Has American Education Ever Really Been That Good?

Discussion in 'The Red Room' started by Dayton Kitchens, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. Dayton Kitchens

    Dayton Kitchens Banned

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    My fellow educators and I were talking over this the other day. Some of them had taught school since the late 1970s. Most less than a decade (like myself).

    The general idea was that for as long as any of us can remember, American public education has been considered "poor to average" overall.

    We were talking about the history of education all the way back to the panic over Sputnik. You know the story. How Americans were supposedly so afraid their schools were falling behind the Soviets that they passed the National Defense Education Act and threw money at schools.

    But one veteran teacher pointed out that "even in the post Sputnik era, kids routinely failed years of school or dropped out before even completing high school."

    The same teacher pointed out that the "students they threw money at educating in the 1960s were smoking weed and torching college campuses just a few years later".

    Another teacher remember President Carter creating the Dept of Education in 1980 and the report three years later "A Nation At Risk" bemoaning public education problems in the U.S.

    The general idea though is this to me. When people bitch and moan about the state of American public education aren't they in fact wanting to go back to a "golden age" in the U.S. that never existed.

    Ironic. Conservatives are often accused of wanting to "turn back the clock to the 1950s' (socially, culturally).

    Yet it seems liberals that want to throw money at schools want to turn the clock back the the supposed glory days (that never existed) for American public schools in the late 1950s early 60s as well.
  2. garamet

    garamet "The whole world is watching."

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    There are over 13,000 school districts in the United States. What is this "American education" of which you speak?
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  3. Muad Dib

    Muad Dib Probably a Dual Deceased Member

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    I think American education would be a good idea. :techman:
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  4. tafkats

    tafkats That'll put marzipan in your pie plate, bingo! Moderator

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    Well, I certainly think much of the "good old days" nostalgia we see is a complete crock.

    A while back, there was a chain email making the rounds that consisted of (or purported to be) an actual eighth-grade exam from 1880 or 1900 or sometime around then. It was typically accompanied by much moaning and handwringing over the fact that most adults today probably couldn't answer those questions. Well, duh -- the knowledge you need today isn't the same as the knowledge people needed a century ago. Some of the questions were inaccessible to a modern audience simply because they were poorly designed questions that measured whether you knew the exact terminology that had been used to teach that concept in that particular school at that particular time. And the question of whether an eighth-grader of a century ago could pass an eighth-grade exam today (almost definitely not) was never brought up.

    So yes, education, like many other areas, has a lot of "golden age" nostalgia that's mostly attributable to wearing glasses so rose-tinted they're practically opaque.
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  5. Bailey

    Bailey It's always Christmas Eve Super Moderator

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    Does every thing have to be some liberal/conservative conflict for you?

    I find it interesting that you think wanting good education for students is a liberal ideal, not a conservative one.
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  6. The Night Funky

    The Night Funky BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Smoking weed and protesting have nothing to do with how good your education was. Carl Sagan was an intelligent guy who smoked lots of weed. The Founding Fathers drank beer that was stronger than the stuff you can buy today.

    There are large problems in education today, some of these problems are of recent origin, others have been around for a long time. Until, however, we can come to a basic agreement as to what should be taught, we've little hope of making much progress.
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  7. tafkats

    tafkats That'll put marzipan in your pie plate, bingo! Moderator

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    Well, around here, all teachers are members of a union that has basically turned itself into an arm of the Democratic party. The big debate at the National Education Association convention last year was whether to endorse Obama on the spot or wait a little bit and endorse him later.

    That doesn't mean there are no conservative teachers -- Dayton being a case in point -- but in some places they're intimidated into silence about their political views.
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  8. tafkats

    tafkats That'll put marzipan in your pie plate, bingo! Moderator

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    Yeah, that bit was kind of silly.
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  9. Caboose

    Caboose ....

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    One of the biggest problems I see is the fact that the dollars are attached to standardized tests and the time spent preparing for those is a tad on the excessive side.

    We had a big test even back in the sixties. One multiple choice test. We didn't spend a month devoted to how to take it, we just studied our work and took it.

    :shrug:

    The teachers are what make a good education system and far too many who hold that title shouldn't be tour guides much less teaching our children.

    Out of all my teachers I can count on one hand those who were there to bring out the best in their students and continued their own educations on how to reach that goal in the process.

