Parents role in Education ?


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bobby
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Message 1188595 - Posted: 26 Jan 2012, 17:59:26 UTC - in response to Message 1188576.

One of the old fashioned, and it doesn't hurt, methods I would be content to advocate in an extremely unruly class is -

- choose 1 pupil, preferably a ring leader(backed by class nomination). Carefully draw a kukri, sharpened as the Gurkha do, and bleed the chosen pupil in to a large bowl (like a chicken). Get all the class to drink the contents of the bowl, and dispose of the body in the school furnace. It will help global warming.

I doubt is any of the remaining class members would ever step out of line again.

Problem solved for the rest of the school as well!

Oh, the discipline would have been sanctioned by the local police chief ....


In a thread about parents in the classroom, that's about as close to a Godwin as we need to get, surely?
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Message 1188629 - Posted: 26 Jan 2012, 20:38:32 UTC
Last modified: 26 Jan 2012, 21:10:40 UTC

Absolutely and utterly predictable.
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bobby
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Message 1188660 - Posted: 26 Jan 2012, 22:46:49 UTC - in response to Message 1188629.

Absolutely and utterly predictable.


That I find "jokes" about killing children distasteful? Glad I could oblige. Now how about answering the question I posed.
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Profile Chris S
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Message 1188843 - Posted: 27 Jan 2012, 13:28:26 UTC
Last modified: 27 Jan 2012, 13:29:44 UTC

what type of evidence would you suggest be used in defense of a position?

Sigh. I have said before and I'll say it again. This is a discussion forum, it is not a court of law. I'm not the accused in the dock, there is no Judge and Jury, and you are not the barrister for the prosecution. It is absolutely ridiculous that no-one is allowed to have free speech around here, without every sentence having to be justified by scientific analysis and systematically collected data to your personal satisfaction.

Opinions, thoughts, feelings, ideas, are not allowed in the court of Bobby, unless they are prefaced with a description of exactly what they are beforehand. If I held discussions like that in real life, I'd end up with no friends at all, or a punch on the nose, and probably both.

Your constant use of anecdotes to justify a position is frustrating

My occasional use of those is intended to give a wider panorama upon the topic in discussion, and no more frustrating than your constant attempts to undermine anyones contribution.

As for patronizing, the repeated references to how things were done in the 50s is not? If not, why not?

You are clearly of a younger age group than me, and I would have thought you would have been grateful to learn of others experiences in a time when you weren't around, and things did work better. That might give you food for thought on how to change and improve the current situation.

It is my opinion that idle speculation is frequently the product an idle mind.

I expect that was aimed at me, and a poor attempt at a personal insult. I actually wish I had some more free time to be idle, perhaps you could let me know at some point how you manage to do it, I'd be most grateful.

My question, which also seems to have escaped you, is "Why should children not be given the same protection from assault that adults expect?". I believe that it is currently unanswered

Using a slap or the slipper, as a mild admonishment to instil acceptable behaviour in a child is not assault. If you were to hit someone in the street and break their jaw, that would be classed as assault, and quite rightly you would end up in court charged with GBH. This link might be helpful. Childrens law.

as it likely demonstrates a fallacious appeal to authority.

Well I'll let that one ride, I expect most others will be as nonplussed as I am.

I'm most intrigued by your choice of avatar. But then again as Hank Hill regularly observes "That boy ain't right."

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Message 1188927 - Posted: 27 Jan 2012, 19:47:05 UTC - in response to Message 1188843.

what type of evidence would you suggest be used in defense of a position?

Sigh. I have said before and I'll say it again. This is a discussion forum, it is not a court of law. I'm not the accused in the dock, there is no Judge and Jury, and you are not the barrister for the prosecution. It is absolutely ridiculous that no-one is allowed to have free speech around here, without every sentence having to be justified by scientific analysis and systematically collected data to your personal satisfaction.

Opinions, thoughts, feelings, ideas, are not allowed in the court of Bobby, unless they are prefaced with a description of exactly what they are beforehand. If I held discussions like that in real life, I'd end up with no friends at all, or a punch on the nose, and probably both.

Your constant use of anecdotes to justify a position is frustrating

My occasional use of those is intended to give a wider panorama upon the topic in discussion, and no more frustrating than your constant attempts to undermine anyones contribution.

As for patronizing, the repeated references to how things were done in the 50s is not? If not, why not?

You are clearly of a younger age group than me, and I would have thought you would have been grateful to learn of others experiences in a time when you weren't around, and things did work better. That might give you food for thought on how to change and improve the current situation.

It is my opinion that idle speculation is frequently the product an idle mind.

I expect that was aimed at me, and a poor attempt at a personal insult. I actually wish I had some more free time to be idle, perhaps you could let me know at some point how you manage to do it, I'd be most grateful.

My question, which also seems to have escaped you, is "Why should children not be given the same protection from assault that adults expect?". I believe that it is currently unanswered

Using a slap or the slipper, as a mild admonishment to instil acceptable behaviour in a child is not assault. If you were to hit someone in the street and break their jaw, that would be classed as assault, and quite rightly you would end up in court charged with GBH. This link might be helpful. Childrens law.

as it likely demonstrates a fallacious appeal to authority.

Well I'll let that one ride, I expect most others will be as nonplussed as I am.

I'm most intrigued by your choice of avatar. But then again as Hank Hill regularly observes "That boy ain't right."


As I watch this, Chris and John, what comes to mind is that the two of you and I initially did not get along, either. Yet I consider the two of you good friends here on the S@H forums, and though it's been a while, discussions on Skype calls were great, too.
I also consider bobby a friend.
Currently, if i am not busy, I am often tired and so do not post as much.
But, I feel that, given time to respond, I might be able to bolster at least some of Bobby's points, or at least also help in providing wider perspective. I might also have some bits bolstering your side, as well.
Could you gents call a truce for a bit, maybe give me 1 or 2 days for me to get work done, rest, re-read some posts and then give my anecdotes and knowledge?

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Message 1188957 - Posted: 27 Jan 2012, 21:18:59 UTC

You are very welcome Sarge, and it's nice to see you around.
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Message 1188968 - Posted: 27 Jan 2012, 22:12:00 UTC

Hiyah Sarge,

Good to see you and I hope you are well. We both go back a long way and we had some good times, both post wise and via Skype, and I hope we will again. I like your music as well and I hope that it is still being enjoyable for you and inventive as ever.

Truces are only necessary during wars, and there is no war here as far as I'm concerned. Just a difference of opinion as to the way one should conduct themselves during an open discussion. Unless the rules are changed, anecdotes are not allowed.

The original title of this thread is "Parents in Classes" and as a University lecturer I would really welcome your input on that.

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Message 1189102 - Posted: 28 Jan 2012, 3:28:40 UTC - in response to Message 1188968.

Unless the rules are changed, anecdotes are not allowed.

Good grief, if you were to ask me, you could not find a better example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. "The plural of anecdotes <> data", does not, to my mind, mean that anecdotes are verboten, it means anecdotes are not a substitute for data. When we have data, use it, when we don't we are left with other means to assess the merits of an opinion. To my way of thinking good evidence beats opinion every time. If you have a better way to evaluate opinions, do as I have done and share it so that we might all be the wiser. FWIW, the evidence I posted on the outcomes of assaulting children was based on data from US based studies, I suspect that these are not as open to your dismissal ("product of the Loony Left") as you might like the a casual reader of this thread to believe.

no more frustrating than your constant attempts to undermine anyones contribution.

To challenge is not necessarily undermine. If an opinion can be supported with better evidence than is used in the challenge, the case for the opinion is strengthened. This seems to me to be a statement of the profoundly obvious, yet when I challenge some comments I am greeted with hand waving about judges and courts.

You are clearly of a younger age group than me, and I would have thought you would have been grateful to learn of others experiences in a time when you weren't around, and things did work better. That might give you food for thought on how to change and improve the current situation.

More idle speculation. You have no idea whether I am grateful to learn about the experiences of others, only whether I appear to be grateful to learn about the experiences posted to the threads here. I am sure you are well aware that appearances can be deceiving. Please do not assume I disagree with an opinion when I try to find evidence against it, as Socrates said "the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others" (an appeal to authority, that, to my mind, is not fallacious). I do not have a wide open mind, I generally try to protect mine from the collection of garbage. I'm confident that many others try to do the same.

