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Adrian Ţrumpeş Forum Mod

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#1 6 years ago

Why in the fuck do we (USA) not do this?

Why Other Countries Do Better in Math - THE DAILY RIFF - Be Smarter. About Education.

To summarize what I mean:

I'm talking specifically a system of teachers that is monitored and constantly is learning newer and better methods of teaching arithmetic in schools. Not only that, but teaching in a way that helps students better understand the how and why behind math as opposed to just memorization of formulas and theorems (which is pretty much how I and many others have been taught). I'm very inquisitive, so I want to know why these formulas do what they do and what they're used for. We need teachers who can make the subject fun, interesting, and enjoyable. Otherwise, it's boring, stale, and it doesn't prove anything other than you know how to regurgitate what a math teacher wrote down on a chalkboard.


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



Commissar MercZ

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#2 6 years ago

What is it exactly you want the US to do? Reading through the article I'm getting different perspectives, but you should at least summarize the article rather than a one liner and a link.

The overall message I got out of the article is that American teachers are not as trained as their counterparts elsewhere. This is true to an extent- there is no national standard that those in Japan and Singapore he brings up, and as such creditation for a teaching certificate varies state by state. Typically this takes the form of a basic test over your subject area and pedagogy. This makes it possible for someone who really doesn't know their subject area to get creditation.

However, the main reason why the US doesn't "do this" is complicated.

A. The US is not really committed to education, both on the national level and more importantly at the state level.

B. Most "solutions" such as better training and a shift in teaching philosophy (away from rote memorization, mainly) would take some time and more pressingly, a higher education allotment in state budgets.

C. The article says there is little coordination and peer grading between teachers. This is true in someways, but not absolute. I was briefly in a teacher training program and we were made aware of the ways teachers grade each other and share strategies. The issue of cooperation comes more between districts and states, which amounts to little to nothing.

D. The article is absolutely correct that there is too much disparity between the quality of education you expect in an underfunded district and in another where funding is rarely an issue. However to correct this, you go through a minefield of politics that ultimately arrives at taxes- never a good thing for a politician!

I can relate some of my own experience here with the teaching program I was in. The University of Texas system had recently refored their teaching program into one that does address the problems of this article (and was started before then too, I'm pretty sure it was before 2010, the publication of this piece). They recruited from students who were majoring in the natural sciences, math, and engineering as ideal candidates to shore up deificincies in the Sciences and Math in primary and secondary education.

This program would have us do field teaches, and this way they determined if they should proceed further with you- were you passionate about teaching? Could you connect to the students?

I was one of those that was considered "good", but not great. Still, I got through to the upper levels which I would have continued had I not run into some of my current financial issues. It was an interesting experience though- I really got a lot of respect for teachers after this, seeing what they go through on a daily basis.

I believe I mentioned my conservative nature in the past, and as hard as it may be to believe I was pretty staunchly advocating for conservative positions in those days. One of those was the old "Teachers Union are screwing up everything" mentality, as well the voucher system. I genuinly believed that public school teachers were hacks and overpaid, based on my own conception of how their pay and benefits worked, as well as my own bad experience with several teachers.

Going through this program I realized how hard it is, and more importantly, how *most* teachers really try their hardest to get things working, but are held back by distant administrators and politiking at the state capitol, as well as pundits spreading misinformation and lies to the parents they deal with.

It's a tough mess to untangle too. Even if you think you are really teaching differently and connecting with your students, you have to overcome, especially at the high school level, some 10 years of prior teaching that may not be all that great.

The "solutions" most politicians have offered have either been to try and preserve things as it is, or trust in competition to make schools more "efficient" by way of vouchers or charter schools. With respect to the latter, it is a common point in the Republican Party I know of with vouchers, and I believe Louisiana will be the first state to implement this.

This comes with the overall assumption that it is solely a problem of distant teachers- there is indeed a problem with training, but it's not solely their fault. At the end of the day there's a combination of a lack of funding to the education system and a coordinated training system which for the most part is still disjointed.

And again, back to politics look at the stupid things they concern themselves with because of the politicization of the issue by some careless politicians and pundits.

