0519: "11th Grade"

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby SpringLoaded12 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:21 pm UTC

Woo, self-taught programmers ftw! :mrgreen:

Seriously, 80% of your school classes will be useless to you when you get a job. Which 80% depends on your job. A physicist will never need Biology. A historian will never need Java programming. And a programmer of any kind will never need GOD DAMN Advanced Trigonometry.

And a creationist will never need Natural History. I don't like creationists all that much.

My friend is teaching himself 3d graphics design using SolidWorks right now. So far he managed to make a parking meter, and he helped me make a pie dish. I think he will be more successful in that field than in anything he is learning in school.

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby HarleyQuinn » Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:24 pm UTC

And the ten minutes striking up a conversation with that strange kid in homeroom sometimes matters more than every other part of high school combined.


Honestly, I'm not sure whether that's deep honestly or meant jokingly. I can kinda see it going either way.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby FrederikVds » Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:26 pm UTC

I just finished my last year of high school in 3 months, studying on my own. I'll have 9 months for things like the third bar. :D I'm so happy I did that!

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby theta4 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:44 pm UTC

I'm still in 10th grade, but hey. Everything I did in school (except calculus, that's always helpful) will do nothing in getting me a computer-related career (sysadmin, maybe :D ). All my toying with Linux, emacs, C, C++, Java, Python, LISP, etc. is what looks good on the applications.

BUT, I still can't guarantee I'm going to get a computer job, though.

Also,
Randall wrote:And the ten minutes striking up a conversation with that strange kid in homeroom sometimes matters more than every other part of high school combined.

Whaddaya know, I've got a strange kid in homeroom too! He claims to be a physicist philosopher or something like that. Honestly, I think he's a dork. But we do have some pretty intriguing conversations (we had one about quantum physics and special relativity this morning).
Last edited by theta4 on Fri Dec 19, 2008 10:52 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Stabable Offense » Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:47 pm UTC

I took 2 useful classes in high school java and sql. I'm temped to throw computer art in there but that was really more fun than useful. 400 hours of homework seems like a pretty big exaggeration to me.

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Jack21222 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 2:10 pm UTC

Some Asshole wrote:
Yeah, but wouldn't that school model have serious issues succeeding with people like me, who prefer to be directed to learning something? I love learning, but on my own, it's very sporadic and unfocused.

The idea of no grades and crap is a good one, I think, but without some tests and quizzes, how can you be sure the person's not just bullshitting their way through it all? Guess I'll have to read up on that school model.

The comic was brilliant, as usual. Munroe definitely knows how to make a damn good webcomic :)

EDIT:
netcrusher88 wrote:
And the ten minutes striking up a conversation with that strange kid in homeroom sometimes matters more than every other part of high school combined.


I can vouch for this. That strange kid became my girlfriend of four years and counting.


Well, I'm sure a lot of folks are gonna think romantically in that sense, but it could just mean taking the time to talk to the nerdy outcast in your homeroom, not necessarily the geeky girl you thought was cute.


At a Sudbury school, if you want structured learning, sign up for a class. You do this by going up to a staff member you want to teach you the subject, and work out a contract of sorts. For example, they'll teach you provided you're on time to class. Class will be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9am to noon. Et cetera.

You can see if any of your peers also wants to take the class, but if not, it can be more of a one-on-one tutoring session.

Again, you'll learn a lot quicker that way than if the government says "You're 12, you must learn about this particular war in history right now, not earlier, not later."

You also won't run into nonsense like having a math question marked wrong because you used a correct method more advanced than what you're learning, something that happened to me several times.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby alanzo » Fri Dec 19, 2008 2:19 pm UTC

I *HATED* high school. Two years after my college graduation I still feel the only *truly* valuable skill I was unable to get anywhere else was typing. All the other skills I took with me would have been better learned at a Sudbury School. I would have loved High School if for three hours per day I took math/econ, science, lunch (social interaction), and then went off to do my own thing. But instead, I had to waste that extra time in computer classes geared towards morons, daily band rehearsals consisting of the same crap we've been playing for 20 years, shop/wood class, and gym.

