Thursday December 5, 2013
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This comment worried me. "...he maintains that many teachers face pressure from the administration to pass students even if they do not turn in their work or pass tests."
That comment suggests that students may be passing or failing based on something other than their test scores. It that's not true, then there's nothing more to say, but if it is true, then something is wrong.
The sole factor upon which students should pass or fail is whether or not they have met the objectives of the course as measured by valid evaluations. Most of the time that means passing the tests. No need to discuss exceptions.
Homework must not affect course grades. Homework is just one of many teaching techniques used to help students pass tests. I hope no one is letting homework affect course grades.
Should a teacher be dropped for such practices? You bet! When it comes time for a student to pass an annual test there is not going to be any credit on the tests given for raising your hand during class, for being on time, for perfect attendance, or for turning in homework. The student is going to be tested solely on how well he or she has met the course objectives, as demonstrated by test performance. You want your students to do well on the final exam? Look at the course goals and write teaching objectives that help them learn to do what those course goals want them to be able to do.
"At the time the school board officially RIF’ed the five other teachers let go this year, school administrators said the reason those teachers were picked had to do with low enrollment. Less students in a class equals less dollars that teacher brings into the district."
That comment is perfectly logical, and letting teachers go for that reason is unquestionably proper. It no doubt deals with elective courses. If a teacher is hired to teach an elective course it is his or her responsibility to make that course interesting enough to the students so that they stay with it. A high dropout rate in an elective course, though it is harsh to say it, often indicates a less-than-the-best teacher.
At both of the schools where I taught for any length of time, I suggested and had approved new elective courses. When I did that I knew that I was laying my job on the line. It's one thing to come up with a new idea; it's quite another to turn that idea into a viable course. In all cases where I taught elective courses the onus was directly on my shoulders because there was a district final exam that would very quickly reveal whether or not the course had been effective. Had I blown it, and had I done it at a time when enrollment was dropping, I would have expected the axe to fall. That's life. You either contribute to the program or you find something else to do.
After all, why do we teach? To draw a salary? I think not. We teach to meet the fundamental goal of the district, and that goal is to have the students learn something.
I just wondered if anyone was startled to hear a teacher being hard on teachers.
Don't want to argue but Carson Jr. High in Mesa graded on homework. My son got a couple of bad grades on his report card so I went to see the teacher. He showed me my son's test scores and none were below 92. He said the reason he was given a bad grade he didn't do his homework.
I said that is not right. My kids do thier homework as soon as they get home or they don't play or watch TV until it is done. Well my son being the kind of person he is, was doing the homework every night but not turning it in. I found it all in his desk drawer at home and took it back to school.
Another teacher had told him test scores were all that mattered.
"Don't want to argue but Carson Jr. High in Mesa graded on homework."
Sorry, Pat, It wasn't "Carson Junior High" that graded on homework. It was a lazy, stupid teacher that had been asleep during teaching methods classes. If you had taken your complaint to the right person the chances are that teacher would have been fired. If I had been the principal he would have been.
Homework is just one of dozens of teaching techniques that are used to help kids to learn. Whether it has been done, or not done, proves nothing as far as how much the student has learned is concerned. That is done by his or her evaluations, usually objective tests.
For my last 20 years of teaching I gave no homework assignments. All work was done during class. There was plenty of time for it. After all, look at these numbers: Kids are in class an hour a day, five days a week for 32 weeks (excluding all their vacation time). That's 160 hours. In that 160 hours all we have to do is teach them the important facts in one textbook, and in some cases, perhaps, some minor skill. Think of all the information that someone can give to you in an hour.
I used a variety of techniques with the kids, but one that I relied on very heavily was the classroom substitute for homework, which is a worksheet. My students were allowed to choose a partner at the beginning of the year (and to change partners any time they wanted to). They worked together on everything, which meant they could relax and talk to each other. They were given just one worksheet for two students. When they were done with it they brought it up to me. I did not grade it. Instead I checked it while they stood there, marked anything that was wrong, and let them go back and correct it. Not always, at times I just explained what they had gotten wrong and why. It depended on the material and what type of understanding it required. Once they finished they work they were done for the day. They could then do anything they wanted. In my last classroom I had six computers loaded up with thing they could do. I also had about ten different board games, including chess.
I had painting and drawing materials (and a safe place where they could keep things they were working on). Around the top of the walls was a collection of paintings from all over the world, there to inspire the kids. And with them were posters of all kinds, including football and basketball players. And a lot of other stuff.
I had a small library of books they could read, including a BIble and a Book of Mormon. Some of the kids just loved reading when they were done work. And they could take the books home if they wanted to. No sign-outs. Everything in my classroom was strictly on the honor system.
I had extra credit lab work they could do if they wanted. And a ton of other stuff. The point was that when they were done the time was theirs.
