Senate How should Education be reformed?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Ghost, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. Lady_Sami_J_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2002
    star 6
    One of the ways that going to college, even just a couple of years at a community college, helps people better participate in society is that it helps give them the skills needed to be able to read the pros and cons of ballot issues and political party's statements, etc. It helps develop critical thinking skills. And, helps them to better serve on a jury, so we don't have questions as posed by the Drew Peterson jury about what 'unanimous' means.

    One of my college professors also said college is life-enriching. Not all the classes you take will help you get a job or be required for your major, but they will show you options you have for what to do when you are retired. Like art and music classes, literature classes, etc. Unless those types of classes are in your major.

    Colleges offer a variety of classes to turn out 'well rounded' citizens. And I don't mean waist-lines.
    Last edited by Lady_Sami_J_Kenobi, Sep 7, 2012
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  2. Darth Guy Chosen One

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    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    In short, it makes people less stupid-- I guess I should say less ignorant-- less bigoted, and more open-minded. This is generally speaking, which I thought was obvious since, you know, I was speaking generally. Of course there are high school drop outs who go on to become great figures, and plenty of JD's and MBA's who do not (sorry, can't help it). I do not mean to insult people who did not attend college. I'm saying they generally (have I used this enough?) should have and it should have easier for them to. I'm not trying to be elitist; after all, I said there should be no tuition and as many people as possible should attend. I was also saying, as wocky elaborated, the focus on economic output as indicative of the worth of someone's education is moronic.
    Last edited by Darth_Guy, Sep 7, 2012
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  3. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Mar 26, 2001
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    Never said that. Focusing on economic output is one way of measuring someone's participation and much more specific than "better participating in society". So don't twist it around.

    You were too vague. I wanted specifics.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Sep 7, 2012
  4. tom Chosen One

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    Mar 14, 2004
    star 6
    Last edited by tom, Sep 7, 2012
  5. Darth Guy Chosen One

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    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    Re-worded it. Sorry, I'm tired from mah jerb.
  6. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

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    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    I'm sorry, but I think you are backwards here.

    Remember, the college admissions process is meant to weed out people who aren't as qualified. As a result, the people admitted to college are supposed to already have better critical thinking skills. In other words, you have a selection bias in your sampling. If you filter out a sample that has higher critical thinking skills than the general population and send them to college it doesn't actually say that college helps people develop critical thinking skills.

    In reality, you only get out of college what you are willing to put into it. I've known many people who went to college and didn't do more than parrot back what their professors wanted to hear on whatever subject they were discussing. (I usually took the opposite route in social sciences classes. If my professor was a liberal, I was a raging conservative. If he was a conservative, I was almost a Communist. It's more fun that way. :) ) Repeating back what someone wants to hear doesn't actually develop critical thinking.

    And college isn't the only way to develop critical thinking skills. Employment and other experiences also develop those skills. For example, when an electrician is trying to find out why a circuit isn't getting electricity, you have to stop and reason your way through the entire problem. That also develops critical thinking.

    In my experience, I much prefer the hands-on knowledge and skills of my coworkers who didn't go to or finish college to those who have graduate degrees. They tend to be more practical and actually get the work done more.

    That only works if you actually take classes like that. Once again, you get out of college what you are willing to put into it, and college isn't the only (or even necessarily best) way to do that.
    Last edited by Kimball_Kinnison, Sep 8, 2012
  7. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    And that is why Rick Santorum opposes college.
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  8. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper

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    Aaaaand…I’m gonna throw a monkey-wrench into the works. It is offensive. It is ridiculous. And, going my own experiences growing up, it is real.

    I bear a passing resemblance to my avatar over there. I grew up and went to school in the company of a lot of kids who had similar skin-tones. I have lost count of the number of times I was ridiculed as a kid for reading during free time at school, for actively participating in class discussions, and speaking properly as opposed to speaking “ebonics.” And just to clarify, the ridicule came in the form of kids saying that I was “acting white” and/or “talking white.”

