Education Part ll


#1

This is the second part to an earlier writing about education in the United States. As you may recall, I advocated for the privatization of all schools from kindergarten to graduate studies. This piece will focus on the curriculum that needs to be followed.

Everytime I encounter someone in the workplace, I am reminded of just how much we have failed to properly educate United States citizens in the fundamentals of communication: reading, writing and speaking. Few would argue that the time is long overdue for the United States to “get back to the basics” of a fully functional education system. We need to exclusively focus on the development of communication skills from kindergarten to eighth grade along with annual testing that measures apptitude and interest. Training in mathematics should be limited to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Unless communication skills are fully mastered, there is no need to advance to high school.

For those who graduate to high school, the emphasis could evolve into a curriculum of philosophy, sociology, economics, psychology, science and religious studies. Books such as “For Dummies” and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide” could be used to foster an understanding of different religions. Athletic activity would be strictly confined to cardio vascular exercises and all sports would be eliminated. While there would still be an emphasis on communication skills, the focus would now be on developing a foundation of basic knowledge so as to be able to graduate to college. Testing for apptitude and interest would continue through high school increasing the chances of picking the right field of study . Those not continuing on to college would enter some type of apprenticeship training for the purpose of learning a trade. For those who do graduate to college, the student would continue to study an advanced version of the same curriculum as high school but only for the first two years then they would complete their education by strictly focusing on coursework designed to train them in their field of study. Nearing graduation, internships would be required to begin the transition to the working world. Think of how different our society would be if our education system could just teach the fundamentals of reading, writing and speaking.


#2

My position is that parents ought to pick the school, and we ought to pay that school (public, private non-profit, or private for-profit) a standard tuition, based on 90% of the per-pupil share of the education budget.

But when it comes to curriculum, what needs assessment are you following?


#3

[quote=JOEBIALEK]We need to exclusively focus on the development of communication skills from kindergarten to eighth grade along with annual testing that measures apptitude and interest. Training in mathematics should be limited to addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
[/quote]

What would you do with a student in second grade who can read and write at the eighth grade level or higher?

Shall we not tell children why yeast raises the dough or why ice takes up more space than water? What are they going to communicate to others if their minds are empty? I can’t conceive of letting raw talent rot for that many years. It is not mathematics that is interfering with the accumulation of communications skills. It is the method by which they are taught.


#4

[quote=Pug]What would you do with a student in second grade who can read and write at the eighth grade level or higher?

Shall we not tell children why yeast raises the dough or why ice takes up more space than water? What are they going to communicate to others if their minds are empty? I can’t conceive of letting raw talent rot for that many years. It is not mathematics that is interfering with the accumulation of communications skills. It is the method by which they are taught.
[/quote]

I agree.

I have proposed a national computer-based system, downloadable from the web, where students in smaller schools could take advanced courses in languages, math, and so on.

Someone asked me, “Why would you ever teach calculus in high school?”

My response was, “Why would you deny a child all the education he can handle?”

We should shoot for the highest quality possible in education for each child – not sink to the lowest common denominator. That’s what’s wrong with our schools now!


#5

[quote=vern humphrey]My response was, “Why would you deny a child all the education he can handle?”
[/quote]

I agree. If the student is ready, teach it! Teaching Calculus in high school would end the perennial question, “Mrs. X, why do we have to learn this again?” No one *ever *asks this in second semester Calc.

Any method to improve the education available for students in small schools sounds great to me. Foreign language instruction often suffers.

Pug <------- product of a small school


#6

[quote=Pug]I agree. If the student is ready, teach it! Teaching Calculus in high school would end the perennial question, “Mrs. X, why do we have to learn this again?” No one *ever *asks this in second semester Calc.
[/quote]

Amen. Children should be challenged and pushed.

I once had a teacher tell me “Some children can’t learn algebra.”

When I asked why, she said, “I don’t know – maybe it’s genetic or something.”

And when I said, “And maybe it’s because the teacher doesn’t expect them to learn,” she had the good grace to blush.

[quote=Pug]Any method to improve the education available for students in small schools sounds great to me. Foreign language instruction often suffers.

Pug <------- product of a small school
[/quote]

DODEA, the Department of Defense Education Activity, which runs public schools on military bases, worldwide, has a superb computer-aided system, including an array of foreign language courses. No military child suffers because his father is assigned to a small, remote base.


#7

[quote=vern humphrey]DODEA, the Department of Defense Education Activity, which runs public schools on military bases, worldwide, has a superb computer-aided system, including an array of foreign language courses.
[/quote]

Given what you have said, you are probably aware that studies exist showing how teacher expectation (the teacher was told beforehand that the student is “bright” or “slow”) affects outcome.

Now, my fantasy here is that programs that already exist as you describe be opened and made freely available to all. For example, you may have seen “Destinos”, a video series teaching Spanish. Any reasource like that ought to be free for all (including me!). I would like more math courses, but they cost big$$, and it would have to be over the internet.

Hey, just tape some professor talking and I’d be satisfied with that on streaming video. It’s better than what I’ve got now. Once there was a rumor about Dartmouth having a project of that nature, but even the traces of the rumor are gone.


#8

[quote=Pug]Given what you have said, you are probably aware that studies exist showing how teacher expectation (the teacher was told beforehand that the student is “bright” or “slow”) affects outcome.
[/quote]

Oh, yes, expectations more than almost anything determine how well a student does.

I’ve lived a full life – I’ve been a cowboy, broken horses, shod them, been a parachutist, commanded troops in battle and so on, and one day my wife asked me, “How did you know you could do these things?”

I though about it a bit and said, “It never occurred to me that I couldn’t.”

