Posted by: crudbasher | January 21, 2011

Contradictions In Education

(cc) gfpeck

As I listen to the discussion about reforming Education in the US, I am struck by certain contradictions.  So, here is a list of what I have seen.

A. Educators insist nobody else but themselves can have valid ideas for reforming school.
B. Educators get mad when the public blames them for failures in the school system.

A. Diversity is almost universally accepted and even revered in the education community.
B. The education community won’t even listen to the arguments of people who are of different political views.
C. Charter schools and vouchers are rejected by most teachers.

A. Educators say they want each child to do their best.
B. We have an increasing emphasis on standardized testing that specifies what “their best” is.

A. It is widely accepted that each student learns in different ways and at different rates.
B. We give the students the same lesson and the same amount of time to complete it.

A. An ever increasing number of students have access to a vast amount of information via the Internet at home.
B. In most classrooms that access is cut off.

A. The amount of money spent on Education in the US has vastly increased over the last 30 years.
B. The students are not learning more.

A. Businesses say the number one skill their new hires need is critical thinking skills.
B. Nearly all test questions in school have only one right answer.

A. Outside of school, our students are more social than any generation in history.
B. In school, a mark of a good teacher is keeping the class quiet and ordered.

A. If you want to be an education reformer and want to make money doing it, Educators question your motives.
B. Al Gore and many others have made a pile of money with the global warming thing but their motives are pure.

A. College tuition is going up at 8% per year.
B. The Economy is growing at less than 2% per year. Wages have stayed flat for a decade.

 

I invite comments!  Did I miss anything? Anyone disagree?

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Responses

  1. This is aggravating, but I suppose that’s a good thing. I just haven’t found an outlet to channel that angst.

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Alexia Dawson, Andrew Barras. Andrew Barras said: New Post: Contradictions in Education http://bit.ly/fk87vW #edchat #education #edreform [...]

  3. I find the contradictions in this post to be misinformed, logically inconsistent, and unfairly antagonistic. First, I’ll mention that I am not involved in k-12 public education. I’ll also say, while I do not particularly agree with this post, I think there is a lot of room for change and reform in the classroom.

    1. Most classrooms are not “cut off” to the internet. Rather, they are cut off to non-educational sites such as facebook and chatting sites.

    2. Critical thinking (finding the optimal solution in a situation that is not black and white) is not the same as requiring a student to recall a particular history date or solution to a simple addition problem. One cannot call these contradictory. Recall skills cannot be pitted against higher-level problem solving.

    3. 12th graders cannot learn advanced science without the foundational blocks of language, math, etc. being firmly set along the preceding years. Therefore, despite the advances of knowledge, it betrays the writer’s lack of understanding of the learning process to mention that students are not “learning more.” Just because technology and facts are copious does not change way the mind of a developing child works.

    4. It is a constant battle for teachers to accommodate brighter individuals to stay challenged while the other classmates finish their work. This, in my opinion, separates the proverbial “men from the boys” in the teaching world. It is not the “system” that forces children of different aptitudes into the same activity, rather the creativity of the teacher. Bright children can be asked to complete tasks after work is finished, read a book, or any other activity to keep them stimulated and busy while the teacher tends to the other children.

    5. Standardized testing can be an anchor that detracts from a teacher’s flexibility and creativity, however they are important in standardizing the education. However, I do not think that a school’s funding should depend on their SOL performance. That does nothing but start a negative tailspin robbing children of quality education.

    I see the writer’s intentions, but without suggesting or mentioning positive solutions, this post simply sounds whiny and misinformed. But who knows, maybe I completely misunderstood the entire post. I am the product of a public school education, after all.

    • Hey thesciencerebel, Thank you so much for your comment!
      I think what I was going for with this post was thought provoking. Your very intelligent reply gives me encouragement that it worked!

      Let me try to respond to some of your points.

      1. Most classrooms are not “cut off” to the internet. Rather, they are cut off to non-educational sites such as facebook and chatting sites.

      Agreed almost 100% of classrooms in the US now have internet access. However, most of the time this is just for the teacher. Until each students has their own access, I would say it is of limited usefulness.

      2. Critical thinking (finding the optimal solution in a situation that is not black and white) is not the same as requiring a student to recall a particular history date or solution to a simple addition problem. One cannot call these contradictory. Recall skills cannot be pitted against higher-level problem solving.

      I agree that recall skills are not like critical thinking. Are you saying that schools are teaching critical thinking? Sorry, I’m a little unclear on your point.

      3. 12th graders cannot learn advanced science without the foundational blocks of language, math, etc. being firmly set along the preceding years. Therefore, despite the advances of knowledge, it betrays the writer’s lack of understanding of the learning process to mention that students are not “learning more.” Just because technology and facts are copious does not change way the mind of a developing child works.

      One of the metrics you hear about is the US ranking on international tests. I think we have been slowly moving down the list compared to other countries. I do know we spend more per child by far then other countries. If it’s a question of money (which I don’t believe it is) we should be doing better. The people who run the education system say with more resources, the kids would learn more. We have been spending more each year but that hasn’t happened, that’s my point.

      4. It is a constant battle for teachers to accommodate brighter individuals to stay challenged while the other classmates finish their work. This, in my opinion, separates the proverbial “men from the boys” in the teaching world. It is not the “system” that forces children of different aptitudes into the same activity, rather the creativity of the teacher. Bright children can be asked to complete tasks after work is finished, read a book, or any other activity to keep them stimulated and busy while the teacher tends to the other children.

