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Sunday, February 10. 2008
- Is your kid an athletic recruit?
- Is your kid a minority?
- Can you donate big bucks to a school's development office?
Those were the first three questions asked of She Who Must Be Obeyed by the young Barristerette's college advisor. No, no, and, sadly, no. ("Big bucks" seems to mean a third to a half million at minimum, with more to follow if your kid doesn't flunk out)
Apparently legacies do not carry too much water anymore except at Princeton, and extracurricular passions matter little unless almost world-class ability has been demonstrated. We were also advised that GPA matters more than the classes taken, so avoid classes in which one cannot excel: schools worry about their magazine rankings, and GPA of kids admitted is a factor in that.
Well, the latter advice made me despair about higher education, because if kids avoid things that are difficult for them in high school for college admission purposes, and then avoid them in college for grad school admission purposes, how will they ever learn what they need to understand the world?
Kids have to take courses in which they cannot excel.
One cannot understand much about this world without calculus, Shakespeare, statistics, economics, chemistry, physics, bio, history, geology, Chaucer, philosophy, religion, music history and theory... etc. Of course, you can learn all these things after you get "educated" in schools (not so easily, though, with statistics and calc) - but then what is formal education good for other than certificate-chasing, professor-employment, and kid-indoctrination?
Sometimes I think I am too old-fashioned for this modern world.
Before I decided to post this little meditation, I ran into this book review/essay re Higher Education's Loss of Purpose. A quote:
Photo on top: An 1837 one-room schoolhouse in Norwalk, CT
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"Because the insistence of the diversity/multiculturalist crowd that human beings are imprisoned by their immutable characteristics (race, gender, class) means that there is no point in trying to learn from the past. Dead, white males and their “hegemony” are what we must break free of, not learn from."
Wasn't this the party line with the Kmer Rouge?
Of the few things I know with a high degree of certitude is that to get to higher education you need to have base built in the secondary and elementary levels.
This year for the first time the United States with drew it's TIMSS Team ( Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study ) from competition fearing a rout was in the offing. In past competitions we came in last.
Likewise the United States with drew from the 2007 PISA competition: PISA, an annual study funded by the Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development, compares the academic progress of 15-year-olds in 57 countries.
Executive summary of PISA 2006 http://tinyurl.com/28xmnk
Finland, with an average of 563 score points, was the highest-performing country on the PISA 2006 science scale.
Six other high-scoring countries had mean scores of 530 to 542 points: Canada, Japan and New Zealand and the partner countries/economies Hong Kong-China, Chinese Taipei and Estonia. Australia, the Netherlands, Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and Ireland, and the partner countries/economies Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Macao-China also scored above the OECD average of 500 score points.
On average across OECD countries, 1.3% of 15-year-olds reached Level 6 of the PISA 2006 science scale, the highest proficiency level. These students could consistently identify, explain and apply scientific knowledge, and knowledge about science, in a variety of complex life situations. In New Zealand and Finland this figure was at least 3.9%, three times the OECD average. In the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan and Canada, as well as the partner countries/economies Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Hong Kong-China, between 2 and 3% reached Level 6.
You have to go deep into the results before you see the United States mentioned, but perhaps it is not fair for us to be compared with 400,000 students from 57 other countries.
Yeah, from the beginning to the end of our educational system we're in deep do-do, yet we outspend every country on Earth by a wide margin per capita on students......go figure, cause I can't.
Habu: All of this data coming from one, who understands the difference between a primary, and secondary resource (YOU)! THank you so much for bring the numbers to this conversation.
You ask why, let me count the ways: Teachers unionized and then the teachers union joined the AFL/CIO (1970's sometime) Few people had the courage to point out to the teachers that they were joining forces with the powers of darkness--soooo, now we have an education systems that functions almost as well as our passenger train system--umm wonder whatever happened to that? Do ya suppose it might have been their "unions"? Naah, how we gonna get treated fairly without some weight on our side. But, then again in other nations workers, government, and banks sit down and figure that out together.
