Jeronique Bartley

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The true problem with education is ___________?

I don’t want to further complicate the topic of education (as it seems to be more complex than it should be.) My goal is to get a general idea of your personal views on what the TRUE problem is in terms of education. We will go more specific later, but for now please just post your general thoughts on the above question.

Complete this statement: The true problem with education is___________.

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    Nov 16 2011: one size fits all approach
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    Nov 23 2011: The true problem with education is how we don't take it seriously. This is especially the case here in America. In Japan, education is a top priority in the culture as a whole. Many students actually take entrance exams to get into better High schools. The truth is, there are actually a lot of factors causing problems in education today, but one thing is certain, and that's that our culture is not one that takes pride in education anymore. Whether it's kids being spoiled into not having a strong work ethic, parents not taking a vested interest in their child's development, under-funding by the government, or socioeconomic factors, the problems all start with the way our society views education. Unfortunately, changing the culture is no easy task.

    On a side note, for anyone who doesn't think there is a problem. . . Remember that we once had a TV show called "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?", and people rarely won. W. . .T. . .F!! That's entertainment? "look how dumb we are?", is prime time TV? There's your problem.
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    Nov 17 2011: There is no one single problem. There never is. It would be much easier to fix, if there were.

    Here's my 2 cents, for what it's worth..

    Less system. More education.

    Communities governing their schools and not central government.

    A more open-ended definition of 'teacher'.

    Far less assessment and 'accountability'.
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      Nov 19 2011: Tell us more about this portion of your 'highly valued 2 cents' :) Less assessment and accountability?
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        Nov 19 2011: The are a bunch of issues around assessment that need to be sorted out.

        The first is to be clear as to the purpose of the assessment. In New Zealand, most of the assessment done in schools is for the purposes of the ministry of education for their statistical purposes (largely unnecessary in this day and age).

        Much teacher-student contact time is given over to this type of assessment. Effectively, it's admin for absent bureaucrats.

        Some assessment is for the purpose of identifying a student's abilities and knowledge so as to inform teaching practice to best move a student forward or "add value".

        We need less of the first kind (make bureaucrats do their own spade-work) and more of the second.

        Also, when the student is involved in that process, it becomes even more effective - that is, the student sets their own goals and monitors their progress towards and past it. Self Assessment.

        As far as some external yardstick set by central government to 'fit' all students goes, it ignores the fact that everyone is different, therefore it fails from the outset.

        The only people teachers and schools need to be accountable to are the students and parents (their local community).
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          Nov 22 2011: What grade level do you believe the 'student' involvement portion should kick in?
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        Nov 22 2011: Right from the beginning. Obviously, the methods or processes that we teach to younger students would be simple and become more complex as they get older.

        It's really just teaching them thinking and reflecting skills so that they can apprehend the process by which we learn new skills and retain information.

        If we can get students to be self-critical, then that will act as a built-in assessment process that goes wherever the student goes, 24/7.
  • Nov 16 2011: I don't believe that in the whole of the education system anyone can find just one problem. That would make the job of fixing the system simple. We are faced with a myriad of problems that all need to be addressed. For example, philosophy is not a core requirement in education. What do we consider an educated person? One who has a grasp of critical thinking, reasoning, interpreting abstract thoughts, etc. I like to ponder why our leaders haven't been able to see the paradox in practice, but the truth is, for me at least, that our leaders are burdened by too many ideas, too much input, too many voices trying to be heard above the general din. In all of the chaos that is politics and society there are sensible solutions. But one solution is not going to fix the system.

    To understand what problems are in the way of the solution we need to spend some time evaluating the different levels of the system (i.e. the macro level, the micro level). I think it would be more helpful if we seek to address city-specific problems that are directly connected to the entire education system rather than looking for a total "one-size fits all" solution. I.E. School lunch nutrition.

