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How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

Posted September 16, 2009 6:00 AM by ShakespeareTheEngineer

This week, I'm taking The Whiteboard Jungle in a bit of a different direction. Specifically, I'm looking to stimulate discussion. CR4ers come from a wide range of backgrounds, education levels, and experiences. I'd like to draw upon this diversity in order to pose a question. What could your high school have done better to prepare you for life?

Ours is a changing world. When I graduated from high school in 1994, there were cutting edge Apple //G's in the library and mildly dated Commodore 64s in the chemistry lab. Do high schools, operating on constricted budgets, do too little to get students up to speed with technology that they can actually use after high school? Are students forced to take courses they will never need? Should we allow students to major and specialize, as was popular in some high schools in the 1960s? Or will that undercut our future leaders having a grasp on history and language?

My Personal Take – Looking Back at the High School Experience

Most people who have read my blogs know that I'm an English teacher. I am bizarrely credentialed, however.

In high school, I was a science addict whose disdain for math (after a moderate head injury) only increased when I moved from trigonometry to Calculus. I finished high school after completing seven science courses, four years of math, English, and music (select choir), three years of Latin, and courses in health, physical education (PE), and industrial arts.

I took a similar path in college, graduating with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. But then I changed gears. I became interested in teaching English and received a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching. What that path produced, it seems, is a "Jack of all trades" (and perhaps "master of none"). While I would have liked my high school to be more high-tech, the experience developed in me, with the help of my friends and parents, an intense desire to figure things out for myself - or at least figure out where I could get the answers from (this was before the popularity of the Internet).

This burning desire to be intellectually self-sufficient, when combined with an ability to express ideas in a variety of written forms, allowed me to handle all that I encountered in college and grad school. Maybe more independent projects would have been helpful. For example, I recall reconstructing a real human skeleton that was donated to the school totally disassembled. It was an excellent hands-on learning opportunity that I wish was available more often.

A Few Ground Rules to Consider

Please keep the following in mind when you weigh-in on the topic at-hand.

  1. Graduation Requirements – These vary wildly from state-to-state, not to mention country to country. Keep in mind that some schools are bound by different limitations/demands than others.
  2. Your Experience is Unique – Even within a school, no two students have an identical experience. What may be true for you may not be true for others. As a high school student in the State of New York, I scraped by Regents Biology and aced Advanced Placement (AP) Bio. The difference was two years of maturity, a great class, and a teacher I connected with. What works for me might not work for you, and vice versa.
  3. Been to a Mechanic? – I have a hard time writing this part because I don't want to sound condescending. But here goes. Just because I can change the cap and rotor in my truck doesn't mean I'm a certified mechanic. Just because someone graduated from high school doesn't make that person certified to teach or administrate a school. By this, I mean that we should try to avoid gross generalizations as much as possible, and qualify statements as they pertain to our own experience. Variables are too great in scope and number to think that one solution or experience applies to all.

That is it. Have at it. What did your high schools do well? What needed improvement? If given the opportunity, how would you shape high school education of the future?

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#1

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/16/2009 10:42 AM

I have helped my children with their middle school and high school math and science very much in the past few years and I strongly believe:

Much of the material is not covered with sufficient practice and explanation. It makes the students touch on many things instead of becoming proficient at core elements.

I believe our students are being instructed "a mile wide but an inch deep" based on my experience in Ohio, USA. Since much teaching does not lead to proficiency, it becomes disliked by many students and can not be applied properly later.

I am not recommending more school to cover all the items in more depth. I am recommending to leave much of the word lessons out of math to leave room for the more important things. The math books are full of word memorization that may be needed in certain fields but do not help high school students learn math. This approach even prevents learning by adding unnecessary elements.

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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/16/2009 1:15 PM

More hands on. If a kid doesn't see the real life application of the subject or the subject doesn't have any real life applications the kid looses out and has no interest.

I can explain the math behind electrical stuff all day and its god awful boring. Put a soldering gun and some components that relate to what that math is for in front of that kid and now it interesting!

That approach works on so many different subjects and concepts. Theory and paper work are no replacement for reality.

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#3

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/16/2009 1:29 PM

There have been quite a few years since I was in school. The biggest problem I had was boredom. Because of class size which may have been about 30 at the time. The teachers was repetitious in presenting material over and over. As those that could not grasp information or had question about it left me bored and day dreaming.

Self paced classes could have eliminated that. Would also free the teacher to help those that have problems grasping the material. The rate at which each student went though the self paced material would give the teach a better understanding of their ability then just a grade. I believe would also cut down some of the distractions inherent to an open classroom.

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#25
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 7:56 AM

ozzb:

You bring up the one thing I remember most about high school- boredom. The real issue in my mind is that "Universal Education" results in lowering the standards for all. "Special Education" focuses on the intellectually or physically challenged, leaving the potential "superstars" sitting in the back of the classroom twiddling their thumbs.

I remember from my high school days a particular biology teacher who really lit my fire- by challenging me to go beyond what was required of the course. Interestingly, I only got a "B" in that course (his reasoning being, I wasn't trying hard enough). My "A"'s (the vast majority of my grades) came from teachers that couldn't be bothered, and rated the students based on meeting minimal requirements, not on real accomplishment.

I also remember, Shakespeare, an English teacher that could not think outside the box, and refused to accept an alternative interpretation of a literary work (something about a pet cemetery- it was contemporary literature at the time). Rather than discussing why my interpretation was wrong, she responded by saying, "That's not what this means, because the teacher's guide says that's not what this means." I did a pretty good job of arguing my points with specific examples from the book, while debunking her perspective. The dean, after reading my presentation, reprimanded the teacher severely for the poor mark she gave me, forced her to change the grade, and nearly fired her (I am not sure mine was the only case that was under review, but I do know that was her last year teaching- she retired with full pension I believe).

I also remember Radio Club- getting to make things was important. Shop class- same thing (wood working required for ALL boys, not just the "problem" kids).

And, if you wanted to take Driver's Ed in your Junior year, you had to be on the Honor Role. Otherwise, you had to wait for your Senior year. Since state law at that time required passing a driver's ed course before you could even get a learner's permit, that was a pretty strong motivator for a lot of us...

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#79
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/19/2009 7:38 AM

"That's not what this means, because the teacher's guide says that's not what this means."

Believe it or not, for good or for bad, I don't own a single teacher's guide to any literature that I teach. If an appropriate interpretation can come from my noodle, why can't one come for a student's?

The experience you detailed above makes me ill.

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#83
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/20/2009 1:27 PM

A friend of mine and I used to drive our HS English Lit. teacher crazy with interpretations. She seperated us, to opposite corners of the room, because she thought we were somehow conspiring to be obnoxious. The truth of it was she was just unfortunate to have gotten us in the same class as we didn't need to conspire to be obnoxious and were both fully capable of being a pain without assistance. We generally took up about half the class with our manifold counter-interpretations.... ahhh memories...

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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/20/2009 3:10 PM

I too, had a rather unique skill. This was generally appreciated by my fellow classmates. Especially those who had not completed, in most cases not even started yesterdays homework assignment.

I would ask certain of my teachers questions about their experiences in life. When they responded I would encourage them to expand on their comments. More often than not, I could get the teacher use up at least half of the class time reminiscing and relating stories about occurrences that they experienced previously through out their younger life.

It can be amazing to learn just how much these teachers do enjoy discussing and relating stories about their past. One teacher, (history) decided to turn the tables on us, and told us about an event that he had years ago. He mixed some history lesson events, with dates, like the war of 1812 was between which two countries, etc, and then gave us a 15 minute test at the end of the class period. He stated that he was just wanting to find out who was listening to what he was saying or ignoring him as he was telling the class about his personal history. Most of the class got a good grade on his test and he was pleased that he wasn't wasting his his time with his tales.

Near the end of that school year, I told him that I really enjoyed his class that year and he told me that he enjoyed teaching our class as it gave him a chance to teach the subject matter in a different manner and found that he could keep the class interested and as the result we were the class that got the best grades on our weekly tests. I also found that this carrying over to other classes that he was teaching those same days. History was the first class of the day for me that year.

Worked for me!

TMF

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#54
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 6:28 PM

Unfortunately, the boredom you describe is as much a function of subject matter as presentation. You would likely have been just as bored with "self-paced" studies, depending on the materials used.

In some ways, education is viewed improperly. It should be seen as preparation for life overall, not just acquiring employment. With this in mind, it might well be broken up in to intervals with "real life" periods in between, consisting of internships, crafts/trade training, humanitarian service, etc. Too many people don't know what they really want to do and end up choosing careers they wish they hadn't. Plus, subjects like history, generally don't become of interest to people until they get older and see the value of studying it.

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#4

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/16/2009 1:40 PM

Interesting comments. I appreciate you leaving them. Having a self-paced classroom presents an interesting idea. What happens when students choose not to pace themselves in a manner that get through the prescribed amount of content?

Class size is another interesting issues. Graduated research I conducted suggests that the ideal classroom holds no more than about 15 kids and no less than about ten. Would people here agree?

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#14
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 1:21 AM

To tell the truth Shakespeare The Engineer, all of the most egregious failures of my education were in elementary school.

I'm monolingual. - best time to learn another language is when you just learned the first, 4 to 6. Languages where I grew up and went to school weren't taught till High School. I took Spanish, French, and German, and could only pass German since it was similar to English enough for me to pass.

Jesus Christ! Who cares about the sex of a bolt!

My wife is real good at German, and has a University Education. Most of what I know I learned in the streets trying to make a living. I had to audit all my courses for an entire semester in Community College because they "lost" my paper work.

Thank God for the Boy Scouts. Any kid that showed up out of prison failed at High School with an Eagle Scout Sash I'd hire.

In the Boy Scouts you never ever really are dependent on only one leader.

It really is stupid to expect that one teacher in a room of 15 to thirty can deal with all of the students under the age of 13.

My answer to the title question, How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students? is, Make the Elementary Schools Prepare Students for High School.

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#27
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 8:05 AM

Amen to the blessings of the Boy Scouts! I understand things have changed quite a bit since my days as a Scout (both as a boy and later as a Scoutmaster), but what a wonderful guiding light to youth, at just the right age. Somewhere, years ago, I read some Scout propaganda that claimed that all modern US Presidents had been Eagle Scouts (I think this changed with Hillary's Husband, but I am not sure...)

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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 6:37 PM

I think Mr. Clinton was only a Rhodes Scholar.

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#60
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 12:37 AM

I'm with you Transcendian!

Elementary school did very little to prepare me for jr. high which did even less to prepare me for high school.

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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 2:34 PM

Thanks, I was trying to get to the "root of the problem".