    Dumb ass teachers produce dumb asses. :shrug:
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  10. Azure

    Azure I could kick your ass

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    I'd say one of the biggest downfalls with any education system is the parents. Its a vicious circle once you get a bad set of parents that don't give a shit.

    There are lots of smart kids that get ruined by bad parents.
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  11. Fisherman's Worf

    Fisherman's Worf Hamachi is a fish best served cold

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    How nice that none of your fellow educators saw fit to improve their teaching in during the last few decades.

    Improving education is not a desire to "turn back the clock to the glory days". Improving education is a desire to improve our society. I don't see how anyone could think it's a desire to go back to some golden age of education. Human knowledge has been expanding, why would we desire to turn the clock back on that?
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  12. Megatron

    Megatron Banned

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    I would say American Education is the best form of education, and that is coming from a guy educated in the British-type schooling system back in India. American educational aspects are concise and to the point whereas other types of education teach things that are fucking redundant in the modern world. Though I'll say higher education in USA is in serious need of reform. An engineering student doesn't need to take mandatory classes and do well in American History to get a GPA of 4.0, neither does a History student need to do well in Math 305. Make the university experience a 2 year thing except a 4 year thing like the days of yore. Back then there were little opportunities in science and tech, nowadays there are lots. We should be churning out future scientists, technicians and astronauts and not fucking MBA's that ruin every good thing.
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  13. Fisherman's Worf

    Fisherman's Worf Hamachi is a fish best served cold

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    I would agree that certain areas of higher education need improvement, such as professors catering to the demands of their students and "scantron" tests become more and more common. And a higher emphasis should be placed on internships and post-college careers. However, I think forcing students to take general education courses outside of their field is a good thing because it expands their knowledge and introduces them to different ways of thinking. I would agree that certain course requirements should be reexamined (I don't know what Math 305 is, but I don't think a non-math related major needs to go much further than Algebra 2/Trig). But there is a definite need for general courses such as English composition (Science/Engineering students are the worst fucking writers, in my experience, and need to be able to express themselves for any job they get), History (everyone should know how we got to where we are), any introductory Science (in order to grasp the concept of the Scientific Method, at the very least), Math (as I already mentioned), and at least some study of a foreign language (a marketable job skill in an increasingly globalized economy). There are probably a few others where it can be argued either way.
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  14. Shirogayne

    Shirogayne Trolling No Jutsu Formerly Important

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    Yep, that's definitely one big change over the past few decades--lack of parent involvement. Even if for the sake of argument we say that education's remained more or less the same over the past sixty years or so, our culture has not--half of all children have been on the sidelines for their parents' divorce(s), and many who do have both parents are latchkey kids, to say nothing of the increase of kids born into single-parent homes.

    Back in the 1950's, people dropped out for far different reasons than today. It was possible to find a job that didn't require a high school diploma and yet would still pay for a decent living wage. It wasn't uncommon for girls to leave school if they got married before eighteen, either.

    Now, most are dropping out due to drugs or pregnancy, or in the case of some otherwise intelligent children school offers no challenge and is a waste of their time.

    Are you talking about at the high school level, or college?

    'Cuz the thing is, for any kid that didn't sleepwalk through high school a lot of what we call general education here is stuff that is covered (or should be) during high school. I took AP science courses all four years of high school, and the biology class I took in college was way easier. Same with the English composition and history class. I think TKO once mentioned a Korean foreign exchange student from her HS who was held back a year when she returned from the States because we were that far behind where she would have been.

    I get where Chad's coming from, but high school prep classes should be just that--preparation for college. So then, you can get to the college, and spend more time studying on things that you couldn't go into depth in high school. Things like Algebra 2 is stuff that should be covered by tenth grade, at the latest, IMO.
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  15. Fisherman's Worf

    Fisherman's Worf Hamachi is a fish best served cold

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    To a certain point I would agree that some college prep classes taken in high school are a good thing. However, they don't always necessarily match up to a college-level education, especially writing. High school did not prepare me for the amount of writing I had to do in college.

