We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Wednesday, August 17. 2011
Scores show students aren’t ready for college - 75% may need remedial classes.
So why do colleges admit these kids? Because they need the money and the warm bodies. It's an industry now. Low-tier colleges around here will take anybody who applies, and they will never flunk you out because they want the income.
I agree with Mead here. And I do not blame the high schools at all. I do not blame the kids either, who are neither academically ambitious, don't want to spend the money, or who just don't have what it takes but are happy to take 4 years of partying and extended avoidance of adulthood.
Furthermore, I believe that many "college-ready" kids should not bother. 12 years of education ought to be a good enough start for anybody who was paying attention. American high schools offer everything anybody might want or need, but they can't make anybody take what they offer.
I think lots of kids, especially boys, just want to learn how to do something practical as soon as they can. Most people are not natural scholars, and many natural scholars never went to college either.
I suspect something around 5% of kids can make good use of higher ed. If people really want education, you can tell, because they make great efforts to educate themselves in their spare time. If they don't do that, I'd have doubts about whether they are really suited for higher ed of the liberal arts type.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
The County Vocational High School might offer students everything they need to start. I doubt our town public High School does.
I think there's a little blame to go all around. And I understand you can't teach someone who doesn't want to learn. But I think more blame lies with the parents than kids. What kind of parent sits by while their kid goes through 12 years of school without learning?
I don't agree that the high schools aren't to blame. If our kids were competitive with the rest of the world's high schoolers, I would agree, but they are at the bottom.
I disagree with lordsomber in that I think there is a LOT of blame to go around - to everyone: kids, parents, teachers, administrators, politicians...
I agree that not every kids needs to or should go to college and that could be part of the reason for the need for remedial classes, but ever since I was in college, they have been the largest sections of any class (and that was when students paid their own way through college). Clearly there is a break down somewhere and it had better be fixed soon or we'll be in worse shape than we are now!
Yeah. Spot on.
And this statement, "I think lots of kids, especially boys, just want to learn how to do something practical as soon as they can. "
I think there was truth to that, but schools take that drive and tarnish it. They promise you can get something for nothing, either from a poorly earned college degree or the welfare system.
There's still a drive to do something, but it turns into a) excel at video games or b) be a gangster. And they're not mutually exclusive.
Agree - there is ample blame to go around, but its quite amazing seeing the circle-jerk to shift the responsibility from one group to the other, when its a mutual affair.
The big thing I see, from observing my daughter's classes, is that every teacher is different, and takes a different approach to learning. Nothing worse than monotone, droning on about a subject that most don't care about, but seeing a teacher take and make reading, science, and history fun and participative, is quite welcome.
Best classes were the fun ones - chemistry (got to blow beakers up...), physics (actually played pool, while figuring out angular movement, velocity, implied force, etc), and History (our teacher was a ACW re-nactor, before they were well known).
Also, some classes with real-world relevance would be helpful -personal econ classes, business admin lite, personal relationships, ect
Mudbug, I don't disagree, that kids, parents, teachers, administrators, politicians, etc. are all guilty to some extent. But ultimately for a kid to learn it's gonna come down that kid, their parent(s) and the choices they make.
My disagreement with you was only the amount of blame to be assigned. I expect we pretty much agree to whom to assign it.
Kids can learn if they motivate themselves - almost regardless of the environment or teacher.
Parents should not sit still for the crappy schools they send their kids.
Teachers should not sit still for the ridiculous methods they employ. They were not likely taught under those methods - though they have been getting worse for a long time.
Administrators should help teachers enforce discipline and reasonable working rules.
Politicians should scream to let people choose their own school - and this leads back to the parents.
I think some parents might be glad they don't have to be challenged when helping their kids with their homework (if they have homework).
In further consideration of your post:
I agree the ultimate responsibility rests with the student, but they are kids and most need some guidance, motivation, and structure and that's where everybody else comes in. Mediocrity (as defined for the individual since we all have different abilities) should not be excused. Many kids just want to "get by" and a culture that discourages that should be fostered.
I remember something my father said when he was once again renewing a subscription to The National Geographic for an Indian friend of his in Belize, "if a man reads The National Geographic and The Smithsonian Magazine - each month, from cover to cover - after 4 years he'll have as good a liberal arts education as any college graduate coming out of these schools today and have time to do those other things he needs to do." His friend had taught himself to read English, the old fashioned way, with a copy of the King James Version of the Bible.
By the way my father taught a required course for one term at a high school down here and quit after the principal told him, "you can't fail these kids...if you fail them, they'll have to stay another year...pass them and we'll do better with the next group." My father's response, lacking the profanity my own would likely have contained, was, "if you didn't do any better with 'this' group when they were the 'next' group, what on earth makes you think you will do better with their successors."
