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Old 07-31-2010, 10:27 PM
 
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This is a serious question. What do you think the basics our children should be learning are? Are there different basics in middle school and high school than there are in elementary school?
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Old 08-01-2010, 01:12 AM
 
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Bare bone basics are things you need to get through life, IMO. Basics in an post-industrialized nation like the US, however, would include:

Elementary:
Reading (increasing the length/variety of words as one progresses through the grades)

Writing (with spelling becoming more important as one progresses, especially homonyms, grammar, punctuation, how to properly diagram/break down a sentence to check for correct syntax, etc.)

Arithmetic, start introducing algebra without introducing algebra (ex: "what minus 3 is 5" instead of x-3=5, solve for x. "If Mike can paint 2 houses in an hour and Claudia can paint 1 house in an hour, how many houses will be painted in an hour?"). PEMDAS method of solving equations. Some basic geometry, such as recognition of shapes. Just get them to think abstractly instead of "solve this problem."

Physical science (not too equation specific, more like unlike charges attract, magnets attract on opposite sides, etc.. Observational. Get them to think why that might happen.)

Social Studies should focus on learning basic government structure (not getting too detailed like saying the senate appoints so-n-so committee to review such and such issue before pigeon holing it), Constitution, Bill of Rights especially, formation of the nation, how a bill becomes a law, voting and civic duty, what the flag stands for and why it is designed the way it is, number of states and what they're known for, maybe a brief introduction on how each was formed but not too detailed (gotta save something for middle school and high school). Basic geography. Introduction to World History and culture.

Foreign Language: Oh yes. This isn't even so they can necessarily speak the language but so they know how to analyze language. Believe me, much of the stuff I learned in Spanish I could apply to English (parts of speech, diagram of syntax, etc.). The same can be done in English, BUT many will simply forget it because "hey, I already know English, so who cares?" BUT, they do not know the foreign language like the back of their hand, do they? They actually HAVE to think about what they are doing. That can translate greatly into English. Plus, learning a foreign language will help greatly with vocab in English if it is Germanic or Latin based, as many stem-words apply in each, and patterns arise in translation. A "simple" word in Spanish, when Anglicized or just changing stems, can make a complex word in English.

Middle School:
Math: Start introducing letters with the numbers. Explain to them how it relates to a real world problem and how they're actually doing it in their head everyday. Just now, they have to diagram it. One thing that I've done that's helped my students that I tutored is take the x and replace it with "what", equal sign with "is" and you have a question. They'll understand how to get the answer that way. Then, you just show them how to diagram it by solving an equation. I also used to do a "recursive reverse PEMDAS method" to help them solve the equation. I've also made it into a little game where they have to save the "princess" (the variable they are solving for) by using the right keys to unlock each step to get closer to her. It makes it much more fun and they solve the things like they're nothing. Geometry should get more complex, such as adding in degrees/radians to measure angles, how triangles' angles can only sum to 180 degrees, introduction of more sides on a polygon means more degrees as well (and how an infinite number of equal sides on a polygon means infinite summation of degree, which is basically a circle... get them thinking about limits/calculus early before actually doing it). By the end, they should have a solid understanding of Algebra I (which is usually taught in HS, not good at all IMO).

Reading/Writing: These classes should now be combined together. Students should now learn how to analyze larger passages and give a summary of what's going on. Chapter books should be read. Reports should be done, and approaches on how to do a longer essay (3-5 pages) over a long period of time should be learned. Symbolism should be introduced. A thesaurus should be used to find better words and expand vocab in writing. Spelling should be scrutinized more (one incorrect word in an essay shouldn't be -50 pts ever, but if it is riddled with errors, it means they don't care or aren't doing well in that area. Assess which it is and take proper action.).

Science: Get more equations based, introduce more labs that the teacher doesn't have to baby-step through (but still explain clear enough for a middle schooler to understand), etc..