I expect that was aimed at me, and a poor attempt at a personal insult.

It's my opinion, challenge it with a better one or, better still, facts, if you want me to modify it. You speculated about my motives for having an issue with assaulting children when I had specifically provided no grounds for doing so. Questioning a person's motives is commonly used as the basis of an ad hominem attack. The riposte was intentionally light, as ad hom. attacks are often intended to inflame. If I were to speculate, I'd suspect it's to this part of the exchange between us, as much as anything else, that lead Sarge to his request for a truce, and given his comments, I'll assume for now that you did not fully appreciate how your comments on motives could be interpreted. If you want to know what my motives are, please ask me, I'll tell you if I choose to, and then you can assess my response to establish whether it is plausible.

Having said that, I will not share my motives for discussing the subject of assaulting children, nor will I request yours. I will ask you to refrain from more speculation on the subject of motives unless and until it becomes pertinent. I believe I have provided motives to challenge opinions at a general level, it is my hope that the generic motive will suffice for this specific.

I actually wish I had some more free time to be idle, perhaps you could let me know at some point how you manage to do it, I'd be most grateful.

Posts by Chris S > 14,000
Posts by Bobby < 1,000

You have been on the SETI fora a little over 11 years, I have been on them a little under 10. Does that help you understand how I manage my time?

I'm most intrigued by your choice of avatar. But then again as Hank Hill regularly observes "That boy ain't right."

The character's name is "Bobby", my name here is the same. Does that help solve the mystery? As for the quote, Hank may well have that as a catchphrase, for me the question is, is he right? After all, wikipedia has this assessment "Although at times Bobby is seen as odd by his parents and peers, he maintains a remarkable talent with people, particularly with girls, who find him cute and entertaining".

The original title of this thread is "Parents in Classes" and as a University lecturer I would really welcome your input on that.

I posted on that fairly early on and Sarge replied with some useful evidence. I referenced it again in a later post, that reference was ignored. Somebody else brought classroom discipline (they can't discipline kids because teachers would get sued for assault) and declining academic standards (Let's get back to the 3 R's) into the discussion. Are you requesting these topics cease to be discussed in this thread?

a difference of opinion as to the way one should conduct themselves during an open discussion

That appears to me to be a fairly accurate summation. You appear to believe it is acceptable conduct to condone the assault of children and have thus far provided 2 justifications ("it happened to me", and "the law permits it"), I have challenged you on this, and provided evidence that shows that the outcome of this supposedly acceptable conduct is not necessarily desirable. I have not restricted your rights to free speech ("no-one is allowed to have free speech" is so palpably false it's staggering you would state such a thing. If I have interfered with your right to free speech on the SETI fora, please document the circumstances. Moderators, if you are watching, please remind me when I have ever, at any time, on the SETI fora, "red-x"ed a post by somebody else, as I cannot recall having done such a thing). I have requested that you support your free speech with evidence, so that others in an open to all discussion can see the merits of your opinion. To date, you have failed to provide any such evidence. You continue to be free to exercise your right to free speech (as limited by the moderators, of which I am not, and have never been affiliated), just as I am free to challenge anything and everything you post until the cows come home, one of us tires of the exercise, or the moderators believe one of use falls foul of the rules.
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Message 1189329 - Posted: 28 Jan 2012, 6:59:44 UTC

Bobby,

This is not an ad-hom. attack on you, but I will admit to a moderate level of curiosity as to why you are using the phrase 'the assault of children'. Could you please discuss your reasoning?

The context is the somewhat outdated practice (by school staff) of paddling (or otherwise physically punishing) children that misbehave at school. It is not allowed in most jurisdictions nowadays, though it still is in a very few, with explicit written parental permission.

The term 'assault' has a rather specific legal definition, and in this context, does not really apply. If a teacher takes one of the rather wicked paddles that were used in days gone by, and strikes another teacher across the buttocks with it leaving bruises and welts, yes, THAT would be 'assault, causes bodily injury', which is in most circumstances only a class B misdemeanor in Texas. A few months jail, maximum, and a moderate fine.

If that teacher does the same action, this time to one of the students (under 18, of course), that would be 'injury to a child', which is a felony (class 3, i think, maybe class 2..). Years of prison, and a rather large fine.

Assault really isn't the correct term.

In the context of parents, in almost every, if not every, jurisdiction in at least Texas if not the nation, an open-handed swat to the buttocks of a child is allowed as a form of punishment. But, if you use, for instance, one of those wicked, 'Black-eyed Susan' paddles on your child, leaving bruises and welts on your child's buttocks, guess what? Injury to a child. Felony time.

In the context of punishment, it is not really possible to 'assault' a child. What is called 'assault' on an adult, is called something else on a child, and is a MUCH more serious of a crime (with the sole exception of the open-palmed swat to the buttocks in most jurisdictions).

Would not a better term be 'corporal punishment'? Yes, it is a subject of much debate, and it has both supporters and people against it.

So, would you please discuss why you specifically used the term 'assault'?

And, I see you are still quoting me in your sig... :)
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bobby
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Message 1189390 - Posted: 28 Jan 2012, 12:25:01 UTC - in response to Message 1189329.
Last modified: 28 Jan 2012, 12:34:31 UTC

Bobby,

This is not an ad-hom. attack on you, but I will admit to a moderate level of curiosity as to why you are using the phrase 'the assault of children'. Could you please discuss your reasoning?


Sure thing. In UK common law, assault is simply a crime that causes a victim to fear violence, it does not require a physical attack. Again in the UK, parents are exempted from this under the laws provided by Chris, which is why I initially phrased the question as "Why should children not be given the same protection from assault that adults expect?".

Physical contact that is not consented to is termed battery under UK common law. While assault and battery of children may be permitted under the law, I am interested in Chris's and indeed anyone else's reasons for supporting such laws. It seems to me that we have many laws to protect weaker sections of the population from abuses of stronger sections, yet for some of the weakest, we remove some protections.

Given these definitions under UK common law (which are also used in many jurisdictions in the US), "assult" really is the correct term.

BTW, the quote is taken from Dr Ben Goldacre's Bad Science book and blog on guardian.co.uk.
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Message 1189440 - Posted: 28 Jan 2012, 16:10:12 UTC - in response to Message 1189390.
Last modified: 28 Jan 2012, 16:13:15 UTC

Bobby,

This is not an ad-hom. attack on you, but I will admit to a moderate level of curiosity as to why you are using the phrase 'the assault of children'. Could you please discuss your reasoning?


Sure thing. In UK common law, assault is simply a crime that causes a victim to fear violence, it does not require a physical attack. Again in the UK, parents are exempted from this under the laws provided by Chris, which is why I initially phrased the question as "Why should children not be given the same protection from assault that adults expect?".

Physical contact that is not consented to is termed battery under UK common law. While assault and battery of children may be permitted under the law, I am interested in Chris's and indeed anyone else's reasons for supporting such laws. It seems to me that we have many laws to protect weaker sections of the population from abuses of stronger sections, yet for some of the weakest, we remove some protections.

Given these definitions under UK common law (which are also used in many jurisdictions in the US), "assult" really is the correct term.

BTW, the quote is taken from Dr Ben Goldacre's Bad Science book and blog on guardian.co.uk.


Bobby,

Ahh.. I see where you are coming from now. You are using an older definition that was still in some use when I was a child. While our legal system in almost all states (IIRC, only Louisiana is different, it is based on Roman Law) is *based* on common law, it has been somewhat modified, and frequent modification continues.

You appeal to the phrase 'same protection'. You do realize that this is a 2 edged sword? When it comes to what you term assault, the sole case where children have less protection is in cases of parents giving their children mild punishment for purposes of discipline. In ALL other cases, children have stronger protection than adults.

Referring back to my example. If an adult strikes another adult (deliberately and without consent) on the buttocks with an old-style paddle they used to use in schools, and it causes bruises and welts, that is 'assault, causes bodily injury' which is a Class B misdemeanor (punishment is a maximum of 6 months in jail and a $2000 fine).

