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01101001
2007-Nov-05, 06:48 PM
"Science is like art," said Manuel, 7, who let that cryptic response hang in the air as he ducked away.

He might have meant that both can open the heart to beauty. Or maybe he was saying that science, like art, is something students don't get much of these days in elementary school.

If it were the latter, a new survey of 923 Bay Area elementary school teachers would agree.

About 80 percent of those teachers said they spent less than an hour each week teaching science, according to researchers from the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley and from WestEd, an education think tank based in San Francisco.

From San Francisco Chronicle (Nanette Asimov, niece of Isaac) Science courses nearly extinct in elementary grades, study finds (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/10/25/MNNKSVFOH.DTL&hw=science+elementary&sn=001&sc=1000)

mike alexander
2007-Nov-05, 07:14 PM
How can you have time for teaching science when you spend so much time prepping kids to pass the NCLB test stuff so the school doesn't lose funding?

It's really just another example of evolutionary theory in action. Primary selection pressure is passing standardized tests; eventually all other efforts will become secondary to passing the tests. While the 'best' way to get passing grades is to give each kid a rich and well-balanced education, the easiest way is to take lots of practice tests and concentrate on specific arreas known to be well-represented on the tests, reading and mathematics. Bach? Humbug!

This despite most people reading very little and doing even less mathematics after finishing school. But, by Thor's left little toe, they can pass tests.

Larry Jacks
2007-Nov-05, 08:20 PM
I'm a former high school math and science teacher. That meant I had to take a wide variety of college math and science classes ranging from Differential Equations to Organic Chemistry. I also had to take a bunch of "education" fluff courses. I remember talking to one of my education class classmates who was going to be an elementary teacher. I asked her about how she planned to teach math. She said, "Oh, I hate math."

Great, I thought. By the time I get them in high school, the kids will hate math, too. Attitudes like that are easily detected by the kids and the results are all too predictable.

I do support standardized testing simply because schools have done such a lousy job. Grade inflation makes any kid think he/she's an honor student when in fact many have learned very little. Sure, we can have schools that graduate everyone as an honor student if we wish. After all, anything is possible if you lower your standards far enough.

The only reasonable way to compare students from different schools with different curricula is through some form of standardized testing. If the test covers science and math, at least the schools are forced to teach enough science and math so that students can pass the test. In many cases, that's more than they were being taught before testing.

Cougar
2007-Nov-05, 10:45 PM
Growing up, I could not believe it when I heard that education in the United States was not centralized and coordinated by the federal government. The states and even lesser regions control the educational curriculum of that state/region? What? Do the facts change when one crosses a state boundary? Is it really wise to give podunk school boards the power and responsibility to determine what their region's children learn, especially when such boards are politically determined and typically not qualified as educators? What the heck is going on here? This makes sense how? No wonder the U.S. is falling behind so many other countries, or so they say.

And now for something completely different....


"In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite." - Paul Dirac

SeanF
2007-Nov-05, 11:02 PM
Cougar, with all due respect, I found your post more than a little condescending and insulting.

I'm just going to say that whatever problems there are with America's schools, I wouldn't put "too little federal government involvement" high up on the list of causes, and leave it at that.

Larry Jacks
2007-Nov-05, 11:30 PM
Growing up, I could not believe it when I heard that education in the United States was not centralized and coordinated by the federal government.

Based on the other things the federal government does, what makes you think the feds are better able to manage education than anyone else? How many things does the federal government do that are better than what anyone else can do?

The US model for education has been local funding and control of schools. While it has its drawbacks, I think it's better than a bunch of bureaucrats trying to force a "one size fits all" curriculum on everyone. “One size fits all” is lousy for clothing and even worse for education.

Cougar
2007-Nov-06, 04:12 AM
Cougar, with all due respect, I found your post more than a little condescending and insulting.

I'm not sure how you got that. But I'm certainly willing to listen.