    Also, we could think about our stance on "global competition." How long have our children been alive? So long that they have seen the world beyond a screen? How many of our children have had opportunities to travel abroad and actually see the world through an unfiltered lens? Have we given our children choices or limited them with our wants? How much strain do you suppose it places on young minds, who know nothing more of the world than what we tell them, to be competitive in a global market? What does the phrase "competitive in a global market" even mean to children? Such is our philosophy, sadly, to hinder their personal development for the sake of the concept of competition. And what about expectations? I wonder how much pressure is on the youth in America to be "number one" rather than to do one's best.
  • Nov 16 2011: ...Parents.

    The teachers job is at school teaching the children how to read and right and so forth. The teacher has a limited reach to the children in the sense of education. That is all a teacher is there for.
    Friends are there to simply get a student through school and what not.

    So that would leave us with the parents. What are they doing?
    Child wakes up, goes to school, learns math, comes home and the parents don't bother checking up on their beloved child. Then the child goes plays basketball, some videogames, and remembers that he has a project due and works on it for a couple minutes slapping some weirdness together and falls asleep to spongebob.
    Umm.... is there something wrong with this picture?
    Where are the parents in all this? If you guessed nowhere your right!
    Parents are not checking up on their children like they should be. Parents are not helping their children with homework, or asking how did school go, what did you learn today in school, how can you apply that to daily life and so on. If the parent never shows them how to apply school work or never reminds them of it...well that is bad.

    Parents are the motivators. Not the motive but the motivators.

    Now don't get me wrong, sure our education system has problems. But that is not where it starts. It starts at home.
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      Nov 19 2011: How can they apply it to daily life? WHat will make the learning in school more relevant to home activity?
      • Nov 19 2011: Well that is a tough question but equally as good.

        A student learns a certain idea or concept or thing and the parents learn about it. Then the parent should ask your very question Jeronique to the child. How can we apply what you learned today to your life?
        Now obviously not everything can be applied to life. But what can be should.
        The basic idea is to interact with your child specifically about what they learned on a daily basis. Otherwise what's the point of learning if you can't use what you learned? Who better to use it with than your parents?
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          Nov 19 2011: You bring up another important question Timothy 'what's the point of learning if you can't use what you learned?' That being said, may I mark your answer as "The problem with education is the inability to find ways to apply what you're learning in school with the things that go on outside of school.'?
      • Nov 19 2011: Excellent! That makes sense.
        That whole statement wraps up what I said about the parents and goes even further.
      • Nov 20 2011: This is what we are doing in Denver. It is called the Ability Center
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    Nov 22 2011: Your question is actually a great window into this topic. "Encouraging curiosity" really is a funny phrase when you think about it. I'm not really sure that curiosity about a topic is required for a good education in it. Certainly that helps but it seems clear that good teachers create something in the human interaction that makes kids want more classroom time. Maybe that's a curiosity in the topic but it could just as easily be a desire to please. Haven't we all had the experience of being turned to a topic we're interested in by really bad delivery? Clearly there's more than one way to skin that cat.

    Personally, I don't find topics nearly as interesting as I find the way people talk about topics. My educational experience (to answer your question) is only loosely correlated to my interest to the topic. There are topics I'd wade through stereo instructions to learn more about but by the nature of that fact the educator plays a small part if any. I suspect we don't have a systemic lack of good grades or effective education in topics for which children show up eager to learn. It seems to me that we're at a disadvantage with topics where kids aren't interested in getting interested.
  • Nov 21 2011: The job of teaching as well as the ture meaning of teaching is a process of kindling---oxidating oneself to brighten others' paths. The inner motivation of the teacher, from my humble opinion, is that their silent sacrifice is the behind-the-sences contributor to the development of the entire human race. Teachers are building airplanes with which their students can fly.

