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Old 07-23-2011, 06:38 AM
 
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The discussions of education versus industry always leave me wondering about the role of the children in the industry/private sector models. Are they like employees who are depended upon to produce? Are they like raw materials that are processed in some way to produce a product? Both? Neither?

I would be interested in exploring this topic from many points of view. What do you think?
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Old 07-23-2011, 07:51 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
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Neither. They are customers hiring us to do a job for them (they just don't know it). The job is educating them. As with any customer hiring a contractor, the quality of the job depends on what the contractor is starting with, what the customer is willing to spend (student's effort in this case because that is what the student contributes) and the quality of the contractor combined.

Unfortunately, we've been asked to treat them like raw materials for a long time now but, unlike raw materials, they are not passive objects we do something to. They are active, or inactive, as the case may be, participants who affect the outcome (their educactions) in many ways.

To be honest, I think we could work with a model that makes them employees. Pay them to go to school. Pay them for success. I think you could motivate a lot of students this way. Give parents a tax write off if their kids pass the state tests and you'll motivate a lot of parents.
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Old 07-23-2011, 08:26 AM
 
Location: Great State of Texas
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Education is a social service to society.
Education is about preparing children to become functioning adults in society.
Children have different levels of skills and abilities. Teach everyone the basics and then prepare them for their future based on what they can best achieve.


We have strayed very far from that. Education has now become big business to several government agencies and it has become "all about the money".
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Old 07-23-2011, 08:41 AM
 
Location: Eastern time zone
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To really answer you have to define education. I assume for purposes of the thread you're defining it as the public sector process of conveying certain information to minor children. There's a lot more to it than that, though, and the answer would differ depending on which narrow descriptive category you use.

I'm sort of in agreement with Ivory, except that the idea of paying someone to learn really squicks me out, except maybe in an industrial apprenticeship situation, where, after a point, the apprentice has learned enough to create salable goods or services. And in the public ed sector, vocational schools do something of that sort, or used to.
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Old 07-23-2011, 08:48 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aconite View Post
To really answer you have to define education. I assume for purposes of the thread you're defining it as the public sector process of conveying certain information to minor children. There's a lot more to it than that, though, and the answer would differ depending on which narrow descriptive category you use.

I'm sort of in agreement with Ivory, except that the idea of paying someone to learn really squicks me out, except maybe in an industrial apprenticeship situation, where, after a point, the apprentice has learned enough to create salable goods or services. And in the public ed sector, vocational schools do something of that sort, or used to.
If having educated citizens is good for society and paying kids to go to school gets them to learn, it would be worth the price. Some kids are not motivated to learn for the sake of learning or motivated by grades. They need a carrot. Money can be a carrot.

I would love to see kids wanting to learn for the sake of learning but I don't think that's ever going to happen. Right now, I'd take kids learning because there's a pair of Nike's in it for them if they pull a high enough GPA.
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Old 07-23-2011, 09:01 AM
 
Location: Texas
632 posts, read 960,721 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
If having educated citizens is good for society and paying kids to go to school gets them to learn, it would be worth the price. Some kids are not motivated to learn for the sake of learning or motivated by grades. They need a carrot. Money can be a carrot.

I would love to see kids wanting to learn for the sake of learning but I don't think that's ever going to happen. Right now, I'd take kids learning because there's a pair of Nike's in it for them if they pull a high enough GPA.

For the bold, kids loose motivation because they dislike the way a subject is taught or the fact that the teacher/professor does a poor job of teaching the material.

I had a professor teach a course called Offensive Art which dealt with the various forms of art that have stirred up controversy. It was a small class and was heavy on discussion which I enjoyed and it sparked my interest so much that I looked forward to class.

Sadly, schools (college mostly) is all about cramming 400+ students into a class taught by a professor who has little to no desire of teaching and someone who is more interested in researching and attending conferences.


