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  1. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Destruction of Education?

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by EdFromNY, Sep 4, 2014.

    http://www.alternet.org/how-higher-education-us-was-destroyed-5-basic-steps?fb_action_ids=10204656696360690&fb_action_types=og.likes&paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

    An old college friend of mine posted this on Facebook, and I thought it would be a good idea to post here. Bear in mind that in the past two decades, the process described in the piece has been accompanied by persistent corporate offshoring of jobs and the more recent declaration of "rights" for corporations that were only ever conceived for individuals. We are rapidly morphing from a democracy into an oligarchy. In many ways, we are already there.
     
  2. writerswillwrite
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    writerswillwrite New Member

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    A lot of education is moving online. There are more courses than ever online from people that just know a lot to top professors and this should eventually result in "cheaper education".

    Good Classes/education posted online can remain there forever without the risk of getting dumbed down or altered (due to politics). I think you can have trust in future generations getting good education, they will have many great tools at their disposal and be able to pick their teachers more freely and can have the same class taken again and again if they didn't get it the first time.
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I've taken online courses for CPE. They pale in comparison to the real thing. And that's just in the realm of professional courses, where there is already a foundation of knowledge in place. When I think back on the best professors I had, both on the undergraduate level and the graduate level, there is no way that experience can be effectively replicated in an online environment. A really good professor knows when to challenge his students and when to let them run with it; when incidental conversation is an irritating distraction or a teachable moment; when questions being raised are valuable to invest classroom time in answering or if a handful of students are just busting chops.

    Funny thing about politics in the classroom - there was always a coterie of students to rebel against it, whether the politics sprang from the left or the right. At least, that was my experience.
     
  4. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    Yeah, college, and even high school, are also quite toxic for people's mental health. Your average high school student today has the same amount of anxiety as a mental asylum patient in the 1950's. Then, college comes. :meh:
     
  5. Christopher Snape.
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    Christopher Snape. Member

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    The 1950's asylum-high school analogy is flawed. In those days they committed people for homosexuality, as well as women for simple anxiety and stress.

    Mind you, that doesn't change the focal point of this thread: that the education system is flawed. That I can agree with.

    But I often think the complaints and arguments are exaggerated.
     
  6. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with this article and find it dismaying. What disturbs me also is the vast funding available for these for-profit institutions, which account for over half of student loan defaults and provide nothing in terms of real training or skills.

    Online classes are good as supplements to traditional education, and can be a minimally acceptable substitute if the real thing is truly not available for someone. But there is absolutely no substitute for the personal interactions that come from real life, face to face interaction. (I feel the same way about meetings -- teleconferences are just not the same as meetings where you are in the same room as the other participants.)

    I really believe that college is the best time of life, and I'd say that the majority of that benefit derives not from the reading of the books and listening to the lectures, but from the discussions and interaction with other students. More learning, growth and development occurs outside the classroom than in it, but even so, it could not occur if everyone were remote, always disconnected from each other, and the lectures were only attended via computer screen.
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Think so? The entire system of higher education in the US is being devalued. Graduates are waiting tables. Professionals in the sciences increasingly have to be imported. Students without extensive resources have to incur debt it will take a lifetime to pay off. Those are the facts.
     
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  8. Christopher Snape.
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    Christopher Snape. Member

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    Although I might add that I'm in Australia, land of the $18k university degree.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Charter schools and disaster capitalism

    I found Naomi Klein's book, "The Shock Doctrine" enlightening.
    Using post Katrina to replace public schools in New Orleans with corporate run for profit charter schools was covered in one chapter.
    New Orleans isn't the only place suffering this assault on public schools.
    For the record, students in charter schools on average don't do any better than students in public schools on average.
     
  10. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That is simply depressing, and it's not just over there. I was talking with a few students about the amount of online courses they nowadays have, and while distance learning offers a more flexible schedule to the students, it's very difficult to make as much out of the study material as they would on-class. I'm actually writing a paper about the subject, base it on a distance learning experiment that I will plan myself, so it's going to be interesting to compare those sessions to the on-class sessions.
     
  11. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    What is the Australian grading system?

    For the record, this is America's:

    Average American Grading Scale:
    A+- 97-100
    A - 94-96
    A- - 90-93
    B- 80-89
    C- 70-79
    D- 60-69
    F- 59 and under

    And this is Scotland' s (as an example):
    100-70 - A
    69-60 -B
    59-50 -C

    And so on.

    And for American's, if you get a D or F, you may as well have gotten a zero. C's are considered almost as bad as D's.

    So, even if the analogy is flawed, it makes sense.
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmm. Is this generally true? When I was a kid, back in the stone age, a C was moderately respectable.
     
