A Bright American Future

We are often told how bad things are. This is good if it makes us strive to be better, but not if it leads to despair. I have been working on education for the last year & I am here to remind you that we have a superb higher education system and it is adapting and getting better all the time. I am particularly impressed by the community college system, which will, after all, help train the bulk of our future labor force.

I was reminded of the Morrill Act of 1862 and the follow up in 1890. You may not have heard of these things. These are among the greatest contributors to America that you have never heard of. or maybe don't know much about. The others, IMO, are the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the Homestead Act of 1862 & the GI Bill of 1944. The Morrill Act granted land to states to build universities that would teach useful things like science, mechanics/engineering & agriculture and research the same. Their mission was the Hatch Act of 1887, which established agricultural experiment stations. Our big research universities are land grant. Most are public, the exceptions being Cornell and MIT. But I digress.

I am impressed with the system. I find that it is much better than I understood it was before the visit. My earlier understanding was simplistic and outdated. I still thought in terms of a university or a school as the unit of analysis. I knew that schools created and maintained connections with other schools and the outside community, but what I didn't really understand was the extent that all these entities have effectively merged. This is why the ecosystem analogy is apt. The parts of schools are not only interacting with other parts and outside actors; they are dependent and cooperative with entities well removed from their own cooperation. It is like the bird that eats berries on top of a tree in interacting with soil bacteria that allow the roots to take advantage of minerals many steps removed.

The coordinating mechanism is a kind of distributed decision making process. All the various actors are responding to the changing circumstances, incentives and opportunities. The mature educational ecosystem provides lots of shared services or at least opportunities that all can use. This makes the power of big institutions less overwhelming and empowers smaller institutions. It levels the playing field when everybody has access to resources that once were concentrated only in well-established institutions.

All this means that we are on the threshold of a new age of higher education. This is the same revolution experienced by big industry in the 1970s and 1980s. That was when the advantage of the big and established organizations eroded. You didn't need to have in-house services when such things were available by outside vendors cheaper and more efficiently. The education establishment hung on a bit longer providing full services. In fact, the positions of the majors strengthened as customers moved to prestige providers. There were few alternative products and it was hard to unbundle them. The value of the name was strong.

I think this is changing rapidly. Educational wealth has been distributed wider. You can get a great education all over America and sometimes you don't even have to enter a prestigious university program or a university program at all. The connections are all over the place now.

In my old world, you went through different stages. I remember one book I read called them "boxes of life." You didn't skip them and you rarely went back. You graduated HS; some went to college; you got out four years later and went to work for the next thirty or forty years and then retired. You were done with formal education for the most part the day you graduated. Today things are different. You have to keep learning. Students of various ages and occupations are mixing. Now you might go back to school or at least formal training many times during a working life. This education can be delivered in a variety of ways, at a variety of times by a variety of providers. The traditional four-year institution enjoys no advantages and the paradigm that brings people in at the bottom, processes them through a set program and graduates them at the end may in fact be a liability.

The new paradigm is much more customized. No two people take exactly the same coursework. Their needs are not the same. No one institution can satisfy all the needs. The expertise will not be available at any one institution. The expertise may not be available at all. It needs to be created in the process of the interaction of learning and teaching. It is an interesting new world.

Posted by Christine & John at November 11, 2012 6:16 PM
Comments
Comment #356963

Bengazi report delayed until after election. Petraeus incident not reported until after election. What’s next? What don’t we know that we should know? Why was FBI investigating email “threats” to civilian? Was a life threatened? Once determined that national security not an issue, why was it all leaked to public? When wil we know the general’s role in Bengazi fiasco? All not as and bright and cheerful as your rose colored glasses would have you believe. Always seems to be dark questions that this administration fails to provide timely, comprehensive answers for.

Posted by: John Johnson at November 12, 2012 8:30 AM
Comment #356964

David McCollough suggests that primary school teachers need to have extensive courses of study related to the subjects they will be teaching our children. General Education degrees just don’t provide the depth of knowledge in history, English, science or math that they need in order to fully convey knowledge to the student. You end up with bored, unmotivated kids listening to a teacher simply reading from their textbook.

Posted by: John Johnson at November 12, 2012 8:43 AM
Comment #356967

Johnson,

Have you actually read any of McCullough’s prose?
I suffered through his books on Franklin, Adams, and Truman more because I was interested in the subject, than the writers style.
McCullough’s tomes are not page turners.