Because of the extra fluff, I felt the entire thing was a waste of my time, which is why I did so poorly. When I got to college, my grades averaged up a full point (on 4.0 scale). I graduated college a double major in Computer Science/Music with a 3.4 GPA; I Graduated high school with a 2.3 GPA. Quite unfortunately, one must do well in high school to get into college, where personally I learned more in four years than I did in 12 years of grade school.
Last edited by alanzo on Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:02 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Yossarian » Fri Dec 19, 2008 2:38 pm UTC

It looks like the Wikipedia article for Sudbury schools was written by someone who attended one, as it flouts many of the rules of formal writing and as such comes off as one of the more poorly written articles on Wikipedia.

Some things do need to be taught; how about something like a Google model for schools - the student learns things foundational to success in their society 80% of the time and designs projects about things in which they're interested for the other 20%?

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby joejoefine » Fri Dec 19, 2008 2:52 pm UTC

I really liked this comic, but then I got to thinking whether high school was truly as bad as it implies, even though that seems to be the general feeling. After reading a bunch of posts, I think that all in all both high school and university should exist for two purposes: Introduce the student to a variety of different fields in a comprehensible way (something that may have been "perfected" over time in a standardized model, at least theoretically), and also teach them to think, so that if they do specialize in a field (i.e. programming) they can still operate in the working world, which these days involves jobs that are a fusion of many disciplines (especially communications skills). Unfortunately I didn't really learn to start thinking *academically* until late high school and early university, because most of the time you have to respond with the expected answer. But then I kind of understand why school has to be that way, since everything you do later on in life is really based on a lot of the fundamentals (math, English) - and that's really what you have to put up with to make it in the world. I know I always wanted to be a theoretical physicist and learn about some of the really interesting theories out there, but now I realize just how much programming and math is involved in it, subjects that I am not especially fond of/good at unless I really try.

I keep coming back to the idea that if kids chose to learn whatever they wanted, when they grow older they would realize that they made a lot of mistakes and didn't learn some really critical albeit "boring" subjects. Again, there are blurry lines everywhere (child can't choose his/her education completely, neither can parents or the school board, and communication between the two seems difficult/non-existent).. and I don't really have a conclusion :)

ALSO: There was one poster who asked whether all great teachers tell a lot of stories. I'm not sure whether this is statistically true or whatever (I assume no one does!) but I learned in university that in business school the model for teaching students important information was to always use case studies, because apparently people learn a lot better from relayed experiences than from abstract teaching. So the lecture I had basically consisted of five stories having to do with workplace management (I had a friend Ted, who..etc.), and I still remember the lessons. But yeah, I know what you're getting at - not exactly pedagogical tool but more something consistent like with geniuses and their eccentricity. I think the best teachers are the most creative ones, just not afraid to teach lessons in different ways, and are generally likable.

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby tgape » Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:03 pm UTC

sje46 wrote:When did all you big programmers start to program? I figured my time had passed, but I am a sophomore in college, so maybe I can learn something.


My very first programming exercise ever was in the 4th grade. I didn't really start learning to program until high school, and I didn't learn the right criteria to judge good programming until entering the IT workforce. That having been said, one of the best programmers I know didn't encounter a computer until he was 30.

Learning to program requires the right attitude and sufficient mental flexibility. Age doesn't matter nearly as much as many people think. The main value of learning programming young is that one hasn't had sufficient time to lose mental flexibility. Of course, it certainly helps to have sufficient life expectancy to actually *do* something with it.

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby dharmamama » Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:03 pm UTC

Yossarian wrote:Some things do need to be taught


I disagree. I have never "taught" anything to my kids, yet they've learned everything they need to be successful. Part of that depends on how you define success, of course. Radical unschooling is way, way out there for a lot of folks, but once you've lived it, and been around lots of people who are living it, you see how pointless most schools and school structures are.

