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Glom
2003-Jan-10, 06:12 PM
Today in a Physics lesson, our Physics teacher read out an article he saw in a newspaper about the New Labour blue sky thinking with regard to science. At GCSE, the government plans to scrap the traditional practise of having biology, physics and chemistry and replace it with this new pop science course.

Apparently, science is going to be taught through the use of topical issues like cloning, GM foods and stuff. In short, it's going to be half a lesson for simply discussing issues. And the rest will have disjointed science.

They say that science courses have gotten boring so they need to spice them up... by removing the science. Of course, if they hadn't gutted everything out of the syllabus in the first place, maybe the courses would look better. I find that the courses these days are so dumbed down, that I read everything before encountering it in class.

Apparently our former headmaster is one of the brains behind this idea. He also conjured up the Salters Chemistry A level course which a small proportion of sixth form chemistry students at our school take. It is a symptom of this larger conspiracy. Fortunately, I do the Nuffield course.

I missed this New Labour education system by a couple of years so I escaped.

calliarcale
2003-Jan-10, 07:06 PM
Oh jeez....

That's sad to hear. Very sad. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif Of course, something similar has happened in Minnesota. A number of years ago, Governor Arne Carlson (R) appointed a commissioner of education who had absolutely no experience with education. Her best qualification was an MBA. She solicited assistance from businesses to find out what kind of things they looked for in an employee to work out what students should be taught. She didn't ask teachers, however.

The product of this was the Profile of Learning. It was a mind-bogglingly stupid idea, where in theory students were graded strictly on the work they did and not on intangibles like knowledge, using standardized grading systems. On the face of it, that sounds good, but in practise what these inexperienced people produced was a system where students were basically graded based on how *much* work they did and how nice it looked, not on content or depth of understanding. A student who knew the material very well but didn't complete all the steps could get a 1 (the lowest grade in this new system) while a student who had only a passing understanding but successfully jumped through all the hoops could get a 5. It would always require a lot of work to get a 5, but it would be mostly busywork that contributed little to actually learning. What's worse, in order to give students enough time to actually do these projects, teachers had to sacrifice lecture. So the students ended up working much harder and having less to show for it afterwards in terms of useful knowledge. Many of the suggested (or even required) projects demanded a lot of parent assistence, because one of the side agendas of the committee behind it was to get more parent involvement. Naturally, this meant that poor children whose parents had to work most of the time had little chance to succeed.

Another "feature" of this Profile of Learning was team teaching. Associated subjects were paired and students learned them together. Most were fairly well matched, but I still haven't figured out why science and english were paired up. (Wouldn't math have made more sense?) My sneaky suspicion is that the committee felt that both science and english were equally useless in the "real" world. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif

The Profile is being slowly phased out, thanks to the strident protests of many educators across the state. My old school district is pretty wimpy, though; they're still using it. (The law says that unless a school formally objects to the Profile, they must use it.) My youngest brother is still in high school, and he had the misfortune of having to go through the entire Profile of Learning system from 7th Grade to 12th Grade. The projects have been transcendently stupid and sometimes even insulting. As a high school senior in psychology class, he was instructed as one of his required Profile projects to build a mobile identifying the major parts of the brain. A *mobile*. That's the kind of project kids do in sixth or maybe seventh grade. It's not something a kid about to go into college should be doing. Two years ago, in biology class, he was required to make an edible model of a cell. What purpose do these projects serve? They take hours and hours of time, and are *designed* to take hours and hours of time, but what is the *point* of it all?

informant
2003-Jan-10, 07:48 PM
It's a "thing".
Modern educators are so afraid to be criticized that they feel that all knowledge -- i.e. all teaching -- must be proven through solid "things" and endless paperwork trash. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_evil.gif

Glom
2003-Jan-10, 07:49 PM
We might have a similar thing here, with a new scheme being abandoned.

My sixth form time coincides with Curriculum 2000, which means that rather than taking A levels at the end of the two years, we do AS levels at the end of the lower sixth and A2 levels at the end of the upper sixth. The problem with this is that it a huge amount of extra work in the lower sixth that universities, in the end, don't really care about. The old system had us doing three A levels, but the new system has us doing four AS levels (to broaden our range) and then dropping one subject so we continue to get three A2 levels. So in the lower sixth, we do four thirds the work in three quarters of the time (the exams are in May so a couple of months at the end of the summer term are taken away).

Many people have complained about this pressure put on sixth formers. They claim its classic New Labour target policy. They make students take more exams so they can point to the figures year on year and so, "look it's getting better".

There was also a huge scandal this year when A2 level papers were deliberately marked down by some boards because they felt under pressure from the government to not be seen to be dumbing down. Some students then failed to get their entrance grades to their universities. (despite the media hype, I think only a half dozen were affected in the end) It resulted in the education secretary Estelle Morris resigning.

So, there are big hints about them returning to the old system.

This new pop science scheme is about GCSE, the level below sixth form. We looked at a specimen paper for Physics and saw a bunch of handwaving questions that had nothing to do with true physics. My physics teacher is a real essentialist and many others like him will kick up a stint over this.

nebularain
2003-Jan-10, 09:33 PM
There's a whole lot behind this. It would take to long for me to try to express it all, however. But from what I have been learning in my eduction classes, every once and a while "the powers that be" try to improve education by reverting to a "student-centered learning," where the teacher acts as a facilitator rather than as an instructor. The idea is that people learn best by doing rather than rote memorization. This also increases higher level of learning skills.

Unfortunately, the basic and essential knowledge of the facts are sacrificed. I've researched one of the methods of this type of learning - and I don't like it. It's OK as projects within the curriculum, but not as the entire curriculum!

g99
2003-Jan-10, 10:46 PM
nuthing is as worse as it is here in Florida. Basically The infamus Jeb! (yes he uses the Exclamation point in his political adds) Bush (the smarter of the brothers, supposedly) started a program with many standardized tests. The test is called the FCAT. The teachers are now required to teach the kids how to best pass the test instead of teaching kids on what to learn. That is one reason why Florida is 50th out of the 50 states in education.