As I have suggested before, it is a parent’s duty, not a teacher’s, to imbue children with a longing to learn.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at November 12, 2012 9:07 AM
Comment #356969

Have you ever listened to a PBS history narrative McCullough has done, Rocky? If you consider those boring, and something you can’t learn from, you need to get tested. You have Attention Deficit Disorder. How are parents going to make a dead book alive? A teacher who loves their subject matter can. One who has been totally immersed in the subject, over and above what current requirements call for, can. One who knows more about the subject matter than found in a high school textbook can.

Posted by: John Johnson at November 12, 2012 10:15 AM
Comment #356971

Johnson,

“If you consider those boring, and something you can’t learn from, you need to get tested. You have Attention Deficit Disorder.”

Dude, as a typical conservative you always go for the insult first and foremost.
Is it a wonder that “conservatives” got defeated last week?

There is a vast difference between reading and listening. If a child is addicted to TV and doesn’t read well, it doesn’t matter how entertaining a teacher is.
Throughout my life I have made an attempt to turn off the TV and put aside time to read for pleasure every day.

Can you say the same?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at November 12, 2012 10:47 AM
Comment #356972

Your argument is full of holes, DUDE. In a perfect world, there would be two parent families with one parent home all the time to monitor the tv. The parents would be bi-lingual and educated…in a perfect world. There would only be one or two kids in each family to care for in a perfect world.

More and more burdens are being imparted on the schools and the teachers because it is not a perfect world…schools now even have to insure proper nutritional intake.

Glad you take the time to read, Rocky. You might want to put the books and PDA down, and get out and develop some friendships and some social skills.

Posted by: John Johnson at November 12, 2012 12:46 PM
Comment #356973

Here’s more “we can look forward to a brighter day” material from that bastion of conservatism, AOL/Huffington Post:

“Broadwell, whose affair with Petraeus reportedly ended earlier this year, continued to serve as an informal spokesman for the CIA director. She suggests in her Denver speech that Petraeus knew almost immediately that the attack was a terror attack — possibly to free militia members.

A few days later, Petraeus testified in a closed session to Congress that the attack was due in large part to an anti-Islam video and a spontaneous uprising, according to reports from the hearing.

Congressional leaders say privately they believe they were lied to by Petraeus when he testified shortly after the attack. Some of these members already considered charging Petraeus with perjury, but said they planned to withhold judgment until he testified this week. After resigning as CIA director, the CIA said Acting Director Mike Morrell would testify in his place.

All of this raises the question: What was the CIA really doing in Benghazi in addition to searching for Qaddafi’s stash of more than 22,000 shoulder-held missiles that could bring down commercial airplanes, and who in the White House knew exactly what the CIA was up to?”


Posted by: John JOhnson at November 12, 2012 1:19 PM
Comment #356974

Johnson,

“Glad you take the time to read, Rocky. You might want to put the books and PDA down, and get out and develop some friendships and some social skills.”

You know nothing about me except what I choose to tell you. In the work I do I have had many relationships with people of many backgrounds. I don’t have a problem relating with people you may feel beneath you.
I have dealt with the $2.00 a day laborer in China, and the director of The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

And I don’t go out of my way to be insulting unless responding in kind.

No this isn’t a perfect world, but there is always time for even a single parent and an extended family to establish the trust necessary to facilitate learning. It is the parents responsibility to do so and it shouldn’t be left to strangers. The lessons learned early in life from a parent are those that facilitate all learning at school. A parent, even a single parent, that cannot trust their child has done a poor job of raising their child.

This is not to say that the teacher shouldn’t expand their knowledge base, and unless I am incorrect it is within the teacher’s job description to do so. However, it isn’t the teacher’s job to be a babysitter, nor is it the teacher’s job to be entertaining.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at November 12, 2012 1:47 PM
Comment #356976
you need to get tested. You have Attention Deficit Disorder.
Glad you take the time to read, Rocky. You might want to put the books and PDA down, and get out and develop some friendships and some social skills

Frank - Jon Johnson: troll, idiotic assclown. Contributes absolutely nothing to this blog. Zero.

Posted by: Adrienne at November 12, 2012 2:34 PM
Comment #356978

You made my day, Adrienne.

