Design your own ideal education system

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aneeshm
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Design your own ideal education system

Postby aneeshm » Sun Mar 15, 2009 6:01 pm UTC

I've noticed that when discussing education systems, the focus is always on a system which works for everyone. The discussion is shaped by the goals of a public education system whose job it is to educate every citizen.

Though this is a worthwhile discussion in itself, it doesn't account for the tremendous personal variation in how people learn. The constraints which exist at this "universal" level often leave no scope for exploring the more individualised educational preferences of the participants in the discussion.

So, being curious, I'm opening this thread so that people may post their opinions of how their ideal system would work. Now when I say ideal system, I don't mean ideal for educating everyone, or anything like that, I mean ideal for you, the poster. What system would have been your dream to be a part of? In what sort of environment would you have thrived?

Radical changes and completely new educational structures are fine by me. Even if what you say couldn't work for 99% of people, but would work only for you and people like you, I'm fine with it - in fact, that's rather what I'm curious about. Even if what you say couldn't scale up, or, alternatively, could only work in very large groups (and therefore could not scale down), I have no objection.

If scale, structure, required resources, and in general feasibility were no bar, and the sole objective was educating you in the best possible way, what would your ideal look like? This doesn't mean that you can invent a Matrix-like teaching device which imparts knowledge directly to the brain, of course, or any other outlandish idea, it simply means that you can forget your worries about implementation for the moment.


NOTE: Because I have thought rather a lot about this in the past few months, my thinking may be in a bit of a rut. I don't want anyone to be influenced by the OP itself, so I'll defer posting about my own ideas until the thread has garnered a few responses.

NOTE 2: As tends to happen to quite a few of my threads, for some reason, I'm conflicted as to whether to put this in General or SB. As I want the discussion to be serious (though open to new, sometimes tentative ideas, and exploratory in nature), I've put it in SB. The problem is that this discussion is by nature rather subjective - it's very difficult to produce a paper or citation or reference which will demonstrate that a system which (probably) doesn't yet exist is the ideal one for a poster we don't personally know - therefore the conflict of where to put it. If posting it here was a mistake, I apologise, and request that it be moved.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby andy33gmail » Sun Mar 15, 2009 7:12 pm UTC

I think the ideal system would be one where there was always the opportunity to work harder - books available, enthusiastic and good teachers. At the same time, I never liked pressure - I tend to give myself high goals and am already motived - but it tends to backfire when people try to "push" me. I guess I'm saying is that I'm as stubborn as a muel.

There'd be a lot of opportunity to explore subjects you find interesting although there would be people suggesting that I spend more time on related subjects to compliment those I was interested in or to ensure I was employable at the end (e.g. encouraged not to be in a situation where I was at grad level Maths at 16 but couldn't actually read or write words ;-)

People who discouraged others from working or from achieving would be excluded. A culture of hard work would be encouraged and links would be demonstrated more explicitly between performance and later living conditions.

A wide range of physical activity would be made available and no one particular type of excercise would be forced. For example, I hated rugby (on a frozen field - which hardly encourages people - but that's an aside) but now walk several miles a day and occasionally do ultra-walking

Pupils should be seen as important. I've on a number of occasions had teachers explicitly or near-explicitly say "I'm more important than you".

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Compintuit » Mon Mar 16, 2009 5:09 pm UTC

It already exists:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudbury_school

Too bad it's so damn hard to get into - I'd love to go there.
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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Mar 16, 2009 5:40 pm UTC

And this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University ... ve_Studies

Although, I must say, if it sounds and looks great on paper, it very well might not be in reality.

The Montessori school system seems awesome, but a few friends who went to it wish they hadn't.

I don't think we should make one school to fit them all (hyuk hyuk) because people learn differently.
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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Compintuit » Mon Mar 16, 2009 6:01 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:And this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University ... ve_Studies

Although, I must say, if it sounds and looks great on paper, it very well might not be in reality.

The Montessori school system seems awesome, but a few friends who went to it wish they hadn't.

I don't think we should make one school to fit them all (hyuk hyuk) because people learn differently.