Let's take for instance the "No child left behind act". It was intended to help clean up this mess. There was nothing inherently wrong with the act, or it's intention. However, it was one of the first things accomplished by our current president. and the democrats were still crying about FL voter fraud. There was no way in ___the teachers union in WA state was going to try to make this thing work. From the beginning--the immediate response, and initial memorandum, instructions, etc. were intended to "prove that that guy from TX couldn't tell those teachers how to teach". How dare they say that our education system is failing? on and on and on.
What needs to be done you ask? How about this couple of good folks such as the Barrister and Habu get together with a techie and do a real in depth search of the newspapers in WA state, OH, and a few other places to list and categorize the initial reactions and steps taken in each state to guarantee the failure. Then once you have this data base you can publish a great book before the Nov election. Really make a difference that would! IMO
Thanks for the thanks.
I believe you're tracking straight and true when you make the points in your piece.
My wife has been in education for 33 years and when I met her she was the teachers union rep for her school. I used the slow informal method to open her eyes to teachers unions and the harm they do. She now just pays the dues and sees the bad they do. Two more years she's out.
Shortly the educational system will transition ot using home computers with maybe two days at the actual school..that should be a real opportunity for the kids to not learn..I mean with most families having both parents work , like who is gonna supervise?
I never had children so I don't immerse myself in that world except to hear my wife who isn't a complainer.
I just know that as a nation too many segments of our society are now fitting into the GONE TO HELL category.
The reason for this is we are now so multicultural we're unable to retain our history. Assaulted at every turn by multicultural factions we are now a nation without a cultural adhesive, history , to bind us together. Those who established our nation are considered simply evil white men.
But nations and civilizations come and go. We'll live long enough to still see a United States but without a greater homogeneity established we will eventually fracture
and morph into something else. I believe we've passed our apogee.
Off topic question: do you know where that school house is? I lived in Westport during my teens and my parents lived there until the mid 80s. Maybe this is something I've forgotten -- along with 98% of the things I used to know.
My third son is going to school online. My second son's job sprang directly from his off-campus study in LA and Torino. Homeschooling increases; more and more learning comes directly off the computer; traditional school, unable to adapt (due mainly to the factors apple pie notes), will become less and less relevant.
Several reasons not to despair, Habu -
I have been hearing about how far behind American students are since the 1960's. Somehow they still go out and run everything and have provided the world's innovators. This is partly because the free market incentivises them properly after they get out of school. The kids seem to learn pretty damn fast then. Also, I recommend Steven Johnson's "Everything Bad Is Good For You," which makes a powerful argument that the learn it/forget it/learn something else style of today's education, though despised by Jeopardy candidates like you and me, is actually a better model for rapidly changing technological learning. Those tests measure an older type of learning, which the Swiss, Koreans, and Brazilians are welcome to go excel at.
For your further encouragement, I recommend you check out what they are doing in Daviess County, KY, where the whole district focuses on building better brains K-12. Everyone learns chess, music, and a foreign language, not to become experts, but just to build more neurons. Their test results have been remarkable.
Dang. I've been trying to kill off my dang neurons since I was 20. Them extry neurons don't bring nothin but trouble, worry, confusion and hassle.
Those things do sound encouraging and so far we, as you pointed out, remain the most productive people in the world.
Not to get on a love fest but when I hear foreigners or Americans complain about how much fossil fuel we use per capita I always point out that, yes, we use a helluva lot but we outproduce practically all the other industrial nations combined...so who is really wasting energy?
Americans work longer hours,take less time off, and as stated produce more per capita than anyone else...it ain't even close.
I never get more irritated than when I hear about how poorly America does in education. We teach EVERY kid in America. We teach the disabled, the retarded, the criminals....every kid. And we have blacks, Hispanics, and other races that tend to be disadvantaged. I wonder how many blacks and Hispanics there are in Finland? In Germany a student is ordered by seventh grade to go on a track of academics or on a track for trades. We offer all of that, but we don't force students into a track. We also test EVERY student. Special education students are tested along with the AP students, and their scores count in the collective score card.
I like what AVI said about the chess and music. Too true, and I think many schools will incorporate that into their curriculums - crowded though they are with immense new knowledge schools have to offer.
We bust our chops in education here. But it's give us your tired, your poor all the way because no child shall be left behind in America.