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CalvinandThomasHobbes
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I am an 18 year old highschool senior. When i read OSC's comments on homework, an ENORMOUS smile appeared on my face. Finally, an adult who agrees with me! I would be a straight A student if homework were transformed back into classwork. In all my classes I master the material. I finish all my classwork before anyone else even begins theirs. But when I ask to get the homework assignments I am told to read ahead in the textbook. So normally I don't do the busy work. Which drops my grade to a D or C. (yes I know it's my fault) Also, other than math I haven't learned anything new since 8th grade.Basically I am trying to figure out what the point of homework is.

So here is my question. In the article Card writes, "But the philosophy was not to pile on homework so that parents will be reassured that school is doing a good job." So is Card saying schools today operate with the opposite of that philosophy?

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GaalDornick
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I think High School stopped being about learning and became about getting good grades, at any cost. Grades are important to keep students working hard and to motivate them to learn, but the empahasis people put on good grades nowadays is ridiculous. I think people forgot that school is supposed to be about teaching information to students, not getting good grades so you can impress colleges.
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pooka
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Grades are meant to reflect work ethic as well as having the information, I can attest as a long time homework resistor. However, I think things may have gotten worse since I was a kid. My nephew had to be homeschooled because he was getting more homework than he could do conscientiously and still keep up piano, violin, sports, and church activity. That is a lot of activities, but I think at least 3 of those things should fit into afterschool time if the parents are willing to do the driving.
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Lyrhawn
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I've always thought that when I become a teacher (2 yrs, give or take, until that happens), I'd make a deal with my students not to give them any homework until after the first test. After the first test I'd see if they knew the material, if they did, no homework continues.

And also, I think more high school, and maybe (haven't thought about it really) middle school tests need to have essay questions. Keep in mind I'm talking about for social studies here, I plan to be a history teacher. There's no point in shoving names and dates, and fancy names for things down kids' throats so they can spit them back out and forget them a few months or a year later. They need to be able to put that information into context and get a broader meaning out of it, and you don't get that from multiple choice and fill in the blank.

To say nothing of the fact that college profs the nation over are crying foul at the fact that entering freshman are some of the worst writers ever. I had a prof last semester spend the first 20 minutes of class lamenting the fact that he has to spend his first two class periods every semester teaching kids writing lessons they should have learned in high school.

A lot has to change. But where is the tipping point? I'm 10 miles away from striking Detroit teachers, who want a pay raise, even a cost of living increase, when the district is trying to force a 5% pay CUT on them, and make them pay more for medical expenses. And yet at the same time, we expect teacher standards to go UP.

The government demands highly qualified college graduates to be teachers, in a world where college tuition is skyrocketing, and districts are CUTTING teacher salary. What friggin dream world do they live in where they think that's actually going to work?

It's all a giant mess, but no one really seems interested in fixing it. Bush's education plan is ridiculous, and so is most of what I've heard from others. Comprehensive education improvement needs to include higher teacher pay, doing something about tuition costs, and actually fixing the system so a teacher can teach, without the government mandating a curriculum from Washington.

I don't see that happening anytime soon.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:


To say nothing of the fact that college profs the nation over are crying foul at the fact that entering freshman are some of the worst writers ever. I had a prof last semester spend the first 20 minutes of class lamenting the fact that he has to spend his first two class periods every semester teaching kids writing lessons they should have learned in high school.

A lot has to change. But where is the tipping point? I'm 10 miles away from striking Detroit teachers, who want a pay raise, even a cost of living increase, when the district is trying to force a 5% pay CUT on them, and make them pay more for medical expenses. And yet at the same time, we expect teacher standards to go UP.

The government demands highly qualified college graduates to be teachers, in a world where college tuition is skyrocketing, and districts are CUTTING teacher salary. What friggin dream world do they live in where they think that's actually going to work?

The market isn't going to bear it, but that isn't going to stop every kid in America from being left behind in school. No child left behind because the whole system just slows down?

This bit about writing is incredible, but true. Its hard for me to believe I am reading work done by 18-23 year olds when I peer review work for different music classes, and even English classes. The standards for writing are so embarassingly bad, that I have (shamefacedly) turned in 5 page essays written in one draft, in 2 hours, which got high marks for writing style. Not surprisingly these same essays get points off for organization of material, but the idea that I can get an A- on a college paper, in my major no less, in 2 hours is a little scary, because I know alot of the people getting Bs are smarter than me. They just can't write!

You'd think that we were getting better at written communication too-- all the teens that come into my Teen Center write myspace profiles and messages ALL the time. But of course, that is all the illusion of communication, and the writing style favored on the majority of networking sites is infatile. These activities, along with a heavy injection of videogaming, allow the teens I work with to completely skip over learning how to read, spending time disengaged from various stimuli, or even talking to eachother directly with any kind of fluency. Its really pathetic in some cases, and I think it goes beyond the fact that they are also teens. I don't see these kids- the majority of them anyway- learning or growing from day to day. A few of them, very few, have let me develop a repoire with them, and ask me about books and music, which i recommend and supply as much as I am able. It fills me up with hope when a kid comes in and tells me what he thinks of a cd of Bach that I mixed for him, or of a book we were talking about. That's rare, however, and it only happens with the kids I don't worry about; who are already smart and looking like they have a direction in life.

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Adam_S
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quote:
The standards for writing are so embarassingly bad, that I have (shamefacedly) turned in 5 page essays written in one draft, in 2 hours, which got high marks for writing style.
True that, been there myself. On the other hand I also got a D minus once because I treated the prompt as a guide to investigate in depth the issues it addressed/brought up with a reasonably cogent thesis. It was in my opinion a Bminus paper because the organization was off and my thesis was too ambitious to properly address in the five page limit (it was really six when I make the margins smaller and shrink the font a half point and play with the size of the double spacing to give myself more room). I asked him directly and the TA claimed to have never heard of treating the prompt as a guide, we were supposed to answer the three questions directly asked by it and presumably bullshit and pad the rest of the four and a half pages. It was bumped up to a Bplus by the lead TA, remains the only time in my life I've ever contested a grade.

On the other hand, I was on good terms with the leading bio teacher at USC and asked him about student quality and he's of the opinion (with about fifty years of teaching college) that students know much more academic content, they know it better and turn out to be better writers than prior years, and it usually improves yearly. Then again, he's not in the humanities. he's the only person that assigned me a real research paper, in all of undergraduate, fifteen pages, single spaced.

quote:
I had a prof last semester spend the first 20 minutes of class lamenting the fact that he has to spend his first two class periods every semester teaching kids writing lessons they should have learned in high school.
the first thing that any college professor ever said to me (ie my first class) was, "if anyone turns in a five paragraph essay they will get an automatic F" Considering the entirety of my senior year composition class was about writing the five paragraph essay (for the AP test) this was more than a little disconcerting.

quote:
There's no point in shoving names and dates, and fancy names for things down kids' throats so they can spit them back out and forget them a few months or a year later.
Unless of course they have a catchy sing-a-along song attached to them or clever rhymes or phrasing? How else could one remember all fifty states, the order of the planets, or musical notes on the scale?

