Education in America... (The lack thereof?) 19 replies

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#1 6 years ago

Before I go into the main topic of this thread allow me to say I am an American, I was home-schooled up through 3rd grade for various reasons, after which I spent one semester in public school, and then switched to a private school, which I proceeded to graduate from. I'm currently going to a community college getting my Gen Ed out of the way, hoping to transfer and pursue a degree in Aeronautical Engineering.

At my college 95% of incoming students qualify for a remedial math course, meaning that they are somehow below college standards for mathematics. A slightly smaller percentage goes into a remedial english course. (Not AS shocking as it's not everyone's first language, but still.) Basically what I'm asking is, do you think this is a result of our system of education, or perhaps just the motivation of the students in question? Perhaps it's more likely a combination of both? (I have no idea what the statistics are like in other countries, but they couldn't be this bad, surely?)

I work as a math tutor and recently I was attempting to tutor a student in Beginning Algebra. (The student was, as far as I know, enrolled in normal public school education classes throughout his life.) He asked a question on a problem, and trying to get a handle on what exactly he knew, I asked if he knew his multiplication tables. He looked at me like I had lost my mind and said "No."

Naturally, he came to a math tutor because he struggles in math, but multiplication tables are something learned fairly early on, 2nd or 3rd grade. How was this not caught earlier? To me that just seems to be incompetence on the part of his parents and possibly his teachers.

Basically this is just an issue that's been bothering me of late and I'm wondering what other people think.




Darkness Knight 15

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#2 6 years ago

Must say I agree. There are things I hear from people at my uni that blow my mind. Not in the good way either. When someone doesn't know how to read a non-digital clock... Or can't write in cursive at all.... .. . . . . . Yeaaaaaaaaaaaah.

I pity future generations. They will be even worse. I know of a chick (a friend's sister) who is mildly attractive but she thinks she will be able to just ride a career in modeling through life (although she's not even involved in one).




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#3 6 years ago

It's definitely a combo of both, but more so the system itself.

But to be fair to the motivation side of things, many lower-middle class kids are brought up on dreams. What I mean is that they are told that they can become anything, sometimes they're even groomed to be whatever, but what they're not told is that they have to work hard and often times they just have to be really lucky. As a result, either you slip by through life thinking that you don't have to actually do anything in terms of education, and they suffer because of that. Honestly, I was told to work hard, but I probably didn't truly understand that until I was half-way through high-school, which is a good thing or I probably wouldn't have finished with a B grade =p

Now on the other hand, you have those that are told to work hard, but only to score a good career and impress others, not necessarily because it's what you want. These are the people who attend multiple school activities and study 20 hour days in order to get A's in Calculus 3 so that they can get into Harvard. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but children should be given room to find out what they like, explore, and go with what they enjoy. It should sort of be set up like a career fair where they get to see what they're good at and where they think they'd make a decent living in.

Here's a selection of good articles to read, they pretty much sum everything:

http://thewaronbullshit.com/2009/01/22/3-reasons-your-kids-are-probably-stupid/

http://thewaronbullshit.com/2009/02/05/four-more-reasons-why-your-kids-might-be-stupid/

http://thewaronbullshit.com/2008/06/26/five-reasons-american-kids-are-stupid/

This, in particular, is a very good model upon which to base our education system:

Part of the current incarnation of the economic stimulus plan passing through Congress includes tax credits for students attending a four-year university. This sounds like a great idea, right? Put more people through college, and we’ll have better-educated adults entering the work force. The problem is, we don’t need more college-educated adults. We need more people with functional educations who can do actual, physical work – not more liberal arts majors who function in some service-based field. Take a look around your house. How many things weren’t made in China? How many of those things not produced by the Chinese were made in Mexico, or Korea? We don’t make a damn thing anymore. What’s worse, you can’t even find qualified carpenters or plumbers or mechanics in this country, because we just don’t produce citizens capable of these necessary jobs. One of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, had some ideas on education that unfortunately Americans never bought into. Jefferson believed “every citizen needs an education proportional to the condition and the pursuits of his life,” and this couldn’t be farther from the typical American practice. Jefferson’s education model was based on the idea that any student was entitled to a free education… so long as that student continued to progress and excel. If you’re only book-smart enough to be a plumber, that’s okay, you’re just done with school in the 10th grade and spend a year or two apprenticing with a plumber. If you’re sharp enough to be some kind of paper-pushing clerical worker, maybe you get to go through the 12th grade, and on, and on, and on. Unfortunately, we’ve become a nation too wussy to tell a kid he’s not achieving at one thing, maybe there’s another path; so instead we tell the child a lie, and he ends up wasting years of valuable time and daddy’s valuable money going to college and skating by on a D-average.