I agree that one size will never fit all. Also, I rather thought that university courses were a lot better then the preceding education. I have no problem with the way they are taught now. (OK, so maybe killing those 300+ people classrooms might help...)
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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Mar 16, 2009 9:21 pm UTC

I dunno, as much as I hated Psych 1 and the 300 other kids sleeping in it with me, I kind of dug the enormousness of it all. Life isn't about always getting what you want. Introductory material serves to get you all on the same page, so you can go take your classes of interest and not be totally lost. If you hate them so much, take AP courses and test out. Otherwise, suck it up and learn. If you can't handle an introductory course, you aren't ready for upper stuff.
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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby 4=5 » Tue Mar 17, 2009 2:09 am UTC

I would be taught by making things with a mentor an some capable peers, so I could answer my internal why am I doing this with "because it will do something useful". I would also want a the internet so I could find all the interesting ideas in existence.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby gerb » Tue Mar 17, 2009 4:26 am UTC

I did great when I was homeschooled.
We didn't always do it right, though... (Mom: Oh, you missed a few questions. Here, I'll reset it so you can take it again. *wink*)

Ideal schooling, though:
There would be general classes (math, english, science), but the students can choose what they want to focus on in each.
Lots of electives to choose from. Pick a class-worthy hobby and make it a class. Learn all about it.
I get a 'research mode'. Something randomly strikes me as interesting and I have to know all about it. That's the sort of research paper I'd have fun with. :-)
I don't work well without deadlines, so there'd have to be somebody to assign them and grade what I do, but they're forbidden from assigning needless busywork.
The teacher(s) must be interested. They have to care what they're teaching and know ME. Not just how to teach people, but how to teach ME.
And the Wii Fit makes a pretty good P.E. class for me.
Oh, and definitely a really well equipped kitchen with lots of yummy recipes for me to try. :-D
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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby coney » Thu Mar 19, 2009 6:10 am UTC

Compintuit wrote:It already exists:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudbury_school

Too bad it's so damn hard to get into - I'd love to go there.


I second this. While I know that this thread was about personal ideal systems, this system does more to cater to everyone than any other system. Only homeschooling (without government intervention) and unschooling would possibly be better. And personally, over all that has been considered and tried, I'd prefer a system that isn't a system at all, but an education integrated within a tribal way of living, kind of like how religion isn't religion at all in indigenous tribes, but rather a way of life itself.

The Sudbury model is almost unanimously preferred (I haven't been able to find any criticisms of it other than worries of safety and teasing from non-Sudbury students, calling it a "daycare" of sorts.) It delegates education completely to the student, and takes advantage of the fact that the young naturally have an insatiable curiosity. Students teach themselves, essentially, have access to "teachers" who teach only when asked and act more like experts on various subjects, and have access to many different resources, such as wilderness, musical instruments, a kitchen, a library, computers and the internet, as well as plenty of other students that share interests. There are no tests, no curricula, no anything structured at all.

To me, the Sudbury model is close to ideal, but lacks in some areas (although they seem to be generally insignificant.) Feedback of progress is generally non-existent, except at the end of the educational career when testing into colleges, so I guess it depends on whether you need that, what you need it for, and where else you can get it (for example, I would not recommend this model to be applied to colleges, as colleges are generally meant for guided teaching towards achieving a goal which you will use later in life, and here it may be less about the fun and more about the challenge, if that's how you approach college, anyway.) Boredom does also occur, but in a widely diverse educational sphere, it comes and goes without much worry. Also, and this is not really specific to a Sudbury school, students are in there too long. I just feel that thirteen years of education is way too much to really get anything out of it. Especially when considering that historically, thirteen years is a recent development, based on what may or may not be a truly "educational" motive. But that's a topic for another day.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Carnildo » Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:34 am UTC

My ideal education system would have no teachers, no grades, no classes, and no curriculum. What it would have is a building with a huge library and well-equipped labs, staffed by a group of subject-area experts. When you want to learn something, you look up the appropriate expert(s) and work out a plan of study.

Basically, everything I wish I had access to when I was homeschooling.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Iv » Thu Mar 19, 2009 12:09 pm UTC

Interesting question. Thinking about it, two great events radically changed my way of learning stuff. First, Internet. It arrived in the 90s for me and suddenly, all the traditional stores of knowledges : libraries, teachers, etc... looked obsolete to me. Hypertext and search functions radically change the way one learns new informations. Unfortunately, wikipedia became almost usable only during the last years of my studies but if everything was to be made again, I think that I would argue with my parents to sit in front of my PC reading wikipedia instead of going to college history classes.

Second, I remember that when I arrived in engineering school, I switched from an environment where I was the geeky guy to a place where I was in the norm, and with people who had the same experience and thus arrived fairly open-minded to each other. Too bad it only lasted for one or two years before the same group dynamics appeared. But exchanges with fellow students had a very high signal/noise ratio. It is them who introduced my with linux or real robotics, something teachers apparently didn't see as very useful.