    Sorry for replying so late.
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      Nov 22 2011: Chongjian, (you weren't late at all:) So your answer to the question is "The problem with education is some of the airplanes need to be built better?"
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    Nov 20 2011: The true problem is, we don't have free online universities with peer rating based pay, available for free to all citizens in each respective country... : )
  • Nov 19 2011: I believe we need a reform in education, because I believe that the current system (by this I mean the widely used traditional system were you sit in a classroom and listen to the teacher in the front of the room talk) is not very functional. First of all, in this system, it is not required of the students be creative or to have a deep level of understanding. We don’t need to use our brains other than for memorization, especially with homework. Most of our homework consists of a scavenger hunt. We get a question, look for a phrase or sentence in our text book that answers it, and then we copy and paste this sentence to our piece of paper. There is no analyzing needed, there is not a deep level of reasoning and understanding needed. So then what happens is that many of those educated in this system become somewhat mentally lazy since they never got much of a chance to develop analytical and profound thinking/reasoning skills. Those of us educated in this system do not learn much,we just memorize. And we only memorize temporarily. This is why many people forget most of what they "learned" in school.

    Every single child is unique. We all learn differently, think differently, and learn at different paces. Yet this system groups us all together into a room were the teacher gives everyone the same lesson in the same way at the same time. And this makes grading unfair, because instead of measuring intelligence or academic skill, grades measure how well you learn in the environment you are in, and whether or not you get into a school should not depend on how you learn. This also applies to standardized tests. They are better at measuring how well you are at tests with a particular format than they are at measuring academic skill (I am not saying they don’t measure ANY academic skill, though)
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    Nov 19 2011: Jeronique - I think that one of the serious problems in education is that teachers spend more of their emotional energy on feeling upstaged by students who are more knowledgeable / creative / resourceful / talented / smart / faster learners / than themselves than feeling honored in the nobility of their position to be a contributor / a part of the support system of the students' formation and growth.

    I feel this point is ever so constructively illustrated by Thomas in his presentation:
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      Nov 22 2011: Hi Juliette,

      Thomas is a brilliant kid! I can honestly see how having a student like him can be intimidating, but I can only see it that way because it's the way we are trained to respond to younger, more talented, and creative individuals. We are trained to fear the spotlight being removed from us and being placed on someone else. So your answer is "The problem with education is the inability of teachers to remove emotional judgement from their teaching methods?"
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    Nov 19 2011:'s certification only so far.
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      Nov 19 2011: please elaborate
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        Nov 20 2011: well I just filled up the gap as per the question

        Here comes elaboration of what I feel.

        The current so called education system fails educate in most cases. Rather it just certifies. very limited scope of creativity, nurturing innovation, it just make student to swallow data, fact, information etc and success of student depends on how efficiently one can vomit those in a time bound examination. Does not matter whether student understood or not what s/ he vomited on paper , grades comes accordingly. So main problem of current system is, it certifies, not educates.
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          Nov 20 2011: Isn't that the point though? Aren't you looking to the government education system to do something that we don't pay it to do? It's our job to make our kids creative, and happy, and noble... It's culture, and parents... we can't let government do that, that's our responsibility, but more importantly our right, and priveledge. Teachers shouldn't be expected to be parents, no one will ever pay them enough for that.

          Won't you at least agree that vomiting up facts, correlates with learning and understanding those facts? I will concede it's not one hundred percent accurate, but we need people to be certified to know things don't we? Why do so many people seem to expect more than that from a state sponsored educational system?

          Also... I would just like to point out, that when we didn't care about creativity, and nurturing children, we were more literate, and better at math... as a culture.
  • Nov 19 2011: that there are too many static classrooms in the overall educational system which will never breed creativity or problem solving mindsets that lead to forward thinking cultures.
  • Nov 18 2011: The true problem with education is whether the educators take it as a business or a sacrifice, as a means of living or as a path of fulfilling.
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    Nov 18 2011: Its difficult to say, and it depends what country you are from and what's going on there because there are different education systems... :/

    However, I think...that education needs to include a class where kids learn to engage and learn how to learn... if that makes sense.
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      Nov 19 2011: Definitely makes sense. Do you think there are any educational programs in place that emphasize those points?
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    Nov 17 2011: I've never heard a teacher say "I don't know but I'll check on wikipedia."
    Teachers are expected to know everything, and they feel menaced when you challenge their knowledge. That's a shame.
    Half of my education was getting rid of the other half of lousy education.