Funny story from my Jr. High that illustrated how institutionalized many of our teachers were.

I think this was 1966, or '67., 9th grade for me.

We created THE FLOOR TILE AND CINDERBLOCK COUNT. What it asked was for the Teachers to count all the floor tiles and cinderblocks in their room saying that the County School Administrators were doing an inventory, and needed to know the number of floor tiles and cinderblocks used to build the classrooms.

We made it look like the other sorts of forms that would circulate in the school and ran it off on a memograph printing machine and left it on Teachers desks.

It truly is one of the funniest memories of my life, and "School Days", to walk into Homeroom, and for the Teacher to be seriously engaged in counting all the floor tiles and cinderblocks in the room.

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#26
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 8:01 AM

1. Self-paced classrooms- slackers don't pass and have to repeat the course. Those who complete minimum requirements, get minimum grades. The superstars get recognition for the extra effort.

2. My own experience in University, where most of the engineering classes were less than 20 people (but things like computer classes, English, History, etc. were taught in auditoriums), one had much better interaction between students and instructors, and one was more likely to find students willing to help each other over the speed bumps...

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#39
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 11:09 AM

There are always going to be those that choose not to learn. Are we to lose sight of those that aspire to learn but you lose do boredom. How in a teacher perspective can you tell if a students lack of attention is to bored or they just don't care to learn.

In a self pace atmosphere the teacher has one thing going for them competition. The students will compete among themselves to see who get though the material the fastest. Testing just needs to be set up for comprehension and retention. Compartmentalized so that comprehension is necessary before going farther into the material.

You may find then that those that would choose not to learn start. As their peers around them are no longer there to entertain them nor is the teacher with a long lecture on the material.

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#58
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 12:06 AM

I definitely agree that class size is a major contributor, 10 - 15 sounds about right to me. You need to have enough kids to keep discussions lively but few enough kids that the teacher can give each personal attention.

If a student doesn't 'self-pace' they don't move forward... of course having said this I feel that it is the teachers job to prevent that from happening, not by falsifying grades or giving meaningless extra credit projects, but by realizing that this system doesn't work for this student and finding a better structure for them to work in. No one system will work for all students and schools need to be prepared to treat each student as an individual with different needs than their peers.

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#5

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/16/2009 3:16 PM

I do believe that the brightest students are bored in class and the answer has been: Challenge our students! But...

I also believe the excuse of boredom is a cop out by many students because it puts the blame on someone else for that students poor performance. They are bored because many today do not want to, or do know how to, engage their mind in material that takes deeper analysis. Fast paced games and mindless "twitter" is fun and not boring. I would like your experienced Teachers perspective on this.

P.S. I am not directing these negative boring comments to other posters since most here are probably in the "bright" category.

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#32
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 9:16 AM

Sorry but I think that is bull. If a teacher can not interest their class with their lessons, yes the class will be board, especially the brighter students.

And those "trouble" students CAN be reached with just a little of positive attention. You don't have to baby them just let them know that they are just as important as everyone else in the class.

In grade 9 science the only thing the teacher ever said to me was keep it up and I WILL fail you. And low and behold he did. Next year got him again and the last day of class he looked at me and laughed "48%" not enough to pass he told me. I laughed back and said see you next year then. He gave me 51%. Next semester, grade 10, the teacher was awesome, down to earth, and talked to me like a regular person (almost like a Friend would). I got the highest mark of the year and the award for the entire grade. He didn't give me any special treatment, just talked to me like a regular person and traded some laughs.

The grade 9 teacher was an A$$ and talked down to the class "I have my PHD, I know this, you don't" crap all day. A dozen students failed his class.

The other teacher was there for the love of teaching, down to earth and just a great person. And the whole class did well. Only 1 failed because they were never there.

And to get on the topic of discussion. The greatest leason that I learnt didn't come a text book. My English teacher was the most common, earthly person you would ever meet.Quite offten he would vear off the leason and talk about his personal life. His son had just died of an illness and he just became a grandfather (from another sibling) He use to talk about the triles and tribulations about his son's addictions and illness leading up to his death and the joys of his new grandchild and how he was torn about the two emotions.

He taught the greatest leason as far as I was concerened - About life and how hummbling it could become.

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#36
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 10:33 AM

We all have to do the best with the cards that are dealt us.

It's a shame you got an instructor for Physics that based on your explanation was arrogant and a bad teacher. I hope the students and their parents took some action to protect future students.

When I took my four quarters of calculus and differential equations as part of my Engineering degree I got grades that ranged from a C to an A. There was a wide range in instructor abilities and one stood out as outstanding as agreed by most in the class. I wish he would have been my instructor for all four quarters. I would have understood more and probably got four A's. But I was not that Lucky. Another example was a part time instructor for a Junior year Engineering class. The guy was a below average (but not terrible) teacher. The problem was he was very arrogant. We Engineering students unitedly complained to the Dean of Engineering and we never saw him again. The school was better off for it and so were future students. I hope the instructor learned something also.

My comments in post 5 about boredom is assuming there are no glaring instructor errors. A point I implied is a large part of learning is the responsibility of the student. I also want to add that that in my schooling, in my opinion, most of my instructors have been adequate or good with a real desire to help kids, some have been great and a few I would not recommend.

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#6

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/16/2009 7:35 PM

I graduated high school in 1952 with a first class liberal education. English, Latin, French (German or Spanish was available), Mathematics, history P.E., Physics, Chemistry and music. My education has served me well over the years. I would certainly call it a "basic" education. That kind of education is no longer available except for a few very expensive private schools and even then, I don't think it is as extensive as my own education was. There are many more modern things to learn today that didn't even exist back then. Electronic calculators and computers, although very necessary in our everyday life doesn't teach a student anything. It is merely a tool and should be regarded as such. Students today do not know how to do a math problem without a calculator. Therefore he doesn't learn the basic principals. Understanding the basic principals is necessary if a person is to grow and expand their knowledge of the world beyond. Of all the subjects I learned, The most important in my opinion was English. It is terrible to hear kids today use language the way they do. They have distorted the English language to the point it doesn't resemble English anymore. How can you get your message across if you can't express yourself effectively? English should be the principal language taught in our schools. Everyone should be proficient in the language, from spelling to the correct formation of sentences. Composition was another one of my subjects in HS. I'm no where close to being an English scholar, but I can communicate pretty well, despite a mistake now and then. There really is no excuse for bad English. Today's kids expect to have time for video games, messaging, sports and other activities while sacrificing academics. Cut out the "play time" and there is enough time to study the school subjects. When I went to school, it was hard work. Kids today expect school to be easy and even then, they complain that they don't have time for "play". It must be up to parents and the schools to enforce a "learning ethic". The U.K.'s education system seems to have gone downhill over the years. They no longer condemn us for not speaking proper English like they used to do years ago.

Many say that they had to learn things in school that they would never use in the real world. WRONG. Anything we learn, no matter how insignificant or unimportant it may seem, is a bit of information that may be useful at some future time or place. Our brains have an amazing capacity for storing information that would put any computer to shame. You could say our brains are similar to a computer hard drive; able to store and retrieve information at lightning speed.

But back to the original question of "how would I shape high school education"? My answer is; to return as much as possible to an earlier time when the basics were taught and every student was expected to learn, with an emphasis on English and Mathematics. "No student left behind" is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard. It is saying "move him up to the next grade regardless if he has learned anything or not". This makes the school system into a factory and is a dis-service to humanity.

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#21
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 3:53 AM

I would not say that the education system in the UK has downhill but it has significantly changed and in some ways not for the better.

I am a former Primary school teacher, so i have a bit of knowledge in that area. One of the problems with the system was the use of the national curriculum. It is great to have a standardised system throughout the whole country but it means that the students have to be forced along at a fast pace and sometimes it would be good to be able to take a bit longer over some areas of the curriculum.

However there is an up side in that you can move from one end of the country to the other knowing that by a certain age children will have learnt the same basics.

Also although calculators and computers are just tools children have to be taught to use them correctly. We all forget that we learnt how to use these things but children do not have the experience yet. In the class of children that I taught there were some children who had difficulty in using a mouse because they had not been taught how to do it and needed help.

Sorry if i have gone a bit off-topic but just thought i could add my 2 pence worth.

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#34
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 9:56 AM

"although calculators and computers are just tools children have to be taught to use them correctly"

I agree, but not at the expense of learning the basics. After they have mastered the various math theorems and proofs, then go on with the computer and calculator training. I had to learn math principals on paper before going to the slide rule.

Tell me! How many kids today know how to find a cube root without a calculator? How about a square root?

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#38
In reply to #34

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 10:40 AM

Couldn't agree more. 4 function calculators hit the scene when I was in machinist apprentice school in the mid to late 60's. Although we all went out and bought them for $250+ just to be cool, we were forbidden to use them during tests.

We were however allowed to use our slide rules during tests. Apparently, NASA didn't consider them to be as mindless as calculators.

I still, to this day, find it faster to work with numbers on paper rather than drag out and turn on some calculator, even the one in Windows in front of my nose.

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#61
In reply to #34

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 12:48 AM

how about long division??? adding/subtracting fractions??? I doubt many kids these days can do much more than addition and subtraction of whole numbers without a calculator.

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#75
In reply to #61

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 4:13 PM

How many remember the times tables? Just that alone can help you do calculations in your head for even larger numbers.

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#95
In reply to #6

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/25/2009 1:36 PM

I agree -- teaching English is CRITICAL!! I work in high-tech businesses with genius-level people. At least 90% of the problems I see are due to poor communication and not to poor engineering, science, or math. Grammar, vocabulary, composition, and (yes) spelling are more important than most students would believe!

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#7

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/16/2009 8:05 PM

I wrote my MEd thesis on why are students ill prepared for physics and chemistry in high school. My digging came up with a few possible causes.

Three of them are:

Math is sometimes not taught conceptually, only as tricks. Research showed that to see that proportionality in math is the same as in chemistry or physics, you have to have a conceptual knowledge of it.

Math and science teachers may have never applied their subject matter to an occupation and don't have any way of relating it to real world matters.

Administrators don't know any better and don't guide teachers or curriculum to create a stream of constructing new knowledge on guiding concepts.

I would add to this that they fail to see an urgency to teach models of reality and see only facts and skills for satisfying teaching goals. They lose sight of the whole purpose. Education for education sake, instead of for understanding reality.

Please don't misunderstand I love teachers. They have a lot to do with many constraints. They just are often not scientists or engineers.

I have been both an engineer, and for a short time, a teacher.

What do you think?

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#35
In reply to #7

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 10:04 AM

You make some good points. I see the teaching of math in particular being manipulated in an effort to allow the student to get the right answer. We have all heard of the "new math". I tried to follow it and it didn't make logical sense to me.