So my ideal education system would be :
* Wikipedia surf as soon as possible (maybe using some parental control if you are into these kind of things).
* Meetings at groups of various interests. The pretext could be lab/instruments/sport equipment/computer sharing. There needs to be the occasion of seeing what other people are doing and asking them about it.
* Mandatory classes one day a week. I have to admit that a small proportion of the stuff I learned was through the tradition process of having a teacher explain it. I wouldn't have dug up all these algorithmic and mathematical knowledges without teachers insistence and now they have proved very valuable. So I could see a committee of teachers mandating classes that seem necessary in a given situation (the illiterate mathematician above is an example).

That is not part of the ideal education system but part of a society that would implement it : I would mandate the meeting with random people once in a while. Maybe for a one-day project that could have an artistic, technical or social goal. It is important to meet all kind of people in one's life.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby rat4000 » Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:17 pm UTC

Hmm.

Let's see. First, schooling does not start at 5. I find that ridiculous. Schooling starts at 7, 8, or 9, based on what the kid and the parents want. Second, there is no set school year, nor a set time when you have to appear at the school. How do teachers handle that?

We change their work time. First, since we have lots of money, we increase the teacher : student ratio. I can't really do the maths, but we get enough teachers to do what I want. And what I want is: teachers stay in the school from 8 o'clock am to 8 o'clock pm, 4 days a week. This is a 48-hour workweek, so their pay gets raised a little (not much, as it is nigh-impossible that they are ALWAYS with a student). Also, there must always be a certain number of teachers in the school for every subject.

How does learning work? Well, there's a set of tests you have to take, and a set of tests you can choose to take, for every subject. For example, everyone HAS to take math tests 1 through 9, but if someone wants to study something maths-related at university, they also have to take math tests 10 through 13. Or something. You get the idea.

You can learn for the tests however you want. There is a huge library at the school, and lots of classrooms, though not big ones, and every teacher has his own room. You can also study entirely at home and only show up at the school so you can take the tests.

You can get help from other students, and are encouraged to do so. You can go to a teacher at any time, and there may even be classes, if several students find their learning methods similar enough to make a class together. Missing a class, of course, has no consequences besides the rest of the class looking down on you.

If you want to, teachers will give you assignments and deadlines They have no right to do so if you don't want them, but if you DO want them and then fail enough of them, your next test in that subject might have a fixed amount of points taken off.

Once you're 18 (or earlier, if you want) your notes on all tests are taken into consideration, and you get told what universities you are allowed to attend, and which courses. I'm not very clear on what happens in universities yet. If you haven't taken all the tests that are required at 18, you're screwed as you can't retake anything any more and are doomed to the fate of a person with no university education. It's your own damned fault.

You're allowed to retake tests up to three times for a better note.

So, imagine you're a kid considered bright by his parents who really wants to be a programmer one day. You start school at 9 and your learning schedule is pretty much regulated by your parents. You mainly get taught by older students, and sometimes, relatively rarely, by teachers.

You grow up, become 14. Your parents stop trying to control your schedule and you start taking maths and programming classes like there's no tomorrow, having taken about three quarters of all required tests in the previous five years. You already have a serious background in programming, though, because you had some older mates who showed you the ropes. So to speak.

You work your ass off because you love programming. By this point, you get more tutoring by teachers than by students, because you're too good for students to teach effectively. You want assignments, you get assignments, and work on them with your friends (older and younger). You want deadlines because you think that's how the real world works, so you get tight deadlines. You have all the tests needed for a university when you're 16. You start university at 17.

Nice job.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Gears » Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:54 pm UTC

Excessive tardies and disruption would get you booted out of school. Graded by tests and no "artsy" projects for say, science. If I want art i'll go to art!
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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Darklore13 » Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:15 pm UTC

For me, the ideal education system would start out structures, until 6-8th grade, where it would get alot more free. After these starting grades there would be very little requirement for classes (maybe something like 2-3 of each standard subject, but with multiple options), and you would be given a very wide variety of classes to choose and schedule as you wished.

For example, lets say in 7th grade, I might want a couple science, a couple math, some computer courses, and one english to get it over with. I wouldn't need to have it be math+science+history+english each year. There might need to be some assigned courses, but as little as possible.

