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  #31 (permalink)  
Old August 21st, 2011, 10:12 PM
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We used to have year-round schools in our area. Not all the schools, just a few. They went the same number of days, but with breaks spread throughout the year. During these breaks they would offer "intercessions" that any of the children could participate in free of charge. These included enrichment classes or remediation for students who were struggling. The teachers volunteered to teach these classes for reduced pay. Who had the biggest problem with the schedule...the parents. They complained about having to arrange child care, which I could never understand. The whole concept was intended to improve the quality of education, and they had to have care for the exact same number of days...so it wasn't costing them any more. It just wasn't what they were used to. I would have jumped at the chance to enroll my kids, but was never given the opportunity. A whole month off for Christmas break (we usually get about 9 or 10 days - including the weekend!), that would make my life MUCH easier since we don't live near our families. Now, it's too far for such a short trip. Yes, it would be great for our vacation budget too, but that was never the reason I was in favor of it.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 12:30 AM
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Stop letting kids use calculators for everything in math and have them actually learn how to work the problem instead of just punching numbers. Kids no longer have to think or problem solve.
Lot of truth there. Many of you may remember that our "crutch" in science and math classes was the sliderule--the ol' slipstick. They were better than nothing, but of course they didn't show orders of magnitude. If the answer was 2,000, or 200, or 20, all you'd see on the sliderule was 2. It was your job to figure out the zeroes.

My favorite uncle, who was a civil engineering professor, used to go crazy when his students did the basic problem right, but messed up the "logic" of the answer. He used to tell me that he'd always be saying, "No, Mr. Snodgrass, the bridge will NOT be two feet above the water."
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 08:37 AM
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Most school districts in the USA do not require algebra or geometry; they are offered for those college-bound students who want or need it. Others take business math or something called "personal accounting" or a variation of that. Many high schools still do not even offer calculus; and, thanks to calculators, trigonometry is almost never taught as a separate subject any more. (Those of us who took it may remember how much of the course was spent learning how to interpolate the tables.) Trig now usually gets bundled into advanced algebra courses.

Interestingly enough, the decline in American education is almost an exact mirror image of the budget of the federal Department of Education.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 10:29 AM
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I am the proud mother of a pediatrician. I know her elementary and high schools had a lot do to with her reaching this goal. However, during her college years, she had a problem with her checkbook. We had to literally sit her down and "teach" her the simple math required to handle the checkbook and transferring things to a new register when hers ran out of room. Boy, you would think that would have been taught earlier!

It seemed to me that by high school, I was unable to help my girls with school work problems. I was third in my graduating class, but had a heavy business background and only had basic science and math. However, I could balance a checkbook and many today cannot do that nor make change without a calculator or cash register. My girls have a hard time figuring out how much something costs at 30% off.

Oh well, my pediatrician daughter's husband is good at numbers and she can handle healing the little ones. And, DD#2 seems to have a decent level of common sense.
So, we hope for the best!
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 11:52 AM
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I said nothing about science .I said nothing about mathematics in the broad sense .I specifically stated geometry ,algebra,calculus and trigonometry.
Couple problems here, Henry.

First, when you elminate geometry, algebra, calculus and trig, there's not a whole lot left to math except simple arithmetic, which kids should learn in grammar school (except, of course, most don't master even that).

More importantly, high school should be a time of discovery, especially for college-bound students. Perhaps you had your career all mapped out by the time you were 14, but most people don't. When I was in university, they encouraged us NOT to declare a major until our second or third year, because they wanted us to continue that process of discovery and evaluating the possibilities.

In order to understand the possibilities, you must be exposed to them. I am absolutely certain that Mr. Kuntz, the math teacher I mentioned earlier, inspired any number of students to at least consider math and science, because of his enthusiasm, his wonderful humanity, his marvelous sense of humor, and his deep caring--oh yeah, and he really knew his math!

And in the end, mathematical rigor helps you think and evaluate things more clearly, as I've said before.

Finally, try as you might, you can't separate math from science. Anyone who aspires to a career in any branch of science knows full well that proficiency in math--through at least calculus--is as much a prerequisite for them as English is for a writer.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 12:58 PM
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Henry, as an engineer and a former high school math teacher in one of my incarnations, I can tell you that without algebra, geometrytrig and calculus, there would be no science. Geometry, by the way, is not sll memorizing theorms. It teaches logical reasoning and is the basis for all higher mathematics.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 06:39 PM
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Todd,

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Summers off were a result of an agricultural eocnomy which largely no longer exists. Kids were expected to help on the farm, which many no longer are.
That's not exactly accurate. In much of the rural midwest, the school year begins by mid-August and has a break of 3-4 weeks from late September to mid-October because the farm families need everybody, including the children, to harvest the crops at the end of the growing season.