    Now, to be fair, this was more than 25 years ago. Also, these days, the matter could be a “poor people thing” and not just a “black/brown people thing.” However, sadly, the two often go hand-in-hand. If, as the thread titles says, this discussion is about reforming the U.S. educational system, we must be willing to look at unpleasant truths; we must be willing to acknowledge that poverty has a “racial” component without dismissing the line of thought as “racism.”
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  9. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Well, if we're gonna go down the racial path in education, then we also should discuss how there have been studies that show kids clustering back together into groups along racial lines after a school has been integrated.

    Why?

    Is it social pressure? Is it something in the schools that forces people to gravitate towards each other along racial lines?
    Last edited by ShaneP, Sep 10, 2012
  10. Lady_Sami_J_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2002
    star 6
    KK,

    Where to begin. I went to college 20+ years ago, so things might have changed. I was in what are now callled "A/P" classes all thru high school, but when I was in high school, they were called 'college prep' classes. I think your definition of 'critical thinking skills' is different than mine. My definition involves being able/trained to read something and look at the background to figure out what is really going on as well as the ability to think for oneself. A recent example would be regarding a comment against Obama posted on an article about Obama that asked for 'regular voters' to respond. The poster was outed as not being a 'regular voter,' but a conservative blog author who dislikes everything and anything about Obama. Thus, his comments had to be taken with a large grain of salt.

    I think your definition is closer to 'practical thinking,' with the example you gave.

    Not everyone gets out of high school being able to think critically. Community colleges can be a stepping-stone to a 4-year college for those who didn't make good enough grades in high school to go directly to a 4-year college, and can help those types of students develop/improve their educational skills, such as priortizing homework, getting tutoring if they need it, etc.

    When you are attending a 4-year college, most of the classes will be in your major. Then there are general education classes such as history, and elective classes that are also required, such as art classes (not drawing or painting). This helps colleges turn out well rounded students. My major was creative writing, but I still had to take PE classes.

    And I agree that college is not for everyone, but many students are not going to college who really should because they cannot afford it.

    And the for-profit 'tech schools' are not fulfilling their roles, either. If you read the fine print on their TV commercials, you will notice that this little phrase always shows up "Most credits will not transfer" or some similar wording. That means that those credits won't transfer to a 4-year college.
  11. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    I wouldn't go to a tech school that wasn't accredited with four year unis.

    I just think the value of colllege for everyone , 4 years anyway, has been oversold. I could see the value in a two year community college for most people, especially dealing with critical thinking, personal finance, and a general core education.
  12. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    What you call "practical thinking" is just another form of critical thinking. Ultimately, it all boils down to problem solving, both the ability to describe the problem and the ability to research, experiment, and resolve the problem.

    For the record, the dictionary defines critical thinking as:
    The sort of real-worl problem solving that I described is exactly that sort of thinking.

    If people are getting out of high school without critical thinking skills, then the solution isn't to send them to college. The solution is to fix our education system so they develop those skills before they graduate from high school. People didn't used to have to go to college to develop those skills, so why is college necessary to develop them today?

    Expecting people who haven't developed those skills to get them just because they go to college is trying to use college as a band-aid over our failed primary and secondary educational systems.

    Let me guess, you got a BA, right? My BS didn't require any PE classes, and only required a handful of English or Social Science classes. (In fact, most of my social science classes were met through the concurrent enrollment program I attended to escape my senior year of high school).

    In other words, your generalizations don't really hold up. Some majors require more variety in their classes, while others don't. The ones that have a greater practical application (particularly in the sciences) don't fit your generalization.

    And many students are going to college who shouldn't and can't afford it either. That's part of the reason why there are such high dropout rates from colleges, and why there are so many people complaining about their massive student loan debt.

