Robert Winner

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Education Survey

I just received a survey and it asked the question: Which subject do you think todays students need the most improvement? The only options were the STEM subjects.

Yeah I think we are weak on a international scale ... however, I also think we are completely failing in government, history, and economics even worse in the USA.

We have begin to eliminate electives and some core classes in response to the governments unfunded requirements for 4 years of math, science, and English.

Also with mass obesity issues should we re-look physical education and home economics to teach a better / healthier lifestyle? How about the elimination of the ARTS is that good? Elimination of the manual trades classes (electives)?

Finding and correcting problems in education is one thing but I am not sure that this total change in direction is a good thing?

Is there to much government in education? Should it be a matter for the States? The local districts?

I addressed USA issues .... a view on what works elsewhere is welcome.

Suggestions, recommendations, thoughts .....

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    Nov 14 2013: i think the survey you received highlights nicely why surveys are ultimately only good for chatting about over the teacups - it's immediately made invalid by its severely limited choices. in my experience, this kind of thing is rampant in education but people continue to put stock in these highly unreliable forms of information gathering.

    i think things should be kept local. the only real failing that i see in the "industrial model" ed system is that it drew strength from collated data across a wide range of information and students. that way of gathering data and information is clumsy, slow and wildly out of date. central leadership can only be out of touch. blanket curriculum delivery and assessment fails almost every individual learner not attuned to the written and printed word.

    in New Zealand, we have an excellent curriculum document. it is child-centred, acknowledges the fact that individuals are all different and strives to push equality and experience to all.

    unfortunately, the current government saw fit to introduce "National Standards" which was a very big step backwards in order to provide parents with 'clear, simple reporting' to what was basically a national yardstick.

    it was rushed, insubstantial, against the wishes of the majority of NZ's teaching profession and enforced nonetheless. our curriculum cannot be implemented to its full potential because of this archaic approach to assessment.

    what it showed me was that it is the methods of assessment that have the greatest effect on the system. often, the focus is more on the systems of measurement than the student. everything becomes about the bureaucracy as if that's where good teaching lies. it is not.

    as for content - that's irrelevant as long as it's interesting. if it's interesting, whether it's physics, politics, literature, whatever, it will spark curiosity and debate. the rest is easy.

    reduce the bureaucracy and lessen the role of government in decision making.
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    Nov 12 2013: We are failing at the core. It's not just that we are weak on various subjects, but we are weak on the core ability and desire to learn.
  • Nov 12 2013: Bob, I think that education in America is falling apart because we are trying to be like everyone else in the world rather than what made us great at one point.

    We are trying to become test - takers with the ability to regurgitate rote knowledge like many countries. We are demanding performance on high-stakes tests like many countries. We have cut out programs in order to focus on education of all children in this manner.

    What about arts, physical education, applied sciences, social studies, and music? Where have all the subjects and electives gone that created the well rounded student? Do we even believe that a student should be well rounded, well, beyond the round belly due to obesity?

    The innovative side of our education is being driven out of kids in favor of passing the blankity blank test. Now, we have done nothing but driven knowledge in their heads and removed their freedom of thinking and multiple answers in order to pass the test.

    Not to mention the removal of the trades from public schools to another spot off campus. The belief that every child will go to college is a lie. Some kids just need 1 - 2 years of a trade and they will be successful. Couple that with some arts and physical activity, throw in some science and government studies, you might have a great student and worker one day.

    As one friend once said, "Not every job requires a college degree. I still need someone to change the oil in my car cause I don't know how, and I will pay for that service."
  • Nov 12 2013: Bob,

    I think many of the questions have been discussed before. I feel one question which has not been discussed is what is the the purpose of education - employee creation or creating individuals in the process of being educated (I do not believe anyone is educated, just in the process of being)

    Another question is one you bring up who should control education and how should we fund it? Think all 3 levels mentioned have done a very poor job. I have been thinking about how to pay teachers and administrations. I liked Desmond's discussion on voting with their feet"

    1. Superintendent and his staff are paid by the number of students that stay in district
    2. teachers are paid by the number of students in their class
    3. principals paid by the number of students in their school
    4. teachers get bonus when a student graduates (all their teachers back to kindergarten), more bonus when student passes college credits
    5. parents/students vote by selecting which class and teachers students apply to get in - if there are more students than the teachers can handle, the teacher can select the students
    6. teachers have the right to refuse a student but it will cost them money.if the class is not full.