All of the things on the computers were things I had programmed myself. You could, for example send a coded message to someone in another one of my classes (who could read it when he or she finished work). There was a kicker in that, though. Any student who wanted to crack the code could try doing it (there was a new code for every message). The purpose of that was to teach the kids the scientific method, which is more or less to observe, make guess of sorts, test it, and go on.
A game that I wrote that the kids loved was Hangman. I had a little man who walked up a set of stairs to the gallows, one step at a time every time you got a letter wrong, until he finally walked across the platform, the trapdoor fell, and he was hanged. Very few kids lost, though. There were two points at which you could ask for help. In one case you were given a clue. In the other case you were given a definition of the word you were trying to guess. It goes without saying that all the terms came from classwork (the next unit).
If a kid wanted to, he or she could draw or paint a poster to be put up around the edge of the classroom, something to do with the course. I always had a set of six microscope set up so that the kids could either look at micro-crystals or at the tiny little critters that lived in water. They could do it for fun, or turn in a report for extra credit if they wanted to. Some of those kids spent almost every day looking at things under the microscopes.
And then there was the BIG reward activity. They could sit in a group and just talk if they wanted to. Some of them loved doing that more than anything.
There was more to it than all that, but I'd have to write a book to tell you everything. The main thing is that there were NO social isolates in my classes. Everyone had a partner, and everyone got to talk to a friend.
And literally no one failed the tests. My kids always scored at or near the top in district exams. I had an absolutely irreducible failure rate of about 1.2%. I could get it no lower, though I tried mightily. There are always some kids who are out sick, or who have mental problems and just can't get past them. Mostly, it was absenteeism that killed a kid. I couldn't teach kids that weren't in school.
The only drawback? I worked my butt off. Try grading papers in every class, class after class. And that's in addition to the actual teaching.
It was worth it, though.
You know what I count as one of the most rewarding moments in my life?
I left the junior high where I was teaching and went to the district offices. One of the schools I serviced happened to be that same junior high. One day I was standing back of the science building talking to a teacher when three kids came around the corner--8th graders, I think.
One of them looked at the other two and said, "Hey! There's Mister Garrett, the GOOD science teacher."
That, I will never forget.
I tried to debate with myself where I should put this response, the string before would have been appropriate as well I think, but I wanted the one that would get a response.
I have had it up to you know where with 'we have to meet this goal, requirement, number, attendance, success rate, passing grade, .......
Why can't we stop and say...what happened to turning children into responsible, productive adults who are ready to take on the world?
Schools should never be measured by what other schools are doing, they should be left to help the children who attend, be the most they can be. There is no standard greater than the standard of ....I made it in this world or I didn't.
I once heard of a Magician who had captured a bunch of fleas off an old dog. He put them in a shoe box and watched them for a while. He saw that the fleas jumped and jumped and jumped always hitting the top of the box.....but after a time, they stopped hitting the top. He watched the fleas and found they continued to jump but stopped short of the ceiling. He took the top off the shoe box and guess what? The fleas didn't jump out.
Those fleas had condidtioned themselves to believe that they could only jump so high and so they quit trying to jump higher.
I am of the belief that our schools need to be flea freedom seekers. I'll make another analogy.
When traveling circuses made their way across America, they got most of their Animals from Africa and among them were the large eared Elephants we've come to love to watch while they performed.
Behind the scenes it was important to make sure that the Elephants did as they were told and not be a danger to the crowd and paying customers.
Circuses learned how to train the Elephants. When they were small and young, they tied a chain around their leg which was attached to a spike which was driven deep into the ground.
The young Elephant would tug and pull and tug and pull and tug and pull but eventually learn
that they could not get away. When the Elephant had given up, the trainer would take away the chain, and replace it with a rope. Then he would replace the steel spike with a wooden stake.
When the Elephant felt the resistance of the rope and the stake.....it would give up.
You see, Our schools have become a circus. We have quit trying to find those exceptional students and learned to try and keep everyone equal.
Local communities used to thrive because the best and brightest among us rose to the top and helped others up the ladder of success.
Where is that today?
"Local communities used to thrive because the best and brightest among us rose to the top and helped others up the ladder of success.
Where is that today?"
The trouble with our schools today is not found inside our schools but outside our schools.
I am speaking as someone who has been involved in education since August 1955. That's a long time, back when I first learned how to teach. And most of the time between then and August 1975 I spent my time deeply involved in education, teaching others how to teach, running educational and training programs, and taking I do not know how many courses that added to my knowledge in the field.
I've seen changes, good changes, even some great changes, but all of them came from within the education community itself and were the result of continued research into how and why kids learn and how to use that knowledge to teach them. Back in the early 50's to middle 60's a lot of research was applied, and our schools improved materially as a result. Not only that, but the cost of educating each individual student, allowing for inflation, actually dropped. We were teaching better because we had learned how to teach better. Prior to that time teaching was more of an art than a science. The result of the changes was that more kids stayed in school and that better people were attracted into teaching.