Education is sadly like herding cattle to the slaughterhouse, kids are the cattle and we are slaughtering their creativity and interest in learning and bettering themselves in exchange for $$$$ or school prestige and rankings.
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Old 07-23-2011, 09:21 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,393 posts, read 29,717,492 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedRage View Post
For the bold, kids loose motivation because they dislike the way a subject is taught or the fact that the teacher/professor does a poor job of teaching the material.

I had a professor teach a course called Offensive Art which dealt with the various forms of art that have stirred up controversy. It was a small class and was heavy on discussion which I enjoyed and it sparked my interest so much that I looked forward to class.

Sadly, schools (college mostly) is all about cramming 400+ students into a class taught by a professor who has little to no desire of teaching and someone who is more interested in researching and attending conferences.


Education is sadly like herding cattle to the slaughterhouse, kids are the cattle and we are slaughtering their creativity and interest in learning and bettering themselves in exchange for $$$$ or school prestige and rankings.
Problem: What interests one student is boring to the next. It is impossible to design a class so that it is taught the way every student thinks it should be taught. You liked that class. Did everyone? Why was the class so small if they did? Obviously, it did not generate much interest.

Education isn't going to change much. It's nearly impossible to individualize it and I would argue it should not be individualized. One of the things a student should learn in school is how to learn in environments that don't cater to them because life will not cater to them.

It is a cop out to blame the school for failing to make learning interesing for you. The only way you can blame the school is if the teacher does not teach the material. Intersting or not, your job, as a student, is to learn it and the ability to learn in situations not tailored to you is a good talent to nurture.

I've had teachers I liked and teachers I hated but I learned from them all because THAT was my job as a student. I don't fault professors for not making learning fun and interesting for ME because I don't think I'm so special I deserve to be taught my way. It's nice when it happens but other students deserve classes taught in ways that interest them too. You take the good with the bad and learn to deal with the bad because you're going to be doing that for the rest of your life.

Out of curiosity, how would you change education and what would your changes cost AND who would pay the cost??? I teach chemistry. Some students learn best through direct instruction, others by trial and error, still others learn best in a group setting while working on problems and some have no interest in learning at all unless I make it like a video game. Some could benefit by being hung out to dry in labs (because they might actually READ their instuctions then) and others want their hands held every step of the way while others learn well by letting them make mistakes and having to redo everything six times (I WISH I had time for this because someo of my students really need to learn by trial and error but, alas, I don't.) How would you suggest I accomodate them all? Before you answer, please remember that I am human and I teach 150 students at a time.

Unfortunately, any time you do anything with large groups, it's going to look like leading cattle to a slaughterhouse. You have to pick the methods that work for the most students and go with them. There just isn't time or resources to cater to everyone and, frankly, I'd argue you shouldn't because that does not prepare students for life. Life doesn't cater to you. Life doesn't care about you.

I've had more than one teacher describe me as a why person in a what world. I'm fascinated with the reasons why things happen. However, if you taught most students that way, you'd lose them. So I've learned to find the why on my own because that's the way *I* learn best and *I* am in charge of *MY* learning. I wouldn't learn much if I sat around and whined that my teachers just aren't doing it right.

Last edited by Ivorytickler; 07-23-2011 at 09:36 AM..
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Old 07-23-2011, 01:43 PM
 
2,920 posts, read 2,909,037 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aconite View Post
To really answer you have to define education. I assume for purposes of the thread you're defining it as the public sector process of conveying certain information to minor children. There's a lot more to it than that, though, and the answer would differ depending on which narrow descriptive category you use.

I'm sort of in agreement with Ivory, except that the idea of paying someone to learn really squicks me out, except maybe in an industrial apprenticeship situation, where, after a point, the apprentice has learned enough to create salable goods or services. And in the public ed sector, vocational schools do something of that sort, or used to.
[How embarrassing!]

I neglected a basic foundation for my question--one that I taught to my students today. The question kept me awake at 5:00 this morning, but I only had time enough to dash it off on my way to work at 7:30.

ALWAYS BEGIN BY DEFINING YOUR TERMS. Thanks Aconite--I knew it, but I didn't do it. I could hide behind my fault by claiming that I wanted others to define education, but that would not be true.

