthropy, speak2me

      the problem is that education in the US is a product to be purchased.  It is sold as a product by the universities which continually lower standards to ensure a stream of new customers.  And it is consumed as a product by dim-witted students whose only goal is get the piece of paper (the product) which will allow them to get a decent job (however naive the assumption may be).  

  •  "How is our children learning?" (11+ / 0-)

    Sounds as if it could be "gooder".

    "Education is dangerous - Every educated person is a future enemy" Hermann Goering (NRSC?)

    by irate on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:09:47 AM PST

  •  Let me guess (8+ / 0-)

    The 45% went on to get MBA's.

    Die energie der Welt ist constant; die Entropie der welt strebt einem Maximum zu. - Rudolf Clausius, 1865

    by xgy2 on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:16:51 AM PST

  •  maybe they (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steven D, Only Needs a Beat

    should teach it then

  •  it sounds like (9+ / 0-)

    we're raising a new generation of Fox viewers.

    The students, for example, couldn't determine the cause of an increase in neighborhood crime or how best to respond without being swayed by emotional testimony and political spin.

    There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.

    by puzzled on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:21:45 AM PST

  •  The fix is not that hard. (24+ / 0-)

    Kids should be reading 20 minutes each morning and perhaps another 20 after lunch.  They need to write daily.  They need to present in front of class frequently.  Even the not so bright ones can do these things. Teachers are fighting up hill battles because the school environments do not allow truely good teachers to teach.  Schools need to change the society of the school.  Things need to be not so entertaining.  Stop the shows, the movies, the wasted entertaining time. Go for reading, writing and listening.  That is just elementary schools.  Our high school's atmosphere is not about learning and the quality has nosed dived in the last 15 years.  

    blackandyellowblackandyellowblackandyellow...

    by tobendaro on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:23:22 AM PST

    •  Truer words (3+ / 0-)

      etc.

      "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

      by Steven D on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:24:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The hard part is "Think for yourself" (5+ / 0-)

      We do need to teach children basic learning skills, but we also need to teach them to think for themselves after they get done learning the information they need to be able to make informed decisions.

      There's no problem with entertainment. The EB and AT&T filmstrips and films were often the best educational tools I was exposed to in K-8. You'll be hard pressed to find a better science presentation than "Hemo the Magnificent". It's a bit dated, now, but more educational materials like that cannot be a bad idea.

      Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

      by freelunch on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:47:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Problem with that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica

        notion is how it gets translated for application. My kids' teachers (or their union mission) seemed to believe that teaching kids to "think for themselves" was as simple as not teaching or correcting for spelling or sentence structure. I couldn't believe the atrocious spelling that got by on their early grade compositions, usually those with a note next to the grade praising them for such great imagination.

        Daughter never would have graduated college if I hadn't insisted she learn to use spell-check, college professors were not likely to look kindly on students who couldn't spell 'from' and couldn't tell a verb from a noun.

        Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

        by Joieau on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:29:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  If only... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica

        Around here they show regular Hollywood movies so that the kids can have a break or I don't know what or why.  I am appalled at this trend as I didn't want my kids to watch any popular movies.  Showing a movie in school is the most ridiculous waste of time I can imagine.  Taking a nap would be time better spent than movie watching.

        blackandyellowblackandyellowblackandyellow...

        by tobendaro on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:53:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think the hyper-emphasis on (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sny, Stroszek, on second thought, Joieau

      computers is a problem, too.

      Yes, students need to learn how to function and embrace an increasingly technological society...

      But the same time--it's as if computers--and even calculators--almost lead rather than supplement education.

    •  and stop wasting money on computers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sny

      Kids have computers on home. Save the cash and hire better qualified teachers.

      •  great for the urban/suburban (5+ / 0-)

        districts in affluent areas.   Few students in those areas are without computers.  But you in rural and less affluent areas, you have consigned 30 to 40% of the students to no exposure to computers.

        That's the real problem in education, not that there aren't excellent schools, but that schools aren't uniformly excellent, and that disparity translates into perpetuation of racial differences in achievement and income, poverty becomes entrenched in certain areas, and all the factors that indicate academic success and income security become the possessions of a relatively small percent of the population when you consider the good and universal public education is a core requirement for a successful democracy.

        http://www.marketingcharts.com/...

    •  But if they do that, how can they learn how to (3+ / 0-)

      take the tests their schools are judged on and their teachers' continued employment is tied to?

      "The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you." - David Foster Wallace

      by John Shade on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:28:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Its like George Carlin said. Business wants (32+ / 0-)

    people educated to the level of being able to run a slurpy machine or something substantially more complex but not educated enough to actually question the status quo. and they've got it.

    When one reads Bibles, one is less surprised at what the Deity knows than at what He doesn't know. -- Mark Twain

    by voroki on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:26:12 AM PST

    •  If that were true, why are people at this mid-low (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk

      education level folks so heavily out of work right now, while job prospects for people with doctorates are waaaaaay better?

      I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

      by punditician on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:28:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Free Trade Apostles (10+ / 0-)

        have outsourced any job they can.

        "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

        by Steven D on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:32:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Because the few jobs that actually require real (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        denise b, ChemBob, happymisanthropy

        thought will of course go to those who are trained to do so. And as someone with a ph.d. the demand of which speak is localized to certain areas.

        When one reads Bibles, one is less surprised at what the Deity knows than at what He doesn't know. -- Mark Twain

        by voroki on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:36:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You don't think there's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica

        more than one possible cause for that?

        Perhaps some critical thinking skills would come in handy.

      •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

        The quasi-CT meme that businesses don't want people to be educated is ridiculous. "Businesses" are just collections of people, and it's hard to find good people these days. And those people are mostly educated.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:38:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Unemployment and underemployment in (0+ / 0-)

          scientific, engineering and technical jobs is really shocking. Do a survey of native born (US citizens) with degrees in various fields and in academia and you will see 30 to 35 % are working in their field 10 years after graduating.

          Non native born with US degrees are not comparable because in many cases they can return to their country of origin and find a job in their field and do.

          There is the awareness percolating thru high school guidance and even younger students of this new reality.  That translates into falling enrollment in those fields of  study for undergrads and grads.  There is even a preference among US companies to hire foreign grads or foreign students trained in US schools because they are more flexible about training and relocation, especially back to their home countries.

          No CT there at all, just the reality of the tsunami of depressing the headcount of US  born skilled workers who are now "overpriced" when so many others can be hired for less.

          cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

          by Pete Rock on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:58:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  so i guess i'm not sure how you know (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica, ChemBob, happymisanthropy, voroki

        PhDs are fairing any better. not in my field.

        "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan." final words of R Holbrooke

        by UTvoter on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:42:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Even in the downturn (0+ / 0-)

          Those with higher educational attainment have faired much better than those with only high school diplomas.

          There is still work out there for GIS specialists.  Not so much work out there for roofers.

          Now where did I put my shot glass?

          by aztecraingod on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:22:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  You don't think that it's part of the path to a (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy, RockyMtnLib

        doctorate that you not do too much to question the status quo?

        Nevermind, your logic doesn't follow. Does the majority of the population have a PhD? Can you really make sweeping judgments about the American education system based on the relatively small percentage of the population that have PhDs? Yeah, George Carlin was generalizing. That's kind of the point. Also, you know perfectly well that it's an old quote, and that many lower paying jobs have been farmed out overseas. That doesn't change the fact that it's in the best interest of the corporate run status quo to have a population that can't adequately analyze the sources of its own misery.

      •  Really? (5+ / 0-)

        I'll have to tell my Ph.D. friends about that. Most are tending bar or driving the ski shuttles.

        Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

        by Joieau on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:31:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  there are useful tools (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica, happymisanthropy

        and then the vast majority of people who need, to paraphrase former Congressman Grayson, to die fast.

        Too educated and you are the enemy to be demonized, marginalized and defunded.  Too uneducated and you need to be purged from the system by defunding of social support programs, including public schools, and funding prisons instead.

    •  I once had an HR VP tell me (28+ / 0-)

      "I don't want people who can think, I want people who will do what they are told".   I'm not kidding, I damn near went completely non-linear over that one.

      Die energie der Welt ist constant; die Entropie der welt strebt einem Maximum zu. - Rudolf Clausius, 1865

      by xgy2 on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:32:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've always hated that name too: "HR" (23+ / 0-)

        Human resources.  To me it says everything - humans are just resources to be used.

        At least when HR was called "personnel" there was a bit of dignity involved, now the workers are nothing more than resources.

        "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

        by blue armadillo on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:42:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We're strip-mining Human Resources in the US (4+ / 0-)
        •  did you hear about the committee name change (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mrkvica, ChemBob, blue armadillo

          the Labor Committee is being changed to the Workforce Committee.

          the focus is not on our labor, the focus is on the company owner's workforce...

          "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
          I support Bob Massie for US Senate

          by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:12:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I had not heard about that (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TrueBlueMajority, mrkvica

            I just feel like the entire psyche of the country is changing from a place of opportunity for everyone (with the possibility of a good and relatively pleasant life available, theoretically, to all - even those at the bottom of the work ladder) to a place were most of us are just cogs in a system that is designed to enrich the few at the top, while sucking the life, energy and wealth out of the mass of "worker bees"...or the American workforce, I guess.

            Am I being too cynical?

            "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

            by blue armadillo on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:36:48 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, that's the message exactly (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TrueBlueMajority

              Success, a comfortable standard of living,  and a decent life used to be an idealized hope or target for young people.

                    Nowadays  more than ever before the students are warned of tough times as permanent: be wary, prepare to accept less, take the approved courses (like Bus Ed) and hope you find a job, not a career because you can expect to be downsized and laid off or fired many times over a working career. That is the new reality.

                    Missing in this is the role of students' own efforts and studies to discover a purpose and way of life that will be satisfying and challenging.

                     The purpose of learning is not simply or mainly vocational, that is the thrust and emphasis our current  economic world puts on it.

                     There is far more to it than that, many places need their young people charging ahead and challenging to get somewhere and influence and accelerate positive changes in their lives and their society.

                     Dismissing or demeaning labor as just another commodity to be bought and sold or a product to be used up and tossed is typical thinking of those who plan to live off the labors of others and enjoy an unfair portion on the sweat and efforts of others.

                     Now even the Congress is getting in on the theft paradigm.  

                     Can't even credit labor as worthwhile, it is "workforce management" right out of the corporate training manuals.  

                      They want to do away with labor, cut out the committee completely and try to see how a nation without genuine laborers and workers stays afloat.  Outsource the skilled work overseas, do away with as many people as possible until those remaining quit in exhaustion and disparage all efforts at academic, scientific and "frills" like music and culture  courses of study.

              Pretty soon one will be able to collapse America just by breathing hard. There will be nothing left inside.  When are these insults and indiginities, nay outrages, going to get the pushback and beatdown they deserve?

              cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

              by Pete Rock on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:33:55 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Also, "Labor" sounds too left-wingy I guess. nt (3+ / 0-)

            "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

            by blue armadillo on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:37:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  "You're not being paid to think!" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica, esquimaux, happymisanthropy

        Always loved that one.

        •  I developed a standard response (4+ / 0-)

          at a blissfully former job.

          OK ... so next time I won't think. We'll see how you like those results.

          And I've noticed that people who say they don't pay me to think usually are paying me to think. Because lord knows they're too lazy to think themselves. That's why I didn't get fired for snarking.

          Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time. -- T. Monk

          by susanala on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:05:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Corporations HATE employees who have an (0+ / 0-)

        entrepreneurial bent.  They hate them because they can't control them.

        Companies at least hate them until said company finds it's hemorrhaging its guts out.  Then they pay top dollar to hire something called a turnaround specialist.  This turnaround specialist comes in, shakes up company management, and when the company is again profitable, they fire him and hire a new guy for half his salary.  That's okay, though.  There's always another company in trouble.

        Never meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer.--Bruce Graham

        by Ice Blue on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:20:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  US Has No Use For Education. When I Worked (12+ / 0-)

    in a liberal arts placement office in Reagan days, the stats were that business and engineering grads with similar majors got higher salaries out of the box, but by about 10-15 years out the liberal arts grads passed them for life because they were better rounded and able to advance into higher levels of management in their fields.

    Between the human resources revolution, information technology and all the mergers leading to giant companies, I have to suspect that that's probably come to an end by now. It certainly seems that there's a lot more interest in pure business education than there used to be.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:01:09 AM PST

    •  Technical skills are everything today (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Caj, Ice Blue, Betty Pinson, MGross

      Computer programming, engineering, chemistry, mechanics, medicine, physics: the way you get ahead in 2010 is by having deep technical knowledge of one or a few subjects, and general shallow all-around technical knowledge (e.g. doctor who knows how to use a computer).

      It is highly unlikely that anyone without actual technical skills in today's economy will be successful. I am shocked at the number of communications, women's studies, education, etc etc majors who pay $100k or more for the privilege and will not be able to get a job when they graduate, or if they do get a job they will be terrified of losing it.

      In today's economy you need to bring something to the table, and "I'm a well-rounded self starter" doesn't cut it anymore because you're competing with thousands of people just like you.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:48:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  true (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, ChemBob, Betty Pinson
        problem is, how many jobs are even out there for such skilled people, a handful at best.

         Let remember only 28% of americans even have college degrees of any kind.

        Bad is never good until worse happens

        by dark daze on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:52:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Re (0+ / 0-)

          If everyone had advanced degrees, compensation for even Target checkout clerks would be much higher (relatively) because all the checkout clerks would need to be compensated enough to make it worth taking that job versus a "real" job.

          But generally I see your point, especially from the POV of a person who spends most of my time working on automating work out of existence.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:58:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not really (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mrkvica, denise b, Pete Rock

            Only a fraction of jobs actually require a four-year college education; if everyone had advanced degrees, you'd just have Target checkout clerks with massive student loan debts and the same paychecks as before.  They wouldn't need to be compensated extra to keep them from jumping to a "real" job, because those jobs are filled by other people with advanced degrees.

            This is one of the reasons why "college for all" is such a bad idea.  It would amount to a massive soaking of the next generation, on the false promise that 100% of the population will land in the top 10%.

            Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

            by Caj on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:15:48 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's not that Target clerks... (0+ / 0-)

              ...would make a lot more (though it would be moderately so), it's that other advanced degree holders would make less (or risk losing their jobs to an equally-qualified person itching to get out of retail).

              The net result would be more equality. As it is right now, an MSEE's job isn't threatened in any conceivable way except by other MSEE holders.

              (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
              Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

              by Sparhawk on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:21:12 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  But there are a lot of MSEE holders. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mrkvica, happymisanthropy

                Right now, we have far more advanced degree holders than we have jobs requiring them.  There is no shortage of masters degrees in EE.

                In fact, we now have an unbelievable glut of PhDs in EE, to the point that the odds of getting a faculty job are about as remote as you get in classics or philosophy.  

                Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

                by Caj on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:40:38 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  It depends... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica, denise b

        I'm a well-rounded self-starter with a Liberal Arts (History - British History) degree and a couple of other random degrees, now studying theology. I work in high tech at a Fortune 100 company, where my work is sufficiently valued that when I asked about succession planning, figuring I'd leave to undertake theology studies, they asked me to stay. I'm now figuring out how I'm going to juggle it all, but I have tremendous support from the company.

        Having said that, everyone knows it's rather unusual, but they also know that they don't want to lose me. I can write, I can communicate, and I can work with very disparate constituencies within the company (and now within my discipline in industry) to find solutions to wicked problems.

        Technical skills are a dime a dozen in a lot of areas, and can also more easily be offshored and outsourced. Critical thinking, writing, and technical skills - much more valuable. It's also a lot easier to teach people the technical stuff than it is to teach adults to think critically.

        "I like to go into Marshall Field's in Chicago just to see all the things there are in the world that I do not want." M. Madeleva, C.S.C.

        by paxpdx on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:05:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          paxpdx

          I worked in IT and wasn't that impressed in general with the analytic skills of a lot of the people I worked with. Give me a good English major any day for many, many things.

          The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. --Bertrand Russell

          by denise b on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 03:49:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  In my experience as an anthropology TA (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joe Bob, cardinal, mrkvica, John Shade

      in a large public university, it's the professors fault for being too lazy to teach their courses with the appropriate writing component. Much easier to give multiple choice tests, or even essay tests, than make students write papers and then take the time to grade them. Focus on spitting back material instead of digesting and interpreting it.

      This university also eliminated the freshman writing requirement and instituted this alternate one that required an "intensive writing" class instead. This means that the professor is just required to assign a paper to those students. I never saw any effort to guide the writing process the way an English course does.

      Now empirical evidence supports my frustrations, but I feel no satisfaction in being vindicated.

      •  Agreed, though (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica, betson08

        I think "laziness" is a bit unfair.  The institutional incentive structure is so heavily weighted against teaching at large public universities that it's downright irrational to spend the extra time grading writing assignments.  

        That is one advantage that small liberal arts colleges have.  I went to a decent but not super-selective private college in California, and I did more writing in each class, every semester, than my father did in 4 years at UCLA (no joke).  As a professor at a similar college now, I expect the same of my students.  Unfortunately, even with our extremely generous financial aid, such colleges are out of reach for most high-school students.  

        In Rand McNally, they wear hats on their feet, and hamburgers eat people!

        by cardinal on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:23:12 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, laziness did apply to many of them (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mrkvica

          -- and they have have mostly retired or left for other jobs since I was observing how they taught their classes. In some cases it was the professor not being a good writer, and therefore not very concerned about whether the students were either.

          The weight against teaching is a more general problem, even for the newer ones who have more energy.

      •  I don't think it's laziness (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrkvica

        I was a TA in classes like urban planning and environmental design, both of which required students to write papers. To put it kindly, the writing frequently fell short of what is recognized as standard written English.

        However, I never had a mandate from the professors to give D’s or F’s for bad writing. Likewise, the professors didn’t really have sanction from the department to flunk students for bad writing. Their job was to teach their subject matter. If I or the professors seriously took a red pen to student papers, and graded accordingly, I have no doubt that someone in the Dean’s office would have sat us down to ask what the hell we were doing.

        In a similar vein, if you look at the constraints TA’s and adjunct faculty are typically given in terms of time and pay it’s not reasonable to expect them to basically teach English composition concurrently with their real class. Also, I think the problem is worst at large universities. In a small liberal arts college you can establish benchmarks like "All students will write well." and make it work in every department.

        Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

        by Joe Bob on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:49:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agree with most of this (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joe Bob, mrkvica

          I agree that it's not reasonable to make people teach basic English composition. But not paying attention to student's writing at all, in terms of not failing them for not being able to express themselves in writing (OK not flunking them for the course, just the assignment), is really doing them a disservice. What I saw was this attitude of "it's not my job," and I would like to argue that it is their job. It's part of the educational experience that they're supposed to be contributing to. I myself went to this same public university in the 80s and the professors made much more of an effort to get the students to write than they do now.

          I know I'm a voice in the wilderness on this, but the research from NYU shows what happens when not enough professors taking a more holistic view of teaching.

          •  whose job it is (0+ / 0-)

            Part of what I was trying to convey was that, in my experience, it was not TA’s and faculty saying "It’s not my job." It was people at higher levels saying "It’s not your job."

            In other words, at an administrative level there was no appetite to give students in technical disciplines failing grades because they couldn’t write. In practical terms, this meant that a poorly written paper that nonetheless showed understanding of the subject matter might get a C. Whereas, in an English class, the same paper should get an F.

            Meanwhile, one can’t totally disregard how little TA’s and adjuncts are typically paid. If I had taken the time to correct everything that needed correcting in the papers I graded my net hourly wage would probably have been around $6/hour. I agree that a holistic approach is preferable but achieving that can’t rest on the altruism of those providing the education.

            Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

            by Joe Bob on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 02:01:35 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  student writing (0+ / 0-)

            I teach at a large public university, run on the quarter system.  I realized my first year that given their unfamiliarity with my subject, my first-year students were not prepared to write a research paper in my class (the first part of a two-year survey).  So I changed the standard assignment, to require them to write at least a page each week in response to a specific question.  I figured, one page a week for ten weeks produced ten pages of prose.  This approach doesn't allow for thinking through a larger project, but as I said, they are in a required two-year survey course, they will have that experience very soon.  And I can flag any students who have real difficulty with written work at the beginning of their major, and send them to tutoring, etc.

            Professors aren't necessarily "lazy" if they don't assign written work.  There are many many institutional constraints on deciding what to assign, even before you get to the time commitment of grading the papers that students write!

    •  still true to some extent (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica, denise b, speak2me

      One of my undergrad majors was English. I went on to get a graduate degree in architecture and was a TA for several undergrad and graduate level courses. This was at a large state university.

      In the classes that had any significant writing component, I was frequently appalled by the quality of the writing. With the undergrads I quickly stopped being surprised by it and came to expect just about anything. With the graduate students, the worst ones were typically those who took the vocational approach, i.e.: went straight from an undergrad architecture program into the professional degree program. No matter what your undergrad major was, everyone should be able to write a 10-page paper or report in standard written English that can clearly convey information. Based on my experience, that’s asking a lot.

      In years past, I think a lot of people with technical educations succeeded because they had literate admin assistants to keep them from sounding like idiots on the printed page. My impression is that these days professionals are expected to fend for themselves to a greater degree, and there isn’t the same level of support. So, I think there’s still hope for the well-rounded individual.

      Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

      by Joe Bob on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:22:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lack of knowledge of world history makes (17+ / 0-)

    it easy for people to be taken in by shabby conspiracy theories about immigrants and "foreign" religions. Just consider all the utter bullshit that was so widespread about the "ground zero mosque."

    For relevant sci-fi and fantasy, go to http://www.betty-cross-author.net/

    by Kimball Cross on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:26:08 AM PST

  •  its everywhere (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FishOutofWater, speak2me, RockyMtnLib
    its not just education, look at the entertainment, its dumbed down, and more importantly, the music.  Music is important for young kids, music and musicians can help shape minds and even fuel social revolutions, look at the crap we have today.  Its mouseketeer johny Bravo "he fits the suit" shit, and total sell out materalistic worshipping hip hop and rap garbage.

    Compare that to the stuff of the 60s and 70s.  

    Bad is never good until worse happens

    by dark daze on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:48:28 AM PST

  •  Heh. I do learn critical thinking. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geenius at Wrok, mrkvica, betson08

    I'm a math freshman. If I couldn't think critically and structured, I'd be completely lost. It's not really taught though, it's more swim or sink.

