1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

This is how schools in the USA function today.

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Mouthwash, Mar 14, 2016.

  1. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2011
    Messages:
    9,190
    Location:
    Hiding
    I'm going to focus generally on my experiences in middle and high school, since I don't really remember much of what I did in elementary. I dropped out in ninth grade to get my GED, so there's only a junior perspective for high school here. Keep in mind that, though my family isn't rich, I've lived in suburbs and have been to only A-rated schools (apparently lower-rated schools struggle to keep their children from smoking openly).

    Social Studies:

    I learned this from a textbook, day after day. I remember learning what an archipelago was, and useless factoids about certain random countries. The whole thing was very multicultural-y; we progressed country by country and knew nothing about their actual significance. The most informative thing I remember learned (in sixth grade) was a population density map of China- underpopulated in the west, very populated in the east. There was also a demographic breakdown, which managed to make a simple concept another exercise in rote memorization; we were presented with the list of "ethnic groups" of China, and told that the Han were by far the most populous. No one really cares about a list of random groups in a foreign country, and it's not politically correct to say that Han basically ARE the Chinese surrounded by various subgroups absorbed into modern China.

    Another interesting episode is that one of my classmates in ninth grade was surprised to hear that the US had a larger economy than China. I suspect she wasn't the only one. This is one of the great disasters of schooling in the USA. Kids know much more about the world from Fox News, because it actually talks about the world and doesn't list off factoids that We Should Know.

    I also recall seeing an overtly pro-war film involving America's withdrawal from Vietnam: natives crying on the streets, screaming that they "can't live with the communists." I think the class was sympathetic, but in an impulsive way; not in a manner that influences political opinion. I don't think they were capable of judging the film in any capacity, simply because they had no context for doing so. Don't break out the tinfoil hats just yet!

    Math:

    Literally one algorithm after another, every day. If you believe that this is a proper system for teaching young people and doesn't sound like a robot-overlord dystopia, you should have your children taken away from you.

    A note: the problems were sometimes analogized to real-life events, called "word problems." I seriously don't understand what people mean when they say this produces critical thinking; it does precisely the opposite. For instance, 9 x 8 = 72 becomes "the baking sale had eight different types of cookie, of each nine were made; how many cookies in all?" When you're doing more advanced stuff this becomes a major problem, because the math is transplanted so directly into the story that it literally trains people not to apply that math in any other way.

    I started my math class as one of the best math students in the fifth grade (though I admittedly hated doing the actual subject) and at the end of the sixth I could not even do the work assigned in class. I just fooled around the whole time. That's what it reduced me to.

    Oh, and guess what we were doing in the first year of high school? Basic order of operations stuff, the sort of thing I was doing in my first year of middle school!

    Grammar:

    There is literally no reason for this to ever be taught in any K-12 course beyond "noun, verb, and adjective." If you disagree you should be stripped of your right to vote along with losing custody, and be evaluated for mental competency.

    (Children who are actually interested in which part of a sentence is the "predicate," something I don't know to this day, should be provided with a voluntary course. I guarantee it'll be discontinued before the school year is out, though.)

    Literature:

    This was hit-and-miss for me. I was a reading prodigy from the first grade; not the fastest reader in the class, but the guy who would still be the fastest if bumped up five grades. That's not an exaggeration.

    So on one hand I enjoyed being the unrivalled best student and feeling generally like an scientist watching apes sharpen spears. But on the other I did not like assignments that insulted my intelligence, and was almost always bored with what the teachers decided the class should read.

    So I can't really judge this objectively. I still think that there's no faster way to suck meaning from literature than to force people to read it, and than be tested on it (presumably to help "appreciate it more").

    Science:

    I had an excellent teacher in the sixth grade. We did real experiments, and actually learned a bit of useful stuff (one time he had us walk to the school library deliberately not following anyone else's pace, and then measured each person's stride. Interesting lesson into how we accommodate each other unconsciously). The teacher functioned a bit like Cracked.com; he gave us real knowledge couched in the form of bawdy humor. My experience of science in more normal classrooms were still my best, even when I learned directly from textbooks about plate tectonics or weather.