Posted by: John Johnson at November 12, 2012 4:26 PM
Comment #356979

Amen and ain’t it the truth!!!, Adrienne. You forgot to add narcissistic to that description, however. I still believe one week with David back in here would do wonders for this site.

Posted by: jane doe at November 12, 2012 4:31 PM
Comment #356981

Throughout my life I have made an attempt to turn off the TV and put aside time to read for pleasure every day.

Can you say the same?

Rocky

Retirement has given my wife and I time to read; and reread, many of the classics and much more. We download lots of free books, and others that we pay for on our Kindle. We sit on our deck and take turns reading out loud. Mostly, I read while my wife does her quilting hobby.

We are now in the third book of a series of five which are historical novels centering on the 18th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. We especially enjoyed three books on the infamous Borgia family and two more about the Medici family of the Italian Renaissance.

We both have been avid readers since childhood. My wife has a masters in psychology and spent thirty-three years in Texas public education. It is a fact that children who grow up in families who read books do much better in school and in life.

I can still close my eyes and remember vividly the sights and sounds and smells of the little public library I frequented when I was just a kid.

Thank a teacher today for being able to read. If you are a parent with young children…teach them to enjoy reading by doing it with them. Your leisure time could not be better spend.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 12, 2012 5:17 PM
Comment #356982

I’ve never resorted to profanity, Jane. Just call ‘um like I see ‘um.

You neck nuzzlers don’t feel comfortable having anyone dispute what you have to say. We are disruptive. We are outsiders. We aren’t like you,so you want us to disappear. You want David, the enforcer, to come back and scare the boggieman away. Don’t be afraid, Jane. Expand your thinking. Move outside of your comfort zone. We don’t bite.

Posted by: John Johnson at November 12, 2012 5:32 PM
Comment #356983

I liked Remer and did battle with him often over politics. Once in awhile we agreed. He would not have tolerated such outrageous language as we often read today. He did tolerate stupidity…barely.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 12, 2012 5:59 PM
Comment #356987
You neck nuzzlers don’t feel comfortable having anyone dispute what you have to say.

You’ve got nothing. You’re constantly making insulting personal comments because you don’t know how to discuss anything and you are a troll and an idiotic assclown.
If there was a moderator on this website, they would have been canned you a long, long time ago.

From the WB Rules for Participation:

This means you may critique any points made in another person’s writing or comments. But, you may not criticize the person themself, nor their right to comment at WatchBlog.
Trolling and flame baiting are NOT acceptable. This means comments whose primary effect is to provoke hostility or anger in other participants at WatchBlog are not tolerated.
Posted by: Adrienne at November 12, 2012 6:33 PM
Comment #356988

The “rules” are meaningless if no one follows them.

Posted by: Royal Flush at November 12, 2012 6:38 PM
Comment #356989

RF,

“The “rules” are meaningless if no one follows them.”

The crux of the biscuit is that most do follow the rules. We have a few here that seem to gleefully go out of their way to push buttons.

Rocky


Posted by: Rocky Marks at November 12, 2012 7:10 PM
Comment #356991

How about this? Would it pass the test?

“Have you ever listened to a PBS history narrative McCullough has done, Rocky? If one considers these boring, and something they can’t learn from, I would suggest they need to get tested. They have Attention Deficit Disorder.”

Would this escape an obscene retort? We can go this route from now on.

Posted by: John Johnson at November 12, 2012 9:04 PM
Comment #356992

I would further add that Adrienne and Jane enter a thread, IMHO, more often than not, to just gripe about how the message is wrapped. There were two meaty subjects addressed above. They chose to touch nary a bit on either one. Are they your designated guard dogs?

Posted by: John Johnson at November 12, 2012 9:18 PM
Comment #356997

Re personal insults - I have got nothing against personal insults, but I think we should strive to make them clever, so the people being insulted don’t know they have been insulted until they think it though, more like Oscar Wilde than Adam Sandler.

I feel kinda bad that I write what I think is a decent piece about U.S. education and what I get back is an argument about who is the bigger dummy. It is hard to tell, IMO.

Rocky

The Truman books was really good. I like the style too. Adams, not so much.

