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The state of public education.





Mannix
Having strong feeling about it myself, I just want to see what people think about the public education system in the US, more specifically the high schools. Having suffered through the endless busy work I can say it needs some work.

Having discussed my school experiences with someone who grew up in The Netherlands, as well as one of my best friend's cousin, who lives in Germany(and attends gymnasium), I can say that our education systems differ greatly, here our goal is, as my teacher puts it, "To prepare you for college", which is straight BS. If it were really intended to do so our grades would not be based on the work designed to help people study, but rather what they actually learn. There are also a limited amount of levels. Since everyone is stuck in the same level class, and the classes on average are 35 students, there is very limited opportunity for students who just don't get it to get extra help. They then tend to give up and disrupt class, making it harder for the people who are trying to learn(and slowing down the speed of the the class). There are also people on the other end of the spectrum who can learn very quickly, sometimes with very little or studying outside of class. Because so much of the grades are based on that outside work, those kids end up being bored the entire time, sometimes to the point of quitting, as was the case of my friend(the one with the German cousin). Since making the grade is based on this work, there is alot of copying off other people, and as a result people don't learn the material(because all they care about is their grade).

The German and dutch system is organized so people at any level and succeed, or at least that's what it attempts to do. They divide people up by how well they preform, and send them to different schools, from those focusing more on trades, towards the lower end, to those who want to become doctors and scientists. There is a high emphasis on tests, many kids from the US would say that they just learn different and that's why they don't test well. One can argue that until they are blue in the face, but the fact is, If someone studies hard the right way(not going for memorization, but understanding), they should be able to pass a test, it's that simple, all it depends on is that you actually know the material and whether you can read and comprehend the question.

Here are a few links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_the_United_States
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_the_Netherlands
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_germany

Thought this might spark an interesting discussion.
loryl
Although I haven't had the "pleasure" of being in a normal (as you have described) American high school, I do sympathize with you. The education system in the United States, while impressive in its use of technology, is otherwise, to put it simply: cruddy. People learn differently, yes. Teachers also vary in their abilities to teach. There are some, I feel, that simply cannot teach, even if their life depended on it. Granted, there *are* some great teachers out there.

However, not all public schools are created equal. No, I don't mean just the rich, suburban schools filled with preppy students all looking to get into Harvard or Yale. Several states offer some of their smartest students to "test into" schools filled others of their kind. Yes, they are considered public because they're funded by the state. No, not everyone can get in. The classes in these schools tend to be much smaller (a class of 10 isn't uncommon). They have better access to technologies and generally have more opportunities available to students. Students no longer have to sit there and do busywork all day. They can experiment and sometimes gain field experience. It's totally different from your conventional public high school.

(If you haven't heard of such a school, there are probably two reasons why:
1. Your state doesn't offer it. Sorry. Sad
2. Your school doesn't want you to know. If you're smart, your school won't want you to leave. )

I guess I described the above type of schools to show that not all public schools in the US suck. It tends to vary from district to district. I've been in schools where the administrators simply could not handle money and ended up going into debt. Perhaps it would help if we focused our resources, financial and otherwise, in our more gifted students and less into remedial programs . Let's face it, not everyone is as smart as others. We're always trying to get the slower students to catch up. Everyone else just sits there bored.

As a more cynical thought, perhaps teachers don't want to, or don't know how to, teach the more advanced kids. As an instructor (in the past), I've found it easier to help kids who were struggling rather than those who already know the material. Some teachers are up for the challenge, othes aren't.
Rico
Just be grateful you live in a first world country. You’re obviously intelligent enough to see your government wants to turn you into a cow.
chinaspeak
We're very fortunate that we can even talk on this forum!

not wanting to be a preacher (and not in a position to do so)
our very fibre of our successful learning depends and can
only depend on one person.

and that person is...

you guessed it - you.

If you do not have the inner yearning, burning curiousity
to explore, imagine, discover, uncover whatever subject
that you are learning - your assimilation and total experience
of it is only sub-optimal.

From what I've experienced:

Yes, the teacher is boring. Looking at a wheatgrass grow is
even more Exciting!

Yes, the seats are hard

Yes, it's so bloody hot in here - why isnt there any darn
airconditioning?

Yes, I didnt even Want to come on a saturday early in
the morning

Yes, it's absolutely FReezing in here! where's the heater?!

And the only common factor is... ol' me.


you have Infinite potential - Magnificent gifts to share with
everyone around you, wondrous wisdom to impart, boundless
happiness, all-embracing kindness.. Let it all out.

No one can stop you.

To Your Soaring Flight
window2
Considering the recent incidents of school shootingsI would question the state of parenting rather than the state of schools
SlowWalkere
I am currently in training to be a high school educator (I have a BA in Political Science, am finishing an MA in Education, and am currently interning as a Student Teacher in a 9th grade classroom), so I thought I would throw a different perspective on this conversation.

