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I am a product of the Detroit Public School System.
I graduated from the prestigious Cass Technical High School in 1974, (Michigan State two years later).
The curriculum offered there was practically unprecedented in public school education at the time, but it was representative of the mentality that fueled our nation's public schools.
Cass Tech was both "college prep" and "trade school" at the same time.
The students were required to choose a 'major'.
On offer was everything from auto mechanics, to chem/bio with all manner of specialties in between.
My 'major' was Vocational Music, not to be confused with 'Avocational Music' which was also on offer.
When I later studied at The Mannes College Of Music in NYC, I was able to skip the first two years of conservatory-level classical music theory, because I had already studied it thoroughly in high school.
The same could be said of most of my school colleagues, regardless of their field of further study or immediate employment.
The chem-bio students were shoo-ins for pre-med, while those that had studied auto mechanics were immediately hired by one of The Big Three.
What did the auto geeks share with the book-worms and us artsy types?
A well-rounded Liberal Arts curriculum.

Read further below the fold....

Beyond the demands of our specialized subjects, and the general requirements of math, science, history, literature, civics and economics, we were all required to participate in extracurricular activities.
These ranged from the usual offerings such as the school choir, pep club, band or orchestra, participation in plays, Latin Club, debate team, to sports and ROTC.
We all came together with our different personal leanings and learned to cooperate, work together.
Cass Tech is but one example of the American public school model of the 50's, 60, and 70's.
The downward spiral in public school education in the US began under Ronald Reagan who started shifting funds away from education and directing them instead to the MIC.
The result a generation later is an educational system that is ranking lower and lower internationally with each passing year, failing our students miserably.
Not only are they scoring poorly in math and science, many are not being offered any of the liberal arts options necessary to develop critical thinking and human-interaction skills, because those funds have been cut entirely.
It is our duty to ensure that our students are stretching their minds, as opposed to being taught to close them down.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    "These 'Yet To Be' United States" --James Baldwin--

    by kevinbr38 on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 01:43:27 PM PDT

  •  but are the liberal arts identical to General Ed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, G2geek

    or corporal punishment or major failure? The 'baggers and even the common core are products of class-based "liberal learning" of the 19th Century sort

    The 7 Liberal Arts - Trivium, Quadrivium and Logical Fallacies

    In medieval universities the Trivium combined with the Quadrivium comprised the seven liberal arts. This teaching method is based on a curriculum outlined by Plato. One of the key intentions behind applying the Trivium and the Quadrivium is to distinguish between reality and fiction. By training the mind how to think - instead of what to think - this method provides a teaching of the art and the science of the mind as well as the art of the science of matter.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 01:52:23 PM PDT

  •  I envy you... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, G2geek

    ...your education.

    I had a pretty good high school, but I think yours tops mine.

    Thanks for sharing.

  •  You point out the difference between vocational (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, G2geek

    training and liberal arts education. Both have their place in today's world, but while vocational training will prepare you for the work world, a liberal arts education will prepare you for a life of cognitive thinking and appreciation of artistic and literary human endeavor.  

  •  Rose colored glasses (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Van Buren

    This:

    Cass Tech is but one example of the American public school model of the 50's, 60, and 70's.
    The downward spiral in public school education in the US began under Ronald Reagan who started shifting funds away from education and directing them instead to the MIC.
    The result a generation later is an educational system that is ranking lower and lower internationally with each passing year, failing our students miserably.
    Is not really correct.

    Are you telling me that young black women or young latino males got a better education in the 1950s? I think not.

    We didn't make education a right for disabled kids until the mid 1970's.

    If you compare the curriculum kids are expected to master today against what was expected in the 60's and 70's, it's no contest. When I went to high school in the 1980s, you could graduate high school without taking algebra, and a lot of kids didn't graduate. Today in California we expect every kid to graduate and we expect every kid to take algebra in 8th grade.

    I am an elite science graduate and today's California 5th grade science exam contains science I was never taught even in college. (When I was a kid, we barely did any science in elementary school.)

    America has NEVER scored at the top of any international comparison. Ever. Yet, we've muddled along okay.

    You might enjoy this blog:
    http://zhaolearning.com/...

    http://zhaolearning.com/...

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 02:34:00 PM PDT

    •  These requirements are being stripped away (0+ / 0-)

      Texas has dropped Algebra II as a requirement for graduation, as well as World History and other subjects.

      •  I'd be surprised if Algebra II is required (0+ / 0-)

        for high school graduation anywhere. In California, you must pass two years of math, one of which must be Algebra 1. Algebra 1 is also on the HS exit exam.

        But Common Core will counter any state's inclination to lower curriculum requirements.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 05:03:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Cass Tech was a model school in the Detroit (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kevinbr38, G2geek, worldlotus

    area back then.  Michigan used to have fine schools throughout the state.  Engler started the cutbacks in educational funding and Reagan downplayed being smart and knowing a lot about a lot of things.  I went to Muskegon High School in the late 50s,early 60s and felt we had the same opportunities for a liberal education with options to specialize in business, college prep, building trades, etc.  We had marvelous music, art, drama, sports, journalism programs. This is what public schools can and should offer. Charter schools are taking funds away and are not showing very good results.  It's time to stop the drain and restore the excellent programs that used to exist in our public schools.

    Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. - Einstein

    by moose67 on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 03:08:10 PM PDT

  •  Same as my HS experience: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kevinbr38, G2geek
    Cass Tech was both "college prep" and "trade school" at the same time.
     The students were required to choose a 'major'.
    Four years earlier.  In Texas.

    Back then, there were no "gifted" or AP classes like my own kiddos participated in-although some were able to skip grades.  

    Much like your school, we were offered a wide range of subject matter & extracurricular activities.  Heck, we even had drivers ed as an elective.

    Even had to use ink.  (Heh, I had to mention this because my kiddos only used pencil in HS)

    We were not tested to death either. School still managed to graduate productive successful citizens from all walks of life.

  •  my daughter is attending a small liberal arts (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kevinbr38, worldlotus

    school. She'll be a junior next year, and her growth in just two years has been amazing. Discussions and debates with her are already leagues beyond where she was when she graduating from high school.

    So sick of all the STEM push--as though everyone can fit into that paradigm.

    "Revolution begins when the complacent are denied their dinner." -- D. Mizner

    by livjack on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 03:43:38 PM PDT

    •  Many of the best programmers I know (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      worldlotus

      have liberal arts degrees or strong proclivities to the arts. They use technology to solve problems, not as an end in itself, which makes them much stronger as developers.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 05:05:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  another data point for you: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus

    When I was in high school, science classes were lab.  You put your hands on the materials and on the tools, and you fiddled with the messy stuff, made jokes about things going Boom, and got to see results up close & personal.

    A few years ago I had an opportunity to talk to a guy who had just graduated from high school in the Bay Area.  He was something of a chemistry genius.  He said that instead of doing hand-on in a lab, they watched experiments performed on video.

    He taught himself by setting up a chem lab at home.  Probably less safe than anything that would be set up at school, but none the less it worked for him.

    There is no comparison between watching and doing.

    We got the future back. Uh-oh.

    by G2geek on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 05:12:00 PM PDT

    •  This is very school specific (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek

      Many schools still do labs. I agree with you, it's critically important to have the hands-on experience of manipulating the tools and seeing the reactions.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 06:03:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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