Mind you, there were additional funds spent on "education" at the same time, but those funds were not spent on education itself, but on peripheral things, such as better buildings and facilities, and on extra-curricular activities, primarily sports. They added to the cost of running schools, but not to education per se. These are all facts, readily verifiable.
What has damaged education since then are changes that did not come from within the educational community, changes that came from outside of it. Those changes began in the head of some politician with a hidden agenda. They were forced upon the schools. Most of the time the idea that fostered those changes was an indirect result of the civil rights movement. Money was thrown at schools to wheedle them into following federal regulations, some of which were just plain ridiculous. We trod all over the civil rights of black children, often by putting them on buses and sending them across cities to attend schools they did not want to attend. I actually watched black kids crying in Connecticut when they had to leave their neighborhood schools, which they loved and which were every bit as good as any other school in the nation. Why? Because there were more blacks in the schools than whites. Who cared? The kids didn't. The parents didn't. No one cared but the feds.
There were a few school districts that came up with plans that worked around the idiotic federal regulations that created enforced busing. One solution was to allow a child who was in the majority in a school to opt to go to school where he or she was in the minority. It was an excellent solution because it allowed changes to occur naturally. I worked in a high school in Texas which had an enrollment of 2,100 students in 1975, 90% white, attendance being based on the "neighborhood" concept. By the time I left in 1983, with no legal pressure from anyone, the school was 65% black. No anger. No forced integration. Just letting people do what they wanted to do.
Another solution, one I saw working in Louisiana while I was in college, was to simply turn the two schools in town into one big school, separated by 7 miles. I do not any longer remember what each building taught, but let's say that one of them taught only English, history, and math, and the other one taught science, languages, and whatever. There were just three periods in a day. If you attended English on Mon, Wed, Fri one week, then you attended it on Tue, Thurs the next week. It was full integration.
The problem is, you see, that in order to stay in office while they were cramming integration down the throats of unwilling people, the Democrats came up with the idea of federal aid to education--aid which came with strings. That idea, which should have been scrapped years ago, has continued, and has destroyed American education by interfering with local control.
Now the Republicans have come up with No Child Left Behind, whose goal is to turn education over to business. The cost of education is now ten times what it was, but the money isn't used for education; it's used for nonsense. And greedy people are just sitting around the sidelines drooling over the educational money they're going to get when they take over the schools.
And notice please, that NCLB specifically exempts all private and charter schools. My! My! I wonder what that is? I wonder why business operated schools right here in Arizona do not have to take the AIMS test?
And the Democrats, to gather more votes, are mandating that no funds go to schools that dare to ask whether or not you belong in this country.
What a wonderful way to run a school. Use it as a political football.
Want to fix education? Scrap all federal education programs over a period of ten years.
You know what you'll have? The same schools you had when you were young.
Tom and Dan: me thinks you oversimpify and over generalize bit. Teaching is an pedagogical occupation; it is also an art. Some Federal regulations (Title 9; some of the Special Ed. mainstreaming regulations, etc.) are benificial or at least not harmful). I do not disagreee with most of your conclusions. However ,to think that removing Federal programs will restore the good old days ignores the political reasons that the programs were started- dissatisfaction with educational outcomes. I maintain that under most circumstances the community gets what is deserves. For example, look at the shape of PUSD and realize that the Superintendent was hired by the Board and the Board was elected by the citizens. Many voters appear to support the "old" majority of the Board and the retired Superintendent even though observation leads me to believe that there were/are some serious ethical, financial and educational lapses. Objectively examine the condition of the District - finances, graduation rates, failure rates, test scores, teacher evaluations, public relations, public evaluations of schools, etc.- and I think one will see that things are not wonderful. We need to start " where the rubber hits the road"- teaching for learning. Are the teachers being professionally suported and educationally nourished? Is the curriculum that is supposed to be taught actually being taught? What proof is there that student learning actually took place? Does the school environment contribute to teaching and learning? Are teacher and administrators being held accountable for student learning in ways that are reasonable and "fair"?
From stories I have heard the Special Ed. money is the most abused and misused.
There should be an audit and investigation on how it is and was spent from day one.
In the first place what education have the teachers had to make the call on special needs kids?
Kids have been judged or diagnosed wrong and will suffer all their lives because of it and the money will be misused.
But the school will keep doing the same thing, getting the money until something is done different.
"However ,to think that removing Federal programs will restore the good old days ignores the political reasons that the programs were started- dissatisfaction with educational outcomes."
John, for once I am going to disagree with you. Mind you, I agree that the reason people were fed when Congress interfered was that there was widespread dissatisfaction with the schools, but you know as well as I do that was just an excuse to get their hands on what was the finest educational system in the world, and the real reason they did it is so that they could use education as a political football to win votes.