My favorite is still, 'x, s, ch or sh - add es' as one of the sing song rules for making plurals. there have probably been thousands of times I've been prevented from putting an es on a word that ends with -th because of that little mnemnomic.


quote:
"But the philosophy was not to pile on homework so that parents will be reassured that school is doing a good job." So is Card saying schools today operate with the opposite of that philosophy?
Yeah, Card is saying that when schools pile on lots of homework, the amount of homework will convince the collective parents that their kids are getting a quality education.

I was lucky, homework was never a huge part of any of my school career. It was nonexistent for about ninety percent of elementary school. about an hours worth (or less if I did lots of inclass work) in middle school and maybe a little more in highschool.

my algebra two teacher said if got A's on our tests and did our homework for all the first quarter we were exempt from homework for the rest of the year, our grades reliant entirely upon our test grades. This would better prepare us for college. This meant after we went over correcting the previous days homework and the instruction on that days lesson I'd do as much of the homework as I could inclass and then I would not bother with it unless I didn't quite get it or hadn't burned how to do it into my mind.

Trig was fantastic because the teacher there hated modern textbooks (that weigh a ton) and had horded the textbooks from the late sixties/early seventies that weighed 1/5 of a new textbook and taught 1/3 more material. He was also a great teacher, which meant after going over homework and then doing that day's lesson we'd have a third of the class to get work done in while he helped out those who didn't get it. That meant I got loads of homework done in class.

Calc I didn't get how the teacher taught it and taught myself from the book instead, I scraped a B somehow and the teacher thought I'd get a 2 on the AP test and I pulled off a four. [Big Grin]

The downside is I was terrible at managing my time for scheduling reading in college, I'd never had to do it before at all, reading was usually something I could do in class or before school. I just barely made it through my first semester with mostly Bs, then again I don't remember much of that semester, I had either 17 or 18 papers I wrote in those fifteen weeks...

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Scott R
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quote:
I'm 10 miles away from striking Detroit teachers, who want a pay raise, even a cost of living increase, when the district is trying to force a 5% pay CUT on them, and make them pay more for medical expenses. And yet at the same time, we expect teacher standards to go UP.

The situation in Detroit is an interesting one, because both sides simply CANNOT budge. The school district, because of the general depression in the area, CANNOT give raises and has a $100 million budget deficit; and the teachers are some of the lowest paid in the country. Detroit schools have been bleeding students for years, if I understand the situation correctly.

My kneejerk reaction is to cut the salary of the bureacrats and distribute that money to the teachers... but I don't think that even doing that would make up for the $100M deficit...

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pooka
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I had one teacher who was as bad at grading and returning the homework as I was at turning it in. She relayed through a straight A friend that I just needed to turn something in, which would probably not be read, so she could grade me on my participation in class discussion. Just an isolated horror story, of course. I actually thought she was a pretty good teacher, in terms of giving engaging lectures and transferring her enthusiasm for English to us students.

I was in a writer's workshop with a woman who taught in Detroit right out of college, and she wrote about some of her early experiences with parents that broke her optimism. I really think education is a 50/50 proposition between teachers and parents (like a marriage- so I'm not sure if 50/50 is exactly right.) No one partner can make up for the total lack of initiative in the other.

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RunningBear
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Huzzah!

I too, am an 18 year old high school Senior, starting today, no less. I am taking essentially my freshman year of college right now, through 5 AP classes, and most agree that I will handle it well. In spite of that, I have gotten low grades in several assorted subjects because I did not focus on doing the busy work, just what mattered. I know the teachers won't change my grade because of my ideology, but I see no point in wasting my time on the useless busy work. I have been showing my prowess by excelling on every standardized test they have given me, and yet, they continue to bear down on me with this pointless drudgery.


-Adam_S- I am taking calc, do you know which book you used?

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Lyrhawn
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Maybe the situation in Detroit will be a wake up call. There's no money in the district for the teachers. Cutting beauracratic salaries to fund them will make a dent, but not enough to make up for the shortfall.

Parents in the district are offering their services as volunteer teachers. God only knows what that'll lead to. I hope this ends up being a wake up call. Poor Detroit teachers can't allow their wages to be cut, or they won't survive, and schools just plain don't have the money to pay them even what they made last year.

The US Gov needs to wake up to the problem, it's a lot bigger than they realize, more URGENT than they realize, and it requires their attention, at least more than passing some do nothing law that sounds pretty in the headlines but nothing in reality.

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Orson Scott Card
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To high school students:

1. you're in charge of your education, not them. you can be badly educated with good grades, well educated with good grades, well educated with bad grades, and (obviously) badly educated with bad grades. Bad grades have immediate bad consequences: Can't get into college of choice, don't get scholarships, fights with parents, don't get to hang with the genius kids at school <grin>. Bad education has lifelong consequences: people can lie to you, you vote stupidly, you don't know how to learn to do tough new work assignments, you don't have the initiative to do new things on your own.

2. The real problem comes when the school system makes it impossible to BOTH be well-educated AND have good grades. They do this by piling on the meaningless homework and forbidding you to work ahead during class time you've earned by finishing classwork early. Their moronic idea of "enrichment" is not to reward smart or hardworking kids by giving them LESS busywork, but rather to punish you by piling on "enrichment" work while not letting you out of even a scrap of the other work. (Why? Because somebody's whiny parent will say, How come my Junior has to do all this homework and that Natasha girl doesn't have ANY?; nobody dares to say, Because it takes your Junior that long to master the concept, and Natasha gets it in an instant.)

So what choice do you make? THe nice thing: It's entirely your choice, as long as you make it consciously. I'm going to let my grades go to pot, but I'll have a great education, so I can make my way in the world. then you devote your time to learning what you love, and you come out of high school fully able to deal with whatever college education you can glean from the junior college that's the only one you can get into (though that's usually quite a lot, by the way) or even make your way in the business world.

The trouble is, most high school students actually choose the bad education/bad grades option even when they THINK they're choosing good education/bad grades. It's called "laziness." If you're not lazy, then good, you don't qualify.

One of the thing that high school used to test you for was your ability to carry out moronic assignments on time and up to specifications. Doesn't matter the subject matter - getting a diploma means you can work for any company in the world, because most work consists of carrying out moronic assignments on time and up to specs.