    But after getting into high school things were an absolute nightmare. The teacher gave a ridiculous assignment that analogized the scientific method to blind men figuring out what an elephant is from its parts. Seriously. I recall that it took a lot of grunt work to complete, and wasn't conceivably worth anyone's time, so I simply didn't do it. I think this played a role in me dropping out.

    Conclusion:

    Now this was all typed up at two in the morning, so please excuse me if it comes off as rambling or self-absorbed. I realize some things I've said are rather hyperbolic. I really do think you are an unfit parent if you send your child to this, but I realize that you can't actually take children away from millions of people or arbitrarily revoke voting rights. I'm just saying it's what those people deserve.

    As for the teachers, no, they don't deserve that. They deserve to be thrown in prison alongside the "criminal" justice legislators that the US has today. That's what would be happening today if human rights organizations or the UN actually worked as advertised. This is what is going on in millennial schools today: a crime against humanity.
     
  2. Nexlev

    Nexlev King

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2012
    Messages:
    654
    I think we're transitioning to a nation where self-driven education is more important (or more remarkable) than formal education.

    I've been giving a lot of thought to this. One of my short term goals is to give my kids a lesson on the history of education, along with my thoughts on the future of it.
     
  3. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2011
    Messages:
    9,190
    Location:
    Hiding
    Just give him the skills to learn on his own and don't drown him in things he doesn't care about. It's a simple recipe.
     
  4. Nexlev

    Nexlev King

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2012
    Messages:
    654
    Thanks for the insight. It was a while ago that I was an adolescent and things have changed since then.
     
  5. west india man

    west india man Immortal

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    9,126
    Location:
    Brazil
  6. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Escaped Lunatic

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2011
    Messages:
    9,190
    Location:
    Hiding
  7. west india man

    west india man Immortal

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    9,126
    Location:
    Brazil
    It's actually great and takes a look at education that isn't based in Western Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution thinking
     
  8. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2006
    Messages:
    19,836
    I'm not surprised you have a terrible opinion of k-12 education if you dropped out in 9th grade. I quite honestly don't know anybody who liked middle school. I had some good teachers, one of probably had the single largest impact an adult had on my life outside of my parents, but on the whole it was crap. I actually liked high school, partly because it was the first time I actually had friends and also because the whole "it is uncool to appear to care about things or have a basic level of intelligence" finally went out the window.
    College was [censored] awesome though.

    *No pity!
     
  9. Commodore

    Commodore Deity

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2005
    Messages:
    11,274
    Yeah, that's more or less how Social Studies is taught until high school. To be fair though, it is supposed to just be a general overview type course until you get into high school where you can start taking more specialized classes that give a better education on a variety of subjects. I remember feeling exactly as you do about Social Studies until my sophomore/junior year of high school, which were the years at which electives became available for students to take. In my sophomore year I remember taking a variety of specialized Social Studies courses like World Religions and Modern World History (which covered important historical events from WWI to around the mid 1990s). My school also offered a Current Events course for juniors and seniors in which we would spend the entire class period each day having in-depth discussions about what geopolitical and economic events were making headlines at the time. For me this was right as the GWOT was in its infancy and the global debate as to whether or not the US should invade Iraq was at its height, so that made for some pretty awesome discussions.

    In other words, one does not start getting a decent Social Studies education until around 10th grade.

    I'll agree with you here. Math is probably the weakest aspect of US public education. It seems like schools take an almost "sink or swim" approach to it and don't even try to help the kids that are struggling. I'm lucky that I was able to understand most of it and that I had an older brother that helped me with the stuff that did give me trouble.

    I don't know about this. I kind of see your point, but at the same time I've seen some writing that was absolutely illegible; and these were supposed to be official documents. One of my jobs as an intelligence collector was to proofread and correct the reports from my teammates, and I had one teammate who was a great collector, but couldn't write a report that made sense to save his life. So there is some value in teaching kids how to string together a proper sentence.

    Like Social Studies, this is something where the education is much, much better in high school since that's when they start offering more advanced and more specialized classes.