"I'd shush her zephyr." ~ Zephyr.



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#4 6 years ago

You can spend all the money you want on books, schools, technology, and teachers, but if the kids don't want to learn they won't learn. Asian countries to very well in international education rankings because their culture cares more about education than what is on TV.

I went to mediocre grade school and high school. There was a group of 30 of us who cared about high school. We were in the same honors/AP classes, and we supported each other. Because the 30 of us had an interest in education we did well enough to make it to college and become functional members of society.

Schools in the US should focus more on preparation for the real world rather than college. Everyone does not need a comprehensive education in the sciences and literature comprehension. All a person needs is basic reading comprehension, Algebra II, basic grammar and writing skills, and knowledge of how the government works. A class on how to find information and teach your self new skills would be more useful than spending a year reading Shakespeare in old English.

European nations have a good thing going with their education system. People who do not have the ability to cut it in college are given 2 years of trade school. The US has vo-tech programs, but they are viewed as a way to get out of class and goof off rather than a means to get a stable, well paying job.




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#5 6 years ago

Darkness Knight 15;5617337Must say I agree. There are things I hear from people at my uni that blow my mind. Not in the good way either. When someone doesn't know how to read a non-digital clock... Or can't write in cursive at all.... .. . . . . . Yeaaaaaaaaaaaah.

I pity future generations. They will be even worse. I know of a chick (a friend's sister) who is mildly attractive but she thinks she will be able to just ride a career in modeling through life (although she's not even involved in one).

To be fair, I know how to write in cursive, though that seems to be completely phased out of all education after high school now. I was told from 3rd grade to 8th grade that no teacher in high school or college would accept a paper unless it was written in cursive. I once asked in a college class if we had to write in cursive and the professor was like "Why the hell would you write in cursive? I can't read that shit!"

@Computer

Definitely interesting reads. I really believe that not everyone is qualified for college, and I wish my own college raised their standards a bit. I've completed 6 classes so far, and each and every class started with around 35 students. Not one class finished with more than 20 people, and some had as few as 12 students remaining. The school finally caught on to this trend, realizing that a large percentage of the student base was abusing the financial aid system, but has still neglected to do anything about the problem.

I also take issue with how religion is taught in most cases. Personally I was raised in a Christian home, I went to church all my life, and private schools most my life. I still subscribe to that belief, however I recognize most of my teachers on the subject were morons. Multiple times I've seen teachers "proving" that the Bible is true by quoting something from the Bible. :Puzzled: The worst part is that most people buy it, until they get to college and realize that's flawed logic at best.

The problem is that there are fatal flaws in every form of education. Public school teachers are forced to accommodate students who had no learning before hand, wasting precious time, and likely causing them to lose interest in their job. Private school teachers (at least the ones I had) claim they care more about the students' educations, but sometimes they're just not qualified to teach in the position that the school needed filled. Home-schooling can develop independence but if done wrong it can result in a child that's socially inept or even just plain stupid. I know someone who was home-schooled her entire life. She is 26 years old and cannot count change. Yet she insists that when she has kids she's going to home-school them. For this reason I support the idea that Home-Schooling parents have to get some kind of credentials. Maybe just make sure they can pass the high school exit exam?

Overall the entire system is full of flaws. Often when I see a student in college who can't read or do basic math, I ask the question in my head: "How could you have made it to college?" Now the question I ask more is what's the difference between them and me? How did I graduate with fairly decent writing skills while the majority of the students in my class didn't?