The SAME action to a child (14 or under -- I was mistaken about it being under 18) (by a parent or not) is 'injury to a child', a first degree felony with a punishment of 5 to 99 years in prison and a $10000 fine.

So, no. Children do not have the *SAME* protection against what you term assault as adults do. With the only exception being a parent punishing their child in such a way as it does not cause injury (for instance bruising -- pretty much only mild, open palm spanking to the buttocks is allowed), children enjoy GREATER protection.

Why is the mild spanking of a child by its parent still allowed? Well, it is a matter of strong debate. But, society's attitudes are changing and the pendulum is still swinging away from physical punishment. I don't expect (unless there is a massive change in public opinion) the spanking exemption to survive more than another decade or two.

Thank you for answering my question.

Edit: I have used your signature phrase in conversation for over 40 years. I used the phrase in a reply to you a couple years ago or so. Shortly thereafter, you changed your signature to feature it. I had no idea that that person you mentioned was using it. Perhaps he got the phrase from me. :P

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Message 1189447 - Posted: 28 Jan 2012, 16:46:05 UTC - in response to Message 1189440.

Bobby,

Ahh.. I see where you are coming from now. You are using an older definition that was still in some use when I was a child. While our legal system in almost all states (IIRC, only Louisiana is different, it is based on Roman Law) is *based* on common law, it has been somewhat modified, and frequent modification continues.

You appeal to the phrase 'same protection'. You do realize that this is a 2 edged sword? When it comes to what you term assault, the sole case where children have less protection is in cases of parents giving their children mild punishment for purposes of discipline. In ALL other cases, children have stronger protection than adults.

Referring back to my example. If an adult strikes another adult (deliberately and without consent) on the buttocks with an old-style paddle they used to use in schools, and it causes bruises and welts, that is 'assault, causes bodily injury' which is a Class B misdemeanor (punishment is a maximum of 6 months in jail and a $2000 fine).

The SAME action to a child (14 or under -- I was mistaken about it being under 18) (by a parent or not) is 'injury to a child', a first degree felony with a punishment of 5 to 99 years in prison and a $10000 fine.

So, no. Children do not have the *SAME* protection against what you term assault as adults do. With the only exception being a parent punishing their child in such a way as it does not cause injury (for instance bruising -- pretty much only mild, open palm spanking to the buttocks is allowed), children enjoy GREATER protection.

Why is the mild spanking of a child by its parent still allowed? Well, it is a matter of strong debate. But, society's attitudes are changing and the pendulum is still swinging away from physical punishment. I don't expect (unless there is a massive change in public opinion) the spanking exemption to survive more than another decade or two.

Thank you for answering my question.


The context in which I posed the question might help:

Chris S wrote:
and they can't discipline kids because teachers would get sued for assault.


Bobby wrote:
Why should children not be given the same protection from assault that adults expect?


From there Chris introduced the question of "Spanking" and various other matters.

You'll note in my reply to your question I observed that "we have many laws to protect weaker sections of the population from abuses of stronger sections", and I suspect it would be fairly trivial to make a good case for providing children with greater protections than adults. The context in which I asked my question was one where somebody appeared to be proposing that children in a particular setting should have fewer protections than adults. Given the context, I thought the protections enjoyed by adults a reasonable base line for the purposes of discussion. Again, given the context, it would be a mistake to interpret my question as supporting the removal of the greater protections that children may have in particular jurisdictions.

I'm sure you are right about the life expectancy of the "parental spanking exemption", it seems clear to me that Chris and John believe this to be a mistake, indeed that it was a mistake to remove teachers from this exemption. I have questioned why they believe this. I'm still waiting for an answer.
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Message 1189643 - Posted: 29 Jan 2012, 8:04:13 UTC
Last modified: 29 Jan 2012, 8:34:09 UTC

Apparently my need for rest was far greater than I thought.
As I write this very long post, it occurs to me that most of what I am writing is not direct response to things Bobby has brought up. So, before I forget, I feel I must point out that if the same standard were applied to me, Bobby, I'd be in trouble:

Bobby wrote

Posts by Chris S > 14,000
Posts by Bobby < 1,000

As your sig says, "I think you'll find it is more complicated than that...".
First, a database error a few years back resulted in several posters older posts disappearing. This may include some of your posts. My own post count could be 1000 higher than indicated.
Also, back when I was posting on a daily basis, in the morning being involved in some of the discussions could be like a strong cup of coffee, sharpening my wit and getting ready for the day. Night time posts might have helped me wind down.
So, just with these few points, I think we can see that gauging how anyone might manage their time and it's correlation to post counts is not as clear cut as you might expect.

There are some different points being raised about parenting: their role in discipline and their role in education.
I do not feel myself qualified to talk about the discipline issue much, as I am not a parent.

Chris wrote:
The school stated that no child of the age of 5 was in anger management classes, therefore as a Primary school, we are left to conclude that the age group concerned is from 6-11. Anger management classes are usually given as part of sentences at Youth Courts to unruly teenagers up to the age of 17, it is incredible that this should prove to be necessary with children of that age.

I had a lot of anger in me building from, about, ages 5-8. For good reason. It started to well up again around age 17. Within that year, I made a choice to curb the negativity. All the while, I did well in my schooling, and Chris, you know how much further I took it. I will also point out that my father was the valedictorian of his high school in 1958.

My first teaching position was at a community college, part time, which began as I was working on my Master's degree. Upon finishing, I taught there another 3.5 years. The last 1.5 years of that, I also taught full time at a private school for emotionally disturbed, or those deemed PINS (Person in Need of Supervision) by the court, teens. "Therapeutic restraints" were allowed to be used there (legally) when a student posed a danger to self, others or property.
I met several of the parents, once or twice a year, and while some of them might have justifiably been labeled as not interested in their child's behavior or education, others were but were simply in over their heads. (Consider that some of those emotional disturbances might have been genetic. We know some things skip generations. Also, some of the parents were adoptive parents.)

I think that's all I have to say at the moment about the discipline issue. On to education itself.
One difficulty we will have in this discussion is talking about differing systems. That in the US versus that in the UK, as that is where the thread contributors have been posting from.
The other is, to put a term to it, "belief in a golden age" (primarily espoused by Chris (one link to a comment along those lines) & John (another link to a comment along those lines), and I've seen a bit of it from MajorKong, as well). So, let me state right off that I do not believe there was a golden age, and attempt to defend why I believe that. On the other hand:

Bobby wrote
What to do about it? Well that's the question isn't it?

Presupposes that something needs to be done. If the comments were meant as more than statements of opinion, then they need to be supported and the question of what to be done can be examined. However, if they are opinion, then the question has no place, why should anybody be reasonably expected to act based on the unsubstantiated opinion of another?

Yes, Bobby, I agree with Chris (and John, and MajorKong) that educational systems are in a mess and that something needs to be done about it.

MajorKong wrote
You're correct about the education standards. The slipping started well before the 1970s, but got bad around then. I have seen, for instance, an 8th grade geography exam from about 100 years ago. Dayuuuummm!
When I saw it, I might have been able to pull a C on it. These days, I doubt that even PhD students could pass it, and high school students would likely only be able to stare at it and drool on it. And only about 100 years ago, this was expected to be common knowledge for 8th graders.

If you were speaking of Geology (Earth Science), this might be easier to follow. But Geography?

Pardon a moment of being pedantic. From http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/geography:
1: a science that deals with the description, distribution, and interaction of the diverse physical, biological, and cultural features of the earth's surface
2: the geographic features of an area
3: a treatise on geography
4a : a delineation or systematic arrangement of constituent elements : configuration <the philosophers … have tried to construct geographies of human reason


To me, Geography is about locations. Memorizing shapes of states, or countries. Knowing their capitals. Knowing where these things are in relation to one another. Things that I and my classmates were expected to memorize in 5th grade. (Ages 10-11.) However, Geography tended to go hand-in-hand with History and Current Events. And it has been my long-held belief that the latter things about Geography can be memorized, as I did in 5th grade, and some of which I am still able to recapture.On the other side there are concepts. For someone my age, born in the late 60s, the two come togehter to help understand the problems the US faced in fighting in Vietnam. (Perhaps this is related to John's comment about "searching questions"?-http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/forum_thread.php?id=66639&nowrap=true#1187519.)