In 10-12 grade though, it would change to a very independant study similar to that suggested earlier. I personally hate how school has a limit on how much you can learn from it. I'm in 10th grade atm and I am taking (all the highest-level classes too) Hon Pre-Calculus, Hon English, Hon World Cultures, Hon Chemistry, Gym (semester), Health (semester), Lab / Study Hall(required with almost all sciences), and thats all required courses, leaving me two slots for electives, Japanse 3 (I really enjoy japanese so I'm going to be using this slot for all of high school) and Comp. Sci. / Hon Comp Sci Visual Basic.

I would really rather take other computer / math / science courses, but I have no other slots for electives. Also, I would rather move beyond these classes, which I could study beyond, but that would either make things extremely akward at school (if I'm lucky) or make these classes extremely boring.

If school allowed me to study the subjects I was interested in on my own, with teacher help when neccesary, I'm pretty sure I could have bypassed the classes I'm in now, and gotten alot deeper as well. At the very least, I'd like to schedule classes when I want them (as long as it is taught then) and have a later start (I hate waking up to get to the bus as 6:40)

Sorry for rambling slightly, but I really feel that the school system has problems because it caters to the average and the lower level before higher level students, ultimately holding them back and boring them to tears.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Charlie! » Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:26 pm UTC

rat4000 wrote:Let's see. First, schooling does not start at 5. I find that ridiculous. Schooling starts at 7, 8, or 9


Wha? Assuming we're talking about the complete educational system, including homeschooling, then what the heck?

I assumed you were going to say "schooling starts at 3 with free non-cumpulsory daycare that has books, adults and educational videos lying around." Why would any society benefit from not making school available until age 7?

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en ... tnG=Search
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_o ... 3f5c93e179

Early childhood education, people!
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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Zamfir » Fri Mar 27, 2009 2:03 pm UTC

I am not sure if improving education for smart people who will learn enough anyway is really the right direction. The examples in this thread are a bit elitist aren't they?

Smart, motivated students will end up OK anyway. The big challenge in most systems is to rescue the potential drop-outs, kids who are not able and/or not willing to learn, but who are going to regret that later on.

Free systems, where students pick their own interests and decide the speed of their education can be killing for the weaker students.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Iv » Fri Mar 27, 2009 2:59 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Free systems, where students pick their own interests and decide the speed of their education can be killing for the weaker students.

Do we want to provide anyone with the best education possible or do we want to put anyone to the same high education level ? If it is the later, I think brain surgery and enhancing drugs will become necessary...

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Chen » Fri Mar 27, 2009 3:43 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Free systems, where students pick their own interests and decide the speed of their education can be killing for the weaker students.


I need to agree with this. For every student in grade 7 who is mature and intelligent enough to decide their own course load there'll likely be numerous others that would just choose the "easiest" so they could be done with it, nevermind the consequences. Hell, there are still people in universities who do this.

Now if its just an ideal education system assuming an ideal world too, then sure these suggestions are all interesting. If its an ideal education system for a REAL world, I'd have serious concerns that practically none of these would work, except for a very small minority.

I would agree with opening up more options as you got into later years of education. Having a fairly broad basic education is a fairly good idea I'd think. Once you start hitting grades 11-13 (or whatever it is in the states) sure start opening up more focussed curriculums that students can choose from. Ideally at this time people will have SOME inkling of what they want to do or at least what things interest them and MAY in the future become a career. Earlier than that though and I'd worry the immaturity of most students would end up just making the choices "easy" vs "hard" rather than "interesting" vs "not interesting".

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby rat4000 » Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:10 pm UTC

Re: starting school late

To be fair, the reason I actually put that there was that a five-year-old would have no way of survival in my education system. Calling it "ridiculous" was kind of overdone. I just find it weird that children that small actually go to school - isn't it better for socialising just to... take them out to playgrounds? let them go to kindergarden where they can socialise but do absolutely nothing besides socialising, and definitely don't do studying or homework? Because I find it better to go out and meet kids and talk to kids when you're a kid rather than learning to read or write or calculate.

I myself started school at 7 (here in Europe, I don't think there's a single country that starts below six), but I knew how to read and do really basic maths before that. I'm in a class with children who started school at 6, and I'm not falling behind. Nor would any of the other people I know who started school later. I might well be biased, though. In fact, I am biased. Scratch that bit about age, or at least make them all start at 7 or something.

Re: making an elitist school system

The first post said "ideal for you, the poster" and that would be the perfect system for me.

