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Why are we so far behind?

BigChilds

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I am writing a paper for my Govt. class and was hoping to get some input from the forum.
Why as a nation are we so far behind countries like China and Japan when it comes to schools, we have a lower pass rate, higher drop out rate, and it is quite obvious that we are behind as our jobs are being outsourced?
What can we as a nation do to improve our schools?

Any ideas would be helpful
Thanks
 

128shot

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Note-our universites are still top rated.



our highschool is what sucks, so people end up having to pay extra and learn what in 3 months they were suppose to learn in 12 years.



not to mention HS is controlled by political players instead of education figureheads
 

bazlyx

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One of my classes we read a small article which analyzed some of the failures of US education.

The article was about project Follow Through which was a study on effective teaching techniques.

The results were the most (practically only) effective teaching method for improving minority students performance in three levels (basic skills such as math, cognitive skills such as critical thinking, and affective measures such as self esteem) was direct instruction.

The problem was direct instruction is criticized as being to structered (treating children like robots) and education majors today will look at it as backward program. Despite it being the most effective program in numerous other programs.

What (some) schools do today is they have little structure and tend to let the kids learn at their own rate in their own way. This philosophy is popular though it has flaws... such as children not learning as much.

I'm not saying that this is the reason we are behind though I'd bet it plays a small part.

If anyone wants to hear more I could potentially find the article.
 

Technocratic_Utilitarian

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There are many problems with our secondary and primary education systems.
In general, I would say the problem is many-tiered. On the top, you have the government, which is parly to blame for bureaucratic incompetence. Under that level the problem separates into several distinct branches: Parents/teachers, unions, students, money, municipal overburden, culture etc.
For starters, the problem begins in the culture and and home. American culture centres around an distincty anti-intellectual "anti-elite" mentality. They have a phobia of any experts or "elite" educated officials. Instead, they focus on the worship of the "common man," which is a sad hold-over from the age of Jackson.

More specfically, intellectualism is frowned upon by the masses, which influences parents and children. Poor education starts at the home. There are many good parents, but there are also many poor parents; good parenting is not innate. Many parents don't have time to help their children or they don't want to because they are "busy" with something else. Other parents simply don't care or they are unable to help because of the technology and educational gaps between generations. Religion of the parents can also be a hindrance.

Speaking of which, communities having too much say in what is taught is also a problem. Education is needs to take tips from the superior nations and focus more on allowing the experts in the fields create and administer curriculae instead of communities and bureaucrats who know little. (IE. KANSAS and DOVER affairs). We need a better, more relavent curriculum focused on the sciences, languages, logic, math, grammar, civics, ethics etc.

As for the schools, the curriculum itself is poor in many areas. THey are focusing on the wrong subjects and they are teaching them incorrectly. The pedagogy is not one that encourages critical thinking or logical analysis; they simply don't teach it. Instead, they teach rote memorization. To compound this problem, people are more fixated on making the kid feel good emotionally than actually teaching him. You should do both, but not do away with the latter in favour of the former.

Another problem is we have poor discipline at home and at schools, and people aren't allowed to deal with this. We tolerate bad children and problem causers in the classrooms and give them far too much leeway. Half the punishments are retarded as well.


There are also too many days off, not enough days in school learning. Singapore, Japan, and many other asian nations have superior public education. We are obviously doing something wrong.

Unions are also part of the problem in that they wield far too much power to the detriment of the children.
 

alphieb

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128shot said:
Note-our universites are still top rated.



our highschool is what sucks, so people end up having to pay extra and learn what in 3 months they were suppose to learn in 12 years.



not to mention HS is controlled by political players instead of education figureheads
Thank you for this interesting post.

My son goes to a private school. He is in kindergarten and it was mandatory when he entered that he know all of his letters and numbers.

He has homework every night. Most of his assignments are reading small books. They are already adding and subtracting. He struggles a bit with reading, but math comes easy.

They are also learning Spanish as we learned ENGLISH letters and numbers in K.

I work with him every evening with flash card etc.....My husband interferes and says that is too much for a child his age "let him be a kid". I believe we are behind and want him succeed very well in life, but I also have mixed feelings. ANY IDEAS? I have been told he will burn out before college and resent education.
 

bandaidwoman

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128shot said:
Note-our universites are still top rated.



our highschool is what sucks, so people end up having to pay extra and learn what in 3 months they were suppose to learn in 12 years.



not to mention HS is controlled by political players instead of education figureheads

Yes, it's amazing how many people come to the United States for the superior college and graduate programs.

