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Education Science

How Do You Fix Education? 949

TaeKwonDood writes "Carl Wieman is the 2001 Nobel Prize winner in Physics but what he cares most about is fixing science education. The real issue is, can someone who went through 20 years of science education as a student, lived his life in academia since then and even got a Nobel prize get a fair shake from bureaucrats who like education the way it is — flawed and therefore always needing more money?"
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How Do You Fix Education?

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  • Fix it at home (Score:4, Insightful)

    by teknopurge ( 199509 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:49PM (#24375719) Homepage

    Get the parents more involved. For kids, school should be akin to their 9-5 job. In order to excel they need to put the time in at home, and the only people that can help instill that discipline are the parents.

    • Re:Fix it at home (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:52PM (#24375767) Homepage

      Get the parents more involved. For kids, school should be akin to their 9-5 job. In order to excel they need to put the time in at home, and the only people that can help instill that discipline are the parents.

      If it's a 9 to 5 job, then why do they need to do anything at home? There was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about how Finland's education system is remarkably efficient considering that kids have a much smaller homework burden than in the U.S. Do things right at school, and perhaps there won't be any need to get the parents involved.

      • Re:Fix it at home (Score:5, Insightful)

        by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:56PM (#24375857) Journal
        Actually, most of those type of articles [] point to the fact that Finish kids are not treated like babies as to why they can do so well. Most have to get to school themselves, and have a decent amount of responsibility. It seems actually teaching your kids how to take care of themselves makes them more likely to succeed. Shocking, I know...
        • Re:Fix it at home (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:35PM (#24376513)

          >Finish kids are not treated like babies as to why they can do so
          >well. Most have to get to school themselves

          Letting kids walk to school in the US would be cruel. Most US communities are so badly laid out that it simply is not possible to walk anywhere. It is not unusual for schools to be isolated on the wrong side of major highways, with no means for people to cross them. Until we start laying out our communities sensibly kids are going to need to be bussed (or driven) to school. It simple would not be safe to let them walk. The really scary thing is that a lot of people here think that this is a good thing

          • Re:Fix it at home (Score:4, Insightful)

            by paulgrant ( 592593 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:51PM (#24378259)

            Your part of the problem. I walked to school 30 minutes each way for years. I spent 2 hours (round trip) walking to my friends house. I spent six months walking (sans car) in cali, to and from work. whats your point wanker?

            it's these two funny little things at the end, called feet - they're made for walking. an no offense, but really, "It is not unusual for schools to be isolated on the wrong side of major highways" would suggest you *BUILD A BRIDGE ACROSS IT* rather than buying (and maintaining) a fleet of buses to pick up kids *twice a day*.

            wake up, your part of the problem.

            kids are not dolls. they never were. parents are idiots. they weren't, but now they are. Welcome to your version of education.

            • Re:Fix it at home (Score:4, Insightful)

              by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @11:51AM (#24386629) Homepage

              "It is not unusual for schools to be isolated on the wrong side of major highways" would suggest you *BUILD A BRIDGE ACROSS IT*

              I think that's what he was saying though-- these things are poorly designed/laid-out in that no one has built a bridge across it. There are no sidewalks in lots of places. There are no decent crosswalks, no bridges across the highway. It's not very safe to have your kids walking places.

              So he's saying you have to fix that first. You have to build bridges, crosswalks, sidewalks, etc.

        • Re:Fix it at home (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Ucklak ( 755284 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:50PM (#24376747)

          A generation ago, a paper route was the responsibility of the carrier (the 12 year old kid).
          You made sure your subscriptions were paid and you kept track of your own money.

          It seems that responsibility isn't required for anything anymore.
          Look at the recent mortgage fiasco.

        • Re:Fix it at home (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ThousandStars ( 556222 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:50PM (#24376757) Homepage
          And the usually unstated observation is that Finnish and most other European school systems have a much stronger tracking mechanism than U.S. schools--not in the sense of "knowing where the kids are," but in the sense of putting them into classes oriented towards universities or not, trade school or not, and such. As a result, kids at the lowest rungs aren't necessarily taking the tests if they've already left or enter vocational education, and the ones at the bottom aren't holding back the ones at the top.

          This system has drawbacks for late-bloomers and others who are mis-tracked, but it makes schools look a hell of a lot better than the U.S. approach. The problem with comparing educational systems is that one first has to establish what you're comparing. If there were a panacea like your post implies ("Finish kids are not treated like babies"), it would've already been implemented, and the battles would be over.

          We discuss some of the issues around education in Grant Writing Confidential [], though the top posts are about other things at the moment.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by celle ( 906675 )

            In Europe, part of the method is the money follows the kid and isn't just given to the school district. That way, it might help to make the districts and teachers responsible towards the students and not think of them as generic product that can be ignored.

            This is more of a rant:
            What scares me more is these are kids and we refer to school as a job. No wonder many kids don't want to work 9-5 after high school or college, they've already been doing it for at least 13 years with no pay or pension and thrus

      • Re:Fix it at home (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Narpak ( 961733 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:01PM (#24375945)
        I fully agree that parents need to take more responsibility for their children; not just in relations to education. However, as you say, improving the actual organization and methods of the educational system is something that should be forever ongoing.

        Seems to me that "parents need to take responsibility" is all to easy to use as an excuse for the flaws in the system. At least, easier than actually trying to fix the flaws. Further more it seems to me that the reforms the do try to push through are often based upon a perception of reality not fully bases in fact and research. There are brilliant people studying the ups and downs of various educational methods; but politicians and bureaucrats seem more interested in enforcing their party's, or their own, agenda.

        Friend of mine is a teacher, 10-15ish age group; and he is very into reading up on the latest articles, papers, research, studies, etc, regarding all aspects of education. One of his greatest frustrations is the institutionalized stupidity of the system. Methods that have been proven to work are showed aside because they are in conflict with current dogma.
        • Re:Fix it at home (Score:5, Insightful)

          by AySz88 ( 1151141 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:42PM (#24376623)

          Seems to me that "parents need to take responsibility" is all to easy to use as an excuse for the flaws in the system. At least, easier than actually trying to fix the flaws.

