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Shawn James Jr.

intern, TED


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Is the generation in education getting less intelligent than the ones before them or smarter?

I often hear people say that the generation after them are not as smart as they were growing up. By people I mean the adults like my parents and grandparents. What is your input on the issues with education? Do you believe the education system is falling apart?


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    Jun 22 2011: State Content standards list information that students must master in order to be considered "Proficent" in the particular discipline. They do not specify the methods by which this information is imparted to students. It is the process, not the content, that seperates one school from another. Somehow, education has come to be presented in ways that lack relevance for many students. That must change. Schools need to become institutions that both prepare students for continuing their education and for employment by giving them real-world skills. The school reform movement is garnering momentum. The key will be reaching inner-city students who have grown to distrust education. Contrary to popular opinion, our top students are as good or better than the top students in any other country. The problems is the large gap in achievement. Edutopia.org (The George Lucas Foundation) is a great resource for school reform.
    • Jun 22 2011: no, education methods are very strictly controlled. teachers aren't allowed to award prizes for good work, aren't allowed to raise their voices, aren't allowed to deviate from the curriculum, and must use a set textbook, just to name a few.otherwise you are quite correct, but it's not schools that need to change, it's the fools who've never taught a class in their lives controlling them that needs to be fixed. get the bureaucrats, psychologists and parents out and you'll find that teachers are actually very good at teaching. that shouldn't be surprising really, where else in society does that occur? can you imagine how un-funny your favourite comedian would be if his manager told him what jokes he could and couldn't use?
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        Jun 22 2011: Ben,
        In China, teachers do the same. Because in China most students are from rural area or undeveloped area of China, so they have to only do the studying according to the content of curriculum for getting the excellent marks at entrance examination for colleges and universities and for changing their taugh life and for getting a better job.

        In fact, students in China admire the students in foreign countries, especially in USA, because in USA has no more pressure on studying and admission right?
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          Jun 22 2011: lian, so are you saying that the only goal of elementary and high school is to get admitted into a university?? What about those who are not academically inclined?? Are they "weeded out" beforehand?? And I can see, too, though why your system would be more consistent as is it not still under the communistic umbrella? But what you also must keep in mind is that American schools are not just about LEARNING per se. It is also a social venue due to all of our extra-curricular activities that we offer our students (for better or worse); and these actvities are not found, for the most part, in international schools. I know my students are amazed at this when I tell them my experiene with education in Serbia, and they talk to exchange students and when writing to pen-pals as they just assume that everyone has clubs and sports and an auditorium, gym and stadium.

          And as for pressure of getting into a university/college here...there is A LOT of pressure, I can assure you, especially at our top schools as many international students want in as well. Hmmmm... which is a bit weird now that I think about it as how can our American educational system for the most part be considered so poor when our universities are not?? When you look at the top 10 in the world, most are in America! Hmm....What is with that???

          Regards from the USA!!
        • Jun 23 2011: linda as with most countries chinese can leave school to learn other things (such as mechanics, business school etc) if they do not wish to go on to university. i wouldn't say students are 'weeded out', just allowed to pursue a different path.

          re your second paragraph it's an important observation i think. think about what i said, and notice how none of those exist in universities - university boards made up of parents don't choose the textbook and curriculum, the actual teachers do, psychologists don't meddle and instruct teachers not to give any criticism to students even where it's due and will result in the student then improving their performance, and universities are also free to set their own education policy, and so again it's actual teachers teaching at each university that do this, not a bunch of deskbound bureaucrats.

          i think it's clear why american universities are doing so well, and also why schools are failing - because control has been wrested from teachers (who are education professionals) by people who think they have great ideas but actually don't know what they're talking about.
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      Jun 22 2011: Nick, you are right about the content stanards and one teacher at my school really took time to look at all of them and really thought that if our students in Florida were to truly master all of them, he/she would have to be in high school until approx. age 27! I know that there are just too many of them, and when we write our team's curriculm (grade plus honors or reg), we pick and choose which ones we think will really benefit our students. And you are right about making a better connection between real-world and education and I think many schools are really trying to do this. But the whole system needs to be revamped as there are so many inequities still due to socio-economics and vision of the states and school boards that in all honesty, one really cannot make the blanket statement that American education stinks...for in many areas, it does not!

      Ben, you are right in some ways about how the curriculum is taught and what a teacher can and cannot do. as I think it depends upon the school and district. In regards to having to use a certain textbook, we do have one, but I know in our department, which is English, we hardly ever use it as we supplement what we want our students to know with novels and anything else we can find. At our school, we have a curriculum and common assessments, but the teacher may teach the curriculum how he/she sees fit, so we are lucky that teacher creativity is not shut down. We at one time had a principal who wanted all of us to be basically on the same page on the same day....and that is not only impossible but ridiculous as good teachers will stop and repeat something differently if a concept is not understood. So I guess I/we are lucky at our school.

      Now what I totally agree with is your comment about those who never taught a class controlling education. This is where the insanity needs to end. I am TIRED of those people dictating what is good for our students, as education is NOT really a business nor students clients.
      • Jun 23 2011: i've heard from a lot of american teachers who'd surely envy your school! too often i've heard of teachers getting in trouble for not using the textbook chosen for them, getting in trouble for selecting a novel that contained the word 'damn' or something to that effect, or even worse being branded a bad teacher because in following the mandated methods their students have performed poorly.
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      Jun 28 2011: @Nick,
      Inner city teachers are often told EXACTLY how to impart information via scripted lesson plans. No Child Left Behind and now Race to the Top made that adjustment. Inner city children distrust education because they see the obvious inequities when they leave the "hood" and witness that not all schools are created equal.

      If you have time, read Savage Inequalities by Johnathan Kozol. My comments are based on lived experience as a child in low income districts and as an educator within the same.

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