BTW, Major, I had access to some of my Dad's textbooks from the 50s, and also picked up some old textbooks or pamphlets ranging from the late 1800s to 1950 or 1960. These, too, were found in used bookstores-one in Ithaca, NY, near Cornell University.

For those not in the US, or not versed in the history of education, particularly "compulsory education" here, this might be worth a read.

I believe education is something everyone should have access to. That does not mean everyone will benefit from it equally. I believe this to be part of democracy: "equality of oppotunity".

Major, how many people had at least an 8th grade education 100 years ago?

My grandmother on my father's side, born in 1920, never had to take Algebra. Neither did some of my peers in the 1980s.

From my grandmother's time, in some ways, more has been expected of students. Or, more students have been expected to go further than they were in earlier decades. Or some combination of the two. The website I linked mentions the 1983 report "A Nation at Risk", attesting to declines in U.S. student achievement. That was determined, in part, by use of international comparison tests. The third such test, TIMSS for short (Third International Mathematics and Science Study, IIRC-some of you may wish to search for information on it), took place in 1996 and further underscored the decline of U.S. students' performance. Often at the top were students from Asian countries.

But it goes back further. Say about 1958? http://www.education.com/reference/article/new-mathematics/
The impetus for the "new math" was the successful launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Earth-orbiting satellite, in 1957. In the United States, there was concern that we were so far behind the Soviet Union, our cold war foe, that our national security was in danger. In response, a spate of federal funds became available to improve the mathematics, science, and foreign language competence of our school children. University mathematicians saw the necessity of having some students understand the structural underpinnings of mathematics as the basis for their future work in mathematics. These mathematicians intended to "jump-start" young people who demonstrated a talent for mathematics and better prepare them for the rigors of university mathematics programs. Their strategy was to introduce topics into the school mathematics curriculum that aided the development of mathematical reasoning and proof.
Two components of the "new math" that appeared in elementary and secondary textbooks at the time were set theory (including set notation) and the structural properties of mathematics (commutative, associative, closure, etc.). Sometimes structural properties were developed through the study of number systems other than our Hindu-Arabic base-lO system. These topics often were presented abstractly in textbooks, not connected to any practical applications.

Society's Concerns with "New Math"

Many elementary teachers, already insecure in their own mathematical knowledge, failed to fully understand or appreciate the mathematical implications of "new math's" structural approach. Indeed, many had difficulty connecting their familiar calculation skills with the abstract underpinnings promoted in materials grounded in the new approach. Exacerbating their lack of content knowledge was the fact that insufficient professional development was provided to support the change.

Likewise, support materials for teachers and students did not account for parents' needs and reactions. Worksheets on abstract reasoning were sent home, instead of worksheets on calculations. The result was considerable parental confusion and consternation. In short, most parents had no understanding of what their children were learning and its relationship to their conception of arithmetic. Parents complained, for example, that students could identify the associative property underlying multiplication and addition but were not able to get correct answers on standard arithmetic exercises. Most elementary programs based on the "new math" were soon discontinued.

The overall response in the mathematics community, however, was not to do away with "new math" altogether. Most current textbooks continue to include lessons emphasizing fundamental concepts important to student understanding and appreciation of mathematics. For example, various sorting activities still appear in elementary textbooks, with or without set notation. Sets are used in algebra (solution sets, for example) and in probability (sample space). Learning multiplication facts is made simpler by knowing that the operation is commutative, whether the term is introduced or not. In fact, students working with matrices, a topic now occurring in some ninth-grade materials, are astonished to realize that some mathematical systems are not commutative under multiplication.

Read more at the site or do your own searches.
The point is, "New Math" was a response to realizing the U.S. was lagging behind in math, science and technology.

Based on this (and it matches what I have learned elsewhere about it), Major, are you sure this is the math you were "exposed to"?

Besides what is mentioned on the site I linked, New Math, where and when it was used, failed because attention was only paid to the structural underpinnings of the knowledge domain, and ignored how children learn mathematics and how teachers can teach it. Chris, who do you suppose leveled such charges? Besides practitioners, cognitive psychologists were also quite likely involved.

Now, to "Educational Psychologists". As I initially prepared, as an undergrad, to teach at the secondary level (and, as mentioned towards the top of this post, I did get some experience doing), I had to take a course in Educational Psychology (after having had Psychology 101 and Child & Adolescent Psychology). I do not recall the ideas being attributed to them being in my textbook (which I believe I still own, but if so, it is unfortunately currently in storage in another state, as it has been for 2.5 years). Even if there was anything along those lines and I do not remember it, I can state with certainty there was a section of the book about "Educating the Gifted Child". I was using the book in 1989-1990.

In my home state, New York, we used to have 4 levels. The highest was not available for all subjects. High Regents, Regents, Local, and Practical Local (or PSEN at other times-I do not recall what this meant). The first two were college track. Not all of them went on to college. I think 25% of my class, including me, immediately went on to college. But within 5 short years, working at the community college, I got to work with student with a variety of backgrounds and from a wide age range. I am sure not all of them had been in the High Regents and Regents classes, meaning that having been on some other track while in secondary precluded them from a college eduction later.

Sometime during the 1990s, in New York State, the tracking began to be removed. I do not know why. As far as I know, this has pretty much happened across most or all of the country. Perhaps it did come from something on the left, but I would be surprised if it came from people with a background in education. Politicians that had no idea? Wouldn't doubt it. Others on the left? Possibly. Why do I say this? If it were "Loony Left Educational Psychologists" (Chris' characterization), why did my textbook have anything about "Educating the Gifted Child" at all in it?

With the "No Child Left Behind Act", I believe our federal government has pandered to those that eliminated tracking, exacerbating the problems of a 'One size fits all' education, as Luigi called it (though he was describing the U.K. situation). The odd thing is, it was championed by George W. and Laura Bush, bringing the federal involvement in education to an even greater level, even though The Constitution leaves education to the State and localities.

MajorKong wrote
And the illiteracy problem... Kids these days are crippled in more than just reading and writing. They can't even make change without the cash register telling them how much it should be. If I owe $3.68, and I pay with a $5... I have to tell them that 'that is $1.32 in change'... Back in the day when I was in school (late 60s and the 70s), we were expected to be able to do such simple arithmetic in our heads, almost instantly.


I think you have it backwards. People are more likely to have difficulty with mathematics than they are with literacy. Look at the history of when language, followed by writing, developed, versus the developlment of anything mathematical beyond counting. The latter is newer, and continues to be developed. Algebra is 400-600 years old! The Ancient Greeks and others only had glimmers of it. Speech and writing is, by any measure, thousands of years older.
While in grad school, I heard (I believe from a Cognitive Psychology professor) that all human cultures have language, even those that in this ever-increasingly connected world that still remain fairly isolated. Such is not the case when it comes to mathematics.

Guy wrote (in response to Luigi's point about "One-size-fits-all" education:
Luigi, that would immediately be called institutionalized racism here in the U.S.

(Guy, please note that I did see your follow up post and completely understand where you're coming from.)
No longer being in secondary education, but of course seeing its effects for the last 21 or so years ... yet also knowing other factors involved (it's a bit more complicated), I have the academic freedom to not follow this "One-size-fits-all" educational approach. As I indicated to MajorKong in another thread recently, I am now in an area of the country where many of my students are Hispanic/Latino. I have also, over the years, had a number of Asians as students, students from Africa (and, for lack of a universally accepted term, African American students), the U,K., former Soviet bloc countries, etc ... . This experience bears out we cannot prejudge based on "race". I have seen all ranges of results from all groups.
As I said above, what I do stand behind is "equality of opportunity".

Bobby wrote:
If you ask me, the divisive nature of this system was pointless, far better to let parents and their children decide at 14 what specialisms they should enter into than have a test at 11.