          On the contrary, it seems to me that it's arguing that parents not being part of the system is itself a flaw of the system.

          • Re:Fix it at home (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Narpak ( 961733 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:03PM (#24376925)
            Indeed. I was just presenting my perception about how when someone criticize the way things are done there is always someone popping up pointing out that parents need to get more involved. Which I agree with. Though it is no argument against improving the "none-parent" side of education.

            And there are children without parents, or with bad parents, and it's no reason that their education should suffer because their parents are irresponsible.

            In the end I reckon, and this is just an idea, that the educational system have to be able to comprehend that children, like people, are different. These differences means that some learn best from one method and others learn best from another; the goal should be to give each student (or group of students) the best education possible suited for their abilities, personality, genetic variation, or whatever factors are proven to have impact. Though it seems to me that if you speak of different needs many automatically assume that you somehow mean that some children have higher value than others. What I write about is simply trying to maximize effect by accepting the variations that exists in society. Forcing one model, and a flawed one at that, upon all students simply means that some will not be able to utilize their full potential. Which, in the end, is societies loss.
        • Re:Fix it at home (Score:5, Insightful)

          by edumacator ( 910819 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:36PM (#24378087)

          I'm a public school teacher like your friend. I tend to agree. I've recently been promoted to department chair and get to see even more of the stubbornness he's feeling. Part of the problem though is the schools of education at Universities are just as flawed as the schools themselves. Many of the new methods are simply reworking of old ones that justify a PhD's dissertation.

          I was (un)fortunate enough to have someone study my class for a book, because many of the things I was doing were similar to the concept she was putting forth in her book. Well, I finally got a copy of it, with the chapter marked that focused on my classroom. I'm glad she marked it because I wouldn't have recognized it if she hadn't.

          She blatantly manipulated the situations in the classroom to justify her own ideas. After speaking with some professors that I trust, and to other older colleagues, I found this behavior to be rampant in educational schools.

          The result, a system that doesn't trust itself. Higher learning scoffs at what is going on in the classrooms, and classroom teachers scoff at professors of education, because they are only trying to justify their own existence.

          But overall your friend is right. The systems are too entrenched. Really most teachers need to learn to be reflective. If something works, keep doing it. If it doesn't, try something else, and repeat.

          My favorite was when a professor taught a class on innovative teaching techniques at my grad school. He used an overhead projector and talked at us for two and a half hours...Yikes.

      • Impossible. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by maillemaker ( 924053 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:37PM (#24376555)

        >Do things right at school, and perhaps there won't be any need to get the parents involved.

        This simply is not possible.

        I used to be a huge proponent of "teacher accountability" until I shared a 7 hour plane ride with a teacher friend of mine.

        She explained the obvious to me.

        All students require motivation to learn. Most students are not self-motivated. Teachers lack the authority to instill motivation in their students through punitive means, and there are very few inspirational teachers. Thus for most students, their primary motivator is their parents.

        You can have the most intelligent teacher on the planet combined with the most patient, compassionate teacher on the planet - Albert Einstein crossed with Mother Theresa - and it won't matter a whit if the student is not motivated to learn.

        Some very few students are self-motivated. But by and large students require external motivation, and the only people with the authority to do that are parents. The days of teachers beating students into their studies are long gone. But not so for Mom and Dad.

        The single-most important thing to "Fix Education" is to increase parental involvement and stop the mentality that school is a place where you "send" your kids "to be educated". Too many people have come to view the educational system as a "service" - a place where you pay your taxes and then send your kids to be educated, with the whole burden of the process on the system. In fact, the system is merely the water - they can't force the kids to drink it. Only Mom and Dad have that power.

        Unless you are extremely lucky and find the rare self-motivated student you simply cannot remove parents from a successful edcuation.

        • Re:Impossible. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by wikinerd ( 809585 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:35PM (#24377341) Journal

          Most students are not self-motivated

          All children ask many "why" questions to their parents, showing evidence of curiosity. Science and scholarship begin from curiosity, and curiosity is the fuel of self-motivation. I think most if not all children have curiosity as a natural instinct, but something in our society destroys their curiosity and they cease to be self-motivated.

          The problem is not in the children's brains, but rather in our societies, our schools, our families, and how we treat our children. Something in our society kills the natural curiosity that all children have.

          Next time your child asks why the sky is blue or why GNU/Linux is cool, don't say "I have no time to tell you".

        • Re:Impossible. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by 10101001 10101001 ( 732688 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:47PM (#24377527) Journal

          Most students are not self-motivated.

          Correction. Most child are self-motivated to learn. They quickly learn that school isn't about self-motivated learning; it's about roting memorization and skill training, with proficiency measured on a seemingly arbitrary scale. The only means I can think of to resolve this problem is to start treating children like people. By that, I mean, to not only teach children the rote memorization and skills, but also to make it clear to them that (a) it's only part of a greater roadmap and (b) to actually *show* them that roadmap, with their help in making that roadmap.

          In short, the best way to improve a child's future prospects is to help a child forge their own future. Sometimes that means teaching them things they'd rather not have to work to learn. But, many times it means helping them find out what they desire and to use their own motivation to help them learn how they can better themselves as their prospects of doing what they already want to do.

          • I'm skeptical (Score:5, Interesting)

            by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @02:32AM (#24381259)
            I'm a medic, and I've seen parents try to talk three-year-olds into getting stitches or a shot. Doesn't work, because those kids lack the basic capacity to make that decision. 16-year-olds are, in my opinion, in much the same situation regarding their future. Kids, being people, are largely lazy. They don't have the context and experience to know that blowing off homework and studying to play Guitar Hero for 9 hours really is making a decision that, long-term, hurts them.

            This whole "engaging the kids" meme avoids the fact that there is only one acceptable outcome--study, learn, don't take the easy way out, etc. We are trying to SELL them on the idea, not involve them in the process of decision-making. That's inherently dishonest, because we're only pretending to give their preferences (which consist of sleeping, video games, and manga) equal weight in deciding what their priorities should be.

