Monday, March 1, 2021

EDUCATION

     I've been working on a post for a few days that hasn't gone well. I can't seem to get the post to say what I mean! So another topic has caught up to me. 

     The pandemic has caught up to the education system . I don't know if consideration has been given to where things are going. Kids have been out of school for a few weeks. Then they're on line for  few weeks. Then they're in school for a few weeks. I doubt that any unit can be completed when they bounce back and forth among types of presentation. 

     Even though I taught Middle School for my whole career, I have to be somewhat skeptical about  public education. I know why I taught but most of society sees only a bunch of facts that have to be carried around. 

    So today I gave the Micro Manager a few questions on topics the public thinks should be known. Now the Micro Manager is sharp and was a very hard worker. She was at the top of her nursing class! So I  asked her a few questions. What's an isosceles triangle? What's the formula for the area of a circle? What's the formula for the volume of a sphere? What's a metaphor? What's alliteration?  What's a noun? Then I asked her  few historical dates and characters. Some of these she had some idea about what it was but mostly she didn't know. 

     So here's someone in her 80's and has lived a successful productive life and very few things from school are still with her. The micro Manager has no trouble with logic, judgement, comparison, communication  and all those other things used in daily life.

     My argument is that a good education should give people skills to find accurate  information and make judgements with what they have found. And don't cheat and look for what you want to find instead of what appears. 

    So I don't think the kids will miss much. There are going to be challenges about entrance to post secondary education unless adjustments can be made to take into account what has happened. It looks like schools will be influenced for about two years . 

     I'm also sure that some new teaching strategy will be discovered as well. There will be some positives that come out of the pandemic situation. 

    

45 comments:

  1. This is a very interesting post Red. I could answer some of your questions but not all. I could have answered them all when I was in school but that was a long time ago and many of the things I learned in school I did not use after I graduated so I forgot.

    I've always thought it would be brilliant if they could teach common sense! Kids need to learn a lot of basic life skills.

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    1. The sad part about the basic skills is that kids have to be more mature to learn them.

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  2. I think the most important thing that schools can teach children are how to think and to think critically. They can also do a good job of teaching children how to research and find out what you need to know and not just believe everything you read (the critical thinking part). Other than that I don't think knowing a bunch of facts makes you smarter than one who can think and do research. It might make you good at Jeopardy though!

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    1. Yes, I wish there was much more emphasis on the skills you list.

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  3. I think so many aspects of our lives have had to be rethought or reconfigured through this pandemic but the responsibly that teachers have had thrust upon them is staggering. To come up with new learning strategies at the drop of a dime like they did is amazing and shows the dedication our teachers have to our children. There’s been bumps along the way but they never give up, thank goodness.

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    1. I find it hard to visualize how teachers would teach on line.

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  4. "What's the formula for the volume of a sphere?"

    This one, I don't recall.

    School is about learning to think and learning to learn. Facts are mostly just important in the short run.

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    1. I do think that some of the facts learned did help us to learn other things. I would bet that very few people ever had to find the volume of a sphere.

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  5. I think school is overrated. I like learning but have enjoyed learning much more as I've gotten older. High school was boring for the most part but college was interesting. University reminded me of hopes to jump through. My two oldest never finished high school but both have business degrees.
    I really enjoyed junior high. I got away from the bully who tormented me in elementary school and got to learn way more interesting things like home ec., typing and drama.
    There is so much to learn but perhaps we could change our thinking to life long learning.

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    1. For some kids moving to middle school was frightening. Bullying is a hard nut to crack. It causes many long lasting problems.

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  6. I often told people that mostly what I learned in college was to learn how to find and use formulas to solve engineering problems. Very few of them I could solve outright even during my engineering heydays.

    My kids have been attending in person classes since last fall along with about 80% of the rest of the students. My worry is about what happens next school year when the remaining 20% come back who aren't caught up/if they aren't caught up. My oldest is high school and I don't expect there will be a lot of adjustment for the 20% kids which could be a detriment to them entering college as you said. My youngest is in a private elementary school and there is no virtual option so they have had 100% attendance so I don't have to worry about her until she reaches the public high school and I'm hoping by then any differences will have been sorted out.

    Only time will tell us the true ramifications.

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    1. I think you're right that over time the differences will be sorted out.

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  7. I agree that most of what we learned in school doesn't stick with us, but I am concerned about all the young people who are just now beginning to learn to read and hope they will be able to overcome the effects of pandemic learning in later years.

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    1. Reading is a whole other issue. Today many kids start school and are well on the way to reading. Unfortunately there are some little guys who are not ready to learn to read pandemic or no pandemic.

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  8. I’ve always felt that an education helps you learn to find answers, be curious and think critically. The details you can Google these days.

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    1. Don't forget to put logic in with those good things you list.

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  9. Hi Red, As a fellow retired teacher I knew this was going to be an interesting post when I saw the title and indeed it is. Recently I’ve often thought about how lucky I am to have completed a career in teaching without having encountered a pandemic. I honestly can’t wrap my mind around how challenging it must be to teach a high school class these days. As you’ve pointed out, there will likely be some lasting effects, but at this point, I’m just not sure what they will be. Now, possibly the most impactful change in education can be attributed to the access to knowledge that the internet gives us. I’m looking forward to seeing what some of the other commenters have to say. John

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    1. I'm amazed at the very inciteful comments that have been made.

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  10. That's such an interesting perspective, Red. It's true that most of the education I received in school has not really been useful for my daily life. There is a left brain/right brain concept about which part of our brains we use most. If we could be educated in a way that understands that theory, we would be encouraged to take classes that nourishes our instincts. That would be so useful. (Maybe one or two classes of basic science and math for someone like me would have been quite enough!)

