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How do we assign credit for an idea or a level of learning acquired outside of the academic arena?

I just listened to a TED talk on happiness. The ideas were very familiar to me. In fact it was almost exactly what I had heard on a Tony Robbins CD copyrighted in 2006. His work; however, dates back much farther. While Robbins does not have the college degrees that Achor does, he has been working in the field for decades. My question is when or how do we recognize high levels of achievement if they have not been acquired by attending a school?

This issue goes beyond the question of who takes credit for ideas as adults. It affects our children as well. A case in point is my daughter who according the the University of California was ready to start college freshman English at 13 but her high school would not give her credit for her level of achievement. They demanded that she take four years of high school English or four years of college English in order to graduate from high school. For that school, time in the classroom was more important than achievement. Is this what we want? And if it isn't how do we assure that students have reached a level of proficiency before we give them credit?

As we become a society in which people will change jobs more frequently and require additional education and certification, this issue becomes critical.

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    • Jun 27 2013: Theoretically, schools have placement tests. I've found that the reality does not meet the theory. For example, at a local university, a professor who was the head of the department stated that if a student wanted to test out of a course, he would make the test so hard that he couldn't pass it. He had a PhD and the course he was referring to was a freshman level poly sci course.

      I've also seen folks with only a BS who easily knew more than those with a PhD. He had worked in his field for decades. His research had been done inside corporations and he still wasn't getting credit for what he could and did do. Going back to school would have been at an extreme cost which he could not afford.

      Without some way to recognized life achievements and relate them to degrees, we as a society make higher paying jobs the provenience of those who worked hard and got lucky or were born with a silver spoon. I just want to level the playing field and give credit where it is due.
  • Jun 28 2013: There's ways to overcome school policies. One of them being to present standardized tests.

    Anyway, how do we give credit without a school? Standardized tests is a way, but achievement is another way. Robbins has no lack of credibility, does he? I know people who are well recognized in the scientific community who never got a PhD. Some started working in their fields as a hobby, but studied seriously and intensely enough that they then sent articles to journals describing their findings, and the articles were accepted. It's hard, but when the skills are truly high level, it's possible.

    I think we should stop the school bullshit. While they might work up to a point, they quickly degenerate to the point where a person with a title becomes practically indistinguishable from the person without a title other than because one has the little piece of paper, but no skills. Schools are excuses pretending that skills can be transmitted to students in a one-size-fits-all mentality. That ends with lots of frustrated talented individuals, and lots of idiots acquiring titles. The educational system is in dire need of change.
  • Jun 27 2013: Unfortunately, entrance into AP courses can be a political mess. My daughter was denied entrance into freshman high school AP English despite having placed into college freshman English and straight As as an eighth grader. The placement was in the hands of the Dean of the English department. My son had fired him as his RSP instructor and so had his friends.

    I'd like to think that politics is not part of how we educate our kids but it is. If there were standard placement tests or a standard set of criteria, that would be great but there isn't. Having the classes she needed as a freshman available at the 11th grade level still wouldn't have given her what she needed. If she went into the 11th grade AP class as a freshman, she would have only had two years of English and they were demanding four. The graduation requirements are still stated as time-in-grade, 4 years of English, rather than a competency level.

    Graduation should based on competency. The problem is how do we evaluate competency? One thing that I do know is that a single paper-based (or computer-based) test is not good enough and is biased against kinesthetic thinkers.
  • Jun 27 2013: So, who should get credit? If the work has been done and published not in academic journals but in the 'real' world, should that work be recognized?

    The other question is should people be credited because they wrote about something and published or should the original work be credited? What I find today is that teachers/professors require that the reference be less than 5 years old. This often means that the articles cited have the information required but may not have done any original work.
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    Jun 27 2013: In terms of the transition to college, it is not important what the high school will confer but only what the university will accept. For example, I have taught many students in eighth grade who them went directly to university. They had never set foot in the high school. I have taught many more who headed to university out of tenth grade.