I'm just going to say that whatever problems there are with America's schools, I wouldn't put "too little federal government involvement" high up on the list of causes, and leave it at that.

Well, first of all, I'm not one to bash America's schools. I salute the teachers in them. And I think my answer about this central vs. local control also goes to Larry Jacks' questions:


Based on the other things the federal government does, what makes you think the feds are better able to manage education than anyone else? How many things does the federal government do that are better than what anyone else can do?
Well, obviously "the feds" would not be overseeing the education of the country. The 'national school board' I would envision would be sanctioned by the government, but would be a large, coordinated group of educators and specialists in all the fields of learning.


The US model for education has been local funding and control of schools. While it has its drawbacks, I think it's better than a bunch of bureaucrats trying to force a "one size fits all" curriculum on everyone.

As I implied, no bureaucrats would be allowed. The curricula couldn't be something inflexible or etched in stone. What 'lessons' will best serve the students in their current and future lives? I just think that an extremely well qualified and motivated group of people - tops in the nation - could offer a more coherent and more successful educational program than myriad local boards.

Singular
2007-Nov-06, 04:22 AM
Do the facts change when one crosses a state boundary?

Do they change when you cross a national boundary? Maybe the UN should do it.

Neverfly
2007-Nov-06, 08:15 AM
(snip)

As I implied, no bureaucrats would be allowed. The curricula couldn't be something inflexible or etched in stone. What 'lessons' will best serve the students in their current and future lives? I just think that an extremely well qualified and motivated group of people - tops in the nation - could offer a more coherent and more successful educational program than myriad local boards.

Good luck enforcing that;)

Federally regulated has some positives and some negatives.

But "no bureaucrats allowed" would be a tough rule to maintain!
And getting something Federally regulated that isn't treated like it's Law of God isn't awlays either.

I don't like the way schools are acting these days either.

But I don't think federal regulation will help so much as worsen an existing problem.

KaiYeves
2007-Nov-06, 02:18 PM
I have learned science and art in school, to be sure, but it was all "school-ish" and not very fun. I learned a lot more science out of school, in libraries and on the Internet. A "homemade education", as John Wesley Powell said.

SeanF
2007-Nov-06, 02:26 PM
I'm not sure how you got that. But I'm certainly willing to listen.
Well, for a specific, "podunk" implies insignificance or unimportance - it's generally considered derogatory, and isn't really a term of endearment (although, like most insults, it is often use self-deprecatingly). Plus, the general tone of the post came across along the lines of "Why don't those dumb hicks let their big-city superiors run things for them?" Oh, and another part of the problem with the post is the implication that your proposed solution is so painfully obvious that you can't even being to comprehend why we're not doing it your way. I prefer to think that most people are not so brain-dead that they can't see their nose in front of their face, so when I find myself in disagreement with a significantly large group of people, I try to start from the assumption that there's a valid reason they believe (or do) what they do.

I've got enough respect for you that I'm not accusing you of being intentionally condescending, but your post did come across that way. :)


Well, obviously "the feds" would not be overseeing the education of the country. The 'national school board' I would envision would be sanctioned by the government, but would be a large, coordinated group of educators and specialists in all the fields of learning.

As I implied, no bureaucrats would be allowed.
You're describing a bureaucracy, Cougar - the members are bureaucrats by definition. And why would these things that you desire require a national level, anyway? Why couldn't they be done locally? I mean, we can handle all our other administrative duties ourselves - police, fire/rescue, planning and building, sewer systems, etc. Why do you think we're incapable of education?

Bottom line, it's insulting to imply that Sioux Falls should let Washington, D.C., run their education system for the same reason it would be insulting to imply that Montreal should let D.C. run theirs.

Larry Jacks
2007-Nov-06, 02:30 PM
As I implied, no bureaucrats would be allowed. The curricula couldn't be something inflexible or etched in stone. What 'lessons' will best serve the students in their current and future lives? I just think that an extremely well qualified and motivated group of people - tops in the nation - could offer a more coherent and more successful educational program than myriad local boards.