The trouble is that high school began to be about outcomes, and the way to make outcomes more even was to lower the standards. Even as they claimed to be RAISING standards, they simply got lower and lower, the way that basic training for some branches of the military got lowered until women recruits could meet them. (documented public knowledge, don't fight with me about this). But as they made school so easy that you have to work to flunk (yet kids still do!), they made it SEEM like they were doing a better job by piling on the homework. empty, meaningless, repetitive homework.

The result is that the slowest kids STILL flunk, not usually because they're stupid, but because they're hostile for various reasons; the best kids often get poor grades because they can't care about a process so empty; and ALL the kids have hours and hours of the childhood weeks stolen from them in a process that does no good for anyone. And the colleges have to try to do the job high school USED to do - of testing to see whether kids were ready to fulfill moronic assignments on time and up to specifications.

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Lyrhawn
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If I may ask, what's your suggestion for a solution?

Do we start at the top or the bottom? or revamp the whole thing all at the same time?

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Orson Scott Card:
So what choice do you make? The nice thing: It's entirely your choice, as long as you make it consciously. I'm going to let my grades go to pot, but I'll have a great education, so I can make my way in the world. then you devote your time to learning what you love, and you come out of high school fully able to deal with whatever college education you can glean from the junior college that's the only one you can get into (though that's usually quite a lot, by the way) or even make your way in the business world.

Actually, a student who makes this choice should be able to do fairly well on the SATs (or ACTs). And many colleges will overlook a poor GPA if your SAT scores are high enough.

They certainly did in my case. [Wink] And now that I work in college admissions, I can tell you that I see it all the time.

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Pelegius
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rivka, where do you work? None of the schools I am thinking of would overlook bad grades, except maybe St. Johns if you convinced them you were too bored in your school.

British schools, however, do have a policy which seems to make a lot of sense to me: you can make bad grades in subjects which you are not planning to study in college, as long as you make very good grades in those subjects you do intend to study.

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Libbie
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Great insight from everybody in this thread. Personally, I was a good education/mediocre (which may as well be bad) grades student. On top of the crummy grades, I was poor, but not poor enough to get aid in my state. My SAT scores were very good, but apparently not good enough to overcome my utter mediocrity. So that meant some floundering through junior college before I gave up and went into business, hated it, and started my own businesses.

It was a hard decision to come to, because I was raised in a community where a very good college education is valued above almost anything else. I'm glad I did it this way, though, because I'm happier than I could be working in a "real" job.

However, I still tell all my younger cousins and other family members - and my younger online friends - that it's important to get the best dang education you can. You learn more than just the book stuff in the process, and it makes you a more well-rounded person.

I just wish I didn't still have $10K in student loan debt to pay off.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Pelegius:
rivka, where do you work?

A small college you've never heard of.

But my lousy GPA and great SAT scores got me into UCLA, Columbia, and Barnard -- everywhere I applied.

Even if someone can't manage good SATs, a year or two of decent grades at a community college will likely qualify them for admission as a transfer student to many 4-year colleges, including some very good ones.

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Karmen
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There are others! I recently moved, tranfering to a school 1/2 the size of my previous one. I'm in my junoir year, taking all honors classes, and I haven't learned anything in the first two weeks of school. Wait, I take that back, I learned that my English teacher believes the world is going to end because of global warming.

My old school while certainly having flaws, managed to get people to pass AP exams. Because my regular level US History class apparently was just as good as their AP US, I'm taking AP Euro with all senoirs. The sad thing is that the creme de la creme of the school only had about 5 people pass the exam. BAD!! We haven't even started doing physics in physics. We're to busy reviewing material that we mastered back in grade school. We get it already. Despite urban legend kids don't forget everything over the summer.

People get yelled at if they begin hw in class, reading ahead in english has been considered rude, and large chunks of history are ignored. Lyrhawn, please, I beg of you, do not skip everything that has happened since Dr. King was assasinated. There was life after and between wars and protests. Asia is on the map for a reason. Unfortunately I would never have found that out if I relied on the schools to teach me.

Funny story about history; last year my teacher had zero control of the class and all homework was on par w/ assignments from grade school. We had 1 project where we had to pick a song and present what it was talking about, how it reflected that geno., blah, blah, blah. It was supposed to last 6 minutes, I stole the class for a period and a half to tell them about the 80's and 90's which we have never studied. Lots of fun relating Reagan's SDI to current situations and what not.

I had a teacher similiar to yours pooka, she graded your first essay and that was the grade you got on every other paper and assignment that year. A- for the entire year.

Personally I feel that peeps need to stop harping on about equal funding, and focus more on better learning. Note I did not say equal, that is just nutty. People are never going to know exactly the same things as each other, and asking gifted and special needs students to be equal in that department just drags students down while frustrating others. I think that we should all get one of those $100 dollar laptops that are being provided to 3rd world countries. Stick every text on as a pdf, and have the schools pay a small subscription fee each year. Bang! The problem of equal opportunities is taken care of and we can worry about teaching our teachers how to teach. That is where the issues are. Kids are being stuffed w/ facts they don't need and missing the bigger pictures that they do need.

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scholar
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Teachers don't choose the way they teach. Most teachers are frustrated beyond belief with the rules and regulations they are put under. In some districts, the lesson plans, with homework assignments, are created at the district level and the teachers have to teach them by a specific date. I have known teachers who have gotten yelled at by the principal for calling a parent when the kid misbahaved. I also know teachers who have gotten yelled at for not calling the parents. Everyone wants to blame the teacher, but a lot of times, the teachers have no choice.
I think hw is a necessary thing. Just like a musical instrument needs to be practiced, so do skills like math and writing. Perhaps some teachers are giving busy work, but there is definetely a place for nightly hw. Also, interesting survey- they asked parents and then students how much hw the kid did. The answers were very different- with the parents assuming more time spent than the kid said he/she was doing.

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Dark as night
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quote:
Originally posted by scholar:
Teachers don't choose the way they teach. Most teachers are frustrated beyond belief with the rules and regulations they are put under.

Is this indeed the tragic reality of our society? What happens to the teachers who choose to bend the rules and regulations and continue to actually TEACH their students?

This is a quote from the original OSC review:
"Apparently the school district mentality that all decisions must be made in a central location is now to apply to parents. Central planning worked so well for the Soviet Union all those years. And central planning did a splendid job of making sure those new schools they've been building would be competently engineered. By all means lets extend central planning to what parents are allowed to buy their children for school. Because each home with school-age children is just another unit of the school district, under their complete authority, right?"

Yes, central planning worked so remarkably well for the Soviet Union... It is actually a surprise that so many people emerged from that educational system with a shred of individuality and creativity. I know, I've been through that wringer. We had no choice of classes we could take, or levels of difficulty of subjects to study, and no opportunity whatsoever of being able to excel above average without serious detrimental consequences to either our grades or our social status.