I'll add something else that will shock most people. There are kids who have no business being in standard school classes after the third or fourth grade. They will learn nothing more. They know it, teachers know it, and parents know it. I am not talking about kids who have learning disabilities; I am talking about the fact, so often swept under the rug, that for every person who has an IQ above 100 there is one who's IQ is below 100. When we start bragging about all those great kids with IQ's which fill the upper part of the curve we forget the ones who fill its lower half. They are forgotten and ignored. And they are the reason that NCLB can NEVER meet its goals.
What am I saying? If you do not give kids with IQs ranging below 80 something that they want to learn instead of pap like English literature, history, science, and math, you might as well just send them home. The jobs they are going to have do not call for what you are trying to teach them. Their life style will not include those things. In no way will they benefit by sitting in classes where they learn nothing other than the fact that we have chosen to ignore their needs. That is why we have dropouts; that is why we will always have dropouts until we give those kids the leg up they need.
Did you know this? When the Army first went volunteer, the greatest percentage of its new troops fell in the 60 to 80 IQ range? Shocked? It's true! Why? The poor guys finally found a place that wanted them. My authority for that statement by the way, is none other than General Norman Schwartzkopf, who at that point in time was in the Pentagon personnel office.
The plain truth is that people who are not interested in the artsy-f----sy life are not going to learn about it. And why should they? Have they no rights? Are they not allowed to be what God made them? Do we have any right to go on year after year failing them because they do not meet false standards set by their "betters?"
Ah! Now you're into local issues. On those I can only comment as an outsider. And I guess the only fair comment I can make is that you don't need me sharing my ignorance with you. I will, however, repeat what you said because it makes such good sense.
"Objectively examine the condition of the District - finances, graduation rates, failure rates, test scores, teacher evaluations, public relations, public evaluations of schools, etc...."
"Are the teachers being professionally suported and educationally nourished? Is the curriculum that is supposed to be taught actually being taught? What proof is there that student learning actually took place? Does the school environment contribute to teaching and learning? Are teacher and administrators being held accountable for student learning in ways that are reasonable and “fair”?"
"In the first place what education have the teachers had to make the call on special needs kids?"
Pat, it isn't teachers who make those judgments. They are made by counselors we can't afford, school psychologists we can't afford, 154 people down in Phoenix in the Department of Education we can't afford, and tens of thousands of federal employees we can't afford.
"Many voters appear to support the “old” majority of the Board and the retired Superintendent even though observation leads me to believe that there were/are some serious ethical, financial and educational lapses. "
I think all counselors should go find a different job, and psychologists aren't worth the paper thier license is printed on. My opinion.
I believe some teachers convince the above mentioned there is something wrong with a child because they don't know how to teach or control thier students. So put them in special class or drug them.
Only a licensed doctor should make the decision after many tests.
First of all have all children have an eye test before starting school or at about 3 yrs. old.
I knew a little boy that his parents were told he was hyperactive. That was before ADHD and all the crap they come up with now. Back in the early 60's. He would run into things and was a little beast. Couldn't ride a tricycle, had a hard time getting on it. Couldn't tell them what was in a picture book. His parents kept taking him to different drs. and finally found out why he was having such a bad time. One eye was real near sighted and the other far sighted.
Got him a pair of glasses and he was a totaly different child. Smart as a whip and had very good coordination. Things aren't always the way they seem to be.
Tom; One of the better things that the Feds have done is funding programs for kids with disabilities. Those funds can be used to give training and other opportunities to children. Of course, there are Fed. rules and procedures that come with the money. (What's new!). The end result of such programs is that a District can fund teachers for kids with disabilities. The level of onerous "payback" to the Feds. is often associated with the type of person who is in charge of the programs at the District level. On a slightly different topic: a couple of days ago I heard Bernie Goldberg talking on Fox. He said, "Schools have not failed parents. Parents have failed schools."
Pithy but a lot of truth in a country where communities have a lot of say about what goes on in local schools! As I have stated, perhaps we get what we deserve. Look at who we elected.
Your remark about 'look at who we elected' applies to everything, not just school boards.
Look at our town, county and state.
Maybe we should have a class in the first grade on how to elect the right kind of people.
Call it ethics.
"Things aren't always the way they seem to be.'
Great story, Pat. It is exactly on target.
"Tom; One of the better things that the Feds have done is funding programs for kids with disabilities."
John, I agree with you. If kids have genuine disabilities, instead of wasting their time with standard classes, why not do the right thing?
And I have no problems with the rules an agency sets up as concerning why funds are granted. What troubles me is three things: 1. Programs that are shams, like NCLB, which everyone knows was created to put public education in private hands. 2. Rules in non educational programs that pull funds from schools which do not toe the line on political things like illegals. 3. Rules made by politicians who think they can change human nature with the stroke of a pen.
We keep on doing the same old thing--sweeping the fact under the rug that there are some kids who not only will--but should--fail in our schools. There is an elitist attitude in some people which makes them think that kids are somehow at fault when they do not belly up to the trough and swill in the unpalatable nonsense laid before them. To a kid with an IQ of 60 through 80, such things as Shakespeare, most of history and social studies, all math beyond simple arithmetic, and a lot of other stuff we push is totally useless. They do not need it. They cannot understand it. They can not--and will not--learn it. And they spend upward of six or seven years of their childhood being told they are failures because of what they inherited in their genes.