To the folks who say they wouldn't have been motivated - I believe that's because school causes some kids (not all) to have to bury who they are in order to fit into the school model. You lose touch with your spark and your aliveness. I've seen it again and again in families whose kids need to "deschool" for a few months, or more, after they pull them out of school to unschool. Time to do what looks like "nothing" on the outside - but it's time they need to get in touch with what their interests truly are.

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby tgape » Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:18 pm UTC

Some Asshole wrote:
Jack21222 wrote:I agree wholeheartedly with this comic. That's one reason why I think the Sudbury Valley model of schooling is very beneficial to many children and teens.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudbury_school


Yeah, but wouldn't that school model have serious issues succeeding with people like me, who prefer to be directed to learning something? I love learning, but on my own, it's very sporadic and unfocused.


Different people == different people. I personally believe that it's very important for people to be taught in a manner appropriate to their learning style.

Also, I strongly believe the point made by a few other people here about the Sudbury model - there are some disciplines which really need to be specifically taught, because few people will gravitate towards them, and everyone needs it. Things like basic communication (what we call English here in the US and other English speaking countries, and Deutsch in Germany and so forth) really matter more than most people are inclined to study on their own.

I think if the Sudbury model were tied to some standardized testing, which included communication skills, with forewarning regarding what the test will cover, and a minimum pass rating needed on all major areas, rather than simply needing an overall pass, one might have something that would work for those people who currently claim the Sudbury model is great. However, I also strongly feel that it's not for everyone. Allowing people to 'sign up' for classes doesn't prompt them on what classes to 'sign up' for, and it doesn't scale well - when you have thousands of kids and only scores of teachers, you really need something more rigorous to match up teachers, students, courses, and times.

Personally, I'd like to see a modified Sudbury model - one that had 'mandatory', traditional classes for basic, core subjects, and free time for everything else. However, this model should allow for students to test out of the 'mandatory' classes (which is why mandatory is in quotes).

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Eternity » Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:21 pm UTC

I began learning Perl (one never finishes, really) in eleventh grade, and since I had such a terrible math teacher at the time, it was the most interesting thing I learned about all year. I guess this is a more common experience than I realized. But I think most people nowadays think much less of TIMTOWTDI, funny characters, and the rest of the Perl than I do. I have at least a passing familiarity with C, Python, and Emacs Lisp and Perl is still my favorite programming language— except for Haskell, of course.

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby dharmamama » Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:32 pm UTC

tgape wrote:I strongly believe the point made by a few other people here about the Sudbury model - there are some disciplines which really need to be specifically taught, because few people will gravitate towards them, and everyone needs it.


I'd say the success of thousands of Sudbury graduates and adult unschoolers proves this untrue. If you do truly need it, you will learn it in the course of your life. When YOU are motivated to do so, in a method that speaks to you - not necessarily taught. Like I said, it seems way out there until you've lived it, or been around those who do.

Real life will teach you what you need to live real life better and more efficiently than any classroom or test.

Edited to add:
Yossarian wrote:It looks like the Wikipedia article for Sudbury schools was written by someone who attended one, as it flouts many of the rules of formal writing and as such comes off as one of the more poorly written articles on Wikipedia.


Yes, because we all know that every graduate of every other school would have written it perfectly, following all conventions of formal writing, right?
Last edited by dharmamama on Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:47 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby ISammael » Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:47 pm UTC

I guess I'm lucky... my HS years were exactly the opposite: Pearl was a whore, and I took all music classes as a junior and senior - helping immensely in the career area.

But truth be told, the hours in class and hours of homework helped more than I can describe in mere text. It may not affect my career, but it affects my life x-fold.

P.S. Anyone else think the Captcha is hard to read, even for humans?

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Kazuke » Fri Dec 19, 2008 3:51 pm UTC

The thing I learned the most about in school was patience.