Yes, there are plenty of problems with American high schools. Many of these are structural. For example, a lot of schools are simply too big. Research has shown that optimal school size is about 8-900 students, yet many high schools are still in excess of 2000, 3000, or even 4000 students. I currently teach intern at school with approximately 3500 students. This school size increases class size, increases the sense of impersonality between educators and educatees, increases the need for support staff (counselors, special ed teachers, massive bussing facilities), increases the amount of and work for administrators, and causes all kinds of other problems. Any serious school reform would need to consider first and foremost how to cut down on school size. But, most towns are reluctant to use tax money to build new schools when they are not absolutely needed (and if your class sizes are low, taxpayers are going to say that a new school is not absolutely necesary), so schools simply grow until they are about to burst at the seams.

Tracking is another problem, in my opinion. Research has shown that dividing students up by ability has a minimal positive impact only for the students tracked as "Honors" or otherwise bright. The rest of the students receive no effect or are impacted negatively. If students are put into the same classes, a good teacher can utilize those more capable students to tutor and help the less capable. Teaching is one of the best ways to learn (better than almost any other activity a student usually engages in), so both the more capable and less capable student benefit from the set up.

I think the biggest problem, though, is that the schools are all set in their ways. No one wants to change the way things have been for years. If any reform is to be successful, it needs the full cooperation of the faculty, the staff, the administration, and the students. Often, it is hard to get all of the faculty on board for a reform and to get them to implement it whole-heartedly. Most of them will make a show for the administrators, but once the door closes they will return to their routine. I think another problem (kind of echoing what Chinaspeak said) is that the students are so stuck in their routine that they won't adapt either. Please don't misinterpret this as a slight to the students. I don't think that they can't adapt, but I do think that they are so well trained to do busy work that anything more challenging is lost on them. Devising a solution to the problem is the easy part; getting everyone to cooperate is the hard part.

Anyhow, that's my rant on schooling. I'm looking forward to a long career in education, so hopefully I can make my little corner of the world a little better.

- Walkere
AutoTechGuy
Yes.. most public school do have a desparate need for.. well.. complete makeovers.. both in procedure and in physical appearance..

But the simple truth is that too many parents these days rely on the schools to raise their children, and not just to educate them.

Likewise, it's not only the schools' responsibility to educate the kids.. it's just as important for the parents to get involved as well. Especially when it comes to teaching their children "how to learn" and how to want to achieve.

It's sad to see parents shove their children in front of the TV while they go do their own thing. They all to often don't get involved in their childrens' lives.. especially when they are still very young and impressionable.

I have a lot of issues with my Mother these days... and we're not exactly on good speaking terms (mostly issues with what she's doing to my father.. and the fact that I honestly believe she's going mentally insane) but I will say this one great thing about her.

When I was young, EVERYTHING we did together or experienced together was a learning experience. She worked very hard to engrave the basics into me, teaching me responsibility at a very young age, heck even potty-training was done very early in my life. I was reading fluently at the age of three, my brother at two. Even when my knowledge exceeded hers, she was still insistant on me wanting to learn more and on me always being curious as to how things work, how to figure things out, and how to teach myself the things that others may not know how to. AND she achieved all of this while keeping things fun and interesting and not at all in a strict environment.

I see a lot of very intelligent people (intelligent meaning their potential, not necessarily their knowledge) who are simply ignorant to simple educational principles because of the simple fact that they were never challenged by their parents... that they never learned the simple skills of knowing HOW to learn, and as a result have no desire to succeed, or to even care to gain any knowledge whatsoever.

I understand it becomes increasingly difficult as parents have to work more hours to make ends meet, and to deal with ever increasingly more stressful work environments, but I still feel it's no excuse to make time for your children. One can't neglect their children for years on end, only to end up on the Jerry Springer show whining and crying about how they lost control. It's not fair to the children, and it's especially not fair to society.

You can find very knowledgable and enthusiastic students in even the worst of schools, and likewise you can find the "worst of the worst" in the best of schools. I personally believe that it's at least 90% due to fault of the parents. People simply need to accept the fact that raising your children should be done under the premise that they will be better off than you are, and I'm seeing all too often the exact opposite attitude.

So before people point fingers at the schools, they should first look at themselves...
livilou
Things have changed so much since I was in school that I can't even begin to imagine what it's like now, but I guess I'll find out in a few years when my oldest hits those grades.

When I was in school, it was to prepare a person for college. I wish they had worked more on how to study because I don't know how and it's something that I regret. It's hurt me some. Don't get me wrong, I learn pretty easy, but knowing how to study properly would be a big help right now.
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