I'm a product of Asian schooling until college when I moved here. And yes, I was doing calculus math by 10th grade of highschool,(spoke and wrote in four languages) yet when I was a chemistry major in college then entered a graduate program in chemistry and research etc.etc. , American educated chemistry grad and undergrad students were not disadvantaged in any way.

In fact, I contend something about the American education allows for more free and creative thinking. Although, I do hate how the American system is so monolinguistic....... but I would not trash the educational system when I see such quality thinkers in the graduate programs who are a byproduct of US education. (Of course I can only speak for the chemistry graduate programs and medical school post graduate researchers)

I can tell you that hours of grueling homework and advanced learning of science and mathmatics that is taught (back in Malaysia and Taiwan and Japan where I studied) do not necessarily mean they taught us how to think creatively and freely,....and most of all independantly.

In fact, we were taught not to question the teacher (It is a sign of profound disrespect). I had superior mental tools compared to my felllow Americans (many in my program were by products of public education) but I had to undo my learning that was very much rote and unquestioning and had to learn to be more creative and learn that I could challenge ideas that should be questioned (This is especially true in medical research.) I felt my American counterparts had the advantage of this type of thinking (which is more productive once the tools have been mastered) . The public school system is broken and needs to be fixed, but I don't think modeling it after the Asian system is necessarily a good idea.

Anyhoo, despite much criticism (and contempt) about the public educational system in the US, it somehow produces outstanding undergraduate and graduate level students whom I still work with to this day. (Overall, I do not see any differences in the quality of my research team regardless of their country of primary education.)
 

alphieb

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bandaidwoman said:
Yes, it's amazing how many people come to the United States for the superior college and graduate programs.

I'm a product of Asian schooling until college when I moved here. And yes, I was doing calculus math by 10th grade of highschool,(spoke and wrote in four languages) yet when I was a chemistry major in college then entered a graduate program in chemistry and research etc.etc. , American educated chemistry grad and undergrad students were not disadvantaged in any way.

In fact, I contend something about the American education allows for more free and creative thinking. Although, I do hate how the American system is so monolinguistic....... but I would not trash the educational system when I see such quality thinkers in the graduate programs who are a byproduct of US education. (Of course I can only speak for the chemistry graduate programs and medical school post graduate researchers)

I can tell you that hours of grueling homework and advanced learning of science and mathmatics that is taught (back in Malaysia and Taiwan and Japan where I studied) do not necessarily mean they taught us how to think creatively and freely,....and most of all independantly.

In fact, we were taught not to question the teacher (It is a sign of profound disrespect). I had superior mental tools compared to my felllow Americans (many in my program were by products of public education) but I had to undo my learning that was very much rote and unquestioning and had to learn to be more creative and learn that I could challenge ideas that should be questioned (This is especially true in medical research.) I felt my American counterparts had the advantage of this type of thinking (which is more productive once the tools have been mastered) . The public school system is broken and needs to be fixed, but I don't think modeling it after the Asian system is necessarily a good idea.

Anyhoo, despite much criticism (and contempt) about the public educational system in the US, it somehow produces outstanding undergraduate and graduate level students whom I still work with to this day. (Overall, I do not see any differences in the quality of my research team regardless of their country of primary education.)
Excellent post, I had this same discussion with my husband last night and he said the Asian educational system pressured students too much and by the time they enter college motivation drops dramatically and that their college systems were not as well as ours. We were debating on private schools v. public schools. He thinks they are putting too much pressure on my six year old and they are trying to mimic china's educational system.

His point was, he had gone to a public school and graduated at the top of his class. He also went to law school and did very well even being the product of a public school. This is what inspired me to create the thread I did. I believe that maybe a mixture of bilingual, high motivation, ambition and creative free thinking would be an excellent combo and make wonderful products of our future.
 

nkgupta80

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Thank you for this interesting post.

My son goes to a private school. He is in kindergarten and it was mandatory when he entered that he know all of his letters and numbers.

