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Old 09-17-2011, 02:08 PM
 
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This is a very interesting topic, especially given some of the posters I have encountered in this and other forums.

I have often heard that education has been dumbed down in America and given the remarks and behavior I have witnessed in the online and offline worlds, I find that sentiment hard to argue with.

Nods to InformedConsent (despite our ideological disagreements, I am grateful for this tidbit ) for exposing me to this,..., well,....., informative article.

The Other Crisis in American Education

A lot of what the article mentions, resonated with me.

I'm interested to learn about how education has been taught in America over the years. What are the differences, if they are any in expectations & standards, curriculum, societal views regarding education, etc in today's educational institutions compared to those of our past 2 centuries?

Does anyone agree with the notion of American education being dumbed down and if so why, how and when did this start to happen?

I don't even mind if people can only give anecdotal, personal reflections on education.

Last edited by kovert; 09-17-2011 at 02:22 PM..
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:25 AM
 
Location: Here.
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Education has dumbed down. It has to do with our growing prosperity. When people were poorer (immigrants, farmers, sweatshop and early factory workers, etc.), people realized that in order for their children to have a better life than they did, they would have to get a good education. Now that we have created a comparatively prosperous middle class, we assume that our children will automatically inherit the same standard of living without any hard work/education.

The biggest contributing factor to this is the presumption among parents that think that since they send their children to public schools, that they will all get an equally good education that will adequately prepare them for life. If parents felt more responsible for ensuring the education of their children, education would improve. Reducing or eliminating publicly funded education (except for those who truly need it) would force parents to get involved.
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:04 PM
 
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Default The Origins of the Public School

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The Origins of the Public School
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:00 PM
 
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My take on this topic can be summed up in the following: "The problem with American education is that it believes and attempts to treat everyone as equal despite the obvious fact that they are not."

I whole-heartedly believe that the best and brightest of the United States are equal to anyone in the world, the problem is that we do not cater to our best and brightest as the rest of the world does, we cater to the lowest common denominator. American education has long been rooted in the belief that everyone deserves a fair and equal education. That is a noble and wonderful thing, but the exexcution does not have to be so dogmatic. We invest our resources and time trying to push the largest mass of students possible all towards the same goal, college. We spend more time and money to educate our worst students and those with disabilities than we do to educate our best and brightest. The rest of the world does not share this vision and seems to embrace a little Karl Marx; "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" which in the realm of education is a much better philosophy than "all men are created equal."

In order to better/fix the American education system we need to be willing to do what the countries whose systems are better than ours are willing to do...tell kids that they all aren't mini-Einsteins and educate them based on their abilities. I would think something similar to the German system (it is the one with which I am most familiar) would be a good place to start the discussion.

Throughout a child's life in Germany they are constantly tested and evaluated to determine the best course of education for that child. Kids follow the following path:

Nursery School (PK and K) - Most children begin attending school at age 3 and this period of time culminates in Kindergarten at age 6, which all are required to attend. The point is to assess and provide early intervention for any issues/delays a child may have. It also serves to identify children who appear to be more advanced than others. All children receive the same general education at this level.

Grammar School (grade 1-6) - All children attend grammar school until around age 12. The final two years (grades 5 and 6) are spent doing intensive review between parents, teachers and students in an effort to decide the future educational direction of the student. This "orientation" phase is specifically designed to determine the best fit for the student academically and has a large impact on the students future career.

Secondary School (grade 7-12/13) - All children attend a secondary school, but these are divided into three basic types:

Hauptschule - Is essentially a vocational/trade school. Students attend until grade 9/10 at which point they graduate and move into an apprenticeship program and become qualified for work. This can be anything from a carpenter or plumber to a factory worker. The goal of the school is to teach needed life and basic work skills.

Realschule - Is the middle level school and students receive a broader education than at the Hauptschule. They generally attend until grade 10/11 at which point they can go into an apprenticeship program or apply to attend a Gymnasium. Students from here have a broader career track, but it is based on their performance in the school. This level is most equivalent to an American high school.

Gymnasium - This is the highest level school academically and students attend until grade 12/13 at which point they graduate by passing the Abitur exam. Students at these schools are the best and brightest and study a wide variety of subjects becoming increasingly specialized and focused as they move through their time there. Upon completion, a student is eligible to attend a university or go into a specialized apprentice program, like working in a hospital or as a paralegal before continuing their education.

Students are tested in order to graduate at all levels, but the tests are comprehensive board style exams, not simple multiple choice "scantron" style tests. They are more similar to what someone earning their MBA would go through. There is more variety in German education than what I presented since each state has its own system, but that is the basic model.

I think the key to fixing American education is breaking our belief that everyone needs to receive the same education and that everyone needs to go to college. We can't be afraid to tell kids it's OK to be a mechanic or plumber and base their education around that. We can't be afraid to take our best and brightest and give them the best education possible and I would take that a step further and say that kids who complete the American equivalent of the gymnasium should also receive a FREE education at state colleges.

We've all been in school and most of us have kids in school. How can we continue to accept that a teacher must divide their time between the best and the worst and develop lesson plans that target the lowest common denominator? All we are doing is setting the bar low for those who need it set higher. We need to be willing to tell parents, sorry but Timmy just isn't as smart as you think he is and it's better for Timmy to be with other Timmy's so we can teach Johnny at a higher level.
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJGOAT View Post
My take on this topic can be summed up in the following: "The problem with American education is that it believes and attempts to treat everyone as equal despite the obvious fact that they are not."
The problem is that we have a system created to Protestantize the Irish Catholic immigrant that has morphed into a device for paying a salary to teachers and administrators, regardless of their failure to educate.

The only solution: eliminate gov't schools.
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walter Greenspan View Post
The problem is that we have a system created to Protestantize the Irish Catholic immigrant that has morphed into a device for paying a salary to teachers and administrators, regardless of their failure to educate.

The only solution: eliminate gov't schools.
I read the article, interesting piece, but obviously written for a specific audience. By what do we measure the level of failure for "salaried teachers and administrators" to educate?

If we are to eliminate all government involvement in schools, what do you suggest replaces it?

Following the "logic" of the article you posted, is the concept of basic societal education to serve as indoctrination of all citizens a bad thing?
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by NJGOAT View Post
If we are to eliminate all government involvement in schools, what do you suggest replaces it?
Private school, either secular or parochial, home schooling, private tutoring.
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:35 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJGOAT View Post
Following the "logic" of the article you posted, is the concept of basic societal education to serve as indoctrination of all citizens a bad thing?
When done by secular-progressive-liberal Leftist professional educators, yes, definitely yes.
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Old 09-19-2011, 01:56 PM
 
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Retroit, NJ, you guys have made some excellent points.

You guys may be interested in this article as well:

The Creativity Crisis

NJ, in another thread I have argued for educational reforms along the lines you have stated.

Thing is, a system like that is vulnerable to criticisms of unfairly putting certain students on certain tracks, particularly males of certain ethnic backgrounds and females in general.

That is why I have also argued that the military is a great model and example that encouraging diversity DOES NOT have to come at the cost of lowering standards and performance.

Walter, that article you listed gives an interesting perspective, particularly for me as a grew up in a Catholic environment.

Somehow it seems that the individuals with the most distorted views on faith are the ones the media and the foolish public has come to believe represent the whole community. I think posts I have made previously best sums up my take on this.
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:40 PM
 
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i'm thinking about going back to school? Any thoughts?..
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