It was just accepted by everyone that the system was the best there was and no changes or alterations from the "central plan" were necessary. In the end, I am grateful to my parents and the precious few teachers, who allowed me to think on my own and who encouraged me to read books that were not on the recommended school list.

I got good grades because I figured out how to use the system to the best of my advantage. Most of my good education though I received outside of school. Inside of it, I was always a misfit who thought outside the box. I got many bad grades on writing assignments just because my views on Tolstoy and Dostoyevski collided with the popular "one and only correct and acceptable" opinion of a famous critic. It wasn't fun then, but even those bad experiences with forced dogma and propaganda were some of the most valuable lessons I learned in school.

It's just like OSC said -- the choice is yours. You don't have to succumb to anything, and your good education (even with bad grades) is really in your hands. Besides, to those of you in high school, it does get better. My freshman year of college here in the US was one of the happiest times of my life, because I discovered a world of new freedom and opportunity. There IS something to look forward to! [Smile]

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forensicgeek
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I think one of the major problems today is the lack of foundational education. If a child does not learn the basics, such as addition or multiplication....how can they be expected to understand the concepts of algebra or higer level math.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Karmen:
People get yelled at if they begin hw in class, reading ahead in english has been considered rude, and large chunks of history are ignored. Lyrhawn, please, I beg of you, do not skip everything that has happened since Dr. King was assasinated. There was life after and between wars and protests. Asia is on the map for a reason. Unfortunately I would never have found that out if I relied on the schools to teach me.

If given a chance, I don't plan to skip anything that relates to whatever region and time period I'm teaching. I get more and more nervous about my chosen field every time I hear horror stories on what teachers go through, the lack of control they have over the subject matter they teach, and the slow crawl backwards in their payscale, rather than upwards.

But, for the moment, I'm still determined to go through with it anyway. Maybe there are subtle ways I'll be able to find to get around the system and do a good job, or maybe by the time I finally get there, we'll have fixed the problem.

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GaalDornick
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quote:
But my lousy GPA and great SAT scores got me into UCLA, Columbia, and Barnard -- everywhere I applied.
I'm kind of in the same boat, I did pretty good on the test when I took it in 10th grade last year (680 on reading, 590 on math, 710 on writing) but my GPA is pretty pitiful. My school's guidance counselor, who's the devil, tells me everytime she sees me that I'm going to go to a community college when all my friend's go to Harvard if I don't start working harder. I hope my applications turn out like yours.
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Libbie
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quote:
Originally posted by Karmen:
Wait, I take that back, I learned that my English teacher believes the world is going to end because of global warming.


HAAHAHAHAHHAHA!

I'm not laughing at you. I'm laughing with you. Now, I believe that global warming is a reality, but...END THE WORLD? I think not.

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Libbie
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Speaking of standards being horrible, kudos to Washington State's governor, Christine Gregoire, who just a few days ago announced that she wants to take the standardized tests out of the hands of local school government and make standards uniform state-wide - and SUPPOSEDLY, they're going to be very high. We'll see if the's able to, and if they're actually going to be high and not just different, but here's hoping. Washington State has had some of the stupidest math and science scores in the country for decades - remarkable, for a state with a very large urban area that attracts more college-educated workers than most other cities in the country.

As somebody on NPR said yesterday, "Washington needs to make more math nerds and science geeks and less poets and historians." Amen.

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Karmen
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I found her declaration even more amusing, since it came the day after I read OSC's last review everything, where he was talking about demos and how the left worships global warming. I had to bite my tongue that entire period to keep from laughing out loud.
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Hamson
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I cannot agree more with everything that's been said here. I'm a junior in high school right now, and all my teachers teach differently.

I'm on the verge of hating my math teacher (for Honors Pre-calc), because everyday she comes in and her attitude just makes you want to shoot yourself. She preaches to us constantly about how we're never going to do good in college unless we do everything that she teaches us, and India and China are going to rule the world, and that we never do anything right.

Here's the thing though, the extremely hard (but good) teacher that used to teach Honors Pre-calc left to be a professor somewhere. The teacher that I have right now used to only be a calc teacher (for several years); she still IS the calc teacher, at least for BC calc (the equivalent of a full year of college calc, as opposed to AB calc, which is equivalent to one semester of college calc), but she hasn't taught Pre-calc in at least a dozen years. She brags to us everyday about how her teaching style is the best way to do things, because she never opens up our Pre-calc book to make tests and pick out homework. So naturally, we all want to rip our hair out when she says stuff like this. Here's the catch, she has an unprecedented record as a BC calc teacher. Several years now, everyone in her BC calc class has taken the AP test, and several times, no one has scored anything but 5's. So I feel like I should give her the benefit of the doubt, but I can't let myself do that right now, given that we've done more reading work in her class than we have math work.

She assigns us random newspaper articles to "read and chunk" so that we can learn how to better comprehend things. We have to read a set number of paragraphs (usually two), and then summarize the paragraph in a sentence so that we understand what it says. She claims that eventually, weíll work our way up to ďreading and chunkingĒ after five paragraphs, or maybe even a whole page (oh boy!). Maybe she forgot that most of us have been reading for over a decade, and weíre the kind of kids that take honors classes. Itís the most stupid thing in the world, I can find no relevance to math in these articles, and donít see any way that learning how to read is going to improve our math skills.

Then we have Physics. Physics class is probably the exact opposite of our math class (that seems so wrongÖ.). Last year was our physics teacherís first year teaching (heís also teaching AP Physics. His class was notorious, in that students would do well, but learn nothing, and bomb the AP test. However, this year- talking to a few people that had physics last year- heís teaching differently. And Iím learning stuff well. His class consists of labs, notes, and PowerPoint slides. We get homework almost every day, but none of it is required. He then grades us on homework quizzes he gives each class, to see how well we actually get the material from the homework. The work environment is great, and more teachers should follow that style of teaching.

And then I have teachers, like my AP Euro teacher, that have a much better grasp of how the world works. He doesnít make us try and remember little things, like a specific year, but instead tries to make sure we understand the bigger concepts, and the ideas of different time periods, instead of just events. His class is mostly lecture, but heís a hilarious guy, who keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire class. He gets the whole class involved in lessons. The notes he gives are general, and to the point. He realizes that most kids arenít good writers, so instead of taking the liberty to waste the enire AP Euro class teaching us how to write, he holds optional out of school sessions where he teaches you the key points of writing for teachers. Kids that know how to write arenít forced into dull-land, and kids that donít know how to write have the option to take it upon themselves and become better writers.