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#96
In reply to #35

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/25/2009 1:41 PM

I had one year of "new math" when I was about 12. The wacky young teacher loved teaching and he honestly believed that math was fun. I learned more about the underlying principles of mathematics in his class than in any other class until boolean logic at the University level.

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#44
In reply to #7

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 11:45 AM

It is a valid point on the part of teachers role to effectively teach students with emphasis on reality world. Many teachers are masters of pages of books and by hearted versions of laws and standard problems.

With the modern gadgets like internet and all students can learn better on their own.

That means that today's teachers have vast resources to demonstrate to students and kindle interest in students.

Eight hours effective teaching is more than any thing for school kids. Hectic home works, tutu ions, coaching- today's school kids miss a lot in their young ages by way play and are hard driven to score.

I remember to have requested a well known teacher in hydraulics to whom I requested for a simple reference formula for kinetic force estimation of fluid flow in pipes. He asked me to refer such and such pages of a particular author and drove me away from taking up any simplified principle formula to assess.

If the teacher elaborates basics with reality application scope it will be a boon to students

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#8

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/16/2009 10:56 PM

Well let me see. How about in my sophomore year when there was an electronics class available, and in spite of the fact that I was already an Advanced Class Amateur Radio operator, I had a Second Class Commercial Radiotelephone License and was working in a television repair shop making good money for a high school kid, they insisted that I must take the pre-requisit of Electricity !. Oh yeah, that's the way to get someone excited about the prospects of education! I ended up co-teaching the class with the woodworking teacher who was trying to learn electricity at night and teach it during the day. We did really advanced things like, wait for it, hook up wires to lights and switches!!! Wow, how exciting for someone who had just finished building his own 200 watt transmitter.

So one thing they could do is get the idiots out of administration that insist on rigid adherence to arbitrary rules that attempt to force everyone through the same cookie cutter mold. The educational system is set up to make complacent workers for factory and office jobs. Face it, the exceptions either have to bite the bullet and wait or abandon the system and educate themselves.

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#98
In reply to #8

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/25/2009 2:34 PM

So one thing they could do is get the idiots out of administration that insist on rigid adherence to arbitrary rules that attempt to force everyone through the same cookie cutter mold.

Would that have anything to do with the teachers union.

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#99
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/25/2009 3:27 PM

Frankly Sir:

I respectfully disagree with your remarks regarding the cookie cutter mold. Basic education such as we are taught in public schools can certainly be improved beyond the separation of college prep/mixed/general curriculum's.

However: I believe that the system has been created as it is to teach those who will learn a basic reading, writing and arithmetic so that they can get along in a so called educated society. Further there is geography, history, foreign languages, and Latin, the dead language.

For those students that wish to take subjects like biology the sciences and physics, these too are available.

For those gifted students who demonstrate a superior learning ability, and have parents who can pay the tariff, there private schools.

I do believe however that we must insist on students being pressed to improve on their comprehension and skills with the basic three. Beyond that I believe that if this is done most students will be better able comprehend the other subjects and will naturally find interest therein.

The fact is that there is only so much that a teacher can teach to students that either don't want to learn, are lazy or have learning disorders.

As a tax payer who has no children of my own, I believe that I have repaid the system for my meager education several times. That is OK with me. No problem there. I have no problems with athletic programs and other agendas. They all share some importance within the educational process. But not every student has the ability to be an engineer or physicist and I do not support any attempt to teach those students that ignore an opportunity to learn more than they absolutely must have in order to graduate from the basic learning agenda. If these students come to the understanding that they have squandered an opportunity to learn while they were in high school, there are other learning opportunities such as Junior Colleges, and schools that teach specific courses. There are grant procedures that will help some and the others will be paid for by the student. This is the way it should be.

Further I believe that parents who have had to pay for their higher education are more likely to insist that their children apply themselves in grade, junior and high schools. They are also more likely to begin the learning process with their children before they even begin their journey through the educational process. Under these circumstances, even the less skilled teachers can be successful in helping the student learn.

TMF

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#100
In reply to #99

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/25/2009 3:43 PM

I was responding to rcapper post #8. As far as sapping the passion out of educating the students from the teachers.

I do believe however that we must insist on students being pressed to improve on their comprehension and skills with the basic three.

I agree, this comes from the home. The society today is too heavily dependant on the educational system to raising their children.

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#9

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/16/2009 11:10 PM

High School, Oh High School!

I graduated from High School in 1971.

Far as I can tell things haven't changed much.

Seems like the entire US Public Educational System is intended to inculcate preparation for prison, and wage slavery.

Hey, I made Honor Role! I was on Student Council! I was the only graduating Senior of my Class denied attendance to the graduation ceremony!

Most of the time the best thing about school for me was the cafeteria, since I hardly ever got enough to eat, and Fred Hampton the Black Panther murdered by the Chicago Police Department is one of my heroes.

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#10

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/16/2009 11:43 PM

All of the above replies are quite true. I was a "German farm boy" and I went to a tiny village school that was largely influenced by the church. At the age of 17 I was brought stateside with my parents for a new life here.

I am most fortunate in that my parents are both highly intelligent and well-educated individuals. I spoke virtually no English upon arrival and remember a hard rule was suddenly established around our home: "we are now here and the language is only English. That is now the only acceptable language in this home!" With much reluctance I began to decipher the language and as far as I am concerned it is still a work in progress.

I feel that nowadays I have a decent spoken and written command of the English language; yet I cannot give credit for this to any of the teachers in the high school that I attended. When I look back to that time I realize that their grammar skills and pronunciation habits were terrible. To a small degree I blame that on geography, and to a large degree I blame that on personal laziness and a lack of high standards. I agree with you, Ronseto, and think my command of the English language (and to a lesser point the German language) has done far more to advance my career than virtually anything else.

During the one (1) year that I went to a small rural high school the state did not have many requirements as far as the number of courses required - four (4) I think. I took the usual subjects for a senior; mathematics, world history, English literature, and civics. I knew early on that I was destined for a future that was technical in nature, rather than one that was purely academic. I had a couple of great mentors who cared greatly about my future; hence I was able to follow my own lead without regrets.

Where I really see the difference these days: last summer we hosted an engineering intern so I was able to work with him a lot. After several discussions with the young man I remember telling him that my generation was quite wrong when we often stated that the "kids of today don't do anything in school" as children now have a much higher load of coursework than did we. Perhaps that is what is really wrong with our education system - we focus more on quantity than quality. We feel that we are so far behind "everyone else" that we decide to load children down with a tremendous amount of coursework and keep them on a fast track to complete it - not really learn it. Evenso, we do not smite or fail them for practicing poor communication skills!

So with all my ranting; upon which areas would I place my emphasis? I would place a hard focus on the basics tenets of a sound education - language, mathematics, science, and a touch of the humanities. For with an excellent command of these basics the more complex tasks are understandable and doable.

Best Regards,

Ing. Robert Forbus

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#62
In reply to #10

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 12:56 AM

'I would place a hard focus on the basics tenets of a sound education - language, mathematics, science, and a touch of the humanities. '

I have to object to only giving a 'touch' of humanities... we are all human before we are anything else, and humanity doesn't come with a manual. We have to understand our place not only in society and the workplace but our place in the greater world and humanities is where you get the tools to understand the less material aspects of our world.

Otherwise I agree with you wholheartedly and am giving you a GA.

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#11

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/16/2009 11:44 PM

How can high schools better prepare students for life?

Simple:

1. Spend less time influencing their beliefs and more time increasing their knowledge.

2. Spend less time shaping thair attitudes and more time honing their ability to think.

But that will not happen.

Schools are not failing to accomplish their goal; they are succeeding.

You see, the goal of modern schools is not to educate citizens.

The goal of modern schools is to program producer/consumer robots that do what they're told to do and believe what they're told to believe.

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#63
In reply to #11

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 12:58 AM

Orwellian in the extreme... but not far off from the truth I think...

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#74
In reply to #63

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 3:55 PM

The Guest has phrased it a bit differently than I did when I said High School is preparation for Prison, or Wage Slavery.

This issue of Education has come up before and before I have recommended Some Lessons From the Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto, as a definitive Report on the State of US Education, and what is wrong. I believe he was considered the best NYC High School teacher more than once.

The Essay in a Book is found in Everything You Know is Wrong, copyright 2002 by the Disinformation Company Limited.

I have some sense that education in Spain is very similar to US education in its worst aspects.

In the course of my work in Motion Pictures, I did have to opportunity often to work with a variety of Nationals, Brazilians, and the Polish, and French, and Japanese, and Germans, and New Zealanders. Often I worked with people half my age from other countries, and I tell you it seems as if the Germans and the Dutch are all round awfully well educated.

All the other Nationals were Great to work with, but my most successful intern, is German.

German Directors of Photography gave me a lot of work in the City too.

The Anti Hero movement in the US has created in the culture a cynicism that stalls much of creative and good natured participation in shared life across socio-economic categories.

Once if ever again the life of the mind is appreciated for its own sake, both within and without the educational institutions, all of the society will improve.

Godwin Anarchy says that there are only two legitimate things for the Government to do: Provide Defense, and Education.

P.S. I do not want to at all insult any nationality. I simply did find in my travels that there did seem to be some real benefit to have been early educated in Germany or the Netherlands, and it would seem they are doing something right there.

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#12

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/16/2009 11:50 PM

For all the criticism we hear these days of public schools, my education was quite good (high-school class of 1966). With one dud of an exception, my teachers were knowledgeable and challenging.

We still need a good curriculum in basics: English, math, one or two sciences, a foreign language, history, geography, art/music, and physical activity. Today I would add computer literacy, including word processing and one or two "office suite" applications.

I think everyone should be taught some financial and legal basics, such as how interest works, how to finance a house, basic concepts of contract, etc. These were missing from my curriculum, and I know of no curriculum that includes them.

This is an excellent topic, and I have enjoyed the thoughtful responses thus far.

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#13

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 1:03 AM

I graduated in 1980..

I truly believe that in any educational situation a person takes away what you put into it. I think it is pretty futile to try and teach chemistry to a kid who is stoned on pot. On the other hand a kid who is truly fascinated by chemistry will not only come to class sober, but will also dig into every area of the subject. It is stupid to expect grand results from an education that is force fed. Unfortunately in modern American society it is not cool to be interested in school.

I was a geek. My Dad was and engineer, my Grand Dad was an engineer, I was determined from about grade 8 to be one also. In high school I took math every year through precalc, I took science every year Biology, Chemistry, Physics, I took English every year. The only one of those subjects that was required was English.