That said, I only know a couple of people who couldn't cope with it, and I'm not in a school for particularly gifted students. I mean, if you want to learn, you'll learn anyway. If you don't, you won't. People who learn because of parent pressure will still learn because of parent pressure in my system. People who learn because everyone else does and they don't want to fall behind will still do it in my system, and that might actually turn into a stronger incentive when people actually learn what they want to learn (because people generally work more when they like the work). So what do we lose?

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Carnildo » Sat Mar 28, 2009 2:04 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:Smart, motivated students will end up OK anyway. The big challenge in most systems is to rescue the potential drop-outs, kids who are not able and/or not willing to learn, but who are going to regret that later on.

The hard part is doing this without interfering with the smart, motivated students. One of my brothers scored an 800 on the math SAT in sixth grade, and was able to wave that in the face of any administrator who wanted to put him on the "bright students" pre-algebra/algebra 1/geometry/algebra 2/trig/pre-calc track, and managed to take Calc 1 in eighth grade. I didn't have any suitable test scores to wave at them (a 530 on math is only impressive if you know it was done without knowing algebra), so I had to get out of the system entirely.

Chen wrote:
Zamfir wrote:Free systems, where students pick their own interests and decide the speed of their education can be killing for the weaker students.


I need to agree with this. For every student in grade 7 who is mature and intelligent enough to decide their own course load there'll likely be numerous others that would just choose the "easiest" so they could be done with it, nevermind the consequences. Hell, there are still people in universities who do this.

Even the "easy route" can be quite educational. My first six months of homeschooling consisted of reading ten years' back issues of Analog. Sounds like the "easy route", right? I figure I picked up more general science knowlege in those six months than I did in nine and a half years of public schooling and two university-level science classes. Learning isn't simply a matter of sitting at a desk being lectured at -- you learn much more from building a world for a story you're writing, or looking out the window as your airplane flies from Los Angeles to New York, or doodling in the margin of your notebook as the professor drones on.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby GoodRudeFun » Sat Mar 28, 2009 12:08 pm UTC

For the most possible fun, for me, it would have been based entirely on conversation, with grades based ONLY on tests. The teaching would have focused on understanding concepts rather than memorizing things...

I would have done well in a system like that, and learned more than I have now. The problem with it is that it wouldn't have taught me to apply my knowledge to work at all. I'd need a system that encouraged me to do actual work.

So here's what would be nice: a dynamic student driven education system. Dynamic enough to allow for the proper teaching methods of EVERYONE, since everyone learns differently. Student driven so that it works with students and not against as the current systems seem to.

Also and education system needs to be able to identify problems ASAP. Not just learning disabilities, but all problems. If a student is having trouble getting work done, but is still smart, they probably have a problem and need help. There needs to be a method of getting them to work by providing a comfortable environment and encouragement to do that work. My problem with school was that I was highly intelligent, I could pass tests like nobodies fucking business*, but I couldn't get myself to do the work. I was presumed to be lazy, but in reality I had a real problem. these types of things need to be addressed, or people will slip through the cracks in any system.

*Funny anecdote about that:(spoilerized for tangent-ness)
Spoiler:
I was in an AP psych class for the last semester that I attended school. I'm not sure how I managed to get in there, considering my horrible grades, but I did. I was planning on getting out of school and moving to independent studies so I really didn't care anymore about my grades anyways. I did however, pay attention in the class when i showed up. I didn't take notes, and I didn't always show up, but I payed attention.

We had a test, and everyone else had their notes. They had all showed up every day and they had all done the work. We took our little tests, and got them back. I somehow STILL managed to get the highest test score in the class. Its funny because those kids were all likely destined to be lawyers, doctors and engineers, they were AP kids who had full AP classes. Here I am, destined to drop out and get a GED(though I am in college now, and hopefully will transfer to a university when possible), and I'm running circles around them!


Another thing to consider is that I did well enough in independent studies for a while. If not for the fact that I moved into the middle of nowhere where even that wasn't available without a bureaucratic nightmare and a 2 hour commute, I would have stayed in and finished highschool easily. I'm not sure why it worked, because I could never do homework before that, but it did.
Oh. Well that's alright then.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Philwelch » Tue Mar 31, 2009 2:30 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:I am not sure if improving education for smart people who will learn enough anyway is really the right direction. The examples in this thread are a bit elitist aren't they?

Smart, motivated students will end up OK anyway. The big challenge in most systems is to rescue the potential drop-outs, kids who are not able and/or not willing to learn, but who are going to regret that later on.

Free systems, where students pick their own interests and decide the speed of their education can be killing for the weaker students.