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby motex » Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:18 pm UTC

I'm a senior, but yes, I'm posting this in school, and I just finished downloading ubuntu using the school computers and am about to burn it to disk. I LOVE learning in school. I spend at least an hour each day just messing around online. I downloaded my dvorak left typing tutor, my perl environment, and my python environment here because my home connection is epic fail. Besides the way that youtube, KoL, and a few key forums are blocked, school computers are epicly, epicly, wonderflamaziwootisheartly win. And, school is the price you need to pay for them. Besides that, I haven't learned anything of interest this year, english being my required class, and most of the others are lame fillers that are required for some reason but are never going to come in useful.

Homework, frankly, sucks.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Patteroast » Fri Dec 19, 2008 4:37 pm UTC

The more I think about this comic, the more I want to cry.

My entire K-12 education was terrible... the system itself did nothing positive for me, if anything damaged me. I was far ahead of my peers early on (tested at a ninth grade math and a sixth grade reading level... in first grade), and when I naturally grew bored of what everyone else was doing, I stopped caring. Somewhere around third grade. Since then (currently working on my Bachelor's in geography), I'd say the amount of homework I've done is negligible.
When I stopped doing my homework in fourth grade school psychologists apparently decided that I had ADHD, but that I also had emotional problems, and I was sent to a special ed school. The only positive thing I can say about that experience is that I know how to take a test while people in the same room are throwing chairs through the window/screaming obscenities/masturbating/what have you. Yes, those all really happened.
Oh, and as for the ADHD and emotional problems, yeah, at one point when my mom couldn't afford to fill my Ritalin prescription and we had to go to a different neurologist than usual, he refused to prescribe because he thought that I'd never had ADHD, I was just a bored child (Children being full of energy? Impossible.) Through this whole ordeal my behavior was that of... a normal person. When I later moved and was able to transfer to a different school, they were very confused and couldn't understand why I was supposed to be in the special ed program.

Sure, there were individual teachers that were great, and I did learn things here and there, but in an alternative schooling environment, I'm sure there would also be the occasional great teacher, and I firmly believe that most if not all of the things I learned against my will, I would have learned on my own through my own research.

Yeah, that was perhaps more personally specific that I was planning on posting, but... argh. Don't ever get me started on the topic of education. I feel that the school district I grew up in nearly ruined my life.

Oh, and the reason I couldn't do anything about all this hellish treatment? Dirt poor. Living in a trailer park. On Welfare.

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby 10nitro » Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:00 pm UTC

Wait for it . . . RANDAL GET OUT OF MY HEAD! I just blew off huge 40 pt, 1.5 letter grade altering extra credit because I was messing with PHP. I had a B/B-, but I did feel like I did pretty good on the final, so I'm fine. But it would have been nice.

Shpadoinkle wrote:I misread Perl as Pearl at first, leading to an entirely different interpretation of the comic.

I was going to send it to a few people, but I figured that's how they would interpret it :)

motex wrote:I'm a senior, but yes, I'm posting this in school, and I just finished downloading ubuntu using the school computers and am about to burn it to disk. I LOVE learning in school. I spend at least an hour each day just messing around online. I downloaded my dvorak left typing tutor, my perl environment, and my python environment here because my home connection is epic fail. Besides the way that youtube, KoL, and a few key forums are blocked, school computers are epicly, epicly, wonderflamaziwootisheartly win. And, school is the price you need to pay for them. Besides that, I haven't learned anything of interest this year, english being my required class, and most of the others are lame fillers that are required for some reason but are never going to come in useful.

Homework, frankly, sucks.


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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby raisedbywolffs » Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:05 pm UTC

I probably have MORE than 400 hours of homework. My history teacher recently told the class that we need to spend an hour reading for history every night, even if we're getting A's with no effort. When I patiently explained to him that I do not have an hour of spare time, he cut it down to half an hour, whereupon I told him I supposed I could stop showering (I already don't sleep).

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Arrgh: look at Massachusetts law

Postby cellocgw » Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:34 pm UTC

This struck a really raw nerve, as here in MA the Board of Education (sort of like the Ministry of Love) decreed a minimum number of alleged class hours for high school students. Never mind that, e.g., in Acton, MA, 95% of the students go on to 4-year colleges, the standardized test scores rock, the number of AP scholars is huge, etc. --- and all that while for years we refused to jack up the actual class hours to match the state requirement.

