Thursday, 17 September 2009

My Ten Tips on Education

For the last year or two....I've wasted some hours pondering education in America.....and I've come to view ten basic points.

First, forget twelve year programs. It's a magic number of no significance. Gear up schools for a normal first grade to sixth grade program, but start to shift the gears in the seventh through ninth grades. The ability to reason, the ability think independently, and the ability to grasp what's being said....ought to be driving the major topics that you teach. Then you set an enormous standard....the tenth grade is the final point, with a option year in the eleventh year as possible. You are graduating the kid at 16 from school and avoid two entire years of wasted time that we currently do today. Figure thirty percent of the kids accept the challenge and finish early....with the remainder at the eleventh grade. You cut costs and teachers.

Second, dump competitive school sports. If the community wants to offer a program....fine. Otherwise, your goal as a school.....is not sports....it's to educate, period.

Third, at the end of the seventh grade....you bring the parents in. You have a simple policy for the eighth grade and beyond. If the punk kid won't cooperate in class....they get sent home....everyday if necessary. The school isn't a baby-sitter operation. If a punk won't cooperate, it's the parents agenda to discipline. The school gets seven years of baby-sitting, and then no more.

Fourth, after you graduate the 10th grade, you get one year of technical school, trade school, community college or four-year college....free of charge (in your state). The state pays the first year. After that....the state covers only the tech school or trade school.

Fifth, around the eight grade.....offer up an entire semester of Greek opera and readings. Discuss Socrates, Plato and the dead Greeks.

Sixth, around the ninth grade....offer up a six-week period of Roman history and its successes and failures.

Seventh, around the ninth grade.....set up a two-year physical training program....complete with walking, set-ups, and stretching. Make it clear....it's a daily thing and they can't avoid it.

Eighth, mandate American classics and literature in the sixth and seventh grades. Each kid has to finish one book read every six weeks with a complete report.

Ninth, show slacker teachers the door. You don't need them.

Tenth and final......admit we've dumbed down high schools, community colleges and four-year colleges. Our motive isn't to fix this with hundreds of millions of dollars. We are going to reverse engineer this entire mess. Teach and move the kids along.

Skool

Some really neat things in education this week.

First, our education experts in Seattle have finally determined that a kid with a "D" average...will graduate from high school. The underlining argument? Way too many kids making a "D" and they just can't keep them another year. You understand of course? It just ain't right.

So the neat thing is that you can hold a kid into the 12th grade...for a whole year...bored out of his mind....to make this "D" average....and it's perfectly ok.

The second story? Our folks in Bama finally sat down and realized that kids just weren't passing the state high school graduation exam. So they are phasing it out by 2015.

The state board apparently approved this change today. The deal now? The schools will use the end-of-course exams from required subjects. The old method was this fascinating graduation exam to qualify for a diploma. What they discovered...was that some kids could pass the end-of-course classes, but couldn't pass this graduation exam.

The curious thing is that around eight percent of the kids failed the exam every year.

I pondered on this and got curious...just how tough was the Bama exam? So I went and found the example on the internet. I took ten questions from the social studies area and ten questions from math.

Frankly, the math problems challenged me...but since they gave you four choices of the answer...it's really not that difficult. I noticed that the three wrong answers were all drastically far off from the answer....so if you got anywhere near the right answer...then you could pick the right damn answer.

As for the social studies test? Half the ten were things that I had absolutely no idea about and would have taken a guess on. I kinda felt silly because I'm fairly deep into history and government. The other answers were child's play and not challenging at all.

The Bama guys then tossed in a curve. They want to pay $75 for the ACT test and get every kid in Bama lined up for higher education.

I kinda laughed over this. At best, from my old high school....there might have been 8 kids of 75 who would have done something in a real 4-year college. Twenty of us would have been community college candidates (if it had existed then).

I'd be the last to say that sending a massive number of kids onto college is a smart idea. Frankly, you end up needing a fairly healthy spread of kids across the spectrum...working at Wal-Mart and on up to Nuclear power facilities.

So we've got two changes underway....and neither really sends a great positive signal on education in America.