Social Studies: A detailed course on the particular state you're teaching in. Get them to learn the history of the state, government setup, counties, immediate geography, population dynamics, etc.. US History should be more in depth, including analysis of why things happened. Should tie into world history and culture, and overall human development. How "history repeats itself" for XYZ reasons. Government structure more detailed and thorough in detail (by the end of middle school, they should understand taxation, government role, and watch CSPAN while knowing a good number of words such as "committee," "cabinet," "judicial review," etc.. If given a citizenship test, should be able to pass, basically.

High School:

Social Studies: Micro and macro economics. Student should understand what a central bank is and what it does, and how that affects them at the end of the day. Should understand pros/cons of fiscal policy, monetary policy, how currency works, fractional reserve and money creation, etc.. Should understand inverse relationship between supply and demand, how taxes affect either, about long-term, medium-term, and short-term, "spiraling" supply/demand effects within a market (if demand goes down, price goes down in short run, but in the long run supply curve will shift left as firms exit the market due to inability to stay competitive, allowing businesses to raise price a little), profit vs. revenue, government role in economy. World History should be learned, US History should tie in more. Analysis of both must be in depth and thorough.

Science: Start bell-curving! And, I mean make the class more difficult, like what they'd find in college. Equations based, lab-based (hell, if you want, make it a "fail the lab, fail the course" type deal). Newtonian classical mechanics, electrostatics and magnetism should be taught, with a brief introduction to "modern physics," including Einstein's General Relativity and a bit of quantum theory (you can be less equations based with that, though, since it is college level stuff). Should be more algebra based, maybe calculus based if on college track. However, only simple calculus, nothing too hard... things that can be taught in one or two class periods. Chemistry and biology should be emphasized. All three fields should be tied together to show that science isn't compartmentalized.

Math: Algebra II, Euclidean Geometry, Trigonometry/pre-Calculus, Calculus I.

English: Further analysis into stories and literature. How to read a business contract... can be very English intensive. Scrutinize to make sure basic syntax and analysis is being used.

All classes should be on a curve or similar system at this point. Why? Because they should be difficult and challenging to need one. Also, many electives should be introduced to allow the student to find out what they are good at, especially since many don't want to go to college. If they have a subject they are good at and like, they are more likely to stay in school and go to the "dreaded" classes.

For all levels, some form of physical education should be emphasized, proper nutrition taught, and maybe arts/music in lower levels. There's more, but I can only type so long, LOL.
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Old 08-01-2010, 05:53 AM
 
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I also contend that in a highly technological society, computers are also a "basic" now. You can't even work at McDonalds without using a computer. We have helped with back to school day when our kids were in middle school getting parents signed up for access to the online gradebook system. I was AMAZED at the number of adults that would sit at a computer and have no idea what to do to start-like take the mouse and move the cursor start and this is in an an upper middle class area.
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Old 08-01-2010, 06:55 AM
 
Location: In a house
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Heh if I had to take AlgebraII in High School I wouldn't have graduated. Thankfully they offered computer programming as an alternate. I only got a D in AlgebraI; no way was I going to pass a secondary course in it. Trig? Calculus? Hah. There is no -need- for either of these, unless you're going into a field of work that requires it. I don't even know what field requires it, other than teaching math. People read every day. People do not worry about cosin, unless they're trying to get a loan approved.
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Old 08-01-2010, 07:49 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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The basics have already been learned by grade 6. Fundamental arithmetic, and reading and writing, and basic scientific principles. Education consists, then, of heavy-duty practice of applying those skills so that using them is no longer laborious, but something that can be done readily and without effort. Ideally, the practice in higher grades consists of reading and writing challenging material, particularly about the humanities (history, sociology, geography), with work graded partly on clear expression, and not just content. Higher mathematics and science is not very useful to the student who does not plan to pursue a discipline that requires them.