He has homework every night. Most of his assignments are reading small books. They are already adding and subtracting. He struggles a bit with reading, but math comes easy.

They are also learning Spanish as we learned ENGLISH letters and numbers in K.

I work with him every evening with flash card etc.....My husband interferes and says that is too much for a child his age "let him be a kid". I believe we are behind and want him succeed very well in life, but I also have mixed feelings. ANY IDEAS? I have been told he will burn out before college and resent education.
that sounds fine. My parents raised us that way. They'd sit me down and make me do math problems, read books, or learn about science. Looking back, I really appreciate the time they spent doing that. BUT, I still didn't missed out on being a kid and I certainly didn't burn out by college (atleast I think I won't, im only a freshman).

Personally, I think the best thing a parent can do for their kid is get them interested in reading books. Take the time to read books to them, find them good literature to read on their own (as they get older too).
 

libertarian_knight

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alphieb said:
Thank you for this interesting post.

My son goes to a private school. He is in kindergarten and it was mandatory when he entered that he know all of his letters and numbers.

He has homework every night. Most of his assignments are reading small books. They are already adding and subtracting. He struggles a bit with reading, but math comes easy.

They are also learning Spanish as we learned ENGLISH letters and numbers in K.

I work with him every evening with flash card etc.....My husband interferes and says that is too much for a child his age "let him be a kid". I believe we are behind and want him succeed very well in life, but I also have mixed feelings. ANY IDEAS? I have been told he will burn out before college and resent education.
I think you're doing OK, Pushing is fine, but sure, allow your son some kid time too. I would think pushing them, some and then letting them float a little would be great for the kid, and establish and understand thier own direction and identity, which is very necessary for success. you know your kid better than anyone, and parents have to help them discover thier limits.
 

libertarian_knight

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alphieb said:
Thank you for this interesting post.

My son goes to a private school. He is in kindergarten and it was mandatory when he entered that he know all of his letters and numbers.

He has homework every night. Most of his assignments are reading small books. They are already adding and subtracting. He struggles a bit with reading, but math comes easy.

They are also learning Spanish as we learned ENGLISH letters and numbers in K.

I work with him every evening with flash card etc.....My husband interferes and says that is too much for a child his age "let him be a kid". I believe we are behind and want him succeed very well in life, but I also have mixed feelings. ANY IDEAS? I have been told he will burn out before college and resent education.
I think you're doing OK, Pushing is fine, but sure, allow your son some kid time too. I would think pushing them, some and then letting them float a little would be great for the kid, and establish and understand thier own direction and identity, which is very necessary for success. You know your kid better than anyone, and parents have to help them discover thier passions and limits. At least this is what I see as a non-parent.
 
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bazlyx

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Indeed our college level education is a step up from highschool

I remember when I started my freshmen year I treated it like highschool and did just what was expected of me and nothing more, also I worked for the grade and not because the material was important - just like I had in highschool. The result: first time my GPA has ever dropped below a 3.0.

Since then I've bounced back and learned that its the education and not the grade which matters and that extra effort and ambition is a must. Luckily I have a challenging but fair department at my school so it shaped me into a more efficient studier.

Replying to alehieb:

I'm actually glad to hear your son is being challenged - gives me hope for the American education system for the future. Assuming it follows this pattern.

I'm a psychology major and focus in behavioral psychology. In that I took a class that had a focus on learning so I'll try and pass on what I remember from that class, I think you'll find it makes sense

- Teach to fluency; so flashcards and quizzing are brilliant at this. Be repititious about quizzing and don't stop until he gets it 100% accurate and can respond almost immediately to whatever you're quizzing.

- Take breaks between studing or doing homework, especially if he gets restless, then return to it later that evening. If he responds particulary well then reward him with some treat that he enjoys (if not a snack than a fun activity). That will motivate him. Also, try to end a study session on a good note, ending in frustration will only make studing become aversive to him.

- Give the ultimate motivation of praise when he does well in class or when your helping him study. It might sound cold, but try and withold praise (but don't criticize) if he is making errors. A common mistake in school is that teachers sometimes praise regardless of progress (trying to boost self-esteem) but that only reduces motivation. Self-esteem comes after good progress not before it.

I hope some of this could be of a little help.
 

128shot

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alphieb said:
Thank you for this interesting post.