1. Are my kids being brainwashed by liberals to hate America?

2. Are they forcing evolution down the throat of our children?

3. Are schools encouraging homosexual behavior?

4. Are my kids being exposed to drugs?

Among many other things. Little of it does with training or funding, and when it does it's the hand wave of overpaid teachers and their unions. That's it.

In Texas, even as our education system falls apart, the politicians in Austin on the State Board of Education saw more fit to ponder whether intelligent design should be taught with evolution, and instituting stupid ass social studies standards fashioned by interest groups. NOTHING about funding or training. In fact, Texas cut something like 30 million to its education funding to avoid running into debt- and you can see the effects of this on the poor schools in particular that rely on state funding more than those in well off districts, since most education money here comes through property taxes.




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#3 6 years ago

It is a good idea to keep your teacher up to date, but it can also cause problems on its own. In Germany this process got a bit out of control. Teachers who can't teach get promoted to administrative levels where they can't do much except for suggesting reforms of the education system. So there are lots of reforms, each of them costs money, mostly because new text books have to be ordered all the time.

I'm sure that kids would be better at math if these resources were spent on improving the student/teacher ratio or increasing the number of math lessons per week.




Rikupsoni

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#4 6 years ago

That article mentions Finland doing good in the PISA math tests (primary school), which I've of course heard before. Here it comes down that the public school system is good, there pretty much are no private schools (Steiner pedagogy schools are the odd few private schools, and they suck at mathematics).

The teacher's profession is very respected and it's hard to get in, there are many applicants to primary school teacher studying places. Also the classes are not formated by the school in any way, which mean the ADHD kids will be in the same class as the best students. Perhaps in most cases this boosts the motivation of the lower performance students, but doesn't lower the nerd scores because they tend to be focused on school work despite other non-motivated people anyway.

But that's only about primary school, many students tend to lose interest in mathematics after primary school.

As for teachers, I think education theory is more important than mathematics theory. They need to be very knowledgeable about teaching students to get good results, and mathematics that is not taught on university-level is not rocket science. They're teaching students things that are very easy for anyone knowledgeable in mathematics.

For example, I had two teachers in high school, and with some motivation problems of mine, the other teacher was very good with boosting us who weren't top-notch. With years of experience, he knew how to make us understand things easily. The other one had Ph.D. in mathematics and studied some complex issues. When teaching, he mostly chatted with the two best students about some advanced things in math, which were pretty incomprehensible to us others. You can guess the results. He would have used more experience in education theory instead of mathematics.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#5 6 years ago
Exactly what makes a good teacher, however, no one seems to know. Some people believe that all you need to do is recruit the best and brightest and put them in a classroom and students will do well.

We do know. There are a great number of studies on the issues of education and coaching, some people do nothing but study it their entire careers. We've got our shit nailed in that regard. If you want to teach someone something, there's no great mystery to it.

[INDENT]• Relate it to what they know. • Praise effort rather than achievement. • Never criticise failure. • Base tests on problem solving of three questions at most. • Award a lot of extra points for coming up with multiple solutions.[/INDENT]

I daresay those who know more about education can give you more specific advice. But that will take you an awful long way.

There are a couple of problems with that though.

It's not politically expedient. The nature of a national curriculum with standardised tests and procedures for lesson plans and so on is that you have some idiot who knows fuck all about education, in government, setting national or state policy for every teacher out there. And there's little motivation for him to fix things because at the end of the day the people voting for him just want to hear that their kid got an A.

There's also the fact that it's expensive. If you're going to cover a lot of material in depth - rather than just teaching people to recite answers - you're going to have to spend more time on it. Time costs money. So do more skilled workers. Someone who's good at teaching will also be an extremely good manager - (a lot of teaching good management is about different learning styles and different ways to motivate people) - and they can sell their skills for a higher price somewhere else... maybe they will.

It's not particularly complicated though. I taught the neighbour's kid how to pass her maths GCSE, she went from a D to an A in the space of a couple of months. And all I really did was treat her like an intelligent person rather than some worthless cunt. It's sad seeing how kids light up - essentially - just from a bit of encouragement and a bit of sharing joy in something, because it shows how little of it they get given elsewhere.