What else would a national school board be (or become) but a bunch of unelected, unresponsive, and unresponsible bureaucrats? The advantage of local control of schools is accountability. In theory and sometimes in practice*, the elected school boards are accountable to the public and the schools are accountable to the board. The further away accountability lies, the less responsive the officials. Seen another way, which politicians are more likely to be responsive to the voters, members of a city council or a member of Congress?

*In many places, the school board has a high percentage of teachers or other education officials. To me, this represents a conflict of interest. Would the management of a corporation have union member employees as part of the management team?

Argos
2007-Nov-06, 02:35 PM
About 80 percent of those teachers said they spent less than an hour each week teaching science, according to researchers from the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley and from WestEd, an education think tank based in San Francisco.

Maybe because they [both the pupils and the teachers] spend much of their time in the traffic, and 'socialization', and sports.

Let us do a favor to ourselves and to the future generations: give up the old presential, Aristotelian school.

Cougar
2007-Nov-06, 03:48 PM
Do they change when you cross a national boundary? Maybe the UN should do it.
Well, as (I think) Carl Sagan pointed out, when looking back on earth from space, one doesn't see any national boundaries. It's one planet! I can understand why early humans stuck together in families, then bands, then tribes, then... city states, then nations.... The pattern certainly seems to evolve toward unification. I don't see that happening anytime soon, but it seems to be a preferred direction.

Tucson_Tim
2007-Nov-06, 03:53 PM
Well, as (I think) Carl Sagan pointed out, when looking back on earth from space, one doesn't see any national boundaries. It's one planet! I can understand why early humans stuck together in families, then bands, then tribes, then... city states, then nations.... The pattern certainly seems to evolve toward unification. I don't see that happening anytime soon, but it seems to be a preferred direction.

The Earth must unify into one government, otherwise there will be no membership in the Federation of Planets. :)

KaiYeves
2007-Nov-06, 06:30 PM
Well, as (I think) Carl Sagan pointed out, when looking back on earth from space, one doesn't see any national boundaries. It's one planet!
Indeed! Man, I bet he could teach those teachers a thing or two.

Gillianren
2007-Nov-06, 06:50 PM
Indeed! Man, I bet he could teach those teachers a thing or two.

Yes, and a lot of them could teach him a thing or two. There were a lot of areas where he didn't know terribly much, just like everyone else.

Frankly, I like the idea of a national basis for curriculum, though with certain differences between states--state history, for example. I like the idea that Kansas can't decide to teach ID instead of evolution. As has been said, the facts don't change. I don't like the current emphasis on standardized testing, in part because I don't really think it shows how much kids learn so much as how well they take tests. (I, for one, have always tested very well, even if I don't really understand the subject.)

I don't think we give enough emphasis to a lot of things in the schools. Science. Math. Grammar. The arts. I understand that, with record levels of obesity in schoolchildren, we need to continue sticking kids in PE. However, I don't think I needed to learn the rules to sports I haven't played since. The problem is, that's the only thing I can think of that they taught in the schools that I don't think I should have had to have learned.

mike alexander
2007-Nov-06, 09:09 PM
There may be no way out of it, but if education is seen as just a thing like business, with milestones, metrics and the like, then the path we currently follow in America makes sense. I'd like to think it's supposed to offer something more, but it's also possible I'm hopelessly out of step with reality.

Jeff Root
2007-Nov-06, 09:09 PM
Note the very first words in Cougar's first post in this thread:


Growing up, I could not believe it when I heard that education in
the United States was not centralized and coordinated by the
federal government.
Same with me. While I was in school, I presumed that everyone
got similar educations, even if they went to very different schools.
Similar because, I presumed, there was a national standard for
curricula. I don't know if there should be a national standard,
because I don't know whether it would work, but not having a
national standard seems absurd.