    So I wish teachers were masters at saying "I don't have a clue, but I know exactly how to find out, and I know how to help you understand whatever it is that we find out."
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      Nov 19 2011: Do you think they are expected to know everything or do you think 'they' believe they're expected to know everything?
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        Nov 19 2011: I think it's the latter, that they believe they're expected to already have answer to everything.

        Which is something I can understand. Everybody doing a job and getting paid for it feels the need to display professionalism, give clients or employers reasons to be trusted.
        It's a shame that some teachers think that their ability to teach is less valued that their ability to come up with answers.
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    Nov 17 2011: We learn. Usually we love to learn. But some, unfortunately have difficulties with learning. Some get put off learning. Some cant focus and transition to long term memory. This is what I am interested in. How do we teach those who have difficulties learning? Mainstream Education normally goes into banishment mode. I teach the ones schools wont teach. It requires energy , desire and something that makes it stick. Emotion. ISometimes they have learned through pain. Sometimes it is more important to unlearn. sometimes we learn things no person should have to learn.
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      Nov 19 2011: Are you saying students who have difficulty learning things quickly should be getting more attention?
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        Nov 22 2011: I guess so Jeronique. i work with those who were totally disenchanted with school and learning, though I suspect the parent were big factors also. There is a huge feeling of shame if you cant read and therefore learn. Often these kids drop oiut early and fall into crime. No one likes to be a dumb ass. They have also lost the desire to learn. Because their ways of learning have not been catered for. There is very little learning by doing in schools. And this is how many learn. - not by reading or listening. When they get to our hands on school. They give a huge sigh of relief. And begin to shine.
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          Nov 22 2011: Are you a Montessori teacher? or what type of school are you currently teaching in?
  • Nov 17 2011: Posted

    First in yesterday's world the majority of knowledge actually came from industry. It took schools around Silicon valley more than just several years to start asking for people from the industry to teach new classes as an example. Today with technology a major subject and research being done on campus in many areas plus the Internet that has changed.....BUT.....changing people, particularly academia is a much more difficult task. AS a pointed criticism why is the master apprentice teaching method (the most effective possible) non existent when technology allows the lecture but have the professor available as the mentor (and why not have the best presenter or professor give the lecture....once recorded it). To further embarrass the academic elitists go to the Internet and do a simple query. How do students learn? Two hours later you will discover (with the exception of going to sites on primates) very little is known. II this an assumption that what exists is best(?) or an entire industry that is very slow to improve and only very recently has even started to use the Internet for Education....despite it's being around for 20 years. Nor does it question it's methods (In industry no improvement = failure). Sadly white papers of any substance are missing and that was with 9 hours prowling the net and college papers. To ultimately embarrass them ask the simplest of all questions.....what is the purpose of school? If you get back anything other than "to learn to think" they are from possibly not "sapiens". Basics plus the Internet (the world's library contain everything you need fortunately does exist (less the mentor). Bottom line....academia in general is not progressive....tenure and security are goals...improvement eliminates jobs. States, the DOE and alumni can change this if you revolt if only for cost reasons alone. Education is an industry that has not had much competition and that is changing. Share the thoughts.. change
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    Nov 16 2011: Sounds like model work. I think my point is that education by it's nature is a process and although educators can be very good at moving that process forward, kids taking an interest in the process to begin with is different. We don't really have a word for that; a word for "person who gets kids interested in finding things out"
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      Nov 19 2011: Do you not believe 'teacher' is the word?
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        Nov 20 2011: No I don't actually. That's not a slight to teachers (both my parents were teachers), we just don't have a term for the work of getting people generally curious about the world (outside from in school). "School" and "teacher" are too general as words. They're like "sport". The word describes tai-boxing and chess. We really don't have a good description for the out-of-school work or the out of school worker and I think our lack of a forum and language to talk about the topic holds us back culturally from improving the structure around our kids.
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          Nov 22 2011: So let me ask this... from the education you received do you believe curiosity was encouraged or do you believe that's more of a modern day technique?
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    Nov 16 2011: that teachers do not recieve merit based pay. You can't pay a teacher more one year for good performance, and then pay them less the next year for poor performance. If you could, teachers would be much better.