    Support Dennis McDonald and Montana Democrats in the 2010 election!

    by twohundertseventy on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 06:52:48 AM PST

    •  And how many of your profs require (0+ / 0-)

      you to write term papers, or even essays in those non-math courses? Is there a Freshman writing requirement? If none of the above your university is doing you a serious injustice.

  •  High School (6+ / 0-)

    is actually the proper time to teach those skills, or more precisely, the entire k-12 arc, culminating in high school.

    Someone without those skills would just be wasting their time going to college.

    •  Indeed, there is little time in college for it. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alexandra Lynch

      Departments have a hard enough time scheduling all of the courses necessary for a graduate to have all the major-specific skills they're supposed to have.

      Students need to be able to read, write, compute and think well before they come to college; if they can't, then arguably they should flunk.

      We're particularly sensitive to this in engineering, because to fit in all the coursework, the students must take calculus in their first semester, if they don't AP out of it.  Engineering majors have the highest flunk-out rate in Calc I, because people in other majors can take it later, and are more likely to withdraw if they bomb the midterm.

      Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

      by Caj on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:46:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Education is what adults make of it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, Ice Blue, Alexandra Lynch

    Want Johnny/Jane to do better in school?  Well, Mom & Dad -- what are you prepared to do?

    Want better paid teachers?  Well, taxpayers -- are you willing to pay much higher taxes?

    Want your kid to attend a better college?  Well, Mom & Dad -- are you willing to be the hardass to drive an expected level of achievement?

    Want your college kid to get the most of the college education?  Well, Mom & Dad -- are you willing to pay for a more competitive school instead of a mediocre state school?

    Want your college kid to be prepared to be employable after college?  Well, Mom & Dad -- are your hands-off-now allowing your college kid to major in an unmarketable humanities degree, pulling in Bs & Cs?

    Success in education is all about example and hard work.  The top undergrad and grad programs are research institutions -- which is all about hard work.  They do not exclusively want the brilliant kids, they want the smart kids who has shown a capacity and a willingness to work, and to work hard.

    Unfortunately, our education system from k-12 to 4 year colleges has become a reflection of the convenient, self-esteem building lifestyle to which the taxpaying/bill paying parents believe their children are entitled.

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect -- Mark Twain.

    by dcrolg on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:14:26 AM PST

  •  Programmable Idiots & Cowards Are Always (3+ / 0-)

    in demand.

    In fact, they're overwhelming preferred by employers in corporate American and government.

    They're easily intimidated from asking for more compensation or better working conditions.

    They're afraid of losing their jobs if they try to organize so they hate labor unions.

    They would NEVER even think of questioning their employers let alone actually do it.

  •  For a lot of students now (15+ / 0-)

    College is a vocational school.  Business.  Pre-med.  Engineering.  Pharmacy.  Computer science.  These are too often about learning how to perform a specific task, and not about learning how to think.  It's not the case that you can't study any of those subjects and emerge a well-rounded person, but many of the faculty and, more critically, many of the students don't care about anything but the vocational aspects of the program.

    Traditional liberal arts are taught differently.  Even the hard sciences are taught differently.

    In part, insufficient preparation at the high-school level is to blame as well.  Most 'vocational' majors do end up taking some sort of liberal arts classes in college.  But they don't value those courses, and aren't properly prepared for those courses.  Which, in turn, leads to those introductory level courses to be taught at what is effectively a high-school level.  For not particularly bright high-schoolers.  The classes are incredibly boring and don't provide much opportunity for critical thinking on the subject.  Which reinforces a vicious cycle wherein the 'vocational' majors hate those courses and extend that hate to the whole subject area, the whole of liberal arts, and thereby miss out on the skills that liberal arts courses teach.

    The single worst course I took in college was a history course, covering from the Industrial Revolution through the Civil Rights Era, in America.  But there was no discussion.  No analysis.  No asking of why or how; just what and who and when.  With at least 5 minutes of each 50 minute class session taken up with roll-call attendance.  I could have learned as much about American history with an hour to look over a 10-page list of bullet points as I did that entire quarter.  There's no excuse for classes like that at the college level, but lack of preparation in high schools necessitates them.  Taking a higher level, more interesting history course wasn't an option, because I hadn't met the prerequisites.  No wonder so many people, even college graduates, are turned off by the liberal arts and sadly lacking in the skills taught by those disciplines.

    "...the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." RIP Senator. We miss you.

    by libdevil on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:21:07 AM PST

  •  Civics (7+ / 0-)

    When I was in the 3rd through maybe the 7th grade, I took Civics classes.
    I no longer see this. When I was teaching at risk middle schoolers a few years back, I came to realize that there was not one class that concerned government and civic structure. Sad.

    oh, and ps: As always, thanks for the Rec on my first diary back in 2006. Helped keep me around.

  •  College is seen as a rite of passage or just (5+ / 0-)

    something to do. It's where you go to get drunk in between high school and real life. Many of the people who take it "seriously" actually take their GRADES seriously and will do anything short of learning the material to get good grades.

    Here's to our last drink of fossil fuels - may we vow to get off of this sauce. Shoo away the swarms of commuter planes...and find that train ticket we lost.

    by terra on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:35:29 AM PST

    •  From someone who has been teaching since (6+ / 0-)

      1992, I'd say there's a kernel of truth there, but I know for a fact that you're not describing maybe 40-50% of my students, and I teach at a public state university.

      About 40-50% are just as good as the students from previous eras, and I'd say they probably work a lot harder than students from previous eras, are just as smart if not smarter.

      My knock on them is that they lack the literacy skills that we had, and perhaps are deficient when it comes to an imagination. But that's how they've been "trained."

      Smarter, harder working kids than my generation, not as literate and perhaps, not as creative.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:47:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Also, college sports (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      betson08, Ice Blue, MGross

      and the belief in the US that everyone should go to college.

      So, it doesn't surprise me that:

      Forty-five percent of students made no significant improvement in their critical thinking, reasoning or writing skills during the first two years of college.

      And I would say this actually sounds good, considering what college means in this country:

      After four years, 36 percent showed no significant gains in these so-called "higher order" thinking skills.

      For the US State Department and its allies, it is all a ruthless chess game, and every pawn matters. - Mark Weisbrot

      by Anak on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:04:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is a tabu subject (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Anak

        At best, you might be able to get people talking about students who aren't interested in going to college, but you'll never hear them talking about how many people are capable of doing college-level work - or what used to be considered college-level work. Easier to turn college into very expensive remedial high school.

        The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. --Bertrand Russell

        by denise b on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 03:57:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I frequently have students admit (6+ / 0-)

    That they read about 15 pages an hour.  And they wonder why they're required to take my class.

    (I teach at a flagship state school)

    "If you can't lower heaven, raise hell!" - Mother Jones

    by al ajnabee on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:36:41 AM PST

  •  I read a survey of LSAT results by college major (10+ / 0-)

    guess what was near the bottom? Business Administration. And, interestingly, Pre-Law, but that might be a self-selection bias there (you think you might have trouble getting into law school so you major in pre-law).

    Here's  a blog about it. English did OK. Economics was near the top, but that's a very small major in most campuses, and probably attracts a certain crowd.

    http://legalblogwatch.typepad.com/...

    To me the biggest problem with college today lies in the expansion of Business Administration programs, and the use of these programs to "park" students who frankly have no interest in higher learning (could also explain those numbers a bit).

    •  It is a real problem (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      decembersue, mrkvica

      but in this environment, nothing can be done about it. try attracting "customers" to your school in an environment where budgets are being slashed by telling parents there are no pre-pro programs.

      At PayScale.com, it shows that Philosophy and English majors earn more than Business majors throughout their careers.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:48:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  that has been true (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eru

        forever I think...liberal arts majors earn less early on, but tend to do very well over the long term.

        Even an English major dropout, Bill Gates, managed to earn a few bucks...

      •  As well they should. (0+ / 0-)

        Undergrad business degrees are basically where they stick the people who couldn't cut it in a real program.

        •  That's pretty snotty (0+ / 0-)

          Nobody "sticks" them there. They enroll themselves because they think it's a good idea. A business degree makes possible white collar jobs, which are mostly only open to college grads these days.

          The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. --Bertrand Russell

          by denise b on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 04:09:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, well, I have an axe to grind. [n/t] (0+ / 0-)
            •  Which is what? (0+ / 0-)

              I am actually interested.

              The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. --Bertrand Russell

              by denise b on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 10:21:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think the axe sometimes being ground is that (0+ / 0-)

                schools try to keep up with the Joneses by deliberately lowering their standards.

                One way to alleviate the logjam between high tuitions at state schools and students who can't graduate on time would be to lessen the demands of the curriculum. That way, kids get out in 4 years and save money, causing less dysfunction within each department.

                So, everyone is happy. The cost: knowledge suffers.

                Schools are trying to do everything they can without gutting the curriculum. That's the last straw. In many ways, some of the pre-professional programs seem to be exactly that, a way to lessen standards.

                There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                by upstate NY on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 10:49:47 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Do you mean keeping up with the Joneses (0+ / 0-)

                  in order to attract enough students?

                  Colleges are responding to conditions outside of their control. If we push more and more people to go to college and they are less and less prepared in high school, college has to turn into something more like high school - and it has to a certain extent. Even 35 years ago when I attended community college more than half the classes offered were remedial high school. My junior high school was more demanding and rigorous than community college.

                  I don't see any way that this doesn't continue. Back when most people stopped school at 8th Grade, high school was more demanding than it is now and the degree was indicative of something. It's always struck me as somewhat ridiculous to push this same situation out to college while we still haven't succeeded in getting everyone a high school education. Shouldn't we try to do that first, before we say that everyone needs to go to college? Shouldn't we establish that we can do it first?

                  Meanwhile, can't blame the colleges for having to adapt to the situation.

                  I heard some talk about changing the BA to 3 years to improve graduation rates. Personally, I think the universities and colleges have limited responsibility for raising graduation rates, and if we hold them responsible as many seem to want to do, we pretty much guarantee that academics will suffer even more.

                  A college degree will definitely keep being worth less and less in the future. It's unavoidable.

                  The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. --Bertrand Russell

                  by denise b on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 08:05:01 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Standards are higher than they used to be (0+ / 0-)

                    Not lower.

                    Demographics are such that the population has increased, as has the college aged population. But universities have not expanded. That means it's HARDER to get into college these days, not easier. Practically every large state university has experienced a huge increase in applications and the scores of its incoming class. This is what happens when more bright kids want to go to school than ever before while we cut funding. Fewer spots.

                    I say this as someone who recognizes that my students are more exceptional than my peers when I was in college.

                    It's a case of pure demographics. More students + no increase in admissions = a rise in student capability. And on down the ladder from the top state schools to community colleges. Community colleges are literally exploding at the seams when it comes to the number of students they must service.

                    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                    by upstate NY on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 08:16:34 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  What you say about the caliber of the students (0+ / 0-)

                      is the exact opposite of what my friends who teach have been telling me.

                      The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. --Bertrand Russell

                      by denise b on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 09:11:21 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Well, all I can say is that your friends maybe (0+ / 0-)

                        went to a higher caliber school than wherever it is they are teaching (which is common) because the facts don't lie.

                        The size of freshman classes haven't increased.
                        The number of applicants has skyrocketed.
                        Demographics tells you we simply have more American than ever before wanting to get into college.
                        Plus, more people that used to be able to afford a private education are going public now.

                        Pull all four factors together.

