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.
This is Part 1 of the PBS series School Inc. It's a good intro to the history of American education, and a mind-opening intro to what education can be. I would not say that the South Korean system is great, or right for Americans, but competition and choice in education is a good thing.
Clearly, viewing education as a civil service job is not the best route.
Is there any fix for unmotivated kids? Well, yes and no. Watch it, if only because the teachers' unions hate the series. You might get hooked and watch the rest of the series. Enjoyable and...educational.
The problem of education in America is that it was captured by government and this was accomplished largely after the Civil War when all things federal government became the rage. The Manns, Carters, and Deweys, in there never ending belief in the perfectability of man, insured the atheistic view of the state to be supreme to the individuals religion or beliefs. That view shows up everywhere in US public education from the mandating of indoctrination at teacher preparation schools, starting with the normal school system, to the banning of prayer in schools, Christmas pagents, valedictorian addresses, and the sports field. The movement of public schools to consolidate into unmanageable behemoths that mandate attendance and dictate the latest and greatest political correctness from "proper bathroom usage" to "proper gender address". Mediocrity is protected by unions and control has been moved from the local parent desires to the desire of the political state to mandate any propaganda they wish. The institution of education fights any and every effort to move money from what they consider to be their assets (our taxes) into things as simple as bus rides, textbooks, or even playground equipment. The education establishment has become a thug establishment. Public employees should NEVER have the ability to unionize and should never be awarded pay or benefits by fellow educators or politicians...that should be the charge of taxpayers and solely by the vote. What is the solution? Do we really even need buildings...is there any reason it is not treated as telecommuting? Teacher pay based on quality teaching and number of students taught. Education needs competition..it currently has next to none. Remove it from the education establishment.
Haven't had a chance to watch this yet, but Korean culture views education totally differently from the U.S.. Because of Confucianism (which out of all Asian societies is probably still the strongest in Korea), scholars/professors/teachers are traditionally at the top of the respect ladder, and excelling at education is a primary virtue in Confucian societies.
Not that there also aren't negatives of that. Kids in Korea are under tremendous pressure to succeed and get into the right universities, and some crack. You are looking at a full school day, and for many kids from elementary school on then going to 학원 (hagweon) (private academies/tutoring schools) until 10 or 11 at night, or later, and getting tutored on such subjects as English or mathematics. A lot of Korean kids from elementary school on have no concept of play or recreation. This is also the fact in Japan; I don't think it is quite as intense as Korea although the stakes are just as high in terms of trying to get into a top university. And all of my Korean friends of college age who are now going to school here in the United States like the American system better because they are not under as much stress.
Maybe this is covered in the video, and if so, I apologize for commenting before watching it all.
By the way this is related to the discrimination against Asian kids in American higher education. A lot of Asian kids, even growing up in America, have the same attitudes drilled into them by their parents which is why they are applying to college with better grades and SAT scores than other students. But a criticism by American college admissions officers is that Asian students somehow aren't "well rounded," and that becomes a black mark against admission.
This has been a couple of decades of being told that the Finns outscore Americans because they are so laid back and don't put pressure on their kids, which the South Koreans outscore the Americans because they put so much pressure on their kids.
What children are taught - the content - matters greatly. No point at brilliantly managing false information, after all. The non-academic lessons of character, responsibility, generosity, honest, etc - those also matter greatly. But academic achievement is largely genetic, and all the fixes, liberal or conservative, do not move the dial. There may be some small effect of the worst students having better teachers, but it's barely measurable.
Everyone seems to have a narrative or an anecdote about their grampa or wonderful old Miss Thatcher at their country school, yet are consistently unable to show that any of it improves student outcomes.
Assistant Village Idiot
Interesting, I would say that academic achievement is almost entirely cultural and environmental.
Many people do. I certainly used to believe it was largely cultural and environmental, which is why I spent so many hours reading to my children, stopping at historical markers and making long explanations, and shelling out thousands of dollars for private schools, starting with Montessori.
I gradually and reluctantly became convinced otherwise, not by observation, which is of course biased by confounding biases, but by attempting to prove it to the Prometheus Society when I became a member. It fell apart immediately. It was all genetic factors disguised as environmental ones - because of course the person who read LOTR to you three times in your childhood also contributed half your genes. Once you start being very strict in your evaluation of educational data as you run across it, you will find there is little left. I think I would recommend starting with Charles Murray, who, ironically, still believes some of educational attainment is environmental, though he is excoriated for suggesting there is any genetic involvement (because race).
There are a lot of factors but the point remains that our education system could be so much better and it should be. Improve education where ever possible but especially for those districts and communities where the failures of our education system are the most glaring. It doesn't really require more money and a lot of the improvements could be done literally overnight. We should do this but I assume we won't.
My first criterion for school performance is how egregiously it wastes the time of that portion of its student body that can and will learn something. My second is the degree to which the school focuses on the value of the education offered to the students rather than the subjective sense of fairness experienced by the teachers when their job performance is evaluated. A lot of schools seem to operate as if they were specialized municipal unions: monopolistic guaranteed-income and pension operations with a few social services offered as incidentals.
Monopolies never offer good service for the money. When will we learn that? Almost no one does a good job when his customers can't ditch his business and take their trade to another.