Just think how you would feel if you were put in their shoes. Here's a world where everyone can do everything--except you. And you are constantly told by the system that you are a failure. Praise? Never! Rewards? Not for you! Belonging? Saved for people who are "smart."
John, I saw those same people brought into the military, treated with respect, given the time to learn things that had meaning to them, and paid the same amount for their day's work as anyone else. And I watched them succeed.
Our schools need to quit being liberal arts, snobbish, lock-step everyone-is-the-same mills, They need to become the vocational schools they should be. Kids should be taught (a) what this country is all about, (b) as much academics as they can handle, and (c) what they need to know to make a living in a decent paying job when they graduate.
Every year in my classroom I targeted none to two kids in each class who had been abandoned by the system. I think the best thing I did in my 22 years of civilian teaching was to turn around something like a hundred kids who were thought of as either incorrigible discipline problems or soon-to-be dropouts. Of the 5,000 or so kids who went through my classroom, I took more satisfaction out of having helped those poor kids than I did out of the other 4,900, who would have made it on their own, with or without me.
We're here to help kids, not classify them as failures.
I don't know what my IQ is and could care less. I learned enough to get me thru life, run a few businesses, had a real estate license over 20 yrs. and don't depend on any kind of welfare to stay alive.
I think Tom has the right idea, teach the kids what they need to be able to work and take care of thier self and thier families.
Who needs Shakespere to survive or highter math? I took algebra as a sophmore but the teacher didn't like the way I got the answers. I didn't follow the rules of how to do the problems. I did it my way. Got so tired of listening to him, only took it one semester. Then left school and got married.
That was a great learning experience. We learned together as my husband also quit school in the 10th grade and he had a very high IQ. He was going to HS in Mesa. He was bored in school and wanted to come back to Pine and be a cowboy which he did for awhile but it didn't pay much, so we went on to other things.
He received his real estate brokers license after going to real estate school three days and not having a salesmans license first.
Still learning together until l lost him in 2010. Almost 58 yrs.
Tom: I am reminded of the old story about the dead horse? You recall it? You can change the feed, buy a new halter, get new shoes, polish the saddle, etc., but it is still a dead horse!
Great story, Pat. Wish I had met him.
True, John, true.
The sad thing about that dead horse is that it died a long time ago. As Shakespeare put it so well in Henry V:
"A many of our bodies shall no doubt
Find native graves; upon the which, I trust,
Shall witness live in brass of this day's work;
And those that leave their valiant bones in France,
Dying like men, though buried in your dunghills,
They shall be fam'd; for there the sun shall greet them,
And draw their honours reeking up to heaven
Leaving their earthly parts to choke your clime,
The smell whereof shall breed a plague in France."**
Our educational system is so far out of touch with reality that it smells to high heaven. It has become a plague upon the nation.
Tell you what, John. Suppose someone asked you to state a mission for our schools? Wouldn't it be something like this? To produce useful, happy, citizens who graduate with the feeling that their school experience was positive and useful?
That goes back to a fundamental in education; namely that teaching should be student-oriented, not teacher-oriented. Now I know that student-oriented means something slightly different, but if we look at schools as being there for the betterment of society THROUGH the betterment of kids, then it is right on target.
There should be no "standard" curriculum. The school curriculum should be tailored to the needs of the kids (eg: how much they can do, and what they need to function in society), with the goal of turning out the best, happiest, most useful citizens we can. Graduation requirements should be tailored to fit the native ability of each kid. In other words if the kid has done the best he can at HIS level, then we should pat him on the back and say, "Well done!" If he leaves school, enters the work force, knows what freedom and liberty are, understands private enterprise, can function well in society by earning his way, and is a positive instead of a negative, we have done everything we can possibly do. Anything else is not only window dressing; it is unachievable.
If we drive a kid out of school by increasing graduation requirements to make political points we have not done that kid, or society, any favors. That's like taking the short kids and failing them because they can't reach high enough. Genetically--scientifically--there is no difference between that and what we are now doing.
** In case anyone isn't familiar with the passage, it occurs when Henry is speaking with the Constable of France before the battle, who says:
"Once more I come to know of thee, King Harry,
If for thy ransom thou wilt now compound,
Before thy most assured overthrow:"
Henry's reply is:
"Bid them achieve me and then sell my bones.
Good God! why should they mock poor fellows thus?
The man that once did sell the lion's skin
While the beast liv'd, was kill'd with hunting him."
And the passage I quoted. Great stuff, if you like Shakespeare.