Oh and it gets better...The test grades the scxhool. A school that does good gets more money in its budget, a school that does bad gets money deducted from its budget. If a school fails for several years in a row all of the kids of the school are given vouchers to go to private schools and dump the shool they are in. Does this seem backwards to you? It does to me. It has been criticized many times on all levels. Yet Govenor Bush still thinks that his education program is his pride and joy of his reign. Every national raking ststems of educations have given Florida F's, D's and rankings in the low 40's or 50 for all of the U.S.A.. So count yourself lucky for just having teachers who want to teach something more fun to bored students. At least they are allowed to teach something instead of test passing skills for 12 years.

phew, i will step off of my shoebox right now and get a drink. Oh and if anyone knows if a Canadian born resident can be Govenor of florida, please tell me. I want to run. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

_________________
"Hi!!" - Some person, somewere, at some time.
"It takes Thousands to fight a battle for a mile, Millions to hold an election for a nation, but it only takes One to change the world." - Dan Sandler 2002

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: g99 on 2003-01-10 17:47 ]</font>

Glom
2003-Jan-10, 10:55 PM
That's a huge problem we have. Teachers have to teach the students how to take an exam rather than the subject at hand.

It's all about exam technique. Especially with Edexcel, one of the boards that runs the exams (everything got privatised by Maggie). They have been engrossed in scandal for allowing exams to be leaked in advance and getting questions wrong. We did a past physics paper and there was one question about Hubble and his expanding universe. The question asked what Hubble's law applies to and the mark scheme awarded a mark for saying stars, which is completely and utterly incorrect.

It's a huge case of knowing what kind of questions might come up in an exam so you know how to answer them rather than just knowing the subject and letting your knowledge get you through it.

BTW Jan 2003 Pure Mathematics 4 was very, very, very, very, very, very, very hard! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_cry.gif

traztx
2003-Jan-10, 11:12 PM
Maybe we should forget all those tests and go back to the good old days when people were graduating from high school without ever learning how to read.

AgoraBasta
2003-Jan-10, 11:48 PM
On 2003-01-10 13:12, Glom wrote:
I missed this New Labour education system by a couple of years so I escaped.The very name "New Labour" says it all - they need "laborers" - contrary to "thinkers".

RafaelAustin
2003-Jan-11, 01:59 AM
On 2003-01-10 18:12, traztx wrote:
Maybe we should forget all those tests and go back to the good old days when people were graduating from high school without ever learning how to read.



I disagree. I think the objective should be to test students daily, not make them cram for a one-time test. There is no replacement for lots of hard work on a daily basis. If the sum of that effort doesn't make the grade, then fail them and make them repeat the course.

Glom
2003-Jan-11, 10:58 AM
That's why some genius invented coursework. Except it takes a huge amount of time and is invariably very tedious.

g99
2003-Jan-11, 06:23 PM
My favorite type of homework is the one that takes a full weekend to do and all the professor does is hand it to his T.A. to read and asee if you wrote what he wanted you to write.

Colt
2003-Jan-11, 11:39 PM
If I had to choose a type of homework to do it would be smaller projects that are fairly hard than some huge project and the rest of the time reading from a book (though I enjoy reading my Astronomy book /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif).

Supposedly the average High School student in Alaska is above that of the lower-48 but I doubt this. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_razz.gif -Colt

g99
2003-Jan-11, 11:48 PM
Alaska has a good education system. They also have one of the highest pay for teachers. [sarcastic voice]I wonder why?.....[/sarcastic voice]:-)

ljbrs
2003-Jan-12, 02:03 AM
The public schools are paid for by the public citizens and the public must be considered when making educational choices (or the boards of education will be roundly voted out of office). The only other choice is for no public education which is no choice. In the case of private education, the schools again depend upon the parents and alumni grants for the schools' financial survival.

Sadly, the real student consequently will be left to educate himself/herself once he/she has learned to read.

I am not dead set against having courses in general science in public schools. They can have fancy names to hide the fact that the students are being dumbed down. At least the students may be learning something about science, instead of learning nothing about science, as is so often the case for the lower-track students.

The big problem lies in the nasty fact that real science teachers with real university multiple degrees in science must be given commensurate pay in keeping with the kind of pay they would be getting in industry. The public schools cannot afford that kind of pay and the rest of the public-school teachers would become angry when some public-school teachers were receiving higher pay than the rest of the public-school teachers were receiving. If you want excellent science courses taught by real science teachers, it costs!

There is no real satisfactory solution. The taxpaying public must be served, whether what they receive is in long-term best interests of their children.

So, the parents must make the educational atmosphere at home favorable for promoting educational objectives whether or not others in the community follow suit.

ljbrs /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_confused.gif

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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: ljbrs on 2003-01-11 21:47 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: ljbrs on 2003-01-12 15:03 ]</font>

g99
2003-Jan-12, 03:06 AM
ljbrs i agree with you whole-hartedly. The only problem with our system of tax paying people is that they would rather get a tax break so they can get a x-box and a new stereo system for the kid than pay for a year of his education.

nebularain
2003-Jan-12, 03:44 AM
The other problem is that students in low income areas are getting very low quality education. Not only are they not getting the best teachers (due to the low pay they have to offer), but they are getting low quality and outdated materials and textbooks.

g99
2003-Jan-12, 04:40 AM
I agree with you neb. Some schools here in Gainesville, Florida which are in good neighborhoods have a much Higher budget than the ones in bad neighborhoods. Very Sad. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif

[Doh i just realized i had it backwards, DOH!!! Changed lower to higher!!!]