That said, we need to remember that formal schooling is not the only educational content of most childrens' lives. Today, many children go to various summer camps where they have educational opportunities that they would never have at home. For children who grow up in the nner city in particular, you cannot underestimate the value of a couple weeks at a rural camp where they swim in a lake, cook over a fire, learn about the plants and animals, and get to see a sky full of stars at night.

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Old August 22nd, 2011, 07:08 PM
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AR,

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I think it's wonderful for kids to go to camp, learn to swim, learn to play, get life experiences.

I think it's even more wonderful for them to learn to read, write, and to 'rithmatic.
I agree wholeheartedly.

But there's plenty of time to teach this in the 180 days or so per year that students are in the classroom.

I do admission interveiws for my alma mater, and my typical applicants from the public high schools one predominantly "blue collar" comminity will have completed six to eight "advance placement" courses in high school. If they go to Harvard, many of these students will have enough enough academic credits for work done at the college level in high school to walk in the door of that institution as juniors (assuming, of course, that they attain passing scores on all of the respective "advance placement" (AP) examinations administered by the College Entrance Examination Board, or CEEB).

The fundamental problem in failing schools is NOT insufficient time in the classroom. Rather, the fundamental question is what is happening, or not happening, when the students are there.

>> Some schools have adopted academic curricula that simply don't work, with the tragic consequence that many of their students require remidial programs that consume disproportionate resources.

>> In many school districts, teachers' unions protect underperforming teachers. All it takes is one underperforming teacher to set back a whole class.

>> And in many school districts, "social promotion" of failing sturdents is the norm. A student who fails to master the material of one grade lacks the foundation for the material of the next, especially in mathematics and the sciences and in reading, so "social promotion" sets in motion a school career of failure.

>> In many schools, the latest brain-dead trend -- "mainstreaming" -- has put many students in classrooms with those who are less capable, where the teacher must teahc to the slowest learner with the consequence that those who are more capable cannot achieve to their potential. This is a gross injustice to all concerned, including the teachers.

>> And finally, many schools have abandoned discipline. They tolerate disruptive behavior of a few that prevents the rest of the students from learning.

These are the problems on which we need to focus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Somebody said that countries that outteach us today will outcompete us tomorrow. And TONS of countries are outteaching us right now.
I'm not as worried about that. We actually have sufficient strength in our numbers to overcome the effect of some underperforming school districts.

But the real problem is that students who fall victim to underperforming school districts fail to realize their full potential and thus to find personal fulfillment. Statistically, these are the people who tend to turn to addictions in search of fulfillment and the people who either become dependent upon the largessse of the soclal welfare state or who turn to crime because, in either case, they lack the education needed to be productive in the workplace and thus to earn a decent living.

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And think of this article the next time politicians cut your education budgets and threaten to abolish the Department of Education.
Statistically, theres actually a very strong negative correlation between spending per student and academic achievement -- meaning that the school dsitricts with the most bloated budgets are the districts that are failing most miserably and the districts that achieve most highly spend the least per student on their school systems.

Norm.

Last edited by Rev22:17; August 22nd, 2011 at 07:22 PM.
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  #39 (permalink)  
Old August 22nd, 2011, 07:17 PM
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Todd,

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What the overwhleming majority didn't know that the budget on which they voted did not include "contractual obligations" meaning, of course, teacher's salaries. What they in effect were voting to degrade were, for simplicity, a lot of things that make schools and those include traditional sports, band, field trips, etc. If any politician (read yours truly) made any comment about the astronomical teacher's salaries (and this was back in the mid nineties -- think what they must be today) the NEA branded you as "anti-education." I happen to believe that good teachers are worth their weight in gold. Problem is, I've met (and I kid you not) teachers that probably could have barely graduated high school were they to have lived back in the sixties. Yet many are today, in some states making upwards of 90 grand a year, failing miserably in their jobs to educate the students in the basics.
I agree completely. If we are going to attract the best and the brightest into teaching, which is where we really need them, we need to make the rewards for teaching better than that of other professions. Right now, that is far from the situation.

On the other side of the coin, however, we need to identify and weed out teachers who are underperforming.

Norm.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 08:46 PM
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Couple problems here, Henry.

ore importantly, high school should be a time of discovery, especially for college-bound students. Perhaps you had your career all mapped out by the time you were 14, but most people don't. When I was in university, they encouraged us NOT to declare a major until our second or third year, because they wanted us to continue that process of discovery and evaluating the possibilities.