    Another true problem is that we now want 95% graduation rates from high school. Formal education is designed to create distinctions between competente people willing to work, and incompetent people, unwilling to work. In a formal education, hard work should make up for slowness, and sharp wit, should make up for lazyness... but at least 20% of people are a little slow, and a little lazy, especially at 17/18... So about 20% of people should fail out of high school.

    I recently heard a study suggest that 54% of women who attend college, now graduate... Are 54% of women distinctively smart? If not, what does the degree mean, if you haven't distinguished yourself? Something like 44% of men graduate... not much better... it should be like 20-25% of people, that's the percent of people that are actually distinctively smart AND hardworking. Or am I just being cynical?

    I tend to think the biggest problem with education is that we tend to expect too much of it, and we pay people who are educated too much more than people who aren't, especially if we're letting half the people graduate from college. If 95% of people graduate from High School... Dropping out shouldn't matter... because graduating doesn't matter, you haven't made any distinctions among the students.
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      Nov 17 2011: How do you measure that teacher performance, because most people that suggest that seem to think student test results is the obvious way.

      It's the most convenient, perhaps, and certainly, it seems logical to bureaucrats. Unfortunately, it's simplifying things too much.

      I'm all for performance pay IF teachers are also allowed to hand-pick their students and limit class sizes to a maximum of 9 students. But you can see the obvious problems that would lead to.

      The other solution is to cure all societal ills so that teacher performance is the only variable, making student performance a realistic indicator of teacher performance.

      Or, as most schools already do, have appraisal systems independent of student performance.

      You start to see that the issue does not lie with teacher performance alone. Rather with myriad other influences.
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        Nov 20 2011: I would argue that everyone gets the same amount of "bad" batches of students. The same number of dissinterested parents, and the same number of morons, when averaged out over time.This paradigm would require good teachers to occasionally accept a bad semester of pay, despite being amazing at their job, but over time, if they are great, they will be paid dramatically more than if they are horrible, and thus we incentivize quality, over seniority.
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          Nov 20 2011: Measuring the "quality" would require more resources than any ministry would be willing to provide. Like the private sector model you're talking about, the measuring stick would become statistics, which are generally too removed and artificial to be meaningful.

          Given that there is already too little money in education, teachers would stop sharing resources and ideas and get protective of their "intellectual property".

          It's probably not teachers that would get the right to veto 'poor achievers' from their class, but the school. They would end up turning students away to keep themselves high on the school ranking list.
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        Nov 20 2011: What's your brilliant alternative though? There's no such thing as merit? Just seniority? Ya, it's a brilliant model... merit based pay, that should be dismissed. Teachers don't get to choose their students, nor do schools, the government chooses in the public sector, in America. In a democracy, we can choose to take control of that. We can vote on a new way of looking at education, that actually pays people based on results... Novel, crazy idea I know.

        If ministries won't pay enough money... here's a thought... Do something about it. Volunteer tax dollars, protest outside the ministry... That's on you. It's only your childrens education though, I'm sure there's some much more important TV on.

        Btw, in my country, too little money is no where near the problem, in California, they've fired less then a hundred teachers for cause this decade out of 50,000, as our kids started dropping out like crazy and "graduating" from high school illiterate. Meanwhile every teachers lot is full of beamers and benz's, and administration budgets which should be virtually negligible in a not for profit field like education, are enormous.