So let me clarify. I make a distinction between education and schooling. For the purposes of this question, I am referring to public schooling under the current funding mechanism in the United States.

I also use the student-as-customer model from time to time. I also use the taxpayer-as-customer model. Immediately, I am struck by the customers' lack of choice as to the product they receive. The students have almost no input in the choices of subject matter, manner of instruction or assessment, or teachers until very late in their public schooling. They do not have choices about whether or when to take their state exit exams. Our district has gone so far as to effectively eliminate all but the college-prep track for most students, and has instead taken students who sincerely desire to be auto mechanics and forced them into a curriculum heavy on foreign language, advanced sciences and math, rather than allowing them to focus on applied math and science, while allowing the vocational program to deteriorate. This is not consistent with the model of student as the customer.

The taxpayer-as-customer model makes more sense to me, in that they are overwhelmingly the source of funds for public schools. Their elected and appointed representatives determine the curriculum, the funding, etc., and their agencies execute the policies that are formulated on their behalf. Under this model, NCLB came into being, with the rationale that schools are responsible for ensuring that their students perform on mandated tests according to criteria that are set for them with standards that are constantly in motion. The standards seem to assume that all children want to do their best on these assessments which often have very little to do with their actual interests or goals. Thus, the students' motivation becomes a major issue. The practical side of this has had the unintended consequences of narrowing of the curriculum and widespread cheating due to the strict time-frames of the negative consequences for failing to meet AYP. In this second model, is the student the customer, the employee, the raw material, or something else altogether?

Charter schools and education vouchers are based on the parents-as-customer model. This can work well when parents are well-informed and supportive, and the system is relatively free from political jockeying. Unfortunately, that doesn't describe most of the situations where children are currently languishing in low-performing schools.

Happy Texan describes education as a social service to society. Our founding fathers knew that a democratic republic depends on an educated populace. But I don't believe that they envisioned children to be bred and trained as slaves to our industrial complex. Is the primary purpose of public schooling to provide workers for industry or to instill the knowledge and develop the skills to allow each person to choose his/her own path in life? I ask my students, "Whose education is it, anyway?"

RedRage, your imagery reminded me of the animation from Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall where the children are put into the meat grinder and a homogenous glob is squeezed out the other side--a slaughterhouse, with students to be mutilated until they conform.

Fellow posters, I apologize for letting my haste dictate my question, which I should have posed more thoughtfully. So now let us continue...

What is the role of the student in the business model of public schooling that is now frequently being put forth as the next panacea for state education? Are they the customers to be served, the employees to be managed, the raw materials to be processed, or what?
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Old 07-24-2011, 01:47 AM
 
Location: Eastern time zone
4,469 posts, read 6,163,534 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhpartridge View Post
So let me clarify. I make a distinction between education and schooling. For the purposes of this question, I am referring to public schooling under the current funding mechanism in the United States.

I also use the student-as-customer model from time to time. I also use the taxpayer-as-customer model. Immediately, I am struck by the customers' lack of choice as to the product they receive. The students have almost no input in the choices of subject matter, manner of instruction or assessment, or teachers until very late in their public schooling. They do not have choices about whether or when to take their state exit exams. Our district has gone so far as to effectively eliminate all but the college-prep track for most students, and has instead taken students who sincerely desire to be auto mechanics and forced them into a curriculum heavy on foreign language, advanced sciences and math, rather than allowing them to focus on applied math and science, while allowing the vocational program to deteriorate. This is not consistent with the model of student as the customer.

The taxpayer-as-customer model makes more sense to me, in that they are overwhelmingly the source of funds for public schools. Their elected and appointed representatives determine the curriculum, the funding, etc., and their agencies execute the policies that are formulated on their behalf. Under this model, NCLB came into being, with the rationale that schools are responsible for ensuring that their students perform on mandated tests according to criteria that are set for them with standards that are constantly in motion. The standards seem to assume that all children want to do their best on these assessments which often have very little to do with their actual interests or goals. Thus, the students' motivation becomes a major issue. The practical side of this has had the unintended consequences of narrowing of the curriculum and widespread cheating due to the strict time-frames of the negative consequences for failing to meet AYP. In this second model, is the student the customer, the employee, the raw material, or something else altogether?