I also took metal shop and auto shop, learned how to weld and use a lathe, and to fix cars. I was the only one in those classes that was also taking science and math.

My Dad and my Grand Dad encouraged me from a young age to make something of myself. My Dad's friends provided excellent role models.

Those other guys in auto shop, most of them did not have Dads at home at all.... Hmmm I wonder if that has anything to do with it.....

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#29
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 8:47 AM

I'm only replying to the comment about teaching chemistry to kids stoned on pot. When I was in college (Police Foundations) some of the most innovative chemical engineers were drug dealers and the were all stoned on something.

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#15

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 2:18 AM

Everything in life is tied to math and science. If you can not read you can not understand the words and Vocabulary needed for math and science. If you can not write you can communicate your ideas or findings. If you can not think clearly or study and comprehend what you have read then you will never be able to do the work needed in math, science, industry, and even your own life of budgeting and health.

Personally I would only each 2 classes all day every day. Math and Science. It would include reading and writing from the First grade. By High School there would be group research projects and Independent work in math and science. Science Fairs are good but learning to work as a team and address complex problems is a real challenge. I would have teams that work togeather year after year from grade to grade.

Demand more and you will get more from the Student.

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#16

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 2:22 AM

Am from India. In India one can take a board course (Secondary School Leaving Certificate) or a University Course (Matriculation). I joined the Madras University Matriculation course in 1951. I am a Hindu and an atheist. My school was run by a Roman Catholic Seminary, where the rest (all boys) were to become ordained priests. All teachers were RC priests, none Indian and from various countries.

The language of instruction was English. The only second language (being for a seminary) was Latin. There were additional (Non course realated) classes on religion and cathecism. Being well funded by RC charities, there were good science labs.

We had excellent teachers of English in Rev.Fr. Dennis and Rev.Fr. Murphy, who gave us a sound foundation in English prose and poetry and a genuine love for reading and writing. Gower's Complete Plain Words, Fowler's Modern English Usage and The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. were all made part of us.

Oddly though, there was no proselytising though all teachers were priests. I used to have lively discussions on various religions and atheism with the rector and other senior clergy.

We had history (curiously Indian History written by British authors and for some obscure reason American History), geography, science (sort of holdall of all scince disciplines), mathematics, Latin and of course English (as the first language).

Outside of syllabus we had a Camera Club, which trained us in still photography and dark room work. We had very detailed practical experiments in all physical sciences and a little in life sciences.

I had the greatest of times in my high school. I will always remember how a dedicated RC German priest patiently trained me to take to a path of scientific research that has now lasted for half a century. I still remember how he inculcated in us the spirit of ethics and integrity in all scientific study.

I am eternally grateful for the school introducing to me to great Western Classical music and the abiding love for the English language. I tstill leaf through Fowler, Gowers and Strunk.

My high school gave me an all round education that has stood me in great stead since 1951. It still keeps doing its job without a fuss. May its tribe increase. I would not change any part of my high school experience even if given the chance.

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#18
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 3:03 AM

Hello Bioramani,

Many years ago an Englishman, Rudyard Kipling, wrote a novel about India called Kim. A school, much like the one you describe, plays an important backgroung role in this book. The book may seem old-fahioned now but I always found it to be most enjoyable and perhaps even somewhat instructive.

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#19
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 3:17 AM

Kim and Kipling are my favourites too.

Bioramani

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#17

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 2:52 AM

This is very interesting, since I am a South African and reading through the various replies it seems that we all suffer from the same problems.

What I was taught at school I might have used about 50% of it (being generous) during my life.

I went to University and did my Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering (finished in 1969).

I brought up two kids and I am now bringing up my grand son who is in grade 6 this year.

The main problem I experience is, as mentioned already, that we provide training a mile wide and an inch deep.

If we could just improve on two things it would make a huge difference namely:

1. Ensure that learners have a solid foundation of the principles of the subjects.

2.Teach them to THINK, UNDERSTAND and USE these principles.

I have had several learners in their final school year coming to me with problems and everytime it came back to a lack of understanding of the basics.

It seems the syllabuses are so cramped with data that we turn the learners into recording (memorising) machines which they have to reproduce to pass.

In my second year of engineering study in the first paper I wrote with a fairly aged lecturer I managed to score 50% when I thought that I should have scored closer to 100%. When I went to discuss this with him afterwards he replied;" But you have only given me what I have given you and for that you are only worth 50%, for better marks you have to provide me something from yourself"

This remark stayed with me and I tried to teach my children that. Needless to say I had been critisized about this at length (by my children) but the results eventually persuaded them that it was worth it.

What is the purpose of providing learners with DATA instead of INFORMATION. DATA only becomes INFORMATION if you can use it.

A prankster at university advertised a book with the telephone numbers of all the beautiful girls on campus for which of course he got plenty of orders. He simply provided them with local telephone directory.

I rest my case, thank you.

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#64
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 1:32 AM

In my second year of engineering study in the first paper I wrote with a fairly aged lecturer I managed to score 50% when I thought that I should have scored closer to 100%. When I went to discuss this with him afterwards he replied;" But you have only given me what I have given you and for that you are only worth 50%, for better marks you have to provide me something from yourself"

I just had to write and say how much I truly appreciate that mindset, if only our student population were equipped to deal with it...

GA by the way

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#20

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 3:20 AM

The real grooming of a child hails from its imitation tendency from consistent observations to his day to day exposure. Even the media like T.V has a bearing influence in the mind of kids.

Becoming a popular figure, public admiration and recognition, fame and a celebrity personality is the basic instinct in all human minds, and childhood is easily influenced by internal and external stimuli factors.

To me the real motivation and grooming care starts from family members and well wishers like family friends and relatives in all communications with the child.

Schools educate the child about the world we live in ,all sciences and fundamentals of multidisciplinary subjects. It is the place where a future citizen is shaped.

IN MY OPINION WHAT SCHOOLS CAN IMPROVE ABOUT could be the following.

1] Make a unique personality out of every student.

2] Enhance the learning process simple and conceivable to the students.

3] Stimulate learning interests in students and not a mark and grade driven sport.

4]Let them be good and involved players and not to bother on win loose games.

5]Never make a comparison between students.

6] Early signs of potential school teachers are better judges. Dis cuss this with the parents and shape destinies of students.

7] Teach them about co existence, tolerance, a concern for social problems and inspire them to assume future remedial roles.

8] Groom goal setting, educate and inspire with role models of scientists, social leaders and positive personalities.

9]Make them develop a purpose of life a motive to live.with all positive attitudes.

10]An young mind is vulnerable and can be shaped to any level- hence take delicate care and motivate to become socially responsible citizens.

11] Schools do these with minor inter variations.

12] Equally important is the multi skills and useful hobby developments to make them survive without complex.

But money minded, greedy, aggressive parent hood can collapse values of child to unethical behaviour.

Hence the family and even the friendship circle of the child should have a positive contribution in shaping the ethical values of the child.

It is collective game and responsibility, what comes into the context of CARE.

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#22
In reply to #20

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 5:09 AM

Dear all,

Really interesting.

I think with school we suppose to have good mentors which can give us practical suggestions which I am getting through you people.

Thanking you.

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#23

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 6:18 AM

I am in Knoxville, Tn. and have a step daughter, grandson, and granddaughter, all in college or high school. All three of these young people are in the top of their classes and the youngest two in high school taking CP clases. The are all very good in math an computer skills, I thought! I recently asked for help in getting simple calculations built into excl. I was amazed and surprised that although they understood the equations, not a single one had any experience in building these functions into a spreasheet. I felt that we are sending our young people out into the world handicapped by not understanding the simplest of tools at their fingertips. They were all very good in creating presentations with animation and impressive features. Not one has been involved in the practical use if one of the most powerful tools in the computer world. They are handicapped and extremely limited by this lack of training. I have now have concern about their ability to keep a check book balanced or to build a budget or to deide when to change the oil on their cars!

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#24

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 7:47 AM

OK...my opinion....When i went to school the students would come into class and when the teacher wanted there attention, the students would give it to them, or atleast be quite so it looked like they were paying attention. With 3 kids (2 in high school and 1 in college) it seems to me that the teachers spend 20 minutes trying to get the kids to shut up and pay attention, then 10 minutes taking attendance, then the last 10 - 15 minutes trying to teach them the lesson. Now the problem comes in when the kids come home to do the home work that they dont understand because the teacher didnt have enough time to teach. So now they have to ask someone like me, who really didnt do good in school because it wasnt relavent to me, and i have to try and teach my kids how to do there school work. THIS IS NOT A KNOCK ON THE TEACHERS, but a knock on the kids.

My opinion would be as follows:

1) If i new that i would be writing technical documents as much as i do now, i would have paid more attention in english class. Maybe students need to understand how they will use the stuff that is being taught to them when they get out in the work place.

2) If i knew that i would use math as much as i am, i would have tried to learn more in math.

3) If i knew that i would be playing with chemical compounds and mix ratios as much as i have this past year, i probably would have paid more attention in chemistry class. Of course if i had a teacher like the ones my kids have for chemistry, i might have paid more attention. This guy is great and has a lot of fun with chemistry. I never knew chemistry could be fun, it was always taught by a mono-tone teacher who was way to smart to be teaching lowly high school students chemistry.

In a nut shell, if the kids would respect the teachers and understand that they WILL use everything that is taught in there classes, then maybe they will learn. Maybe they need to see what they will use this class for in the "real world". Maybe they need to write a technical document in english, or a newspaper article, or........i think you get the idea. Same with Math and Science. Bring the "real world" into the class room and teach them how to make something with urethane. If they mix the urethane wrong, it wont set up right. Understand the chemical reactions that make a foaming urethane....foam, understand the thermal reacations that take place during this foam. Even teaching them trouble shooting and the documents that would have to go along with proving the solutions.

Just my 2 cents.

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#40
In reply to #24

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 11:12 AM

This is the problem for young students "If I knew.. I would have learned more, studied harder, etc." But they don't know. So a student must be brought along, encouraged, taught to think, so they can handle a variety of subjects. Talent really is non-specific. A talented person can be good at engineering, science, business, finance, whatever they choose.

For many years our talented youth have chosen finance and wall street positions for the high pay. Engineering is much less rewarded financially so many have not chosen that path.

