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Author Topic: Fixing Education  (Read 4106 times)

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Offline Starlequin

Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #50 on: June 23, 2012, 04:50:29 AM »
I don't usually post in threads like this, because I often find I lack sufficient experience to discuss matters on this board with the sort of depth and precision they deserve. But its late, and I'm hyper. So this is what you get.

I would say that a new model would look maybe something like communal homeschooling (and if thats not already a thing somewhere, its cuz I'm making this up as i go, so there). Instead of dragging kids out of bed at ungodly hours and shipping them to what's basically kiddie prison, they get a few more hours sleep and go to school on their time (within reason and consideration for their parental units' schedules, of course). I've read/heard that it takes somewhere around 50-100 hours of tutoring and practice to impart the basics of Readin', 'Ritin' and 'Rithmetic to children (not sure how accurate that is or if age is a factor, but it doesn't sound implausible to me), so it seems to me that the rest of the time students spend in school is wasted on boring curricula and testing materials. Instead, why not open classtimes up to more self-study opportunities and allow students to pursue the topics that really interest them? It could be loosely guided, of course, to ensure at least basic well-rounding; a few required hours in history, sciences and maths, literature, et cetera, (like college credits) but for the most part children could guide their own education. A big plus from this would be kids getting to nurture their interests and natural talents, and instilling a deeper appreciation for the actual learning process. Students with less interest in academia could be placed in part-time job shadowing or apprenticeship type programs. And with such student-guided learning would probably come an increased need for more personalized attention, which would open the door to hiring more new teachers.

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Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #51 on: June 23, 2012, 09:21:31 AM »
Khan Academy is an online class resource - I remember seeing Trieste mention it, and keep meaning to go back there myself.  Wolfram-Alpha is another educational resource - I remember them from their focus on math (I once browsed their site so heavily, they thought I was a 'bot), but they might offer other courses. 

I think there needs to be a certain amount of 'push', rather than leaving it strictly 'student-driven'.  I'm a little biased, due to the little Oni's decision to try to 'coast' through 5th grade, but parental insistence (and assistance) on getting X amount of learning in can be crucial to getting the 'learning bug' going.  We started out giving the little Oni a written note with what exercises she had to do before getting on the computer for about a week - complete with password-locking the computer.  Yesterday, I had forgotten to leave the note out, and despite having figured out the password, she still got the book, did the next set of exercises, asked me for help, did the work, and then actively listened to my explanation of why two of the problems really couldn't be answered as 'True' or 'False'.

I can envision Internet 'conference classes' set up for some subjects:  Teacher in a central location, kids at home computers, libraries, whatever.  The 'blackboard' would be replaced with a tablet that outputs to a separate frame on the page - no more 'I can't see the booooard!' - while the teacher explains the lesson over Skype.  Questions could be asked over headsets, entered on a form or typed into chat room-style setups.  'Going to the board' could be done with keyboard, mouse, or other input.  Important:  Teachers would still be needed!  I'm not good with the idea of one teacher handling an undefined number of students - I worked tech support in a chatroom with 19 users at a time, and that was hard enough, thank you.  Classroom sizes should be limited to something less than that.  Added benefit:  Lessons could be recorded for review (I'd incorporate something so that the recorded lessons were tied to a given student ID for better teacher compensation - or tie something to the amount of times the recorded lesson was downloaded.)  Oh, and if they'd had things like this in my Biology class, instead of making us suffer from formaldehyde fumes, I'd have been a whole lot more interested and less nauseated.  (Found that site through the little Oni.)

Offline Trieste

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Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #52 on: June 23, 2012, 12:13:53 PM »
I think that the 21st century model looks a lot like what intelligent, creative teachers have been doing with their classes. Taking them outside, making things visual and alive instead of just stuff in a book. I was re-watching the television series The Dead Zone recently and was struck by a scene from the first episode. The main character, who was a teacher originally, had his class up in a tree. He was talking about how "from below, it looks like a jumble of leaves, but from up here you can see that every branch and every leaf is exactly where it needs to be, perfectly positioned to catch the sun". (I may have gotten the quote wrong but the gist is there.) He commented later, "They'll never look at a tree the same". That philosophy of teaching - changing your perspective so that you understand the world around you better and you just won't look at something the same again - is the 21st century model of teaching, I feel.

We have the technology to make, essentially, a living classroom. I would love to see that; I would love to see kids' desks turned into virtual dissection tables, for instance. They can do it for med schools, to get around the shortage of cadavers. How neat would it be if you could use a stylus to zoom in on an animation of a frog, learn about its breathing and how it blinks, then zoom in further past the skin so that you could see how the heart works and how the organ systems work. Then when you're done, you zoom out of the animation and the virtual frog hops away unharmed. It would take some of the trauma out of biology, it would remove the need to acquire fresh frogs for every biology class (plus instruments and waste disposal) and you could use the same virtual desktop to learn about economics, geography, history, and so on.