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: g99 on 2003-01-12 13:24 ]</font>

Glom
2003-Jan-12, 11:31 AM
But moving rapidly back to the topic before BA locks this thread, does anyone think this pop science course may have the ability to work?

g99
2003-Jan-12, 06:33 PM
Glom, will the kids recieve a regular science course later on inn their education?
If so it might be for the better. My reasoning is because the pop. sci. courses will get the kid interested in science, school, ect. and maybe, just maybe get them further interested in learning. It is much, much, much, much better to have a kid interested in a subject and teach them when they want to learn then shove them throught a system that just force feeds them info. If it is that way, i think it is a very good program.

But...If they start to teach this for all classes they can seriously disadvantage the kids in the world scientific market. You will start to get more people like Sibrel who think they are geniouses at scientific matters yet know nuthing about it. The scientists for the country will be at a lower level education wise than other countries. The country will loose grants and nobel prize winners and slowly over many years downsize the need for science. Eventually the education will become secondary and fields like mathematics and geography will prevail and you will start to see more engineers and geographers. Not that engineers or gegraphers are bad...half of my family are engineers. It is just that a loss of scientists would disadvantage the country alot.

Than again this is just all speculation and it could be good for the country.

Glom
2003-Jan-12, 08:28 PM
I suppose you may have a point. I think that the A level courses, which are the next step after compulsory eduction (the law says everyone must does GCSEs and then they can do what they want), will still offer the classics plus Salters Chemistry.

Just as long as this pop science doesn't degenerate into a social studies lesson, it could work. But they need to shape up the A level course to get them on track. Right now, the courses have so much gutted out of them, there's nothing in them. If they were made more intensive, a lot could be done with some background provided by this pop science. It's more of a case of not what they do, but how they do it. We'll have to see.

If they try to teach optics through the subject of debunking the Apollohoax, that would be cool. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

ljbrs
2003-Jan-12, 08:36 PM
Then again, one solution might be to have special public schools which are separate from the regular public school system (1) where public school students can go for science and mathematics sememsters to receive high-quality science courses and (2) where the science teachers may be paid high enough salaries to reward their willingness to teach in those schools. Quality classes in science could be taught at various levels so that the levels of ability could be elevated as the students gained more understanding of science and mathematics in the lower-level classes. In this way, all of the public-school students who are willing and able to make the effort would get first-rate science educations. I can dream. Of course, the parents of students who were uninterested or unwilling to tackle rigorous science would automatically put a stop to taxation to fund such schools. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif

If something is not done soon, American students of science and mathematics will continue to remain at the level of the students of science and mathematics in impoverished third-world countries. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif

ljbrs /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_confused.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif

_________________
*Nothing is more damaging to a new truth than an old error.* Goethe

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: ljbrs on 2003-01-12 15:39 ]</font>

Glom
2003-Jan-12, 09:01 PM
I believe that it is a general practise in British state schools (in Britain, public schools are actually ultra posh private schools like Eaton) to set students in important subjects like science and maths according to ability.

At GCSE, there are also different tiers of papers. The higher tier usually allows you to get from E to A* (A star) and the foundation tier allows you to get from G to C. I think Maths has an intermediate tier that allows you to get from F to B

Cloudy
2003-Jan-13, 12:37 AM
From the studies I've seen, parental involvement matters allot more than just about anything else in student achievement. If the parents wew involved, allot of bad teaching or even misguided curriculums will not do nearly as much damage. If the parents weren't involved, even the best schools don't do nearly as well. This also seems to confirm my experience in school - the children that did well were those who's parents were more involved with the child (not neccesarily the school, per se, but the child's own learning). Those from better off families did better but mainly because of parental involvement. The parents knew how to succeed and made sure their children did as well. The cases where rich kids did poorly tended to be "latchkey kids" where neither parent had much time for the kid...they were to busy making money. And there are some cases, especially in welfare families, where the parents did more than average but were not as competent due to defficiencies in their own education. But usually, the more a parent cared about how their kid did(even if they never showed up to a PTA meating) the better he/she did. Studies are showing that parents who homeschool their kids (a practice started by 60's radicals, not the Christian right....) are usually doing a pretty good job. This does not surprise me in the least.

The trouble with the public school system is not that the teachers are bad or that there is not enough money. It is that parents are not given enough power. People tend to be involved more in things that they have the most power over - and they have little power over the school system. Those that care the most throw up their hands and go to private schools or homeschooling - this is a big factor in the success of these movements.

The democratic system does not fix this. Most people don't cast intelligent votes for school board members - they vote for the name they know the most or for their favorite political party. The end result is that School board members tend to be party or teacher's union hacks and there is little that can be done about that. Concerned, active parents are not a big enough voting block to make a difference in any but the smallest districts.

The way to get parents involved is to give them power. And that means school choice. Give vouchers, and regulate public schools no more than private schools are regulated today. Your child's teacher is at least as important as his doctor. Yet we let parents choose their child's doctor and the vast majority do not choose quacks. Even those on Medicaid have some choice. Even if religious schools are left out (and they should not be), this would be a great help.
It wont solve all the problems. It won't, in fact, solve ANY problems. But it is the only way that those who have the power to solve problems (parents) can be induced to act. And keep on acting in the long term. No reform to the present system will work in the long term any more than Gorby's reforms of the Soviet Union worked. The entrenched interests and the power of beauraucratic intertia is simply to great. Once the public spotlight goes away, things simply go back to the way they were.

Cloudy
2003-Jan-13, 12:50 AM
ljbrs,

This is done in some districts, in charter schools that specialize in mathematics and science. And it does work better than the current system.

But given enough time, public exitement and attention go away and the teachers unions manage to get rid of the new schools. Or, if not able to exterminate them, they make them so much like the regular schools that they might as well have been exterminated.

The public is fickle. Interest grows and wanes. The public can fight entrenched intrests via the political system, but only in the short term. Teachers unions, beauracrats, and parents are the only ones who have a sustained and permanent interest in the schools. The current system gives teachers unions and the beauraucrats the most power. I think the power should go to the parents.

