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Old 08-05-2012, 04:15 PM   #841
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More choice allows the good students not to be saddled with policies targeted at the bad students. I did not, for example, need seminar after seminar on not using drugs, staying out of gangs, and avoiding pregnancy. On the flip side, many of the students in my school did not have any use for calculus, and could have done much better in a school that provided them with realistic vocational skills. When kids are taught things that actually apply to them, sometimes they even pay attention.
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Old 08-05-2012, 04:33 PM   #842
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The difficulty comes with how that choice is made and by whom. There's a lot of talk over here about increasing vocational courses for students who are not academically suited or driven. The problem is that translates to certain schools specialising in vocational skills. In reality that means that children in one area are being streamed towards academic subjects and children in another area to vocational subjects.

I'll leave you to guess what demographic the academic schools serve and which the vocational.
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Old 08-05-2012, 04:59 PM   #843
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The ones who want the best chance at a good career for life, with high pay and remarkable chance at advancement? Vocational.
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Old 08-05-2012, 05:47 PM   #844
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Maybe your vocational courses are different to ours. Ours seem more focused on filtering kids through to be plumbers and hairdressers.

Nowt wrong with that of course. But it should be based on who wants and can do what, not on where someone lives and whether the powers that be have decided they are likely to want academic education.

One of the problems as I see it is this: all the ideas about increasing choice and not foisting academia onto kids who won't get anything from it, and recognising the value of vocational skills and other types of intelligence, sound great until they get filtered through the system. At which point they stream kids from the middle class towards academic subjects, leading to college, university and an entry point to high skilled professions, and working-class kids towards vocational subjects which will be best suited to producing good plumbers, builders, electricians and factory workers.

Again, nowt wrong with any of those jobs, and nowt wrong with kids choosing to go down that path. But there is something wrong, in my opinion, in choosing for them to not experience those things based on assumptions made by other people about their aptitude.

Even when it isn't so blatantly class based as a system, and the choice is genuinely made by the child...parents influence that choice. And if parents don't value academic pursuits then what chance the child will either value those things, or if they do, successfully go against their family culture in order to follow them?

State schools get a ot of stuff wrong. And no doubt with massified schooling in the west a large part of school structure is centred around getting kids out from under their parents' feet so they can work, whilst shaping a future workforce. But...I suspect most people got their first introduction to many wonderful things through school as well. I have a literate family who value academic pursuits, but it was my secondary school lit classes that introduced me to the poems of Wilfred Owen. The one and only time I ever went to see ballet it was with my school.

I got to do all sorts of things through my secondary school that I just never would have done otherwise. Now, I don't much like ballet. But I know that I don't like it based on having seen it. I also know that I really like the poems of Wilfred Owen and also Philip Larkin.
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Old 08-05-2012, 06:00 PM   #845
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Around here there is some competition to get those vocational slots and plumbers make Wall Street money.
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Old 08-05-2012, 06:12 PM   #846
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Griff has my point.

And I forgot that I moved this thread to Politics and therefore I must depart.
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Old 08-05-2012, 06:27 PM   #847
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Oh I got the point. I just think there are dangers in streaming kids to or away from academic subjects, particularly when that in practice falls along class lines.
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Old 08-05-2012, 07:44 PM   #848
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Oh I got the point. I just think there are dangers in streaming kids to or away from academic subjects, particularly when that in practice falls along class lines.
I'm going to broaden this a bit (and go on a tangent), but I feel this is one the big questions our countries need to ask ourselves when it comes to education.

I have gotten the opportunity to work with many people from around the world and one of my favorite discussion topics is the differences in our country's educational philosophies and the positive and negative aspects of each. Besides learning that there is no perfect system, it seems that we will need to choose a philosophy and the consequences that go with them instead of the "best of both worlds" approach we (the US, not sure about Britain) does now.

For example, the countries that produce the best math students (Russia, Iran, many parts of Europe) separate kids from a young age. The ones that show high math potential are put into a very rigorous program that blows our American schools out of the water (calculus by freshman year high school). If you do not show high math or school potential, you are usually put into an army or blue collar path. And yes, these many times do fall within class lines.


While I agree that pushing kids into career paths at a young age creates a lot of problems, I believe our current system creates even more. We try so hard to keep everyone equal, forgetting that everyone is good at different things, and hold everyone back. On top of that, we make it worse by adopting the bullshit idea that standardized tests have some correlation with education. This is the main reason why I believe our country (US) is so far behind at the high school education level. We hold back everyone in subjects they are good at and then attempt to teach them skills that have no applicability to our economic future. Many people have realized these problems, hence the increase in vocational schools.


This then leads to the question, if we are going to implement this philosophy of separate paths, how do we do it in an "ethical and practical" way? Should we let the private sector deal with the specialized paths, causing potential inequality? Do we implement this philosophy into our public schools? This may work for suburban and maybe urban schools but it will fail miserably for rural schools. Do we completely change the style of learning which promotes problem solving and not memorization (we need to do this anyways) since it applies to almost all future economic sectors? Good in theory but I'm not sure about practice.