My son goes to a private school. He is in kindergarten and it was mandatory when he entered that he know all of his letters and numbers.

He has homework every night. Most of his assignments are reading small books. They are already adding and subtracting. He struggles a bit with reading, but math comes easy.

They are also learning Spanish as we learned ENGLISH letters and numbers in K.

I work with him every evening with flash card etc.....My husband interferes and says that is too much for a child his age "let him be a kid". I believe we are behind and want him succeed very well in life, but I also have mixed feelings. ANY IDEAS? I have been told he will burn out before college and resent education.



In my opinion, I wish my parents started me early on math, so I don't have such a problem today and had to shell out the cash to learn it, but thats life :cool:


Anyway, thats good, get him interested in things like this, then, all the sudden....STOP. Let him free. If he's hooked on learning, he'll do it for as long as he lives, you've done one key thing nobody else could. You got him interested in anything, and thats actually very hard to do to somebody. Some people just give up on learning (well, not entirely, but anything useful or current)


Also listen, even if the idea he might have or question he might have is sooo dumb it makes you want to laugh. Listen, and consider. I wish my parentals did that too....I have alot of good ideas :2razz:


This pattern seemed to work in my life. Now i'll read anything that I stand to gain from. Weither its Charles Dickens or a home buyers guide. Knowledge is the only thing someone can't take away from you, so keep on learning.
 

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BigChilds said:
I am writing a paper for my Govt. class and was hoping to get some input from the forum.
Why as a nation are we so far behind countries like China and Japan when it comes to schools, we have a lower pass rate, higher drop out rate, and it is quite obvious that we are behind as our jobs are being outsourced?
What can we as a nation do to improve our schools?

Any ideas would be helpful
Thanks

From the inside of it for 31 years here’s what I've seen:

1. Absolutely there are some poor teachers, but I've been across the country and out of the country observing teachers and schools and having some poor teachers isn't the base problem! The number one issue in whether a kid gets a good education or says "M.F." all the time is what his parents demand of him! Our country is in denial about that fact!

2. After all the "It's the public schools fault criticism", still no one explains why Asian immigrant kids who come here not even speaking English soar to the to the top the class and wind up in the best colleges becoming doctors and scientists! They do it in the same public school poor little Johnny is saying M.F. every other word! It's the attitude they bring to school with them! I dare you to visit a suburban public school where there is a high percentage of Chinese or Korean kids and you'll see it with your own eyes!

3. Public schools are a political football! They have massive interference from political leaders trying to get votes by attacking them, and educational experts with the latest answer of the day (which constantly changes)! Good teachers have their hands tied “not by the courts”, but by programs written by people who don't teach but get paid to dream up new programs, and administrators running scared that would put the toilets on the ceiling and call them showers if the board of education asked them!

4. You show me a bad teacher and I'll show you a bad administrator not doing his job, or afraid to do his job! It's a lie and just propaganda that you can't fire teachers with tenure! It's done everyday! When bad teachers aren't fired it's because administrators don't do the job of documenting poor teaching! It's not rocket science, but it takes work! I was in a high level position in a teachers union for over 25 years and believe me we didn't want bad teachers to keep their jobs and make the profession look bad! We just wanted them to have "due process" and a “fair hearing” before some administrator fired them! We told many teachers basically, "If I were your principal I would have filed against you a long time ago! Shape up or get a different job!" Not every teacher is a great teacher like every other job, but the majority of them are trying to do something good for kids! When a country blames it's problems on their teachers, don't be surprised when the best young Americans don't want to be teachers anymore! I taught in a school with 65% Asian students! I got tremendous respect from the Asian parents, but the "C' quality teachers got strong pressure from the parents and decided to go somewhere else where "C" quality was accepted, and it was! When I retired the school rated by test in the 97 percentile including all test private schools, meaning only 3% of all schools in the U.S. tested higher! Why, because I and the other teachers were great? Honestly, it was much more the attitude of the student! We aren't going to fix public schools by beating up on teachers! All you do is drive the best of young college graduates away from teaching in a country that constantly blames them for Johnny's choosing gangster rap and violent video games over getting an education! Private schools don't have to take Johnny and his parents crap, and they don't have to take the immigrants of our wide open borders that our government leaders have left wide open on purpose!