Speaking of writing, English is a joke at schools now. If you take Honors English, youíre loaded with hours and hours of required repetitive writing tasks every week. If you take normal English, you donít waste your time with that kind of workload, but you only get one or two papers due over the course of the entire year. You donít learn ANYTHING. Iím currently taking normal English, because although Iíd love to become a better writer, I just donít have time for the kind of work you get at the Honors level, and I feel that my writing skills are acceptable for the time being, especially compared the majority of people at our school. Iíve always found that reading books, and writing for fun is the best way to learn English anyway.

Wow. That turned out to be quite long. I hope that helped to give people a better sense of what high school, at least our high school, is like right now.

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Kenif
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As a teacher myself (although not in the US), I'm almost wetting myself at the thought of instructing pupils on which specific pencils and erasers to buy. (I'm just lucky if my pupils bring a pencil [Smile] )

As for homework.. hmm it's a tricky one.
If a pupil doesn't get homework, the parents will generally kick up a fuss at parent's night (if not before).
Schools and councils will generally have policies stating that pupils must have one piece of homework from each subject a week (with about 7-10 subjects)
So not giving out homework is generally not an option for teachers.

Homework isn't just an annoying task that teachers give out for the sake of it though. It can be extremely useful in helping pupils to learn.
For less able pupils, homework is a great way of improving their ability in subjects.
With the right homework and a willing pupil/helping parents the outcome can be good.
I've only been teaching a short time, but I have seen how homework can have a positive impact.

The

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Uprooted
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Interesting discussion. But I have to admit--when I looked at the subject header, I thought, "So who is the newest Card and where are his/her reviews?" [Wink]
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Vadon
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Sure, why not?

I'm a junior too and I'm able to say I relate quite a bit.

Just on the homework in general and its worth. I agree that homework can be quite useful, I just don't like it when it's busywork. For example, the second day of my US History class I was assigned to read the first three chapters of my text-book. I did. I was fine with that, it took about an hour, but I got through it and found out that the author of the text book needs to cut down on his narration.

The next time we meet my teacher told us to go back, read them again, but this time do a study guide for each one. Two and a half hours of homework. This is what I consider busywork. She's already had us read the chapters to try to gain what we will, she shouldn't force us to go back again. It's repetitive and is taking time away from my personal time or other homework. The first day we requested that we not get useless homework. (Though I believe the person worded it little homework) She came out right away and said "No, you're in an AP Class, you're getting LOTS of homework. You can expect an hour every night."

For pete's sake... it's history! Then her notes consist of reviewing the chapters anyways, so I still learn nothing. (Thus far it's all been review.)

Though I give a lot of credit to my AP Calc teacher. (I took AB. I wanted a bit slower paced since I took AP History [<sigh>] and Honors History.) He's been teaching for over thirty years. He taught Calculus BC for twelve years, so he's enjoying slowing down for AB. As such he teaches the material in about the same time, but he gives a lot more time to actually work on the problems and understand them in class.

So because of that, I'm actually learning new math and getting better and the stuff I already knew. And the homework I get assigned I get done in class. (Though something I've found funny is that we are going faster than the BC class because this is the first time the BC teacher has taught BC.)

I could rant about other micromanagement and homework horrors n'stuff, but that'd be a waste of your, and more importantly, my time. [Smile]

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andi330
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quote:
Originally posted by GaalDornick:
I think High School stopped being about learning and became about getting good grades, at any cost. Grades are important to keep students working hard and to motivate them to learn, but the empahasis people put on good grades nowadays is ridiculous. I think people forgot that school is supposed to be about teaching information to students, not getting good grades so you can impress colleges.

Undergraduate schools actually rely much more heavily on SAT/ACT test scores for admissions than they do the GPA. The reason for this is that, due to grade inflation, the average GPA has been rising steadily over the past several years and is no longer an accurate indicator of what a student is capable of.
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Roaming Eyes
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I don't want to remember High School to me was just holding me back from College/University where I feel I should have been all my life (Preferable right after Jr. High)...

By the time I was in the sixth grade I had read Aesop's Greek and Roman Mythology. My brother and I were considered "gifted" by most of our teachers but due to lack of funding we were never admitted... I've always said it, My Appeared Smartness is because I read in order to make up for my lacking education!

When I got to Community College I was considered bright by my Science, English, Political Science, and even my Math instructors (even though I did horrible in Math due to my even more horrible skils in said subject.) But, it was due to the fact that in Jr. High and High Shool, read ahead, finished the book we were on. I was the only one able to engage the teacher to where we should be. Sure I paid the price by being harrassed, punished for not participating in class, or not socializing with those things they called my "classmates".

But, I made the choice to seek higher learning! I'm finally able to enjoy the benefits of reading ahead... Of being able to keep up with my instructors. My grades in high school were not the greatest indicators of what I knew... I never had a "AP" class because they are only geared towards passing/learning what is on the test and not what is important to learn...

I took honors(lower in the view of many of my peers) and can actually talk about what the greatest advancement in the WWI and WWI, why the Japanese hated to use guns during the Imperial War, and what Manifest Destiny and Hoover's A Chicken in Every Pot!

These ideas are what I remember from Honors US History and not "What Martin Van Buren's greatest acheivement in whatever year he dominated!"

I still remember my favorite game to play with (Bad)teachers, "Ask questions they have no idea about that actually have to do with the class point."!!! [Evil Laugh] [Evil] That's why I loved it when Fly Molo started to correct the teacher in Shadow of the Hedgemon in quoting Von Clausewitz's... Though I still wish I was half as smart as the kids in OSC books.... [Sleep] [ROFL] [Big Grin] [Wink]
Mind you these were teachers who loved to claim they were good or excellent. They loved to brag...

[ September 10, 2006, 07:16 PM: Message edited by: Roaming Eyes ]

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CRash
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quote:
But, I made the choice to seek higher learning! I'm finally able to enjoy the benefits of reading ahead... Of being able to keep up with my instructors. My grades in high school were not the greatest indicators of what I knew... I never had a "AP" class because they are only geared towards passing/learning what is on the test and not what is important to learn...
Interesting. At my school, the AP classes are the only "Honors" classes, unless you want to do Running Start and go to college-level classes (which are geared toward the lower caste of college students anyway).