                        That doesn't mean that this study is incorrect or that students lack literacy skills of the past. It just means that, by comparison, the students who are lacking, are not going to flagship universities.

                        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                        by upstate NY on Thu Jan 20, 2011 at 10:15:24 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

  •  It's not the school - it's the person (0+ / 0-)

    now that there are no requirement to get into college - a ton of lazy people go there for a 4 year vacation.

    What they don't tell you is we're these over or under achievers in high school.

    By making college available for all (without qualifiaction) you de-value higher education.

    The only thing that should not stop someone going to college is money.  Maybe if we were not financing the flunkies, then we could afford to send the truly deserving to college.

    But again - too much money in education so this is the result.

    The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

    by ctexrep on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:37:39 AM PST

    •  what do you mean "without qualification" (5+ / 0-)

      colleges are actually more competitive now than they have been for some time due to the large number of students.

      There are many lower-tier colleges out there that take students with a 2.5 gpa or above, but there is no evidence of slackening admissions standards. As an example, my alma mater, a small Oregon liberal arts school, is about twice as competitive now as it was when I was there in the early 90's. That's typical of private schools, and growing more typical of public schools.

      •  I mean without qualification (0+ / 0-)

        C students get into college.

        Then we're surprised that lots of kids don't learn anything in college.

        If you're a C student, then you should have to take a 13th year and get your act together.

        If you let everyone go, what's the point?

        The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

        by ctexrep on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:38:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  they don't let "everyone go" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pontechango

          a C student has passed their classes. Most colleges won't actually take a C student anymore, see my comment above, but those that do aren't doing anything wrong, C is defined by a passing grade.

          This isn't Lake Woebegone, is it?

    •  Student loans mean anything to you? (2+ / 0-)

      You can be lazy and pay your way entirely through college only to find yourselves in debt afterwards.

      And the laziest students are always the trust fundees whose parents finance their way through school

      We meant to do better, but it came out as always. -- Viktor Chernomyrdin

      by pontechango on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:49:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Students should have the opportunity (9+ / 0-)

      I had a 2.1 GPA coming out of High School - got a 3.75 in my Master's program.  High School GPA is not a predictor of college success.

      The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

      by jgkojak on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:10:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're by far an exception (0+ / 0-)

        if you knew that you couldn't get into college if you only had a C average out of High School - would you have worked harder?

        The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

        by ctexrep on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:40:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not me. I guess I'm also "an exception" (3+ / 0-)

          What you don't understand is that high school kids don't always have a concept of their own future.

          A college education is actually a valuable investment in the fabric of society.

          But I get it, you don't give a flying fuck about "lazy" kids.

          We meant to do better, but it came out as always. -- Viktor Chernomyrdin

          by pontechango on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:43:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That about sums it up (0+ / 0-)

            somewhere along the way, you need to be accountable - if you're lazy, you're no use to society.

            The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

            by ctexrep on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:52:03 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ah yes, right wing social darwinism in a nutshell (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mrkvica, happymisanthropy

              I see that you have no concept of the fact that Pell Grants and the like are used to help the economically disadvantaged.  You know, kids that do no start on the same level ground that others more privileged do.

              And that money is probably the best investment that the Federal Government has ever made in terms of keeping skilled workers in the economy, reducing crime, and building the "American Dream".

              Quite simply, f you care about low income people having a chance to boost their livelihoods, then you believe in the public financing of higher education.

              We meant to do better, but it came out as always. -- Viktor Chernomyrdin

              by pontechango on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:05:00 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Economically disadvantaged is not lazy (0+ / 0-)

                to suggest so shows your bias....I bet you think poor people are dirty too.

                Lazy comes from all socioeconomic catagories.

                I have no problems funding education for kids who are willing to do the work.

                I have zero tolerance for spending money to provide an opprtunity that is not taken advantage of due to willful neglect.

                Show me a child who wants to learn - is willing to do the work and has proven this though the 12 year of opportunity afforded to them, an I don't even think they should be loans - college should be 100% taxpayer funded.....and if you're not providing funding for those whoare not deserving, then ther would be plenty of funding for those who are.

                Where is the RW darwinism in that?

                The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

                by ctexrep on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:16:19 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Pell Grants (0+ / 0-)

                  are rewarded based on financial need and they do not discriminate based on academic performance: GOOD!  The poor also tend not to have good grades, but you've already established that you don't give a damn about THOSE PEOPLE, so I get it.

                  Why in the world do you think your tax dollars are just being given to lazy, rich kids?

                  Hint: they're not.

                  We meant to do better, but it came out as always. -- Viktor Chernomyrdin

                  by pontechango on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:37:58 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  p.s. the social darwinism lies in your lack (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mrkvica, happymisanthropy

                  of recognition that the great majority of C students go on to have productive careers.  But your attitude favors only those who can afford to attain a degree, even if they don't have the talent or wherewithal to muster better grades in their youthful days.

                  We meant to do better, but it came out as always. -- Viktor Chernomyrdin

                  by pontechango on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:43:00 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  We'll never agree (0+ / 0-)

                    I won't change your mind, and you won't change mine.

                    I'll leave it at that.

                    Peace.

                    The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

                    by ctexrep on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:51:23 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  No, but I speak as a high school dropout (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      mrkvica, happymisanthropy

                      and Pell Grant recipient who went on to earn a Masters degree and is paying off a mortgage and many loans.

                      So I take your condescension personally.

                      And I'm happy to give others the same opportunity that I had.

                      We meant to do better, but it came out as always. -- Viktor Chernomyrdin

                      by pontechango on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:12:55 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

        •  I have a learning disability (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pontechango

          Once I got higher in college, it didn't impact me as much because I could focus on my areas of strength (writing).  There are a lot of kids out there who have similar experiences or meet up with assholes like you and decide they shouldn't even try.

          The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

          by jgkojak on Thu Jan 20, 2011 at 08:20:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  It is the devaluation of knowledge and intellect, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica, happymisanthropy

      combined with the perversion of using education to profit from the corporate welfare system (the BBC's motive for buying the American education system). Innovation is stifled, silenced, or punished.

      There is a bright line between academics and administration and they work to crossed purposes.

      America has become fervently anti-intellectual, just ask any "nerd". Just look at our society, who is revered and spectacularly rewarded and who is a necessary evil?

      There is no mystery to delivering top-notch education, the models have existed for generations. All that is lacking is the will to pay for it.

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

      by Greyhound on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:50:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Critical thinking interferes with stenography, (6+ / 0-)

    doncha know?  And we need more cheap but capable stenographers, not insolent gadflies and rabble rousers.

    We meant to do better, but it came out as always. -- Viktor Chernomyrdin

    by pontechango on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:41:14 AM PST

  •  This is a $$$ problem (9+ / 0-)

    Why did professional schools pop up in the first place?

    Because, after their introduction, they attracted so many students. To compete, other schools needed them to compete. Why did they need to do it? Loss of $$$ from states and the feds.

    I have a bachelors from a professional school (Boston U College of Communication) and after getting that degree, I went back to do liberal arts graduate degrees, and now teach at an AAU university in the liberal arts.

    The study doesn't surprise me. Most of my pre-professional courses at BU were mind-numbing. I recall fondly the course in Mass Communications theory that was steeped in critical thinking.

    Beware much of the reaction to this study--it will surely be used to attack academia.

    By the way, things are about to become worse. Most universities are cutting faculty, cutting programs, cutting classes right now, and I can tell you that we are experiencing a certain level of dysfunction which is totally unfair to students. But until we get used to the new reality of fewer resources and accomodate to it, it's going to be difficult. Put simply, there's no way we can change curricula on the fly simply because administrators issue new edicts about our resources and support. We put the new rules into place, and only then consider the ramifications on the curriculum. When we understand how things are malfunctioning, only then can we correct the problems.

    Another thing to consider: the % of full-time faculty in academia has dropped from 75% to under 33% in less than two decades.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:43:13 AM PST

    •  Full-time faculty (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Iberian, mrkvica, ChemBob, John Shade

      Another thing to consider: the % of full-time faculty in academia has dropped from 75% to under 33% in less than two decades.

      This seems to have been buried in the discussion, but you raise a very important point.  There are great grad students who do wonderful jobs teaching, but a full-time professor is more likely to be that one inspiring teacher who gives you a new perspective on the area you will eventually specialize in.  To truly teach a course (as opposed to getting students to memorize bullets to write about or recipes to apply to solve problems), one needs to know several levels beyond the course being thought.

      •  In the current budget climate the first people to (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Iberian, mrkvica, happymisanthropy

        be cut were the adjuncts at my university.

        Then, the number of sections got cut. That meant we full time faculty are teaching much larger classes. Not having the adjuncts means I can't teach the smaller, more specialized topic courses I did when I first started. Adjuncts and TAs are integral part of the university system.

        •  Yes, same story at my university (4+ / 0-)

          The grad lines haven't been increased.

          Grad students are better paid than part-timers.

          Of course, many part-timers are grads.

          They took out the part-timers because they could--they couldn't get rid of full-time faculty. The hiring freeze will take care of that, I suppose.

          Fewer classes and bigger classes were the answer at my school too. But without adjuncts teaching some of our intro courses, now we have a problem with the curriculum don't we? I have never shied away from the intro courses, I teach one every 2 years, but I can't do grad courses, upper level and undergrad constantly.

          Something has to give way... and wouldn't you know it, that something is upper-level undergrad courses that students need for graduation. We can only offer them sparingly now. Plus, only about 15 students sign up for those anyway. if we don't offer them every semester, enrollment increases. If you haven't planned ahead students--TOUGH LUCK.

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:50:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Liberal arts schools (5+ / 0-)

    tend to focus on critical thinking and problem solving skills.  Big state schools tend to focus on book reading and large tests in classes with 100+ students.  Neither is "wrong" or "right" but the differences in the capacity of graduating students to think logically is too often evident.  

    •  A prediction: within ten years (10+ / 0-)

      most public universities will have so reduced their commitment to faculty and curricular development in the Liberal Arts that it will be possible to get serious Liberal Arts education only in the Ivies and a handful of top-tier public universities. Already U of Missouri and parts of the SUNY system are abandoning foreign languages and other liberal arts courses as unaffordable "frills." Here in Texas the state budget crunch has already resulted in the buyout of a couple of hundred faculty, most of them in the Liberal Arts.

      Liberal Arts will survive, but on a greatly reduced scale. Liberal arts study will become the preserve of a privileged economic elite-- and a marker of their elite status, a display of their conspicuous cultural consumption. For everyone else the Servile Arts (as Aristotle called them) will be considered sufficient.

      It wasn't always this way. In the Golden Age of US  Higher Education, 1960-2000, it was possible for students of lower-middle class background (like myself) to get scholarships and pay reasonable tuition to attend first-rate institutions and get first-rate training in Liberal arts. But this is no longer possible for our children, and our nation is going to be a lot poorer for it.  

      •  The status quo has returned. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eru, happymisanthropy

        Historically, the liberal arts was the domain of the scions of the wealthy.  There was a kind of self-sustaining boom in liberal arts academia that kept large amounts of liberal arts degree holders employed, and with falling state revenues, that is largely coming to an end.  The availability of extensive student loans also had a fair amount to do with it.

        I don't know that our nation will be a lot poorer for it... presumably, those who would have gone into liberal arts will be producing value in applied science and engineering fields.

