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us technical curriculum

updated thu 14 sep 00


amy parker on wed 13 sep 00

John Baymore said:
>Also, it was clear from the survey that STUDENT perceptions of their
>technical education was that it was lacking too.
>.... This is particularly sad..... because the
>institutions are not fulfilling their students desires for education.
>This may reflect a general decline in the standards of US education (which
>I have heard discussion of but personally can't say exists not having the
>broad perspective on it) ..... but I don't have to like it .

My two girls are in middle school & high school in the same school system
that I attended 30+ years ago. They are both in the gifted programs. Both
are required to take SAT (college entrance exam) prep classes as part of
their curriculum. Both complain that they are not being challenged
intellectually. They are learning to take tests, rather than learning to
master the subjects. In advanced level first year HS chemistry, they are
learning how multiply scientific notation and use graphing calculators, a
skill that is taught in Algebra II, which my daughter mastered last year.
The teacher still has not explained the periodic table...I've had one on
the wall next to the computer for 10 years, so my kids even understand
there is a Reason for those columns...They are both choosing to work on
glaze formulation for science projects (again) this year (WG)! I had been
looking forward to getting a chem refresher from my daughter, but looks
like I'm going to have to do it myself...

So, from my perspective, the emphasis has shifted from providing subject
mastery to producing test-takers. These kids are going to hit college with
no background, just good grades...results not process. It starts in grammar

The middle school Language Arts (English?) teacher had several glaring
spelling errors on the board (in her handwriting) last night at the open
house...but the MS science teacher has a sense of humor - post me offline &
I'll send you the homework policy!

Amy Parker
Lithonia, GA

Louis H.. Katz on wed 13 sep 00

I am not sure that the emphasis on tests is any different than the emphasis on
grades. I could have learned more chemistry and math in the excellent college
bound school system I went to. I didn't in part because of lazyness, Perhaps
another part is boredom. Lazyness is probably the big part. I was maybe too
interested in other things. I also didn't like really tough problems, tough was ok
it was the really that was the problem.
Anyhow I remember. I never crammed. I worked day by day. Cramming was for grades.
Study was for knowlege. Cramming was for tests. Test Prep courses are just a form
of cramming. Learning has value if you remember something. The more you remember
for longer, the more value.

Calculus is the study of form. It is a wonderful course full of value for visual
object makers. On some level wheter you understand me or not, if you make
beautiful pots you have an understanding of the second derivative. This kind of
cross fertilization does not come from cramming and test preps.
Throwing should be required of people taking calculus........