1. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is it any wonder?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by erebh, Oct 15, 2013.

    Is it any wonder some kids are dumberer today?

    This is the intro from a school website encouraging parents to send their kids to them. I have replaced the name of the school with XXX just in case we get into trouble but I can assure this is copied and pasted in it's entirety - see what you think...

    XXX School is a free, public charter school, nestled in the foothills of XXX City and it is quickly becoming Northern XXX's sparkling educational gem. It is a little green school house enriched by the philosophies and teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori. It has a solid curriculum, beautiful Montessori equipment, and a new play yard, where the laughter of happy children fills the air daily. An acre of sage brush, just perfect for nature walks, sits right across the street and each morning as our students respond to the sound of a gentle chime, we focus on the magnificent sunrise breaking into XXX Valley.

    Rhymes, fascinating facts, headline news and alliterative word play peppers our morning greeting. Many mornings 5th and 6th graders, who serve as student leaders and guides, hold the hands of their Kindergarten buddies. Songs, movement exercises and a flag ceremony lead us to morning circle through a dining room with cloth table cloths, fresh flowers and stations where students prepare their own lunches. Our classrooms are open and we use lamps, teal green accent walls and plants to naturalize the environment.

    XXX Montessori led the XXX City School District by having 100% student-led parent conferences. Our portfolio system of assessment has been launched and a full writing and reading program, that is Montessori enhanced, is in place. Montessori materials are abundant in every classroom. Teaching staff members are highly qualified, XXX licensed teachers with Montessori training and the arts are spinning to life with our resident artist/photographer.

    Right now, XXX Montessori School is the best kept secret in XXX City. As a free public school, we are a perfect blend of Montessori and a standards-based curriculum. Here is an opportunity to get the very best of both worlds. We are a school with thoughtful humanitarianism, nurturing guidance, discipline with dignity and good old fashioned learning-fun. These elements have created a school community that is both respectful and productive. Students are thriving at XXX Montessori and that feeling of Montessori style peace and calm, which so often is missing in today's world, is alive and well. If you are seeking a learning environment that promotes hands-on learning, surrounds your child with positive, warm support and sparks the wonder and curiosity that ignites your child's passion for life-long learning; XXX Montessori definitely should be your school of choice.
     
  2. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Thank god for cloth table cloths.
    I was getting tired of those cheap carton table cloths.
    I know my grades could have shot up if only my cafeteria was only as well equipped.

    I bet they didn't write Montessori more times because they couldn't find any room for it...

    Honestly, to me, this sounds like "The Circle", or was it "Green Circle", that we had at my old city. It was for kids with ADD, or so they said, but catered to just about anyone who was not passing school. They fixed no problems but simply gave positive report cards to parents.

    I mean... I understand the need for a stimulating and positive environment but this sounds like something awful.
    They do some good, like no fluorescent lights, but the way they present themselves make me lose any confidence toward them.
     
  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think the kids are dumber, but...

    My sister sent her kids to a Montessori school. I visited it one day and it was total chaos. Then my nephew came to live with us for a year when he was going to be starting fourth grade. Couldn't read a first grade reader. I taught him in less than a week. He did great in school that year.
     
  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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    Terrifying.

    For any degradation in kid brains, I blame the parents and the idea of a "curriculum".
    If I was a tyrant, I'd first wipe off the current education system. I swear anything I come up with has to be better than what I went through and saw my friends go through.
     
  5. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    It wouldn't matter if I was hunkered in a bunker, as long as the teaching staff were inspirational.
     
  6. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Would you believe none of the 4 teachers I spoke to hadn't even looked at their own site? How inspirational is that?
     
  7. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    You know, I often think that no matter what school my kid ends up in, most of his/her education will be carried out at home. Even regular school teaches kids next to nothing until Year 9 or so. On the other hand, this Montessori school sounds a lot like Eaton. Much cheaper though.
     
  8. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Sometimes I question the effectiveness of public education... kinda sad that I want to be a teacher. Grade school isn't about education, it's about socialization. All kids do is learn the mores and folkways and social conventions of their region. Regarding academics, they must only learn to regurgitate on demand. By high school, this way of thinking is so ingrained, kids don't learn to utilize their full potential. A man's mind is his greatest strength, or his greatest weakness, depending on who's filling it.