            Basically I think we're too nice to our kids. I'm not saying we should beat them (much), but I remember a conversation I had with a doctor I worked with (parents were Chinese) whose siblings also all had professional degrees. On a basic level, the kids all had the feeling that if they didn't do well in school their parents wouldn't love them anymore. It was never stated, but the feeling was there. Could I do that? No. But that inability translates into, if not academic mediocrity, then definitely a mentality that makes excellence a hypothetical option for my kids. They do well enough to get by, but there is no drive. I basically feel that I've let them down by being too nice.

        • Re:Impossible. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:48PM (#24377539) Homepage Journal

          The single-most important thing to "Fix Education" is to increase parental involvement and stop the mentality that school is a place where you "send" your kids "to be educated"

          The school has a curriculum and it will present its content to your children whether you like it or not (unless you home school them.) You can send them to a really and truly private (thus expensive) school and perhaps avoid it, and get them a good education.

          The school is a place where your children are sent to be indoctrinated. Some good teachers exist, and will try to give you information that you need rather than simply what is in the standardized test. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in the day. One teacher I know would need something like 45 more minutes in the school day in order to spend the amount of time required to be allocated for each task if everything went perfectly throughout the course of the day. Heh heh.

          Unless you are extremely lucky and find the rare self-motivated student you simply cannot remove parents from a successful edcuation.

          Unless you are extremely lucky and can either home school or send your children to a private school you simply cannot avoid having your children damaged by public education.

          There is no single most important thing to do to fix education; I agree wholeheartedly that parents need to be involved in the process, whatever it is, beyond shipping their children off to school like so many cattle.

          • Re:Impossible. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by DeadChobi ( 740395 ) <> on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:43PM (#24378153)

            One other interesting idea that I've seen repeatedly, at least coming from good teachers, is the idea of using the education system as a practicum for methods of learning. Teaching students how to learn is the single most important thing teachers can do in the 21st century, especially considering how fast the quantity of information neccessary to get good and interesting jobs is increasing. There's a good chance that those historical anecdotes won't serve much of a purpose beyond making one sound well informed, but if those anecdotes also came with an improved ability to reflect on and integrate lessons learned, than the students who studied those anecdotes are better equipped to reflect on things that happened to them in the past.

            It's not neccessarily the curriculum that needs to change, but rather our concept of what's important.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by WeirdJohn ( 1170585 )

              MOD PARENT UP!

              The only flaw is that curriculum does need to change. The phrase often used is "Curriculum is like a graveyard - more and more goes in yet very little goes out". When I was in High School as a senior, I had 6 subjects in total. I had maths and English every day, and Physics, Engineering Science and Chemistry 4 times a week. I had one period of PE per week, and 2 hours sport. I sat in a maths class 7 hours a week, and my English class 5.

              Now students may do upwards of 12 to 14 subjects in t

        • Re:Impossible. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by apoc.famine ( 621563 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .enimaf.copa.> on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:45PM (#24378179) Journal
          As a HS science teacher who likes to hear himself talk, let me give you my current viewpoint:

          School in the US is hampered by a few things:

          1) The entrenched educational system itself.
          2) A deep seated fear of lawsuits leading to coddling and oversensitivity.
          3) The students themselves.
          4) The teacher education and certifications programs in the US.

          The entrenchment of the US educational system is so deep that we are very unlikely to overturn it for anything short of a complete meltdown. The culture of traditional schooling is deep seated through three generations of Americans, and the vast majority of them feel that this is the "proper" way to educate students. These individuals include the administration, teachers, school board members, and, most unfortunately, the voters.

          Our culture off litigation is such that our schools are now paralyzed by it. Schools run with 0 overhead. They have no savings, investments, or major assets. If they are sued, that money comes DIRECTLY from the pockets of the communities that fund them through taxes. With this threat over their heads, schools will do ANYTHING to avoid even the hint of a lawsuit. They will graduate students who haven't met the requirements, let convicted criminals come back and mingle with the rest of their classmates, avoid pressing charges against students, waive ineligibility for sports due to grades, felonies, or substance abuse, etc.

          This fear of lawsuits drives our schooling today. Corporal punishment is out, due to a fear of a lawsuit. Public humiliation is out due to a fear of a lawsuit. Suspensions are limited, due to fears of lawsuits. Expulsions are rare, due to fears of a lawsuit. Discipline is lax at best, due to the fear of a lawsuit. On top of this, we continue to force the same curriculum on every student, once again, due to the fear of a lawsuit. And to make matters even worse, our ability to reward achievement and differentiate excellence is rapidly diminishing....want to guess why? LAWSUITS!!! It's the word of the decade.

          The combination of lax discipline, untargeted and generic curricula, and less and less rewards for performances means that few students can really be engaged with the curriculum. Most of the students themselves do not see a major value in school. While some are curious, and view the educational system as a doorway to the universe, most see as it as an opportunity to climb some social ladder. Due to my other three reasons, we as teachers are not able to motivate students well at all.

          The final issue is our teacher preparation programs. I attended a state meeting about our low standardized test scores. I was brave enough to ask all the assembled elementary school teachers (some 200 or so) how many had a minor or major in math. Out of the 200, there were four hands. It's no WONDER our math scores are low, and that we struggle to teach science.

          To teach elementary school, teachers need a BA in something, and an education degree. That's it. There is no requirement for some basic math and science classes, much less basic math and science EDUCATION classes. Why is this? Because most of the Education Professors at our colleges....don't have math or science degrees. They have Education degrees. Why? Because it makes no sense to hire someone to teach Education classes who doesn't have a degree in Education. And who makes those decisions? The Education Department in each school, which is made up of people with Education.

          During one of our many pointless staff meetings a year or two ago I "solved" our education problems. Here's the itemized list as compiled by two science teachers:

          1) Elementary teachers need to have a minor in every subject they are to teach. No more monoculture of a million English teachers teaching elementary schol.
          2) Elementary school education remains largely the same. But by 9th grade we begin to organize students by trade. By "trade" I mean: College bound, military bound, trade school/certification bound, unsk
        • by DesScorp ( 410532 ) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:24PM (#24378569) Homepage Journal

          "The days of teachers beating students into their studies are long gone. But not so for Mom and Dad."