Tom; AMEN ! Your remark about student centered education is so very crucial to understanding the problems that we now face. Testing all students with the same questions, regardless of community or local needs, is a good example. Who will believe that Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Payson have the same cultural backgrounds and the same needs for student outcomes? Yet national and even state testing rely on that understanding. Some things need to be the same and others, not so much. We need a recognition that local areas must meet the needs of local areas in addition to standard reading, writing, math, and so on. So, how do we recognize and deal with a really student centered education? Tough in this world of No Child Left Behind, etc. I will propose that tests driven by "outsiders" will not go away and we need to deal with it. So, while adding things that reflect the flavor of local areas, we need to change teaching/curriculum to recognize that each student is an individual that needs to handled accordingly. Teachers should be shown how to reach students with multiple learning styles. It is a huge task for the teacher but inroads can be made by simply convincing teachers that different students need different approaches. Simply stated, if a student does not undersand the question, the question should be changed to a form that the student does understand. The same with an explanation of material to be learned. There are different roads to most destinations !
Everytime a string like this occurs, these three and sometimes a few others, give me hope that all is not lost. With each of their backgrounds they bring knowledge, enlightenment, and realtime experience to the conversation and I find it most welcome.
I am obviously not a teacher, though I have taught. I am not by definition an intellectual, but I am intelligent and have the power of reason and an I.Q. higher than average. There are probably many more of these, whatever they are, I could list but as I read the afore listed comments my mind went to a question I can't answer.
Why are there schools and who do they serve? Further, How did we ever survive before them?
What is being taught in the classroom that can't be learned online today?
I'm not trying to be obtuse I've searched my mind and suddenly found no reason why there should be schools and an education system.
Do I have your attention.
Schools should be a place to grow and become enlightened because it profits students in the future and helps them prepare but only if THEY want it too. (lead a horse to water....)
In my opinion, the fastest way to eliminate the Socialist, Progressive, Liberal (Tom I know you hate the terms transformed meaning) establishment, is to quit feeding them the party line.
I'm going to get a lot of flack for this next statement; however, I'll ask. If a teacher no longer had a student to teach, what is the teacher capable of doing to earn a living for their familiy?
Work or be wasted. Be creative and create a benefit, then prosper because others have benefitted.
School, in my opinion, should be for those who want to be a part of the American dream of freedom, prosperity, and sharing by helping others get a hand up.
If students want to remain children and be taken care of by their mommies, let the mommies take care of them as long as they can but not with the help of the rest of us.
Dan: First, I am not overly sensitive or defensive about your remark ;"...what is the teacher capable of doing to earn a living for their family?", though I was a teacher. I'm sure there are a selection of "Nerds" out there who might find it difficult to find a paying job. On the other hand, most teachers excell in a number of ways and have CHOSEN teaching as a way to not only contribute to society by helping others but also to feel personally fulfilled. As you may be aware, I am a proponent of "Multiple Intelligences". Under that schema, "Interpersonal Relationships" is a catagory that emphasizes strengths and abilities tied to being talented in that area. People who are strong in that area are most always strong in other areas as well. Those persons would likely do well in many areas that deal with person to person interactions. I can not list the vocational areas that this might include - there are too many.
Your question about learning on line.
Don't we need to interact with other people face to face?
John, I agree with your 18 July 2012 at 2:20 p.m. comment. And I see that Dan does too.
What's bugging Dan is the relationship in some people's minds between teachers and a system which has been forced upon them. Teachers are stuck with a system they didn't--and wouldn't--create. Some politicians find it handy to blame the teachers for that. You and I know it's not true.
Dan, for many teachers, teaching is a calling. They want to be part of something important. As in any profession, there are others too, but only a small minority.
Where individual kids are concerned learning and teaching works like this: The range of human attributes of any kind falls in a bell curve. There's the middle, where most people lie, and the ranges on either side. It matters not what we measure. If you are born to be 5 feet 8 inches tall, that's how tall you will be, and nothing can make you taller, though a lack of nutrition can make you shorter. It is exactly the same with intelligence. Nothing, no amount of time on task, or effort expended by either teacher or student, can teach you things you cannot learn. To punish children or tell them they are no good because they cannot do things that we can do is immoral. God made those kids who they are, and we have to adjust to His will, not that of Washington.
I am red/green color blind. I received that with the rest of the package in my genes. I could no more learn to tell colors correctly, no matter how hard I tried, than I could grow another six inches.
If we give children tasks that fall within their mental and physical abilities, they will learn them. Up to a point. There comes a point, reached in about the fourth to sixth grade, when children begin to realize that some things they are being taught are either beyond their ability or totally beyond the range of their needs. When that point arrives they will still continue to work, and work hard, IF classes are adjusted to their real life needs. Show them how to do things they need to succeed in life, things within their abilities and interests, and they are the best kids in the world. But if you try to shove algebra and Shakespeare down their throats they simply turn off and leave, either in body, or in mind.
Since they have the same inalienable rights we have, and since it is impossible to force them to learn things they can't learn, we have a choice: Force them them drop out, or help them to train for the life ahead of them so that they will be productive citizens.
The sooner we face that simple, unarguable truth the better off we will be.