As I think Bobby has indicated in this thread and others, he is originally from the U.K., but now living/working in the U.S.
Bobby, I wonder if you would consider the tracking that took place in New York State, of which I am a product, was similarly divisive?
If so, please consider the following: 1) all 4 tracks existed within the same school; 2) only those that opted to go in a "vocational" direction went, for part of the day, to another campus, and IIRC, such decisions were not made until 9th or 10th grade.
Frankly, what some of you are saying about how the tracking worked in the U.K. before, with early decisions on life path (perhaps directions students' and their parents were pushed in?) and separate schools ... it sounds like what I believe I heard about Soviet schools! If so, WTH?

Chris wrote
Don't forget of course we also have Citizenship classes, a compulsory part of the national curriculum for 11 to 16 year-olds in England since 2002. Wasn't that something your parents used to teach you at home as a normal part of bringing you up?

What is covered in these Citizenship classes?
If it is anything like what I think it might be, then, no, I do not think parents teach these things at home.
My father took us to places such as Boston, MA, Philadelphia, PA and Gettysburg, PA so we could see places where the Revolutionary and Civil Wars took place. Of course, we learned some things. As we did in Washington, D.C., at The Smithsonian and other sites. But in no way could these experiences or others be construed as equivalent to a "Citizenship" (or "Civics"?) class, and I do not think they be expected to be.

Chris wrote:
How did we get in this sorry mess? Easy. Too many modern day parents don't give a fig about their kids education, they bring them up until the age of 5, then hand them over to the State Education system, and then wash their hands of any further responsibility.
Add into the melting pot successive governments that refuse to champion marriage with the resultant increase in one parent families, without role models, and its not hard to see why we are in this situation. What to do about it? Well that's the question isn't it?

As someone raised by a single parent, as well as some of the points I made about parents of the students I worked with at the private school in the mid-nineties, again, "I think you'll find it is more complicated than that ...".
I will not go into the circumstances of being raised by a single parent in this open/public thread.

Getting back to the very earliest posts ... .

Chris wrote:
‘In the Far East, they regard every classroom as an open place. If a parent wants to come to observe a lesson, they think [that's] fantastic,’ he said.

‘If a parent says, I would like to come along and watch when my children are being taught, then I think teachers should not be afraid and encourage that level of commitment.’

Total poppycock ...

...

The average parent would not be able to assess a lesson in those ways without prior training ...


As indicated in an early response of mine, I agree with Chris that "[t]he average parent would not be able to assess a lesson in those ways without prior training". (And I was not responding to anything Chris brought up about discipline issues.)

Bobby wrote
As Sarge points out, there's often more than one approach to teaching, even in subjects such as mathematics, and a parent who has been taught one way may not be equipped to assist their child if s/he is being taught in a different way. Attending the classroom may help equip parents with useful tools as well as the child ...

I did not initially see part of what Bobby was saying. Yes, "Attending the classroom may help equip parents with useful tools as well as the child". If the parent is willing to go in with an open mind. Again, the comparison to how things work in Asian countries is a difficult comparison to make. From what I have read of international comparison studies, Asian parents are likely already familiar with multiple methods to get something across, for one.

Well, this has been a long response, and with all the different directions the discussion has been going, I didn't see a neat way to organize things in my responses. So, I'll stop for now.

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Message 1189673 - Posted: 29 Jan 2012, 10:42:39 UTC

Thank you for taking the time to respond that fully Sarge, I'm sure it is appreciated by all of us. That is quite a lot to digest, so with your agreement I'll go away and read through it a few times.

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Message 1189676 - Posted: 29 Jan 2012, 11:06:08 UTC - in response to Message 1189643.


...

Yes, Bobby, I agree with Chris (and John, and MajorKong) that educational systems are in a mess and that something needs to be done about it.

MajorKong wrote
You're correct about the education standards. The slipping started well before the 1970s, but got bad around then. I have seen, for instance, an 8th grade geography exam from about 100 years ago. Dayuuuummm!
When I saw it, I might have been able to pull a C on it. These days, I doubt that even PhD students could pass it, and high school students would likely only be able to stare at it and drool on it. And only about 100 years ago, this was expected to be common knowledge for 8th graders.

If you were speaking of Geology (Earth Science), this might be easier to follow. But Geography?

Pardon a moment of being pedantic. From http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/geography:
1: a science that deals with the description, distribution, and interaction of the diverse physical, biological, and cultural features of the earth's surface
2: the geographic features of an area
3: a treatise on geography
4a : a delineation or systematic arrangement of constituent elements : configuration <the philosophers … have tried to construct geographies of human reason


Yep. Geography. Pretty much meaning one and meaning two from that definition.

The exam had a list of several nations, and for each one the student had to discuss the physical features (mountain ranges, rivers, approximate area, etc.), the biological features (the types of climatic zones found in that nation, etc.), the cultural features (approximate population, language(s) spoken, prominent religion(s), the government of that nation, major cities, etc.). Additionally, they had to discuss things like major crops, resources, industries, imports, exports, trading partners, friendly nations, and unfriendly nations.

And it was an essay exam. No short answer. No fill in the blank, no true/false, and especially no multiple choice.

Like I said... Daaayyyuuummm!



To me, Geography is about locations. Memorizing shapes of states, or countries. Knowing their capitals. Knowing where these things are in relation to one another. Things that I and my classmates were expected to memorize in 5th grade. (Ages 10-11.) However, Geography tended to go hand-in-hand with History and Current Events. And it has been my long-held belief that the latter things about Geography can be memorized, as I did in 5th grade, and some of which I am still able to recapture.On the other side there are concepts. For someone my age, born in the late 60s, the two come togehter to help understand the problems the US faced in fighting in Vietnam. (Perhaps this is related to John's comment about "searching questions"?-http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/forum_thread.php?id=66639&nowrap=true#1187519.)

BTW, Major, I had access to some of my Dad's textbooks from the 50s, and also picked up some old textbooks or pamphlets ranging from the late 1800s to 1950 or 1960. These, too, were found in used bookstores-one in Ithaca, NY, near Cornell University.

For those not in the US, or not versed in the history of education, particularly "compulsory education" here, this might be worth a read.

I believe education is something everyone should have access to. That does not mean everyone will benefit from it equally. I believe this to be part of democracy: "equality of oppotunity".

Major, how many people had at least an 8th grade education 100 years ago?

My grandmother on my father's side, born in 1920, never had to take Algebra. Neither did some of my peers in the 1980s.

From my grandmother's time, in some ways, more has been expected of students. Or, more students have been expected to go further than they were in earlier decades. Or some combination of the two. The website I linked mentions the 1983 report "A Nation at Risk", attesting to declines in U.S. student achievement. That was determined, in part, by use of international comparison tests. The third such test, TIMSS for short (Third International Mathematics and Science Study, IIRC-some of you may wish to search for information on it), took place in 1996 and further underscored the decline of U.S. students' performance. Often at the top were students from Asian countries.

But it goes back further. Say about 1958? http://www.education.com/reference/article/new-mathematics/
The impetus for the "new math" was the successful launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Earth-orbiting satellite, in 1957. In the United States, there was concern that we were so far behind the Soviet Union, our cold war foe, that our national security was in danger. In response, a spate of federal funds became available to improve the mathematics, science, and foreign language competence of our school children. University mathematicians saw the necessity of having some students understand the structural underpinnings of mathematics as the basis for their future work in mathematics. These mathematicians intended to "jump-start" young people who demonstrated a talent for mathematics and better prepare them for the rigors of university mathematics programs. Their strategy was to introduce topics into the school mathematics curriculum that aided the development of mathematical reasoning and proof.
Two components of the "new math" that appeared in elementary and secondary textbooks at the time were set theory (including set notation) and the structural properties of mathematics (commutative, associative, closure, etc.). Sometimes structural properties were developed through the study of number systems other than our Hindu-Arabic base-lO system. These topics often were presented abstractly in textbooks, not connected to any practical applications.

Society's Concerns with "New Math"

Many elementary teachers, already insecure in their own mathematical knowledge, failed to fully understand or appreciate the mathematical implications of "new math's" structural approach. Indeed, many had difficulty connecting their familiar calculation skills with the abstract underpinnings promoted in materials grounded in the new approach. Exacerbating their lack of content knowledge was the fact that insufficient professional development was provided to support the change.