Perhaps the best way to analyze basic education is to examine the areas in which poorly educated people are deficient. Most adults can't even listen to a news broadcast on TV and come away with much grasp of the events described. After ten years, few Americans would look in the correct continent for Iraq on a globe. Writing one's thoughts with clarity is a skill that is beyond even quite a few people in CD forums. Few people can add up, in their heads, the prices of the ten-or-less items they are checking out in the express lane, not because they lack the arithmetic concepts, but they lack the practice.

Basics in secondary education should be directed at heavy reading and writing, which can then be adjusted by subject matter to also impart some of he collective knowledge of our civilization. A well-educated student at high school level can read a few chapters of a text book, and then easily write a cogent, comprehensible five-page summary, in good grammatical English, of well-thought ideas based on what he had just read, including criticism of the textbook. That skill, once attained, is never lost, and can be applied forever to all future knowledge. If our schools do not impart that skill, they have done nothing.

Last edited by jtur88; 08-01-2010 at 07:58 AM..
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Old 08-01-2010, 07:46 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnonChick View Post
Heh if I had to take AlgebraII in High School I wouldn't have graduated. Thankfully they offered computer programming as an alternate. I only got a D in AlgebraI; no way was I going to pass a secondary course in it. Trig? Calculus? Hah. There is no -need- for either of these, unless you're going into a field of work that requires it. I don't even know what field requires it, other than teaching math. People read every day. People do not worry about cosin, unless they're trying to get a loan approved.
Oh, mine was a bit more focused on going to college. Adjustments could be made depending on the student. Oh, and Calculus is used all the time in engineering, science, and finance.
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Old 08-01-2010, 07:55 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golfgal View Post
I also contend that in a highly technological society, computers are also a "basic" now. You can't even work at McDonalds without using a computer. We have helped with back to school day when our kids were in middle school getting parents signed up for access to the online gradebook system. I was AMAZED at the number of adults that would sit at a computer and have no idea what to do to start-like take the mouse and move the cursor start and this is in an an upper middle class area.
I agree BUT they need to be treated like a basic instead of taught like an extra. Learning to use a calculator is a basic today but we don't teach a separate class on it. We teach kids to use a calculator as we teach them math. Likewise, we should teach computers in other classes. Teach them to use a computer as a tool by requiring its use in other classes.

Business classes can teach and require the use of spreadsheets , english classes, word processing and power point presentations, etc, etc, etc... When you teach separate computer classes, kids forget what they are taught. When they are taught it and have to use it, they remember.
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Old 08-01-2010, 08:19 PM
 
Location: Bar Harbor, ME
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Traditionally, and as most non educators view it in my experience:

Readin', Writin', & 'Rithmitic(mostly addition, subtraction, multiplication, & division)

Z
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Old 08-01-2010, 08:52 PM
 
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Teaching about the "state" that you live in at middle school is a waste of time, energy, and effort. Most states have done away with this. Because of the transit nature of students today, teaching a state course hurts students. I have taught state courses and have had plenty of students transfer from outside of the state in the middle to the end of the year. There is no way they can get caught up. In addition, I have had students transfer out with "state history" again, a waste.

Middle school social studies should be about one thing......sociology. The study of groups, and others. You would not believe how behavior and bullying is improved once kids take a true sociology course.
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Old 08-01-2010, 09:42 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
I agree BUT they need to be treated like a basic instead of taught like an extra. Learning to use a calculator is a basic today but we don't teach a separate class on it. We teach kids to use a calculator as we teach them math. Likewise, we should teach computers in other classes. Teach them to use a computer as a tool by requiring its use in other classes.

Business classes can teach and require the use of spreadsheets , english classes, word processing and power point presentations, etc, etc, etc... When you teach separate computer classes, kids forget what they are taught. When they are taught it and have to use it, they remember.
I agree. The only time a computer needs to be taught separately as its own class is in a CS course that specializes in programming. Teaching about how the CPU processes commands and such, how it sees data at a lower lever, etc.. If one just wants to use a speadsheet or word processor, it's very intuitive for the most part and the basics can be taught within a class period.
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