More locally, I tried to get current course descriptions for the
Minneapolis public schools without much success. I was sent a
flyer telling what elective courses are offered, at which schools,
but no real descriptions of the course content. I'll try again.

I knew all along that the specific content of courses was
developed by the teachers themselves, because they sometimes
talked about what they had to do to prepare the lessons. I knew
that "social studies" subjects in first grade concentrated on the
neighborhood and the community, while fourth grade concentrated
on the state, and fifth grade concentrated on other states and the
nation as a whole (With the Solar System thrown in :))

While I was in high school, 1968-1971, the number one problem
in my view was that too much time was wasted on taking tests.

A curious thing: I do not recall even a single instance, from
kindergarten through grade twelve, of a principal or assistant
principal coming into a classroom. (I knew the principal at my
elementary school personally because I figured anyone who was
in charge of a school would know what was happening, so when
I was in first grade and Alaska and Hawaii were added as new
states, I consulted her as to what the arrangement of stars on
the new US flag would be. She had no idea, of course.)

I never learned the rules of any of the games we played in PE.
But my impression is that we spent way more time standing
around, setting up, taking down, getting instructions on how to
do things, and waiting, waiting, waiting, than we did in actual
physical activities. The amount of time actually doing stuff could
easily have been doubled, and possibly tripled, and it would have
been so much more beneficial and rewarding. I think the exercise
was generally too intense and way too brief, in part because of
the intensity, but mostly because it was poorly designed.

I got pretty good support for artistic expression at home, so I may
not have noticed that it was lacking in elementary school. In junior
high school we chose three out of four electives: art, drafting and
woodworking shop, home economics, and music; with the three
chosen courses each taking part of the year. Over three years, I
took each at least twice. I took art in tenth and twelfth grades.

I took German in junior high school, but totally failed to learn
anything, mainly because, I think, the teacher, who was German
and who designed the course from scratch, assumed that I knew
the parts of speech and parts of a sentence. I had never been
exposed to terms like "nominative", "dative", and "infinitive" before,
and still don't know what they mean. Fie, Shirley Krogmeier!

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

sarongsong
2007-Nov-06, 09:12 PM
"...Once in a while
you get shown the light
in the strangest of places
if you look at it right... (http://arts.ucsc.edu/gdead/agdl/scarlet.html)" http://www.bautforum.com/images/icons/icon10.gif
Article 1, Section 8
The Congress shall have Power...To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries; ...
The Constitution of the United States (http://www.archives.gov/national-archives-experience/charters/constitution_transcript.html)

dhd40
2007-Nov-06, 10:08 PM
01101001´s opening post starts: "Science is like art, …"
And I agree with this, but I don´t want to discuss this specific topic right here.
Instead, I would like to comment on Cougar´s post (no.4):

Growing up, I could not believe it when I heard that education in the United States was not centralized and coordinated by the federal government. The states and even lesser regions control the educational curriculum of that state/region? What? Do the facts change when one crosses a state boundary? Is it really wise to give podunk school boards the power and responsibility to determine what their region's children learn, especially when such boards are politically determined and typically not qualified as educators? What the heck is going on here? This makes sense how? No wonder the U.S. is falling behind so many other countries, or so they say.
My comment: In Germany, approximately 82 million inhabitants live in 16 “Bundesländern”
(federal states, I would call them “provinces”). And these “states” control the educational curriculum of that state/region/province! SAY WHAT !? No wonder Germany is falling behind so many other countries in Europe.
I´m certainly not a fed-fan. But do you now understand what Cougar is saying?

Cougar
2007-Nov-06, 11:32 PM
I've got enough respect for you that....
Sean, the feeling is totally mutual. Thanks for your response.

Van Rijn
2007-Nov-06, 11:54 PM
Frankly, I like the idea of a national basis for curriculum, though with certain differences between states--state history, for example. I like the idea that Kansas can't decide to teach ID instead of evolution. As has been said, the facts don't change. I don't like the current emphasis on standardized testing, in part because I don't really think it shows how much kids learn so much as how well they take tests. (I, for one, have always tested very well, even if I don't really understand the subject.)