I personally would prefer to see our tax dollars go toward that than drone attacks on a country on the other side of the globe.

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Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #53 on: June 24, 2012, 12:11:33 AM »
We have the technology to make, essentially, a living classroom. I would love to see that; I would love to see kids' desks turned into virtual dissection tables, for instance. They can do it for med schools, to get around the shortage of cadavers. How neat would it be if you could use a stylus to zoom in on an animation of a frog, learn about its breathing and how it blinks, then zoom in further past the skin so that you could see how the heart works and how the organ systems work. Then when you're done, you zoom out of the animation and the virtual frog hops away unharmed. It would take some of the trauma out of biology, it would remove the need to acquire fresh frogs for every biology class (plus instruments and waste disposal) and you could use the same virtual desktop to learn about economics, geography, history, and so on.

The link I provided goes to a virtual knee surgery.  The site also has brain and heart surgery.  Funny as all get-out when I first saw her clicking around on it.

Offline AndyZTopic starter

Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #54 on: August 24, 2012, 03:30:15 PM »
Resurrecting an old thread due to new information.

Apparently there's a school out there actually going for this 21st century method, called Carpe Diem over in Yuma, Arizona.  They use computers in order to repeat and regurgitate lesson plans which can be sped up or slowed down to work at the speed of the student.

I have no idea how accurate this actually is (I don't even live in Arizona) but I'd love some info from parents and the like if anyone knows anything.

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Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #55 on: August 24, 2012, 03:35:23 PM »
My one question about this would be if there was a system in place to catch 'coasters' and nudge them to the next stage - like, after getting 100% on a given exercise so many times, that particular one is locked out.  I'm still slightly kicking myself for not noticing what the little Oni was pulling last year.  Over the summer, I've gotten her up to introductory algebra with little more than a 'do one page a day' mindset.  And that's including the vacations where her aunts and grandparents let her coast a bit.

Offline AndyZTopic starter

Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #56 on: August 24, 2012, 03:45:08 PM »
I don't honestly know.  Here's the link to the site if you want to look into it:  http://www.carpediemschools.com/

If you can let me know the good and the bad from a parent's perspective and if things actually work, I'd love to be informed.

Here's a page I found with various reviews on the place: http://www.greatschools.org/arizona/yuma/2966-Carpe-Diem-E-Learning/

Most of the reviews are great, but from the one star rating from the former student, it seems like they still have a few things to patch up.  Uniforms aren't necessary, and you should definitely make sure that your teachers are trained in the respective subjects, even if you only have one teacher per subject who's fully understanding of the fields.

Please be advised that I don't know any of this stuff firsthand and it may well be wrong.  I'm not trying to mislead people, I'm just going with the information that I have available.

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Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #57 on: August 24, 2012, 06:09:47 PM »
If it's all done over the Internet, uniforms definitely aren't necessary.  I can understand uniforms in a public/private school, where you want to minimize visual differences in social standing, but even if you assume that everyone is on webcam and can see each other, you're going to see those differences in the backgrounds.  'Nothing in camera range can be disruptive' would be as far as I'd go (no shirts with sayings or pictures, no hats, no rap-star-sized 'bling')  Beyond that, you can conduct/participate in an Internet class in your fuzzy slippers for all I care.

Offline AndyZTopic starter

Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #58 on: August 24, 2012, 06:27:23 PM »
On the thing I saw, it was an actual classroom where they had hundreds of computers set up in a cubicle style, and teachers would wander around like managers to check on the students.

The uniform issue would be an entirely separate debate.  I remember a kid from middle school who would show up in a Marlboro shirt all the time and the teachers would make him turn it inside out.  I also get not allowing gang colors.  I'd have gone nuts if I was forced to wear a uniform, though, and I don't want my future kids subjected to it.

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Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #59 on: August 24, 2012, 06:31:19 PM »
We've got an ultra-strict dress code this year.  I'm not overly thrilled, since it's white, light-blue, and navy - all collared shirts - and the little Oni's wardrobe to this point has been pinks, oranges, etc. with barely a blue in the bunch.

Offline AndyZTopic starter

Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #60 on: August 24, 2012, 06:35:39 PM »
Collared shirts are not comfortable.  I only really speak for myself, but if I'm not comfortable, it makes it more difficult for me to pay attention, which means I'm not learning as much as I could be.  I doubt I'm alone on that.