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt!
 
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I say this from a an Australian perspective. But there are many issues facing the Australian education system at the primary and secondary levels, that are similar to the American system.

I'm 21 and feel that my generation does not have the same grasp of the English language in the same manner as my parents' or grandparents' generation.

In part I blame a system that was more interested in teaching creative writing at the ages of 10-12, instead of teaching grammer, spelling, and phonetics. All of this is based on an idea, of generating creativity. Ha! Creativity is something that you either have or you don't, it is not something that can be taught. And without the proper tools how can you ever express that creativity?

I used to love English, but instead of writing poems, learning about great works of literature, my final years of English became more of a subject revolved around 'analysing' the meaning of various media articles. That's fine if the subject was called 'media analysis'.

The English language is a wonderful language, that is rich in depth, and has a unique ability to be flexible. (refer to German grammer, Ha Ha!) I just wish that English education could get back to the basics of the language and encourage students to treat it as their greatest assest. English classes should not become subjects were students endlessly pour over newspaper articles to find out the 'true' context of the article.
 

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Australianlibertarian said:
I say this from a an Australian perspective. But there are many issues facing the Australian education system at the primary and secondary levels, that are similar to the American system.

I'm 21 and feel that my generation does not have the same grasp of the English language in the same manner as my parents' or grandparents' generation.

In part I blame a system that was more interested in teaching creative writing at the ages of 10-12, instead of teaching grammer, spelling, and phonetics. All of this is based on an idea, of generating creativity. Ha! Creativity is something that you either have or you don't, it is not something that can be taught. And without the proper tools how can you ever express that creativity?

I used to love English, but instead of writing poems, learning about great works of literature, my final years of English became more of a subject revolved around 'analysing' the meaning of various media articles. That's fine if the subject was called 'media analysis'.

The English language is a wonderful language, that is rich in depth, and has a unique ability to be flexible. (refer to German grammer, Ha Ha!) I just wish that English education could get back to the basics of the language and encourage students to treat it as their greatest assest. English classes should not become subjects were students endlessly pour over newspaper articles to find out the 'true' context of the article.
I am 32 now, but I remember in high school English we used to read old English poems and try to analyze the meaning. Each student would take turns saying what they viewed it to mean. It seemed kind of pointless to me as who could read the mind of the poet. I think what the teacher wanted was to promote independent creative thinking. I agree with the last poster, creativity is a talent that you are either blessed with or not. It is just like some people are good in math and some are not.
 

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alphieb said:
I am 32 now, but I remember in high school English we used to read old English poems and try to analyze the meaning. Each student would take turns saying what they viewed it to mean. It seemed kind of pointless to me as who could read the mind of the poet. I think what the teacher wanted was to promote independent creative thinking. I agree with the last poster, creativity is a talent that you are either blessed with or not. It is just like some people are good in math and some are not.

See I don't buy that at all. I think most people can be decent in just about all areas. Including creativity and mathematics. There is nothing magical about the human brain. Creativity just like mathematical appitude come from practice. In fact, I watched a documentary about the brain, and a woman had a stroke, went from neurologist to artist as a result, and she mad little stained glass sculptures of brains. The powers of logic and creation are in people, they just have to use it. Now, of course, a person less interested in creativity, will not endeavor to practice thier art, and thus may not be very good at using a particular medium of creation. A person less interested in math, will be less inclined to solve problems when bored.... I mean I was the kind of dork that would make up differential equations just to solve them.. heh

And yes, some people are rather "innately" adept at given skills, prodigies of the arts or sciences. And others are passionate about them, which allows them to study and practice longer than most of us. Average people however can be good at most things, if they desire to, and practice (assuming no neurological or sensory defect prevents them).
 

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libertarian_knight said:
See I don't buy that at all. I think most people can be decent in just about all areas. Including creativity and mathematics. There is nothing magical about the human brain. Creativity just like mathematical appitude come from practice. In fact, I watched a documentary about the brain, and a woman had a stroke, went from neurologist to artist as a result, and she mad little stained glass sculptures of brains. The powers of logic and creation are in people, they just have to use it. Now, of course, a person less interested in creativity, will not endeavor to practice thier art, and thus may not be very good at using a particular medium of creation. A person less interested in math, will be less inclined to solve problems when bored.... I mean I was the kind of dork that would make up differential equations just to solve them.. heh

And yes, some people are rather "innately" adept at given skills, prodigies of the arts or sciences. And others are passionate about them, which allows them to study and practice longer than most of us. Average people however can be good at most things, if they desire to, and practice (assuming no neurological or sensory defect prevents them).
What about artistic talent? Some people can paint and draw extremely and me for an example has trouble drawing a stick person. I could not draw if I wanted to.
 