          Try taking a paddle to Junior in some states... it's an instant trip to jail for Dad, and a legal nightmare with "children's advocate groups" and the state's department of social services bringing down lawyers on the parents. You don't even need real proof to arrest a parent for abuse anymore, just an accusation. It's getting to the point that corporal punishment of any kind, no matter how appropriate, is being banned "for the children".

    • Re:Fix it at home (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lgw ( 121541 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:01PM (#24375951) Journal

      "Get the parents involved" is nice, but it's also passing the buck. Plenty of parents saw no value in education in their own lives, and discourage their kids from wasting their time. That's going to take generations to fix.

      Meanwhile, we can still do a better job of teaching science (mostly in making kids interested in science). Perhaps the only way to get the parents involved is to teach this generation that science isn't jsut a waste of time, so that they encourage thier kids in turn.

      The simple fact is, our school system was designed originally to produce good manufacturing workers, but there's no future in manufacturing. While people have long been whining about manufacturing jobs going overseas, the truth is more jobs are lost to automation than to cheap labor pools.

      We need to be training designers and engineers with the talent to compete in the world market, but our pre-college (and increasingly our undergraduate) school system still de-emphasises critical thinking and abstract problem solving. We need to recognize that these abstract skills are quite practical: they are the jobs that will exist when everything else is automated!

      • Re:Fix it at home (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:16PM (#24376197) Journal

        Meanwhile, we can still do a better job of teaching science (mostly in making kids interested in science). Perhaps the only way to get the parents involved is to teach this generation that science isn't jsut a waste of time, so that they encourage thier kids in turn.

        Replace science with english/history/math/social studies/foreign languages/etc etc etc and you still have the same problem.

        If you don't take a holistic approach to 'fixing' education, you're just going to end up with more failure all around. To make a car analogy: you can upgrade a part (science) but when the whole car (the public education system) is beat up, you're just going to have some other part fail you.

        • Re:Fix it at home (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:08PM (#24376971) Homepage Journal

          Absolutely. IMHO, the biggest problem with schools is that students are assumed to be incapable of making decisions on their own, and thus, the schools treat everyone identically as though they were all of median intelligence, all had identical interests, etc. Among other things, this means that people below the median intelligence can't keep up, fall behind, and are unable to get the extra help they need, while people above the median get bored out of their minds as they have their time wasted with ten times as much homework as the other students (but always more of the same crap) just to keep them busy.

          A real approach to education reform starts by recognizing that every child is different, every child has different needs, different motivating forces operating on him/her, different interests in different areas, etc., then tailoring the educational program in such a way that children of similar levels of ability and interests are grouped together. You then take it one step further and have teacher-student conferences with each student at the end of the year to find out what things the student liked and didn't like. By late elementary school, students should be helping plan their own curriculum, with core classes plus a range of optional classes that they can choose from. And so on.

          It drove me nuts throughout school that I had to waste time learning the same things over and over again. I took a test and got out of U.S. history in college. It covered pretty much the same thing that we covered in U.S. history in high school, which in turn pretty much covered the same thing as U.S. history in junior high. Mindlessly repeating the same content over and over does not promote learning except for people who have trouble learning. For the rest of us, the high school class was a colossal waste of about 200 hours of my life that could have been spent learning something we hadn't already learned but for the fact that taking it was required to attend the universities.

          As for choosing our curriculum, that really didn't happen until college. In high school, our choices were basically whether we took French or Spanish, whether we took an AP version of a couple of classes or not, and which science we took. To a large extent, the math curriculum was dictated by whether you took algebra in junior high or not, though there was the option of taking a year off. Not much choice, in any case---the sequence was pretty much planned out in strict order in spite of the fact that none of the higher level math courses really depended on each other beyond requiring an understanding of basic algebra. Everything else was pretty much nailed down ahead of time. You could choose which year you took the classes, but you still had a very fixed list of classes that very nearly added up to a full four years without giving you much choice in what you took. That just plain sucks.

          Give students the option to be an active participant in the education process---from choosing the curriculum to leading discussions---and you will find that they are more involved, more attentive, more interested, and more capable of learning efficiently---far more so than the passive participants that today's students are forced to be.

      • Re:Fix it at home (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:34PM (#24376501) Homepage Journal

        "Get the parents involved" is nice, but it's also passing the buck.

        No, anything other than "get the parents involved" is passing the buck.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bill_kress ( 99356 )

          Involving parents means that you are giving up on a large number of children. Many have parents that won't get involved, and many don't have parents or have some that won't have anything to do with the children.

          Your solution is that the world needs uneducated workers too?

          I agree parents should be involved, in fact they can be much more effective than the school as it is now, but again--what's your plan for the rest?

      • Science education (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DesScorp ( 410532 )

        "Meanwhile, we can still do a better job of teaching science (mostly in making kids interested in science). Perhaps the only way to get the parents involved is to teach this generation that science isn't jsut a waste of time, so that they encourage thier kids in turn."

        While I'm all for improving science and math education, I have a problem with a push to get more kids on a math and science track by fiat. I've come to the opinion that in any population, only X number of kids are going to be interested in tho

    • by Pinky's Brain ( 1158667 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:05PM (#24376015)

      The fucking article is about college level education.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by El Cubano ( 631386 )

      How Do You Fix Education?

      Get the parents more involved. For kids, school should be akin to their 9-5 job. In order to excel they need to put the time in at home, and the only people that can help instill that discipline are the parents.