  13. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Yes, it's still moderately respectable, especially among non-honors kids, but has lost a lot of respect, mostly with parents. I blame this on the colleges. They've heightened their requirements and you need college to get a job.
     
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  14. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know how it works in other states, but in Texas, there this idea of core curriculum. Essentially, a good fourth of your degree consists of non-major related courses designed, I assume, to make the rounded individual. Problem is, these courses do anything but foster such an individual. Regardless, I think the public schooling should be reshaped; the college level is not the level for rounding. This should have occurred in mandatory levels. Also, at least from my ignorance, our public education is mainly efficient at creating perspectiveless citizens, who have certainly forgotten the equation for the acceleration Earth's gravity and yet were never taught the importance of science as a field and so maintain themselves' as useless. (Just a single and shitty example.)
     
  15. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I have to disagree with this. The whole notion of a liberal arts education is to encourage independent critical thinking. That's a process that can be started at younger ages, but not finished.
     
  16. chicagoliz
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    I've got to disagree with a few points made here. Elementary and Secondary education is meant to provide the basics, with the tools to enable you to think much more critically, although I do think that independent critical thinking really should be done in the lower grades. But the basic facts and understanding -- the foundation of all the basic subjects needs to be there first. Given the number of days and hours kids are in school, there isn't generally time to get into most subjects in-depth, especially on a level deep enough to encourage real critical thought. Classes for gifted students do encourage more independent critical thinking, although these programs can vary significantly and are subject to funding cuts. Enrichment classes -- especially those over the summer really go into a lot of critical thinking, although these are mostly available only to wealthier parents who can send their kids to these classes.

    The gap we have between good and bad schools is a HUGE problem.

    Colleges have not heightened their requirements, but really they have been lowered. Many school systems are doing a terrible job educating students, and when they get to college, it is unbelievable how many have to be put in some sort of remedial classes. This is a huge headache to professors, who need to assume a certain level of knowledge and understanding, which they discover is not there, and much time is wasted bringing the students up to speed.
     
  17. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    (I'd note that I really am not a-hun'rd if you were replying to me but whatever, it's related.)

    I'd suspect (and this is utter suspicion) that if we altered our education system from the ground up, focused more on logical and critical thinking, trying to increase one's faculty for thought opposed to shoving it full of knowledge rather irrelevant to the life, we could possibly introduce students to more difficult concepts at a younger age. Our young children should be introduced to the basics of fields -- one's of logic, philosophy, science, mathematics, politics, culture (is that even a field bro; I see no wheat), etc. When I mean basic, I don't mean teach the kid introductory geometry so that he/she can figure out the arc of a circle. I mean teach them the purpose of mathematics, why its functional, what it can do that other fields can't, why one they should listen or appreciate it. Since its mathematics, you could introduce the fundamentals of logic, set up a foundation for rationality. Again, this is a vague ass example, and I haven't even set up an age bracket.

    Point is, I don't think our (US) educational system has its shit right. If someone comes out of high school, I think they should be able to demonstrate the most low-leveled of reasonable perspectives. I'm not expecting everyone to pull a Kant. I mean, how many people fail to understand what a valid progression of logic is. (Me, HA Jackass!) How many citizens just accept that Communism is the devil? How many citizens seem to misunderstand, thinking that when we bomb ISIS we're bombing imagination land. On that again, how many citizens think that these regimes in the Middle East are just flat out the spawn of Satan, devilish because its fashionable? I mean, we got perspectiveless peeps in our place. That's gotta (well, it doesn't have to, but I think it could partially) go back to our educational system; US citizens aren't given the proper tools to intellectually navigate their complex environment. Lord knows our news and politicians just abuse his further (and make the effect worse) but still.
     
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  18. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd agree with this, but I think it ought be a damn solid base. Beyond this, I'd hope we could integrate some more intermediate level ideas. Surely, they there for twelve damn years. Also, I think a foreign language at a very young age (whatever is demonstrate best for acquisition) would be good.
     
  19. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Swiveltaffy I think you've got some good thoughts, but it's easy to forget as an adult just how our minds work when we're children. And people vary significantly as to how much they ponder issues. For some kids, yes -- critical thinking and delving deeply into a subject is fantastic. It really lights their fire, and they're able to think about complicated issues. But these are for so called "gifted" kids. (There are many different kinds of "gifts" and intelligence.) I've been lucky to have had a few opportunities to teach/instruct people (I am not a teacher). One was at a summer program at Duke University for kids in the 7th through 10th grades. Those kids were extremely smart and very interested in intellectual/educational pursuits. The program was a month long, 8 hour a day+ intensive study of a single subject. I taught them law, with a focus on Constitutional Law. Those kids really caught on and had some discussions that showed a depth of understanding greater than that of many law students and lawyers. I was unbelievably impressed with them.