Charter schools and education vouchers are based on the parents-as-customer model. This can work well when parents are well-informed and supportive, and the system is relatively free from political jockeying. Unfortunately, that doesn't describe most of the situations where children are currently languishing in low-performing schools.

Happy Texan describes education as a social service to society. Our founding fathers knew that a democratic republic depends on an educated populace. But I don't believe that they envisioned children to be bred and trained as slaves to our industrial complex. Is the primary purpose of public schooling to provide workers for industry or to instill the knowledge and develop the skills to allow each person to choose his/her own path in life? I ask my students, "Whose education is it, anyway?"

RedRage, your imagery reminded me of the animation from Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall where the children are put into the meat grinder and a homogenous glob is squeezed out the other side--a slaughterhouse, with students to be mutilated until they conform.

Fellow posters, I apologize for letting my haste dictate my question, which I should have posed more thoughtfully. So now let us continue...

What is the role of the student in the business model of public schooling that is now frequently being put forth as the next panacea for state education? Are they the customers to be served, the employees to be managed, the raw materials to be processed, or what?
I think most people have, in general, more choice than they care to exercise. A lot of parents want to be able to just send Johnny off to the nearest public facility and assume that the job will be taken care of, and that their only responsibility in the equation is to get him there reasonably well-fed and well-rested, maybe ro help with homework or join PTA (actually attending meetings optional), and vote to raise the school taxes when it seems reasonable to do so. If even that much; with some parents certainly you could end that sentence after "taken care of". The idea that educating your child takes some thought, planning, decision-making, and (heaven forfend!) possibly participation sends a lot of people into apoplectic fits. So in that sense, I think many people would be happy if the schools were, for want of a better term, a public utility, like the water or electric service.

I could go with either parents or children as customers of an educational facility-- perhaps both, as a cohesive unit-- in an optimal situation.

As far as the idea that public schools prepare children to be model citizens for the good of society and industry...I've never been a big fan of Prussian social engineering, myself. And I suspect that part of the reason some parents abdicate their responsibility for raising their children is because we've spent so much time and energy insisting it's the school's job to do it, since parents just bung it up anyway. In other words, it's spiraling, and out of control in some cases.
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Old 07-24-2011, 05:40 AM
 
455 posts, read 1,080,814 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyTexan View Post
Education is a social service to society.
Education is about preparing children to become functioning adults in society.
Children have different levels of skills and abilities. Teach everyone the basics and then prepare them for their future based on what they can best achieve.


We have strayed very far from that. Education has now become big business to several government agencies and it has become "all about the money".
Yup, very true. These days we throw money at education as if that will solve the problems and make better educated kids. In reality, that money needs to be looked as if it were an investment. You want to invest the money so it achieves the greatest results. It seems like most of the money goes to places other than the classroom or actually benefiting the student.

Of course that can be a problem when the people deciding where the money actually goes have a huge incentive to just funnel the money to special interests rather than investing it in educational technology, teacher's aids, and other resources that have been proven to benefit the student.

I actually own a business that develops educational technology. When I first started my intention was to sell it to schools/school districts so it could be used to benefit students. To actually get the school to buy the program was a pretty disgusting process. Seemed like most of the people I was selling to wanted to know, "what was in it for them." They didn't say that outright but they were pretty much telling me that I had to bribe them. The higher ups are VERY SMART they know they system inside and out so they never get caught. Textbook publishers and anyone selling to school districts is pretty much in bed with the school, more or less.

I got fed up with it so much that now I only develop products that can be purchased by the parents directly. However, its a pretty difficult market considering that it seems many people have become accustomed to the idea that, "all education is free." Also I focus heavily on products for college aged and above because these people know that education isn't free. I would develop technology for k-12 but there really isn't much money to be made in that area.

Last edited by a34dadsf; 07-24-2011 at 05:52 AM..
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