Posted by: C&J at November 12, 2012 10:17 PM
Comment #357000

Well, I disagreed with your Brighter Day premise, and I posted McCullough’s thoughts on what is lacking with today’s mode of teaching. After I made the supreme mistake of suggesting in pointed terms that The Dude’s comments about McCullough were short sighted, since he had a fantastic library of video documentaries which were far from being boring sleep producers, the guard dogs hit the end of their chains, and we haven’t been on subject since. You could have responded yourself to the Petraeus or what is lacking in education posts, but chose instead to go with the bullshit.

Posted by: John Johnson at November 12, 2012 11:13 PM
Comment #357001

John

Simply off topic.

It seems unlikely that the first response to someone saying “college education” would be “Bengazi” but I suppose everybody makes associations based on their own personality.

By the time I got to this post, the insults were already flying. Beyond that, I do not write about Bengazi, since I lack expertise that I can express about that subject. If you guys want to discuss that, it is fine with me, but you don’t need to do it on a post re education. I would also point out that none of the people contributing “ideas” here about that subject seems to have any information worth interrupting the thread or even worth sharing generally.

Posted by: C&J at November 12, 2012 11:44 PM
Comment #357002

OK….I admit I took liberties with your heading. Still, the topic of education was addressed, but not for long. Rocky went from trying to support his weak position to showing indignation over the mildest of personal slams.
Let’s get back to his last statement on the topic:

“…there is always time for even a single parent and an extended family to establish the TRUST necessary to facilitate learning. It is the parents responsibility to do so and it shouldn’t be left to strangers. The lessons learned early in life from a parent are those that facilitate all learning at school. A parent, even a single parent, that cannot TRUST their child has done a poor job of raising their child.”

This would seem to be written by someone far removed from what is actually going on in urban public schools in America these days…in urban homes for that matter.

Our public school systems suck. The SAT test was dumbed down years ago. The Comminity Colleges you speak of are turning out 2nd year students with the level of acquired knowledge that used to be garnered in high school. Per capita student spending has never been higher. We are going in the wrong direction. Your entire premise is wrong.


Posted by: John Johnson at November 13, 2012 12:23 AM
Comment #357003

John

Our university system is by far the best in the world. We do need to continue to improve it, but we need to recognize the truth of its strength.

Our public schools need some work. They are not uniformly bad, however. My kids went to public schools and got good educations. But I have not been studying public schools

I am just telling you all what I have seen at our universities and community colleges recently. I admit that I am seeing what they CAN do and not what they cannot, but this is indeed the bright parts.

This is the infrastructure of our prosperity and I cannot help but be optimistic. I thought it was worth sharing. There is plenty of bad news, but not all the news is bad.

Posted by: C&J at November 13, 2012 12:44 AM
Comment #357009

“This would seem to be written by someone far removed from what is actually going on in urban public schools in America these days…in urban homes for that matter.”

So Johnson, what you’re saying is you think it takes a “village” to raise a child?

I personally know one child, raised by a single parent, that made it through West Point.

Perhaps Phoenix isn’t “urban” enough for you.

“Rocky went from trying to support his weak position…”

Let me see… My weak position is that a parent is responsible for making sure his/her child is ready to learn. Actually this position seems positively conservative to me.
Should we just turn our children over to the schools and say “have at it”?


“… to showing indignation over the mildest of personal slams.”

I don’t see the need for even the “mildest of personal slams”.
I felt that an author was boring and said so. We are all, theoretically at least, adults. If you are going to be insulting do it with panache.
This is a debate site, not sixth grade recess.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at November 13, 2012 8:23 AM
Comment #357011

Whow! You know a single parent child who made it through West Point? Take heed America! We have turned the corner on fatherless children becoming all that they can be in spite of their circumstances. Parents who can’t read and don’t understand English are now miraculously able to tutor their children. Home alone after school, these kids are able to ward off the lure of outside influences and show maturity beyond their years. All is right in the world.

Saying that it is the parent’s “responsibility” to teach and discipline their own children is a true statement; saying it over and over again does not make it so. Like it or not, the burden has fallen on our schools. What are the alternatives?


And another thing…if you are going to show such rabid indignation, Rocky, why not wait until it is really warranted? Be a big boy. Blow it off. Toughen up. You’re acting like a big sissy.