MoreGun89

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#6 6 years ago

There is no motivation because in the beginning (the formative time for building a basis on these things) most every subject has no practical application and is boring to a child. I'll be honest, I like to think of myself as smart, when compared to a majority of my peers in a university setting, I'm actually the dumb one! Pretty sure this stems from an early lack of caring due to poor strategizing for motivation on my part :/ Maybe in the earlier levels of education, if the program allows us to slow down with pragmatic things such as math (MOAR MATH BLASTER!!!11!!1), perhaps the next generation may see some improvement?


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#7 6 years ago
nazoa93;5617328I work as a math tutor and recently I was attempting to tutor a student in Beginning Algebra. (The student was, as far as I know, enrolled in normal public school education classes throughout his life.) He asked a question on a problem, and trying to get a handle on what exactly he knew, I asked if he knew his multiplication tables. He looked at me like I had lost my mind and said "No."

To be fair, I don't know my multiplication tables. What would I need them for unless I was stranded on a desert island with no calculator?

Edit: Hell, even then it's not like I wouldn't have the time to work them out. Really a bit of a struggle to think of any situation where they'd actually be useful.

This links into what I view as a general problem with education systems overseen by government: It's easier to teach someone to remember something than it is to teach them to work something out.

We've confused knowledge (memorisation) with intelligence (problem solving). That's the way you boost standardised test scores, and boosting standardised test scores gets you more votes and funding and so on in the short term. Since governments are only elected for a few years before it becomes someone else's problem, that's all they really need care about. The majority of people you get coming out the other end of uni, in my experience, don't know how to do anything worth doing. The actual standard of their problem solving hasn't gone anywhere since they wrote their first essays back in first year. They've just spent four years learning how to insert different bits of trivia into the process.

Which isn't to say that within the confines of those system there aren't some students with cultural backgrounds that are more or less suited to achieving an A. And no doubt they pick up something useful along the way. But, the efficiency of the system is highly questionable and it's no real surprise if the majority of students are poorly suited to it.

You know what's really valuable? I'm about to reveal a trick here.... =p Professional qualifications. The type you pay for, or your company pays to send you on. Because they're not focused on boosting their standardised results. City and Guilds, things like that. I've got one I did back when I was fifteen - it took a few months, all the exams were open book - it was easy and fun. And it has been more use in finding a job than everything else I've ever done in education put together.




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#8 6 years ago

It's important to know your times tables because otherwise how are you going to remember how much ammo you're given in a combat situation? 30 round-clips x 4 clips = 120 rounds of ammo you have to kill people with :p


"I'd shush her zephyr." ~ Zephyr.



kow_ciller

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#9 6 years ago

Saying the whole educational system is messed up is not accurate at all.

No offense, but most community colleges are lacking compared to a 4-yr university due to many factors, including the students themselves. With that being said, there are idiots at every school. When you take classes with freshman and sophomores it gets real frustrating when people ask the most idiotic questions. But most of those people disappear once you get to your Junior and Senior years and the herd is thinned out.

What is funny is that every generation says "oh this new generation sucks". This is mostly due to the people who are saying that current generations suck are a bunch of nerds. Who are most teachers? Thats right, the bigass nerd in each class trying to get a perfect grade. The same goes with most college professors, you have to be a huge nerd to get a Ph.D, most of whom are the people who were not happy with getting a 97 on a test at any level of their education.

But the simple fact is that when you average it out, people just know more than they used to 20-30-50yrs ago. While that knowledge does not include things such as how to fix a car, etc as a society we are much smarter than we were at any other point in time.

Sorry Nazoa, but you have has an extremely limited experience with the educational system and it is nonsensical to be making accusations based on the limited scope of your interactions with others. I also find it funny that you criticize people for not knowing math when you are a math tutor. New flash dude, you are there to help these people. If they don't know basic math, that is your job as a tutor to help their dumb ass.




Ryojin

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#10 6 years ago

I wouldn't say there's a lack of education in America. I would say that the majority of Americans are just fucking retards. But perhaps that's just me hating my fellow man again.

In my experience, the educational systems in place have been adequate. The only people I have known to have trouble with basic English and Math are those who are quite slow. Of course, different areas tend will have different results. Maybe I was just lucky enough to go through school in one of the more intelligent areas of the country.


Disclaimer: Personal opinions still not endorsed by Ryojin.



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