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Paul McCarthy

Director - UCLA Martial Arts Program, Inosanto International Martial Arts Instructors Association

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Talent pool being robbed in schools

Food for thought, do you think that Beardyman learned to do all that in school...which standardized test gave him the ability to make whatever sound he likes from his voice!? His school education probably had nothing to do with it, following his passion for life probably had everything to do with it. Imagine how many other talented people there are out there being stifled by a shockingly closed minded education system that cuts music, sport and arts programs faster than we cut down the rainforest!

http://www.ted.com/talks/beardyman_the_polyphonic_me.html

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    Aug 23 2013: the need for creativity is inherit in every educational discipline. We continue to look for the preferable silver bullet to fix an antiquated educational system .Measuring success and/or failures using a sheet of test scores numbers...no I can't wrap my brain around that logic. How about taking a look at curriculum, how about taking a look at what keeps a kid engaged with his/her education? I would guess that about 20% of a school's population would choose math, sciences, etc. Baseball, dance, theater, football, music, creative writing, sketching, soccer, etc.,etc.,etc...highlight of their day,and worth showing up for and maybe keeping up grades? one more thought.......the traditional size of a H.S. population is far too large
    • Aug 24 2013: it depends on how the test is done. if it's just a test of how many and how well facts have been remembered then you're right, but test questions that require understanding and actual thought process are very valuable. remember that the standardized test (thought up and written by people who have never even been teachers, no less) is a modern invention, not antiquated.
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        Aug 24 2013: Thanks for the reply. A great conversation. The problem with testing is the notion that the students and teachers individual achievement are a direct link to testing scores. What happened to curriculum and instruction? This data should be used for improvement not accountability. A large part of our public educational system is funded by a community’s property tax. State and federal funding don’t cover the bill. With all the financial strife community members are experiencing, to get a vote of “yes” to increase property tax rates that just covers the increase in fixed expenses, well is a battle all too often lost. So, where is a school budget cut? Teaching positions and curriculum.. The Arts, and Sports, (some communities have a pay-to-play policy too many families cannot afford). Additionally, the cost of procuring a contract with a for- profit company to produce not only the test but prep materials surely costs millions. Who foots the bill? The state and the expenses are passed on to local school districts receiving less funding.Ben, every time there is a shortage in funding, curriculum that supports the beautifully and much needed creative talent is cut.
        • Aug 25 2013: "This data should be used for improvement not accountability" - I think this is a very poignant point. This pic demonstrates it well, where the attitude of the parents has shifted from their responsibility to making the child do well in school to complete lack of accountability on their part and blaming the teacher.

          http://www.cagle.com/2010/04/teachers-in-1960-and-2010-color/

          Teachers should be supported alot more and not judged by scores that have no connection to how much effort and aptitude they put into their teaching.
        • Aug 26 2013: i think teachers' and students' individual achievement should be linked to test scores, but the important part is what that test is actually testing. eg in chemistry a bad question would be 'what colour does litmus turn in a low pH solution?' because all it tests is whether or not the student can remember a fact which is easily looked up anyway, while a better question would be 'why is it important to test for the pH of a solution?' as it demands the understanding of a concept and its implication.

          also people have to get over the idea of 'bad' test scores. a low score is as useful as a high score as it tells both student and teacher that the student hasn't yet grasped concepts and either needs special tuition (if it's basic knowledge, necessary for living in the real world) or to shift into another course to try to find something the student will be better suited to. it's ridiculous for students to get upset at receiving a low score and even more ridiculous for parents, unless it's because their son or daughter hasn't been making enough effort.
        • Aug 26 2013: paul: too right, accountability to who? education dept bureaucrats? the school board? psychologists? all people who have never taught and cannot possibly accurately evaluate an actual teacher. even if it was a principal, they don't teach either!
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      Aug 24 2013: Mary, you've got a lot of things right. It really does not make sense to have a standardized testing system based on how much a child can or cannot remember. We are only testing the the retention capacity of the brain and not the creative power. Human beings are not machines that need to go through a standardized test to receive the OK TESTED badge in the form of a school certificate (reminds me of the toys that I had as a kid with those little round stickers that say OK TESTED). It's really demeaning to think that we make out children go through such a rigorous process just to prove them fit in the eyes of the modern capitalist world!