Commissar MercZ

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#6 6 years ago

What Nem says is right on. There's a lot to be had in teacher-student relations that can help with teaching well. There's a lot of things that you have to be aware of that you could be doing out of habit or subconsciously that might be hurting them. The most common one I saw while watching my partner teach (and what she saw I was doing) was the way we would call on students. It became more convenient for us to take answers from those wanting to participate, and we did not do much to bring in those who were not participating. That's a very quick way to alienate students, especially if this is carried out over the course of a semester or year.

It's key to try and connect to your students, make it meaningful to them in some way. You got to gauge their achievement and try and plan it out from there in a way that helps them. Not criticizing failure is important too- may seem like an obvious one, but with students (particularly adolescent ones), you may end up breaking their egos and in time their drive. Some of this can be relatively minor to the observer- simply saying "no" in the wrong way if they get a question wrong during a lecture can snowball out of control over the course of a semester if that's all that's going on.

Problem here though comes ultimately is that the larger the class gets, the more difficult it becomes to try and individualize the learning experience to each student's strengths. More so when you consider that it's probably not the only class they are teaching. Lot of teachers have to balance that with the pressures from the local districts on when to give tests and when grades are due, so it's a difficult thing to do.

Group work helps too, but that has to be a managed carefully in the way it is used. If done correctly, students collaborating towards learning something is much more effective than a typical ppt. lecture or something of that sort. People learn from each other better sometimes than they can from their own teachers and retain it more.

There's also the overall problem, at least in my area, that the education system in the United States (I'm not sure about other areas), falls back on rote memorization in the end for test taking. As such a lot of students simply don't end up rationalizing what they learn, trying to connect it to other major points, etc.- truly "understanding it". Just crude memorization techniques to pass the unit test, then forget about it and make room for the next content. This problem becomes obvious when a student transitions out of high school to university, where some subject areas rote memorization can only get you so far before you begin running into problems.

Teachers can do some things to try and encourage the formation of knowledge in a more meaningful way, rather than just trying to memorize it. This can take a lot of forms, right down to just simple questioning. Dialogue with students helps alot and at least gets them engaged when you do have to go through a lecture of some sort to introduce them to a new area. Activities, discussions, etc. all help, anything to get beyond the usual routine.

I agree with Rip, Pedagogy and subject/content area knowledge have to be balanced. If you just end up being a sage on the stage (as many college professors in particular are prone to doing), you'll lose the students after awhile. If you're really energetic and connecting with the students and become the "fun" teacher, you may be hurting them in the long run if you're not imparting anything particularly useful to them.




Adrian Ţrumpeş Forum Mod

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#7 6 years ago

Nemmerle;5649270We do know. There are a great number of studies on the issues of education and coaching, some people do nothing but study it their entire careers. We've got our shit nailed in that regard. If you want to teach someone something, there's no great mystery to it. [INDENT]• Relate it to what they know. • Praise effort rather than achievement. • Never criticise failure. • Base tests on problem solving of three questions at most. • Award a lot of extra points for coming up with multiple solutions.[/INDENT]I daresay those who know more about education can give you more specific advice. But that will take you an awful long way.

There are a couple of problems with that though.

It's not politically expedient. The nature of a national curriculum with standardised tests and procedures for lesson plans and so on is that you have some idiot who knows fuck all about education, in government, setting national or state policy for every teacher out there. And there's little motivation for him to fix things because at the end of the day the people voting for him just want to hear that their kid got an A.

There's also the fact that it's expensive. If you're going to cover a lot of material in depth - rather than just teaching people to recite answers - you're going to have to spend more time on it. Time costs money. So do more skilled workers. Someone who's good at teaching will also be an extremely good manager - (a lot of teaching good management is about different learning styles and different ways to motivate people) - and they can sell their skills for a higher price somewhere else... maybe they will.