Online Lilias

Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #61 on: August 25, 2012, 06:04:48 AM »
Uniforms are great for forcing uniformity (duh!). No rich kids showing off their designer wear and poor kids being mocked for having only one or two outfits for school. No headaches for the teachers about what is appropriate school wear and what is not. Just kids focusing on what they do, not what it will do to their clothes.

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Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #62 on: August 25, 2012, 08:47:04 AM »
*nods*  I get that.  Making the uniforms more comfortable would be a good step, though, as AndyZ says.  If it had been a home-based, computerized, teleconference-type system, however, evidence of different socioeconomic status would be visible through more than just clothes - 'Look, Marty has a big-screen TV in the room behind him' or 'Charlotte's living in a trailer.'

I'm not sure I like the idea of 'teachers as proctors', the way it was described.  I'd like to see similarly-able students grouped together for verbal instruction before being turned loose into their little machine-worlds.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #63 on: August 25, 2012, 01:03:23 PM »
Uniforms are great for forcing uniformity (duh!). No rich kids showing off their designer wear and poor kids being mocked for having only one or two outfits for school. No headaches for the teachers about what is appropriate school wear and what is not. Just kids focusing on what they do, not what it will do to their clothes.

Nooo, uniforms are great for simplicity of what to wear to school. Even if you are wearing a uniform, you can tell who got their uniform at the nice uniform shop in town and who got theirs at the discount uniform shop in town because the fabric and the dyes are different. The discount kilt doesn't pleat as cleanly. Not to mention that you can tell who has the money to get their uniforms professionally cleaned and who has to wash them at home and then iron the pleats back in.

And even if you have one place giving out the uniforms, there is still a divide. My grandmother went to a school where every single girl was provided, by the school, with their uniforms: blouses, jumpers, skirts. The only thing the girls bought were stockings and shoes. The wealthier girls (this was an all-girls parochial school so I don't know what guys would have done) turned around and had their uniforms tailored.

Don't get me wrong, uniforms provide a lot of benefits. I actually really miss going to a school that had a uniform requirement because it honestly made things so much simpler in the mornings. Get out of bed, open closet, yank something out of the side of the closet where uniform shirts hang... find kilt that I threw to the side after school the day before (eh, I was a teenager), pull 'em both on and go to find my backpack. Boom... done. But it would be nice to see uniforms praised for the benefits they actually confer, rather than some imagined income equality... thing. You can still tell who has money and who doesn't, especially if you're the kind of person that cares about that.

Online Lilias

Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #64 on: August 25, 2012, 05:50:10 PM »
Maybe over there that's the case. :-) Here, the logo'ed items are identical for all, and the generics are dirt cheap, wherever you buy them. The button-downs are non-iron. The polo shirts are stain-resistant. The trousers and skirts are teflon-treated, for both stain resistance and durability. Perhaps kids that go to prep schools with 300 years of history and fees in the five digits per term are directed to exclusive tailors. Around town, what determines where you buy school clothes is your local supermarket - Sainsbury's, Tesco or Asda.

Uniforms have grown much more comfortable, with a shift away from blazers and ties towards the shirt-jumper combo. I don't think expecting kids to learn to do up buttons and tie shoelaces is too much. I went to school during a time of transition from uniform to non-uniform, and I wouldn't wish the mess that caused to anyone.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #65 on: August 25, 2012, 06:09:56 PM »
The point being that it doesn't work that way all the time, for everyone, and it's silly to imply that it does. :P

Online Lilias

Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #66 on: August 25, 2012, 06:27:56 PM »
Nothing ever does, so I'll settle for 'most of the time for most people'. :P

Online Oreo

Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #67 on: August 25, 2012, 11:10:24 PM »
Speaking of the uniforms, I never had to deal with them. However, I would like to know if they still stereotype the girls with a skirt as the only option? Are they allowed to choose a pants uniform?

Offline Trieste

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Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #68 on: August 26, 2012, 01:39:33 AM »
In all of the schools I've attended, there has been an option to wear nice pants. One school only allowed khakis, another school allowed us to wear any kind of non-jeans (within reason, I mean, they couldn't be drawstring velour pants). I honestly always preferred the kilts, though, and many of the other girls that I went to school with did as well.

Online Oreo

Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #69 on: August 26, 2012, 02:20:10 AM »
Nice to know there is a choice. I was in band and would have hated trying to keep a skirt covering things while playing the French horn. Not to mention I was 98% tomboy.

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Re: Fixing Education
« Reply #70 on: August 26, 2012, 10:49:36 AM »
Girls are allowed to wear slacks, cargo pants, skirts, skorts, shorts, Capri pants and jumpers with a skirt bottom.  No jeans, sweatpants, warm-up pants, or baggy/saggy pants (even navy ones).