    I won't say children are getting dumber, but there is a definite change in the way the kids I've seen recently think. I don't yet know how the educational system near me will help or hinder them. As it stands they are truly phenomenal in some areas, yet not so in others. But then, what do I know about child development. I'm little more than a child myself (19 goin on 20).
     
  9. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If you end up following a single pedagogical model, things seem to always go wrong... Montessori's model is very old and pedagogy has come a long way from the '50s.

    I think a lot depends on the education level of the teachers. You can't put just anybody there, the kids deserve a professional. But still, it's impossible to single out every child, their every little need, which is something that drives parents nuts 'cause many of them seem to think their kid is the only kid (and the smartest kid, and the most special kid) in the school.

    To editorialize: The kids become as dumb as we make them, I'm afraid.
     
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  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    As soon as I saw Montessori, I shrugged and said, "Uh huh." We knew that model was nonsense back in the 70s.
     
  11. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's a Montessori school. There are kids who do quite well in this sort of school, but it's certainly not for every kid. You really have to know what's best for your own kid.

    What's really making kids dumber are all the standardized tests that are required. Rote memorization of facts, rather than intellectual stimulation makes kids uninterested and they don't really learn anything.
     
  12. TessaT
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    TessaT Contributing Member

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    ...I know that school. Not personally, mind you. But I've come across it in researching alternative schooling methods. And you know, I'm sure that there's some children that thrive in this environment, just like there are some adults that thrive being told what they need to accomplish and then being set loose on it. Whereas others need more structure, more discipline, and a clear and concise pathway.

    I think our school systems are failing in general. Teachers are spat upon, but the have the most important job of our society: raising and teaching our young ones. With budgets constantly being cut, what you can and can't do constantly being picked apart, and teachers unable to really control their classrooms... it's all shat (at least here in the US). This particular school sounds a bit too... fluffy though. Tell me what you actually teach, not how many plants you have or how many times you sing kumbaya.

    I hear that Finland has a fantastic school system though.
     
  13. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    when the head can't even edit their own bullshit on their own website, it tells a lot about the school. If that piece was put up here for critique it would have been shredded line by line. The language is simply atrocious.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  14. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think that the writing itself is so bad -- yes, I personally agree that it is a bit over the top. But, I've encountered some folks who would totally eat that up. That's who they're marketing to, so I don't blame them.
     
  15. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    You just provoked a memory—me, standing on a dining room chair, after having removed the central lightshade, with a ball in one hand, and an orange in the other. My 6 year old daughter had asked. "Mummy, why is half the moon missing?"
     
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  16. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @obsidian_cicatrix: Haha, I like your methods ;)
     
  17. TessaT
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    TessaT Contributing Member

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    That is the cutest memory ever.

    @erebh And here I thought you were talking about their methods...not their writing. Lol! My bad, my bad.
     
  18. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    @jazzabel A classic case of showing, not telling. :D
     
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  19. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    o_OI dare you all to correct the spag - just for fun
     
  20. mister m.
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    When it comes to the school, I love criticizing. I agree with everybody here, between the standardized education (curriculum) and the budget cut it is a big mess.
    Although, the budget cut is not the most important. Thinking back, we had 30-35 kids in a classroom, no teaching assistant, a chalk board and a teacher. Our parents? more kids and less because they had to buy the text books themselves.
    I don't know much about the States, but here in England, the kids are spoiled: They don't have to buy anything (from the pencil to the books) everything is given and kept in the classroom (They don't bring their books back home, no).
    The curriculum is absolutely ridiculous, from primary to secondary.
    The training for teachers is a joke and the teachers themselves are... no I won't say it. The content is not necessary, thanks to the curriculum, the teacher doesn't need to know (it is all in his folder), the delivery only is important. With the use of the interactive white board, the teacher became an empty entertainer.

    I don't have any solution, but I am sure that the education system would improve a lot if the government stopped touching it.
    And the teacher to gain life experience (as well as knowledge) before enrolling.
     
  21. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I've read that teachers in some school districts are under-qualified because there aren't any qualified teachers left to hire. And where do most of these under-qualified teachers teach? Yup, you guessed it. In schools in low-income communities.
     