        •  I'm not so sure (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mrkvica, LucyandByron

          I'm a musician with two sons who are engineers.  I have absolutely no aptitude in that department and very little in science. Trigonometry was the highest level math offered in my high school - and I was one of only 2 girls enrolled.  My kids lost me in describing their math coursework by their 2nd yr. of college.  

          I can, however, read and write contracts and negotiate business agreements.  That's my day job.

          Sometimes it's better to individually address a problem rather than just criticize our politicians for failing to do so.

          by texasmom on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:31:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Then and now: (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mrkvica, eru, LucyandByron

          In the early 20th century less than 10% of the population received higher education, anything but the shallowest and most rudimentary Liberal Arts ed was reserved for the Ivies and Liberal Arts teaching was done by "dollar-a-year" profs from wealthy New England Wasp families. Jews were not allowed within the professoriate, and certainly not women.

          After World War Two this changed dramatically. Higher Ed was democratized. The GI Bill sent many to college who would previously not have been able to afford it. Jews, Midwesterners, first-generation college students from the working middle class, and finally women entered the professoriate. Quite good Lib Arts faculties developed in most of the state university systems.

          All this is now being reversed. State funding for Higher Ed has dried up; for example, cuts in Higher Ed will bear most of the burden of trying to make up for Texas' $27 billion budget deficit (which Rick Perry had denied existed). The student loan bubble has also burst, and a lot of families are deciding that maybe college isn't such an essential investment when it saddles their kids with tens of thousands of dollars in debt but no job.

          We're going back to a Guilded Age culture. There will still be big enrllmenst in community colleges for remediation and basic (and largely inadequate) vocational ed. Intellectually rigorous university education will be reserved for Ivy legatees, the children of old money and a few investment bankers, and a small number of Chinese and Indian engineering and bioresearch students.

          This is linked in turn to the general liquidation of the middle class and the de-democratization of society.

        •  Not me, and don't care for "producing value" (0+ / 0-)

          "Poorer" does not equal "fewer dollars earned."  But if that's your measure, David Packard also earned his BA in Classics, which will have helped form his ideas about the culture of his company, which was a rather better place under him than under the B-School approved reign of Demon Sheep Lady.  

          We study humanities to make us human; otherwise we're just a bunch of highly-trained barbarians.

          I was born a child prodigy with Asperger's and could solve complex equations standing on one foot; I could indeed have gone on to become a "quant" and made millions without realizing the true social cost.  The money would also have nicely shielded me from the consequences and thus full awareness of my lack of social skills.  I was good at a lot of "value-producing" things, but felt curiously unfulfilled.  Fortunately I realized at 16 that I needed to know more about something other than STEM in order to be a fully-realized human being.   I don't make much money, but today I helped a young man who said that people like this made him glad to be here {at this school.}  That's Buddhist values, not B-School values.

          "A city for sale and doomed to speedy destruction if it finds a purchaser!" --King Jugurtha

          by LucyandByron on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 02:37:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Trending to rich girl's majors for years (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shigeru

        I was part of the last generation of mere mortals to be able to major in a fascinating but "impractical" liberal arts field, but I still didn't pursue a Ph.D, as there was little work in that field in the 80's and has been even less so since.  The people who can afford to be in that field are largely upper-class young women-- Future Museum Donors of America.  I agree that we can expect to see that and other liberal arts departments eliminated at public universities.   At one well-known public university it's been true for many years in a certain liberal arts department that their UG program doesn't prepare students adequately for their own top tier graduate program.  

        Fine art is virtually all dilettantes, because there are very few scholarships for that.  I have a friend who constantly bemoans the quality and sense of entitlement of his students.  Fine art programs will hang on to warehouse unemployable rich kids.  People with actual talent will learn through apprenticeships, when they can get them.  Sort of like life in the Renaissance.  

        "A city for sale and doomed to speedy destruction if it finds a purchaser!" --King Jugurtha

        by LucyandByron on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 02:12:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Remember, the Liberal Arts aren't just reducible (0+ / 0-)

          to Art Appreciation courses giving wealthy Muffies from the Seven Sisters another excuse to revisit Paris. They include the study of History, Philosophy, Literature and practice in the creation and performance of the arts. That's way too important to deny regular folks access to them.

          I would not want to live in a society where such things have been placed beyond the reach of me and my children.

    •  that's changing true (5+ / 0-)

      Liberal arts colleges are also infected with the same "business administration" types whose primary concerns are, in order:

      1. Revenue
      1. Revenue
      1. Funneling cash to their developer buddies
      1. Revenue

      ...

      1. Educating students

      Liberal arts discussion classes are looking less like Socratic symposiums and more like Oprah's book club.

    •  But the evidence here suggests (0+ / 0-)

      that there is a "wrong" in terms of graduating students whose ability to write and reason doesn't improve significantly in 4 years of college.

      When I was a teaching assistant in one of those state schools, I found it was the professors themselves who couldn't be bothered to teach writing or require writing because it was a lot more work, even in the smaller courses.

  •  Yeah, but those kids can still... (5+ / 0-)

    operate the machines and do the paperwork, can't they?

    Who cares if they can't think their way out of a wet paper bag! That's not what the owners want.

    /carlin

    'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

    by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:43:47 AM PST

  •  I taught... (7+ / 0-)

    my kids these things.  It was a battle from middle school until they both hit their junior years in college.  Thankfully, that's over.  Most of our kids just don't read enough.  

    •  I had the same experience with mine. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica, betson08, Steven D, eru, yella dawg

      Read, read, read. Fight, fight, fight.

      Sometimes parents dont read and were undereducated themselves. My mother never reads anything but trash, tabloids, etc and both my grandparents were nearly illiterate. School should provide opportunities for children in mind expansion even if parents cant. That's what they pay taxes for.

      •  Yeah but... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        freelunch, mrkvica, Pete Rock, GenXangster

        there's also households like mine where everyone reads all sorts of things.

        For example, my Mom enjoys to read mysteries and some of the first books that I ever read were her Alfred Hitchcock magazines when I wasn't even 4 years old. (And...yes, I still have a pretty macabre imagination).

        My stepdad did a lot of the heavy reading and general interest stuff. My aunt and uncle (who raised me) shoved a Bible in front of my face.

        My grandfather, who used to work as a janitor at Somerset Mall in suburban Detroit, used to bring home remainders from the book store in the mall. He never read them but I sure did.

        My Granny never had more than a third grade education but she read quite often, even though I really don't believe that she understood everything that she read.

        It was never that the family was so educated but it always seemed to me that they had a thirst for learning. and it rubbed off.

        •  Let me add this (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mrkvica, texasmom
          How did I learn to count, add, subtract, and whatnot at such an early age (I've known how to add and subtract for as long as I can remember, and I can remember back before I was 3 years old)?

          My Granny's lottery numbers rundown, of course.

          •  ;) (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mrkvica

            Our kids learned their first math from dominoes. As soon as they could county, they figured out the more-or-less thing.  Then they learned more math, with sequencing and sorting skills, from a deck of playing cards.  They were very small at the time, too.  

            Sometimes it's better to individually address a problem rather than just criticize our politicians for failing to do so.

            by texasmom on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:50:25 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Unbelievable. (9+ / 0-)

    I went to a piss poor inner city high school. I went to my first college English 101 class and it seemed like the critical thinking/reading lesson had been waiting there for me my entire life. It jumped out at me and said "I'm the most important lesson you've ever had!". I immediately thought of Rush for some reason.

    No, his mind is not for rent
    To any god or government
    Always hopeful, yet discontent
    He knows changes aren't permanent
    But change is -Tom Sawyer

    It became clear to me why totalitarian govts always attack the college students. They're being taught to kick the "squatters" out of their minds and see the truths that are revealed to them. That's what critical thinking is all about. I became more opinionated because I had finally been given the go-ahead to trust my opinion. I leaned more and more left until I almost fell off the earth. I would never be the same after the critical thinking lesson. It rearranged the way I thought about everything. It would lead to me coming out atheist, feminist and black pride "griot" type. I had all these things within myself and critical thinking freed them all.

  •  I'm not sure I buy this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caj, texasmom

    Critical thinking...have we proven we can even teach it? How do we truly measure it? How do we know some folks are not critical thinkers in some areas but ARE in others (that we don't bother to test)? Is a guy who seems rather dull, but who can take apart a car engine lacking "critical thinking?"

    So now...it's time to start bashing colleges in America too, along with our K-12 system. The right wing will like that. Yay.

    Trust me, I bang my head all the time when I feel people are not grasping concepts they should (e.g., statistics). I just wonder though if we're tossing out this "critical thinking" thing without really, uh, critically thinking about it.

    As far as needing critical thinking to be an informed citizen and such, well sure it sounds good. But I'm not sure "critical thinking" has EVER been used much when it comes to voting, in any place at any time.

    I'm not convinced it's wrong for teachers to do just three things: 1) require students to learn facts, 2) show students how to solve problems, and 3) impart enthusiasm.

    Maybe #2 is "critical thinking" in some cases. Not always. Sometimes it's just a process.

    I don't know if critical thinking can be taught very much or if it tends to come from within a person. I could be totally wrong though.

    •  I share your concern that this will be (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica, betson08, eru

      used to bash education, but in two decades of teaching, I can tell that students seem somewhat less curious, inquisitive, imaginative than they used to be, even as they work harder, and I would say are brainier than they used to be.

      by the way, I have a methodology for teaching critical thinking. It's not that hard to come up with one. It can be taught.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 07:52:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Of course you can teach critical thinking (6+ / 0-)

      Some people have a mindset that is in opposition to it, but there is nothing about critical thinking that cannot be taught. The trick is to get people to use it once they know how.

      Students are rarely taught any critical thinking when they are young because getting facts and other basic tools to them is considered more important. By the time they have the opportunity to consider it, they may have lost the resiliency of thought they need to be good critical thinkers.

      You can reasonably think of critical thinking as the meta version of learning how to solve problems.

      Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

      by freelunch on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:06:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes - I'm thinking of the logic (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eru

        puzzle books we used to buy our kids.  They were great for their minds and handy to have in the car when they needed to fill a 15 minute wait somewhere. I think they used them from about age 10-15 or so.  

        We also spent a lot of time talking with them about the "why" questions and action/reaction/outcome.

        Sometimes it's better to individually address a problem rather than just criticize our politicians for failing to do so.

        by texasmom on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:39:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Also, is it the university's role? (0+ / 0-)

      College costs a big dang lot of fucking money, and this is supposedly justified because a college education pays you back in the form of higher earnings potential and access to desirable career paths.
       
      Of course there is more to college than vocational training, just as there is more to a car than having an engine that works.  But the vocational training is the main reason for the university's existence, and the one thing that justifies the exchange of tuition.  It is the reason colleges are divided into departments with majors, the reason departments must be accredited, the reason why departmental curricula have slates of required courses.

      Where does "critical thinking" fit in to this?  Critical thinking is a life skill more than a vocational one.  I expect a college graduate to be able to see through a bogus argument on talk radio, but I'm not going to pay him or her to sit around listening to talk radio all day.

      We can require college students either take or exempt out of a slate of core courses like Logic, Rhetoric, Oral Communication (you learn about tactics of persuasion) and mathematics.  But beyond core competency requirements, we can't make college about learning critical thinking---students are too busy taking all the courses they need within their major.

      Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

      by Caj on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:45:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah I hear you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ChemBob

        The hard truth is that to become proficient in many disciplines, you just gotta learn a bunch of shit first. I don't know any way around that. Although of course it's true that it's also good, if not better, to be able to figure things out on the fly. Maybe that is "critical thinking."

