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Writer's Block Has Broken!Topic - Education

Posted Saturday, December 22, 2007, at 8:36 AM

I have been silent for a few days and I was starting to wonder if I had no more thoughts I wanted to share. Silly me, I just had to wait it out.

I can not recall eating anything unusual last night but BOY was my mind bouncing all over the place in that gray area between dreaming and consciousness. Why is it that after you are fully awake, much of it blends to mush?

Through the mush I woke up wondering why a student who completes High School with honors, has no interest in pursuing college or any other mind enriching activities. Conversations I have with teachers as well as students has me concerned about the direction of our education system.

On the surface, I was amazed at the things our daughter was learning in school. It seemed way above what we used to learn, so my first thought was that the educational system was doing GREAT!

As I got more involved in PTO and our daughter's education, I started seeing a different picture. Yes, they were experiencing more advanced topics than I did in school, but the basics had been rushed through.

Maybe that is because teachers got bored teaching the same old thing or maybe it is the mentality that we see in our community and state leaders that we must always be growing. (progress) We should always be looking to improve, but improve on the way we teach the basics, not change the basics themselves.

Why would the times table be important in a day of calculators, computerized cash registers? Because they do not always work or I do not always have one tied to my hip, so I need to be able to THINK on my own.

Why do I need to be able to read when the spoken word is so easy to get from TV or radio? Because I am then relying on someone else's interpretation of the words and so much seems slanted to that person's or network's viewpoint. What happens when there is no TV or radio or INTERNET (Heaven forbid)!

How many TV programs teach the in-depth knowledge needed to wire a house safely? When are they on? Did you READ the TV guide or just know it? Do you own the full library of video tapes or CDs and what if the electricity is not on to access them!

Being able to read well helps me understand words and communicate better. Why is that important? How else do you sell YOUR point of view or understand others?

Currently I am working with a salesman who turns in reports that look like the amazing examples of how the mind can interpret words evn thoh th wrds ar nt speld corctly. What if the mind does not know how to spell in the first place?

ANYWAY, the point is that we seem to be developing tests and measuring criteria that make US feel like we are doing a good job of teaching, when in fact our students are coming out with more advanced information, but little idea of what it means or what they can do with it. Common sense and tying it in to reality, does not seem to be on the syllabus.

We need make sure we cover basics and relate it to the real world.

A good point that was expressed by a well respected educator is that we need to recognize that intellectually, all of us are NOT created equal. I regret that I can not give them credit for this, since it is probably not politically correct.

I will never be a math whiz, engineer or a physicist. My mind is not wired that way. That does not make me less of a person, just not a Nobel Prize candidate for Physics.

If my graduation depended on math scores that continued to go up, I would be a high school dropout. If I had to take one more level of physics in college, it would have been over. In my career I do not use these sciences to any great degree, so why should I excel at them?

The only way you could get me to pass, is to lower the bar I have to get over. What is that doing? Dumbing down the educational system and cheating those who DO excel and want to learn more. We certainly would not benefit from the developments we see in medicine, technology, manufacturing, etc.

A certain percentage of our students are not going on to college, so lets find their area of interest and help them excel in that. We do not need to lower the bar in chemistry, physics, math, biology, etc.

As I grow older, I become more and more aware that I can not do the physical things I used to do. Thank goodness there are those who can, and are willing to do it. If we are going to be politically correct, we should recognize and reward those folks, not try to force-fit them into what WE think is good for them. We need them!

Enough of a rant, I need to get back to studying my languages. "Someone" decided that if I do not know the northern dialect of the ancient Inca, then I am not educated and will not succeed.

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One through ten in Quechua (Inca) is tough for me uj, iskay, kinsa, tawa, phisqa, sojta, qanchis, pusaj, jis'on, chunka, but the times table up to 12 X 12 comes back to me from elementary school.

It is interesting to see young kids look at me in wonder when they try to calculate some simple equation and it just pops out of my mouth. It is not magic and I am CERTAINLY no math whiz, it was just basics during my growing up.

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Dec 26, 2007, at 1:03 PM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.