I think that the AP tests actually cover a lot of material, and so learning what will be needed for the test is actually pretty beneficial. My history and calculus AP teachers, so far, have told us that they want to let us gain both thorough and general understanding of the subjects...which seems a huge improvement over the last couple years, when the teaching has been solely to the standardized test that everyone has to pass to graduate (boring) and I had to do a lot of independent study.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by GaalDornick:
quote:
But my lousy GPA and great SAT scores got me into UCLA, Columbia, and Barnard -- everywhere I applied.
I'm kind of in the same boat, I did pretty good on the test when I took it in 10th grade last year (680 on reading, 590 on math, 710 on writing) but my GPA is pretty pitiful. My school's guidance counselor, who's the devil, tells me everytime she sees me that I'm going to go to a community college when all my friend's go to Harvard if I don't start working harder. I hope my applications turn out like yours.
I don't know how pitiful your GPA is . . . but my SAT scores were higher than yours by a substantial amount. Back before they changed the test and made it easier, too. Of course, I took mine at the start of 12th grade, and you still have time to up your scores.

And my dad (who went to Harvard), was pretty sure I would not have gotten in there. The thing is, there's a whole lot in between Harvard and community college.

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Scorpio
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I'm a college Freshman right now. In high school, I was a good student and mostly got good grades. I had a knack for memorizing and retaining information (I particularly enjoyed doing this with poetry; I would proudly boast how I had memorized the entire "Rime of the Ancient Mariner") and so I seldom needed to take notes or study for tests. I did my homework like a good little boy.

It wasn't until my sophmore year that I started questioning the logic behind homework. I remember the exact assignment that shattered my view of homework forever. It was in biology, but the assignment was on balancing chemical equations. It was a four-page work-packet. 100 problems in all. Due the next day. There is nothing that that assignment taught us in 100 problems that we could not have learned in ten. Absolutely nothing. I remember the anger that I had in doing the assignment, thinking, "Why am I doing this? What purpose does this serve? I have better things to do than this stupid assignment."

From then on I associated homework with a quote from Family Guy:

Lois: Oh good, I don't have to cook.
Peter: Oh no, cook anyway Lois, and then we'll throw it out; I don't want you to get rusty.

My Junior research paper was entitled "The Inadequacies of Homework." It was quite possibly the most challenging assignment I have ever done, mainly because we had to research our opinions and construct a strong, supported argument in favor of them (which is a good way of doing things, but it is next to impossible to find any sources that are against homework in today's world). My english teacher was a big believer in homework, and I sort of had this dramatic notion that I would recieve an F and serve as a martyr for all who shared my opinions. Fortunately, my teacher graded on the quality of the work, not on how well our opinions fit with hers, and it recieved an A-.

The majority of my support came from a single book, entitled "The End of Homework: How homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning" by Etta Kralovek and John Buell. I greatly recommend this book to anyone who had ever dared to venture outside the "Homework Good!" mantra of our society.

One of the arguments in the book, and one of the main points of my paper, relates to what Mr. Card was saying about kids needing to be kids. It was about a study that actually spoke with students who did not do their homework, and asked them why they chose not to do so. The majority of them had the same answer: it cuts down on the time they spend with friends. Now, most American adults would be very judgemental with these children, because they have the notion of "Work before play" embedded in their brains, and think that homework should come before social time. However, an overwhelming amount of American adults do not possess a degree in developemental psychology. Of those that do, most agree that the most important thing for an adolescent to achieve is the developement of a "social self". When we have so much homework assigned to children, we risk doing untold damage. Imagine an entire generation of people who had high GPA's in high school, but are socially dead. They can't make friends, hold conversations, or form any kind of connections with others in their community. This is the world that high schools accross the nation are inadvertantly trying to create.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by Orson Scott Card:
So what choice do you make? The nice thing: It's entirely your choice, as long as you make it consciously. I'm going to let my grades go to pot, but I'll have a great education, so I can make my way in the world. then you devote your time to learning what you love, and you come out of high school fully able to deal with whatever college education you can glean from the junior college that's the only one you can get into (though that's usually quite a lot, by the way) or even make your way in the business world.

Actually, a student who makes this choice should be able to do fairly well on the SATs (or ACTs). And many colleges will overlook a poor GPA if your SAT scores are high enough.

They certainly did in my case. [Wink] And now that I work in college admissions, I can tell you that I see it all the time.

You talk alot about college admissions, so I'll ask you something. How much do you really think you know about the students you review? (not to be taken in an accusatory manner, I mean simply, how much DO you think you know?) I just remember doing my college aps (I am now at the "most competitive" UC campus, btw), looking at the information I was submitting and thinking that it was nothing about myself. Even the essay was directed towards something terribly contrived and detesable- and I was constantly praised as the best writer at my school (though not high praise looking back!).

I had a very negative experience with the UC application specifically, and it was the only one I did. It just felt WRONG- does that make any sense? Turning in that two page thing, and putting in those 5 extra curriculars in little java boxes was sickening to me. I wanted to sit down over a cup of coffee with someone and explain myself to them, and let them decide if I was ready for college. Looking back, I could have been ANYONE, with the grades I had, 3.8 and a 1350 SAT, I was in the middle of the advanced pack- nothing particularly special that showed up on my application anywhere.

I didn't get into UCLA, but I know now, and I've had my proffessors and students who go there tell me that it was an absolute mistake. Turns out I'm glad I didn't, because my circumstances here have worked out so well, but I sometimes think back to that application, and it makes me absolutely furious. The sense of incandescent, innexpressable rage at my seeming impotence in filling that thing out... it bugs me to this day. Its not hard to say, and its not brag, that I've talked to high school friends who went to the schools that rejected me (UCLA and Berkley) and felt the irony, the injustice of that judgement. I may be incredibly vain, but I get the feeling that I work ten times harder than these people now, and care ten times as much about my education as they do. Maybe they just don't project it the way I feel it, the imperative to learn and engage, but I know that I've grown into a person strongly driven to succeed, and these people don't seem to have had the same experience. What did the application see in them that I didn't have when I was 17? If we were to fill it out now, I would at least have the confidence in myself that I lacked then, but would the thing let me show all that I've done and learned? Can it test hours talking to people and reading books and going to concerts, poetry readings and traveling?

It's just one of those things- I'll never know how it might have been. Maybe if I hadn't had that sense of rejection at 18, I might not have cared as much as I did about proving "them" wrong.

Edit: It occurs to me that we do tend to mix our fables together in regards to this acceptance and rejection stuff. There is always the story of Einstein being rejected in his application for Patent Clerk 2nd class from 3rd class, but there is also the reverse tale, the "brigthest futures" who end up in drug rings or shooting eachother on ivy league campuses or something. We like to see the underdog rise up and the mighty fall, but what about us middle of the roaders? I go to a great school, so its not like it will be ironic if I am successful in life, and it wouldn't surprise the statistics if I wasn't. I dunno, just found that concept interesting- we tend to invest alot in what school you went to (as a kid I did anyway [Wink] ), but I've learned to trust that a little less in past few years.