You know, I hear this a lot, and it's bullshit. Smart students are the most valuable type to cultivate for a society because smart people contribute the most. A lot of them are the potential dropouts. And if you read enough biographies you'll find that the most notable geniuses are usually very, very unusual people with odd mental habits. They're probably very difficult to optimally educate as children, but you probably gain a lot by doing so. And if you let these kids go, a lot of them are going to waste their talents.

Yes, sometimes a smart kid will learn despite every obstacle the system throws in her way. But smart kids are still just kids, and they still need help to come into their own.
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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Zamfir » Tue Mar 31, 2009 8:18 am UTC

rat4000 wrote:People who learn because of parent pressure will still learn because of parent pressure in my system. People who learn because everyone else does and they don't want to fall behind will still do it in my system, and that might actually turn into a stronger incentive when people actually learn what they want to learn (because people generally work more when they like the work). So what do we lose?


What I am personally afraid of, is that an education system that is too free relies too heavily on supportive, well-educated parents, who have already fully convinced their children that doing well in school is important, even if they do not like it, who are able to monitor the progress of their children, who know themselves the material that is being taught, who will step in quick enough when their children slack off. Upper middle class parents who expect all of their children to go to university.

Th two groups you mention as problem cases are children who only learn because of their parents, and children who only learn to keep up in the group. But for children from poor backgorunds, with parents without much education, those pressures are a lot weaker. Parents who did not have much education veiw, on average, education as less important. And when they take it seriously, it is harder for them: they don't know exactly how the system works, they can't judge the progress of their children very well, they have more trouble to judge how much benefit a bit of extra work will have. And if the peer group of their children has a similar background, keeping up with the group is a lot less of an incentive.

This is of course a problem in all systems, and you could argue that there should be multiple systems next to each other, for every child what fits best. But danger is that you wil develop a free-ranging top system that is implicitly excluding a lot of children, including children with lots of talent.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby rat4000 » Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:44 pm UTC

It's odd how my experience of education colours my perceptions :)

Hmm. Parents who are poorly educated exist now, too, and their children still go to school. These parents can check how their child is doing because of notes: my system has notes, too, although they come up more rarely. Since you're allowed to retake tests, there's nothing stopping you from doing badly, having your parents notice, and having them punish you to make you study so you can do better - much like it is now.

The other problems you listed (such as parents not knowing how much extra work is needed) will be remedied in my system by teachers. I think that's how it works now, too. Remember how I said that teachers can spend more time with individual students?

Thing is, for me people who need pressure to study won't study much or well anyway, or, at the very least, will end up unhappy - I suspect this is why I created a system based around people who actually WANT to study. That peer group thing exists now, too, and my system (it doesn't have classes, which makes it easier to meet other people, and it makes it far easier for the teachers to influence students*) might actually help with it.

*because having a person talk to you with a concerned voice in a room where you're alone (when no one knows why you're there, or even if you're there) is different from having that conversation in front of all your friends.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Carnildo » Wed Apr 01, 2009 3:05 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:who have already fully convinced their children that doing well in school is important,

Is doing well in school important? I don't think so: it's learning that's important, and most children know that from the get-go. One of the big problems with the current education system is that "learning is important" very quickly gets replaced with "doing well in school is important" (or "doing well in school isn't important"), and the importance of learning gets lost.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Zamfir » Wed Apr 01, 2009 7:27 am UTC

Carnildo wrote:Is doing well in school important? I don't think so: it's learning that's important, and most children know that from the get-go


Well, you still need some guidelines what things are important to learn, how much effort specific subjects are worth, etc. If your parents, and your wider environment, have an accurate idea of those things, they will pass that on to you, and then learning in the abstract can be more important than doing well in school.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby GoodRudeFun » Wed Apr 01, 2009 7:50 am UTC

Carnildo wrote:
Zamfir wrote:who have already fully convinced their children that doing well in school is important,

Is doing well in school important? I don't think so: it's learning that's important, and most children know that from the get-go. One of the big problems with the current education system is that "learning is important" very quickly gets replaced with "doing well in school is important" (or "doing well in school isn't important"), and the importance of learning gets lost.


I actually have to agree. These days all you have to do is turn the hamster wheel, and you pass. No thinking is required. And while work ethic is important, it should not ever detract from learning.


Consider my anecdote from earlier. The AP kids where doing very well in school, and yet a loser like me runs circles around them without even trying(not too brag or anything >.>).