The reason teachers unions oppose vouchers so much is because they would give parents power. Power that they would rather keep for themselves. They bring up valid points in their arguments that need to be addressed. But they themselves oppose school choice only because it jeopardizes their power over the system. To think otherwise is nieve.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Cloudy on 2003-01-12 19:52 ]</font>

Peter B
2003-Jan-13, 02:04 AM
I get the impression (rightly or wrongly)that a problem here in Australia is that teachers can't make all the colourful explosions in the labs they used to make, due to public liability concerns.

Making things blow up or burn was always a highlight of chemistry lessons when I was at school, as was playing with high concentration acids and bases. No self-respecting chemist would be seen in a pristine lab coat - they *had* to be covered in holes and spots of various colours.

But these days, many activities are being restricted because of the expense of public liability insurance. At least the Federal and State governments are looking at the problem, and things should start to happen soon.

Nevertheless, I'm sure there's also pressure on the curriculum as well, given that there are so many other things to learn...

ljbrs
2003-Jan-13, 02:11 AM
...The reason teachers unions oppose vouchers so much is because they would give parents power. Power that they would rather keep for themselves. They bring up valid points in their arguments that need to be addressed. But they themselves oppose school choice only because it jeopardizes their power over the system. To think otherwise is nieve.

True, true...

Personally, my real education occurred mostly under the direction of my parents. It was the same for my two brothers. We had a house filled with books in many disciplines, and education was an ongoing process, more than supplementing the schools wherever necessary. It continued for all of us at various universities throughout the country. Education is not something offered to a person by an institution. Education is self-education first. For me, it is still self-education. It never ends.

ljbrs /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

Colt
2003-Jan-13, 03:08 AM
^ I have learned more from teaching myself, reading, and the internet than I probably have learned at school. At least in the more diverse and interesting subjects. -Colt

g99
2003-Jan-13, 04:08 AM
I have learned more from reading novels i have learned in all 4 years of high school here. In high school for me is was read this, do this. They never told me why it works that way or how. I think we need to teach more concepts than relying on memorization. To relate it to astronomy: It is cool to know every constilation in the sky and what star masses they are. But that will not help you in the future. What you need to learn is the concepts of the science. You need to learn how a star forms, how the gravity of several systems will interact, and how our visual perception will influence how the constilations look to us. That will help out. You then can use this information on other areas of the sky.

It will not help you when you are studying alpha centuri when all you know is that our sun is at the center of our solar system and it is a relatively low mass star.

You need to know the concepts. That is very hard to teach. But that is how many of my courses were taught in college. In high school and middle school it was a game of how much you can memmorize in one year. Not helpful.



Home schooling...That reminds me of one very weird family. A couple of years ago my family knew thei family for St. Augustine (this is a realy story, i swear i am not making this up. Trust me I could not make this up if i tried.) Thye had a young boy. He was about 10 at the time. His parents thought that he was a genious and home schooled him all his life. The were blind to their childs future and his actual abilities. Trust me this kid was nowhere even close to being a genious.

Here is the wierd part: (remmeber this is the 1990's U.S.A. no military draft.)
They considered him such a genious and such a benifit to mankind they did not give him a birth certificate nor social security number. Their reasoning was that if he did not have thm, he did not officially exhist and could not be drafted into the military think tanks in the next world war. (yes that was their real reasoning.) So they had to home school him since he did not oficially exhist. His parents never went to college and never got full teaching materials for thier kid. Thus this kid never went far in life.

What was the moral of this story? I don't really know, but it is one thing that reminded me of one bad thing with home schooling.

I feel (and this is my ininformed opinion) that kids should go to a real educated school with teachers who have gotten degrees in how to teach well and how to effectively teach a real subject. Then when the kid gets home the parent takes over. The parent teaches the kid things they know about and specialize in in their field of study.

I agree with Cloudy. It is impossible to get a good education without (a) parent(s).



_________________
"Hi!!" - Some person, somewere, at some time.
"It takes Thousands to fight a battle for a mile, Millions to hold an election for a nation, but it only takes One to change the world." - Dan Sandler 2002

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: g99 on 2003-01-12 23:09 ]</font>

informant
2003-Jan-13, 10:15 AM
The problem with the parents doing the education is that it works fine when they have the time, the money, and the background to do it well.
But in poor families, where parents spend their days working, they just don't have the time. Sometimes they didn't learn much themselves.
In my opinion, it should be the very purpose of public education to smoothen those social inbalances. If we end up raising our arms to the air and hoping that home teaching will correct the defficiencies of public education, then public education is pointless.
Not being an American, I find it interesting how parents are allowed to have so much power in American schools. My experience (as a teacher) is that parents as a whole are a terrible influence in schools. Most parents look at schools just as a place where they drop off their kids while they go to work. Any learning that might take place in school is purely coincidental -- all that matters is to keep the kids entertained!
For once, I'm glad that my country isn't like America -- even though I feel that we're walking in that direction as well. Entropy rules education. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif

gethen
2003-Jan-13, 02:16 PM
A word on vouchers--the thing that worries me is that a voucher will probably not be large enough to allow poor parents to pay the tuition for most private schools. Middle income kids will probably benefit though. Also, I'm not sure our school systems are even able to identify the students with the most potential in math in the sciences, much less nourish that potential. Some one near and dear to me was, as a young teen, denied access to accelerated math programs because of some standardized test score, even though he consistently performed well above average in the classroom. Today he is a phd candidate in astrophysics at a major university. Although he probably was not harmed intellectually by that experience, I wonder how many others are out there, wondering what they might have done.

nebularain
2003-Jan-13, 02:48 PM
Parent involvement is a good point. But to completely reel in the problem, we need to look at society as a whole. What value do "we" as a society give education - compared to entertainment, athleticism, looks? Which group receives more honor: the well educated or the entertainers?