Likewise, support materials for teachers and students did not account for parents' needs and reactions. Worksheets on abstract reasoning were sent home, instead of worksheets on calculations. The result was considerable parental confusion and consternation. In short, most parents had no understanding of what their children were learning and its relationship to their conception of arithmetic. Parents complained, for example, that students could identify the associative property underlying multiplication and addition but were not able to get correct answers on standard arithmetic exercises. Most elementary programs based on the "new math" were soon discontinued.

The overall response in the mathematics community, however, was not to do away with "new math" altogether. Most current textbooks continue to include lessons emphasizing fundamental concepts important to student understanding and appreciation of mathematics. For example, various sorting activities still appear in elementary textbooks, with or without set notation. Sets are used in algebra (solution sets, for example) and in probability (sample space). Learning multiplication facts is made simpler by knowing that the operation is commutative, whether the term is introduced or not. In fact, students working with matrices, a topic now occurring in some ninth-grade materials, are astonished to realize that some mathematical systems are not commutative under multiplication.

Read more at the site or do your own searches.
The point is, "New Math" was a response to realizing the U.S. was lagging behind in math, science and technology.

Based on this (and it matches what I have learned elsewhere about it), Major, are you sure this is the math you were "exposed to"?


Yes. An emphasis on theory and a lack of emphasis on the practical. But the *point* of elementary school (grades 1 to 4) "math" was to teach the students the practical arithmetic skills they would need to function in society. 1st & 2nd grades: addition & subtraction. 3rd & 4th grades: multiplication, division, and some work with fractions (both rational and decimal)... The theory would come later on in Jr. High (5th through 8th grade), so that the student would be ready for Algebra I in either 8th or 9th grade.

The practical arithmetic skills are primarily taught by drill & practice. Lots of it. My school district's dubious flirtation with new math ended around the time I was in 4th grade, and they reverted to the older scheme. So, the kids in my rough age group got double dosed on the theory, and received a woefully inadequate exposure to the drill & practice teaching of the practical skills.

Me, I lucked out. I was not one of the students screwed up by this. My dad had math as one of his majors on his undergraduate degree, and had taken the required classes to receive a teaching certificate. He worked for a few years as a high school math and science teacher (Algebra and Chemistry, mostly) as he saved up the money to continue his education. When I was at an early age (around 2 or 3) he noticed that I had an interest in numbers (I could already read), so he started working with me almost every day, beginning with simple arithmetic. His 'fun with numbers' games helped to instill a love of mathematics (and several other subjects) that persists to the present day. After a year or two of that, I proceeded with more independent study, but he still somewhat supervised it and of course answered questions I had.

My Dad was *involved* with my education, and I am trying my best to follow his example with my own kids. I am working simple arithmetic into the counting games my 3 (almost 4) year old and I play, and he is steadily improving his reading. The 2 year old is progressing as well. Parental involvement in their children's education is KEY.




...

MajorKong wrote
And the illiteracy problem... Kids these days are crippled in more than just reading and writing. They can't even make change without the cash register telling them how much it should be. If I owe $3.68, and I pay with a $5... I have to tell them that 'that is $1.32 in change'... Back in the day when I was in school (late 60s and the 70s), we were expected to be able to do such simple arithmetic in our heads, almost instantly.


I think you have it backwards. People are more likely to have difficulty with mathematics than they are with literacy. Look at the history of when language, followed by writing, developed, versus the developlment of anything mathematical beyond counting. The latter is newer, and continues to be developed. Algebra is 400-600 years old! The Ancient Greeks and others only had glimmers of it. Speech and writing is, by any measure, thousands of years older.
While in grad school, I heard (I believe from a Cognitive Psychology professor) that all human cultures have language, even those that in this ever-increasingly connected world that still remain fairly isolated. Such is not the case when it comes to mathematics.

...



Note: I didn't say mathematics, I said arithmetic. And it wasn't the school that expected it, it was the community. Back then it was because of the new math. These days, it is the fault of the electronic calculator. These days, students (and adults) see no reason to need to know simple arithmetic skills because calculators are everywhere. What they lose sight of is what happens when the techno-toys aren't available.

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Message 1189843 - Posted: 29 Jan 2012, 20:35:57 UTC - in response to Message 1189676.

Yep. Geography. Pretty much meaning one and meaning two from that definition.

The exam had a list of several nations, and for each one the student had to discuss the physical features (mountain ranges, rivers, approximate area, etc.), the biological features (the types of climatic zones found in that nation, etc.), the cultural features (approximate population, language(s) spoken, prominent religion(s), the government of that nation, major cities, etc.). Additionally, they had to discuss things like major crops, resources, industries, imports, exports, trading partners, friendly nations, and unfriendly nations.

And it was an essay exam. No short answer. No fill in the blank, no true/false, and especially no multiple choice.


Well, then this does sound like quite a bit. Then again, I know I got at least some portion of that in my education in the 70s.
And I still ask the question, how many (better, what percentage) of children were getting at least an 8th grade education? Further, of them, what percentage were learning that much about Geography?
We may both be rounding when we think of "100 years ago". So, what would the answers be for both before and after compulsory education in the U.S.?

Based on this (and it matches what I have learned elsewhere about it), Major, are you sure this is the math you were "exposed to"?


Yes. An emphasis on theory and a lack of emphasis on the practical. But the *point* of elementary school (grades 1 to 4) "math" was to teach the students the practical arithmetic skills they would need to function in society. 1st & 2nd grades: addition & subtraction. 3rd & 4th grades: multiplication, division, and some work with fractions (both rational and decimal)... The theory would come later on in Jr. High (5th through 8th grade), so that the student would be ready for Algebra I in either 8th or 9th grade.


Fair enough. Some people do not remember much about their early education. And, as I said, it is my understanding that the New Math that followed Sputnik did not get applied nationwide.

Note: I didn't say mathematics, I said arithmetic. And it wasn't the school that expected it, it was the community. Back then it was because of the new math.


Arithmetic: among other things, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, factoring numbers. 9IN the last case, factoring of natural numbers.) Working with inverse operations and numbers that are inverses under a particular operation.
Algebra: among other things, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing and factoring polynomials; applying the first four to rational expressions (aka, algebraic fractions, with polynomials as numerators and denominators); applying the first four to radical expressions (radical, or root); solving equations, using what I said about inverses.
Linear algebra: doing much of this for matrices.
Abstract (or Modern Algebra): etc. ... .
Given this repetition , you can see why spoke of mathematics in general, not restricting myself to arithmetic. One can also understand why New Math was attempted, even though they got it wrong.

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Message 1190380 - Posted: 31 Jan 2012, 14:30:53 UTC
Last modified: 31 Jan 2012, 15:19:43 UTC

Sorry for the delay Sarge, A conference and committee meetings got in the way.

Posts by Chris S > 14,000
Posts by Bobby < 1,000


The figures are correct, but most of that was racked during the last 5 years when I had more time. For the last 3 months I have taken on extra responsibilities, so my posting rate has been, and will be, considerably less from now, hence time is at a premium.

I had a lot of anger in me building from, about, ages 5-8. For good reason. It started to well up again around age 17. Within that year, I made a choice to curb the negativity. All the while, I did well in my schooling, and Chris, you know how much further I took it. I will also point out that my father was the valedictorian of his high school in 1958.


I won't comment upon the earlier age range, but most youngsters go through a rebellious teenage phase, which is quite normal. It sounds to me that you had a good education, and it's also clear that you had the strength of character to change your outlook and a positive role model to base than on. So many kids today sadly do not have that. I guess a Valedictorian would be about our equivalent of a Head Boy.

My first teaching position was at a community college, part time, which began as I was working on my Master's degree. Upon finishing, I taught there another 3.5 years. The last 1.5 years of that, I also taught full time at a private school for emotionally disturbed, or those deemed PINS (Person in Need of Supervision) by the court, teens. "Therapeutic restraints" were allowed to be used there (legally) when a student posed a danger to self, others or property.