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The English language is a wonderful language, that is rich in depth, and has a unique ability to be flexible. (refer to German grammer, Ha Ha!) I just wish that English education could get back to the basics of the language and encourage students to treat it as their greatest assest. English classes should not become subjects were students endlessly pour over newspaper articles to find out the 'true' context of the article.
I agree 150%! The first most important thing that English teaches should be how to read and write efficiently! In Jr. High I had a good English teacher who'd focus on grammar, writing and reading. Little or no poetry nor article analysis was required and I did well. Come high school and I get an English teacher who only liked old Victorian Novels, content analysis and poetry! We'd write about subjective stuff and get a 'B' because she saw it differently! She'd criticized your papers structure but never spent class time to go over the correct way to write.

Now my possible career choice depends that I'm a good writer and I must say I'm still lacking. The basic college English courses helped me a lot but I still have a ways to go and I'm behind other studends who had a very strong English department in HS.

As a result I'm taking personal time to study on writing structure and plan on taking a non-required course in technical writing to bring me up to speed.

My point: Learning many new words, grammar usage, and writing structure is 10x more important as subjective analysis - in the real world.
 

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The reason we are so far behind is because public schools are funded by the tax dollars that come out of a particular neighborhood. The rich neighborhoods will get fine schools with every course imaginable, while the poor neighborhoods will get crappy schools with 1 teacher for 100 kids.

Since this system continues to function, the rich are able to score well on tests from the material they learn at their good schools, while the poor are left in the dust and continue to not be able to get ahead.

If all schools had equal funding everyone would be able to succeed and get rich. Not just the few lucky ones we have at this point of time.
 

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bazlyx said:
I agree 150%! The first most important thing that English teaches should be how to read and write efficiently! In Jr. High I had a good English teacher who'd focus on grammar, writing and reading. Little or no poetry nor article analysis was required and I did well. Come high school and I get an English teacher who only liked old Victorian Novels, content analysis and poetry! We'd write about subjective stuff and get a 'B' because she saw it differently! She'd criticized your papers structure but never spent class time to go over the correct way to write.

Now my possible career choice depends that I'm a good writer and I must say I'm still lacking. The basic college English courses helped me a lot but I still have a ways to go and I'm behind other studends who had a very strong English department in HS.

As a result I'm taking personal time to study on writing structure and plan on taking a non-required course in technical writing to bring me up to speed.

My point: Learning many new words, grammar usage, and writing structure is 10x more important as subjective analysis - in the real world.
But maybe that inspires people to be independent thinkers and promotes creativity
 
T

The Real McCoy

Che said:
The reason we are so far behind is because public schools are funded by the tax dollars that come out of a particular neighborhood. The rich neighborhoods will get fine schools with every course imaginable, while the poor neighborhoods will get crappy schools with 1 teacher for 100 kids.

Since this system continues to function, the rich are able to score well on tests from the material they learn at their good schools, while the poor are left in the dust and continue to not be able to get ahead.

If all schools had equal funding everyone would be able to succeed and get rich. Not just the few lucky ones we have at this point of time.
So which are you suggesting? We dumb down schools in wealthier neighborhoods or we incur more mountains of debt?
 

LeftyHenry

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I'm suggesting that we equal out the individual budget of each school. Dumb down the schools of the good neighborhoods, I guess.

In truth however, I'd rather if we could increase the individual budget of each school, not decrease a particular type of school. Even the best of public schools ,K-12, in alot of places aren't good enough as it is.

Unfortunately, tax money must be given to important issues like the Iraq war. Not trivial matters like public healthcare and education.
 

steen

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Low funding to poor kids, anti-intellectualism and fundie anti-science claptrap, underpaid teachers, you name it.

But since the rightwing fundies goal is to get rid of public education, they no doubt feel everything is progressing on track.
 
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