      •  Wow, don't you ever encounter novel problems (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        denise b

        in your line of work that require critical thinking skills and, possibly, the testing of multiple hypotheses? Seriously? Critical thinking, imho, is a life skill that is...critical...for the entirety of one's life, whether listening to talk radio or trying to sort out which industrial activity caused the soil contamination.

        Life isn't a battle between good and evil, it's a battle between signal and noise.

        by ChemBob on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 01:09:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sure. (0+ / 0-)

          But I didn't have to take a course in college on "how to think."

          Nor did I have to take a course on "how to be an adult" or "how to conduct yourself professionally."  Nor is it a professor's job to explain any of those things to me.

          Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

          by Caj on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 02:18:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You can learn anything without going to college (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ChemBob

            but that doesn't discount what you do learn there if you go.

            The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. --Bertrand Russell

            by denise b on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 04:23:35 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  No. (0+ / 0-)

        "But the vocational training is the main reason for the university's existence, and the one thing that justifies the exchange of tuition."

        I'm sorry, I have to disagree with this sentence.  College is not vocational training.  It just isn't.  Attempts to make it so will fail, and ruin what it is already.

        •  Of course it is vocational training. (0+ / 0-)

          If you take away the vocational training, then what are all those kids spending a hundred thousand dollars on, and what is taking them four years to acquire?
             
          Of course college is more than vocational training, but it is the one necessary thing a college must give you in exchange for your huge expenditure of time and money.  A college degree without vocational training is like a car without a motor.

          Linking to a news article is journalism in the same sense that putting a Big Mac on a paper plate is cooking.

          by Caj on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 02:49:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  All skills are improved (0+ / 0-)

      when you are made to use them. A lot of what you learn in school, or anywhere else for that matter, isn't "taught" to you so much as required of you. Practice leads to both skill and habit.

      The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. --Bertrand Russell

      by denise b on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 04:20:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Free Oxford mp3s:Critical Reasoning for Beginners (4+ / 0-)

    http://itunes.apple.com/...

    See the above link for a free online "continuing ed" class on critical reasoning and argument.

    "Description:  Are you confident you can reason clearly? Are you able to convince others of your point of view? Are you able to give plausible reasons for believing what you believe? Do you sometimes read arguments in the newspapers, hear them on the television, or in the pub and wish you knew how to confidently evaluate them? In this six-part course, you will learn all about arguments, how to identify them, how to evaluate them, and how not to mistake bad arguments for good. Such skills are invaluable if you are concerned about the truth of your beliefs, and the cogency of your arguments."

  •  admins have turned them into diploma mills (6+ / 0-)

    College is a business now, and like any business, they thrive by increasing their customer base. Given their relative freedom, colleges could be a powerful corrective to the failure of K-12 education, but that would entail scaring off the shrinking number of kids who can actually afford an education.

    It's the same reason we're still seeing law schools pop up all over the place. There's big money to be made in selling the archaic prestige of a JD.

    •  Was asked to create "self-funding" degrees (0+ / 0-)

      Plan for increasing revenue sent to me by a college dean.  He didn't like my reply:  "DBA- Doctor of Bullsh*t Arts" professional certification for political and management consultants.  MBS- Master of Bull Sh*t for televangelists, New Age practitioners, and authors of self-help books."  Hell, those people would have paid!  /end snark

      "A city for sale and doomed to speedy destruction if it finds a purchaser!" --King Jugurtha

      by LucyandByron on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 02:44:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  No govt, no schools, no science, no media (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, eru, Joieau

    I hear Antarctica's nice this time of year.

    The Cayman Trench would suffice as well.

    Why can't we all just get a blog? :)

    by cskendrick on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:05:03 AM PST

  •  conflating "college" with career prep (8+ / 0-)

    It could also be that we have conflated college with career prep - many people, especially in business/trade areas, only want the diploma so they can get the job - and hate having to take Western Civ and other liberal arts courses.

    What colleges have done, of couse, is respond to consumer wants and make it possible for you to get a major without having to tax your brain too much and take those icky courses.  

    In a way I blame the universities, trying to compete for students, dumbing down the curriculum in non-major areas.

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

    by jgkojak on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:08:25 AM PST

  •  The commodization of mind (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    betson08

    is what you get from mass education.

    It's also why mass ed at any level is going obsolete.

    Exhibit A: the Texas State Board of Education's domination of textbook policy in the USA. Not good.

    Why can't we all just get a blog? :)

    by cskendrick on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:08:48 AM PST

  •  Achieving artificial intelligence gets easier (0+ / 0-)

    with each passing year.

    Why can't we all just get a blog? :)

    by cskendrick on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:09:31 AM PST

  •  I'm in my 4th year at a university (8+ / 0-)

    As a child language researcher, I can tell you these results don't surprise me. I'm willing to bet there's a causal link between NCLB & what we're seeing at the college level now.

    "Is this going to be on the test?" - I hate that question. I get it from the grad students now. That's all an entire generation of kids knows - how to take tests.

    I'm running a large scale study of typically developing K, 1, 2 kids at a middle-income public school. We still have 'high' 2nd graders saying 'mouses' for 'mice' and 'childs' for children. They don't know what I mean when I tell them to tell me a sentence.

    This lack of language awareness & critical thinking is rampant and, again, I'm willing to bet is causally linked to our current public policy. We need to do something about it sooner rather than later.

    •  It's also the professors' fault (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ice Blue

      As a TA I was continually disturbed by how the professors couldn't be bothered to give writing assignments to the students, and when they did they couldn't be bothered to help the students improve it. This study just confirms my suspicions.

      •  I give writing assignments (8+ / 0-)

        and I grade grammar and spelling.

        Of course, I'm usually the first person to tell the students they can't write. The way I put it is something along the lines of your writing level interferes with the point you are trying to make. I think you're saying X, but that's not clear in your writing.

        Also, in my child language development course, I make the Ed majors learn grammar basics. They generally can't tell the difference between verbs & modifiers at the start of the course, but they can by the time they leave! It's amazing to me how many of the Ed majors don't know that BE, DO, and HAVE are verbs!

        •  That's a breath of fresh air (6+ / 0-)

          You'd probably be amazed at what your colleagues AREN'T doing in that area.

          I was a TA in a class where I did have to grade essays, and I took the opportunity to comment on the students' writing. One guy was a senior, but his paper was much worse than the rest of the class, composed of mostly sophomores. So I told him it was time for him to work on his writing, and he was so insulted that his irate father called the professor. That made me think that maybe the father had done the paper for the kid, or had at least helped him with it. The professor turned out to be the worst, most irresponsible teacher I had ever seen, despite the fact that he was like a walking encyclopedia, which didn't help anything either.

          I just think that when we're training our PhD's there should be much more thought given to teaching them how to teach at the same time.

    •  I suspect (0+ / 0-)

      this has been going on a lot longer than NCLB.

      The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. --Bertrand Russell

      by denise b on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 04:25:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree. (6+ / 0-)

    Imagine my consternation at signing up for an Honors Public Speaking course and having to listen to speeches about applying sunscreen while we were torturing POWs.

    College is entirely too easy at many of our public institutions.

    "There's no need for any points of view, he simply existed, that's all." -Professor Woland

    by FinchJ on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:10:43 AM PST

    •  You need to understand that we have parents who (10+ / 0-)

      call us and complain about their children's grades. Yes, at the college level.

      At my university, my teaching evals can make or break me as far as tenure is concerned. I'm lucky in that my chair takes the view that students are whiny when issues arise. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "But I studied really hard. I earned an A." Well, no you didn't. I'm usually the first person to tell them they can't write - when they're juniors or seniors in college!!

      •  Had a fellow student in our last (5+ / 0-)

        history seminar who lifted entire passages from a book. In the same class, we had a student who merely strung quotations from sources together with conjunctions for his entire paper.

        I was amazed he had made it that far.

        "There's no need for any points of view, he simply existed, that's all." -Professor Woland

        by FinchJ on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:58:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Experienced teachers notice this quickly (6+ / 0-)

          Writers have a voice and students who crib their work from others don't seem to notice that they are telling the teacher that they have cheated.

          Time to strip citizenship from treacherous immigrants like Rupert Murdoch

          by freelunch on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:27:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not surprised at all to be honest (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Iberian, mrkvica, eru, Ice Blue, FinchJ

          I think it's because I was studying Linguistics and using semi-forensic applications regularly last year, but for whatever reason, I noted four instances of plagiarism in my University students last year. This year, I was teaching freshmen. In the past, my charges were generally Junior/Senior level. I would ordinarily note one or two per semester. That's so frustrating. One of my colleagues mentioned that he had a student who plagiarized a paper, gave him a soul-searching "rewrite" pass since he was a graduate student, and the student then plagiarized the rewrite.

          One of my students was removed by the University this year due to multiple acts of plagiarism in multiple courses.

          Thus said, I'm doing my hardest to write what are called "plagiarism-free" assignments. But the lack of ethics bugs me.

          "There are always two parties; the establishment and the movement." - Emerson

          by mahakali overdrive on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:40:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The plagiarism didn't surprise me (4+ / 0-)

            as much as the student who strung together quotations for over 5 pages.

            Unfortunately for the cheating student, the professor knows the author of the book he cribbed personally. There aren't too many folks out there studying ancient Greco-Roman navies ;)

            There is a huge lack of ethics, and no simple solutions as you well know. TBH I believe that entirely too many students are being accepted into universities. Too many of my courses were bad jokes. Professors who try their best confronted with a sea of students who really don't give a flying fuck about the material being presented who see college as an extension of high school.

            "There's no need for any points of view, he simply existed, that's all." -Professor Woland

            by FinchJ on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:44:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Man, your speeches were awesome. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica

      having to listen to speeches about applying sunscreen while we were torturing POWs.

      My classes never touched on the importance of skin-care when violating the Geneva Convention.

  •  incredibly discouraging (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueMajority, mrkvica, speak2me

    what a sad and distressing set of findings. important to shed a light on them, though. i appreciate (and have rec'd) the diary.

    "The four corners of deceit: government, academia, science and media."

    ( * rolls eyes 'til optic nerves snap * )

    dare i ask what, per rush, are the four paragons of truth light and virtue?

    my guess: rush, ayn rand, oxycontin, rush

    I'll give you this here wedding ring when you take it from my cold, dead hand.

    by homo neurotic on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:11:43 AM PST

  •  The bad economy and the failure of education (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, betson08, dvx, eru

    When I had a stretch working 90 hour weeks, my oldest kids grades plummeted.  

    She needed more coaching in algebra and actually some countervailing tonic to the English teacher destroying her writing (by focusing solely on what might best meet the guidelines of the stupid state measurement test).

    It was enlightening to fully comprehend how much of a difference parental engagement makes (where having time for engagement is an obvious prerequisite).

    2010: An Unforced Error Odyssey

    by Minerva on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 08:28:42 AM PST

  •  College kids refuse to learn these things (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    betson08, eru, speak2me

    because "they don't help to get a job."

  •  Interesting (0+ / 0-)

    One encouraging sign from the study is that students that majored in traditional liberal arts subjects——literature, history, the social and "hard" sciences, and mathematics——did better than their fellow students in other areas such as business.  Why was that so?  It was because those "liberal arts" students were required to do more reading and writing than their counterparts in many other disciplines.