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#28

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 8:40 AM

When I was in high school the teachers went on strike 2 times for a total of almost 2 whole semesters, removing any possibility of students getting the help they need. We lost opportunities with after school activities because they weren't getting payed enough to run them (for me wrestling). Because of the unions fight with the government they reduced what they were willing to do in regards to after school tutoring, we had to pay for any help we needed, and if we failed anything the only way to get back on track was with summer school and that would have cost us just over $600 for 6 weeks. As far as I'm concerned, and I think many will agree, people become teachers to help children. I believe up here most teachers start off making over $70000 per year with 2 months off and all the benefits. That's more than Cops make when they start, almost 2 times more actually. It seems to me that many people here in Canada seem to be more interested in making the almighty "$" then actually working, and that goes for many sectors not just teaching. Since high school, I've upgraded (because I barely passed) and went to college for Police Foundations (prep for becoming a Cop) I found out it wasn't for me, now I run Canada's leading vacuum pump service facility, dealing with all the universities in Canada that I could never afford to go to, and I stand there talking to these guys who have doctorates and PHD's in engineering or sciences and I try to explain to them that "no the pump won't work without oil sir" and I laugh at the fact that after all the schooling they have had to take they still haven't learned to read the bloody instruction manual that came with the new pump they just bought, or they don't seem to know how to pick up the phone and ask before the pump blows the breaker and stops working. Over the last 5 years I've learned more about vacuum pumps, technologies and processes than most people in the field will ever learn. I can fix almost all the vacuum pumps that exist and the ones I can't the my partner can. I've sourced replacement parts all across the planet and I've designed and made parts that I can't find or that cost way to much to purchase. I had allot of fun in high school, and I'm not saying I didn't learn anything because I did. I learned that spell check works great, I learned that with basic computer knowledge I can find a website like CR4 and have other people answer many of my questions and I learned that no matter how much education I have, it will never equal the ability to work hard, do a good job and be honest and understanding while you do it and the big thing I learned is common sense seems to be the only thing missing in any school system!!!

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#30

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 8:55 AM

From the Class of '66:

A lot of excellent points above, but my pet peeve has not been mentioned!!

Take the emphasis off of "everyone needs to go to college."

I was in mostly college prep classes in high school, but I really wasn't interested (which translates into I wasn't ready psychologically). I excelled in math and drafting classes and had targeted myself going to a NASA apprentice school. I wanted hands on stuff, not boring lectures. That was the state of my mind at the time and I know I was not a singular exception. I also went to adult ed electronics night school in a neighboring county to get hands on experience my local public schools didn't offer.

K-12, IMO, should offer a solid foundation in reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic, and broad spectrum choices in college prep and blue collar trades. Let the student lean in the direction their interests lie as long as they have some basis in history, sociology, economics, and government as well. One of my favorite classes in high school was a government class taught by a retired military officer. He gave us a thorough understanding of our (US) nation's political underpinings and a great respect for the Constitution.

I have since seen the value in college level courses to fill in spots needed by my career choices. The important thing that I was, by then, mature enough to understand where I wanted to go and why.

Oh, and I feel a few years of compulsive social service (military or public service, preferably in third world countries) would help a lot, too.

Hooker

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#42
In reply to #30

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 11:33 AM

It made me sad to see not one school in my state had even bother to become one of the NASA Team Schools.

And they wornder at the state level why they have to pay businesses to move here with land, building and tax incentives.

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#43
In reply to #30

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 11:44 AM

I love your statement "few years of compulsive social service (military or public service, preferably in third world countries) would help a lot, too. I 100% agree. Kids these days have no right of passage into adult hood. I'll be 28 in October and I truly feel that men and women need to have something other than hitting the legal age to drive then a few years later hitting the legal age to drink. These are piss poor passing points into adult hood. I'm writing a book on this subject right now and it's my personal opinion that this is one of the main causes of social assistance abuse in people 20 to 45.

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#31

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 8:56 AM

Most of my highschool and college classes consisted of a teacher lecturing for 40 minutes or an hour followed by assigning homework. Not surprisingly I learned the majority of what I learned doing homework or cramming for tests than I ever did in lectures. Sometimes it was physically painful to stay awake for a full lecture.

I would suggest cutting the lecture part of class to 25% of the time and using the rest of the class for in class work, except find a way to motivate them to work.

For instance, for English, you could have a 5 minute discussion to start the class, followed by 20 minutes to read a chapter, followed by a short quiz at the end of the class based on that chapter. But for this to work, the quizes have to account for the majority of the work. You could save 1 day out of the week for a full class lecture. Nothing motivates a student to work like cramming for a test. If you made every class a situation where they were cramming for the quiz at the end, I think they would learn a lot more.

This would also stop punishing smart lazy people like myself who didn't do homework unless there was a gun to my head, and then only if I was sure it was loaded. Homework is inherently unfair, people have different home lives.

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#106
In reply to #31

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

08/13/2010 2:11 AM

I think that high school education should include more about personal finances, basically how to handle money and credit wisely.

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#33

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 9:48 AM

More independent projects that interest the kids, that are more demanding but with plenty of time and help provided. LOTS more reading, especially help them to develop the skill of independently reading a textbook and being able to decipher meaning and understanding. Teachers need to realize, and some do, that motivating the students to learn is more important than the actual material they are teaching.

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#37

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 10:38 AM

I graduated from High school, WAY before you - 1978.

As a female, I was expected to enjoy Home Ec, NOT Science. I was actually called into the guidance office at one point. I had an A in Biology and D in Home Ec. That was not acceptable! I took Chemistry at a time girls did not do that- there were 3 of us in that class, and we were made examples of. I took Latin as well- that was OK, even for a girl!

What could have been done better? Accept kids for who they are. Play up their strengths. Help them with their weaknesses. Show them that Math, and Chemistry, and even Home Ec (I suppose) can be fun- you have to find an aspect of these subjects that appeals to you. And, help them to realize everyone is good at something. I had no trouble with science, reading, memorization. Math gve me fits. It took time for me to figure out HOW to learn to do math, how to get it to make sense to me. It took me longer- BUt the key thing was: that did not mean I could not do it!

I too had a circuitous path to my current career. I started in Occupational Therapy. Dropped out after 1 year, got married, had kids. Went back. Got a degree in Microbiology (after making it to clinicals in Nursing. Despite the comment by my counselor, I had a 4.0 for over 3 years straight!). I now work as a Chemist.

I think my very broad background really helps me in my current career. I wish my High School teachers had helped intill more faith in myself, as I migt have gotten here a little sooner. (My counselor actually told me at one point that I "might" do OK in college!).

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#41
In reply to #37

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 11:23 AM

I graduated before you in 1976. My "guidance" counselor advised me not to take so many math and science courses, because it was too much. This poorly prepared me for college and a degree in Mechanical Engineering. What a wake-up call that was. Once I got my act together I worked hard.

I would have liked to have learned to work hard at a younger age, but poorly given advice led me on an easy path, I was too lazy to choose the better path-then. Now I know. And I am struggling to teach my children so they will know, too. Now. Before they waste these precious years.

One time a good friend of mine from college and I were discussing all the wasted time we spent drinking, partying, and wasting time. Now don't get me wrong, we are both successful in our careers. Him a Chief Chemist, me a lead Project Manager (not limited to Mechanical Engineering). But we noted, where might we be had we not wasted so much time and resources when we had the opportunity to excel?

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#50
In reply to #37

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 2:27 PM

There are so many good points already covered that I felt there was little I could add. All the educational aspects seem well covered. What is not covered very well are the social aspects. The students develop what is called in animal husbandry a "pecking order".

This is enforced by bullying and often those at the top of the order are not the best students. The people at the top are the best bullies, in both the physical and social sense.

Teachers wages have gone so high over the past 30 years with an inflation adder of 2-3% AND an increase on top of that of another 2-3%. You can imagine what this has done to wages.

So the boards use fwer teacher hours = less supervision.

When I was in high school in the 50s, there was a teacher in each starwell and in each straight run of hallway to control this bullying.

This is not done now = bullying and the evolved form of bullying = gangs.

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#45

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 12:22 PM

I quite honestly agree with the people who think that high school teachers are 'babying' their students too much. High school has become more of a babysitting facility than an educational facility! I recently graduated from high school, but a lot of things have changed since then.

I wanted to become an engineer, but my school was so focused on the 'no student left behind' policy that more money was thrown at kids who either didn't have the mental capacity to become bright students or their attitude prevented them from achieving. A lot of people that I went to school with didn't take school seriously as a stepping stone to their future. Parents would go in and complain to the school board about how their kid was failing and how the school didn't do enough to help them. In the end, the people that were suffering were the semi-intelligent to bright kids.

People will generally go into fields that include the basics in english, science, math, and history; but this does not help students that don't want to directly be a scientist. I was lucky enough that my high school had agricultural classes and engineering classes, but there wasn't much in the way of psychology or other various courses. So instead of taking classes that would challenge them or help them in their future careers, they were stuck in their senior year with study halls and not much incentive to do much else.

This is a poor transition to college. My high school did not challenge me at all, so that when I got to college, I did not have the basic study skills or time management that would be helpful in college. I am not saying to have an 'introduction to college' courses, I am saying, challenge the students that are smart enough. The ones who use the challenge to learn from it are the ones who are going to succeed in college above and beyond. The ones who drop courses in senior year because they are "too hard" or "It is my last year, I don't want to do any work" is the attitude that is hurting the classroom.

Mostly, this was a rant at how my high school was trying too hard to support students that really didn't want to be helped, just to please the parents. If they had put half the effort into diversity and difficulty of high school curriculum, I may have had a better freshman college experience and not have so much of a bumpy road. I would have loved a robotics class or club so that I could test out the waters. But because I didn't have that, I feel uncomfortable joining this club in college for reasons such as the other people have more experience than I do and I don't know if I will really like the club. I know these are bad excuses if you think you might enjoy something, but I feel that these reasons do hold a lot of students back.

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#67
In reply to #45

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 8:01 AM

I agree with you completely. I would like to add one thing to this as well. Many parents nowadays use school more as a babysitting tool then as a way to help there kids in the future. Many people have become complacent in raising there children and figure that that's what teachers are there for. Considering a child will spend the majority of there time in a school atmosphere. By the way whatever happened to the great and almighty "boot camp" or "military camp" that so called delinquent kids would go to. One other thing is there are significant differences in how people learn and what there capabilities of retaining information are, people forget the fact that no matter how many people become rocket scientists there are many thousands if not millions more that are much better suited to working in the local Denny's kitchen. Everyone has a place on the proverbial "ladder of life" but not everyone's ladder is as tall as the next.

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#82
In reply to #45

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/20/2009 2:53 AM

Assuming that 75 to 60% of the class is of average and below average students, an impartial care needs to be taken towards the weaker and average students. Many teachers are concerned encouraging toppers[ since they make their job easy] only and leave the rest uncared. Corrections in, students if not implemented at this stage , it may become a chronic deficiency in students.

This calls for an impartial service outlook from the teachers' part to all students. One important provision to be made is the optimum number of students per class and students / teacher ratio.