Retired now, but remember when I really, really wanted to take auto shop and woodworking in High School. Counselor told my mom I'd never get in college with courses like that. College was, of course, the Holy Grail. I have a BA I never used.
Just built a 24'x26 garage in back yard. I hammered together the workbenches and am about to start rebuilding a 1974 MG B.
I would encourage any young man or woman to follow their own dreams and not those of another. Learn a trade. My observations over the years is that the welders and the plumbers and the appliance repair guys can always find work. You can do philosophy or ceramic arts on the weekends.
Enjoy your MG. My insanity is in the form of a Lotus Europa. It is no longer just a car to me. I don't know what it is, but I may never get rid of it!
Well for me, the year I started high school was the year they moved auto, wood, any practical skills up the road to the vocational school. I tried but you couldn't take the "college prep" classes and go the the vocational school (which took half the day). At 14, you had to decide your future because some idiot with an education degree had an "idea."
Fortunately, I and a few of my friends were able to figure out the useful arts ourselves and can function in the world. That really isn't the case anymore with few people fixing their own lawn mowers or doing simple household repairs.
What is needed for all students, headed to college or not, is a course in tool skills. Simple practical skills with tools so they can function in the real world.
Here is an excellent book promoting the teaching of manual skills. The school proposed is a bit dated (1890) but the discussion is still valid.
If you have any appreciation of tools at all, I recommend chapter two, The Majesty of Tools
A little of topic, but interesting. Here is the link of the provost of UW. They tried to get her into the President's position but there was too much resistance; though an avid fem/nazi even the female faculty understood that she was in over her head. Still they keep her on as provost. Wanna know why? How about the influence of China on Boeing, Microsoft, etc. Putting a Chinese/American at the top of their university in Seattle is a nice gesture. However, Seattle has a long history of making the Chinese happy. Don't forget Gary Locke who "won" two gubernatorial elections in WA state (1997-2005). If you ever had any question about the integrity of the election process in WA state this guy's bio should be enough to make you curious.
I was just wondering--d'ya suppose that increase of exports to China has anything to do with airplanes? Oh but then I forgot about Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. Kinda funny don't you think: two senators--both female dems. tsk, tsk, tsk. There you go again dreaming of clean elections!
BTW Murray's husband has run (still runs?) the Port of Seattle for many years--you know that port--just go to Google, click on Images, and then type in "Port of Seattle"+"China". See for yourself.
Full disclosure: I'm a physics professor at a small New England university.
An alarming number of students in college aren't ready for college-level work. Far too many of them aren't ready for things like showing up on time, handing in homework, or thinking for themselves.
The largest growth in college staffing is support services: counselors, tutors, and "wellness" staff to help students deal with college, instead of expecting a minimal level of self-sufficiency of the incoming students.
Oddly enough, when I teach STEM subjects in workshops for HS teachers they complain that they are hindered by the poor preparation students had in elementary school. The third through fifth grade teachers? They're ready with the blame, too. So obviously we can lay all of this on the backs of pre-preschool teachers! (I'm kidding, but it can quickly devolve to every level blaming the previous one.) Everything is state test driven. At least one fifth-grade teacher I know was on orders from her principal to give extra time to reading drills, giving her a whopping 20 minutes a WEEK for science instruction.)
@Jim As a sophomore the best advice I got from a physics professor was to gain proficiency in drafting and using machine shop tools. It has secured me more than one job and certainly made me better at designing experiments. Eight years later I thanked him in the foreward to my dissertation. :)
I've told all the young ones in my family: read constantly, learn as much math as you can, and get qualified in the shop!
Let's take it one step further and make high school a privilege not a prison. Let the troublemakers depart or be expelled, leaving the genuine students in a better atmosphere.
The culture of (pick your poison) irresponsible/inept/apathetic/incompetent teachers/parents/students is not going to be fixed by decree.
Things will continue into the immediate future pretty much as they have in the immediate past. Education is awash in so much money that I don't even see any incentive to change the status quo.
My hat is off to those of you that have the answer but I don't see how you implement it.
Stuck in technology of 30 students, one blackboard and one teacher.
State licensing of teachers.
Licensing for "educators" easier than licensing for "practitioners.”
Minimum wage laws.
Age restricitions on working.
Measuring inputs as opposed to measuring outputs.
Right there are several of your problems. Did I miss any? I could elaborate, but y’all have read it before.
Higher education is a myth.
All education is ultimately autodidactic.
Given the resources on the Web, if you want to know something, the only barrier is usually yourself.
My father expected me to learn no matter what was going on in my school. He considered the school largely irrelevant, as his early schools had been for him.
His approach would be even more justified today, considering the wealth of education materials available even in remote communities. Education is about culture, not money.