I think a balance needs to be struck between teaching work ethic and actually teaching. Work ethic is important, but what good is it if you have no knowledge to apply to your work?
Oh. Well that's alright then.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Ixtellor » Fri Apr 03, 2009 1:23 pm UTC

GoodRudeFun wrote:I actually have to agree. These days all you have to do is turn the hamster wheel, and you pass. No thinking is required. And while work ethic is important, it should not ever detract from learning.


Depends on the school and the teachers.

GoodRudeFun wrote:Consider my anecdote from earlier. The AP kids where doing very well in school, and yet a loser like me runs circles around them without even trying(not too brag or anything >.>).


Have you considered the possiblity your the exception and not the rule? I don't think kids who slack off our going to out perform hard working AP kids very often (In terms of academic achievement)

Carnildo wrote:Is doing well in school important? I don't think so: it's learning that's important, and most children know that from the get-go. One of the big problems with the current education system is that "learning is important" very quickly gets replaced with "doing well in school is important" (or "doing well in school isn't important"), and the importance of learning gets lost.
.


I don't know if anyone is familiar with Signalling Theory.

College doesn't teach you how to do most of the Jobs in America. You learn that stuff "on the job". For example, there is not course on how to 'manage alluminum aquisition through Chiliean subsidiaries'.

What a college degree does mean, is that you possess qualities a prospective employer would want. Intelligence, work ethic, ability to complete tasks, maturity, focus, etc.

The degree is a 'Signal' to your prospective boss that you will be a good employee.

I probably use less than 20% of all the college courses I took in my actual job[s].

So just to play a little devils advocate, some people would argue that 'doing well' really is more important than what you learn. (All that math and sciency stuff I learned, is leaking from my brain at high rates)

rat4000 wrote:Hmm. Parents who are poorly educated exist now, too, and their children still go to school. These parents can check how their child is doing because of notes


Again, this is not the norm. Odds are that if you are growing up in a poor area, your there because your parents don't value education very much, or they have other priorities. Clearly there are going to be exceptions. If you go to an inner city school, you will find very little parent involvment for a variety of reasons. There will be exceptions to the rule, but again, they are exceptions.


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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Ralith The Third » Fri Apr 03, 2009 11:25 pm UTC

For literature, I think the current system is horrible- What'd work best for me is giving me a list of books/poems/essays I can read, let me pick one, read it (AT MY OWN RATE) and take a short quiz on it, or something- I'm not sure the real purpose of lit classes right now except to impart knowledge of classical lit.

For science, give me textbooks. Lots and lots of textbooks, covering every subject, at a reasonable level. Make the internet and real professors available if I have questions. Scale the textbooks to my difficulty level, and tell me something I need to know, and I'll learn it myself. Tests are alright, as long as they flex. Perhaps an organized lab if I have a question, but no ,"Let's see what happens when we do this, even if you can look online or in a book and find out in two minutes what happens"

For foreign languages, give me a tutor who speaks the language, and is generally intelligent about worldly things, a good translator (be it software or textbook, former'd be easier) and let me talk to him/her, in said language. I am not allowed to speak in english for the duration of the class, or write stuff down. If I can't figure a word out, ask the tutor.

For math (I'm in Algebra 1 right now, so this is skewed)- give me the formula, how it works, why it works, and give me a few examples. If I don't understand it, I ask a real live person. If I understand it (or think I do), I do a few problems, which are checked. I have to get three groups of say.. five problems? in a row correct, and then I can move on, if I feel ready.

For history/social sciences, I think what I have to do now works fairly well. The teacher composes a set of slides in powerpoint for the class, goes through them one by one as we copy them to paper, while explaining them in his own words, and we take a quiz every day or so. We then have a test at the end of the time period (The Depression, Gilded Age, WW2, Rev. War, w/e(it's US history)) and get graded on that. I at least learn the material, although I would appreciate perhaps going through it twice.
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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Philwelch » Fri Apr 03, 2009 11:41 pm UTC

I took good literature classes in high school and there's actually a lot to them that usually isn't taught (except to honors and AP students). Literature can be a lot of fun, and really rewarding, to analyze for symbolism and layers of meaning and so on and so forth. And you can apply similar techniques to film or any other narrative art. And many non-narrative arts.

Of course, most people don't learn anything about this. And I suspect that literary analysis in recent decades has gotten too postmodernist for its own good. And it doesn't teach you anything immediately useful—it would be far better to teach students how to analyze news, propaganda, advertising, political speeches, and other things for lies, logical fallacies, handwaving, and other dishonest techniques.