You most certainly have had a wider range of general teaching experience than I have had, but a bit of my background might not go amiss here. I took early retirement as an IT Support Manager in 2000, then decided that it was far too early for pipe and slippers. So I took a teaching Diploma, updated my technical qualifications, and became a part time IT Teacher/Lecturer at my local FE College.

I did that for 8 years. During which time I also held "Silver Surfer" classes at my local "Age Concern" Day Centre, and also ran IT classes at another Day Centre for physically disabled people. I also signed up as a visiting volunteer for the BCS "IT Can Help" scheme for housebound people. So I have taught people of all ages across quite a wide spectrum. What I haven't done like you, is get involved with the emotionally disturbed sector. You need special training for that which I don't have.

I met several of the parents, once or twice a year, and while some of them might have justifiably been labeled as not interested in their child's behavior or education, others were but were simply in over their heads. (Consider that some of those emotional disturbances might have been genetic. We know some things skip generations. Also, some of the parents were adoptive parents.)


You make a good point there Sarge. A childs upbringing and home life are of course strong factors towards their behaviour in the classroom, and that of should be taken onto consideration by both the school and the teacher. But I am finding that more and more parents of, what shall I call them, "ordinary" pupils, just don't seem to care, they'd rather be down the pub or at Bingo than an open night. If a childs parents cannot be bothered to show an interest in their own childs education, then why should we expect the child to?

On to education itself. One difficulty we will have in this discussion is talking about differing systems. That in the US versus that in the UK, as that is where the thread contributors have been posting from. The other is, to put a term to it, "belief in a golden age" (primarily espoused by Chris (one link to a comment along those lines) & John (another link to a comment along those lines), and I've seen a bit of it from MajorKong, as well). So, let me state right off that I do not believe there was a golden age, and attempt to defend why I believe that.


Again you make a good point. It is a human failing as you get older to fall into the habit of saying things like ...

That wouldn't have happened in my day
I'd have never got away with that
My parents would have skinned me alive
We had respect for our elders and betters
Standards have dropped ...

etc etc.

Every generation tends to have that view. I can only speak for the UK here, but if you go back in time and read Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens, and see how Wackford Squeers ran Dotheboys Hall, you would be horrified. But in the 1830's that was how it was, and the Dickens character of Squeers was actually based on the real life Yorkshire schoolmaster William Shaw. The schooling that my father got between the two world wars was perhaps too strict by todays standards, but by gosh it got results. Pupils came out of school fully employable, with the right attitude, and ready to take a job.

Fast forward to my time in the 1950's and we find that discipline was still there, but post war austerity had taken its toll, and the emphasis was more on knowledge and ability than perhaps blind obedience to rules. I wouldn't class the post war era as a "Golden Age" but looking back, it does seem, in my view, to have perhaps got the balance better, compared with the Victorians and today.

Yes, Bobby, I agree with Chris (and John, and MajorKong) that educational systems are in a mess and that something needs to be done about it.


100% correct and it's a no brainer ...

To me, Geography is about locations. Memorizing shapes of states, or countries. Knowing their capitals. Knowing where these things are in relation to one another. Things that I and my classmates were expected to memorize in 5th grade. (Ages 10-11.)


Correct. Geography was all about being able to name the various countries on a globe or atlas. We had to know the Capital, the major industries, imports, exports, politics of the government etc. I can still remember producing maps of the coal producing areas of the Ruhr in Germany, which had a very rapid economic growth at 9% a year creating heavy demand for coal and steel.

Ask the average kid today to take an atlas and pinpoint the capital of France, England, USA, or Australia, and most of them wouldn't be able to do it.

I believe education is something everyone should have access to. That does not mean everyone will benefit from it equally. I believe this to be part of democracy: "equality of opportunity".


Exactly, spot on. Demonstration of Equality is a major factor in an OFSTED school or College inspection, as indeed it should be.

The website I linked mentions the 1983 report "A Nation at Risk", attesting to declines in U.S. student achievement. That was determined, in part, by use of international comparison tests. The third such test, TIMSS for short (Third International Mathematics and Science Study, IIRC-some of you may wish to search for information on it), took place in 1996 and further underscored the decline of U.S. students' performance. Often at the top were students from Asian countries.


We are seeing the same here, but I would need to research it further to give any meaningful info from this side of the pond. But generally we are seeing that the UK is slipping down the league table in Europe. Asian students, of whom I have taught many, have a totally different attitude to the UK ones. They are genuinely grateful for the opportunity to improve themselves. They see education as genuine privilege, not as a boring necessity.

The point is, "New Math" was a response to realizing the U.S. was lagging behind in math, science and technology.


In the UK "New Maths" was an attempt to instil arithmetic/mathematical ability in a shorter timescale, for the basic reason of cutting corners to improve pass rate results and secure extra financial funding.

New Math, where and when it was used, failed because attention was only paid to the structural underpinnings of the knowledge domain, and ignored how children learn mathematics and how teachers can teach it. Chris, who do you suppose leveled such charges? Besides practitioners, cognitive psychologists were also quite likely involved.


Sigh. They probably were.

Now, to "Educational Psychologists". As I initially prepared, as an undergrad, to teach at the secondary level (and, as mentioned towards the top of this post, I did get some experience doing), I had to take a course in Educational Psychology (after having had Psychology 101 and Child & Adolescent Psychology).


As part of UK Teacher training we have to learn about class dynamics which is similar.

I can state with certainty there was a section of the book about "Educating the Gifted Child".


In UK Teacher training that is known as allowing for differentiation, which means preparing a lesson to have extra work prepared for the clever ones in the class.

With the "No Child Left Behind Act", I believe our federal government has pandered to those that eliminated tracking, exacerbating the problems of a 'One size fits all' education, as Luigi called it (though he was describing the U.K. situation).


Agreed. Politics got in the way as usual.

Sometime during the 1990s, in New York State, the tracking began to be removed. I do not know why. As far as I know, this has pretty much happened across most or all of the country. Perhaps it did come from something on the left, but I would be surprised if it came from people with a background in education. Politicians that had no idea? Wouldn't doubt it. Others on the left? Possibly. Why do I say this? If it were "Loony Left Educational Psychologists" (Chris' characterization),


In the UK, generally speaking, it is people with right wing views that think that educational standards have gone down the drain, and that we should revert to the "three R's" style of education. It is generally speaking, the left wing view that we should try any new innovative method of teaching that might be more effective.

Its mainly because schools are funded upon their results, so if they can cut corners in education, they'll go for it, it they can put on soft courses to get a higher pass rate, they'll go for it. Never mind the pupils education, they just want to keep their jobs. But there is a strong shift now that is seeing old fashioned views of back to basics gaining momentum, and it's the new trendy stuff that is starting to be chucked out.

I have also, over the years, had a number of Asians as students, students from Africa (and, for lack of a universally accepted term, African American students), the U,K., former Soviet bloc countries, etc ... . This experience bears out we cannot prejudge based on "race". I have seen all ranges of results from all groups.As I said above, what I do stand behind is "equality of opportunity".


Agreed as before with your view.

Frankly, what some of you are saying about how the tracking worked in the U.K. before, with early decisions on life path (perhaps directions students' and their parents were pushed in?) and separate schools ... it sounds like what I believe I heard about Soviet schools! If so, WTH?


Sorry Sarge, I have to disagree. The 11+ 13+ and latterly the 15+ worked well. It didn't segregate the students, it allowed the most able to demonstrate that they could benefit from a higher level of education. Those of us that didn't pass, including me, did NOT think of ourselves as second class people, or B grade pupils. We simply accepted that some kids were clever than others. If anything it made us that much more determined to do better next time. As referenced before, I was borderline throughout the 11+ and finally got the 13+.

These days it seems to me that if you put any child under the merest educational stress, they'll crumple in a heap and go rushing off to therapy, with the full support of the state. what sort of namby pamby society have we become? Whatever ever happened to good upbringing, strength of character, pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and just get on with it?

What is covered in these Citizenship classes?


They were introduced in an attempt to deal with the influx of ESOL students from mainly Asia and Eastern Europe, and to try and instil some sort of "Britishness" into people, including white Writish born..