Along those lines, which values does our society hold in higher regard: discipline and respect (i.e. for elders) or self actualization and finding the fulfillment to your needs and wants?

And now for a sobering thought:

What do you call the medical student who graduates at the bottom of the class?


Answer:
Doctor


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: nebularain on 2003-01-13 09:50 ]</font>

gethen
2003-Jan-13, 03:17 PM
Unfortunately, I fear "our" society, meaning 21st Century American, values most highly those with the most earning potential. An 18 year old first year N.B.A. player will make millions. It's hard for a 10 year old kid in a poor urban setting to ignore that and say "That's nice, but I want to go to college and study physics, or math, or chemistry." He or she knows they'll never make the kind of money that the b-ball player starts with, and, unfortunately, the dollar rules.

GrapesOfWrath
2003-Jan-13, 03:31 PM
On 2003-01-13 09:48, nebularain wrote:
And now for a sobering thought:

What do you call the medical student who graduates at the bottom of the class?

Answer:
Doctor
Sobering, eh? By the time medical students even arrive at med school, they have gone through a tremendous filtering process. A lot of them don't even graduate from med school. The system pretty much guarantees that the lowest of the low have a minimal competency.

Who's the worst player on your college's basketball team? The bottom of the class. Would you like to go one-on-one with him for money? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

GrapesOfWrath
2003-Jan-13, 03:33 PM
On 2003-01-12 19:50, Cloudy wrote:
To think otherwise is nieve.
Or ideallistic. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

calliarcale
2003-Jan-13, 03:34 PM
nebularain, that reminds me of my dad. He didn't graduate at the *bottom* of his class, but certainly not at the top either. He was in the middle. But he learned well anyway, and today he is a well-respected physician. He just never got the top grades. (I really couldn't say why; I was only a twinkle in his eye at the time and don't really have much of a basis upon which to judge his academic career. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif )

Grade point averages are not always representative of a person's ability. The problem is that they are really the only objective standard there is. And students must be judged *somehow*.

GrapesOfWrath
2003-Jan-13, 04:12 PM
On 2003-01-13 10:34, calliarcale wrote:
Grade point averages are not always representative of a person's ability. The problem is that they are really the only objective standard there is. And students must be judged *somehow*.

The "only" objective standard? I don't even see grades as being standard at all--much less, in some cases, objective.

Some colleges are moving away from standarized tests (why wouldn't you say they're objective?), and relying on grades. Big mistake.

daver
2003-Jan-13, 07:00 PM
On 2003-01-13 09:48, nebularain wrote:

And now for a sobering thought:

What do you call the medical student who graduates at the bottom of the class?


Answer:
Doctor


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: nebularain on 2003-01-13 09:50 ]</font>


I went to an agricultural school; the vetenarian program was very tough. Dropouts from the vet program went into the medical program.

Anyway, your joke could be modified somewhat--into "What do you call someone who flunks out of vet school".

As even more of an aside, medical students didn't have a very good reputation in my chemistry classes--they were rumored to break into other people's lockers and sabotage their experiments.

Glom
2003-Jan-13, 07:13 PM
At least they're keen to do well.

g99
2003-Jan-13, 09:34 PM
GPA's don't mean jack squat. A person who takes underwater basket weaving for 8 semesters (4 years, 2 semesters a year on the East coast of U.S.A.. No quarters system here.) can have the same GPA and degree as a person who takes every calculus and physics course possible if they are in the same major.

Standardized tests and test are a joke too. MY girlfriend is alot smarter than me and gas a 4.0 GPA in hard classes yet she got a below avareage score on her SAT's.

I think that the medical school's and engineering school's weed out corses like organic chem. and such are great. They take out the slakers and the idiots and leave the good ones to advance.

I agree with the others here. The worst doctor is still better than the best you can probobly do. (sorry to all of the doc's out there in BA land.).

I think that our society has become way to specialized. We dont have normal doctors any more, nor normal astronomners. We have Nuro-surgons, Cardio-surgons, radio astronomers, astrophysicists, ect... the list goes on to no end. How do you teach and set up courses to teach all of the skills necessary when a significant portion of your population will deviate into a special field and dos not need all of the extra info?

Argos
2003-Jan-14, 12:33 AM
We had a similar discussion some time ago. It was about education and the scientific relativism (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=2609&forum=1). Something about what you call pop science. So sad affair...

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Argos on 2003-01-13 19:43 ]</font>

informant
2003-Jan-14, 09:44 AM
On 2002-11-02 09:27, Argos wrote:


On 2002-11-01 21:33, ljbrs wrote:
Science education in the United States is at the level of the educationally-challenged *Third-World nations of the world. Dumbing down the curriculum in the public schools even further than it is now will make our educational level sink deeper. Very, very depressing.


I see it as a worldwide phenomenon. Though depressing it be, we cannot let this thing go farther. It's up to us to light a candle.

We can't afford to be "waiting for the Barbarians" (http://users.hol.gr/~barbanis/cavafy/barbarians.html). /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif


Very true, Argos.
And I loved reading Waiting for the Barbarians... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

GrapesOfWrath
2003-Jan-14, 12:48 PM
On 2003-01-13 16:34, g99 wrote:
Standardized tests and test are a joke too. MY girlfriend is alot smarter than me and gas a 4.0 GPA in hard classes yet she got a below avareage score on her SAT's.
Was your score on the SATs above hers?

VanBurenVandal
2003-Jan-14, 01:41 PM
On 2003-01-13 16:34, g99 wrote:
GPA's don't mean jack squat...