    If readiness is only in one subject, many public universities allow high school students to enroll in their classes.

    Here is an early entrance program in California: http://www.calstatela.edu/academic/eep/

    But if you do a search for early entrance to college, you will get lots of hits. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_college_entrance_program
    http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/gs/hs/echsgen.asp
    • Jun 27 2013: My daughter went on to college at the end of her sophomore year. She did very well and graduated with a good GPA 3.8 something. In this case, the issue is that she had the college recognition for her English. It was the high school that wouldn't recognize it. In my opinion, she should have been able to complete her college English requirements (UC credits would have been recognized anywhere) and not have to take any more English.This was not enough for her high school. They demanded four years of high school English or four years of college English without getting college credit. To me, that was a control issue, not an educational achievement level issue. At least in California, principals have the control over these issues. I've since found out that the principal could have allowed the scenario suggested but refused. I feel that there should be a national standard way of handling this issue.
      My daughter had the maturity to handle college. I've seen others in the same circumstances that didn't and one thing that I do know, a bored teenager is one who causes problems not only for themselves but everyone around them.
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        Jun 27 2013: Such a huge number of students are ready for college level coursework in high school that most schools of any size by now offer college level English courses at the high school beginning in 11th grade, don't they? The same is true in history and in math and to a slightly lesser degree in science. I am used to seeing AP History as an offering starting in sophomore year.

        These college level courses allow students to work at their level while remaining with their age cohort.

        At the high school where me daughters went, an inner-city urban high school, maybe 150 kids each year took AP English Language and Comp in 11th grade, getting both high school and college credit (the latter if they passed the end-of-year exam) and AP English Literature on the same basis in 12th grade.

        I had thought this was pretty standard now for urban and suburban public high schools.

        The high school credit for these college courses was automatic and the college credit by examination.
      • Jun 28 2013: But if the college or university will accept the results from standardized tests, then who cares if your daughter did not get a high-school diploma? Does the college require SAT tests?
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          Jun 28 2013: In the United States a student can get the equivalent for college purposes of a high school diploma (the piece of paper itself) by sitting for a four part test that tests that a student has reached the minimum standard in math, English, science, and social studies. It is called the GED.
        • Jun 29 2013: My daughter finished college so her lack of a high school diploma is moot. However, there are other students for whom that is not the case. Statistically a huge percentage of incoming freshmen will not graduate. Therefore, having that high school diploma to fall back on is important. Having principals control what is recognized as fulfilling the requirements results in students being subject to the politics of the individual in power. In my opinion, it is a recipe for abuse.

          In theory, students have access. In practice, the principals are still the gate keepers if the parent doesn't know that they can go to the superintendent. Even then, it is still politics. How many parents are aware of how to properly express their concerns and appropriately advocate for their children? In my experience, there are very few.

          In my daughter's case waiting to take college English until her junior year would have been two years to late. In the school I taught in last year, they couldn't take AP English until their senior year.

          The GED is not considered a high school diploma by many businesses in my area. The level of learning required by the test is just too low. Students can pass the GED and not be able to add and subtract mixed denominator fractions as required by many construction and construction related field. Even the CASHEE required in California to graduate from high school is only 8th grade math and 10 grade English. The GED isn't even at that level.
      • Jun 30 2013: Carol,

        If someone jumped high-school, but needs a "fallback," then such someone should finish high-school.
  • Jun 27 2013: Tony Robbins studied Karate with John Rhee and NLP with Bandler and Grinder.
    Okay that's one way to do it. To be sure to graduate from High School you have to graduate from high school or earn a GED. Schools used to let a kid skip a grade maybe they still do. Then again some schools are more competitive than others. Be careful for what you ask for as you might get it. Look when you do things differently lord knows what will happen. IT's not like schools are for learning and able to adjust to unique situations.
    There is a section in Mensa that deals with this. The Annual Gathering is in Fort Worth, Texas, in July this year.