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Nicothodes

My classmates terrify me

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I'm shocked that funding for US public schools is based on property taxes. Funding levels must be all over the place. In Canada, public schools get funding based on the number of students in attendance from September to November.

 

But as Slarty said, funding is rarely the main problem. The emphasis parents put on education is paramount. We have to remember that children are only in school for 5 hours per day, so a teacher's influence is pretty limited. Yet there's this pressure from the government for schools to essentially "fix" children. To make them all equal. The fact is, they aren't equal, not in intelligence or opportunity. That doesn't mean we should give up on certain kids, just that we shouldn't expect them all to achieve at the same level.

 

 

I have no first hand experience with the US school-system, but from what I've heard the teachers are brave to work in it. Teaching in Canada is actually pretty cushy job, (high pay and not too much government interference) but that could change.

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Oh, the horror stories from US public schools have reached far beyond Canada, at least they have reached Sweden. However, conditions in public schools here are deteriorating towards US-like ones, whereas Finland has retained a decent level. This has hurt national pride, of course.

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“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.” --Pastor Martin Niemöller, 1945


This was spoken about the Holocaust but it is still applicable today. If you do not speak up about about changing values and defend them from backwards thinking (ie. all women want is to have babies) then who will stand up before it is to late?

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You can try to educate your sociopathic peers, but don't do it for their sake. You are in the class to learn the material and get a grade. If arguing with them will help with those things, then do it. Otherwise, don't bother unless you just want to sharpen your own arguments. You will probably get more out of talking with the instructor than you will out of arguing with people who are grossly, and perhaps willfully, ignorant.

 

In my experience, there are some people who just won't understand what you are talking about, because they are incapable of empathy or because they are happier being ignorant and vicious. Don't spend a bunch of energy on them. Spend it on yourself and on other people who share your values. As you get older you may find it easier to minimize your interaction with the kinds of people who drag you down.

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Of course, sharpening one's arguments is a pretty valuable thing in itself. Opinions vary on nearly every issue, and it's useful to ascertain that one's views on even the most obvious points are reasoned and researched, rather than just dogmatic. Even if it doesn't convince one's opponents it's useful for both one's own peace of mind, and for scoring ideological points with fence-sitters.

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Originally Posted By: madrigan
You can try to educate your sociopathic peers, but don't do it for their sake. You are in the class to learn the material and get a grade. If arguing with them will help with those things, then do it. Otherwise, don't bother unless you just want to sharpen your own arguments. You will probably get more out of talking with the instructor than you will out of arguing with people who are grossly, and perhaps willfully, ignorant.

In my experience, there are some people who just won't understand what you are talking about, because they are incapable of empathy or because they are happier being ignorant and vicious. Don't spend a bunch of energy on them. Spend it on yourself and on other people who share your values. As you get older you may find it easier to minimize your interaction with the kinds of people who drag you down.

There are also people who are just misinformed, unaware of their own errors, and who would benefit from an argument as well. Don't write people off for being ignorant; that's curable. Being vicious isn't, but don't attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity, as the saying goes.

—Alorael, who is surprised by the "five hours a day" comment. In the US, school much more commonly runs for about eight hours. Not all of that is teaching, but a solid seven hours should be. If you remove transportation and sleep, children spend more time in school than with their family during the week.

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Originally Posted By: FnordCola
Of course, sharpening one's arguments is a pretty valuable thing in itself. Opinions vary on nearly every issue, and it's useful to ascertain that one's views on even the most obvious points are reasoned and researched, rather than just dogmatic. Even if it doesn't convince one's opponents it's useful for both one's own peace of mind, and for scoring ideological points with fence-sitters.


I've always held the opinion that if you're unable to argue convincingly against a position you hold, you're not qualified to argue for it under any circumstances.

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Really? There are positions that I can argue against only by assuming my opposition is incapable of reasonable rebuttal. Few positions are flawless, but many are far less flawed than their alternatives.

 

—Alorael, who holds that you can't argue convincingly for a position unless you're aware of what the arguments against it are and have weighed their merits.

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I would hesitate to call US schools abysmal. The problem is it is hard to do an apples to apples comparison between systems in different nations. The usual metric of standardized tests really assess low level learning objectives such as rote memorization or the ability to do a mechanical process (e.g., long division) as opposed to more abstract levels that involve analysis, synthesis of knowledge, and creativity.