    Science for me was always hit or miss and seemed to depend a lot on the teacher. Sometimes I had teachers like your sixth grade one, and others were like your high school teacher. My worst was my chemistry teacher in high school. All she did was teach chemical formulas without any actual experiments in how different substances react with each other. The way she taught it made it seem more like a math class than a science class.

    I think you are being a little harsh on the teachers. They actually have very little freedom in developing their lesson plans and have their teaching methods dictated to them by school boards and state curriculum. So if you are going to throw anyone in jail for the state of education system, it should be school administrators, school board members, and state legislators.
     
  10. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2006
    Messages:
    19,836
    I agree with this. At work sometimes I have to deal with hardship affidavits when preparing claims (and getting annoyed by the bargain basement employees who originally classified the accounts. If the loan modification was cancelled per the borrower's failure to provide documentation it does not go into the Loan Modification column!) and the abysmal nature of some people's writing is mind blowing. These are documents you are submitting to a bank to work out how to avoid foreclosure. Surely you could proofread them once or twice to make sure you don't misspell mortgage as "morgage".
     
  11. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Messages:
    15,672
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I certainly hope this isn't what your book said.
     
  12. Daw

    Daw Emperor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    1,782
    It's alright, since we all know that the East is around where the Middle East is and the West is where the US is, the West Coast in particular.

    So if we position the globe so that we look somewhat straight at China...

    Spoiler :
     
  13. BvBPL

    BvBPL Pour Decision Maker

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    Messages:
    7,157
    Location:
    At the bar
    No discussion of music or art instruction. No mention of physical education or field trips. No talk about school musicals or clubs.

    I know you're a few years younger than me and that we didn't grow up in the same area, but I'm sure you got some of those experiential learning experiences. Your omission of those and choice to instead focus on specific lessons lays bare the underlying problems of contemporary American education, the emphasis on retention of specific facts and use of specific systems. Schools need to make space for exciting opportunities that offer students the opportunity to learn through interactive learning experiences.

    Your omission of those experiences demonstrates the relative low importance amid the myriad of pedagogical imperatives. However, your selective list of scholastic activities also fails to show where schools are doing well in those areas. It is important not only to point out failures and weak points, but also where strengths exist that can be built upon.
     
  14. rah

    rah Deity Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2005
    Messages:
    10,023
    Location:
    Chicago
    I had great math teachers while growing up.
    While it helped considerably in my technical career it also helped me in life in general, which was best demonstrated while cooking the other day. The recipe called for 2 and 1/4 cups of mix and 3/4 of a cup of water. Without giving it a second thought I knew I only needed one measuring cup.
     
  15. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,915
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    I realize that this is about the U.S., but Canada is close enough.

    Math in North America is a joke, at least in the Canadian education system, up until you attend a university that actually specializes in math.

    In Poland in grade 2 we were solving equations like x + 5 = 7. I was a mediocre student, I almost failed every single subject I was in, especially math.

    When I moved to Germany I found the math there a lot easier, even though I did not speak German. So I went from someone who thinks they really suck at math to .. someone who was one of the best in class at math. This was grades 4-6.

    When I arrived in Canada, and I went to school, I couldn't speak English yet. But the math was a joke, even a lot easier than the math in Germany. I attended grade 7 and.. man oh man.. We were doing such simple stuff in math class I couldn't believe it.

    I became a math master! From math idiot to math master..... I continued getting some of the highest marks in my classes and ended up taking all "university prep" math courses in high school: calculus, algebra, and statistics. They weren't easy, but they weren't hard. They were so-so. I put a minimum amount of effort into the classes and got a good enough average to be admitted to the math/engineering/computer science university in Canada and one of the best on the continent. Bill Gates personally flew down to this place every once in a while to look for new recruits. At least that's what they told me when they were wooing me.

    So okay, once I reached this stage math finally became hard again. Not that this was a good thing, but I saw soooo many people fail out in year 1. Crap hit them like a ton of bricks. They were not ready. I have no idea how anyone who went through the Canadian education system could be ready. And I mean, sure enough, most of the students were immigrants! Indians, Chinese, some Poles, etc.