Field visits to relevant subject matter can make students learn better than mere books and black board studies.

Exercises if any are to be done in the class room itself under the teacher's supervision- with least scope for Heavy home works. This a major factor leading to aversion to studies by many students. Let them enjoy their evenings with play and games, what is due for their age.

The communication skills of students[both written and spoken ] is of utmost importance, which the current generation needs major improvement. Practices for spoken, creative essay writing, comprehension and expression skills need a strong foundation at school levels.

Applied memory skills[ recording,retention , retrieval and spontaneity of application of knowledge inputs] are of major importance, to consolidate their learned and acquired knowledge and skills. This is possible by frequent objective oral questions and kindling applied skills of students as regard to their studies. This exercise is likely to develop permanent memory inputs in students and enhance strong foundation to their future.

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#86
In reply to #82

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/20/2009 3:40 PM

You are correct that we can not afford to abandon the lower 75% of the class. Unfortunately the current problem in this country is that we are so concerned with coddling the lowest performing students that we are almost completely neglecting the upper 75% of the class, and especially those mid-range performers who could really excel if only we would give them the support they need.

There is an over-abundance of 'sensitivity' and a practical dearth of sensibility in our current philosophy which seems to state emphatically that it is more important to make people feel nice than it is to help them better themselves.

Not all students are created equal, but our school systems are not able to treat students as individals so we are forced to cater to the lowest common denominator. There are lots of reasons for this. The top reasons (in my book) are lack of sufficient funding, lack of appropriate teacher training, lack of talent in the labor pool ("those who can't...teach"), insufficient training for adminstrators, political interference and lack of involvement by parents... not necessarily in that order.

Aside from wanting to clairfy this, I wholeheartedly agree with your post and am giving you a GA

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#46

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 12:44 PM

I will keep my comments simple as most of you have covered this subject very well.

High schools today need to put the basics first and stress quality, not quantity. When I was in school, we learned to spell phonetically and only had to memorize the rules and the exceptions to the rules. We learned math without calculators or computers as these had not been developed for personal use at the time(the 50's) and we didn't have to take our shoes off to add a column of numbers. In English, we learned how to write a composition, write an arguement and present it orally before the class. These skills have been very valuable in later life. Often you have to explain your ideas and sell them to others be they superiors or clients.

Today's schools are like factories, make them all the same, quantity is a reward for administraters. This attitude may be cheaper, but you get what you pay for. This is a disservice to our children and to our country.

tommm

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#47

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 12:48 PM

Many people do not seek higher education after High School, for financial, disinterest, or other reasons. This leaves some holes in their toolbox for dealing with life. Here are a couple of examples.

1. Simple financial tools are not appropriately taught in high school. How to write a check, balance a checkbook, create a budget, etc. Additionally, the gravity of ones creditworthiness or lack thereof should be explained.

2. How to choose a spouse is never mentioned in school. Why is it that the single most important aspect of ones life is left to the devices of intangibles such as love and lust (the latter most often the operative). The properties that make people compatible vary widely from person to person, but there are generalities that can be explained so as to allow some thoughtfulness on the part of the participants. This might even lower the divorce rate a little.

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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 1:29 PM

DEAR SIRS/MADAM: IT IS MY OPION, THE ONLY WAY WE CAN KNOW HOW TO WALK THE HIGHWAY OF LIFE, IS TO CONTINUAL BE ON SPEAKING TERMS WITH GOD THE CREATOR, BY READING HIS MANUAL & OBEYING HIS INSTRUCTIONS.

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#49

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 1:56 PM

When I remember my basic education in school and college I start thinking why I was taught some subjects which were irrelevant to me in my profession of engineering. Subjects like zoology, botany, classical language, history etc. I always think it was just a waste of time to go through these subjects as had never used whatever I was taught. It made my school bag heavy and extra load I had to carry. I think school education should be specialised and subjects which would be useful in future should be taught.

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#56
In reply to #49

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 10:59 PM

The education of a human being should be as broad and general as possible.

As Heinlein so aptly pointed out,

specialization is for insects.

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#51

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 3:05 PM

I have read the other replies to the original post. And I see one thing that is not well, if at all addressed, in these responses.

We live in a changing world. Though basic education is essential, the overall educational process must to some extent evolve with it. I was born in a small town in South Carolina, at the beginning of WWII. For about 1/2 of my life before I was 12 yrs old, my father was contributing to the war effort, or working in foreign countries, trying to earn enough money to support his wife and 4 children. I must say that my grade school education was excellent. My mothers effort to prepare me for 1st grade made the adjustment much easier. Before I was 6 yrs old, I could recite the alphabet, right the letters in both lower and upper case, count to 100, multiply and divide up to six, and make change for sums of money from $5.00 and less.

When I was 5 yrs. old during the summer, prior to my entering the 1st grade, I earned $48.00 selling boiled peanuts in the tobacco warehouses, for 10 cents per bag. (mom staked me to my start up money and I paid her back). My mom used this money to buy my school clothing to start school in that fall, as I turned 6yrs old on Sept. 16, 1948. Preparing a child to be educated, begins at home and at large in their local world and begins before entering our educational system.

5th grade would prove to be the single most valuable learning period for me. Yes we had the three R's. some simple science, geography, music, art, etc., but the single most important subject was American History. In fact I learned so much in that year that there was little left to learn when I was caused to take this subject for two high school years.

When I was 12 yrs old my family moved to New Jersey, just east of Philadelphia. "WOW", What an example of culture shock! I quickly learned that the Italians were not all in Italy, not all Jews were from Israel, and that I was going to have to get used to the fact that I as a white student would be schooling in the same classrooms with black students. I wanted to run away and go back to S.C. and live with my Grandparents. Though schooling is a necessity, it is not the only thing that we must learn, to even get along in our society, let along, excel.

Subjects like science, physics, history, both American and World, basic math, asst shop classes, and of course phys-ed, were like-able, for me. Spanish was ok, but I didn't see any need for it, it was a waste of my valuable time. English, so long as it pertained to spelling, writing, sentence composition, etc. was accepted as a necessary evil to just get along in the future. "BUT" memorising and then reciting from memory the "Prelude to Evangeline" and subsequent literary "B.S. needed to be left out of my life.

Yes, educational processes must evolve with the times, but we absolutely must continue to teach the basic subjects necessary for the general public to survive in this ever changing world. The best time to start is before grade school, with a serious concentration of the basics like comprehensive reading, not just reading the words, English including spelling, grammar, and sentence composition," history," world and American, geography, and the basics of math and science. Not all students are going to need physics, higher math, and other languages to get along in our society. These subjects must be made available in Jr. High & Senior High schools so that those who desire and can show the ability to comprehend these more difficult subjects also will have an opportunity to take them in preparing for higher education.

The important thing here is to understand that there is always going to be a working class of folks that will work in factories, construction, retail sales, etc. and they must have at least a general education, and those who can find the funds to go on to higher education should also be prepared at the younger ages to succeed if given the opportunity to attend a College or University. Students who have mastered the basics should have the opportunity to make up for missed opportunity, by attending junior colleges to get educated on the subjects needed to have been mastered in order to go on to higher education.

"NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND" should not mean pass the uneducated, or the slow learner, It should mean provide the resources needed to educate these students up to at least a reasonable level that they too may provide for their future.

TMF

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#52

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 4:14 PM

Only one response above caught my eye:

"I...think my command of the English language (and to a lesser point the German language) has done far more to advance my career than virtually anything else."

Hear, hear! When my nephew was a junior in high school, he asked me for advice on how to further his future career in engineering. I told him to take every writing class he could in high school and in college. He did, and later told me that was the best advice he had gotten from anybody, including professional counselors. He saw the difference between what he wrote and what the other students wrote.

When you can write well, supervisors understand your reports, memos and proposals--and you stand out from all the other engineers, most of whom are illiterate. Today's college graduates can't spell or write a simple declarative sentence. Even in the comments above, from allegedly smart people, I see many examples of these problems.

Learn how to write properly, and the world will open up to you.

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#65
In reply to #52

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 1:51 AM

I feel compelled to take your comment a step further.

Learn to read...

When you can read well, you understand reports, memos and proposals--and you stand out from all the other engineers, most of whom are illiterate.

While I understand and agree with many of the comments regarding the usefulness of reading/writing classes it is imperative that students do read, it doesn't matter what they read so long as they are able to comprehend what they've read and apply it to their life in some way. Reading is a skill like any other, the more you do it the better you get.

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#53

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 5:43 PM

I graduated from high school in 1974 and at that time I had no Idea what I wanted to do or what was available and what any jobs actually entailed. I went to school for Commercial Diving, did a stint in the Navy and finally went bact to College and recieved a Bachelor of Science.

I have worked as a bartender, carpenter, machinest, commercial diver, cab driver, surveyer, quality control inspector, lifeguard, laborer, salesman and tree guy. After returning to college in 2000 I am now working as a Civil/Structural Designer and work on Oil/Gas Projects for the North Slope. I think work study and internships are the way to go so students can experience their chosen careers first hand.

The ride has been interesting.

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#57

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/17/2009 11:55 PM

I'll start with a little ranting...

No student left behind is bollocks!

Standardized testing is bollocks!

I could go on ad infinitum on this subject. I started griping about the quality of my education in about 6th grade when I realized that I really wasn't going to actually get to learn much more until I got out of the public school system where the only thing anyone seemed to be interested in teaching was how to pass The Test, which frankly I could have passed in elementary school... I would not have scored fantastically, but I would have passed... yet I still had to take all those classes to teach me what I needed to know just to pass it.

Anything short of individual programs structured for each student is going to fail a large percentage of students because they all are individuals.

Now to try and explain how I came to this state of emotional turmoil...

I never attended the same school for more than 2 years, so I have a more extreme case than most to try to unravel. Because of my history it is difficult for me to say what my high school could have done better... for starters I went to four different high schools: I attended a science/engineering magnet school half days for my first 3 semesters, the remaining half days I attended normal high schools; I went to one for about 1.5 semesters, another for about 3.5 semesters and then I left the magnet school and moved to yet another school district where I finished out my last 3 semesters in one school... To make matters worse, to fix the problems at the high school level, as I see them, it is necessary to make repairs all the way down the line.

At this point I will try to give a brief history of my education highlighting the major issues I encountered:

I attended Montessori and Kindergarten in Indiana.

My family moved to Texas, where the school wanted me to take Kindergarten all over again because my birthday was two days after the start of the school year so I wasn't 'old enough' to have taken kindergarten and therefore couldn't possibly be ready to move on to 1st grade. That's right two days was enough to warrant holding my education back for a year to make sure I got kindergarten... again... This makes me want to spew bile, thank god my mother was a strong intelligent woman who was not afraid to go postal on the school.