All the schools lie and cheat to meet the requirement anyway. Some count lunch and passing time; some set up year long "independent projects" which supposedly take 10 to 15 hrs/ week of student work outside school, some give sports or marching band a pile of free hours.
My son got a couple hundred free hours by signing a piece of paper saying he was taking independent study in Ruby programming. The only thing he knows about Ruby is the name -- and this was just fine with the school!

It's one thing to say that students who are performing a couple grade levels below their age should get extensive tutoring or remedial help. But to beat on the many students, and schools, whose academic performance is above reproach, is just pathetic.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby dumbledore » Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:35 pm UTC

motex wrote:I'm a senior, but yes, I'm posting this in school, and I just finished downloading ubuntu using the school computers and am about to burn it to disk. I LOVE learning in school. I spend at least an hour each day just messing around online. I downloaded my dvorak left typing tutor, my perl environment, and my python environment here because my home connection is epic fail. Besides the way that youtube, KoL, and a few key forums are blocked, school computers are epicly, epicly, wonderflamaziwootisheartly win. And, school is the price you need to pay for them. Besides that, I haven't learned anything of interest this year, english being my required class, and most of the others are lame fillers that are required for some reason but are never going to come in useful.

Homework, frankly, sucks.


this sounds familiar - our school's sysadmin busted me for trying to download slackware ISOs on the school computers and the principal wanted to suspend me for "hacking"

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Thad E Ginathom » Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:49 pm UTC

A weekend messing with Perl may be useful to your career, but a weekend messing with Pearl would be much more fun

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Lazy Tommy » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:13 pm UTC

sje46 wrote:When did all you big programmers start to program? I figured my time had passed, but I am a sophomore in college, so maybe I can learn something.


I wrote my first program when I was 11 -- this was in 1976, when very few people had computers; they were still the domain of hardcore hobbyists and small business owners. My dad taught at the local university and he introduced me to the boss of the academic computer center, who let me use his account. I wrote some programs in Algol-60 (on punched cards!) which were then queued and eventually you'd get a print-out. I remember calculating the number e to some insane number of digits (all wrong, as it turned out much later, because I didn't understand about binary round-off yet!), and generating a flip book animation of Conway's "game of life". It was fun and I didn't mind cycling all the way across town to spend afternoons at the computer center. If the students thought it was odd, they never let on. :)

Early on in my career, I noticed that very many programmers hadn't actually studied computer science in college, but had just somehow drifted into it much later, after their first career choice had proved to be disappointing, or because the money in programming was better. In my experience, the age at which people get started has little bearing on how well they will do later on. Despite what a lot of programmers say, it is a pretty easy job -- much easier than any "real" branch of engineering (i.e., mechanical, civil, chemical, electrical, etc.); it's mostly about how well you function in teams, communication skills, time management, planning, and, of course, a bit of abstract thinking, organization, and self-discipline. It helps if you're smart but then again that is true everywhere.

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby quartertonality » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:28 pm UTC

Instantly funnier than 99.99% of the content of graphjam.

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Socks » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:28 pm UTC

Heh. Definition of my life. Admittedly, it wasn't Perl... That came 3 years after C, but, eh, it'll do. :D
Quite the amusing comic ^_^

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby philsov » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:30 pm UTC

so do programmers not go to college or something? Kinda need a diploma for that :P

Don't get me wrong. My current career path could have been handled with probably a total of two semesters worth of class, but there's no way I would have what I do if I didn't jump hoops and do tricks for the otherwise excessive classes and gotten my degree in the first place.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Yossarian » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:02 pm UTC

dharmamama wrote:Yes, because we all know that every graduate of every other school would have written it perfectly, following all conventions of formal writing, right?


Nice try at rebuttal by sarcasm, but you're looking at things a little too simplistically. I'm not judging the entry against every piece of written communication out there; I'm judging it against its peers - other Wikipedia entries - which, by and large, do follow said conventions or are soon edited to do so. Wikipedia entries tend to be written by people with expertise or personal knowledge of the subject at hand, and the tone of much of this one tends to not fit the context of educational methodology. Thus, my conclusion.