    If there were less demand for college, the prices would drop. That's basic economics. A large part of the reason college expenses have been increasing in recent years is because demand is outpacing supply, but that demand is largely being driven by the false expectation that college is necessary in order to be successful.

    The problem here is that you are assuming that every educational path should lead you to a 4-year college. Tech schools aren't meant for that. They are mean to teach you a trade so that you can move on to the work force with a specialty, not so you can move on towards a 4-year degree. That's what community colleges and junior colleges are for.

    And there's nothing wrong with that. There's no reason why a plumber or electrician should have to spend an additional $30000 (minimum) to get a 4-year degree. In their case, what they need is a mall amount of classroom learning, followed by a large amount of real-world experience. For those that want to go on to own or operate their own business, some specialized courses at a community college are more likely to help them than a full 4-year degree.

    All of this keeps circling around my core point, which is that ultimately, sending people to college is not a cure all for society's ills. An old country song by Sherrie Austin has some wise words on this subject:
    There are many paths to achieve success in this life. NOT everyone needs to go to college, and in many cases, it hurts people who do. The students who don't finish college are hurt because of the massive debt that they take on. The students who do graduate are hurt by the people who don't finish, because (particularly in the lower level classes) it wastes significant educational resources on people who don't receive a lot of benefit from it. And the people who could have gone to college and completed a degree, except that their spot was filled by someone who dropped out are hurt because the increased demand helps price college out of their reach.

    It's basic economics. When you increase demand for a product (in this case college), the price will go up. When you then increase the supply of debt available to finance that increase in price, you will create a deadly feedback system that will cause the costs to continually spiral out of control.

    The only ways you can defeat that feedback loop is by either increasing the supply (i.e. increasing the number of colleges and number of students each college can take), or by reducing the demand. As it's really not feasible to keep increasing the size and number of colleges, that means that we ultimately have to work on the demand side. That means that we need to work on filtering out the people who are less likely to be successful in college and try to direct them to other educational paths before they incur the large debt. It's better for someone to go to one of those trade schools and be able to support themselves in a trade than to have them drop out of college, with thousands in debts that they have to repay (and cannot discharge, even in bankruptcy), which will then cripple their earning potential for decades.

    The best approach of all is for people to gain the critical thinking skills that you want them to get in college in high school (or earlier), the way it used to be. If we fix that problem, a lot of the rest will work itself out.
  13. TheShinyLightsaber Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 1
    Offer a variety of craft beers along with a BMC, draft in the cafeterias.......they'll come to class.
  14. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper

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    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    It could be that integration, which tends to transport some students over considerable distances, places those students in highly unfamiliar situations. Banding together in ethnic groups may be a coping mechanism.

    Some possible solutions would include placing a greater emphasis on orientation at the start of the year and periodic “team building” activities throughout the year. This wouldn’t necessarily targeted towards breaking up ethnic grouping, but more aimed towards bonding on a wider scale.
  15. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

    Chapter Rep
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    Oct 3, 2003
    star 8
    I myself was mocked for using proper words and doing constructive things with my free time, that certainly wasn't a race thing. The fact that someone knows correct english and spelling and so on does not make them some "posh boy", if i were that I'd be at private school learning better things with people who care about learning.
  16. Piltdown Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 3, 2002
    star 5
    Now, that was unnecessary.
    Last edited by Jedi Merkurian, Sep 11, 2012
  17. Lady_Sami_J_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2002
    star 6
    Here's an article that shows that most college graduates don't have bone-crushing student loan debt: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/10-colleges-where-students-graduate-151036954.html

    The colleges with the highest student loan debt were private colleges, not public ones.