It's not particularly complicated though. I taught the neighbour's kid how to pass her maths GCSE, she went from a D to an A in the space of a couple of months. And all I really did was treat her like an intelligent person rather than some worthless cunt. It's sad seeing how kids light up - essentially - just from a bit of encouragement and a bit of sharing joy in something, because it shows how little of it they get given elsewhere.

See, that's exactly what I'm talking about. I don't know when things went so wrong, but it just seems like all the life has been taken out of school and education, and the thrill of discovery, creativity, and learning are vanishing rapidly. It's now like a business/bureaucracy instead of something that should be a natural process that is to be nurtured by the teachers, parents, children, and the communities as a whole.

Yes, it isn't a very popular issue amongst politicians, but SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE. This is too important to be overtaken by complacent bureaucrats and soccer parents. There is no solitary road to education; not everyone learns the exact same way, therefore we should not be treated the exact same way, and we should certainly not be chastised for not comprehending material when it's taught by an un-caring system. I really do believe that if anything is worth dramatically changing, it's the way we are educated. Get back to the way things used to be, where people are not beaten into submissive drones but where they are actually allowed to be people!

[/rant]

P.S. on a side-note: I'm happy to see that Kennesaw State University (it's like 30-40 mins from me) is actually going to be employing the mathematical models and textbooks used in the countries mentioned. When it comes to solutions, well.....I refer you to this quote by Norman Schwarzkopf:

"The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it."


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



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#8 6 years ago

computernerd;5649333See, that's exactly what I'm talking about. I don't know when things went so wrong, but it just seems like all the life has been taken out of school and education, and the thrill of discovery, creativity, and learning are vanishing rapidly. It's now like a business/bureaucracy instead of something that should be a natural process that is to be nurtured by the teachers, parents, children, and the communities as a whole.

Yes, it isn't a very popular issue amongst politicians, but SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE. This is too important to be overtaken by complacent bureaucrats and soccer parents. There is no solitary road to education; not everyone learns the exact same way, therefore we should not be treated the exact same way, and we should certainly not be chastised for not comprehending material when it's taught by an un-caring system. I really do believe that if anything is worth dramatically changing, it's the way we are educated. Get back to the way things used to be, where people are not beaten into submissive drones but where they are actually allowed to be people!

[/rant]

P.S. on a side-note: I'm happy to see that Kennesaw State University (it's like 30-40 mins from me) is actually going to be employing the mathematical models and textbooks used in the countries mentioned. When it comes to solutions, well.....I refer you to this quote by Norman Schwarzkopf:

"The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it."

I concur, just having go out of high school, just sitting around talking about it on computer is not going do anything. Children at first are happy go to school, then they realize that they HAVE to go to school for most of their lives and quite frankly, they are burned out. Most schools now seem to be run for profit, want everyone to look/feel the same, and that everyone comes from the same background... they believe that everyone has money for lunch, for field trips, for even medicines... it's all for the money, money, money, money... As said previously, it should be nutured, the child must want it, otherwise it's essentially forced down their throat... it's FORCED schooling, if you walk down most high school hallways you will notice kids cursing, slandering, and if you were to happen to sit in the back of the bus (where most times the high schoolers are in the back) they will say "I want out of this "shithole", "hellhole", and whatever... Tbh, I tried comparing jail to school, and there are many, many similarities... Kids are not really given any motivation to do anything... they have to be self-motivated, and kids growing just don't know how to do this, especially when their parents are dead beats who don't give a crap about the kid... Teachers don't motivate kids, hell, most teachers don't even want to be there... I'm sure I'll have more to write about this eventually... just my $2 (two dollars, not two cents >.>)




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#9 6 years ago

Yah that reminded me of the way my Physics textbook would describe the equations, it'd start off simple and then gradually build up to why the equations are the way they were. That didn't change the fact that I fucking hated Physics and was horrible at it (only reason for hating it though). It only helped in some way though overall there wasn't much help.

Although I don't really get it for math, most of the equations don't need that much explanation since they're not as complicated as in Physics, those few that do wouldn't really help explaining them anyway. For those equations anyway, if you get the logic behind them though I guess you could go make your own for other math problems (Although honestly it was my Computer Science class that got me to be able to do that).