I mean, I might just be a snob. Wouldn't be the first time I've been accused of it. There's a reason, though, that we teach children to share, to eat their vegetables, to multiply and divide numbers - because we're not born wanting to do everything that's beneficial for us. As adults, we form habits of exercise, proper diet, etc. not always because that's how we'd really want to eat or spend our time and energy given the choice but because we have the mental capacity to know that, in the long run, these things are better for us than their alternatives.

Now, I know that reasoning doesn't fully apply to what subjects get taught in school; I'm just supporting the idea of a foundation for an education program instead of the idea that, "Given the choice, children will do what's best for themselves." It's an idea that we, as a society, reject even for many adults, the argument being that there's always someone (or a group of someones) wiser and more experienced who can help us make better use of our time and effort and keep us from making mistakes that have been made in the past.

And explicitly excluding parents from the schooling of their children? Don't get me started on the disconnect that can cause at home.

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Klapaucius » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:08 pm UTC

I wonder how many people besides myself read the alt-text, assumed he was speaking generically, and agreed, speaking as a strange kid in an 11th-grade homeroom*?

*I am posting this from my actual 11th grade homeroom
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby ThemePark » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:11 pm UTC

Threb wrote:On a semi-related note, is it just me, or is the quality of a teacher in school directly proportional to how much they ramble and tell stories about things unrelated to the subject? This year, I have an amazing Spanish teacher whose most commonly used phrase is probably "I gotta tell you a story, guys" and whose favorite activities are mentioning Greek philosophers and pointing out Greek word origins, seeming really proud, (in an odd way) that the words came from Greek. (Guy can read and write Hebrew, as well. He's all around awesome.) His class is the only one I learn a lot in consistently. (though that could be in part due to having no knowledge of Spanish gained from reading books. I kind of just 'ended up' in the class, but I'm very pleased with it.)

Other teachers that have rambled like this have been my favorites, too.

No, this definitely rings true for me as well.

One of my courses is ITO, Information Technology in Organizations, the most boring course you can imagine. Our teacher however makes some interesting slide, that sum up the chapters we've had to read very well, and on top of that he often pairs up his teaching with relevant stories from his own life. He really understands how to make his course interesting and fun, and you actually learn something from him.

Then we've had a temp teacher for 2-3 weeks in that same subject. She's not a bad teacher, but she's horrible with teaching us this subject. She does the same mistake as most teachers I had on that school during a different education, do. Her slides are nothing but boring diagrams, and it seems like she just reads straight out of the book. She was only there to teach us about e-business, but even after looking at her slides and the chapters we've had to read, I've learned nothing.
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Stupid High School Tricks

Postby dennisw » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:16 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:This struck a really raw nerve, as here in MA the Board of Education (sort of like the Ministry of Love) decreed a minimum number of alleged class hours for high school students. Never mind that, e.g., in Acton, MA, 95% of the students go on to 4-year colleges, the standardized test scores rock, the number of AP scholars is huge, etc. --- and all that while for years we refused to jack up the actual class hours to match the state requirement.

All the schools lie and cheat to meet the requirement anyway. Some count lunch and passing time; some set up year long "independent projects" which supposedly take 10 to 15 hrs/ week of student work outside school, some give sports or marching band a pile of free hours.
My son got a couple hundred free hours by signing a piece of paper saying he was taking independent study in Ruby programming. The only thing he knows about Ruby is the name -- and this was just fine with the school!

It's one thing to say that students who are performing a couple grade levels below their age should get extensive tutoring or remedial help. But to beat on the many students, and schools, whose academic performance is above reproach, is just pathetic.


The high school I went to had a requirement that every student take a study hall period. I had to fight (and won) to be able to take a full schedule and not have to sit through Spitwad 101 every day.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby tahrey » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:18 pm UTC

Short version: GOOMH,R!

