1. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I was told there would be no math!

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Garball, May 21, 2014.

    It is articles like these that make me proud to be a Southener, southernor,...uh...from the South. At least N.Y. and Cali can't thumb their noses too much.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/business-27442541
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I remember Michio Kaku saying that if the US didn't have the H-1B visa, we'd be screwed because so many of our scientists, engineers, and tech people come from foreign countries. It's true that the US education system sucks balls. I think some states, like Texas, have actually lowered the math requirement for graduating high school students.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Can't speak for Florida today, but Florida in 1986 had an abysmal education system. Just appalling. My family had just moved from Hawaii and I was entering 10th grade and it felt like I was starting junior high again.
     
  4. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Fun read that gives actual facts aboiut how bad the North American education system is terrible. All my foreign friends who come here are amazed at how easy it is compared to back home.

    From my own personal experience in school, the system panders to the lowest denominators. I had complete idiots get a higher grade than me despite not doing their assignments correctly just to nump them into the passing average so they wouldn't have to repeat a grade... friggin' insulting.

    The pass mark was 60%... That's barely grasping half the presented material. If you're dumb or simply refuse to discipline yourself to learn, youdeserve to be stuck flipping burgers until you smarten up (No offense to any who choose to flip burgers and enjoy it).
     
  5. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I was supposed to live out in California for a little over a year when I was 9-10 yrs old. We moved back to Lousy-ana because my parents didn't like the education system out there.
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    What did they not like about it?
     
  7. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I don't really know. I was too busy boogie-boarding my summer away. I think the standardized testing was less stringent? I'll have to ask...
     
  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    My brother and I spent a week each in our original classes at our respective schools and after a visit from my mother we were moved to other classes. But even the "gifted programs" (what a heinous name) were lack-luster.
     
  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    The school district makes a big difference, too. I volunteered at a school in a poor neighborhood, and their primary goal was to get the students to do well on standardized tests because good scores make a school look good. So everything they did in math class was geared towards solving questions you would see on those tests. I think if the people making the standardized tests ramped up the difficulty, it would help a bit.

    My school, on the other hand, did more advanced stuff in comparison. Most of the students in my school had no problem with the standardized tests, so those types of questions, which were easy, weren't really a concern as far as teaching went.
     
  10. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    It has nothing to do with "looking good". The way No Child works, if the school does poorly on those tests they loose funding. Schools in richer districts don't have to worry as much, but poor schools have to work as hard as they can just to keep their teachers employed.
     
  11. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    This seems like a good place to leave this. The teachers I talk to say they it get's sent to them at least 3 times a year, but I don't think there are very many teachers here.
     
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  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I grew up and went to school in Canada, and always had a very innocent idea about education in the USA. I thought they must be great - they went to the moon, right? They must be smart and leading-edge! It turns out that all that happened before, uh, Reagan.

    A friend of mine in Victoria used to do lots of business in the USA, and he told me I was wrong to think the USA was still the greatest (this was in the early 90s). "You don't know what you're saying," he said. "Sure, they have Harvard and Stanford and MIT and other great schools, but how many people attend them? You have to look at the mass of high-school-educated people there. It's actually difficult for Canadians to even have conversations with them because they're so undereducated."

    I thought he was being needlessly bigoted and things couldn't be that bad. Then I moved to California. I'm lucky that I move in fairly well-educated circles here, but there's a lot of ignorance around. I was amazed, for example, at how popular "psychics" are here. I can't drive down the street without seeing signs advertising psychic readings - people believe this stuff! I've met people who think Darwin was sent by the Devil to corrupt us. I've met people who think reading books makes you a homosexual. When I see how many extremist fools (climate-change deniers and so on) get elected to Congress, I cry. And I've seen people trying to change this, to make American education better, but there's a gigantic movement against all that. So you can't get a college education here without amassing hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. Argh.

    I'll move back to Canada sooner or later. It's necessary for my sanity.
     
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  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    When he gets to the bit about divergent thinking it makes it clear why we're well and truly fuqued in our educational system. Besides everything else he mentions concerning how our system of education is modeled and where and when that model comes from, young children live in an American political climate where the idea that there can be more than one answer to the questions of life is heretical, and worse, treacherous.
     
  14. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I guess at some point the axiom "you get out of education what you put in" must fall apart somewhere. But where? Are our students not being provided quality information? Do they not care? Is school a one way street of teachers delving out education on mostly deaf ears.

    I admit I hated school. I loathed the classroom structure; it just isn't my style. However, my insatiable thirst for knowledge made me put in some sort of effort (even though my grades did not show it).

    Are today's low academic scores an institutional problem or an individual problem? Both?
     