In order to understand the possibilities, you must be exposed to them. I am absolutely certain that Mr. Kuntz, the math teacher I mentioned earlier, inspired any number of students to at least consider math and science, because of his enthusiasm, his wonderful humanity, his marvelous sense of humor, and his deep caring--oh yeah, and he really knew his math!

And in the end, mathematical rigor helps you think and evaluate things more clearly, as I've said before.

Finally, try as you might, you can't separate math from science. Anyone who aspires to a career in any branch of science knows full well that proficiency in math--through at least calculus--is as much a prerequisite for them as English is for a writer.
When I was in college ,most likely the same time as you ,I believe all colleges and universities wanted students not to declare their major until the beginning of their junior year.

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Old August 22nd, 2011, 08:52 PM
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Henry, as an engineer and a former high school math teacher in one of my incarnations, I can tell you that without algebra, geometrytrig and calculus, there would be no science. Geometry, by the way, is not sll memorizing theorms. It teaches logical reasoning and is the basis for all higher mathematics.
I have a daughter who is a teacher of mathematics and I'm sure that she would disagree with my point of view as would friends of mine who were in the field of science .

However ,the majority of the people in my college graduating class were not math or science majors .
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 09:37 PM
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the majority of the people in my college graduating class were not math or science majors .
I'm confused. Are you saying that from this statement we are to make a logical connection with your original contention that advanced math classes in high school should not be a requirement for people going on to college?

Simply doesn't follow, for reasons a number of us have already pointed out.

The majority of people in ANY college or university graduating class that isn't essentially a tech school like MIT will not be math or science majors. The student body is spread over a number of different schools with different disciplines, so the majority won't share any one major. But in no way does that support your original contention.

Once again, you seem to want to impose the personal choices you made on others.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 10:58 PM
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I'm confused. Are you saying that from this statement we are to make a logical connection with your original contention that advanced math classes in high school should not be a requirement for people going on to college?

Simply doesn't follow, for reasons a number of us have already pointed out.

The majority of people in ANY college or university graduating class that isn't essentially a tech school like MIT will not be math or science majors. The student body is spread over a number of different schools with different disciplines, so the majority won't share any one major. But in no way does that support your original contention.

Once again, you seem to want to impose the personal choices you made on others.
Absolutely not .I am merely bringing "food to thought." Whatever is generated from my supposition is just that .
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 12:15 AM
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Absolutely not .I am merely bringing "food to thought." Whatever is generated from my supposition is just that .

I think most discussions work best if people don't say what they don't mean. Doing otherwise simulates conversation, rather than stimulating it.
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 08:16 AM
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Japanese schools are in session 10 months per year, focusing heavily on math, sciences, and languages. During the 2 month holiday, most Japanese Students attend private cram schools to give them an advantage when they start the next school year.

Could there be a connection between this system and the fact that Japanese Students score so high on the international scale, and Japan leads the world in many technologies?
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 08:29 AM
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Bruce,

Your point is extremely valid. However, I think they could have a better balance and still keep their standards. I say that because suicide among students there has traditionally been outrageously high simply because the victims didn't meet expectations of their parents etc., often as a result of those "cram" periods and that is very sad indeed.

Todd
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 09:30 AM
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It's really interesting how this thread has morphed into a discussion on education in general, and math education in particular.

It's been a few years since I did some research into US declining educational achievement, but I think that the significant points then still hold true:

1. Overall educational achievement is inversely correlated to the percentage of teachers who have degrees in education rather than in the subject they teach.

2. The most significant predictor of an individual child's achievement is the education level of that child's MOTHER.

3. The most significant predictor of a school district's achievement is the percentage of its funding that is RAISED LOCALLY.

Those school districts (notably D.C.) that spend huge amounts for so little return are funded almost 100% by federal or state money.

Much as I'd like to see wholesale changes in the way we educate our kids, I also would not like to have them pressured as much as Japanese kids are. On the other hand, when a grammar-school child in this country leaves in the morning, his mother is most likely to say, "Have fun!" or "Have a good day!". In Japan, the most common departure phrase is, "Work hard!".
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 10:06 AM
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In the state of Illinois you have to have three years of math to graduate. My son is in a program called AVID so he will be taking four years of math.
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 11:01 AM
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I think most discussions work best if people don't say what they don't mean. Doing otherwise simulates conversation, rather than stimulating it.

My posts are here to generate thought .My opinions really do not matter .
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Old August 24th, 2011, 10:32 AM
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I think that the significant points then still hold true:

1. Overall educational achievement is inversely correlated to the percentage of teachers who have degrees in education rather than in the subject they teach.

2. The most significant predictor of an individual child's achievement is the education level of that child's MOTHER.

3. The most significant predictor of a school district's achievement is the percentage of its funding that is RAISED LOCALLY.