      I still think that the best way to "fix" education is to get the government out of it. The chief problem with education as it stands today is that it is nothing more than government provided day care to most people.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by b4upoo ( 166390 )

      I'm sorry but parents are one of the greatest problems that murder education.
      If you disagree just try to teach in a situation where your job is on the line if you don't find a way to declare that every kid is Einstein. Parents call all kinds of politicians and officials and even if the kid is dumb as a rock and beyond all educational efforts they want that kid promoted and honored. The sad truth is you create great schools by tossing kids out on their

  • War on science (Score:5, Insightful)

    by backslashdot ( 95548 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:50PM (#24375727)

    How can education be fixed when their is a war on critical thinking? Its better for those in power to rule by sound bites, innuendos, and accusations that appear credible enough to be believed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:51PM (#24375755)
    Becuase to fix education is to admit that some kids are either smarter or work harder than others. Some are going to be left behind, and others will go on and learn to their full potential, but law makers can't tell that to parents. My mother has taught for about 30 years, and in her words, the problem is almost never the students, it's the parents.
  • Vouchers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by footNipple ( 541325 ) <footnipple@india ... minus poet> on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:51PM (#24375761)
    A US$3,000.00 per student/per year federal voucher will fix education very quickly.
    • Re:Vouchers (Score:5, Interesting)

      by aztracker1 ( 702135 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:07PM (#24376039) Homepage
      I don't think a voucher system will improve education on its' own... I do feel the to some extent it would be a very good thing, as it could/would increase competition in education, and raise standards dramatically in urban areas, where the number of students available are larger, and systems of scale become more reasonable.

      On the flip side, I don't think it will help near as much in more rural communities. Also, many students don't work well in online/homeschool environments. I think having the option is a good thing overall though.

      My son was home-schooled last year via an online charter school, and did very well, much better than the local school district (in a fairly rural community). However of my friends/family with children of school age, I don't think most of the children would respond nearly as well to that environment.

      I think the biggest problem is too much funding is lost in bureaucracy instead of higher salaries for teachers... to be honest, I think a lot of teachers today probably don't deserve more pay, but more money needs to be offered to bring in those that may not have otherwise considered teaching. As a senior programmer, I make about 3-4x what the average the average teacher in my state makes. I honestly don't think that this is right. I feel that probably 1/5 of our teachers should be rotated out annually... have "teaching" programs for professionals, you spend 2 years as a T/A (all classes should have two instructors, one main, one TA, and a parent in daily, imho). After that year, the TA would take primary on a class, then after a couple years as the main instructor, go back into the private sector. There are some good instances of lifetime teachers... but imho these are too far and few between, and I'd rather see "fresh" teachers come in, and out in a relatively short period. And it should be an honor, to have served as an instructor for said 4 year engagement.

      The problem seems to be, that the various educational systems seem to be dedicated to hiring trained "teachers" who don't have much, if any specialty, instead of people who are good at their professions who want to spend a few years teaching.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Gwyn_232 ( 585793 )

        This is how it works in the army (the British one at least). I'm not sure about infantry, but in the 'support' trades the instructors are the top few % of soldiers who spend a 2 year posting as an instructor. It works well because as well as their professional knowledge they also teach from a broad base of experience, and always have plenty of anecdotes to back up what they're teaching. They also command much more respect from the recruits because they have real-world experience and they are the end product

    • Bullcrap. (Score:3, Insightful)

      Let the poor get even poorer education, let the poorest be locked out of education entirely, let the rich monopolize the best resources, let the wealth gap grow even more obscenely.

      Sorry, "the free market", which never really existed in the first place, is not a panacea for social ills, and in the case of services labelled "public necessity" will exacerbate them.

      For a real world example of what privatization of schools will do, see: the current US broadband market.

      • Our metro areas already have drop out rates from 30-50%. It's time to open our minds to alternatives instead of covering our ears, closing our eyes, and shouting, "No free markets! No free markets!"

        The wealth gap in the US is small enough that the richest quintile only outspend the poorest quintile by about 2.1 to 1. That's not really an obscene difference. Link. []

      • by Dobeln ( 853794 ) on Tuesday July 29, 2008 @05:12AM (#24382051)

        The problem with the US broadband market is that competition isn't free enough - especially because you seem to have pathetic DSL offerings, due to poor legislation on copper access.

        Here in Sweden (although we still have access problems due to the state-owned Telia still dominating copper access) we have seen much healthier DSL competition, due to freer competition in copper-access to homes.

        This in turn helps keep cable and fiber offerings honest. In the last few years, the addition of fast 3G connections has also intensified the competition.

        Interestingly, Sweden also has a rather innovative system for increasing competition and choice in education. However, it is important not to overestimate the gains that can be had from more choice in education. Indeed - people seriously overestimate the effectiveness of virtually all possible educational reforms in rich countries. But that's a topic for another day.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by maraist ( 68387 ) *

      Yes, and the corruption that produces charter schools with nothing more than a compelling business plan, would leave about 5 years of stolen money from the public school system. Roughly the amount of time before local governments could prove several of the recently created local charter schools were either scams or hyper-mismanaged.

      This isn't a take against charter/private schools, it's a take against a MASSIVE slosh of funding thrown towards a specific target with lots of creative minds in a capitalist so

    • by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:15PM (#24376179)

      This is about as worthy of a "+5: Insightful" as a post can be.

      In the 1960s, we used to have parades that celebrated astronauts. Let me say this again - we had PARADES... for... ROCKET SCIENTISTS... To become one was something that was considered the height of a child's aspirations. No wonder we were sending people to the moon with a pocket calculator and a roll of duct tape.

      And what are we left with now - an utter disdain for anyone and anything that displays the traits of having even a shade of reason. Even more importantly, we've managed to "democratize" science. The "intelligent design", "vaccines and autism", and "global warming is a myth" campaigns are only the tip of the iceberg of targeted ignorance, that aims to teach the public, and especially the younger generation, that on one hand science is a mysterious black art, to be feared and distrusted, and on the other, it's little more than a game of weak, impotent men and women, that can be played by anyone... a medium where all voices are equal.

      As a result, we have a number of situations, where people's beliefs are shaped not by scientific fact, but by whoever screams the loudest. Add to that an overall atmosphere of distrust of "the system", and you have a society where scientific "rogues" that spout senile and frequently openly fallacious concepts, are treated as heroes by much of the population.

      How can we hope to fix education in such circumstances?!