[ September 17, 2006, 02:46 AM: Message edited by: Orincoro ]

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Adam_S
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quote:
One of the thing that high school used to test you for was your ability to carry out moronic assignments on time and up to specifications. Doesn't matter the subject matter - getting a diploma means you can work for any company in the world, because most work consists of carrying out moronic assignments on time and up to specs.
I'm reading John Taylor Gatto's A different kind of teacher right now and you just summarized his thesis beautifully without bringing in some of his more hysterical conspiracy theories.

Our schools are not bad. They are performing in excellent form. They are doing exactly what they are supposed to do--break the spirit of children, make them completely malleable and if possible as identical as cogs in a machine.

quote:
-Adam_S- I am taking calc, do you know which book you used?
No idea at all. In truth, he wasn't a bad teacher, he just didn't ever teach the why behind the what-to-do. I loved that he would teach shortcuts, I love math shortcuts; I hated that I couldn't use them unless I understood the principals of why they worked instead of another method. The book didn't teach me the whys very well at all, but it was exactly what the AP test wanted and it made more sense than what he showed us.

quote:
Most teachers are frustrated beyond belief with the rules and regulations they are put under
yeah, my mom, two aunts, one uncle, three cousins...

quote:
Washington State's governor, Christine Gregoire, who just a few days ago announced that she wants to take the standardized tests out of the hands of local school government and make standards uniform state-wide
I think this is a terrible idea. I think standardized testing in any form outside of entrance exams for university is a terrible idea. they only serve to subvert the possibility of acquiring an education and prevent acquiring the value of learning, imo.

I say just take the power over schools out of state and national government hands period. The beaurocratic school system is a jobs-project for nepotism, and a highly lucrative one at that. the State should have absolutely no say on text book content or course requirements or curriculum, those are the teachers' choices not a beaurocrats. I say make the principal have real authority of his school, and each school gets tax money direct, before 52% of it is skimmed off to pay the beaurocrats. make the superintendent the district archivist and a city employee whose main-task is to tell us when it's a snow day or not. If you think this is impossible, it's how our schools throughout the nation were ran for two hundred years before the national wave of highschool building in the early 1900s. They managed to very effectively.

quote:
I think one of the major problems today is the lack of foundational education. If a child does not learn the basics, such as addition or multiplication....how can they be expected to understand the concepts of algebra or higer level math.
Actually I think we do a pretty good job of getting the real basics into most children. But by the time they get to high school most are completely broken, why should they care when it's always been a joke. Okay, teaching reading of English by sight words rather than phonics is probably the most stupid educational theory of all time, and did a lot to hurt reading in this country, but everyone learns addition and subtraction before they sour on the school system. Whether or not they bother retaining it or performing their skills like a trained monkey for the school overlords upon command is a matter of personality, not a measure of their education level.

One interesting bit of history is that school in the united states did not use to be compulsory. But as the industrial revolution took over and waves of immigrants eked out an existence in horrible urban conditions the upper crust began to be worried that their status was threatened by people who were going to take over the country. Mediterranean and Eastern-European Catholic immigrants were perceived as an enormous political and social threat. Compulsory schooling was a solution to break up the identities of these new communities. Yes, that was actually the end game of designers of the current American school system--make children more tractable, less educated, less independent and completely dependent upon the system for survival (because they didn't know any other way to make a living). How many American high school graduates go to college because they don't know any other way to make a living? How many college graduates become panicked their senior year because they don't know how to make a living or how their degree applies to landing them a job? We're totally dependent on the system for our existence to continue because School prevents us from acquiring an experience about life.

Would it be better for students that are interested in writing to apprentice one day a week to a newspaper editor or a reporter at their local paper? apprenticeships one day a week in areas students are interested in would be an across the board wonderful revolution in our middle school and high school systems. Wouldn't everyone be benefitted if one day a week children were expected to volunteer in some manner that served the community. Helping out at a soup kitchen (even ones at a church, gasp), going to a nursing home, teaching/reading younger kids some new game or book, being a runner for any number of community related employers (police, city hall, firemen). The key to improving american education is to get kids out of school so they can start experiencing life! No child should have their first taste of life be at 18 when they leave home to go to college. That's like teaching someone how to swim by throwing them into the middle of the pacific ocean and refusing to instruct or help them. I'd even say a day spent on parent-child joint education would be beneficial as well, but the school system has shaped our employment situation so much that they are every bit as rigid as the regular school day and beaurocratic control is inflexible, unimaginative and utterly absolute.

I don't think you need more than two days to cover in class material when students are getting an education rather than a prison sentance and the chinese-water-torture of busywork. [Razz]

[ September 17, 2006, 03:02 AM: Message edited by: Adam_S ]

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pooka
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The pressure to get into a really pricey college for undergrad is ridiculous. If you can get into a second tier (Not top 40) college for undergrad, you can do well in college and go on to a fancy grad school. But paying big bucks for undergrad is like driving a Hummer.
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Mrs.M
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quote:
Why? Because somebody's whiny parent will say, How come my Junior has to do all this homework and that Natasha girl doesn't have ANY?; nobody dares to say, Because it takes your Junior that long to master the concept, and Natasha gets it in an instant.
I was so gratified to read this that I almost cried. One of the reasons I will never, ever go back into education is because I never want to deal with combative, unrealistic, cheating parents again. Schools are so afraid of lawsuits (even an unsuccessful lawsuit costs a lot) that they've crippled their faculty and administration with regard to parent relations.

I wonder what Mr. Card thinks about tracking. Personally, I think it should start in Kindergarden. I know so many early childhood teachers who are so frustrated because some kids come to school barely knowing their ABC's and some are reading chapter books and they have to teach all of them in one class. The slower learners feel stupid and frustrated and the faster learners feel bored and frustrated. Everyone's frustrated. And Mr. Card really hit the nail on the head about "Enrichment." I remember filling up workbooks in a daze and learning absolutely nothing.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
You talk alot about college admissions, so I'll ask you something. How much do you really think you know about the students you review? (not to be taken in an accusatory manner, I mean simply, how much DO you think you know?)

The school I work it has far fewer applicants than any UC. Generally, I will speak (sometimes in person, sometimes by phone, at the very least via email) with most applicants who are borderline at least once. Often more.

So I'd say pretty well. But I have the luxury of working on a far smaller scale than a UC admissions officer does. And also we don't have the many-times-more-qualified-applicants-than-places problem. If an applicant is qualified, we take 'em. UC schools (especially UCLA, but all of them really) have to make difficult choices between many applicants who are qualified -- but they cannot take them all.

