Friday, January 16, 2009

Problems With Education

This may not be the problem with education today, but it is certainly a problem.

Disregarding the kids who see no value in school whatsoever--and contrary to any legislation, these kids cannot be changed--even those who see at least some value in education suffer from two all too common ailments.

First of all, too many students think that "education" amounts to a memorization of facts to be regurgitated on quizzes/tests/exams.

Second of all, too many students think that the purpose of an education is to prepare themselves for careers.

I disagree with both of these all-too-common assumptions.

While the learning of certain facts is essential for education, a good education goes farther to explore epistemological concepts--thinking strategies. For instance, let's say that you wish to teach students more advanced mathematics or grammar.

It is necessary that the students memorized certain formulas or definitions/rules in grammar. However, that is not enough.

They need to be able to take such axioms and apply them.

This is why students have a hard time, say, finding the area of a rectangle. Sure, they might know by heart that they need to figure LxW, but give them a diagram, and tell them to do so. See what happens to at least a third of them.

Similarly, students can easily memorize that direct objects are always nouns or pronouns. They also seem to be able to memorize that a direct object follows an action verb and identifies what receives the action of the verb. However, give them a sentence, and tell them to find the direct object, and far too many of them fail to do so.

Why is this? It's because we live in a culture that embraces the assumption of knowledge, but not the investigations/thinking processes that lead to knowledge.

This explains why so many believe all of the global warming nonsense. They know the "facts" that they've learned (or at least heard and assumed to be facts), and without thinking accept the stated conclusions of the so-called "experts" who stand to profit from their conclusions.

We are in an age when asking questions is more pernicious than just accepting "facts."

We are in an age when Stalin should have been born and thrived.

I see no hope in the up-and-coming inauguration. I see more of the same, if not worse.

Why so? Because I'm a glass half-empty kind?

No, because I'm a thinking kind. We've never before been introduced.

And what's with this idea that all young people can be equally educated? If you've ever met anyone smarter than you--or dumber than you--than you know how ridiculous is our approach to education.

The proponents of universal public education claim that completely private education would neglect many people.

Might these be the same people who fail nonetheless under the system of universal public education?


  1. BAR w/ too much time11:29 PM

    Explain your idea of complete private education more, for those who have not discussed it with you before. You're leaving too much out to make a strong point.

    Somehow, the U.S. survived for a long time before mandating that all children go to school 180 days per year. Still today, there are some that barely make 90 days a year. They tend to be the 16-year-old 7th graders named Kassab.

    Maybe the old fear of young people with too much idle time and not enough work to do would resurface if most of them weren't in school.

    I wish we as teachers had more discretion as to who we would allow to pass. Is passing 7 classes with D-s really showing you're ready for the next level? Perhaps if there was less of a stigma about holding students back when they don't meet expectations, then we wouldn't have a class with some students aceing every test or assignments and others that fail everything. Whether it's a maturity issue, emotional problem, domestic hurdle, whatever, students should not move on until they can demonstrate the application of the knowledge they were supposed to gain. In other words, I'm tired of getting students in junior high who can barely read and think even less. Let them sit in kindergarten and eat glue until they realize that there's more to learn. Those who choose to stay in kindergarten can become sign-holders for MDOT when they turn 18. Pay them minimum wage. Sorry to offend if anyone has a relative working for MDOT, but seriously. How hard is that sign-holding job? How much do they get paid? How is the value of that service determined to ensure the wage matches the value?

  2. Golf Guy9:12 PM

    A professor at Wayne State once said that education is not an equalizer but rather a separator. Once you begin to educate people they are no longer equal. I forget the terminology but what you elude to is the hierarchy of thinking with memorization being the lowest form of thinking and, I believe, synthesis being the highest form. Once we teach children to take two facts or ideas and create a third new fact or idea we will have achieved our goal as educators.

  3. Surrealist.12:56 AM

    I just want to be a student my whole life. I want my job to be just learning. I love it.
    I hope that helps you sleep at night.

  4. mikekaz11:20 AM

    There are too many students who don't care about education at all. That's why I've taken many advanced classes at my school. I'm not the best at them, but in these classes I'm surrounded by people who, like me, want to learn. Sometimes I sincerely feel sorry for some teachers because they have to put up with so many students who have no respect for them and no interest in an education. In America, we have an awesome education system (I know it's not the best) but there are too many students who slide right by without caring.

  5. BAR:

    The directors of private education understand that they exist only if they deliver what they promise. When they fail, they do not get to demand more money from taxpayers.

    Should private school A fail, then private school B steps in and makes up for A's failures.

    This is in stark contrast to the system now.


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