In full whilst trying not to go on too long*:
Oh god, too true. The graph is slightly skewed in my case, but still fairly true. Basically my current - and more or less best paid, and more or less most secure and also easy going - job has come out of what I did instead of studying for and led to me doing not so brilliantly in my last couple years at school and all through university... Just as well really, because the areas I actually "chose" (was recommended...) to study are both pretty bloody dull and are in continual oversubscription as regards newly qualified, fresh faced n00bs, so I'm not particularly cut up to have missed out on several years slogging away as a lab assistant before getting some slightly better post in a smalltime biological research institute. Whereas, clueless lusers aside, being an AV tech is interesting and almost second nature. I need a little badge that says "Ask me about low bitrate MPG2/AC3 encoding from DV, noise filtering and component video connections!" :D
(oh man, how many grades could my BSc have gone up without the availability of TMPGEnc, CD burners and MMX class CPUs?)

In university's defence, besides the computery side of it, being there while learning this stuff rather than sticking at home in some dead end job did grant me a number of other handy life lessons which I won't get into here... mainly things that don't get taught in any normal educational institution (surprisingly few of which were sexual) unless you're subnormal enough to need it as remedial tuition. Plus if I'd just been working and living at home, I'd likely have ended up watching loads of really bad TV instead and never had the opportunity of long, long days of nothingness and next-to-useless broadcast reception (we had mountains on one side, the sea on the other) to spark the experimentation... even into the anime club. Briefly. THE HORROR.
And overall it was damn good fun and sparked a number of great friendships....

Could have done without the awful 2 year interlude afterwards where I was actually IN a job that CAME WITH a hardcore course of study tacked onto it. It was actually aimed at the career I ended up dropping like a hot rock (the feeling was mutual) and it turned out useless to my life, and even half of the stuff we did on the floor. Except for the part where they taught us the more complicated parts of Office that you don't necessarily pick up when just using it for making random graphs, resumés and birthday cards. That was worthwhile, even though it was pretty much an afterthought.

Still waiting for all the messing about in QBasic and making html 1.1 webpages to turn up golden however.

The concept still holds mostly true - been doing adult ed classes to get my core IT knowledge more up to date... and thinking about it has just made me think there's maybe a common thread of decline runs through a lot of these things: school was most useful in the early years and then became progressively more useless until I decided to abandon formal schooling altogether (the college course alongside the horrible job). Started with ECDL (aka ICDL) which was pretty handy, cheap and low-impact, and reasonably interesting - and got me some temporary work that was much appreciated. Went into A+ afterwards as I felt I could probably walk it, and it's a well recommended start point. Learnt a surprisingly large amount, did well, and it may have been a minor factor in getting my current job, though it's not really got any practical application to it. And I've not long finished doing Net+ that has made me doubt whether I'll do any more CompTIA stuff for a while... it was fairly difficult, badly taught, and though again some of it may be relevant to my current role (so I don't make quite as many dumb mistakes when installing the increasingly common IP-networked remote-control kit), the parts that I actually use could have been learnt in an afternoon, rather than most of a year.

Not all schooling is irrelevant. The early years are terribly important - core maths and language skill come from there after all. Then it slowly slides ... high school for me was less learning things that would be drastically important and more just interesting general knowledge that helps in little ways. Lessons from history that give insight to current political affairs, appreciating the finer geographical points of a nice landscape or road layouts in a city, getting by in pidgin fashion when on a european trip (french and german were my options; though i did more french, german proved more useful - go figure) rather than being the stupid near-mute english-speaker; understanding better the workings - or breakdowns - of your body, car/pc and household cleaning products/food (biology, physics, chemistry, design & tech)... etc etc. It's about that Diversifying thing again. The trouble is, a teacher with a class of 30 pupils, and a school with several classes per year group, has no easy way of telling what's going to be useful in your future life, so they have to bombard you with tons of pretty boring stuff that you'll never ever need to know, just so you get that 10% that turns out to be "oh, I remember this! so you do that, and that, and... there, all fixed!".
(Case in point - their official IT lessons were a joke, we'd all been doing it for years, but not everyone will have... so they have to give it to us)