    But, I've also instructed other people, who had less interest in this sort of thing, and the same methods of teaching and trying to encourage debate and real rumination are not effective. It was a difficult lesson for me to learn.

    In learning this, however, I have come to see how there really is no one-size-fits-all kind of solution to education. I love higher education -- I can't begin to convey the depth of my love for it. (I was hoping to be able to change careers to get into higher education administration, but it didn't work out.) I send my kids to school in t-shirts and sweatshirts of Ivy League and other highly rated colleges and universities. I take them on walks through campuses whenever we get an opportunity. I cannot emphasize enough how great I think it is. But, it is not for everyone. There are people whose gifts and interests lie in other areas, and not only is that okay, it's great, because the world and society needs all kinds of different people with different interests. There are many people on whom this sort of environment is completely wasted. And those folks do need to have a solid base, but they need to have real opportunities to learn needed skills so they can earn a good living, and still be able to continue learning and be informed members of society for the rest of their lives. We are doing a huge disservice by creating this dichotomy where we kind of say that higher education is for everyone and is key to earning a good living, yet at the same time pricing it so high and cheapening it and chipping away at its value by dumbing down a lot of the curriculum and providing too much "college" that isn't really intellectual, but just a money-maker and time waster. This is especially true at all these for-profit institutions that have proliferated in recent years.
     
  20. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    What I'm about to say is complete and baseless conjecture (as everything I say is, because I lack actual knowledge), but I am wondering if we could engineer our educational system to create individuals who actually enjoy learning. At its current point, we get students and people who despise any reference to learning. Could this be because of how we've approached educating our citizens or the way we value education as a people? Surely, it isn't the whole picture. There are some people who are inevitably going to dislike this kind-a shit, people who avoid introspection, thinking about issues, what-have-you. Regarding what you say in the rest of your comment, I completely agree that this idea that everyone needs to go to college really diminishes what college is, and it wastes an institution's time on people who aren't reciprocal. That's why I think mandatory schooling (1st through 12th) should mold people, intellectually, just enough to where they can operate reasonably. Not super-intellectually (in my previous message, I mean to say: "I'm "not" expecting everyone to pull a Kant.) just in a way that is conducive for society.

    This American espousement of equality of opinion is pretty garbage too. Combine that with people who don't know any better and you get too many citizens, thinking and agreeing with too stupid of shit. Then apathy (guilty). And nothing becomes fruitful. But a tangent.

    Yes, I agree, college should be a place of specialization. I originally commented against these "rounding" courses, the core curriculum. Again, I don't think it's like this in every state, but I'm an English major, and in my first two years, I will take twenty classes. Five of these will be English courses. I'm not discounting the worth of these extra classes, but I'd say that they shouldn't clutter up my English degree. This should've been addressed in primary schooling. Sincerely, I took an Astronomy class. I loved that class. I am thankful for that class. But teaching an English major the mathematics of celestial bodies' interactions and the levels of fusion in the core of O class starts is pretty unnecessary. I'm not saying Astronomy is worthless, and in fact, I'd say that a sort of Astronomy should be taught in primary schools; but it should be broad, teach ideas, and possibly be brief. We don't hold onto these specifics over time, especially when there is no application for them. But if you communicate to me the age and vastness of the universe, the strange mystery of the heavens -- that sticks, and that gives me a perspective.

    Again, I am talking out my ass in a way that progresses horribly. I've probably said shit that I don't entirely buy into, but that's the consequence of my lack of exactness.
     
  21. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think most people DO enjoy learning. After all, human intellect is our only attribute. But think about how we structure school. We spend ten months of the year teaching stuff to very young children, then give them two months to forget much of what they learned. When they come back, they really haven't forgotten it all, it's just laid there, dormant. Nevertheless, we spend about six weeks bombarding them with stuff they already know, thereby creating a continuum of students that runs from bored silly to excruciating.

    I'm not sure that's an especially American notion, but I definitely agree with you. Yes, every person is entitled hold his/her own opinion, but that does not mean that everyone else is required to give it credence. One of the reasons I respect @GingerCoffee so much is that she will always go to great lengths to find sources of fact to support her opinion. So, I respect her opinion even in those cases when I might disagree with it.
     
  22. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I spoke vaguely. I was speaking about this notion of equal opinion, but also to this idea of liberty (to have opinion) and equality (that one's opinion is meaningful, because it is held). In America, you'd agree I'd imagine, we have a bloated (maybe you don't agree with my description) perspective of rights and individuality. I am an individual and because of this I have a right to an opinion. Problem is, people seem to get this false equivalency complex.