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    1. Research on how the brain works has helped to change teaching strategies. Yes, some things are far too rigid. My daughter went through to university but she says if she did it again she would take all the non matriculating classes she could.

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  11. Of course education is disrupted in this pandemic. All age groups are affected by this "unprecedented" event. I think this pandemic has put a spotlight on the shortcomings in education, health care and society at large, i.e. disparities in access (think of the internet). Not all education occurs in the classroom.

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    1. I've written posts about how learning takes place out of the classroom. I agree with you.

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  12. I think there's a difference between practical and academic knowledge. The practical stuff that we use every day is obviously valuable. The academic is valuable too, but in a less demonstrable way -- it makes us better able to grasp abstractions and concepts and cultural ideas, while not necessarily being something we use often. I'd have trouble answering some of those questions too, but I'm glad I got instruction in geometry and algebra and grammar. At least I know what I don't know! (Or have forgotten!)

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    1. But you've also learned logic by taking these courses.

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  13. I think the memorizing of facts or formulas fades away if one doesn't use it and we are left with the skills we need to manage in life (or not, if people cannot succeed at all). I think the social skills learned in school are very important - how to get along with others, how to be compassionate and helpful to those around you. I hope students can learn that whether on-line or in person.

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    1. I worry about what happens to these social skills when learning is on line.

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  14. I remember about 20 years back when a school board member in our district objected to the teaching of critical thinking. She was an evangelical Christian and believed only parents should teach their kids what to think.
    That has stuck with me as I see more than 70 million voters in our country supporting an man like Trump and still believing in his lies.
    We need critical thinking more than ever. I think kids living through this pandemic will be learning coping skills that were not in the curriculum guides, and that's a good thing.

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    1. A large number of people have lost their way hen it comes to judgement and evaluation of concepts. They've taken the wrong bend in the road.

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  15. Education gives you the tools to think critically, ask questions to seek the answers and be curious about new things and ideas.

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    1. Yes, those things will take you a long way.

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  16. In thirty years we'll have political leaders who spent a year or two being home schooled by day drinkers.

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  17. I wasted many hours learning how to work a slide rule...I can't say that I retained much Math either but I can balance a checkbook and add and subtract without a calculator!
    The way I see this last year is that the kids could have had the whole year off for enrichment at home learning some life skills appropriate for their age...dusting, vacuuming, taking care of pets, plants, making their own beds and cleaning their rooms, assisting with food preparation and clean up, doing snow shoveling and yard work and writing letter and reading real books the kind you hold in your hand, possibly even learning how to knit, crochet, embroider, how to check oil in a vehicle, change a tire...you get my idea. BUT parents would have to be involved...and face it school is a good babysitter:)

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    1. You have a great list...all good things. All these should be learned at home but the school should support and reinforce these concepts.

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  18. Our grandkids in Ottawa have been online since Sept. No F2F at all. The teachers will know that there will have to be some scaffolding done in the fall, as there will be gaps.
    Kids are learning how to learn, and that never changes.
    Learning math builds dendrites, which let you build on your learning. The neural pathways are shared and set down a map, there for other learning, like music. We've learned so much more about the brain.

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    1. I find the descriptions of hoe your grandkids take on line instruction most interesting. You give them much needed support and encouragement.

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  19. Sphere got me, too. But as you point out, a good education doesn't necessarily mean you know the formula. It means that you can find it out and apply it if you need to.

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    1. The sphere thing is so far out there that it's really irrelevant. I was trying to make a point.

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  20. I always told my children, the whole point of education is to show you can learn. I'm sure the whole system will adapt to the virus.

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  21. I think that over a short period everything will be sorted out.

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  22. Where to start? I've read your post twice and then read all the comments. I wouldn't have come out of the maths side of your questions to the micro manager too well but would have done okay with the language side as that's how my brain and aptitude works best.
    And now we know schooling and education is important as it develops growing brains.
    I will finish by saying that the real learning begins when you finish your education and move into the real world of earnimg a living and fitting into your work environment.
    When you find out all the things you don't know!
    Another worthy post about another important life matter.
    Good stuff Red!
    Alphie

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  23. Kids have missed a lot of school during this pandemic. I wish that one or two leaders in the field of education had gone on TV to say: "Hi kids! We are sorry that you are missing school. Now I have got something important to say about self-education. You will have a lot of spare time right now. Please fill it usefully by reading books. Read novels. Read poetry. Read books about space and animals. Read history books, biographies, classical books. Read whatever tickles your fancy. Science. Geography. Archaeology. Astrology. Just read. The brain is a muscle that needs to be fed and exercised and education is not all about school curricula. Read!"

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  24. I think this school year would be the most challenging one ever for a teacher. I think they should all get first place in line for the Covid vaccine and hazard pay!

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  25. We noticed today that schools are back in session as we watched some youngsters socializing outside a local school, masked up. There is no substitute for in class instruction and home instruction via computer is not the same. I realize the need for caution and safety but wonder how long schools will be unused in many places.

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  26. remarkable post dear Red

    so true about how covid and abrupt lengthy vacation has messed up educational system ,as a mother i am really concerned as i can see how much loss of study effecting students as whole and i really don't know when will this space be filled if it will .
    i so agree with joyful that first thing that school should teach is how to think .i think this is basic thing to apply in educational institutions and it is only thing which can revolutionize the whole concept of living on planet as super specie .

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