      Ben you are absolutely right about having more conceptual and analytic questions in contrast to factual questions. I wish those bigheads who sit in cozy offices and shape our education system spent some time actually teaching in a school to understand what's really happening at the grassroots. But we can't blame them entirely. We teachers and educators leave the policy making to these Ivy League scholars. Unless we take things in our hands and play an active role in shaping our education system, it's not going to change for the good anytime soon.

      Besides sharing ideas, I believe we need to get together and do something tangible about the situation. Doesn't matter where we come from, education needs a new system worldwide! Individually we may not count, but together we can force our governments and bureaucrats to stop playing with the lives of our children. If we sit back with our hands folded, these children will just become a part of the system, and the vicious cycle would go on, until someone braver and more determined than us stands up to it.
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        Aug 24 2013: I agree Rohit, standard testing is really a test of memory. more often then not. when a student is tested in the class room regarding a particular lesson, once tested I would suggest that about 50% (?) of learning is discarded.
        Rohit I also strongly agree that all this countless educational mandates created by "these ivy league scholars " should come with a prerequisite to procure the job; Minimum of 3 months in the class room teaching assignments to include observation by school officials. Then, at the end of a school year a standardize test relating to the subject(s) they taught be given.

        The only way I see to combat this and "take things in our own hands" is far greater community engagement, Parents, teachers and yes even students.
      • Aug 25 2013: Someone else mentions this above...what does the change look like? What are the actions we can take. Does anyone have any tangible ideas on what to do. Right now I am only in the stage of educating myself more about the system and its faults. How can we make the changes that all teachers agree need to happen? I think a nice first step is to somehow get more money into the education system and here in California it all goes to the prison systems! :(
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          Aug 25 2013: The challenge is inherit when educating our young...... The return on investment is not immediate. It's an investment in our future, all of us. Not enough people can relate to leaving a legacy when speaking to a community, a state nor a nation.
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          Aug 26 2013: Paul, it's wonderful that you are educating yourself about our mediocre education system, but let me remind you that true education always involves change. Change in ourselves, and a change is our immediate surrounds:could be the system, people around us, etc. Unless we reflect this change, we aren't benefiting from our learning process.

          We mustn't wait for the right time or to equip ourselves with the right amount of knowledge before we step into the arena. We have to be a part of that ongoing change. As we learn and change, we have to influence our environment and initiate a change without too!

          The US is still better off than some countries like India, where all the money ends up in the pockets of corrupt politicians and government officials. You wouldn't believe me if I had to describe the education system over here, unless you experience it yourself. Well, no matter where we come from, the education system needs a new face. The phenomenon is global, and I guess it's somehow linked to the modern technology-driven civilization.
      • Aug 26 2013: thanks daniel. the only thing i'd add is that creativity isn't everything and can actually be a negative - creativity needs to be tempered by a solid understanding of reality. eg gravity doesn't care how creative a building design is, it'll bring anything not designed with a solid understanding of basic forces crashing down!
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          Aug 26 2013: Exactly Ben!

          The aim of our education system should be to teach us how to use our creativity in the most efficient way that would benefit humankind at large and not just give personal satisfaction. Alas! Our education is just turning us into selfish, career-driven, money-minded shortsighted individuals. We have to bring back the humanity in our education!
      • Aug 27 2013: actually that's not what i meant. i mean we should learn the unavoidable basics first, then learn to apply those things creatively. back to the building analogy, you can't start with making it look like a giraffe. what you first need is to plan the plumbing and elevator shafts, then you can start to work on some creative look for it. the torsion force on a length of steel has nothing to do with our humanity.

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