        "Statistics are too removed to be meaningful." This is just nonsense. We don't pay educators to raise our children... We pay our educators to teach our children facts, and a curriculum. If we want them to be creative, or artistic, or suave, or sexy, it's up to us to instill those values in them. Lately we've focused on sexy... but once again... That's on us, collectively as parents. It's not a teachers job to teach your kid how to live his life, that's your job, and theirs. Whether or not you can answer simple dumbed down multiple choice questions, whether you have basic competence in the subject your studying... That's what the teacher is there for, and that's measurable. If it's not being measured by the test... well then design a better test.
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          Nov 20 2011: Most people disagree with me when I drop the "stats are useless" bomb. I see them as generalisations and stereotypes in number form and irrelevant when dealing with individuals.

          As for merit based pay, my "brilliant" idea is to keep it separate from student performance.

          To base teacher pay around student performance is a bit like docking a doctor's pay because people still die from smoking-related diseases.

          I'm not saying that teachers should not be appraised, just that it should not be attached to student performance. It's lazy and there are too many variables involved for it to be accurate.
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        Nov 20 2011: As far as "Shit Happens"... When the parents come to the ministry because their student did bad on the test, the ministry will actually be able to say "that teacher is on probation, because his class performed dramatically below expectations"... Or they'll be able to say "All of the other students in the class performed supperbly, and we have no reason to believe that your childs poor performance was related to the teacher...

        So they either have something concrete saying, "yes, that teacher's a problem and we're working on it", or "your kid was lazy this semester, or he's dumb, learn to deal with it, teach him a trade, or kick his ass next semester"... Right now, in California, all the ministry/school board has the right to say to the parent is... "Oh yes, that teachers been underperforming for decades, but don't worry in a few years he'll be retired with a hundred thousand dollar a year pension.
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          Nov 20 2011: Nice and simple, I agree.

          You've scratched the surface of the issue. Class sizes being drastically reduced would increase the teacher contact time with students meaning that a struggling student could get the help and time they need to move forward.

          Students taking responsibility for their own learning would help in the area of attitude towards school. Education isn't like a hypodermic that you inject and everyone gets the same out of it. It requires a receptive mind as much as a dedicated teacher.

          Parents need to be a part of the process too and not just being 'kept in the loop'. They need to be actively supporting their child.

          If you need retribution for failure then the buck stops at the top - that was a US Prez that said that.

          If a teacher is incompetent but can't be removed, then the appraisal system within the school itself needs to be revamped and probably made a lot more robust.

          The hard part is separating personality clashes from actual incompetence. A lot of parents don't like a teacher and it has very little to do with the teacher's abilities.
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        Nov 22 2011: Cool, we're way closer than I though on this issue. I guess it's a matter of, do you let the ministry set standards, and pay teachers based on their abillity to meet/exceed those teaching standards... Or do you base it on results generated by students... which I admit are much more variable...

        I tend to still side with variable teacher pay, based on student performance, because I think it inspires innovation, and risk taking... I think some teachers would feel like trying extreme, and unusual methods, if they thought it could get them impressive results... I would like to see teachers, rewarded and punished based on their personal innovations, and I think the teacher focused methodology may be too uniform, it may make every teacher the same, and that might be good at first, but I think long term it will evolve slower. I understand where you're coming from now though, and there's probably a middle ground there somewhere.
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      Nov 19 2011: Just curious to know what "merit" would entail specifically in your opinion.
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        Nov 20 2011: I would say, as with most things there are several variables. I would argue, as Scott dismissed... that part of merit, is testing. Can the child read, can it write, can it calculate a fair tip in its head? For each class merit would simply be, did the child learn the facts, that it was supposed to learn.

        I would argue that despite what class you start with, your responsibillity as a teacher, is the same. Teach the child the curriculum. How close you get to your goal, should effect your paycheck in a capitalist society. Yes, some years you will get a "bad" batch, and your pay may be reduced unjustly... Shit Happens. People need to stop assuming they deserve pay raises based on seniority. If they did a good job, and there students do well, at the end of the semester they should get a bonus, if their students do horribly, they should be put on probation, and have their pay reduced.

        This means there are no excuses... No matter how bad your students are, you are held to the same standard, teach them the curriculum.

