HOLYCRAP HUMONGO LONGPOST
Sorry, Trieste, decided to paraphrase your words there, do forgive me...please? ^_^
One of the moms at my church, she has a son who is high school. He wants to graduate with the best diploma possible, so for that he needs to take Honors Algebra II. He attempted to sign up for it at the end of this year...only to be thwarted because of two other
honors classes he was taking which were at the same time, because he was trying to take it as a sophomore and Alg II is considered a junior-level course at his school. So, he's been shopping around for college Algebra courses to see if they would cover the bill somehow. He went to six different
schools, only two of them at the state level. Had the head of the math department call the math teacher at his HS to see if these college level courses covered as much as the high school's course.
Short answer: No.
Long answer: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
Now, I'm going into education, so Mom came to ask me how
this was possible. I told her that it was simple: colleges expect their students to have mastered certain basic things by the time that they get there, like Algebra. Plus, I added, math goes one of two ways in college. Either you're going into a technical discipline, like Engineering or Science (or even Mathematics), in which case you need highly advanced math - multivariate calculus with vectors and three-dimensional understanding and such things. Or you're going into a 'soft' discipline, where your knowledge of math can be limited to a couple of things that you might study in the span of a year. Business majors need to know accounting, and psychs need to know statistics. And some majors can get away with no math at all (like English), or they pitch a 'math for poets' program where students essentially get what they learned in high school again.
So, I said, it wasn't so surprising that college algebra doesn't cover as much, because either you're going beyond high school, or you're doing a program where math doesn't largely matter.
BUT, I told her, I had been reading a book recently about the American pre-collegiate education system (written when Clinton the Sir was in office), and it showed already that rising numbers of students that were going to college needed remedial courses in both English and Math, and that could only be because the American educational system was failing. So if Jr can go to college and not need to take English and Math for Idiots, then he's already ahead of the curve, I assured her.
Jumping trains of thought. Please stand clear of the doors, they'll smack ya!
One of the things I've always said since I graduated five years ago is that the American collegiate system is going to need to do in the next fifty years is come up with six new levels of degrees, because the minimum education needed to do anything in our society has been rising rapidly. I love using the examples of my parents and their parents and such things.
My grandparents (let's say Mom's side) came over to this country when they were kids. Went through Ellis Island and all that (they're from bonny old Scotland!). Grammar school and then high school, graduated at 18. Grandpa went out and got himself an apprenticeship and worked as an auto mechanic for the next 50 years of his life. Grandma was hired on as a secretary (and in THESE days, secretaries did shit!), and until she got married and started having kids, worked. By the time she quit, she was the personal secretary of one of the board members of her company.
In the above days, education past high school was if you wanted to do something like become a doctor, or a lawyer, or a teacher! (College professors count!) Something big.
Fast forward to my mom and dad's era. There were still plenty of jobs out there for people that didn't go past high school - college was strictly for those guys that wanted an extra edge to use in the employment field. Mom & Dad went to college, but they knew plenty of people who didn't that led financially stable and independent lives.
Jump forward again. This time it's me, my sister, and my brother. Everyone and their dog
has a college degree, the only jobs left for those without are the checkout cashier at Target or flipping burgers at Wendy's. And there you have to compete with the high school kids. My siblings and I are all in postgrad education because we want to be ahead of everyone else.
This also ties in with the comments about Callie's work in the field and how everyone seems to need a degree these days. Because either academia will make new degrees...or they'll be forced to sit down and reevaluate everything, because this rise cannot continue. We can't have a nation flooded with PhDs because then it will make the PhD worthless.
Jumping trains again! Watch yourself!
This is mainly regarding Valthazar, talking about 'what is ailing the American educational system?' I mentioned that I had been reading a book written during the Clinton era recently. The book is: Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write, or Add
by Charles Sykes. Even though it was written almost two decades ago, I do urge everyone to go to your library and find this book!
Sykes' hypothesis, Valz, is that self-esteem has largely replaced actual curricular standards in the American educational system - that it is more important to have a positive self-image than to actually be able to do anything. Things like mainstreaming for special education students and 'inclusionary tactics' compromise the integrity of the classroom and the ability of the teacher to actually teach.
Sykes also says that the problems the American educational system currently face are nothing new. Education works on a cycle, Sykes states. A lot of the things we see now are things that were tried in public schools in the 20s - they've got a nice, shiny new label, but they're the same. They failed then, they're failing now. We've got
the winning gameplan...we're just not using it because of [insert phrase here].
Money isn't going to solve our problems. Education needs funding, yes, absolutely. But it also needs to stop following the Tao of Tall Poppies.