Well, I’m not arguing that you can compare target ammo to premium self-defense ammunition and get good results. I thought we were comparing terminal performance of handguns within a given performance class. Now, my fantasy here is that programs that already exist as you describe be opened and made freely available to all. For example, you may have seen “Destinos”, a video series teaching Spanish. Any reasource like that ought to be free for all (including me!). I would like more math courses, but they cost big$$, and it would have to be over the internet.

I’ve been in that business – first of all, we want interactive, computer-aided courses. In languages, for example, the student should hear a spoken word or phrase, and repeat it back – seeing voiceprints on the screen and receiving suggestions on improving his accent.

Video alone is not nearly as effective.

But if we developed high-quality courses and rigourously validated them, and 1% of the children in school took the course in the first year – it would cost us about $1.00 a child. And for the next year, it would be free (of course, we would continue to spend a little money to monitor and update courses.)


#9

[quote=vern humphrey]But if we developed high-quality courses and rigourously validated them, and 1% of the children in school took the course in the first year – it would cost us about $1.00 a child. And for the next year, it would be free (of course, we would continue to spend a little money to monitor and update courses.)
[/quote]

Yes, video is less effective. I have found that listening, repeating, and having a visual analysis of the voice print is exceptionally helpful for improving accent. However, I fixed my Spanish “d” just from government audio tapes (no visual) covering that and similar issues. Once a good resource exists, use it over and over.

There is a possible issue with reuse. Currently people are instructed by different instructors, and having every person have the same instructor could cause a loss of some sort (I know it would in math, as there are different approaches, methods, emphasis, etc). Perhaps it would never matter in lower division, but it would in upper division. I know the idea is not to apply it to everyone, but I wonder about applying it to many.


#10

[quote=Pug]Yes, video is less effective. I have found that listening, repeating, and having a visual analysis of the voice print is exceptionally helpful for improving accent. However, I fixed my Spanish “d” just from government audio tapes (no visual) covering that and similar issues. Once a good resource exists, use it over and over.

There is a possible issue with reuse. Currently people are instructed by different instructors, and having every person have the same instructor could cause a loss of some sort (I know it would in math, as there are different approaches, methods, emphasis, etc). Perhaps it would never matter in lower division, but it would in upper division. I know the idea is not to apply it to everyone, but I wonder about applying it to many.
[/quote]

In this case, we can afford to produce the best computer-aided instruction in the world. The indicators for CAI are:

  1. Stable subject matter. Two and two have been four for a long time, and presumably will continue to be for several years to come.

  2. Large audience. There are about fifty million children in school. Even one percent of this number is a half million.

  3. The target audience is dispersed in time and space. We have 50 states, and we will use the same courses (with appropriate course maintenance) year after year.

  4. Long lead time. We don’t have to teach the first class tomorrow – we can take a year or two to bring the first courses on line.

We should thoroughly validate our courses – which means extensive formative testing while in the development process. In other words, we would have proven the courses work on a broad cross-section of the target audience before we field them.

I visualize self-adapting courses. When a student is having problems, he would be segued into a remedial section, then brought back into the main line.


#11

[quote=vern humphrey]In this case, we can afford to produce the best computer-aided instruction in the world. The indicators for CAI are:

  1. Stable subject matter.
    [/quote]

The thing I can’t figure out is why it hasn’t been done. At the college level, there are places where computers could offer assistance to the student in math, especially remedial math, but every package that I’ve seen is deficient (however, I have avoided seminars about these very topics:o there is something called D2L). Maybe it’s just what I’ve seen, and awesome stuff actually exists. Is this a union issue? (I’m a dolt. Of course it is a union issue).

I agree on the validation point. Outcome should be controlled.

How would the student be diverted to the remedial section? The math products I am familiar with do not offer something significantly different for remedial work. It just dumps you back to an early stage in the program, as opposed to offering a different lesson or approach.


#12

[quote=Pug]The thing I can’t figure out is why it hasn’t been done. At the college level, there are places where computers could offer assistance to the student in math, especially remedial math, but every package that I’ve seen is deficient (however, I have avoided seminars about these very topics:o there is something called D2L). Maybe it’s just what I’ve seen, and awesome stuff actually exists. Is this a union issue? (I’m a dolt. Of course it is a union issue).
[/quote]

Here’s a hint – Arkansas is a rural state. About half the population lives outside of towns. And many of the towns are very small. We have something called the Arkansas Virtual Academy which provides some web-based, computer aided courses.

Now the State Supreme Court ordered huge amounts of money spent on schools – which forced the state to consolidate schools. Which means a lot of children spend a lot of time on the bus. Not good.

So the Arkansas Virtual Academy was de-funded, and no more students are being accepted.

I wonder why?

[quote=Pug]How would the student be diverted to the remedial section? The math products I am familiar with do not offer something significantly different for remedial work
[/quote]

.

Think of yourself as a teacher. A student has made a mistake. When do you learn about that mistake? Only when you grade his paper – which could be a day or so later. And how do you determine why he made the mistake?

When he makes a mistake with a computer, the computer knows instantly, and can analyze the mistake on the spot, directing him to a remedial module. To the student, this is completely transparent – he doesn’t know what he’s taking is any different from the student in the next carrel.

[quote=Pug]It just dumps you back to an early stage in the program, as opposed to offering a different lesson or approach.
[/quote]

That’s because most programs are developed on the cheap. With a nationwide system, we can afford to do it right. For example, your student’s mistake could be due to simple carelessness, to digital transposition, to failure to understand basic aritimetic operations, or to lack of drill in the multiplication table. For each cause, there is a different remediation.


#13

good points…


closed #14

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