  22. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I've seen worse, and it could be worse. In Finland you aren't allowed to teach in grammar or secondary schools unless you've poured several years of your life into university studies. Out of some 500+ hopefuls (why do so many people want to become teachers?) per subject only 30 or even less are accepted annually. Teacher training is notoriously rigorous (took me 2 years 'cause I worked alongside school, plus all my other subjects of course... and I'm still enrolled at the uni...), and once the term is finished, you want to curl up and sleep for two months. You actually have better chances of getting into med school than to the Class Teacher Programme in The Department of Teacher Education.

    Good thing is, that education does prepare you pretty well for the real world 'cause there's plenty of practical training.

    On a sidenote, there's one remarkable school in Rinkeby, Sweden. While the district is still something of a craphole, one Principal Ehrstrand transformed the shabby Rinkeby School in the past 15 years or so into a cradle of success. Kind of inspiring.
     
  23. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    While I'm not a fan of today's school system (US) overall, I think we need to remember that schools are a product of the locals much more than the state or even national leaders. It's the school board who decides where the money's going - good teachers or football uniforms. States only mandate minimums - school boards decide to take it further (or not).
     
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  24. Macaberz
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    Macaberz Pay it forward Contributor

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    What's with all the crap being thrown at Montessori? Over here, those schools are among the best. Just an FYI: I didn't go to one, so I have no self-centered reasons to say that they are among the better ones. I am quite confident that it really comes down to good teachers. The right people in the right place (right working atmosphere) can do wonders. Good teachers are hard to come by, but once you have them you really have to have terrible management to go wrong by much.

    I don't believe for one second that children are getting dumber. Why not? Because almost every generation claims that they do, yet we as a species keep progressing on so many levels.

    What's getting dumber is the way children are being educated. I am in complete support of Sir Ken Robinson on the subject, education needs to be changed. Fixed ideas like sorting children by age, should be called into question. Whilst everyone should get some sort of standard education, I strongly believe that students should have much more choice in which subjects they which to pursue. I have wasted, litteraly, wasted hours and hours on math problems that I didn't understand, nor cared about. All the math I learned in six years was gone within a month of finishing high-school. As Isaac Asimove put it, you can learn anything that strikes your fancy. Subjects that don't, simply bounce off and it's a waste of time and effort on both parts to keep trying again and again, and again.

     
  25. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have a problem with the marketing speech. The reality is rarely as advertized. Sure, Montessori leans towards Constructivism instead of Behavioralism, which is a feat in itself ‘cause it’s such an old method, but following just one pedagogical model doesn’t make sense to me when you can actually take things from several methods (say, problem-based, or progressive inquiry – the latter of which was developed in Finland) and make use of what works for the given class. Montessori seems to emphasize socialization less than the most popular models which, perhaps, partly explains why it’s not that popular? Also, there’s some weird disciplines going on, and it does not work for every class of little kids, in fact, those who are above average, can learn something, those who have e.g. ADHD, might do better elsewhere. Besides, you give too many choices and too much independence to little kids and many of them just do as they please or get confused. Not saying you have to go Hitler on them. Extremes rarely yield positive results.



    I agree with this. In fact, they do shuffle the pupils depending on their abilities already. But we shouldn’t forget school’s role in the process of socialization, and age groups play a role in this respect.



    I’m glad I was “forced” to study math, chemistry and physics. I really hated it back then, and the only time I excelled in math was when we had this old, funny fogie as a teacher. He was awesome, but then he retired and we got an angry middle-aged woman, and my grades just crashed. Anyway, I’ve gotten more interested in these subject as of late, and if I had gotten my way as a kid, I wouldn’t have studied any of that and would have a hard time starting now :p

    As you can see, in my case it came down to the teacher. A good teacher can spark that interest the kid might not have previously had, like the old teacher did with me and math.

    Still, in our schools we got a lot of choices. Not sure how it compares to other schools, e.g. in the Netherlands/US/UK, but I’d imagine the goal is to keep the basics compulsory, and give extra classes to those who want it, let kids decide whether they knit or do metalwork (I chose the latter, and it was awesome), whether they take music or art or both, etc. The problem is, in middle school or junior high (and even in senior high), kids are still kids, and don’t always know what they want, or what’s best for them. I regret dropping music and taking too many art classes, for example. I also ventured to study German while in middle school. Mistake. So when there’re a lot of choices, there should be enough guidance too.
     
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