Then in 2002 the Government introduced Citizenship classes “to teach children about national identity and break down the barriers between different faiths and cultures”, as this paper describes it. It was both a symptom of a nation in a crisis and a means to further proselytise the faith of multiculturalism, even if the Lefties don't like to use that word anymore.


Citizenship

If it is anything like what I think it might be, then, no, I do not think parents teach these things at home.


Well it's about time they did !!!

When you look at what is being taught in those classes, or what apparently NEEDS to be taught, I just give up. Those values WERE WHAT OUR PARENTS TAUGHT US. And if they have to be taught formally in schools, then that is a very sad reflection upon our society today.

My father took us to places such as Boston, MA, Philadelphia, PA and Gettysburg, PA so we could see places where the Revolutionary and Civil Wars took place. Of course, we learned some things. As we did in Washington, D.C., at The Smithsonian and other sites.



Likewise so did mine. We went to every Museum in London, Natural History, Science, V&A, Imperial War, British museum etc and other places of similar interest. I bet most parents don't bother today.

As indicated in an early response of mine, I agree with Chris that "[t]he average parent would not be able to assess a lesson in those ways without prior training". (And I was not responding to anything Chris brought up about discipline issues.)


Thank you :-)

I did not initially see part of what Bobby was saying. Yes, "Attending the classroom may help equip parents with useful tools as well as the child". If the parent is willing to go in with an open mind. Again, the comparison to how things work in Asian countries is a difficult comparison to make. From what I have read of international comparison studies, Asian parents are likely already familiar with multiple methods to get something across, for one.


Agreed. Different cultures, different ideas. It might work well in Asia, I really don't see it doing so here.

OK, a late addition here. There is a possibility that I might be sitting on the Board of Governors of a local school. I haven't decided whether to accept yet, but getting back to the title of this thread, I will strongly oppose any parents within the classroom.

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Message 1190548 - Posted: 1 Feb 2012, 2:11:29 UTC - in response to Message 1189643.

Bobby wrote:
If you ask me, the divisive nature of this system was pointless, far better to let parents and their children decide at 14 what specialisms they should enter into than have a test at 11.

As I think Bobby has indicated in this thread and others, he is originally from the U.K., but now living/working in the U.S.
Bobby, I wonder if you would consider the tracking that took place in New York State, of which I am a product, was similarly divisive?
If so, please consider the following: 1) all 4 tracks existed within the same school; 2) only those that opted to go in a "vocational" direction went, for part of the day, to another campus, and IIRC, such decisions were not made until 9th or 10th grade.
Frankly, what some of you are saying about how the tracking worked in the U.K. before, with early decisions on life path (perhaps directions students' and their parents were pushed in?) and separate schools ... it sounds like what I believe I heard about Soviet schools! If so, WTH?


Short answer: I do not believe "tracks" are necessarily as divisive as the tripartite system, though I do believe they may be used as a tool to similar ends.

Long answer: indeed, I was born a UK subject (as classified by my first passport), had a UK based education, and am now a dual national, having migrated to the US in 1999. The tripartite system I and others have mentioned was a thing of the past when I attended school. At a gross (and no doubt overly simplistic) level, this streamed "state school" entrants at 11 years old into grammar (academically gifted, for those that scored in top 25% of 11+ plus exam results), secondary modern (less academically gifted, some vocational schooling) where the majority of children were taught, and secondary technical, predominantly vocational and rare (owing to a number of reasons, not least of which was opposition from trade unions that believed apprenticeships were their domain). Fee paying schools ("public schools" in UK parlance) were, and continue to be, an alternative option, for which a limited number of scholarships are available to families without sufficient means to pay tuition fees. I'm not sure that the system was a grotesque as the Soviet system you allude to, though it was effective as a means of limiting later opportunities (University admissions, for example, were predominantly from grammar and public schools).

The Comprehensive School system, introduced in 1965, replaced the tripartite structure with one under which all children within a school were taught from a common curriculum until age 14, at which point they (with their parents) would chose a set of subjects to study to GCE '0' level, or CSE exams (typically at age 16). Between 1965 and 1988 there was some scope for different schools within the same district to have slight variations in the common curriculum, so an all boys school might have metal work classes, while an all girls school might have cookery (later, the, to my mind, unnecessarily tautological, "home economics"). The 'O' level and the CSE were both replaced with the GCSE in 1988, this coincided with the introduction of a national curriculum; I understand the majority of school to school variations in subjects taught were eliminated at the same time.

I believe what you are terming "tracks" was referred to as "streams" in a UK setting, whereby the "brightest" in math, for instance, might be taught in a separate classroom from those that were considered less able. The number of such streams might be a function of the number of children, teachers, classrooms, etc. I am not certain that "tracks" are necessarily as divisive as the tripartite system, though the scope, without adequate safeguards, for prejudicial treatment of particular groups by teachers may be a cause for concern, an example of which might be, an English teacher that systematically gives low grades to children with a particular accent, and thereby disqualifies such pupils from the "top" stream in that subject. As only exit exams (the aforementioned 'O' levels, etc) were subject to independent verification in pre-1988 Comprehensive schools, it seems to me obvious that such treatment could occur, though it would be foolish to speculate about the degree. I believe the lack of independent verification was a factor in removing "streams" from Comprehensive schooling, the cost of implementing it being deemed too great.
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I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that ...

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Message 1190671 - Posted: 1 Feb 2012, 14:08:11 UTC

Bobby has given a pretty good overview of the UK education system outlining the differences between the Tripartite and Comprehensive schooling systems, where Streaming is broadly equivalent to USA Tracking. The Comprehensives debate has been going on for many years about the merits or otherwise of the Comprehensives, with those against believing that the brightest Comprehensive students still do not get as good grades as those from Grammar schools.

I happen to think that we should keep all the Grammar schools, as centres of academic excellence, and I am not happy at all with the current introduction of Academies That is just tinkering with the system in my opinion and is politically based more than anything else, as it takes away Local Council control and hands it to National Government. As of 1st January 2012 there are now 1529 of the damn things open in England.

On a couple of points though, my own recollections are a little different. You didn't get to a Secondary Technical School from the 11+ exam, although that is what was originally intended. You had to pass the 13+ to go there, at least in the LEA where I was. Sec Tech School

They were used in many cases for borderline pass/fail results in the 11+. In any case, some people believe that the failure to create the technical schools represents a lost opportunity in the history of British education.

Yep, they messed up there! I went to one in South London from 13 to 16, it was very good, and it suited me. But I would say that wouldn't I?

I don't recall the top 25% of 11+ passes going onto Grammar School. It was a simple pass or fail exam, the pass mark being about 60%, with a system of 2nd chance exam and interview for border line fails. If you passed you went to Grammar school if you didn't you went to Secondary school.

In the mid 50's a new one had just been built about a mile away. I would have gone there but my parents decided to move 5 miles away to a larger house. I just looked up its history. It was originally a secondary Modern, became a Comprehensive in 1968, then a High School, and is now an Academy. The OFSTED reports aren't exactly glowing, not surprising really with all those radical changes over the years.
    • Let teachers get on with what they are trained to do
    • We don't want political meddling, we want adequate funding
    • We don't want trendy fads, we want sensible improvements
    • We don't want parental interference we want parental support.

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Message 1190709 - Posted: 1 Feb 2012, 16:25:54 UTC - in response to Message 1190671.
Last modified: 1 Feb 2012, 16:26:53 UTC

On a couple of points though, my own recollections are a little different. You didn't get to a Secondary Technical School from the 11+ exam, although that is what was originally intended. You had to pass the 13+ to go there, at least in the LEA where I was. Sec Tech School

They were used in many cases for borderline pass/fail results in the 11+. In any case, some people believe that the failure to create the technical schools represents a lost opportunity in the history of British education.

Yep, they messed up there! I went to one in South London from 13 to 16, it was very good, and it suited me. But I would say that wouldn't I?

I don't recall the top 25% of 11+ passes going onto Grammar School. It was a simple pass or fail exam, the pass mark being about 60%, with a system of 2nd chance exam and interview for border line fails. If you passed you went to Grammar school if you didn't you went to Secondary school.


Thanks for the clarifications and corrections.
____________
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that ...

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