    So yeah, I laugh at the Canadian education system. I mean, heck, they've still got kids playing with toys in grade 4. What a joke
     
  16. s0nny80y

    s0nny80y King

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2011
    Messages:
    703
    Location:
    Cleveland Clinic, Ohio class RNC
    i think we ought subsidize telescopes and designate more light night free zones for the youth.
     
  17. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo Deity

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2012
    Messages:
    24,598
    He probably left them out because they didn't have strong programs in those areas that were even worth mentioning.

    By 3rd grade, my school stopped having daily recess. We got out once a week (Friday afternoons) if the weather was nice and if the teacher felt like it.

    PE in junior/high school was a joke. You could stand around and do nothing and get an A and I don't remember it even being an everyday class but could be wrong. At some point between the 70's and the late 90's, it seems that most schools stopped using their gym showers. To this day most of my friends have never used a public shower and are grossed out by it. But it was ok because no one actually exercised in PE so they never got stinky.

    Musical programs were only for those who signed up for them which came down to who had parents that could afford to pay for instruments. The school didn't have any for students to use, you had to pay for them yourself.

    Field trips? lolololololol I had a few in elementary, a couple in junior high and none in high school. There were one or two extracurricular trips in high school but again, it came down to who had parents that could shell out a couple hundred bucks to send their kids on them. Everyone else who couldn't go got pawned off on other teachers for the day.

    Musicals were put on by kids who signed up for certain classes - it was not a thing anyone could participate in.

    There were clubs but I never joined any so I had no opinion on them.

    These are all my personal experiences from junior high and high school in WA and NC.

    Meh, I hated high school more than middle school myself.
     
  18. Evie

    Evie Pronounced like Eevee

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2002
    Messages:
    8,940
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Fun facts: in the PISA international studies (which tested students of 15-16), there's basically no significant difference between Canada and Poland in Maths and Science; and Germany is very close behind ; all are among the top-ranked western nations (and Canada has a slightly bigger lead for reading, the third skill tested).

    Canada (scored 518 on the test, 13th worldwide, exactly tied with Poland, and with Germany four points behind in 16th place) and the United States (scored 481, 36th worldwide) aren't really comparable, so saying "North American maths is a joke"...is a bit of a joke itself. Likewise in science (Poland 526, 9th ; Canada 525, 10th, Germany 524, 12th, USA 497, 28th). Reading, the third category, is more disparate, but Canada beat Poland by five points in that one (523/7th-518/10th), and Germany and the USA lag behind (508/19th and 498/24th).

    Just because you were landed immediately into the difficult stuff doesn't mean you had a better teaching method. Starting with the easily understood building blocks and progressing from there is often a better way to teach maths than just dropping people in the water and watching them fail.
     
  19. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2005
    Messages:
    49,915
    Location:
    Stamford Bridge
    I'm not saying that the teaching methods in communist Poland or West Germany were superior, it's just that the level taught was leaps and bounds above what is taught in Canada. Teh communist Polish way was definitely not good for me. Like I said I almost failed grade 3.

    And like I said, when I ended up at a university that specializes in math, it did not surprise me that most of the students there in year 2 were immigrants. Canadians just couldn't compete, a lot of them dropped out in year 1, they weren't ready. This did not surprise me one bit, based on my own personal experience with different school systems. Elementary and high school material is a joke here in Canada, and then.. if you go into University that specializes in something like math, the level goes up a TON. If you end up studying history or English or wahtever, you'll probably be fine.
     
  20. Atticus

    Atticus Deity Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Messages:
    3,666
    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    IMO, the problem with maths education pretty much everywhere is that everyone has to go through the same stuff, whether they are interested and have skills or not.

    PISA isn't that good measure for maths education, since it's more about the everyday skills. It doesn't measure how good kids are in maths, more that they aren't entirely terrible. In Finland for example that is achieved with the cost of the talented and interested boring to death.

    That comes with a price, first year STEM students can be terrible in maths. I won't go into details, but it looks like it's more common that they can't do fractions than that they can.

    Education in general would benefit if kids were more able to choose what they want to study. If they aren't interested in something, the learning will be painful, inefficient and temporary. Instead they could do something they like and become very good at an early age. At the mean while kids interested in the stuff taught wouldn't need to slack through with the pace of the most reluctant ones.
     

Share This Page