For kids with the brains for higher knowledge, we can relax. They sop up knowledge like ice cream.
The response of the Arizona Legislature to all this is to raise graduation requirements. What they are saying is, "Well, if you can't reach that mark on the wall, we are going to raise the mark to make our schools better." Put that in your input circuits and see what you get.
Tom and Dan; Thanks for your thoughts. In regard to teachers and the system: they teach as they were taught (far too often). That is why I suggest that teachers need to be taught about Multiple Intelligences which, if properly put to use in the classrooms, informs teachers that each child has over 10 different Intelligences. Some are stronger than others but most people have quite a few combinations and those strenghts can be built upon. So, the task is to recognize, reorganize ,re-set goals and replace evaluations. So there...:)
Interesting. The "multiple intelligences" theory was under discussion about the time I moved from Texas to Arizona in 1983. It has had an effect on educational thinking since then, most of it good. In truth, I had applied a method which would fall under that theory back in Texas as early as 1978. I asked for, and was granted, permission to create a special hands-on chemistry class.
We spent on just 9 weeks in the books. The rest of the course was entirely lab work where the students chose from 15 different modules (sets) of labs (which I had to write and create the equipment for), worked their way through 4 to 6 labs in the chosen module, and went on to another module when done, usually completing 2 to 4 modules in a year. Another part of the course was that students worked in pairs and were allowed to socialize with each other, even during the book portion of the course.
My theory was that, other than for certain basics which could be more efficiently and effectively be taught by partly teacher-oriented methods, I could devise sets of labs that would teach the same amount, of the same material, as could be taught in traditional classes. It worked. My students did as well, or better, on the district exams, but they were one bunch of happy campers. In fact, for the first time in the history of the school the number of chemistry classes went from 7 to 10 and threatened to require a third chemistry teacher.
So what has this got to do with multiple intelligences? It appears that after many years of teaching in the Air Force I had developed part of the MI theory entirely on my own. My idea was that I could use what is now called the Interpersonal and Bodily-Kinesthetic parts of MI to good effect. Since it worked (I used it for nearly 20 years in my classes, both in Texas and here in Arizona), there must be something to it.
What is fascinating is that there were some students who PREFERRED to stay in standard, book oriented classes, and knowing myself as I do I suspect I would have been one of them. I'm more logical-mathematical, linguistic, and intrapersonal, so I was creating a course that worked for OTHER people, not for me. Crazy!
I'd be inclined to think that it would be more accurate to describes what we tap into as "abilities" rather than "intelligences," but that gets into semantics and who cares? For example, someone who does well in music can be said to have a high musical ability, but you can also say that having a high musical ability means you'll do well in music. Personally, I don't care about semantics; I care about results.
You know what I'm getting at, John: If we (a) use the natural abilities of students to help us to teach them, (b) things they need to know to function in society and at work, or (c) things they would like to know, schools are happy places where we churn out good citizens who have positive self-images.
When we waste our time on political crap like NCLB all we do is destroy the schools.
TOM; Good for you!! Indeed, you did discover what" The Theory of Multiple Intelligences" can lead all of us to discover !. Humans are more variable and plastic than some have led us to believe. 2. If we teachers, in the broadest sense of the word which would include parents, mentors, etc., were to be flexible enough and intelligent enough we could reach many, many more students with much, much more learning. 3. We ought to measure learning based not only on what was learned but also on how it was learned. What is that old saying? Many roads lead to Rome? Sometimes our systems are like maps that show only one road.
I don't know if this fits in to the conversation, but I dropped out of school the second semester of 10th grade in 1952. Average student in some things, Got an award in science when I graduated from the 8th grade. Received good grades in English, and spelling believe that or not. The only class I received a 4 was PE because I could not do pushups. We were graded 1-5.
Everyone needs to be able to do pushups to get thru life. Right?
Jump ahead to early 70s. Was going to get a GED diploma. Got the books to study and after two weeks decided I knew nothing about what I had to learn or relearn in the books.
Countries had changed names, several elections and different presidents. Different kind of math being taught. Why do math books keep changing? Nothing was familiar. Needless to say I still don't have a diploma, but at 75 don't think I need one now.
You may be interested to know how I first grasped the value of letting students work together. It happened when I was a drill instructor in basic training. I spoke to my very first flight of 60 men and told them that most of what they had to learn was the value of the man standing next to each of them. I told them that while their ultimate loyalty was to the nation, their immediate loyalty was to each other. I told them that I knew how they felt--alone in an alien world--but they didn't have to feel that way. And then, without realizing it, I tapped into a powerful pool of motivation. I told them that the way to get through basic training was to help each other, to be a team.
It was as though I had revealed the secret of the universe. I didn't know it at the time because I had yet to study human motivation, but I had tapped into the most fundamental of all human needs--the need to be accepted.