Posted by: John Johnson at November 13, 2012 10:19 AM
Comment #357017
I feel kinda bad that I write what I think is a decent piece about U.S. education and what I get back is an argument about who is the bigger dummy. It is hard to tell, IMO.

I don’t have to respond to everything you write. Sometimes I just read your articles and look at what others have to say. But thanks for trying to compare me to an obvious troll who ignored your article topic entirely, and then proceeded to once again personally slag off anyone with a different opinion. This time around it was Rocky — a highly intelligent, incredibly nice guy who happens to be a friend to both of us. The fact is, rather than trying to get a nasty dig in at me, you as an editor here have the power to deal with Frank-John the troll. And you should, Jack.

Posted by: Adrienne at November 13, 2012 12:54 PM
Comment #357019

C&J I have been thinking about this post for a bit and may have to take exception to your analysis of the higher education system. Take a look at college football today. It is part of the same distributed system you are discussing. Information is shared amongst coaches and colleges and we still have a winner take all end result. The bigger schools make more money off the sports year after year and the rest fall behind.

Instead of the cost of education coming down the cost of education continues to soar. While you say “You can get a great education all over America and sometimes you don’t even have to enter a prestigious university program or a university program at all.” it doesn’t mean the degree from the lesser college or university will get you the higher paying job over the elite university degree.

You tell us of the past “You graduated HS; some went to college; you got out four years later and went to work for the next thirty or forty years” and how the future holds us to a continuing return loop through the education box as if it were a good thing. When do you raise a family and save for the kids education if your money is going towards saving for your own re-education?

Posted by: j2t2 at November 13, 2012 1:09 PM
Comment #357020
Congressional leaders say privately they believe they were lied to by Petraeus when he testified shortly after the attack.

Remember the surge, when Petraeus was a right-wing hero?

Posted by: Mental Wimp at November 13, 2012 1:13 PM
Comment #357023

WaaaWaaaaWaaaaa! Move on, Adrienne. Rocky is OK. The wounds were only superficial. He will live.

I’m not going away. I have not committed a felonious act. You are just going to have to live with someone thinking and stating that you have it all wrong on occasion.

No more synchronized swimming with no waves in the pool. It will be tough on you NN’ers, but you will graduate stronger and more well rounded. You will be better able to “take it”.

You are already good at “giving it “.

Nothing personal. Lighten up. This is just a blog site.

Posted by: John Johnson at November 13, 2012 1:21 PM
Comment #357024

Johnson,

“Be a big boy. Blow it off. Toughen up. You’re acting like a big sissy.”

Wow, I guess I must have overestimated your debating skills by a few years. Perhaps soon you will go all in and call me a big poopy head.
I can just imagine you and your 9 year old friends standing around laughing and throwing high fives at each other over this.

“And another thing…if you are going to show such rabid indignation, Rocky, why not wait until it is really warranted?”

Rabid indignation? You, with your “superior debating skills” haven’t actually responded to any of the points I raised other than to make juvenile fun of me.

Help me out here. At what point sould I become indignant?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at November 13, 2012 1:40 PM
Comment #357029

Forget about debating skills, Rocky. Forget about your getting your feelings hurt. Just go back and read what you wrote in response to what I wrote.

I said McCullough had a radial idea about changing how our teachers are trained, and how they teach any given subject.

You said that McCullough books put you to sleep. I said that his PBS video documentaries where fantastic and if they put you to sleep you must have ADD.

You said that it was the parents responsiblity to insure that their children read, help them with their homework, etc.

I agreed that it was the parents responsibility, but that in reality single parents and illiterate, non-English speaking parents have a tough time living up to your expectations.

You responded that you knew a child who had grown up in a single family home and yet went on to graduate from West Point.

I basically responded, “So what?” The majority of them don’t. It is the parents responsibility, but they are not able to fulfill, or choose not to fulfill this role…and that the responsibility falls on the schools. I ask you if you had an alternate plan.

You have not responded except to whine. Grow a pair and get back on subject, or let’s move on.

Posted by: John Johnson at November 13, 2012 3:20 PM
Comment #357030

Johnson,

“Like it or not, the burden has fallen on our schools.”

OK, I believe you are suggesting that teachers will take responsibility for the raising of America’s children.

This is really gonna go over big with the far right.

Do we create boarding schools for urban kids, I mean after all, all of these children running around unguided…

Where do you suggest the money come from? Do we ask teachers to take a pay cut along with the added responsibility of rearing your kids?