Around the time I was in 2nd or 3rd grade I began participating in a 'gifted and talented' program. Then I moved to a new school district that didn't have a similar program and the despair began.

I became less and less interested and involved in my schooling because it was not challenging. I began to refuse to do homework and managed to pass classes based solely on my ability to pass the tests; leaving me a solid D+/C- average through the remainder of elementary school and junior high.

High School was something of a relief, at least partially. Because I was fortunate enough to get placed in the Magnet School program, I at last was interested in classes again, of course by then the pattern had been pretty well established and I still largely failed to do homework and maintained a barely passing grade in most of my classes. Of course the Magnet School only saved me from half of the same old system which I found myself plunged back into every afternoon. Every day I went from classes of 15 - 20 engaged students to classes of 30+ students who didn't give a rats ass, I'm amazed I'm not bi-polar as a result.

Since my case is fairly extreme it is hard to quantify what the schools could have done to improve my experience beyond two things.

1) Understand my individual needs.

2) Stop teaching to 'The Test'

I suppose fundamentally these are the same thing, teach the individual student based on their needs, not based on an artificial criteria designed to be 'one size fits all.'

Because I changed schools so much I am certain I missed things. Because I am an avid reader and a fan of PBS and all things 'educational tv' I managed to stay ahead of most of my peers, at least as far as practical knowledge is concerned.

This is one place where the faltering of the great social experiment that was America is most dramatically telling. If the federal system continues to gain more power over the local systems then eventually, probably yesterday, it will become too monstrously large to manage at all. Democracy, like Communism, only really works on the small level, as soon as it begins to grow too large the basic selfishness of man begins to warp it's goals and intentions and all efforts to maintain integrity in the system only serve to convolute it more.

Smaller is better.

Any children I have will likely be home schooled after about 4th grade, depending on their needs, as it should be. If, as a parent, I've done my job properly, then I expect my kids will be bored with school long before then anyway; unless the miraculous happens and the system actually gets fixed... I'm not holding my breath.

Since this forum is about fixing High schools I will say this: By the time you have finished jr. high you should have the minimum skills currently needed to graduate high school (at least in the districts I know anything about). High School should be more of a jr. college curriculum with actual counseling for each student to help them choose an appropriate path after high school. Class sizes should be kept small enough to keep the kids engaged and under control. And more important than anything else, more art - less football! If you've seen the movie Friday Night Lights then you know what I grew up with. The 'nothing matters but FOOTBALL' mentality is destroying our brain trust and it is far more widespread than you would believe. The High School I graduated from was about 2 years old when I started attending, it was built like a prison with no exterior windows in any classes, and only a small peep window in the door, they were going to build a theater for the drama classes to use since they only had a 'cafetorium' to work in and a fairly large group of students in those classes, not to mention a lot of community support for the shows that we did... Well, I graduated before the project got underway, but as I understand it the project was scrapped because the football team needed funding for equipment... typical. It doesn't matter the activity, no activity is worth denying students a full and varied education, and football is not a career... yes, some people make a good living from football, they are the few, and even at that most professional football players only have a 'career' for a few years.

To all of you who read this far, I apologize for my incoherence, I get very passionate about this subject and have a hard time not raging about it.

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#87
In reply to #57

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/20/2009 4:06 PM

Your point of view regarding the "TEST" mirrored by me and many others. I will take the issue of high school education a bit further though. Many areas of the nation, mostly the greater metropolitan ones, have optional vocational high schools. I believe that areas of the country where excessive drop outs are the norm, should have classes that permit the student to learn trades. I am not referring to the once or twice a week shop class where you make a trinket for your mom, but classes where the student learns trades like AC & refrigeration, residential wiring, small engine repairs, carpentry, tile installation and misc. flooring, and body and fender repairs, etc.. Local business could be encouraged to accept some of these students who's grades in the necessary subjects, like English, Basic Math and American History, as students who can learn on the job, and grade such students accordingly. I did that one semester for our local high school with two students. One did not do well, because he found excuses to miss out on this OJT education. He was often late arriving, and a no show just a few too many times. The other student took a serious interest in learning the carpentry trade and did fairly well. His family was never going to be able to afford a college education for him and he accepted that. After graduating from high school he found work as a carpenters helper and was soon earning the wages of a local carpenter.

He stopped by my office one day and thanked me for giving him a chance to learn the trade. He really enjoyed what he was doing, and was thinking about getting married. He was satisfied that he could earn a good living wage for his family to come.

As I and others have said, not everyone is going to become an engineer or scientist, not everyone will go on to earn a masters degree or get the PhD after their name, but many of those who do, couldn't drive a nail in a block of wood without bending it.

[No student who wishes to take college prep courses in high school should be denied that opportunity, but many know that the best that can hope for is to attend a local Junior College after graduating from high school. They know that their only hope for going further with education will require that they work to earn enough money for that purpose. They also know that having a good trade to fall back on if they find that there is difficulty staying employed in their preferred profession provides security for their future family's.]

The above paragraph describes an issue that should drummed into the heads of students beginning at the Junior High School level and promoted through out their High School years. As for the "game boys" and the computer oriented games and internet entertainment, these students absolutely must limit themselves to enjoying these after providing for their hours of education. This is where the parents absolutely fail their children if they do not cause it to happen. This is not the responsibility of any school teacher, at any grade level.

TMF

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#88
In reply to #87

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/20/2009 4:30 PM

too true, too true...

People forget that the important thing in choosing a career, whether it's a trade or a profession, is that it is something you enjoy doing. If you don't enjoy sitting in class all day doing reading and doing 'paperwork' then odds are you're not going to enjoy it any more in an office, even if you do make 60 ga-zillion dollars an hour for it...

Kids are taught that the only way to be happy in life is to make 'good money' and the only way to make 'good' money is to go to college... it's just not true. I read something a few weeks ago about average pay rates by education level... currently I am making the equivilent of someone with a Master's Degree and I dropped out of college after 1 semester...

The key to happiness is doing something you enjoy as often as possible, if you can enjoy your work then you get to be happy every day...

The key to making money... hard work and luck... don't count on luck.

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#59

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 12:35 AM

In Washington State, where I lived until recently, they used a test called the WASL (Washington Assessment of Student Learning). It was actually a pretty good test, though laborious to score. For all of you who may have felt tyrannized by standardized tests, here is a satire I wrote up:

THE WASSAIL TEST

1. Which is a possible correct verbal answer to the following question:

Which of these three answers is the longest?

a. This one.

b. That one.

c. The other one.

2. Which is the most inclusive correct answer?

a. Not the next one.

b. Not the next one.

c. Not the first one.

d. All of the above.

e. Most of the above.

f. One of the above.

g. Some of the above.

3. Show your work by giving proofs for both answers.

If it doesn't fit within the margins, you may turn the page over.

4. Match these items to the most appropriate location:

(Hint: Not all of the locations will be used.)

__a. balaclava 1. Crimea

__b. balalaika 2. Samoa

__c. baklava 3. Serbia

__d. lavalava 4. Siberia

__e. Vaclav Havel 5. Slovakia

6. Syria

5. Congratulations! You have now completed the WASSAIL test. Choose one:

a. If you are a child, you will not be left behind.

b. If you are an adult, free wassail tomorrow!

 [Prompts 2 and 3 continue to be undergoing validation as per according to student performance. After the subsequent statistical observation of preliminary assessments, the rubrics may be adjusted. Please stand by.]

©2004 Crankshaft Educational Consultants. All wrongs reserved. Or at least implausibly denied.

This proprietary material may be reproduced only without expressed permission. Don't even ask.

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#66
In reply to #59

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 1:55 AM
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#68

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 1:20 PM

I just returned from my 45th high school reunion, and the place is still there.

Back in the '60s, we were somewhat divided into two groups: those of us who were going on to college, and those who were not. We who were going on to college took all the math and science we could get while those who were not took bonehead math (just enough to graduate) and alot of shop classes like auto shop... machine shop... that sort of thing. Those in the lesser group were somewhat shunned by those of us college bound... and you didn't find them in the Honor Society.

After college, I learned that shop skills would have been quite handy. Particularly sheet metal and machining, especially in a small company where if you didn't have "it" you had to make "it". There were only 4 years in high school though, so some things had to be sacrificed.

Bill

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#69
In reply to #68

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 2:15 PM

That was in fact the attitude of education administrators of the period. Those students who were from families who were likely to be able to afford to send their children forward to a higher education, were most likely to be placed in the "college prep curriculum" where math such as algebra and higher were mandatory. Others who also made it into the C.P agenda were from families who were dreamers for the future of their children.

Unfortunately many of those students were to graduate with a "Mixed" identifier while others would be assigned a classification of "General" regarding their educational performance was considered. I graduated "Mixed"!

However I continued to learn from life's experiences, and on the job training. In 1977 I became a Residential Contractor and held a specialty license for the forming and placement of concrete. Ultimately, I gained enough experience to qualify to sit for the General Contractors Examination in the State of Florida. Florida is generally accepted as having the most difficult of these kinds of examinations to pass. In 1989, I became "Licensed Building Contractor." This limitation on my license was that I could not build buildings that exceeded 4 stories. This was not much of a limitation as my operating capital limited me that much.

If I were to be in position to add a limitation to the licensing process for Contractors every where it would require a applicants to have 5 yrs of on the job training, and at least 2 yrs. of active OJT even after Graduating from College. I have found that many CG's who sit for the examination couldn't build an "out house' but get qualified to build the "pent house", fail and cost innocent folks millions of dollars in losses. There is no better way to education future contractors than requiring substantial "On the Job Training" and I am certain that this concept extends to many other professions!

Students who take their learning experiences seriously, and refrain from saddling themselves with more load than they can carry, will always have an opportunity to do better than the average individual. Experience is the most perfect teacher.

TMF

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#70
In reply to #69

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 2:26 PM

Toomuchfun-

Actually, engineers are generally required to work under a licensed engineer for four or more years before they can sit for the PE exam. OJT is critical to virtually any profession- you don't learn good engineering practices in engineering school, and I doubt one learns good management skills in Business School.

Back in the days of the US control of the Panama Canal, there was a very extensive, comprehensive and competitive apprenticeship program- depending on the discipline, completion of the program could take four years or more. The graduation certificate from the program apparently carried as much weight in the job market back in the US as foru years of college- according to some anecdotal claims I have heard.

This also ties in with other posters' comments regarding the shop classes offered in many high schools years ago- it is really a shame that most of them were geared to those not college-bound...Nothing beats hands on for learning.