Those school districts (notably D.C.) that spend huge amounts for so little return are funded almost 100% by federal or state money.

Much as I'd like to see wholesale changes in the way we educate our kids, I also would not like to have them pressured as much as Japanese kids are. On the other hand, when a grammar-school child in this country leaves in the morning, his mother is most likely to say, "Have fun!" or "Have a good day!". In Japan, the most common departure phrase is, "Work hard!".
This is fascinating and your three factors make perfect sense to me, intuitively at least (which is all I have to go on).

And, yes, it would be nice to see the pendulum come to rest somewhere in the middle with regard to the Japanese model. I heard at one point that Japanese parents tend to be obsessed with getting their kiddies into the "right" kindergarten. Seems a little overwhelming over there. A good education isn't (or shouldn't be) incompatible with letting kids have a childhood.
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Old August 24th, 2011, 02:33 PM
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Well, I've heard that in NYC many parents are concerned about getting their children into the "right" PRESCHOOL in order to get them on track for the right kindergarten, etc. No personal knowledge of that, but certainly the most uptight of my acquaintances are New Yorkers.
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Old August 24th, 2011, 05:12 PM
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Henry,

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When I was in college ,most likely the same time as you ,I believe all colleges and universities wanted students not to declare their major until the beginning of their junior year.
At my college, beginning of sophomore year was the norm.

Then again, this was at an institution where it was said that getting an education was about like drinking from a fire hose. Freshmen who entered with no advanced placement credit (certainly no longer the norm!) are expected to master differential and integral calculus of one variable in the fall semester and multivariate differential and integral calculus in the spring semester with a similar "power curve" in the core science requirements. Although sophomores were not officially required to designate academic majors, the practical reality is that many of the academic majors have required courses with chains of prerequisites that functionally required students to start fulfilling departmental requirements in sophomore year in order to complete the degree in four years.

Yes, one could choose to major in English, History, or other fields in the humanities and social sciences, but one's degree is stil a Bachelor of Science (SB) rather than a Bachelor of Arts (BA)....

Norm.
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Old August 24th, 2011, 05:35 PM
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Bruce,

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Japanese schools are in session 10 months per year, focusing heavily on math, sciences, and languages. During the 2 month holiday, most Japanese Students attend private cram schools to give them an advantage when they start the next school year.

Could there be a connection between this system and the fact that Japanese Students score so high on the international scale, and Japan leads the world in many technologies?
The more fundamental reality is that Japanese culture puts a high value on education, so Japanese parents make the education of their chidren their first priority, and make it clear to their children that it is the ffirst priority.

In the United States, we have substantial segments of our population who simply do not value, and often denigrade, education. This is especially true of (1) "inner city" areas and (2) immigrants from cultures that do not value education. When parents do not (1) ensure that chuldren come to school ready to learn, (2) enure that children do their homework, and (3) reinforce the school's standards of discipline when children are disruptive, the children are not going to learn. Adding more days to the school year will not change these dynamics. Unfortunately, this is precisely what sentences the children to life in our society's underclass in adulthood.

That said, the demands of many Japanese parents are not exactly either healthy or constructive for the children.

>> Children learn a lot of lessons through play, and those lessons are very important later in life.

>> People function less productively when they are worked to the point of exhaustion. There's no benefit to spending more hours studying when those hours are not productive because one is fatigued or even "burned out.'

>> Stress also contributes to many physical and mental ailments, and such demands create very high levels of stress.

>> Finally, time spent drilling mathematics and sciences beyond the point of saturation is time not spent in other areas of learning, and thus does not translate to a well-rounded education.

I see many students coming out of both public high schools in a predominantly "blue collar" community with six to eight "advanced placement" (college level) courses behind them, so I know that the problem in our educational system is not an insufficiency of hours spent in school. The problem, in our school systems that are "underperforming," is what is happening when the students are there -- and that's what we need to fix if we want better schools.

Norm.

Last edited by Rev22:17; August 24th, 2011 at 05:41 PM.
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Old August 24th, 2011, 10:21 PM
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Henry,





Yes, one could choose to major in English, History, or other fields in the humanities and social sciences, but one's degree is stil a Bachelor of Science (SB) rather than a Bachelor of Arts (BA)....

Norm.
I graduated with a dual major :Psychology and Sociology and a minor in Literature .I have a BA ,not a BS .
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Old August 25th, 2011, 06:25 PM
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Henry43,

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I graduated with a dual major :Psychology and Sociology and a minor in Literature .I have a BA ,not a BS .
Yes. I was explaining the policies of my alma mater. Other institutions obviously differ. Heck, a lot of schools give a BA rather than an SB in phyics or chemistry, too!

Norm.
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