BTW, I already have a pair and they are just fine. But thank you for your concern.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at November 13, 2012 3:36 PM
Comment #357031

Johnson,

What, no snappy riposte?

Seems to me your more interested in dishing it out than taking it pal.

Have a life.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at November 13, 2012 4:07 PM
Comment #357034

Sorry, I was tied up for a bit doing something constructive.

They schools are doing it now. They are feeding them two free meals each day. Most have feeding programs in the summers. Teachers in the primary grades are distraught over beautiful, young students with no heavy coat to wear, with few changes of clothes, who none the less have perpetual smiles on their faces, and are eager to learn.

High school teachers are upset over kids with no heavy winter clothing to wear, who are segregated into gangs, don’t show up many days, don’t participate in class, don’t turn in their homework, dare them to discipline them, and don’t stand a chance.

Many morph from one into the other. It is the parents fault. It is their responsibility. What are you going to do, Rocky? Please tell us.

You knew someone who was able to rise above all this and make a name for themselves. How you going to pave the way for all the otherNo this isn’t a perfect world, but there is always time for even a single parent and an extended family to establish the trust necessary to facilitate learning. It is the parents responsibility to do so and it shouldn’t be left to strangers. The lessons learned early in life from a parent are those that facilitate all learning at school. A parent, even a single parent, that cannot trust their child has done a poor job of raising their child.

How you going to pave the way for all the other waifs to do the same?

Posted by: John Johnson at November 13, 2012 5:04 PM
Comment #357036

Johnson,

“They are feeding them two free meals each day. Most have feeding programs in the summers.”

The “Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (79 P.L. 396, 60 Stat. 230)” was signed into law by Harry Truman in 1946. Summer lunches were also authorized under this act.

Teachers have been providing pens, pencils and paper to students for years. I have known teachers that taught in inner city schools in Los Angeles and they have been providing for their students since at least the late ’60s.

“Coats for Kids” has been around since 1986. They have been distributing winter coats to poor children.

So… what exactly do you want?

There are programs that have been in place for decades, and teachers, to their credit, have been doing more than their fair share to address the problem.
The bottom line is that parents are responsible for their children’s welfare.
If these are jobless parents then perhaps it’s past time for the corporations that are sitting on billions of dollars to start creating jobs. Perhaps it’s past time for all of those job creators that have been living off of the tax cuts that W pushed through 10 years ago to step up to the plate.


One thing is for sure, if you keep this up people might mistake you for a liberal.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at November 13, 2012 5:45 PM
Comment #357044

No, they won’t. I’m no liberbal, but not a TP’er either.
All should know by now that I pick and choose from both sidez of the spectrum.

I will go back to what I said initially…McCullough has a good idea. Have math teachers take more math in college and less general courses of study. Have English teachers, history teachers and science teachers do the same. Replace a required unrelated subject with interesting new ways to teach the subject they want to teach. It will make them better teachers; their students more attentive.

We are back to where we started. No name calling. No hurt feelings. Just two differences of opion.

All is right in the world.

Posted by: John Johnson at November 13, 2012 7:05 PM
Comment #357063

Adrienne

For once, I was not actually talking about you. I think you went a bit too far, but I recognize that you did it in legitimate self defense.

Re editing - I don’t really do that. I don’t spend that much time. For example, I have been away all day. I have the power, indeed, to delete particular posts attached to my own posts, but my “editor rights” do not include the ability to ban anybody. Frankly, I have no idea who runs this site now. If I ever forgot my log in, I could never again write a post.

j2t2

I think if you look at the value added by a degree, lots of “lesser” schools do better than Harvard etc. I recall reading a study where they took Harvard grads and compared them to people who got into Harvard but ended up not going. Their outcomes were similar. Elite universities produce good results because they are able to choose good inputs.

But you have a good point about the prestige. I think it is not deserved. I had the opportunity to attend seminar classes at Harvard’s Kennedy School because of my work. They would never have let me in based on my grades. All the participants were super smart, but I found similar intelligence at U of Wisconsin or Minnesota. The difference is that everybody at Harvard is smart, while there is more flexibility at some other places. IMO, firms use Harvard et al as a filter.