I concur, no one should ever be judged purely on their GPA. I go to a rather good, small college. The general rule of thumb (although there are exceptions, as g99 has pointed out) is the most intelligent people are between 3.0-3.9 (roughly, out of 4.0 for those who don’t know). Most everyone above 3.9 is really good at memorizing stuff, but never understanding. To quote M*A*S*H* “I never try to understand it, that just slows down the paperwork.” I’m tired of seeing the people who understand concepts well get outscored by people who (literally!) write down pages of textbooks verbatim as essay answers. That’s where standardized tests come in, they ask enough random stuff about science that the theory is no one will be able to memorize it all, so only those who can apply knowledge will do well. Unfortunately, they underestimate the willingness of rather dim people to spend a full year only studying for a single test. I was outscored in physics by someone who always asks me basic concepts. I know he doesn’t understand the first thing about physics, but he memorized all the equations (and promptly forgot them after the test). All those parrots (learn and repeat…) bury others in the overall picture. I would love to see such tests replaced by other tasks. Say, a two minute discussion with a real live professor, or attempting to participate in a discussion on the BABB. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif I know these are not realistic, but it would be a whole lot more accurate. Sure would help out Florida’s abysmal system…

As a side note, there is some justice. I was so fed up with parrots talking about “The Formula” used to score highly on the MCAT essay section I wrote my essay on how everyone else was a drone, soullessly repeating what tripe they’d memorized (only eloquently, of course). I ended up getting the second-highest score! I guess the people at MCAT were sick of it, too…

[Edited because I forgot a couple key words...]
_________________
Once bread has become toast, it can never become bread again...

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: VanBurenVandal on 2003-01-14 08:43 ]</font>

nebularain
2003-Jan-14, 02:19 PM
On 2003-01-13 10:31, GrapesOfWrath wrote:
Sobering, eh? By the time medical students even arrive at med school, they have gone through a tremendous filtering process. A lot of them don't even graduate from med school. The system pretty much guarantees that the lowest of the low have a minimal competency.



On 2003-01-13 10:34, calliarcale wrote:
nebularain, that reminds me of my dad. He didn't graduate at the *bottom* of his class, but certainly not at the top either. He was in the middle. But he learned well anyway, and today he is a well-respected physician. He just never got the top grades. (I really couldn't say why; I was only a twinkle in his eye at the time and don't really have much of a basis upon which to judge his academic career.)

OK, rebuke noted and absorbed.



On 2003-01-14 08:41, VanBurenVandal wrote:
I was outscored in physics by someone who always asks me basic concepts. I know he doesn’t understand the first thing about physics, but he memorized all the equations (and promptly forgot them after the test).


Shame this person didn't have my physics teacher at the local community college! He only made us memorize the "major" equations but then worked us to death on applied knowledge. Man, it was tough! We would study these things and think we understood it, but then when the test came, he had asked us the problem from a completely different angle, making us have to re-think the whole thing and hoped we got it figured out correctly! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_eek.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_cry.gif

g99
2003-Jan-14, 10:35 PM
On 2003-01-14 07:48, GrapesOfWrath wrote:


On 2003-01-13 16:34, g99 wrote:
Standardized tests and test are a joke too. MY girlfriend is alot smarter than me and gas a 4.0 GPA in hard classes yet she got a below avareage score on her SAT's.
Was your score on the SATs above hers?




Yah i got a 1200 and she got, well... about 200 pts or so lower.

My GPA varies from a 3.6 to 3.8 depending on the dificulty of my classes. She takes these hard classes and get's 4.0's i have no clue how she does it. She just sucks at standardized tests.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: g99 on 2003-01-14 17:39 ]</font>

g99
2003-Jan-15, 04:03 AM
Just thought of this...
Here at UF the average SAT score is 1300. In florida it is about 900-1000. She got around 1000 i don't want to give the exact score, (even tought she does not read what i write here) I still have to respect her. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif I am even below the average for the university, but since i had several AP credits, extra caricular activities, sports and a high GPA they let me in.

It is getting very hard to get in now. Thankfully they are using the SAT less and less now and actually looking at your grades and the courses you are in. Dang, no more underwater basketweaving for me /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif.



But to go back to science and education...

How long do you think before there is not a "need" for the hard science courses and the courses like physics, astronomy, chemistry, ect will be phased out in favor of the core classes and pop sci classes, or worse, electives.../phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif ? [Ref. Glom's complaint about the U.K.]

I think that (for America at least) in 5 years with a lack of funds do to a certain U.S. President screwing our economy so badly that there won't be enougth money to pay for the qualified teachers to teach the classes. Electives are cheaper, can be taught by unqualified teachers with only a teaching degree and are easy to schedule. The hard science classes are very expensive to run and many schools probobly will not be able to afford them.
Well that is my opinion at least. Anyone?

Nightfall
2003-Jan-15, 06:27 AM
On 2003-01-14 23:03, g99 wrote:

I think that (for America at least) in 5 years with a lack of funds do to a certain U.S. President screwing our economy so badly that there won't be enougth money to pay for the qualified teachers to teach the classes. Electives are cheaper, can be taught by unqualified teachers with only a teaching degree and are easy to schedule. The hard science classes are very expensive to run and many schools probobly will not be able to afford them.
Well that is my opinion at least. Anyone?



I have seen what you have described. In high school, which for me was only a few years ago, I took a programming class with a one such teacher. He was a football coach. It should be noted that out there somewhere there probably are good science teachers who are also good football coaches, but this guy was not one of them. He was a football coach first and he was only "teaching" in order to coach football. In addition to "teaching" programming, he taught "Natural Science." From what I saw of his programming class, I'm grateful that I was not in any of his science classes. During the second semester we had moved into the computer drafting room that has better computers, and were networked together. During much of that semester, on Monday he would give us an assignment that had to be due by Friday. The assignment was generally easy so I would do it the night before on my own computer, or in class that day. Because we where not focused on programming, and he was more often surfing the net than teaching, we did one of the things networked computers are great for, multiplayer games. We played Quake II, almost every day. So by the end of the class I was great at Quake II, but poor at programming.

On the plus side, most schools already have teachers for the hard sciences, so I doubt they are will go away any time soon. Although on the side of the sciences, I would like to point out that I think that universities would look more favorably at a prospective student who got a "B" in Chemistry than one with an "A" in pop science.