    Yes. I didn't mean (though I said it) to convey that no one likes to learn. I was speaking from a student's perspective, who every class period sees people, despite being in college, not wanting to learn. As was highlighted, they are simply following the steps, you know?

    But, people, a good deal of the time, don't want to learn about things that aren't apparently relevant to their lives. Problem is, since some knowledge doesn't easily fit into a person's daily life unless its an interest or a job, a lot of education seems too subtle to the learner to really matter.
     
  23. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I actually think elementary educators (or, more specifically, elementary education policymakers) worry far too much about making education "relevant". There are foundations that need to be laid long before a person knows enough for anything to be relevant. The whole notion of the college major is based on the assumption that by the time a person is 18, (s)he will have acquired enough knowledge and will have developed enough as a person to have some small clue as to what is relevant. But even then, there are still things the person needs to know that (s)he might not consider "relevant".

    As for the idea of Americans having a "bloated perspective of rights and individuality", be careful. In the past twenty years or so, there has been a marked trend toward a reduction of the voice of individuals (that may seem like a paradox given your statement, but stay with me for a moment), both in American economy and American polity, due to the ever-increasing stature of non-individual entities in both. Business entities have systematically eroded the economic standing of a large percentage of the population through offshoring of jobs, systematic stagnation of wages, systematic erosion of benefits and systematic impairment of the publicly funded safety net. At the same time, their media has overloaded the public with irrelevant, emotional issues by which to divide us and a constant array of high-tech toys with which to distract and pacify us (post that selfie, now!). Non-individual entities have, in the past two years, been held to have legal rights that were intended only for individuals, thereby further dividing our society and eliminating equality under the law. And, as the article I posted in my OP points out, higher education, the means by which we could prepare the next generation to redress this growing inequality, has instead been re-engineered to prepare them for a life of debt and waiting tables.

    I don't think the problem is a bloated perspective of rights. I think it's a grossly distorted perspective of what those rights mean, and the responsibilities that go with them.
     
  24. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    @EdFromNY :

    If you don't mind, I'll quote will actual quotations.

    >"I actually think elementary educators (or, more specifically, elementary education policymakers) worry far too much about making education "relevant". There are foundations that need to be laid >long before a person knows enough for anything to be relevant."

    I agree. I was speaking generally again.

    >"The whole notion of the college major is based on the assumption that by the time a person is 18, (s)he will have acquired enough knowledge and will have developed enough as a person to have >some small clue as to what is relevant. But even then, there are still things the person needs to know that (s)he might not consider "relevant"."

    I agree again. I'm not suggesting that students decide what is relevant for themselves; I am suggesting a system that attains this idea of "educational foundation" before the college level, so the college level can be purely specified.

    >"And, as the article I posted in my OP points out"

    I apologize for not reading the article; this hints at my character. (Woot!) Based on my complete ignorance, what follows seems true, even if unintentional.

    >"I don't think the problem is a bloated perspective of rights. I think it's a grossly distorted perspective of what those rights mean, and the responsibilities that go with them."

    Well, I would simply reference implications here. If one has a bloated perspective of rights (and in this instance, it is a narrow perspective) one could likely misunderstand exactly what one's rights mean and what the responsibilities attached to them are. Regardless. I agree again. We think: "We have the right;" and, often it seems, on the common level, it simply ends there. An effective Democracy requires a lot of things to work in each others' interests. We need things like earnest politicians, accountable politicians and corporations, interactive citizenry, educated citizenry, an agreement of goals, and a perspective for the greater society. These are obviously not all of the things that are beneficial, but I'd say that we lack some of these too much.

    Also, I'd conjecture again. If one views their opinion without scrutiny, one might put little work into refining one's opinion. From this, one may devalue one's opinion, since it plays a small role. Apathy could then come about. If you teach someone to stringently pursue a superior opinion and give them the ability to have some sway, people would likely feel empowered and more motivated to act.
     
  25. Ossian
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    Education has destroyed humankind.

    School is a ten year~ prison sentence and to what end? No good comes out of it.
    From there on even more education is needed.
    This is silly.

    To study means to be stupid otherwise there is no need to study. But people think its a good thing. Its a terrible thing.
    -The educated come out, reprogrammed, thinking they know everything. What kids and adults learn is how to lie, how to steal, how to propagate and get people to feed your belly without working.

    It would be much better to revamp it all, completely. There is no need to put everyone through school, so many are not cut out for it.

    Much more could be said. School isnt all bad, but it is not 'balanced'.

    (I did not read the link.)
     
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