      Not to rant further, but the other major problem we've run into, that must be resolved if our educational system is to be salvaged, is one of unrealistic expectations. When kids dreamed of being "rocket scientists" in the 60s, it was understood that not everyone was going to achieve this dream. Which was more of a reason to pursue it! Instead, we now say that everyone must go to college, and everyone must achieve an X level of educations, which is... let's face it... unrealistic. But what these expectations HAVE done, is devalue higher learning, by trying to push everyone into the same bracket. And since you certainly can't raise the expectations for people who simply cannot meet them, we just lowered the bar for everyone, most likely leading many talented kids off the right path. In terms of primary education, there have probably been few policies as harmful as "no child left behind".

      If we didn't acquire this dream of equality of mental condition, and didn't fight so hard to accomplish it, perhaps we would have less problems with education, and less 2 (and even 4-) year colleges with a level of education that does not even meet high school requirements.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by curunir ( 98273 ) *

        In the 1960s, we used to have parades that celebrated astronauts. Let me say this again - we had PARADES... for... ROCKET SCIENTISTS

        While I agree with the overall premise of your post, I think this is a flawed example to draw upon.

        While it's true that most of the original astronauts had degrees in some scientific area, what the country was celebrating was much more related to their backgrounds as test pilots and military aviators. There were no parades for the engineers who accepted Kennedy's ambitious chal

      • by DesScorp ( 410532 )

        "In the 1960s, we used to have parades that celebrated astronauts. Let me say this again - we had PARADES... for... ROCKET SCIENTISTS... To become one was something that was considered the height of a child's aspirations. No wonder we were sending people to the moon with a pocket calculator and a roll of duct tape."

        We never had parades for "rocket scientists".

        We had parades for astronauts, people that "rocket scientists" claimed weren't even neccessary for the space program. Werner Von Braun and his team in

  • A fair shake? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TornCityVenz ( 1123185 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:55PM (#24375837) Homepage Journal
    "from bureaucrats who like education the way it is ".. really? do they? I have yet to meet one that does. However there seems to be a lot of argueing going on about what paperwork needs to be filed to get it changed, how that will documented, judged and administrated. Seriously one of the first things that needs to be done is to pay teachers a living wage so we can attract better talent to change the way the teaching is done. Don't get me wrong there are some GREAT teachers out there, who god bless them manage to hang in there despite everything. But take a look at the budget someday and ask yourself if schools are really getting a fair shake. You can change anything you want but unless teachers can be paid competative wages with other avenues they could take their talents to are our kids getting the best?
  • Unschooling (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mateo_LeFou ( 859634 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:55PM (#24375845) Homepage
    Look it up if you have to. Failing that, how about some sort of cost-benefit analysis of the time spent in yr average public school (hint: most ppl I know agree that over 2/3 of school time is wasted.)
  • hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld AT gmail DOT com> on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:58PM (#24375901) Homepage
    get a fair shake from bureaucrats who like education the way it is -- flawed and therefore always needing more money?

    I know I'll be in the minority here on slashdot for saying this, but society isn't divided into us (virtuous, intelligent, benevolent, and wise) and them (stupid, malicious, dishonest, and greedy). I think there are very few bureaucrats twirling their moustaches and gleefully chortling over the failures of the modern educational system. One of the symptoms of the failure of education is lack of critical thinking and objective reasoning, and one of the hallmarks of that is the kneejerk reaction that every bureaucrat is by nature evil and dishonest.
    • This is standard for any large group though. Most people at Microsoft don't want to write a bad operating system. Even the higher level managers all the way up. The problem comes not in the bureaucrats, but in the bureaucracy. The old saying being, "The path to hell is lined with good intentions."

    • by Krishnoid ( 984597 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:16PM (#24376199) Journal

      one of the hallmarks of that is the kneejerk reaction that every bureaucrat is by nature evil and dishonest.

      I had a conversation with an insurance lobbyist on a flight to Boston a couple years ago. She has a lot of dealings with state and federal senators and congresscritters, so I asked her what were the things she discovered in her interactions with them that came as a surprise. Three of them were:

      • Most of the time, the sens/reps really actually want to do the right thing, the same way you do.
      • She did have influence over them as a lobbyist, but when they already had an reason to vote one way or another on a bill -- whether they make it clear overtly or not -- there wasn't anything she could do to change their minds, and with experience, she could kind of tell.
      • For bills that a sen/rep could go one way or another on, as few as three handwritten letters could cause them to revisit the issue.

      The first one is relevant here, but the last one has been on my mind since then. Slashpac, anyone?

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:03PM (#24375989)

    The bureaucrats like things the way they are because it leaves things in a crisis mode that they benefit from. The solution is to break apart the government's de facto monopoly on education K-12 so that there is a competitive marketplace for education.

    Academic surveys have shown time and again that the majority of the people who are drawn to education are the bottom of the barrel of college students. Most of them are education majors, and they consistently tend to score in the bottom 5 of all majors with SAT and GPA scores from their high schools. If you want to fix that, and get higher quality educators, you are going to have to allow the market to create the incentives needed to make people of that level of intellect and talent desired to go into this profession.

  • by Pinky's Brain ( 1158667 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:09PM (#24376085)

    Very nicely constructed post to show how no one reads the articles.

  • by LaminatorX ( 410794 ) <sabotage.praecantator@com> on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:13PM (#24376149) Homepage

    1:Smaller class sizes!

    2:Less memorization, more critical thinking and analysis.

    3:Less passive listening and watching, more discussion and experiment (think Socarates).

    None of these need tons of computers or facilities or whatever. What they do need are more teachers, and less burnout.

  • by Scorpinox ( 479613 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:15PM (#24376171)

    I had the privilege of taking a quantum mechanics course from Carl Weiman 2 years ago while he was teaching at the University of Colorado. It was by far the best college course I've taken, he had the perfect mix of well versed lecturing with "clicker" quizzes throughout the class, homework that was appropriate for the material, and tests which rewarded understanding of the material and not memorization.

    The best part really was that by the end of the course, he gave his lecture on Bose Einstein Condensate which he won the Nobel prize for, and all the students could understand what he was talking about from learning things throughout the semester, it was incredibly rewarding.

    Compare that to my next physics courses which were basically applied calculus, except they left out the important part of what the **** any of it meant and how it applied to... anything really. His course overshadowed the rest of my physics courses and in the end, because of the huge disparity in teaching styles, made the rest of my studies quite grating and rather uninteresting.