VanBurenVandal
2003-Jan-15, 12:21 PM
On 2003-01-15 01:27, Nightfall wrote:
I would like to point out that I think that universities would look more favorably at a prospective student who got a "B" in Chemistry than one with an "A" in pop science.



My old High School offered college-level courses our of a 5.0 scale instead of a 4.0 scale. The 5.0 scared off most people, and the classes were actually pretty good. Maybe that's the future of "hard" and "pop" science...

Thumper
2003-Jan-15, 04:04 PM
On 2003-01-15 07:21, VanBurenVandal wrote:

My old High School offered college-level courses our of a 5.0 scale instead of a 4.0 scale. The 5.0 scared off most people, and the classes were actually pretty good. Maybe that's the future of "hard" and "pop" science...



My high school did the same. All "honours" courses were graded with a 5.0 A, 4.0 B, etc. but the rest of the school was on a 4.0 system.

Some didn't like it because they felt that students getting 5.0 A's were getting a free GPA boost. I disagreed. The course content was much harder than the non honours courses. I thought it was a fairly good way to encourage students to take "hard" courses without being penalized with a poor GPA.

When I went on college visits my senior year, we were covering some of the same material in our Advanced Math class that they were teaching in 3rd quarter calculus at an engineering college.

A friend of mine who's math class consisted of simple algebra said, "Wish I could get some of those 5 point A's."

I invited him to take the class and show me how. I sure never could get one.

PS Love your sig VBV.


(added PS)

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Thumper on 2003-01-15 11:06 ]</font>

VanBurenVandal
2003-Jan-15, 08:00 PM
Despite the real word of mass education, there is hope. How educated one becomes if proportional to how much effort is made. While for some more work is required for knowledge than others, if you work hard enough, you can learn a boatload of information (and hopefully apply it). If everyone depended entirely on schools for knowledge, we’d all be idiots. The education system will always be imperfect. Our motto at school/life is “You can be lazy or complain, just not both at the same time.” However, there will always be people who excel at both, and will therefore demand classes be made easier, alternatives are presented, ect. In the end, schooling of any kind should be a supplement to the education as a whole.

Which is why most/all of us are here…

(And thanks, Thumper. An example of 4 a.m. philosophy…)

daver
2003-Jan-15, 09:44 PM
On 2003-01-15 01:27, Nightfall wrote:

On the plus side, most schools already have teachers for the hard sciences, so I doubt they are will go away any time soon. Although on the side of the sciences, I would like to point out that I think that universities would look more favorably at a prospective student who got a "B" in Chemistry than one with an "A" in pop science.



Several years ago my high school (3 years) offered Spanish, French, German, and Russian. One of the teachers would have taught Greek if there was enough signin. It had two years of chemistry, one year of physics, one year of calculus. Currently most of those classes have been dropped--the students who wish to take advanced classes are bussed to the local junior college instead.

nebularain
2003-Jan-16, 05:18 AM
On 2003-01-15 01:27, Nightfall wrote:


On 2003-01-14 23:03, g99 wrote:

I think that (for America at least) in 5 years with a lack of funds do to a certain U.S. President screwing our economy so badly that there won't be enougth money to pay for the qualified teachers to teach the classes. Electives are cheaper, can be taught by unqualified teachers with only a teaching degree and are easy to schedule. The hard science classes are very expensive to run and many schools probobly will not be able to afford them.
Well that is my opinion at least. Anyone?



I have seen what you have described. In high school, which for me was only a few years ago, I took a programming class with a one such teacher. He was a football coach. It should be noted that out there somewhere there probably are good science teachers who are also good football coaches, but this guy was not one of them. He was a football coach first and he was only "teaching" in order to coach football. In addition to "teaching" programming, he taught "Natural Science."
Part of that problem could be a simple lack of science teachers, not a lack of finances. I know here in Maryland there is a shortage of science teachers. I hear on and off about the need to pull teachers who are experts in one area being made to teach other subjects because there is no one else to teach it.

Cloudy
2003-Feb-13, 06:14 AM
The best experts are not always the best teachers. If something comes naturaly to you, your not going to be able to teach it to others. The things I am best at communicating to others are the things that I had the hardest time learning myself. But this is just anecdotal, has anybody done any real research on who makes the best teachers.....


On vouchers...The concern that poor parents will not have enough to get to private schools is valid. But it is easily addressed by simply raising the ammount of the vouchers. It is a common myth about private schools that they mostly serve the rich. Mostly they serve middle and even lower-middle class children - this is particularily true of the Catholic school system. There are many of them even in the poorest neighborhoods and they do better than public schools there. Only a very small percentage of all US families, the very wealthiest, send there children to elite private academies. Most of the wealthy and upper middle class families send there children to public schools - albeit overfunded public schools in rich districts. They think this buys a good education - but in many ways there is just as much institutionalized mediocrity in these schools as in the inner city. Take a look at what skills beggining college students lack - even in prestigious universities - and you will see what I mean. The suburban schools that are good are usually spending far more money than they need to in order to get there. This is just the nature of government programs.

As to whinny parents being a poor influence on schools - this is the result of the schools being controlled by politics and not by market forces. In politics - the old addage "The squekie wheel gets the grease" has a whole new meaning. Complainers, ideologs and antagonists thrive in political systems. They are a small portion of parents, but they have disproportionate influence.

In the free market, on the other hand, "The squekie wheel gets replaced". If a high proportion of your students go on to do well in adult life, your school will do well. If not, it will be replaced by better schools. In the market system, it is the vast majority of the parents that have the power because it is they who choose what school thier children go to. In the political system, power goes only to those with the time and skill to wield political influence and stir up trouble. The people with such time on there hands do not, as a general rule, represent the interests of the general student/parent population well. Choice empowers the general population to fight these people by moving their children away from schools that listen to the whiners.