That said, I am a firm believer in open enrollment and second chances. If I had one big criticism of higher ed it is that it is too competitive to get in when kids are too young and they try to over analyses. I was asked one time - one time only - to be on a panel for admissions to a prestigious grad school. We had more than three times the qualified applicants as places. I suggested rock-paper-scissors. A random process would eliminate bias and produce a truly more diverse pool. After all, we were choosing among highly-qualified applications. ALL the kids COULD make it. We had no business, IMO, trying to infer the “whole person”. They used nicer words, but told me that I was full of shit and never invited me back.

I am just trying to figure this out. It seems a paradox to me. We produce such crap and such excellence.

Posted by: C&J at November 13, 2012 11:59 PM
Comment #357071

Johnson,

“McCullough has a good idea. Have math teachers take more math in college and less general courses of study. Have English teachers, history teachers and science teachers do the same.”

After reading the interview it seems McCullough got the idea after a student came up to him and declared that, before his lecture, she didn’t know the original colonies were all on the east coast.

Here’s the interview;

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57547353/david-mcculloughs-heroes-of-history/?pageNum=3&tag=contentMain;contentBody

Well excuse me, this might seem a lovely anecdote, but this particular mystery was solved for me when I was in grade school, and grade school teachers are all about “general” education.
It seems to me this statement from the student says more about the student, and her retention of the facts, than it does about teachers and how they teach.
I will agree it only makes sense that a high school math teacher should know more about algebra than say, biology. However, sometimes in smaller communities, or in my case, a smaller high school, it is necessary to have a teacher that is versed “generally” as they need to teach more than one type of class.
So, all that said, I would agree with the basic concept of a “super teacher”, but I wouldn’t require it. If a school board wants to pay more for a specialist I don’t have a problem with that.

Oh, and BTW, McCullough’s books really are a long read.

Rocky

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One last comment….I have no idea how old you are, but I am venturing a guess that an overview of public education today looks much different than it did when you were in elementary school, yet teaching technique hasn’t changed all that much.

It is obvious that we are moving up through the system children who can’t spell, read or add and subtract numbers proficiently. The ethnicity and socio-economic status of their family seems to be a determining factor. I think McCullough’s premise is that the curriculum needs to be narrowed somewhat at early levels to insure that basic reading, writing and math skills are acquired before moving them into a broader field of study. With adequate efficiencies, primarily in reading, all else is rendered moot.

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Johnson,

“It is obvious that we are moving up through the system children who can’t spell, read or add and subtract numbers proficiently.”

How many? 1, 5, whole classes? There will always be students that move slower than others.

You ask how old I am, I just turned 60, but I know two people, one of them is my brother, that in recent years were teachers at the university level. My brother taught nursing at a university in the Midwest, and a friend of mine taught computer science at a university here in Arizona.
Both of their experiences were exactly the same.
They both had some bright students that longed for the information that would be taught. Unfortunately the majority of the students were only as interested as their parents money would take them, and they believed that because their parents paid for their education they should get a passing grade.
Both my brother and my friend refused to compromise for the majority, and as a result both moved on to other careers.

My niece teaches kindergarten in Wisconsin, and during the summer goes to Ireland to teach the same there, so I’m not really that out of touch with what is going on.

Here in Arizona we had in the past bilingual classes for children. These classes were successful, however with the “illegal” furor of the past several years the conservatives here were able to get these classes canceled.

Narrowing the focus of a grade school curiculum isn’t going to change anything that much.

Rocky

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We’ll we agree to disagree. Things have changed. We keep scoring lower and lower on proficiency testing as compared to other countries. Since the teaching styles haven’t changed, and we are spending more per student to educate them, what is the most obvious difference, Rocky?

I say that it is the socio-economic factor. Single parent homes, illiterate parents, non-English speaking parents, etc.

You just point your finger at the parents and say, “It’s their fault”. For arguments sake, let’s just say I agree with you. My next question will be, “What are we going to do about it?” How are you going to answer?

I would also say that you contradict yourself when you state that going above and beyond with bi-liingual classes did help, and then turning around a saying that narrowing the focus and addressing specific problems “isn’t going to change things that much”.

Are we going to try and make up for the lack of motivation / participation at home by picking up the slack at school, or are we just going to continue to let things spiral south, and end up with our progeny living in a third world country generations down the road?

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