      You are completely correct with this and have also hit on a critical factor. Many studies I have read conclude that the biggest influence in students learning is the quality of the teacher. Do you feel like the current education system is designed to produce the best teachers and weed out the poor ones?

      5. Standardized testing can be an anchor that detracts from a teacher’s flexibility and creativity, however they are important in standardizing the education. However, I do not think that a school’s funding should depend on their SOL performance. That does nothing but start a negative tailspin robbing children of quality education.

      This is where you and I differ a bit. I think standardization of education is a big mistake. In fact I would go the opposite direction. I think pretty soon there will be more personalization in education. I submit that basing funding on test scores is a well intentioned idea, but in the end will not be effective if everything else is held constant.

      I see the writer’s intentions, but without suggesting or mentioning positive solutions, this post simply sounds whiny and misinformed. But who knows, maybe I completely misunderstood the entire post. I am the product of a public school education, after all.

      I wasn’t intending on suggesting solutions in this post as I have indicated solutions in many other posts over the last year. Instead, I wanted to highlight what I thought were inconsistencies in the current system and solicit opinions on that point. If the answer to education reform was easy we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in right now right and I certainly don’t know everything.

      I really appreciate your contribution to the discussion, so much so that I can even tolerate your personal attacks on me! That unfortunately is also a part of the education reform battle currently happening.

  4. I see what you’re saying Crudbasher. First of all, its hard to be serious to a person with the screen name Crudbasher. It makes me laugh. Second of all, I understand that you’re outlining the problems of the public school system in promotion of needed reform. I am sorry that my comments were a little harsh. In my defense, it pushes my buttons to see so much criticism from those outside the educational system. It can weigh heavily on the educators who are usually doing the best they can with what they’ve got. There are passionate teachers who pour themselves into educating young people, and I hate to see that their efforts are overlooked or overly criticized because there are problems in the system. Hopefully we can find some positive ways to be involved in reform, not by looking from the outside and criticizing, but by getting involved and being a part of the solution. Cheers.

    • Hey thesciencerebel, thanks much for that response!
      The reason I chose to go by Crudbasher is because it is a silly name. Keep in mind that many if not most students have alternate identities online. To them these are part of themselves. It is important that teachers realize that this part of their student’s lives should be respected (if not always understood heh). We all have a part of us now in the net. By choosing that name, I am filtering out teachers who are not flexible enough to give my ideas a fair chance. If they get thrown off by an online handle, are they receptive to really radical ideas about education? If you must know, I have a Masters degree in Education Media Design and Technology. I have taught at a university for 14 years and before that designed and programmed Military Simulators. I’m part of the system.

      I try to make it painfully clear in all of my posts that I am not bashing teachers. Anyone who tries to do that job is doing it for some other reason besides the money. My hat is off to them. I think the system is the problem. When I refer to “Educators” I am usually referring to the people who make decisions in the school system. That isn’t usually the teachers.

      I agree it is a good idea to try to be involved in suggesting ways to reform the system. My way to get involved is writing 354 posts about education and technology over the last year.

      Thanks much for your response! I hope you will keep speaking your mind as I find the conversation enlightening!

  5. These are not all straight contradiction nor are the all correct. for instance…

    A. The amount of money spent on Education in the US has vastly increased over the last 30 years.
    B. The students are not learning more.

    Students are learning EXPONENTIALLY more. They are highly specialized fields now that weren’t even dreamed up 30 years ago. They use computers and hundred other types of practical technology to accomplish just the basic training needed in fields that didn’t use these technologies 30 years ago but are now the norm across the board, hell a machinist is more of a computer programmer AND MORE students are MORE learning then ever before, more money is being spent because more people are going!

    I think the number you are really missing here is how much of that investment gets returned into the economy, and that number is huge! I will look for the metrics, but spending on higher ed has very high returns when you look at the complete continuum. These examples you give are for the most part very short sighted and make for a good basis for discussion, but are by no means full contradictions, I’d say they are more like contextual comparisons, or even simply data points that are part of a much larger picture and should be at least presented as such…. Ok off my rant.

    • Hey Chris thanks much for contributing!!

      Posts like this are almost always going to tick someone off, but after that initial reaction a good discussion can emerge!

      When I say students are not learning more I can reference a graph like this:
      Spending vs Learning You can see a huge increase in the amount per pupil. With that data, what conclusions would you draw? As for your argument that more money is being spent because more people are going, you notice that graph is not total spending, but spending per child. This is independent from the number of students. To see where the money went, check out the second graph which shows enrollment vs employment.

      Now it’s been quite a long time since I was in high school. Even so, I believe the curriculum isn’t really that different. High school isn’t a job training program, nor should it be. It’s an exposure to a lot of different things to help kids decide what they might like to learn more about in college. It also provides basic skills so that students who don’t go to college can do factory type laboring. That was how the system was designed in the first place. (see industrial revolution)

      As for the return on investment, I would submit that it’s not as huge as you imply. It’s true that over time, a college grad on average will make more than someone without a degree. However as the costs of college have skyrocketed, that gap is swiftly closing. There are also many other ways of learning skills now besides formal school. How many of the very top companies on the net were founded by college grads? Some but certainly not all. Bill Gates didn’t have a college degree. I wrote a blog post about this last year Successful Failures.

      I really appreciate your “rant”! It gets me thinking about my posts and it’s always good to reflect on things. Feel free to “rant” some more! Oh and if you find any metrics on ROI for higher ed, I would very much like to see them.

  6. I agree with the post and people that disagree should watch The Dark intentions of public schooling on youtube as well as College Conspiracy Scam in USA.


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