Another benefit of vouchers is that if implemented correctly it could curtail the practice of people choosing where to live based on school district. The truth is, we have school choice now - but only for the middle class and the wealthy. They get to choose what neighborhoods to live in and therefor which school to go to(Though it is MUCH harder to move to a different house than it would be to simply move to a different school under a choice system). The poor/lower middle class do not have that choice. This creates a starkly segregated and unfair system. If education was funded via large vouchers administered at a high level of government (the state perhaps), much of the incentive to flee from people of other economic classes would be removed. This could help create a more equal and carring society in the long term.

As to simply finding some way to equalize funding without choice - this was done in Kansas City. A judge forced the city and state to raise taxes and the KC kids went to beautiful schools. But they were whitewashed tombs. Parents were still powerless. The social pathologies of the inner city were still there. The teacher's unions were still there. So all the problems we see in modern government education were still there also. This is what happens when we buy into the pet solutions of people with no interest in solving the problem. In fact, the worse students do, the more funding the teachers and beauraucrats receive. This has got to stop. Give parents the choice and the power instead, if you want to actually make some progress.

Mainframes
2003-Feb-13, 10:41 AM
On 2003-02-13 01:14, Cloudy wrote:
The best experts are not always the best teachers. If something comes naturaly to you, your not going to be able to teach it to others. The things I am best at communicating to others are the things that I had the hardest time learning myself. But this is just anecdotal, has anybody done any real research on who makes the best teachers.....



I have some experience of this myself. As a postgraduate I was asked to tutor a first year u/g in maths. I was really bad at maths as an u/g, so I knew what the problems were and how best to get over them and understand the fundamentals.

Basically you have experience of what the students are going through and you know how to help them.

informant
2003-Feb-13, 11:49 AM
Or you can just skip the whole subject... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

DStahl
2003-Feb-13, 07:48 PM
Schools are undoubtedly impacted by funding cuts, by edicts from legislators, and by parent uninvolvement.

However, there's a human element to schools and the administration thereof which is sometimes overlooked. In my experience, many teachers view their profession as a crusade-for-the-kids, and they don't roll over and abandon their educational ideals easily. They fight for the kids more often than not, and against bad legislated guidelines, poor parenting, and misadministration.

Now, as some of you have no doubt gathered, I feel incredibly lucky to have a public middle school in which the teachers, administrators, and counsellors seem to share this kind of crusade-for-the-kids mentality. Not all the teachers are great, but--at Kelly at least--their primary goal is not satisfying the state requirements, it's doing what they can for the kids. Of course they have to deal with state requirements, just like they have to deal with the fallout from families in which the single parent is in jail and the kid is bounced to relatives, just like they have to deal with a hundred other obstacles. But the human factor is more decisive than many people credit.

Well, that's my opinion, anyway.

SollyLama
2003-Feb-14, 09:05 PM
Talk about dumbing down education- anyone remember the push to not only legitiatize ebonics, but teach it in school? That was essentially education surrendering to poor language skills, hiding behind political correctness.
Now we have problems with rightwing religious nuts trying to force creationism to be taught as 'science.' Not only is that insulting to the learned professions, but they only want THEIR religion taught- wildly disciminatory.
I saw that a college (I think in Wisconsin of all places) is offering a course on pornography. Not a cinematography class, but just a discussion of porn movies and magazines. Does this college receive federal (TAX) money to pay for such crap?
UMASS offered an entire credit based on frisbee throwing in the 80's. I remember well the critizism they took for that.

My biggest fear is history revisionism. The people who are creating the school cirriculum (didn't work- I don't even know how to spell that!) are going to be swayed by political correctness. Hey, sometimes history isn't pretty, and often might does make right. But for later generations to judge it, then modify to be more 'acceptable' really frightens me. A look at reactions to today's headlines shows not only Americans, but alot of the world to be woefully ignorant of history. I don't just mean the names and dates, but the LESSONS of history.

SollyLama
2003-Feb-14, 09:25 PM
I disagree with vouchers. Running away from a bad school (further dropping it's funding) is no answer.
First, we need a set minimum standard for school buildings- For safety, capacity, and location. ALL schools must meet this standard, no excuses.
Then simply fund the schools by population of students. Take economic status completely out of the picture, it's a bogus line of division to begin with. There's no reason rich suburban schools with 500 kids should get more federal funding than an inner city school of 2000.
Notice I said FEDERAL funding. If folks want to pay a higher property tax or local sales tax to augment their kid's school, then fine. Beverly Hills high will still be wealthier than some cities and rich kids can have a prettier school.
That's as level of a playing field as possible. The poor get decent schools, the rich get their amenities. Vouchers just screw up the system. And if you are already paying higher local taxes to fund a school, why should kids with vouchers- more welfare essentially- get to reap the rewards without (their parents) paying their share?
I also like Bush's plan of sending the top achievers, regardless of school, to college on scholarship. But you have to level the schools out to ensure that kids aren't just skating through.
I loathe any form of race, gender, or religious prefferences. We need to reward hard work and initiative, not melanin content.
Finally, once the baseline standards are met in a school, I don't care if the little heathens spray paint it and break stuff. That should not be rewarded with more money wasted. It should fall to the students and parents. It is, after all, in their best interests to keep the place in shape. I have no sympathy for inner city schools that get built for millions only to be run down in 5 years because of low-class idiots in attendence there can't be controlled. Responsibility for one's own actions is a lesson largely lost on our ever-increasing welfare state.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: SollyLama on 2003-02-14 16:32 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: SollyLama on 2003-02-14 17:38 ]</font>

informant
2003-Feb-14, 09:39 PM
I don't understand what's the problem with courses on pornography. It's a highly profitable activity. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

nebularain
2003-Feb-15, 03:01 AM
Tell that to all of the women who have been abused. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_evil.gif

informant
2003-Feb-15, 11:57 AM
I was kind of joking, nebularain, but, you know, pornography doesn't imply abuse...