One weekend they hatched a plan. They went down to Supply, got cans of wax, and waxed the wooden floor. I came in on Monday and was amazed. It was the one and only floor in the training squadron that shone like the deck of million dollar yacht.
They didn't allow themselves to wear boots in the barracks because they might mar the floor--but they never said a word about my boots. One day I caught on. After that I took my boots off before I entered the bay. Suddenly, it was no longer DI and troops; it was a group of men with a single purpose.
Later, in civilian life, I coined a term for what had happened. My students--because that's all those basic were--students--were "connected." They were no longer just individuals; they were part of a whole. They worked together; they were like wounded warriors, the ones with two good legs holding up the ones with two good arms so they could shoot. I still have the roster from that first flight; I was supposed to be teaching them, but they taught me. They left a great note when they graduated.
If I could teach each legislator in this nation just one thing it would be this definition:
"Motivation, the force that drives an individual toward a goal."
If legislators could just understand that the force that drives this world is already there within people, that we cannot and do not create it, but can merely harness it, much of the problems between education and government would vanish.
Pat, your story is so typical that it is close to miraculous that we have failed to learn what it teaches after almost ten thousand years of trying to educate people. It's so ridiculously simple.
Learning is a change in behavior which is affected by motivation, participation, and individual differences.
That's it! That's the whole secret to teaching. Just look at it. Read it again.
If we allow individual differences to shape how people participate in the learning process they will be motivated to learn. And they will learn.
How much simpler do we have to make it before our leaders get it?
YES, YES, YES, Teaching is not telling students what to believe, It's asking them what they 'feel' about the words presented to them. Followed by a discussion of why. Trust that humans are smart enough, and don't try to be in control. The individual does not need a higher authority beyond their own conscience which is allowed to be free.
I think Pat has it right. Before legislators are allowed to make laws they ought to be tested to make sure they know enough to do it.
Tom; I will repeat something that I posted once before. If you want the stream water to be clean, you have to take the pigs out of it. That takes care of many of the politicos. As for the voters: a cowboy knows to drink upstream of the the cattle. Some voters seemingly do not know. Really, we have to clean up this country !
I agree with you entirely.
After long, long thought I have finally come to the conclusion that the fundamental problem with our country is the two party system, which disenfranchises anyone who is not a rabid partisan regarding the extreme goals of either party. If that one thing were changed, the entire nature of politics in this nation would change.
Until then, those people who are not extremists are NOT represented.
Just one example: Making it illegal to be here without a visa; that is to say, making it a crime, and treating someone who is not here legally as a criminal. If that were put to a straight up and down vote of the people--yes or no--it would pass with overwhelming support. And yet, nothing is done about it decade and after decade. Why not? The people running the parties--but not the ordinary party members--want it that way.
What does that show? The GOP does not represent conservatives because no true conservative would stand for such a thing; it runs directly against the rule of law. The Democratic Party does not represent liberals because no true liberal would permit foreigners to take jobs away from the working men and women of America, to overburden their medical system, to fail to pay taxes, and to fill schools with non-residents.
Therefore: We need a new party. It could be called the American Party. Here are the fundamentals it would stand for:
The consent of the governed; free and fair elections; the rule of law; constitutionalism; human rights; the free exercise of religion and speech; free enterprise; the fundamental right to life, liberty, and property; concern for established tradition; and respect for authority and religious values.
When you first look at that list you might say, "Well, we have those now." But do we? The "consent of the governed" is listed first because it is what those of us who are not rabidly partisan do NOT now have. We just take the best that we can get; a forced choice between extremists.
How would you feel if someone were to run today on a platform that said we would rid ourselves of the encumbrance of illegals, would look at medical charges and see to it that they were reasonable, would end outside interference in the details of education and allow schools to begin teaching again, would share the tax burden fairly and honestly among all earning Americans, and would eliminate all primary elections, allowing parties to select their candidates in any way they chose, but requiring the parties themselves to bear the costs of such selections?
To lighten up or make you sick I am going to tell you a short story about drinking upstream from your horse.
When we owned a ranch up here we were out riding and got thirsty. Stopped at the river, let the horses drink, went upstream a ways to get our water. Got back on the horses rode along side the creek for a short distance, went around a turn and lo and behold, there was a dead cow in the river with maggots crawling all over it and dropping in the water. True story.
Have a nice day.
Tell you what, Pat, I'll add to that one.
One day over in England I walked over to the small stream which ran through Cropredy, the tiny village in which we lived. There on the side of the stream was typical old English fisherman, rubber boots, tweed jacket, and all. He was using a hook about this big .....:
I watched him pull in a small fish, put it into his creel, cast his thin, thin nylon line again. I said something--don't remember what, but probably something like, "Nice cast."
We talked about fishing for a couple of minutes and then he pulled in his hook, took off the bait, and said something like, "They're not much use once the water chill em and slows em down."
Then he took a finger, ran it around in his cheek pouch, pulled out a nice warm, wriggly maggot, put it on his tiny hook, and almost immediately got a bite.
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