  • by Zak3056 ( 69287 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:26PM (#24376379) Journal

    I think the biggest thing that can be done to "fix" education would be to make it the primary focus of schools! I'm all for extra curricular activities, but it seems that in many places in the US, those are treated as far, far, more important that actual learning. Sports is a great example of how the focus in schools has been taken off of education.

    Another thing would be to stop trying to make everyone equal, and allow faster students to excel instead of teaching to the lowest common denominator.

  • by NerveGas ( 168686 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:31PM (#24376455)

    It's that kids don't care. The vast majority of kids don't really care about science, it's neither fun nor interesting to them.

    And to make it worse, even if they're interested in science, once they realize that it involves that oh-so-dreaded subject, MATH, then you're sure to run off most of the rest.

    In fact, one of the largest criticisms of math courses (which is, in some respects, quite true) is that the majority of people who learn it will never use 99% of what they learn in there.

    Hmm... maybe they should teach math and science together. Get the kids excited about a thing, then teach them the math behind it. Hmmm....

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by demachina ( 71715 )

      "The vast majority of kids don't really care about science, it's neither fun nor interesting to them."

      You forgot to mention that while science, engineering and teaching pay better than factory worker, the pay sucks compared to corporate executive, marketeer, stock broker and lawyer. Unfortunately Capitalism in general and American in particular rewards the fields that suck most directly at the teat of capitalism. If you manage to invent something awesome, get the patents in your name and successfully sell

  • by catdevnull ( 531283 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:32PM (#24376473)

    There is this silly competition mentality in higher ed--competing for being bigger and badder. Everything is becoming so "corporate" in culture.

    There is an unhealthy arena of competition for grants and research funding that puts the focus on the research track instead of education. The competition manifests itself by the universities pushing a "brand name" and trying to become larger.

    In the end, the university becomes an entity who doesn't care about the student but rather its reputation and rankings in magazines.

    This is kind of a problem that stems from the new breed of philanthropy that really isn't philanthropy--it's advertising and marketing for the donors. The development departments are getting suckered into making these silly deals with donors (especially corporate donors) that places the focus on promotional consideration for the donor rather than the spirit of the cause.

    Small schools with low ratios from teacher to student are probably the best way to go to maximize your exposure in the apprentice model.

  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:36PM (#24376531)

    I went to public schools with kids who had marginal skills at reading and math. Rather than passing them along and bogging down the education of kids doing well, don't pass them until they're actually meeting standards. Note, I am NOT talking about burning time on standardized testing. I'm talking about teachers being given more leverage to hold slow kids back. I think this is a big motivator for a kid to do better (as well as a confidence builder the second time around). This is based on my anecdotal knowledge, not science so I could be very wrong here.

    If kids can't cut it after say 2 or 3 grades being held back, give them some some early out like a GED program say after the 10th grade. It's sad to see high school kids who can barely read because our education system isn't strict enough about standards.

    I think by enforcing performance for passing, you'll also be able to increase the level of work being done at higher grades.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:37PM (#24376559) Journal

    I've found that there's a fundamental conflict in place. The improve something you generally need some way to measure the improvement. Without measurement, either slack and/or bad processes will creep into the picture.

    However, the easier it is to objectively measure a skill, the more likely that skill is to be offshored or automated. Repetitious and well-documented (commodity) skills drift away from the US work-force to machines or 3rd-world labor.

    If we use subjective approaches in order to stay ahead of the automation/offshore curve, then bias sneaks in, resulting in inconsistencies and political squabbles.

    These two contradictory forces push and pull against each other: measurement against flexibility. I don't think there's any easy fix. Staying on the cutting edge requires risk and experimentation. Education is no different. Do we want measurable cookie-cutter skills that are likely to become obsolete, adaptability that is slippery to measure and manage, or something in-between?

  • by SpaceMika ( 867804 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:47PM (#24376705)
    The Initiative is already being rolled out. I'm at one of the first-round target schools [] in a department that won CWSEI funding, and have been involved in several of the curriculum-revision committees.

    CWSEI is focused on undergraduate science education, both for science students and non-science students. The general plans is:
    1. Articulate what we want students to learn
    2. Figure out what they're actually learning
    3. Fix things
    4. Share everything that works with other department/schools

    Step 1 has been pretty easy for the courses I've been involved with revising, although it can get pretty funny to see different schools of thought battling it out over what matters most (facts? ability to apply in novel situations? general "science" mindset? problem-solving?)

    Step 2 is a bit of a nightmare, but is necessary to figure out if you're actually being effective or not (Step 2 & 3 are iterative until satisfactory, then progress to Step 4). How do you effectively test comprehension vs test taking-ability vs fact retention? It's a bit easier to fix the "Did we teach them or did they already know?" by doing before-and-after tests, but that still doesn't eliminate the keeners going out and self-teaching (no bad prof has ever defeated my desire to learn!)

    Step 3 is also a challenge -- in big classes (Natural Disasters can have up to 400 students) it's almost impossible to have one-on-one interactions, they're undergrads so presumably parental-involvement isn't key for learning, the TA-hours to do good grading of neat projects is prohibitive, etc. This is where tech solutions come in: if everyone takes immediate multiple-choice quizzes throughout via clickers, or has to talk with their neighbours to decide on an answer, then we've got them interacting/thinking/talking inside class hours. ...kinda lame so far, but if you've got good ideas that fit within our ridiculous budget, I promise I'll try 'em out!

    For Step 4, what works? U Colorado's physics department was where Carl started this idea, so they've got some pretty cool toys [] that help students practice concepts they heard in lecture even outside of lab sections. As for my department, no solutions yet...
  • by buddyglass ( 925859 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:03PM (#24376919)

    From the article:

    The lecture model, while conducive to transfer of simple information, loses much of the individualized challenging exercises and feedback that is a critical part of the apprenticeship model for acquiring complex problem solving skills.

    This assumes that "complex problem solving skills" are something that can be effectively "taught". My anecdotal experience is that by the time students arrive at university, their possession (or lack) of "complex problem solving skills" is already largely fixed, and isn't likely to change significantly.