 

Fact is the US schools as a whole have been able to produce enough talented individuals to be a major force in the world economy. Enough individuals are also produced to serve in the various US labor markets. Certainly, things are not as egalitarian as they should be and there are many faults with the system, but the problems largely go beyond the schools themselves.

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Originally Posted By: *i
The usual metric of standardized tests really assess low level learning objectives such as rote memorization or the ability to do a mechanical process (e.g., long division) as opposed to more abstract levels that involve analysis, synthesis of knowledge, and creativity.

This. Last year I had the state's standardized test, and I can honestly say that there was nothing on there beyond, essentially, 'can you divide', 'can you read', and 'what is an atom'. And when the schools only focus now on making sure students ace the standardized test, it feels like everything is being dumbed down to the level of the test. In my school there is only really one teacher who actually, IMO, teaches the material as a subject rather than as prep for some test.

I don't know if this is normal everywhere, but several times my Alg 2 teacher's lecture consisted entirely of 'this is how to plug this problem into your calculator'. Nevermind what the problem actually means and how to solve it, here's how to get it right on the test. If you were to give any of the students at my school a problem they had to put actual thought into to solve, you'd be there awhile waiting.

It also bothers me to some extent that my school is shitcanning tenured teachers, is dropping classes until there's nothing beyond the essentials, and still is losing money. Yet they installed brand new scoreboarda and crap for the basketball games and refinished all the gym surfaces. Maybe I'm being angry here, but isn't the priority of school to teach you things you can use in the future. Meh.

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Most of what you learn in highschool will turn out to be useless. You might disagree with your Algebra 2 teacher, but really it's more important that they know how to use available technology to get the answer they want.

 

In the real world you're just going to flip out your phone and plug it in anyhow.

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Yeah, my mistake, Canadian schools (in BC any way) have roughly 5 hours for class instruction, 1 hour for lunch and 15 minutes for recess.

 

 

Originally Posted By: It's a trap

This. Last year I had the state's standardized test, and I can honestly say that there was nothing on there beyond, essentially, 'can you divide', 'can you read', and 'what is an atom'. And when the schools only focus now on making sure students ace the standardized test, it feels like everything is being dumbed down to the level of the test. In my school there is only really one teacher who actually, IMO, teaches the material as a subject rather than as prep for some test.

 

 

That's the problem with assessing teachers and schools based on standardized tests.

 

In Canada (B.C.) we have government exams for grade 4, 7, and 12. And of course the private schools always score at the top of the rankings, and the poor inner city schools at the bottom.

 

I'm not completely against standardized tests. They could be very useful for directing funding and other resources. But in British Columbia nobody uses the data for anything more than showing how terrible such and such a school is.

You can test the kids all you want, but if nothing is done with the data there's no point.

 

 

The purpose of school, for the most part, is to learn how to learn, not to remember a bunch of mostly unimportant stuff. The absolutely crucial things are learned in the first 4-5 grades of Elementary school.

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In the US, the high-scoring schools get paid more.

 

Because we are an oligarchy.

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Originally Posted By: Thin Gypsy Thief
In the US, the high-scoring schools get paid more.

Because we are an oligarchy.


That is exactly what teachers want to prevent from happening in Canada.

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Speaking of that, when I was just getting into high school, we had to lay off a teacher while a school downstate was complaining because they didn't have enough money to have their scuba diving class.

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Yes, but you can't exactly say we'll give you more money if you perform worse than everyone else.

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Originally Posted By: The Ratt
Speaking of that, when I was just getting into high school, we had to lay off a teacher while a school downstate was complaining because they didn't have enough money to have their scuba diving class.


Where else will we get marine biologists and underwater welders from?

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Originally Posted By: Lt. Sullust
Yes, but you can't exactly say we'll give you more money if you perform worse than everyone else.


Why not? Performing worse means something, doesn't it? I see no reason why a school with special needs shouldn't receive special funding.

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Originally Posted By: Lt. Sullust
Most of what you learn in highschool will turn out to be useless. You might disagree with your Algebra 2 teacher, but really it's more important that they know how to use available technology to get the answer they want.


counterpoint: in the real world, you can't know that you want an answer until you're capable of recognising that there's a question

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Originally Posted By: Lt. Sullust
Most of what you learn in highschool will turn out to be useless. You might disagree with your Algebra 2 teacher, but really it's more important that they know how to use available technology to get the answer they want.

In the real world you're just going to flip out your phone and plug it in anyhow.