    One reason I am very much for education is that my grandparents on my mother's side came to this country in the early 1900's. My grandmother couldn't read or write or do simple arithmetic because girls weren't taught such things in the country she came from. She had 10 children, 6 of whom went to college, including my mother. One of my uncles was a doctor and one was press secretary to President Ford. Send me a pm if you want his name, he's on the internet.
  18. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I'm not terribly surprised there. Going to a private college, and then being in debt, isn't some massive shocking tragedy. It's what happens when you want something expensive with no funding plans. And as someone doing the whole college thing, and just from what I've heard from people this way, I really don't know anyone (whose debt numbers I'm aware of) that is close to that 6 figure range. I think I know of a couple having debt in like the 30s.

    Was your uncle the one on SNL?
  19. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    That article isn't talking about the same subset of people that I was talking about.

    College graduates are usually able to better afford to pay off those student loans than people who dropped out of college. It's those college dropouts, people who in many cases shouldn't have gone to college in the first place, who are less likely to be able to pay them off.

    For example, on the approximately $10000 in student loans that I had (one year's worth, consolidated with my ex-wife's partial year), my monthly payment is about $85. For me, a college graduate whose starting salary was mid-5-figures, that's not too hard to pay off each month. However, for someone who drops out of college after 1-2 years that is a different story. They are less likely to find a job paying as much, and in some cases will have to accept something near minimum wage. $1020/year isn't as much a burden when you are earning $50000 (or about $25/hour, no overtime) as it is when you are only earning $25000 (about $12/hour, no overtime).

    That dropout would have been far better served to have not gone to college and gotten that $25000/year job, without having the debt. Or, they would have been better served by doing two years at a community college to get an Associates, instead of going to a 4-year college. At least then they would have a degree to show for it, and could potentially earn more based on that degree.
  20. Lady_Sami_J_Kenobi Force Ghost

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    Jul 31, 2002
    star 6
    Totally agree with you that the dropouts should have gone to a 2-year college.

    Don't know if my uncle was on SNL.
  21. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    One thing I do like about Associates is they tend to be more generalized(or can be) and not as specialized. So they would fit just about everyone. Everyone could benefit from a 2 year degree in general education/liberal arts. But not everyone needs a Bach or Masters+.
  22. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    That's been a key part of my points that you've kept arguing against. A 4-year college isn't for everyone, and by giving a 4-year college so much focus, we set the people who won't benefit from it up for failure.

    The better approach is to focus on improving our secondary education (to provide the critical thinking skills you want people to get from college) and make the entire range of options (employment, trade schools, apprenticeships, community college, 4-year colleges, etc) available. The exact course someone should take is up to the individual, and we need to emphasize all of the options that are available.

    It used to be that a high school diploma gave you that sort of general education/liberal arts background. That mostly changed starting around 40 years ago.

    Not even a 2-year degree is for everyone. I've known several people who either dropped out or flunked out of community college (which, in some places, is almost impossible to do).
  23. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

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    Mar 26, 2001
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    Well then perhaps we should ask what the heck happened to high school then?
    Last edited by ShaneP, Sep 12, 2012
  24. Lady_Sami_J_Kenobi Force Ghost

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    Jul 31, 2002
    star 6
    New math? Focus on passing tests rather than really learning anything useful?
  25. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

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    Oct 28, 2001
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    I would argue several things happened.

    First and foremost, the practice of social promotion became far more common. People would be promoted out of their grade without mastering the lessons taught so they would remain with their own age. As a result, they would fall behind and not master the new material in the next grade. This then led to a dumbing down of graduation requirements to allow them to still get a diploma, which has become increasingly worthless.

    In recent years there has also been a greater focus on standardized testing, which has led to rote memorization rather than critical thinking. When a school is judged solely by the test scores, they only care about what will be on the test, and the students will only be taught what is on the test.

    Personally, I would rather see us do away with grades based on ages and start refocusing on skills. Create a list of certifications that you need to earn in order to graduate, and group classes by skill level to work towards those certifications. If that means that a 17-year-old is in a class with a bunch of 14-year-olds (with maybe a few 15-year-olds and a precocious 12-year-old), then so be it. If that means that someone can complete all of the certificates by age 16 and graduate early, then good for them.
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