    Yup. It boggled my mind that students were still struggling their way through Algebra 1 in their Senior year of high school when I had already taken it back in middle school. Even in college, students were still taking Algebra 2. Somewhere along the way something went horribly wrong there. And I'm not even particularly good at math--I had to take Algebra 1 twice because I got a C my first year (I needed at least a B- to advance to Geometry).
  16. Clyde

    Clyde Orange

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    As a product of the American Education system, I can confidently say, I have no idea.
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  17. Dan Leach

    Dan Leach Climbing Staff Member Moderator

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    Given all the evidence, no.
  18. Liet

    Liet Dr. of Horribleness, Ph.D.

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    In case you hadn't noticed, the Republican party has a scorched earth policy when it comes to unions. Republicans want to wipe unions out, all of them. Any union that doesn't work to get Democrats elected is working against its own interests not because of the Democratic party being so great but because of the Republican party belief that labor is a bunch of leeches who should be beaten into submission until they meekly accept whatever scraps they're offered.

    Being union and voting Republican is about as crazy as being homosexual and voting Republican.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
  19. Clyde

    Clyde Orange

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    ^Hey! This isn't a partisan thread! :mad:
  20. oldfella1962

    oldfella1962 light & lethal

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    All I know is Jethro "done gradeated 6th grade" and he can do "times and gazintas" so it was at one time very effective. Just sayin'

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  21. Liet

    Liet Dr. of Horribleness, Ph.D.

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    You seem to have a real difficulty with the concept of facts, Clyde. There's nothing partisan about them, even if they don't point to political parties being identical. It's making your judgment about political parties in spite of the facts as you claim to do that's being partisan.
  22. Dinner

    Dinner 2012 & 2014 Master Prognosticator

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    I do think education was valued more in the past and a greater effort was made to make sure everyone got a quality education.
  23. gul

    gul Revolting Beer Drinker Administrator Formerly Important

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    Can you present some of this evidence? I mean I get that people like to bash American public education, and certainly our test scores are lower than some countries, but it isn't as though our scores aren't still in the top tier. A complex, hugely diverse country with hundreds of first languages is never going to be in the top ten for testing. That doesn't actually tell us much about what actually happens in the schools.
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  24. Clyde

    Clyde Orange

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    Oh yeah? Well you seem to have real difficulty with smelling like cabbage!

    :nyer:

    Seriously though, your thoughts on what qualifies as partisanship are undercut by being such a rabid partisan. Your lack of objectivity has corroded your credibility.

    You'd do well to take a break from the Donkey/Elephant wars.
  25. Liet

    Liet Dr. of Horribleness, Ph.D.

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    If by "everybody" you mean "white male children of property owners, preferably christian," then maybe.
  26. Aenea

    Aenea .

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    We also test everyone....even the 16 year old with an 18 month mentality, and she has to grasp algebra 2 concepts. Fuck. Everyone here goes to school. Germany does not do that Japan does not do that. If anyone wants to compare us fairly to other countries we need to first have a test given in both countries that is the same and next it needs to be given to kids of similar abilities. Then we can talk comparisons.

    Until then it just looks like the government wants to put all of us together smart with stupid then fain surprise when ow knows we don't compare to other countries. Then unions can say we need more money, and the gov starts talking about taking over schools, like they are here. Give me a fair playing field before comparing me. :garamet:
  27. Clyde

    Clyde Orange

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    It's true, the US takes in folks from all variety of cultures, and without exception their children are required to attend school. And that's a good thing.

    The problem lies in asking too much of our public schools. Specifically our underpaid teachers, they're tasked with integrating every student from every background and educational level into a cohesive classroom environment. They're expected to be babysitters, substitute parents and, time permitting, educators. Public school has become more state daycare than legitimate means of passing knowledge from one generation to the next.
  28. Black Dove

    Black Dove Mildly Offensive

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    Not as long as they keep hiring complete morons like yourself to teach.
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  29. Spaceturkey

    Spaceturkey you can't spell hatred without "red hat"

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    Then how do you explain Canada being so much higher in the rankings?
    Proportionately speaking, we take in a far greater number of non english speakers annually.
    It is notable though, that most of the countries above us have reasonably homogenized cultures using the educational systems whereas between us are also nations with multi ethnic populations.
  30. tafkats

    tafkats That'll put marzipan in your pie plate, bingo! Moderator

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    For the most part, these are people who are union against their will -- forced because of their profession to turn over part of their paycheck to an organization that funds political activities they disagree with.

    But, hey, that's freedom! Of a sort.