        Now, I would also concede that there are two other ways in which teachers can generate merit, that are much more difficult to adequately tie to pay. Can you take a student that doesn't like society, doesn't like culture, and doesn't want to contribute, and bring him or her in? Make them want to learn.

        Second, after they learn do the students feel accomplished, do they want to learn more. Are they happy with the choice to engage in society. Those two would be impossible to standardize, and if incentives are offered for such behavior, which they should be in my humble opinion, they should be in the form of public awards, and principal/employer based incentives. Does the person in charge of the school believe on a personal emotional level, that this teacher great. If they do, they should be able to give a teacher extra money.

        While these two things are different from testing merit... I think will they correlate, better than one would assume.
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          Nov 20 2011: Perhaps when questioned by parents or ministry over a student's below average performance, the teacher can then point to your shit happens clause?

          "Fred performed exceptionally on his Tip Calculating test but when it came to his terrible performance on his thinking creatively test, well, Shit Happens.

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          Nov 22 2011: David and Scott, thanks for makng this thread even more interesting. I think you both make very valid points may I say that you both agree that "The problem with education is the lack of access to more individual time with the instructor for students falling behind?"
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          Nov 22 2011: Quickest fix for schools is definitely reduced class sizes. It's easy to put in place but expensive, which is why it will never happen (unless a country is lucky enough to have a visionary for a leader).
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      Nov 20 2011: "Formal education is designed to create distinctions between competente people willing to work, and incompetent people, unwilling to work."

      Really? I thought it was to give people the tools they need to live the best lives they can.

      I think we may have actually found what is wrong with education right there. Perhaps we could start thinking of the "customer" as the student, and not his future boss. Schools are not flaying machinery separating wheat from chaff, they're supposed to be places where people actually get TAUGHT.
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        Nov 20 2011: Well... then we can't pay for it... I actually propose that solution, free online internet education... But if an education costs a hundred thousand dollars, it damn sure better separate wheat from the chaff... Otherwise it was a horrible purchase, a catostrophic waste of money, and an accumulated debt during the 4 most productive years of your life, instead of accumulated wealth.

        I'm not paying 100 000 dollars, for an education that doesn't make distinctions and give a prospective employer the impression that i'm worth the extra money it will take to pay back that loan. Things have to be worth what they cost, and education is really expensive. Education has never been about being taught btw, it was always private, and it was always a tool for wealthy elites to insure that their children retained their power.

        Formal education was designed to take education away for the "unwashed masses", and keep it in the hands of a select few. We have tried to remodel that, with public education... And that's a good thing, but now that it costs ten thousand a semester for some public schools... we're back to the old model, and we have to be because of price.

        Also, people can only live better lives if they get, or create better jobs for themselves, so you start with the real customer, students AS employers, or students as employees. If the education system no longer makes you a more valuable employee, it's not worth the money, watch ted and read project gutenberg, it's free. If public education was actually free, you could make the argument that it's goal was to teach... but so long as it costs money, it must be worth what it costs, and thus it must make you worth more money as an employee... Who cares about the employers... You're going to work some day, will this education make you get paid more? cus experience will. If it's not difficult to get a degree, and it's still expensive, then degrees are obselete.
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          Nov 20 2011: If you are not capable of (or interested in) a university education, then you should be given options to further your chosen career path through other means (apprenticeship, working your way through a business, etc.). Why bother wasting the money?

          There are plenty of personality types that never finish university and not for lack of skills or because they are "unwilling to work." I, like many entrepreneurs, didn't even finish my BA. In my case, it was because it was the Great and Wonderful Tech Bubble and I was offered a rather obscene amount of money to go work in the US in a field that was only tangentially related to what I was studying (film theory and philosophy - though primarily logic).

          And then I started my own business, so it seems unlikely that I will ever go back and finish the requisite 200 hrs of foreign cinema and a breadth requirement.

          Very few people I know are actually working in the field they studied, so no, I don't actually think that people pay $100K to be elevated somehow. My social circle runs high in entrepreneurs and execs who have either no degree or an irrelevant one to what they are doing. Or, EMBAs who effectively paid $60K a year to have an assistant do the MBA for them.

          I'm also, btw, a former Associate Director of the byDesign eLab at the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, without so much as a BA. There's a reason why so many gifted programs are autonomous study programs - the students learn better on their own. The education system, even at the post-secondary level, is currently aimed at the middling swath. You can go ahead and pay your $100K to prove that you are the best of the average.
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          Nov 22 2011: David and Gisela, can I take from this discussion that you both agree on the premise that "The problem with education is the cost is much higher than the rewards and the need for formal higher education programs is becoming unnecessary with the acces to alteranitve opportunities?"
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        Nov 22 2011: I'm not saying that the model should work the way I describe it, I just think it's important to recongnize the roots of our education system. Which unfortunately comes from a place, where wealthy people pay money to distinguish their children, from their peers children. If you want to learn something, you learn it, if you want to prove you learned it, you pay 3000 dollars to a professor to test you on it. This kept access to education away from the poor. I think that that is a horrible model for an education system, and we need to change it. It is important to remember the point of the system though, which was you pay for accredation of learning, not learning. Changing that, is a fundamental restructure of our system.

        I actually propose a two tiered approach. Free online education and testing for all, which provides baseline credentials of competency. And expensive, grant, and scholarship oriented private schools, that are really hard to graduate from. If you get a degree online, you can get an entry level job in the field you choose, but you are considered an apprentice, or trainee... Where as, if you prove that you're in the top 1-5% in IQ and work ethic, and then you graduate from a college that fails 80% of it's students... As a society, we should fast track you into leadership. We do want the best and brightest to take on leadership roles right?

        In that spirit. I would say to Jeronique, "The problem with education, is that the cost is much higher than the rewards, and formal higher education programs are becoming unnecessary, as access to information grows... but we still need a structure for proving competence, while accessing these new alternative information sources."

        The only caviate to that would be that I still believe formal education does a decent job with engineering, chemistry, biology, etc. Some degrees still get bang for their buck, but we tell our kids all degrees get that, and that's not really cool.
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    Nov 16 2011: Educators are catalysts not starting points. Lets not call it education lets call it the discipline of learning because that seems more appropriate. Looked at from this lens I think more responsibility lies on the environment around the child and less on the educator. Educators have a lot to answer for it's true, but we're never going to be able to measure their contribution to a child's life in real time. We can (at least in theory) concieve a way to measure a child's progress in mastering the discipline of learning although it has eluded us in practice.
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      Nov 16 2011: I like your point although I do not know what context you refer to with the word catalyst.
      I have a child of 7 months I don’t expect the educator to take sole responsibility for my childs education as like you say the responsibility lies in the environment that he lives. Although I am certain that in time my son will develop his own likes/dislikes but in the meantime I have taken him to the London Science museum, art galleries and music venues as these are my wifes and I likes. Yes like any good parent I want happiness and success in life for my son, and there are lots of subjects I and my wife cannot teach him as we are not experienced enough that is where schooling comes in. however let me give you an example of how I can teach my child, I have heard many parents say how ‘black history should be taught in schools. The reason some will say this is because they believe it may raise self esteem and boost exam results. Now in my opinion I would not want a school teaching my son any ‘black history’ why? Because I am confident that most schools would not do a better job than my family or I in teaching him many facets of history.

      im more interested in him being taught the national curriculum rigorously so that he can stand a chance in our globalised worlrd.
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      Nov 19 2011: I believe both yourself and Dania Mah (above) are in agreement. Am I correct?
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        Nov 19 2011: Broadly agree Jeronique yes, essentially the point I was making is that I don't expect the school to cover 100% of my childs education. In other matters I had a coversation with an educator at one of our leading public (US private) schools today. He told me that being able to play or converse about rugby and knowing classic English literature such as 'Just William' were seen as positives