The ID bit is something of a special case, since it is about constitutional restrictions on religious indoctrination in government institutions. Regarding education in general, I'm not too impressed with the national level involvement already, so I don't want more. Actually, I think it is more dangerous than the alternative - although you may not like what some states choose to teach kids, at least those choices aren't at the national level. If decisions are made at the national level, and you don't like the choices there, the whole country goes in that direction.

Jeff Root
2007-Nov-07, 02:05 AM
If decisions are made at the national level, and you don't like the
choices there, the whole country goes in that direction.
Deliberately taking this quote out of context... So you don't like
the idea of federal government?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Van Rijn
2007-Nov-07, 02:15 AM
Deliberately taking this quote out of context... So you don't like
the idea of federal government?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

No, I didn't say that. This is getting into politics, so I don't want to get into too much detail, but there are things appropriate at different levels of government. The federal government is more appropriate for some things, state and local levels are more appropriate for others. I pointed out an issue with increased Federal involvement on this subject.

KaiYeves
2007-Nov-07, 03:35 AM
Yes, and a lot of them could teach him a thing or two. There were a lot of areas where he didn't know terribly much, just like everyone else.
Yeah, like the titles of songs. It's "Rocket Man", not "Mr. Rocket Man".
But saying that totally took the zing out of the saying.

Cougar
2007-Nov-07, 04:08 AM
...it's insulting to imply that Sioux Falls should let Washington, D.C., run their education system...
I always figured that at least one person from Sioux Falls would be on the national committee... :o

Yes, my initial post could have used another run-through of hard editing. I should have deleted "federal government," for one thing, and just talked about a "centralized and coordinated" educational system. I can certainly sympathize with yours and others' complaint that parts of the current government involvement is not, shall we say, a model to be adulated.


I don't know if there should be a national standard, because I don't know whether it would work, but not having a national standard seems absurd.
Maybe its natural to be naively idealistic when you're young. I still think it could work. I keep thinking of Dick Feynman on the Challenger Commission.... I guess I'm still naively idealistic....

Halcyon Dayz
2007-Nov-07, 05:28 AM
... there are things appropriate at different levels of government. The federal government is more appropriate for some things, state and local levels are more appropriate for others.

This principal is know as subsidiarity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsidiarity).
It's a cornerstone of EU politics.

Doodler
2007-Nov-07, 02:12 PM
Growing up, I could not believe it when I heard that education in the United States was not centralized and coordinated by the federal government. The states and even lesser regions control the educational curriculum of that state/region? What? Do the facts change when one crosses a state boundary?

I'm sure the Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Georgia schoolboards believe so.

Its a fun little game the United States has gotten hooked on playing since Bush the Elder was il presidente. Its called "Red State/Blue State". Its the most divisive game we've played since "Blue State/Gray State".

SeanF
2007-Nov-07, 02:36 PM
I always figured that at least one person from Sioux Falls would be on the national committee... :o
I hope you're not thinking of volunteering me! ;)


Yes, my initial post could have used another run-through of hard editing. I should have deleted "federal government," for one thing, and just talked about a "centralized and coordinated" educational system. I can certainly sympathize with yours and others' complaint that parts of the current government involvement is not, shall we say, a model to be adulated.
I don't think I'd have too much of a problem with a centralized, coordinated group making recommendations. It's centralized, coordinated control that would concern me.



What? Do the facts change when one crosses a state boundary?
I'm sure the Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Georgia schoolboards believe so.
I'm quite sure they don't - they just think the people across the border don't know what the facts are. :)

Doodler
2007-Nov-07, 02:45 PM
I'm quite sure they don't - they just think the people across the border don't know what the facts are. :)

Valid position. I was thinking more Orwellian, goodfacts versus realfacts.