No learning is useless. All of it is good for your brain, and all knowledge can enrich your life. Learning is good for more than profitability.

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Originally Posted By: Horror wears a human face
There are also people who are just misinformed, unaware of their own errors, and who would benefit from an argument as well. Don't write people off for being ignorant; that's curable. Being vicious isn't, but don't attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity, as the saying goes.

This may be somewhat true in the case of the young, but in an industrialized democracy it's mostly myth. Most ignorant people are ignorant by choice. Nearly everyone has access to actual information on the Internet or at a library. They can choose to avoid those things, or use them to acquire falsehoods, or to learn facts. When facts are scary or inconvenient, many people simply choose to believe lies. This is why it's a waste of time to argue with people who have decided to believe something ridiculous, unless you are doing it just for your own edification.

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Originally Posted By: VCH
Why not? Performing worse means something, doesn't it? I see no reason why a school with special needs shouldn't receive special funding.


Wouldn't this just encourage them to continue performing at a lower level?

Originally Posted By: Lilith
counterpoint: in the real world, you can't know that you want an answer until you're capable of recognising that there's a question


It's been my experience that people know they want an answer, they just don't know the correct way to get Google to tell it to them. smile

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Don't know that there's all that much benefit to the school you run or work in getting more money if you don't want it to perform better just because that's a good thing. Provided that you're not allowed to just up salaries constantly.

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While it's true that today most people can get information if they try, they need to realize that they're missing something if they don't. Not realizing that isn't necessarily deliberate or stupid (though I'll grant it's not brilliant or heroic, either). Arguably the greatest value in education is just learning what it means to understand something or to have a well-founded belief. I think too many people have never really done either, and just function on rote and hearsay. That's the level of ignorance where you don't even know what you're missing.

 

Alternatively I suppose you could say that that is a state of stupidity, as opposed to ignorance. But it's not a biologically limited stupidity. It could be trained away, with time and effort.

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Originally Posted By: Lilith
Originally Posted By: Lt. Sullust
Most of what you learn in highschool will turn out to be useless. You might disagree with your Algebra 2 teacher, but really it's more important that they know how to use available technology to get the answer they want.


counterpoint: in the real world, you can't know that you want an answer until you're capable of recognising that there's a question
IMHO, a "formal education" is totally useless except for a few pieces here and there. Outside the classroom, and especially outside the curriculum, is where real education begins.

Originally Posted By: madrigan
No learning is useless.
Then could you please tell me what profession makes use of diagramming sentences? Writing a grammar book doesn't count, nor does teaching how to diagram sentences.
Quote:
All of it is good for your brain, and all knowledge can enrich your life.
Until, of course, you ask a question and end up regretting the answer. tonguewink

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Then could you please tell me what profession makes use of diagramming sentences? Writing a grammar book doesn't count, nor does teaching how to diagram sentences.


Learning foreign languages? Linguistics, and its many branches?

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I haven't thought of that; point taken. I never knew of any kind of practical application for it, except as a way to kill a cumulative 2-3 years' worth of classroom time that easily could have been much better spent.

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the main point is to get you to think about how a sentence is put together

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Yes, but to have it drilled into you for several months of the school year, for five consecutive years? That, my fellow Spiderwebbers, is what's known as overkill. By the third time around, I felt like I was literally being bored to death.

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Originally Posted By: The Mystic
Yes, but to have it drilled into you for several months of the school year, for five consecutive years? That, my fellow Spiderwebbers, is what's known as overkill. By the third time around, I felt like I was literally being bored to death.

If you didn't learn what the word "literally" means, they must not have kept at it long enough. tongue

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Then could you please tell me what profession makes use of diagramming sentences? Writing a grammar book doesn't count, nor does teaching how to diagram sentences.
Learning foreign languages? Linguistics, and its many branches?
I haven't thought of that; point taken. I never knew of any kind of practical application for it, except as a way to kill a cumulative 2-3 years' worth of classroom time that easily could have been much better spent.


I could say the same about the math that I took in high school now that I work as a translator. I would have much rather spent the time reading and studying language. Its all a point of personal perspective, Math is needed just as much as proper verbal and written communication even if I don't see its daily use by me.

The education from school wasn't worthless for me. It was the social cliques that formed, elevating high school into something more then its not, that I found tiresome.