I would LOVE to have that problem! [Wink]

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Orincoro
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Actually UCD is now the "most selective" campus, meaning they've turned down the most applicants, (many of the denials are now pretty much arbitrary, and students get deffered admission if they go to a JC), and so the standards to meet are now the highest here, and not UCLA or Berkley. This is I think, the first year that has been true in the history of the UC, and its also why we have 1000 more entering Freshman than expected. UC Davis suddenly looks very attractive as a Division 1 school. Meh, I'm glad I was born when I was- I might not have made it in here if I were younger. [Monkeys]
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Adam_S
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not ranting tonight except to say that our Enrichment program was far and away the best enrichment program I've ever heard of or came across . It was never busy work and it always put the limitless possibilities of education within our grasps. The amazing things we did as third fourth and fifth graders still blow my mind, most of my high school classes held less academic challenge equivalent to what I accomplished in third grade enrichment.

Even now, my little sister is learning advanced science and algebra in her enrichment math and science course in sixth grade that she takes instead of regular math and science. [Razz]

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AMCSteel
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I will say that I thought I had a heft Homework load back in High School (before then I cannot recall) However I never really did much of it at home. Usually I would do the Homework assigned in the early classes after I finished my work in the later classes, and In the later classes I would do the the work the next day in the early classes. That is if I could get away with it. Sometimes I would rush and get it done in class right before the teacher asked for it(if the teacher remembered to ask for it) Those long assignments that you had days to do, I would usually start 2 days before they were do, and did fine.

It was only in creative writing classes that I spent a lot of at home time on my assignments. For those were the most enjoyable to do, and I hardly considered them work.

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Nikisknight
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quote:
How many American high school graduates go to college because they don't know any other way to make a living? How many college graduates become panicked their senior year because they don't know how to make a living or how their degree applies to landing them a job? We're totally dependent on the system for our existence to continue because School prevents us from acquiring an experience about life.
So totally true. After college all I knew was that I didn't want to do anymore school. And I loved college compared to high school in every way, but 16 years was enough school!
But anyway, after college I was only marginally more prepared for the real world than after high school so... I went into teaching. [Wall Bash] I taught High School Chemistry for a year, in down town LA (actually Long Beach, same thing if you're not in the area). I'm fairly convinced now that schools main function is to keep kids off the streets. I didn't assign too much homework, though what I got back I didn't have time to grade and when I did it was often copied from another student anyway.
I'll completely second the worthlessness of most school work, let alone homework. I usually borrowed curricula from the other teachers because I was frankly out of my depth as a first year teacher with more kids than chairs half the year and few of them caring a bit about anything I had to teach them. (They had to have a science class, so there they were. They only cared about grades when they noticed them and saw that they reflected their effort, which was nil. "they" refers to about 40% of my students, the noisy ones who took up all my time.)

But anyway, alot of the classwork lessons I gave, given to me by the vetern teachers, were garbage. color the periodic table. Make a poster showing xyz, etc. Well, I did a pretty poor job of teaching them any of the concepts anyway, at least they could do the coloring, and if they had been graded on tests, rather than on having 9 of ten assignments turned in with a name on their paper, I'd have had 80% Fs. I quit that job as soon as I could, sadly, it was after a year of mutual toture.

My own High school experience was basically doing homework at lunch, half-way, or not at all, and doing just fine thanks to my brillance at tests and voracous appetite for reading. I plan on telling my children that they need to know the content of their classes, and if they cna show it to me, forget the homework, grades and college don't matter. Or better yet, home shcooling.

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striplingrz
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Man this is a good subject. Very timely for me with 3 little boys in elementary school. I'll speak of my oldest (5th grader). First any conversation about him has to begin with the disclaimer he has ADHD. No doubts, so don't go there. [Wink]

His struggles with school have always been behavior. But this year seems to be going pretty well. Alas, homework has increased 2-fold. I swear! Funny thing though, he has 2 teachers, and one assigns much more than the other. I'll give more on my thoughts about homework below, but the reason I wanted to jump in here is this. 2 things. 1)If he doesn't turn in his homework, they make him sign a book, and it goes against his weekly conduct grade! I'm floored by this. That seems so obviously wrong to me. However, I told the teachers I didn't want to argue the point, he'll confirm to what is needed. 2)Anyone heard of pre-class work? A few weeks ago he had math homework, but failed to bring his book home. So he promises me he'll do it first thing in the morning. The bell that allows kids to enter the school building rings at 8:45a, you're late after 9:00a. So he goes to class at 8:45a and starts doing his math homework. The teacher takes it away from him, makes him sign the "book". She tells me they require this pre-class stuff. I'm like "hello, school starts at 9:00a???". LOL, I didn't get far with the point, but it just floors me.

Now for my personal take on homework.

For me, its very much dependent on the individual. When I was in school I rarely had it. In most every case, I did the work at school. Rarely did I have anything for "home". I can remember learning the multiplication tables with the help of my mom. High School? not really. My second oldest son appears to be the same. He gets A's & B's while rarely bringing home "homework". But here is the thing.
a) With my oldest, I plainly see it is vital to his success. When I don't interact with his school work, he struggles D's and maybe a C or two. But when I'm with him each night, ensuring he's got the principles down pat, its much better. Does this mean his teacher could do a better job at school? Maybe. But in his sparetime, instead of trying to do the homework at school so he doesn't have to do it at home, he draws pictures, makes lists, etc...
b) For me, not doing/having homework really became a glaring issue when I went to college. What it meant was I didn't know how to study. I wasn't prepared, and it put me back a couple of years. Maybe I wasn't mature enough, but I look back upon that as a pretty obvious issue for me personally.

So I have mixed feelings on homework. I think its necessary. But in moderation. And I think Uncle Orson would have no problem with that take!

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Abyss
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You're struggling to figure out what homework is supposed to accomplish -- I think it's a step up. I'm still trying to figure out what I learned from high school, period.
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cmc
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I'm only replying to the last two posts, more specifically the last... I'm realizing as I get older what I learned in hs. For a long, long time I would have told you that what I learned had more to do with social interaction than actual 'knowledge'. I took ap classes and all that type stuff but I also partied. I'll be honest - I lived it up in hs. More than I did in college and I actually quit drinking for almost a year after I turned 21 because it just wasn't the road I wanted to go down. So, Abyss, I learned feel like I learned more 'life skills' in hs than anything else...

As time passes, though, I realize that I guess I did learn from homework. Granted, I spent most of my time in class when the teacher was talking working on that night's homework, I still knew it had to be done. I think one of the most valuable things I learned was that it doesn't matter when you do it, as long as it gets done and done right, you're good.

The job I have now is much the same way. It doesn't matter if I get 'things' done at a certain time, it just matters that it's done by the time it's needed. I learned that as long as I'm doing my work, as long as I'm producing the necessary output at the necessary quality, cool.

One last thought, I'm glad I learned the basics of all the things I learned when I was in hs because now at least I know how to look for the specifics (internet, encyclopedia, library, etc).

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