I don't have an answer but these are questions I'm asking myself when it comes to this topic. I believe problems in the American education system are more cultural than institutional. We need to stop believing that every child has equal learning potential for every topic.
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Old 08-05-2012, 08:10 PM   #849
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That may be a factor in their success. Also a factor is, I think, the level of respect and cultural capital held by teachers in those countries. Teachers in our two cultures are not respected. They are paid very low when the level of education and qualification are taken into account. They appear in popular culture on a demonised and scapegoated manner and are the butt of derisive humour and mistrust.

We don't actually value schooling in its own right and teaching at anything below degree level is denigrated as crowd control or babysitting.
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Old 08-05-2012, 08:35 PM   #850
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I agree that is a problem but I would think that is a reaction to larger issues?

One reason teachers will never be highly paid or respected in our societies is that we value economic output over investment. We want the "best" financial bankers, doctors, and engineers, not teachers. Teachers don't immediately produce anything. However, I don't feel this the main reason. I feel people push all their frustrations of our educational systems on teachers (justified or not) since they are easiest to blame. A better functioning educational system would lead to more respected teachers.

This also brings up the question of whether our educational system is bad because our best potential teachers don't become teachers? While better teachers could do a much better job at teaching, even under the current constraining conditions, I think culture is a bigger problem. In a better culture, I believe our current teachers could become much more efficient.
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Old 08-05-2012, 09:07 PM   #851
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That may be a factor in their success. Also a factor is, I think, the level of respect and cultural capital held by teachers in those countries. Teachers in our two cultures are not respected. They are paid very low when the level of education and qualification are taken into account. They appear in popular culture on a demonised and scapegoated manner and are the butt of derisive humour and mistrust.

We don't actually value schooling in its own right and teaching at anything below degree level is denigrated as crowd control or babysitting.
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Old 08-05-2012, 11:12 PM   #852
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Reading? Writing? Just drag them down to the charcoal plant and show them what to do for the rest of their life.
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Old 08-06-2012, 02:38 AM   #853
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Old 08-06-2012, 11:13 AM   #854
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I just heard this on the radio:

"There are 26,000 homeless students in the Washington State education system. Two-thirds of them live in urban counties and one-third in the rural parts of the state."

In no way have I changed my mind about the importance of the parents' role in the education and literacy of a child, but this story does show that there really are more important things than teaching one's children reading and writing. Like, where will we sleep tonight and where will we go to the bathroom or shower? What about food?
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Old 08-06-2012, 11:26 AM   #855
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One reason teachers will never be highly paid or respected in our societies is that we value economic output over investment.
So what chanaged? The same thing that changed even in the Bell Labs. For example, why do we have communication satellites (ie Telstar), transistors, fiber optics, lasers, digital communication, mobile phones, the C programming language and its many variants, talking machines, fundamental knowledge of the entire universe, and Unix (now called Linux)? In every case, nobody in the Labs was concerned with results. Therefore the results were massive.

Why did he create the Unix operating system? Because he wanted to play computer chess. Anyone with a business school mentality would have said no. Anyone who understands innovation knows why business school concepts stifle innovation and productivity.

Largest reason for quitting teachers is no satisfaction. Not due to class sized or other popular speculation Part is directly traceable to management who only permits what they regard as results. What is the trophy for this? George Jr's "More Children Left Behind" laws. Laws that, for example, have caused many schools to cut back on science. A perfect example of what any business school graduate would think was good. And yes, George Jr was a business school graduate.

Currently, only something like 25% of all teachers in middle school math and science have math and science training. That's correct. Most teachers were first learning that math or science from the text book. Even worse, the 25% that do have math and science training come from the lowest rated schools.

No problem. That cuts costs. On spread sheets, things such as knowledge, background, and purpose cannot be measured. And again, the "No child left behind laws" have simply forced schools to spend more money on reading and math. But then science only confuses us with realities such as global warming and quantum physics. We don't need to waste money on things that cannot be measured and that are confusing.

Some states do rate highly on the world scale including MN and MA.

We all saw the destruction of the Bell Labs when work was limited to things that could only have obvious results. Not in fundamental research. Not in learning things that management types could not understand. And definitely, we do not want researchers wasting time developing computer chess.

Who promoted Carly Fiorina? The same management that destroyed innovation in the Labs. Those same types now run or attack our education systems that once worked so much better.

Respect has something to do with it. After all, respect and the resulting job satisfaction is not found on spread sheets. Especially when it takes ten years to measure results. How curious. Management in industries that measure results annually also destroyed those companies. So we will fix the system by measuring education by the same spread sheet mentality? Respect is not important. It cannot be measured. So it is not important.

To add to BigV's point - something liek 40% of American kids now life in homes defined as poverty. Trickle down economics worked real good - to enrich those who do not innovate and do not have kids.
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