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  15. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Some of both, I think. A lot of what Robinson says makes perfect sense, but it's one of those perfectly American paradigms of ok, we know, but where to start? and then nothing ever happens because committee mind raises its medusa-like head and kills all efforts in any direction of change.

    I can tell you what did work for me. The military. And more than just the military, the school I went to in the military: The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, Presidio of Monterey. (I love typing the whole name :))

    It worked for me because I only had to do and learn what I loved to do and learn. Languages. 8 hours a day, five days a week, verbs, nouns, participles, noun declensions, verb conjugations, structure, syntax, use, meaning, connotation, etc. The Russian school had a 65% attrition rate, but I was like a pig in shit made of MDMA. I loved it because I was good at it and I was good at it because I loved it.

    I think we need more of that earlier on in our educational system.
     
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  16. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    It starts in the home. My dad got me interested in science when I was very young (he also got me into sci-fi), so I enjoyed school for the most part. My mom was very encouraging and supportive as well.

    Another problem is that not all students appreciate education. This is especially true in college, where students are taking "easy classes" for the "easy grade." Once you start surrounding yourself with people who appreciate education just as much, you begin to learn a lot more. That's why I got more out of my upper-level classes.

    Now I don't want to say that I completely enjoyed school; I hated some of my classes. Ironically, up until about 11th grade, English was one of my least favorite classes. Maybe it's because whenever we had classroom discussions, most of the other students didn't put any effort into it, so discussions were a complete waste of time for me. I honestly never imagined myself loving literature or wanting to become a writer. Because I enjoyed science in high school, I always imagined myself doing research or something science related later in life.

    I do also think that it's an institutional problem. We all know that all schools are not equal. Some get more funding than others, attract more knowledgeable teachers (one teacher at our school was a former professor), have more extracurricular programs, etc. Social classes also play a big role: social inequality is passed down from one generation to the next. Students coming from low-income homes have a very small chance of being successful or even making a comfortable, middle class living (for more details, see Jay MacLeod's book Ain't No Makin' It).

    To sum up, it's a combination of both institutional and individual problems.
     
  17. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Bon Voyage.
     
  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    As an ex-American (I spent the first 37 years of my life as one, and the last 28 living in Scotland) I feel that the USA's biggest problem—and it IS a big problem—is complacency.

    I can't tell you the number of times I've heard Americans voice the notion that "Okay, we're not perfect and we make mistakes BUT we are the best in the world." Uh. No. There are many many many ways Americans are not the best in the world. The only way the USA will hold its own and improve is to recognise the achievements of other countries, and resolve to match—or better– them. Some Americans need to open their minds to the possibility that there ARE other ways to do things, and some of these 'ways' are actually better.

    Complacency leads to mental laziness which leads to ignorance. As this article says, a big factor in this slide into poor educational standards is denial. Folks just don't want to recognise what is happening and has already happened.

    And I'm speaking as a person who was horrible at math myself!
     
  19. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    You know what I realized? I don't think math has a spokesperson/communicator to get people interested in it. Physics has people like Michio Kaku, astrophysics has Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and there are similar types of people for other science fields. But there doesn't seem to be anyone for math. Maybe there is someone, and I just don't know about him/her.
     
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  20. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Perhaps because it's not as easy to glamorize and sell? Physics and astrophysics have facets to them that lend well to graphic representation on the screen. You can make astrophysics visually awesome (in that word's truest meaning) and physics can also be visually rendered and made engaging. How (and I ask honestly) does one do that with mathematics?
     
  21. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm sure math has some pretty pictures to show people. :p But I think the issue has to do with simply knowing a fact and truly learning about something. We all love hearing about black holes, but how many people want to learn the math involved?
     
  22. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think you're onto something here. The main problem, as I see it, is that math has no real content. It's a tool; physics, astronomy, and the rest of the sciences are the material the tool is used to work.

    The easiest way to get young people interested in math is to get them interested in science. Neil DeGrasse Tyson et al. do a very good job of that, but they shy away from doing the math on TV, probably because they're afraid of scaring off the viewers. Besides, high school kids generally don't have the math skills to follow the relatively high-level calculations used in such subjects as celestial mechanics. A lot of the math physicists use involves differential equations, and most people don't see those in a classroom until they're in college.
     
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  23. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Some of us had Mathnet!
     
  24. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    @minstrel, have you ever heard of the show Math with Marty? It was a Canadian math show that aired back in the 1990s. My high school teacher had tapes of that show, and he would play them for us from time to time.
     
  25. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I never saw it. I just googled it and it seems it was a local Winnipeg show, and I was living in Victoria while it was on. :(
     

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