It might just be that the emphasis is the wrong way round. The suggestion of going halfway to a Sudbury situation (which sounds just far too loose to me, and an autistic's paradise; the problem is to properly get useful education you have to be outside your comfort zone sometimes, otherwise you get very smart in a limited area and useless everywhere else) by incorporating the Google philosphy. I think a little of that is starting to leak through to normal schools now ... a pretty cool thing. Just 15 years late for me :)

BTW, who was it said that no programmer ever needed advanced trigonometry? Uh... hello... 3D graphics programming? Digital signal processing? (MPG encoding? Google earth?) You'll have to stay behind to give me 200 lines on "why I shouldn't make silly sweeping statements without considering the implications" :D

* i have no idea how big this actually is, i'm typing on a borrowed Eee PC. The screen... so small... it's like I'm back in 1995... and the keyboard is doing wierd things to my touch type instincts...

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby DesSidDes » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:49 pm UTC

High school wasn't too bad... Given I was never interested in English or history, and all my other subjects were interesting...

For all you Sudbury School proponents, I just wanted to know how kids who go through that type of system can end up going to college? Is that an option for them?

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby AWA » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:58 pm UTC

The comic made me chuckle, the alt-text made me "Awww...", mostly because I am that strange kid. If anyone in my homeroom sees this, please talk to me. It might be the most important ten minutes of your life.

In any case, my dad and I have a little in-joke that goes along the lines of:
Me: "Why don't they teach you to balance a checkbook in school?"
Dad: "That's what I've always wondered...I can never use matrices to fix this piece of shit."

Yeah. I'm strange.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Osirius » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:01 pm UTC

I much prefer the modified Sudbury School model, as it would have left me free to continue studying biology, instead of taking a stupid speech class that was required by everyone in the school to graduate. I cannot, to this day, remember a single thing I learned in that class, except for a live demonstration on how to play Guitar Hero 3, which was basically an excuse to play video games in class.

It didn't help that the class was taught by my football(american) coach, whom didn't even have a degree in the subject.

Also, don't let the parents have too much say in the education. My father specifically wanted to hold me back because I was going to graduate a year younger than everyone, and said that AP classes were " a crock of shit" and didn't allow me to take them until senior year. Everyone else who had been in the advanced classes graduated Magna Cum Laude, including our dual valedictorians. So yeah, the modified Sudbury would would work much better, and would also prepare the kids for college life better, as a lot of your study is independent, which hit me like a ton of bricks.

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby radtea » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:07 pm UTC

"A physicist will never need Biology. A historian will never need Java programming. And a programmer of any kind will never need GOD DAMN Advanced Trigonometry."

I am a physicist with an interest in history who runs a software and scientific consulting business, and I can say empirically that this is wrong on all counts.

The problem is not that the stuff you learn in school is irrelevant, it's that most people lead lives that are so dull and narrow that they never encounter its relevance.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Yossarian » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:18 pm UTC

radtea wrote:The problem is not that the stuff you learn in school is irrelevant, it's that most people lead lives that are so dull and narrow that they never encounter its relevance.


Yes. Thank you.

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Troger64 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:20 pm UTC

AWA wrote:The comic made me chuckle, the alt-text made me "Awww...", mostly because I am that strange kid. If anyone in my homeroom sees this, please talk to me. It might be the most important ten minutes of your life.

In any case, my dad and I have a little in-joke that goes along the lines of:
Me: "Why don't they teach you to balance a checkbook in school?"
Dad: "That's what I've always wondered...I can never use matrices to fix this piece of shit."

Yeah. I'm strange.


i think the alt text meant that the creepy guy is the guy that shoots up the school

and for you to interact with him you make it off the kill list :(

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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby cparker15 » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:23 pm UTC

Randall, get out of my head! The story of my high school career, down to the letter.
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Re: "11th Grade" Discussion

Postby Ansible » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:29 pm UTC

Ha, I just finished my 11th grade fall exams. Get out of my head!


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