  • by greymond ( 539980 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:16PM (#24377073) Homepage Journal

    ITT wee hav da bess sisstem n da unyvers, I do ok.

  • by ricegf ( 1059658 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:17PM (#24377087) Journal

    Clearly the problem is under-funding and too little involvement of the federal government in schools, leading to under-performing students.

    We need to create a full cabinet-level Department of Education, give it control of school curriculum, and load it up with money to fund endless studies of how to improve American education.

    Oh, wait...

  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:45PM (#24377509) Homepage Journal

    As such at college level there needs to be a way to separate the cream of the crop from the rest of the class.

    The simple fact is, we are not created equal nor do we apply ourselves equally regardless of our ability.

    Yet education is beset with claims of racism should one group do poorly compared to another regardless of the subject. As such schools have to dumb it down because if they did separate someone would take offense, even if they were not directly affected. Too many people are of the belief that they have the right to not be offended and that means not being called sub par compared to their fellows.

    So how do you fix it? Take politics out of education. Take favoritism other than by demonstrated ability out of college. This might mean having two types of degrees for the same course. You could award a minor bonus to gpa for taking and succeeding at the harder level or grant more hours or even shorten the length of the classes.

    One last area, reduce the effect of tenure even it means getting rid of it. It allows some real idiots to persist simply because they "have done their time". Professors who pontificate about politics instead of the subject at hand, provided they even bother to show for the course.

    Still to fix college your going to have to fix public schools too.

  • by BCW2 ( 168187 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:57PM (#24377675) Journal
    Think I'm kidding? My Mom taught in public schools for 24 years, my Dad was a Professor for 30. When I graduated High School (1974) every teacher had a degree in what they taught and a minor in "Education". The NEA lobby got every state to require an "Education" degree to be allowed to teach. Now we have big "Education" Departments at Universities turning out people that might (and I do mean might) know how to teach but the students are lucky if the teacher has a minor in what they teach. See the problem? It applies to every subject, not just the Sciences.
  • by Coolhand2120 ( 1001761 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:32PM (#24378045)
    How to fix education in 4 easy steps

    1. Make going to school non-compulsory
    Kids that don't want to be in school, who have parents that don't care if they are in school, do not need to go to school. They are nothing but a distraction for the kids who want to learn. Any teacher will tell you one disruptive student will ruin the class for everyone. Public schools in the U.S. force kids who have no discipline go to school, then they are surprised when they don't listen to the teachers. The kids know the teachers can nothing to discipline them, the kids know their parents will do nothing to discipline them. I fail to see the disincentive to goof off in class here, and so do the kids, so they will goof off. Schools do not need these children and in public schools, not only do they have to go, but the public schools want them to go so that make that ever important buck from the federal and state government, education be damned. I personally know more than one teacher who cannot kick a particular kid out of their class because the school administrators tell them they can't.

    2. Privatize
    There is a ratio of teachers to administrators in all schools, public or private. An administrator would be like a vice principal, guidance councilor, text book researcher, sensitivity director. In a private school, the ratio is about 1:7 in public schools it's almost 1:1 []. Meaning for every teacher there is an administrator. And every time someone says "there's something wrong with our schools" they just tac on more administrators in a blind attempt to "fix" the problem. Administrators fix nothing, ever. Which leads me to..

    3. Do away with tenure and teachers unions
    The idea that teachers unions somehow are for kids has got to be the biggest lie I've ever heard. Teachers unions are for, teachers. Some people didn't know this, but if you've worked in the LAUSD for more than 3 years you cannot be fired for anything short of molesting a child, it's called tenure. Tenure is for, teachers. There is no way you can argue that keeping poor teachers (tenure) or keeping teachers that have broken the rules (teachers unions) somehow helps the kids. With these two "protective" organization are in place it takes an act of god to get rid of poor teachers. There are no teacher's unions in private schools and the level of education you get in a private school by far exceeds that in a public school. Without tenure, without teacher's unions. So at the very least it's proof that excellence does not require tenure or unions. And there is a strong argument that they do more harm than good.

    4. Allow parents to take their kids out of failing schools.
    I think it's a travesty that the government is going to force parents to place kids into school that they know are going to be a bad influence on the child. Parents should be able to send their child to whatever school that is reasonably in their area. It's so bad that people actually buy houses in order to get their kids sent to a particular school, and I guess for those who can't afford to move or afford a private school... to bad? That's just wrong. If we are going to be forced to pay for schools we should at least be able to select which one we're going to send our kids too, or at least let us get our money back so we can send them to a private school. The only obstacle that stops this 'voucher' system is the teachers unions. I would love to hear how the lack of a voucher system helps kids, because I'm pretty sure it only helps teachers at failing schools.

    I have no belief that any of these things will change, teachers unions are far to powerful. It a huge union with almost limitless money, but it's a self perpetuating bureaucracy with the honest belief that teachers should be paid more than any other profession in the world. More than doctors, lawyers etc.. no matter how much anyone else thinks teachers deserve.
  • by anwyn ( 266338 ) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:49PM (#24378229)

    The usage of the word education has evolved to mean a mechanical process whereby an institution can add knowledge and wisdom to an individual, like QuickLube changing your oil.

    Teachers are taught that they can "motivate" students, that is, make them want something the institution wants them to want.

    It is all part of the scientific pretensions of the academic "Education departments".

    Let us replace this false belief in institutional "education" with the original concept of "learning".

    It used to be that a person with knowledge and wisdom was called "learned".

    Teachers should be thought of as helpers who assist those who want to learn, rather that god like knowledge creators who apply some "educational" algorithm.

    Teachers should stop trying to teach a pig to sing, it wastes your time and annoys the pig. Instead, they should assist those with the desire and ability to learn.

    Perhaps the best example of this is mathematics. Many (perhaps most) people lack the ability to do mathematics beyond what can be done by a calculator. Instead of egalitarian, futile attempts to turn these people into Eulers, teachers should focus on those with actual math ability. Civilization only needs a few people with the ability to do mathematics, the rest are incapable of it.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford