Are we asking the useful questions?

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Are we asking the useful questions?

Postby CanadysPeak on August 21st, 2015, 4:29 pm 

We have a thread going about the results of the PISA tests across the world. As is my habit, I woke before dawn this morning and spent a quiet hour thinking. Somewhere in that time it occurred to me that I have posted about possible improvements in education, but I have failed to ask the most useful question of all: What do I want as an outcome for education. That immediately leads to a second useful question: What is the most efficient way to reach that outcome.

So, we have sometimes talked about education for civic values. We have argued about classes on civics, history, etc, but, if what I want is a kid who grows up to participate in this democracy, then the most effective way to do that is to have that kid see me going door-to-door asking people to register to vote, to see me get up and go to the polls, to hear ne discuss issues with others, to march with me in a protest against police misconduct, to see me arrested for blocking traffic in front of the building where my union is on strike, to see me pass on my favorite tv show (GLOW, in case you wondered) in order to watch two commentators argue about repeal of the 14th amendment.

Everybody would presumably have their own questions and, thus, their own answers. But nowhere have I looked to a school district to take over my responsibility.
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Re: Are we asking the useful questions?

Postby Braininvat on August 21st, 2015, 7:06 pm 

"my favorite tv show (GLOW, in case you wondered) "

Just to clarify, does this acronym refer to the 1980s show with scantily clad female wrestlers? If so, then watching you pass on it, in favor of civic engagement, would seem vital to the survival of civilization.
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Re: Are we asking the useful questions?

Postby Serpent on August 21st, 2015, 8:23 pm 

It's certainly an important question - what outcome do we want? And each parent has to ask that question in the privacy of their own home and come up with a plan on how to impart their values to their children. That's not necessarily easy in the best circumstances; when one's values run counter to the mainstream trends of one's society, it becomes very difficult, indeed.

But then. we need to ask the next and more general question: What do we, as a society, want our future to look like? Because that's what we are collectively educating our children toward. Even while we are shaping the future of the society with every political and economic decision we make (and all the decision on which we pass, defer to someone else, lose interest or chicken out), we are also shaping the future citizens of that society in the education system we support.

Both questions are important.
So, to a somewhat lesser extent, are our choices of entertainment, clothing, reading material, food, friends and leisure activity.
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Re: Are we asking the useful questions?

Postby CanadysPeak on August 21st, 2015, 9:15 pm 

Serpent » Fri Aug 21, 2015 8:23 pm wrote:It's certainly an important question - what outcome do we want? And each parent has to ask that question in the privacy of their own home and come up with a plan on how to impart their values to their children. That's not necessarily easy in the best circumstances; when one's values run counter to the mainstream trends of one's society, it becomes very difficult, indeed.

But then. we need to ask the next and more general question: What do we, as a society, want our future to look like? Because that's what we are collectively educating our children toward. Even while we are shaping the future of the society with every political and economic decision we make (and all the decision on which we pass, defer to someone else, lose interest or chicken out), we are also shaping the future citizens of that society in the education system we support.

Both questions are important.
So, to a somewhat lesser extent, are our choices of entertainment, clothing, reading material, food, friends and leisure activity.

Ah, good question. How can we, as individuals, impact the future? I am certainly not the future. What can I do? Can I teach children something that they don't want to know? For example, can I beat a child enough to make him thrill at the words, " Gentlemen in England now abed . . ." or can I pay him enough money to spend three days tramping through an Alpine bog in the rain, looking for a Fowler's Toad? I think that all I can do is share my enthusiasm for such learning and look for similar interests in him. When I see that spark, it becomes my job as a parent or teacher to be like one of the sweepers in curling - I get out in front and minimize the obstacles in the direction I want him to go.

I support the idea of the standard education system, but how many parents do? How many tell their son or daughter, "Learning algebra is good for you," while not knowing enough algebra to help the kid with homework? Why not take an algebra course at the community college, or online, so you can tell the kid, "This is pretty obtuse stuff, and some of the work is downright boring, but I did it so I would know what it is, and I think it would help you in your career to know this?" It's one thing for the child to move out in front of the parent if the child develops a genuine interest, but otherwise, shouldn't the parent know some Latin, biology, etc before pushing the kid into learning those?
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Re: Are we asking the useful questions?

Postby CanadysPeak on August 21st, 2015, 9:19 pm 

Braininvat » Fri Aug 21, 2015 7:06 pm wrote:"my favorite tv show (GLOW, in case you wondered) "

Just to clarify, does this acronym refer to the 1980s show with scantily clad female wrestlers? If so, then watching you pass on it, in favor of civic engagement, would seem vital to the survival of civilization.


What??? Did they take it off the air? How will I ever justify buying cable if there's no sex on there? I bet the Baptists, or maybe the Presbyterians, have something to do with this??
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Re: Are we asking the useful questions?

Postby Serpent on August 22nd, 2015, 12:43 am 

CanadysPeak » August 21st, 2015, 8:15 pm wrote:[ How many tell their son or daughter, "Learning algebra is good for you," while not knowing enough algebra to help the kid with homework? Why not take an algebra course at the community college, or online, so you can tell the kid, "This is pretty obtuse stuff, and some of the work is downright boring, but I did it so I would know what it is, and I think it would help you in your career to know this?" It's one thing for the child to move out in front of the parent if the child develops a genuine interest, but otherwise, shouldn't the parent know some Latin, biology, etc before pushing the kid into learning those?

Well, you might look into what optional subjects are required for the post secondary education to which the child aspires, and consult with their guidance counsellor before pushing them into anything for which they have no aptitude. You might recall some of what you learned in school. You might look at the child's textbooks and figure it out. You could hire a tutor or let your kid get together with other kids, help in the subjects she's good and get help in the ones where she's weak. You might let the kid figure it out alone, or take summer school, or *gasp* fail. You might say: If I do my job; the teachers do their job and the kid does her job, we'll probably come out all right.

I mean, would you build hospitals and train doctors, only to have to learn how to remove an appendix yourself? Why develop a whole big edifice like national education, if the parents are still expected to do all the instructing?
Why we have communal endeavours is because no individual can do everything. But we can still have a consensus about what kinds of things we want to accomplish together, and what sort of people we hope to raise, rather than leave all to consumer industries.
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Re: Are we asking the useful questions?

Postby CanadysPeak on August 22nd, 2015, 8:07 am 

Serpent » Sat Aug 22, 2015 12:43 am wrote:
CanadysPeak » August 21st, 2015, 8:15 pm wrote:[ How many tell their son or daughter, "Learning algebra is good for you," while not knowing enough algebra to help the kid with homework? Why not take an algebra course at the community college, or online, so you can tell the kid, "This is pretty obtuse stuff, and some of the work is downright boring, but I did it so I would know what it is, and I think it would help you in your career to know this?" It's one thing for the child to move out in front of the parent if the child develops a genuine interest, but otherwise, shouldn't the parent know some Latin, biology, etc before pushing the kid into learning those?

Well, you might look into what optional subjects are required for the post secondary education to which the child aspires, and consult with their guidance counsellor before pushing them into anything for which they have no aptitude. You might recall some of what you learned in school. You might look at the child's textbooks and figure it out. You could hire a tutor or let your kid get together with other kids, help in the subjects she's good and get help in the ones where she's weak. You might let the kid figure it out alone, or take summer school, or *gasp* fail. You might say: If I do my job; the teachers do their job and the kid does her job, we'll probably come out all right.

I mean, would you build hospitals and train doctors, only to have to learn how to remove an appendix yourself? Why develop a whole big edifice like national education, if the parents are still expected to do all the instructing?
Why we have communal endeavours is because no individual can do everything. But we can still have a consensus about what kinds of things we want to accomplish together, and what sort of people we hope to raise, rather than leave all to consumer industries.


I am sorry. I somehow led you to believe that I was talking about content. I was not. I was talking about attitudes. Kids emulate role models and peers; they may sometimes do so in a negative way by thoroughly rejecting their parents' values. You cannot teach respect for women to a boy if you regularly beat your wife.
Even in the academic subjects, I could tell a child to learn Latin because, "It's good for you" or I could start attending a Latin Mass church.

I was definitely not referring to post-secondary education. If a student is not self-motivated by the time he or she is attending professional school, then it is somewhat hopeless. I, for one, do not want a surgeon who was forced to go to medical school; I want one who chose that goal when she was perhaps nine or ten and then took every science course she could squeeze in, because she knew from her role models (people already doctors) the value of all that science.
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Re: Are we asking the useful questions?

Postby Serpent on August 22nd, 2015, 11:21 am 

Really, we have no disagreement, except in very minor detail.

Of course you need to set a good example of both civil and civic behaviour for your children. But it's not enough, because the peer pressure and the social pressures are greater than parental support can counteract, and because the child's world will be different from the parents'. So, I think it's equally important to have a private vision (at home) and a shared vision (in the community.) Otherwise, the child will be pushed and pulled, discouraged and confused - and many are lost.
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