    My DH and DYB are exceptions, I guess. Neither can "sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event." They are more easily swayed by the emotional argument. DH was a physics major, math minor; DYB is a civil engineer. Both were not much readers of literature or history while in school.

    It isn't shameful to vote your own self-interest instead of the interests of multi-national corporations--iceman

    by fumie on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:08:43 AM PST

  •  My attitude deteriorated during college (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aimeeinkc, mrkvica, LucyandByron

    I was an undergraduate in the 1990s.  I can't believe how negative my attitude was.  I'm honestly surprised that I didn't flunk out.  I feel lucky that none of my professors tried to strangle me to death or made me take a Breathalyzer test.  (And I didn't even drink.)  I'm sure glad that I didn't cheat, because I'd REALLY have a guilty conscience to deal with.

    At the time, I didn't really care about how much I was learning.  Up until that point, I had been one of those "too perfect" students.  I was taking Honors/AP classes to the hilt and was salutatorian of my class.  I was one of the few students to really be engaged.

    That all changed in my undergraduate years.  Part of the problem was that the system had always told me that the purpose of education was to prepare for the next level of education.  The purpose of junior high was to prepare for high school, and the purpose of high school was to prepare for college.  

    The talking points insisted that college was the key to everything that came later but didn't explain how.  The Herculean effort and time I had devoted to my studied proved to be as unsustainable as the subprime mortgage bubble of 10-15 years later.  I had to actually sleep 7 hours per night.  I HAD to let the quality of my work lapse in order to graduate in 4 years.  There were so many things I had to study that I didn't really understand, so I had to BS my way through and trick my professors into thinking I knew my stuff better than I really did.  (Or perhaps they knew that I really didn't know my stuff but let me pass because they didn't want to have to deal with me again.)

    I'm surprised I earned a cumulative B average and never even came close to being on probation.  I'm pretty sure my attitude wasn't that different from those who flunked out or switched out of my major.  If I had in high school the attitude that I had in college, I would not have had a reputation as a top student.  I'm not even sure I'd have been admitted to major in the university I attended.

    I realize that EVERYBODY has a period of underperformance sometime.  It's better that it happen early, so that the lessons are learned sooner and under more supervision.  It's better that people learn early on that being like Zack Morris or Ferris Bueller isn't the fun and games that it appears to be.

    You might be a Rethug if you join forces with the tobacco lobbyists but condemn abortion, birth control, and gay marriage as crimes against humanity.

    by jhsu on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:23:04 AM PST

  •  By devaluing K-12 education and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, eru

    over-valuing college, we're spending more for less.  A high school diploma once meant something -- was adequate preparation for 70-80% of the jobs an economy creates.  Back when art, music, shop, etc. were part of the curriculum.  When every kid had an opportunity to develop a skill that interested him or her.  And from that achieve some real self-esteem.  

    Bring Our JOBS and Troops Home NOW!

    by Marie on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:26:47 AM PST

  •  I learned most of my critical thinking skills (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fumie, mrkvica, texasmom, eru

    from intelligence professionals.

    Hint--no matter how obvious the conventional wisdom, you're supposed to ask yourself, "Why?"

    Never meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer.--Bruce Graham

    by Ice Blue on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:27:52 AM PST

    •  And in the corporate world, that question will (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eru

      ensure the end of your career faster than a sexual harassment lawsuit.

      We've got third generation coming up that has been trained from birth that obedience and conformity are paramount.

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

      by Greyhound on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:54:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The white noise rant about the problems of our (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jennifree2bme

    "education" system has been going on for sometime now, with no discernable positive result.  This suggests that we are perhaps not talking about the core of the problem.  You know, the "elephant-in-the-room".  Please understand this  - I support the idea of public schools and am happy to pay for them, even though our kids were home-schooled - self taught, actually.  I am definitely not a religious fundamentalist by the way. I support teachers unions, both public and private.  And I think Teacherken is one cool dude! The elephant, that very few seem willing to discuss, or rather, think critically about, is that it's mandatory.

    Now I can already hear the chorus of arguments that arise in response to that.  I've heard most all of them.  I wish I had time to elaborate fully except to suggest that one think of it as a fundamental issue of democracy .  Or, choice if you will.  That's a bucketful of cognitive dissonance for any awake kid in civics class!

    For those inclined to research this question, John Taylor Gatto's (twice NYC Teacher Of The Year and once N. Y. State TOTY), The Underground History of American Education, is a real eye opener.  http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/...  Also, The website of the Sudbury Valley School http://www.sudval.org/ is a stimulating read.  And if you're further interested,  Seek out the books of John Holt.      

    •  I know a kid going to sudval (0+ / 0-)

      and he's one of the more selfish little asshole jerk kids I've ever met.

      I've met other kids (and their parents) who attend SVS and they are a joy to behold.

      The theory seems sound. I can testify that a similar approach worked well for me. I was fortunate to experience the benefits of the Sputnik education program. The execution only works for kids from families that aren't dysfunctional. In this case, the parents have been so overbearing that the kid has become pathologically dependent on his ability to manipulate everyone around him.

      SVS is for independent kids who are capable of self-directed learning. This poor kid has to ask his parents for direction. He would have been much better off had he attended public schools from the start.

      His parents and grandparents already see that this kid is a social misfit and is unlikely to do well even at the middle school level. He is, in fact, very bright and a quick learner. He just needs real world guidance.

      I think he'll eventually improve and learn to survive on his own, but it's going to be difficult for him.

      I can name only three adults that this kid never tries to manipulate. I am one. Another is his 90-year old great grandmother. He shows more love and repect for us than anyone else. I figure that he tends to judge others based on his success at manipulation.

      Time will tell.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      "All people are born alike - except Republicans and Democrats" - Groucho Marx

      by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri Jan 21, 2011 at 03:14:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  teaching for the test (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    speak2me

    high stakes testing, and making it so teachers really can only teach for the test (while at the same time saying that it's unethical) because their jobs depend on it . . . has created what we've said all along it would

    we have not taught our children HOW TO THINK

    and when they don't learn that they are an easily controlled populace that will buy everything religion and government (right wing all) give them.

    Figures the Critical Thinking books I taught my kids from are no longer being printed ... but you can still find them

    Bumper sticker seen on I-95; "Stop Socialism" my response: "Don't like socialism? GET OFF the Interstate highway!"

    by Clytemnestra on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:36:16 AM PST

  •  College = white collar trade school (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica

    In terms of it's role, college has basically become white-collar trade school; you go there for job training (b/c employers are no longer willing to train new hires) and little else, doubly so for small technical schools.  The old ideal of a place of character formation and intellectual and cultural exploration has been dead for a long time, or is now only found in [liberal] arts schools that by virtue of their curriculum can't fulfill the trade school function.

    Of course, between religion and plutocracy, critical thinking is pretty much as useless as a philosophy degree unless it's connected to the ability to perform in the workplace, and large numbers of right-leaning engineers make it clear that there isn't much overlap between the workplace and the broader culture.

    Whether all this is a cause or an effect of the greater availability of college, I don't know.

    Iceland knew what to do with broke banks.

    by rf80412 on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 09:53:00 AM PST

  •  If STUDENT DEBT profits were (0+ / 0-)

    eliminated (massive student loans),

    I wonder how many "higher ed" opportunities would simply disappear.

    It's about making money, not education.

    Dah!

    Critical thinking is taught at Ivy Leagues schools to the children of the oligarcy.  You know, the ones with no student debt that will get/inherit all the high paying jobs.

    Welcome to the sos.

    It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

    by War on Error on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:04:32 AM PST

    •  Public education is still a deal (0+ / 0-)

      My state, the tuition is under $5k a year. With pell grants and light work (less than 10 hours a week), a poor student could easily get by.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 12:56:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  college has become a 4 year party (0+ / 0-)

    for white kids.  seriously.  

    On DailyKos nothing is significant unless Obama doesn't do it.

    by glutz78 on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:12:48 AM PST

  •  Republicans don't want people to be educated. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fumie, Perry the Imp

    They want dumbos that can be swayed by bogus arguments and magical thinking.  That's why they never vote for anything that can really improve education.

  •  This is how civilizations die... logic starvation (0+ / 0-)

    The older and more powerful evolve into a rigid controlling group who think the best education is one that churns out people who see the world just like they do... and by the time the less adaptable are in charge and ensure that logical thinking is suppressed but hamstringing education at every level and in every way possible by as they would see it, removing dangerous and divergence aiding factors there is a dearth of people who can read the writing on the wall...

    The core of this approach is the tendency for the ossifying oligarchy behind this dubbing down to not admit that they are ever incorrect or that things that might have been more right before are less right now... and fewer people with the skills to understand change and adapt society are produced and advanced and only rote repeaters and yes people to the ruling class are rewarded with positions where power to correct problems exists...

    The logically impaired affirm new generations of logically impaired people whose role is to maintain the status quo and the power of their enablers and sponsors. The blind spots grow larger over time and the more pervasive the disease of intellectual impoverishment is the worse things get without proper reforms or changes and the bigger the collapse and harder and longer the reconstruction.

    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

    by IreGyre on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 10:54:49 AM PST

  •  it isn't about money (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MGross

    There's nothing in this article to imply there isn't enough money spent on education, at all levels. It is however an indictment on the low expectations and shallow standards all too common at many of our institutions.

    Not much is asked of students, either. Half did not take a single course requiring 20 pages of writing during their prior semester, and one-third did not take a single course requiring even 40 pages of reading per week.

    And they have evidently gotten worse, not better, depsite increased spending:

    The research found an average-scoring student in fall 2005 scored seven percentage points higher in spring of 2007 on the assessment.

    •  Standards are actually higher than they (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica

      used to be. Classes are more demanding now in terms of what they require.

      There is grade inflation as well, but that's another topic.

      Typically, in my class, a good chunk of the students earn B+s and A-s.

      Almost no one gets a B or B-.

      Then another pig chunk gets Cs and Ds.

      That's the breakdown.

      The difference is $$$. Higher education funding has been cut drastically. The colleges deal by cutting classes, faculty and enlarging classes. That's how they get by. I've known adjuncts who taught 10 classes at local schools at $2k a pop ($20k a semester). if you think that they're providing a proper education to students, think again. IMPOSSIBLE!

      It's about money.

      In the 60s, 70s and early 80s, higher education was funded at least twice as much than it is now.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 01:00:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  eh? Maybe. (0+ / 0-)

        A few things -

        1- I'm not sure about the more demanding... from that study it sure doesn't appear that way. My own students are OK for the most part but I am certainly guilty of inflation and the pressure to produce FTEs. I Do have a lot more paperwork and data to collect, analyze and "act upon" for the institution and accreditation than my predecessors did, but I am not necessarily sure that equates to higher standards.

        2-I am aware that  most states have fluctuating levels of support (subsidy) due to economic ups and downs. Some which rely less (or not at all) on a steady revenue stream such as income and biz taxes can have pretty wide swings. But that inevitably gets made up by tuition and fee increases. (I am not saying it is right to transfer the cost form states to individuals). So STATE funding may have declined but institutional funding has not, indeed it has risen. Fed spending has continued to rise, and I'd be interested to see what portion of state lotteries that have become so in vogue, contribute to state HE funding. A few notable states have actually increased their appropriations over the years.

        Finally, it is hard to feel too much for Universities when the majority of spending increases have gone to administrative rather than instructional costs. Indeed administrative full time employees now out number instructional full time positions.