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#76
In reply to #70

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 5:10 PM

Unions, prior to the results of JFK's interference, generally had in place educational programs regarding the various qualifications of the crafts that they represented. Ex: the Carpenters Union had a 3 yr program where by the apprentice could learn the trade and his pay would be reflected by how well he was moving along towards his journeyman's card. After the JFK debacle the unions stopped the educational process. Now anyone can walk into any union hall and demand to sign the worker placement list, and declare that they are a journeyman, and the union must accept this declaration without challenge. All too often inexperienced personal have been sent out to work on construction projects that could not do the work, and were sent back to the hall. This has caused the Carpenters Union a great deal of embarrassment, and caused worthy persons to miss out on opportunities to get good jobs. As a contractor who hired many workers through the unions, I can state that having a prevailing wage requirement as part of contracts made it much easier to compete with other bidders for the available work, as all needed to consider union wages as a part of the contract.

Here in sunny Florida, we have classes in the Junior Colleges, teaching HS dropouts that have gone on to get their "Equivalent Graduate Certificate" or EDC how to be journeyman tradesmen and women. They are learning the trades from books mostly with some hands on experience. Most of them end up "flippin burgers" for a living.

In closing I simply say that there is no substitution for hands on experience. And as long as the present evolving generation is concerned, they will find a great deal of competition for experienced game players and computer using jobs and the "Real Craftsmen" will be in demand.

TMF

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#77
In reply to #76

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 9:12 PM

One field where computer gaming serves as very good hands-on training is modern warfare...

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#71
In reply to #68

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 2:33 PM

Yeah, it's a shame about "had to be sacrificed".

Back in the 60's and 70's most newly graduated engineers that came to NASA Langley spent a year cycling through the various shops before they even set foot in engineering. Those kids mostly had no clue how stuff was fabricated in the real world.

Typical scenario - Whaddaya mean I can't put an 1/16" fillet 6" down in a pocket of 347 stainless steel???? Duh.

Hooker

Footnote - Well, we coulda put that small fillet in the bottom of that pocket but we didn't wanna commit an EDM machine to do something like that on a support structure. Just didn't make sense.

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#73

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/18/2009 3:14 PM

A lively and interesting discussion about a topic with many hot buttons.

To be quite honest, the thought of guiding a sub-adult through the maze of distractions today is mind bending. Video games... Porn, of a HUNDRED varieties... Tattoos... Religious zealots... Cell Phones... Lap Top computers... Gangs... My younger child is 28, and I had very few of these types of things to compete with. About the worst thing we had to deal with was bad advice from sages of the era:

Kodachrome Paul Simon 1973

When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it's a wonder I can think at all. And though my lack of education hasn't hurt me none, I can read the writing on the wall.

Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)
Pink Floyd
We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey teacher leave them kids alone
All in all it's just another brick in the wall
All in all you're just another brick in the wall

And not just contemporary sages: "Don't let school get in the way of your education". Mark Twain

My sister-in-law was a high school teacher. I met her during her first year on the job; bright eyes, bushy tail, the whole shebang. 1978, I think. In 2007, she took retirement, a discouraged, bleary-eyed, gin soaked shell of her former self. While some of this is certainly attributable to the exuberance of youth, she feels strongly that competing for the interest of the students was making it difficult to be an effective instructor. She simply gave up, because she could see only a downward trend in this aspect of the common student.

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#78

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/19/2009 12:01 AM

This being a very important topic, I have attempted to analyze the first 78 responses to this thread. Bottom line, Shakespeare, you, as an English teacher with a technical background, are a hero here among the respondents. My analysis:

Summary:

A full 15.4% of all respondents expressed a negative opinion of "No kid left behind", standardized testing or standardized curricula. Of those respondents actually addressing the issue, more than 85% expressed strong opposition to standardization, with a single vote in favor, and one that was ambiguous.

Of the total responses, more than 5% favored smaller classes (but no one suggested how to pay for this!), and more than 6% favored a self-paced approach.

A real surprise (for me, at least) came when looking at the rankings of important subjects: Hands-on (including shop classes, extra-curricular activities like radio club, etc, and work-study programs) outranked communications skills (writing and reading) 25.6% to 23.1% (among those that expressed an opinion on this issue)! I suspect this is due to the lack of such opportunities in modern education, especially for the college-bound (which appears to include most of the respondents). Math, science and humanities (including second languages) all ranked at about half the level of the two front runners. (We did have one vote for less biological sciences and more "practical" sciences- does this count as a negative vote for the sciences in general?) Computer skills and basic life skills (balancing a check book, writing checks, purchasing a home, picking the right mate) ranked at about 1/5 the importance of hands on or communications skills.

We had a couple of comments (out of a total of 78 analysed) suggesting that the curricula were too broad, that there should be more focus on the basics. Actually, several of the other comments could be counted in this category, when I think back on it.

Nearly 10% of the respondents felt that motivating students was an important function of the system.

With regards to teacher skills, the one item that stuck out was that most teachers do not have a great deal of practical work experience outside the educational system.

We had a couple of comments about non-school education- Boy Scouts and Social Service (both military and non-military)- both of which are dear to my heart, and I think should be included in a well-rounded education base.

Finally, one respondent suggested that the Germans and the Dutch seem to be doing something right, or apparently better than the rest of us, and it might be of benefit to study what they do differently...

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#89
In reply to #78

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/20/2009 4:45 PM

Nice to see your post cwarner7_11. I sometimes do this thread crawl myself, though putting up statistics is not my sort of thing.

I myself as revolutionary and radical as I am on many stances am oddly in favor of a certain amount of standardization. What the hell, you didn't get your Merit Badge unless you passed the test, now did you? If you can't tie the knots, you can't tie the knots...

And oddly enough, I agree with many Certification processes and standards, though I am aware that too often they are not meritocratic standards in some trades, from state to state, which is a flawed thing causing some disrespect on my part of States Rights.

Of certifications and testings I most often find Aviation the best models, nationally and internationally.

Even the Checkride amounts to "Peer Review".

(I once knew a guy from Holland who got the money to finance his Pilot License by scuba diving in canals to hook up to and pull out cars in the canals.)

Pretty weird to me that Charles Bukowski is required reading in German High Schools.

-possibly this means they are when in the US primed for dealing with crazy Americans.

I forget exactly what the size of a Platoon is. I think it is 15 and we do not need over and over to reinvent the wheel. Just as it turns out that there is an optimum shape to an automobile, there are optimum numbers for certain sorts of groups.

Humans group in odd numbers to do things together beyond themselves.

1 three, 5, 15, 21, and 29 are good numbers of people to put to tasks in teams.

-maybe 31. (more study called for.)

People do learn by doing, so hands on experience is dramatically important. Even for theoreticians the Chalk board is an important equivalent.

According to Prison Counselors to "Marry well" is the number one ingredient for success. Two causes for failure are Divorce and illness. I recommend that youth hire accountants from day one of their money making life, and take tests and counseling before marriage, not afterwards when things get tough.

I would agree that up through High School the focus ought to be on teaching those skills and understandings of the realities of the world everyone really really needs to know ought to be the priority.

Of course all work and no play make jack a dull boy, and what is "Practical" for me, may never be practical for you. Hence things like Art, and Music, and Theater do need to be offered seriously, though artistic types will need to know if they can't do it themselves, hire Bill the accountant, if they don't want to go broke.

Confucius says that the Teacher cannot teach, till the student wants to learn.

Through High School students may as well be dogs looking for heroes. The great teacher is put in a tough position for they must become the hero, for we want to be and know what our heros know, and are.

Shakespeare's quandary over how much to reveal or interact on Facebook is relevant to this danger of demystification for the kids don't want to know you are not anymore a hero than your mother and father.

As far as the Boy Scouts this area is as tricky as any other since for Nazi Germany it became the Nazi Youth. It is one thing to say "Be Prepared" and another to say, "Prepare to kill the inferiors and take over."

Of the Polyglot that I have worked with Dutch and Germans seem awfully well educated on all core important subjects. The Russians seem a little specialized and hamstrung by habits much really similar to those that are strengths and downfalls of American, US culture. Slavery and Peasanthood were pretty much the same thing.

For both once Education was accepted as a good thing for these sets, specialization of their education was tracked so as to inhibit the loss of control that comes from roundly educated individuals.

As the US falls still touting itself as Richest, Strongest, Smartest, working to vote itself Utopia, with a culture that hates basically about everybody for one reason or another, and sends every job you can write instructions for to every other nation with a different currency, while dreaming of days past, and fractured by what really amounts to the struggle between barbarians and civilized people, we wonder if world educational standard independent of states or nations are called for, if as a species we are to get through this very dangerous political and physical period of threats.

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#90
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/20/2009 6:34 PM

Bukowski is required reading in Germany??? This I like...Now, were he only required reading for US students...

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#91
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/20/2009 6:52 PM

you can't read that here... it's on the red flag list... with other despicable texts like Walden, the Tao Te Ching, and the complete works of Mark Twain...

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#123
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

08/15/2015 8:21 PM

So I know this response is about six years too late, but thank you for doing such a thorough analysis of the responses. This still ranks among my favorite threads from my time writing for CR4 because of the great number of responses.

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#80

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/19/2009 12:03 PM

The "SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS" gives us one hell of a good education, to0.

tommm

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#81
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/19/2009 10:58 PM

Yeah but some times it leaves quite the mark, but you don't do that again.

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#84
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/20/2009 1:29 PM

my heads not lumpy for no reason... those are knowledge bumps... they each show where I learned a really really important lesson...

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#92
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Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/20/2009 9:16 PM

My dear late father quit school during the 9th grade to take a full time job working in a dry cleaning establishment. Later he became a ship fitter/pipe fitter in the NY Ship corp in Camden N.J.. He moved on and opened his own Deli and after retiring from that couldn't stand being idle so he was hired as an inspector for the pumping stations of that black goal stuff, they call the crude from the north slope of Alaska.

When ask what school he attended he would respond that he "Graduated" " Gonna get lauder, sooner than later, from the school of hard knocks".

TMF

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#93

Re: How Can High Schools Better Prepare Students?

09/21/2009 4:01 PM

I went to a one room school up thru sixth grade. Older students get used as teachers for younger students. This system works well. Not only does it give self worth to students, teaching a task helps to learn it better.

The school year should be 11 months long not 9. there is ample evidence that three months off hurts kids in lost memory of tasks not practiced enough.

As stated by many others stop teaching to a test ( which is teaching what to know/think) and start teaching students how to think for themselves.

I have been at a community college for 8 years now. The quality of students and their abilities has dropped noticeably in that time. I spent way too much tiime teaching concepts that should be known and understood long before high school is over.

Lastly fail students that don't make the grade. Not failing them hurts all the students that earned the grade.

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