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Originally Posted By: The Mystic
Originally Posted By: madrigan
No learning is useless.
Then could you please tell me what profession makes use of diagramming sentences? Writing a grammar book doesn't count, nor does teaching how to diagram sentences.
For me personally, I consider the part of my 7th grade English class where I learned to diagram sentences to be both the most meaningful and the most intellectually gear-turning segment of my entire education. But I ended up as a linguistics major, so I may not be the best sample to take smile

What you're really learning, when you learn how to diagram sentences, is a number of things:
1) Critical thinking: how to look beyond the surface of something
2) Analysis: how to break a complex entity down into component parts in a way that makes sense and is useful
3) Complex relationality: how parts can be related to a whole in unusual and complex ways
4) Systematic thinking: how to use a particular abstract framework to guide your own investigation of an entity
5) Abstract thinking
6) Categorical thinking: how to examine, compare, manipulate, and construct classes of objects and individual instances of those classes
7) On a more social/practical level, how to sound like an educated English speaker when you write, and also how to better understand any foreign languages you may learn

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. None of these things are unique to syntax. I could produce a similar list for most other topics taught in school: on the surface you may be learning about biology or poetry, but underneath there's more going on. What makes sentence diagramming stand out, I think (and why it is infrequently taught, these days) is that it is particularly abstract and complex, and also particularly hard to relate to daily life. Abstract concepts in science can be grounded in real-life experiments that engage the senses; history in current events and community issues; reading and writing can be flavoured in just about any way to make them easier for students to connect with.

Math is in a more similar situation. Students have been manipulating whole numbers and doing basic operations for years, but they often haven't been taught how and why these things work; they lack basic number sense. Similarly, students have been manipulating syntax for years, but they haven't been taught anything about how it works. The difference is that math can continue to be taught on a largely practical level at least up through beginning algebra, whereas the whole point of sentence diagramming is to actually understand what's going on. I don't support that style of teaching math, BTW, but it's the reality of what happens.

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Originally Posted By: The Mystic
Originally Posted By: madrigan
No learning is useless.
Then could you please tell me what profession makes use of diagramming sentences?

This question has been answered by others, but my point is that no knowledge needs the justification of a relevant profession. Knowing more makes your mind and your life bigger, even if you never use it at work and it never makes you a single cent.

I hated diagramming sentences too. I could almost always tell if a sentence was constructed improperly, and how to fix it, but I could rarely tell you the grammar rule that made it so.

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Originally Posted By: madrigan
I hated diagramming sentences too. I could almost always tell if a sentence was constructed improperly, and how to fix it, but I could rarely tell you the grammar rule that made it so.


I've never been taught this (and no school I've attended has offered this - probably an English thing?), but it sounds like it might actually be pretty useful/interesting. I think my grammar is alright, but like madrigan, I wouldn't be able to tell you why it's right.

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I never had it for English, but we did some of it in college Latin. As with various other people with whom I've spoken, I learned more about the mechanics of English grammar from studying Latin than English.

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I actually feel like I learned more about English grammar from taking Spanish, because my teachers explained the Spanish grammar by talking about how we used grammar in English, followed by the differences in Spanish.

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The contrast between the two languages was a big part of it, but the similarities helped elucidate things as well. Among other things, this is why I'm generally in favor of "whom," unlike this forum's raison d'etre.

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Exactly. And now I have the song You Did It from My Fair Lady stuck in my head, because of the story about how Eliza was accused of being Hungarian...

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Ah, sorry, I was still talking about Latin (which helped convince me of the value of pronouns that are clearly subject or object). I know bits and pieces of Spanish from high school, but I'm nothing resembling fluent.

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Whoops. But it works either way. Neither Spanish nor Latin was the point of my post above -- the English was -- since you weren't in favor of it.

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I'm in favour of bringing back proper contractions.

 

EQUAL RIGHTS FOR LOGICAL CONTRACTIONS!

 

 

ca'n't

 

wo'n't

 

sha'n't

 

(interesting that my web-browser's autocorrect (safari) underlines sha'n't but not the other two)

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The contractions are relatively logical as they are, to the degree that English is logical at all. The apostrophe doesn't replace missing letters, it replaces a missing vowel sound. "Can't" and "cannot" both just have one "n" sound as pronounced in English, and although its quality is altered due to the difference in its neighbors, it is still there: whereas "can't" omits an entire vowel sound (and accordingly, syllable) present in "cannot."

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The apostrophe doesn't replace missing letters, it replaces a missing vowel sound.

 

 

Can you give me a reference for this?

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