        •  I hear you (0+ / 0-)

          but those administrative costs are business-type thinking, competitiveness and efficiencies, Six Sigma and other lame concepts that don't work in academia.

          My state university has tuition below $5k which is why we are at the mercy of huge cuts. And, my state university most definitely has had a huge overall cut in funding relative to inflation over the last two decades.

          If you look at the all important cost per student, it's down. That's the only basic measurement I can think of. They do things cheaper these days, especially with fewer faculty around. My department was the biggest in the university in the 1970s, 65 full timers, now we're down to 38, and we're still the envy of all other departments (in the Liberal Arts, that is).

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 05:42:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  welcome to the new paradigm (0+ / 0-)

            even public Universities are really funded externally. I foresee "paying your way" like the business and med school hot shots do as the new norm in LA and even in my field, education. grants and #s will fund you, not the state?

            •  Money laundering at its finest because... (0+ / 0-)

              who holds the string to the purse?

              So much of American life is about money laundering. some money gets there eventually, but it goes through a backdoor--from the military to health care.

              The gov't is not allowed to give out funds directly--it must go through several middlemen, because after all, what would the rich be without welfare?

              There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

              by upstate NY on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 06:49:23 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  not sure I get your point? (0+ / 0-)

                about higher ed funding? My take is that state funding, which has been declining, is being made up by tuition hikes. But the increased expenditures are going primarily to two areas: "student services" administrators and support and to the ever expanding admins in traditional sectors (academic, financial, technology). To cut costs colleges are using more adjuncts, TA's, GA's, etc.

                However, the notion that state appropriations will EVER return to the levels of the 70's or 80's or even the 90's is a pipe dream. States have discovered that institutions CAN subsist on lower levels (because they can get it from students) and faculty, more and more, are expected to "fund themselves" via grants and high FTEs.

                Now as far as gov't $$ going through middlemen- that $$ is sucked up on the way to - and the way back - by bureaucracy (I don't get the part about the rich getting welfare from gov't education programs?).  A good argument for smaller fed scope and more authority for state & local funding decisions.

                •  I'm referring to the idea that the money comes (0+ / 0-)

                  in through the backdoor through grants and such.

                  My school's research foundation yearly budget has risen from sub $100 million to $400 million in under a decade.

                  There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                  by upstate NY on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 10:46:34 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  wow, not to be nosy (0+ / 0-)

                    but are you at an R1? I'm at a public regional state. Our external funding has doubled the last 10 years and the 10 before that as well. Not sure what the foundation or sponsored program budget increases have been in that time. I will be interested in finding out.

                    More and more I feel like we are a public U in name only. Publish or perish is present without adequate time or resources for research, nor travel $$. And our dept chair and dean are old school and never had to publish like this-  they don't get it. We are supposed to finance our own travel (which typically I do thank goodness) with external funding. I teach technology so any big purchases have to are driven by external funding. As a matter of fact, our funding is now 50+ non state appropriations. 47 % state, 49% tuition and fees and just under 2.5% grants, contracts, interest and gifts.

                    •  Yes I'm at a R1 and AAU. (0+ / 0-)

                      Guess what, no TP in the bathrooms this evening. I think the policy is BYOTP from now on. Our travel funds are long gone too--until this week when a recently deceased emeritus prof left the department about $700k of life savings.

                      My school is not allowed to increase tuition. That's why our tuition is under $5k. It has put people like myself (who totally agree with you about public education and the burden being foisted on students) into wanting the state to allow us to increase tuition. Why? Because the last time tuition increased, the state politicians took the entire increase and used it to plug holes in the general budget. Because students are having a hard time graduating in a reasonable amount of time because of the lack of classes. Things are out of whack. We're stuck between two impossible decisions.

                      If the university could somehow establish a policy that limits tuition increases to cost-of-living or inflation, then maybe some of the pressure would be relieved.

                      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

                      by upstate NY on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 08:21:35 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

      •  PS - Adjuncts (0+ / 0-)

        Oh, yes I was once an adjunct now the deal. I also see ours and see how so many get taken advantage of.

  •  Thank you for this diary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fumie, mrkvica, speak2me

    I teach at two community colleges and classes start next week. This diary will force me to go further in regards to teaching critical thinking in my classes. I thought I was teaching it in my classes, but it seems I have to do more. This diary will be a part of my Composition II (i.e. critical thinking) class next week. I want my students to go further in their writing and hopefully this will occur.

    I think one of the main problems is the lack of parental involvement in regards to encouraging reading at an early age. I grew up around books because my parents are/were voracious readers. I learned to read at a very early age and I happen to be one of those so-called savants who happen to know everything. It saddens me that parents are not truly a part of their children's education. Yes, the economy plays a major part and parents aren't home to read to children nor are reading to them. Video games are easier for them to give.

    A prime example I can give of this is I gave an exercise to students to change the ending of a fairy tale told to them as children. A large majority of my students told me that no one read any stories to them as children. If it wasn't for the Disney cartoon movies, they wouldn't know anything about Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

    Stories like this are the reasons why I don't want to see the film Waiting For Superman, which denigrates public schools and teacher's unions. Where are the parents? Parental involvement has to be a major part of the overhaul of America's schools.

    "Do they call you Rush because you're in a rush to eat?" -"Stutterin' John" Melendez to Rush Limbaugh.

    by Nedsdag on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:01:50 AM PST

  •  It is hard when a teacher tells her class (0+ / 0-)

    That facts are true and opinions are false!

    Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lazzardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

    by Temmoku on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:02:45 AM PST

  •  Or this report says they don't learn much at all (0+ / 0-)

    Students Learn Little In First Two Years Of College, Report Finds.

    USA Today (1/18, Marklein) reports, "Nearly half of the nation's undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don't make academics a priority, a new report shows. Instructors tend to be more focused on their own faculty research than teaching younger students, who in turn are more tuned in to their social lives, according to the report, based on a book titled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses." According to USA Today, "The Department of Education and Congress in recent years have looked for ways to hold colleges and universities accountable for student learning, but researchers say that federal intervention would be counterproductive."

    "The word bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out." George Carlin

    by lynneinfla on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:15:48 AM PST

  •  that's right where they want 'em. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fumie, mrkvica

    Our governor, Haley Barbour, blocks educational funding at every opportunity, and is always trying to get struggling colleges to close down.  This year he took money that was set aside for education and put it into Medicaid instead.  He wants our population to be unable to think critically, because that's how his kind keep getting elected.

    Religion's to blame for a lot of it, too.  Right-wing evangelicals have been getting aggressive at recruiting, and their verion of religion actually trains young people to not be able to think logically.  Their dogma regects logic in favor of "faith," and actually trains the brain to work around actual logical arguments.  Logic is just something to be "debunked" with ridculous word-play and paradoxes.  And this spreads from religion into all other areas, as well.  I have a very hard time getting evangelical co-workers to understand certain concepts, because their brains have been trained away from those skills.

    When you add to that the influence of the internet and its attention-span-destroying patterns, things get even worse.  

    We are nearing an Idiocracy scenario, and it's no joke.

    "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

    by Front Toward Enemy on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:16:12 AM PST

  •  Thanks for this diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fumie, mrkvica, deha, speak2me

    I teach acting in a large state university.  My students are, for the most part, fulfilling a General Education requirement and come from all over the University.  I find them in the main to be sorely lacking not only in writing skills but also in oral communication skills. Texting as communication has weakened these skills a great deal.  One major focus of my class is to improve their ability to stand on two feet and speak to others without uptalk (the question-mark at the end of everything they say, including their own names), to make eye contact, to articulate clearly with sufficient volume, and to speak with confidence and clarity.  These are huge tasks for many of them, but I consider them crucial skills for navigating in the real world.  The class also develops critical thinking, ethe understanding of various viewpoints, reading and writing skills.

    I'm a longtime professional actor with an MA, but after 6 years there I still am employed as an adjunct.  The university doesn't want to pay full time faculty for this frippery, due to budgetary limitations.  This department is slated to be eliminated completely next year, along with four languages and Classics.  Clearly, these skills have no value in the eyes of our supposedly progressive state.

    Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it. --Mark Twain

    by SottoVoce on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 11:23:06 AM PST

  •  Why should they bother? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica

    We have a get rich quick system built up that rewards gamblers and people with insider connections. Its called Wall Street. Why should people bother with learning critical thinking skills when none of it applies to this system?

    Where is the reward for someone getting their PhD in the hard sciences or Mathematics?

    Its not youth's fault that they have figured out certain skills are unneccessary to learn.

    •  Well, I'm 'just' a social scientist with a Ph.D.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica

      but the rewards for me are these:

      1. I love learning from the students in my grad & undergrad classes. In fact, I really enjoy having non-majors in my classes because I love the perspective they bring
      1. I'm a child language researcher. We know almost nothing about how the brain works physically. We know even less about how minds work and develop. I love the challenge of figuring that out.
      1. I love learning. I love knowing that everyday I'm going to learn something new. I love not knowing exactly what each day is going to hold for me.
      1. After spending 11 years in college, I've learned the difference between a 'need' and a 'want' and I'm happier for it :)

      I can't imagine doing anything else with my life other than being a researcher. I try to impress upon the students in my grad classes how are learning how to be speech-language pathologists that every single client can be viewed as a single participant in a research project. To help a client, you must collect data regarding the nature of the problem, form a hypothesis from your data, develop an intervention, implement the intervention and collect good data, evaluate the effectiveness of your intervention by objectively looking at your data, and make research-based decisions on the basis of your findings.

      I hope I'm able to impart at least a little bit of these types of critical thinking skills to my students.

      •  Besides teaching, I also spent a number of years (0+ / 0-)

        as an auto mechanic. Two years formal training, certification, followed by six or eight years employment.

        To sum up, what a good mechanic does is:

        collect data regarding the nature of the problem, form a hypothesis from your data, develop an intervention, implement the intervention and collect good data, evaluate the effectiveness of your intervention by objectively looking at your data, and make research-based decisions on the basis of your findings.

        Then the car works properly.

        I've always been glad, as a teacher, that I spent that time as a mechanic.

        I sure wish my government gave me as much privacy as they demand I give them.

        by Daddy Bartholomew on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 01:21:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  As my sister says, "Every dollar cut from the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, BoxerDave, LucyandByron

    education budget breeds another Republican."

  •  College Kids' Learnin' Not So Hot (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BoxerDave

    You mean.

    There needs to be a possessive apostrophe after "Kids" to make your complaint effective.

    Just sayin'....

    "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

    by Brooke In Seattle on Tue Jan 18, 2011 at 12:38:12 PM PST

  •  Actual quote from one of my students (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrkvica, BoxerDave, LucyandByron

    "You people think too much about too much stupid shit." Said aloud in class. Kind of sums it up, doesn't it?

  •  About 10 years ago, I read about a national... (0+ / 0-)

    ...survey of American beliefs:  about the same percentage of Americans (20%) believed that the Holocaust never happened as those who believe in UFOs.

  •  I'm late to this party (0+ / 0-)

    but I've been working up a good rant on epistemology and logical thinking.  I think I'm going to scream if I hear one more person evade logic by saying "that's just my opinion."

    The founding fathers knew of the mutually corrupting influences of Church and state, wisely sending them to opposite corners.

    by emidesu on Sat Jan 22, 2011 at 01:00:03 AM PST

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