But literary analysis is a lot of fun. And it's a pretty damning critique of our education system that inherently fun things like algebra, literary analysis, and Shakespeare are rendered dull and uninteresting. (Shakespeare in particular was a guy who wrote plays for popular entertainment—his equivalent today would be one of the best screenwriters or screenwriter/directors in Hollywood. His plays are full of sex and violence and dirty jokes. Just because they're written in an archaic dialect doesn't make them any less fun.)
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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Ixtellor » Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:44 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:it would be far better to teach students how to analyze news, propaganda, advertising, political speeches, and other things for lies, logical fallacies, handwaving, and other dishonest techniques.


1) They cover this Freshman year in many high schools. Although its going to depend on your teacher and the course level. Advanced or Pre-AP courses will most certainly do this.

Philwelch wrote:and Shakespeare are rendered dull and uninteresting


1) My wife (an English Professor) told me there is a giant study, showing how brain development and ability to understand Shakespere affects a persons understanding. More specifically, something happens to the brain around 18, that makes it more accessible.

2) Enjoying Shakespere for the average student is going to have everything to do with their teacher. Ideally, they are both entertaining and well informed.
Example - paraphrased from Romeo and Juliette.

Romeo "What are you thinking about?"
Dude replies "Nothing."

To your typical student, this line is boring. To your uneducated teacher (there are shit tons) it means nothing as well.

To your English scholar... Its a funny sex joke. ( See if you can figure it out )

Ralith The Third wrote:For literature, I think the current system is horrible... [sic]


How would this system work for kids who don't want to be at school and don't want to learn anything? You basically described the montissory system BTW. (pretty sure I mispelled it)

Then add in parents whose response is "I can't control my kid, so good luck".

Would your 'ideal system' still work in those conditions?


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P.S. I am imagining giving a pile of science textbooks to a 14 year old 'wanna be gang member' and predicting his response.
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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Zamfir » Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:08 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:P.S. I am imagining giving a pile of science textbooks to a 14 year old 'wanna be gang member' and predicting his response.


Or for that matter, imagine a first-year university class given a pile of textbooks accompanied by "we'll test you in 7 weeks". You can bet that the result is more "I drank a lot of beer" and less " Now I truly understand". Some people learn well from books, others don't. But even the ones that do hardly manage to learn a lot of stuff on their own for years on end, without the schedule and social function of classes. Especially if that not everything is easy and particularly interesting to them.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Magic Smoothie » Tue Apr 07, 2009 7:37 am UTC

I'd have to agree with everyone about the Sudbury model, perhaps as a boarding school and with at least two plays per year and a choir, along with some books that people were generally expected to read for cultural literacy. Students would be allowed, though not expected, to work at night. I would have started at age four, and from then to 5th grade, I would be expected to be engrossed in my projects by 7:00 AM. Younger children learn best at around that time of day. After that, it would shift to around 9:00. Thirteen years is horribly excessive; I'd say ten, max.
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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Ralith The Third » Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:10 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:
Ralith The Third wrote:For literature, I think the current system is horrible... [sic]


How would this system work for kids who don't want to be at school and don't want to learn anything? You basically described the montissory system BTW. (pretty sure I mispelled it)

Then add in parents whose response is "I can't control my kid, so good luck".

Would your 'ideal system' still work in those conditions?

I have no idea what the montissory system is- Since this is just for me, I did not do any research before hand. I have no idea how well it would work for other people, I just know that I think it would work better for me.
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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Azrael » Tue Apr 07, 2009 1:17 pm UTC

Ok, seriously. Enough.

This is Serious Business and you owe it to the OP and the rest of the thread participants to at the very least actively pretend to know what you're talking about. Never mind how grateful I'd be if you *actually* bothered to know anything about the topic at hand.

If you don't know, don't post.

Ralith, you're politely asked not to return to this thread.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Ixtellor » Thu Apr 09, 2009 8:51 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:Of course, most people don't learn anything about this. And I suspect that literary analysis in recent decades has gotten too postmodernist for its own good. And it doesn't teach you anything immediately useful—it would be far better to teach students how to analyze news, propaganda, advertising, political speeches, and other things for lies, logical fallacies, handwaving, and other dishonest techniques.


I did some research to confirm my previous post and they teach exactly what you suggested in AP English Language and Composition which most High Schools offer during the Junior or 11th grade year.

http://www.collegeboard.com/student/tes ... glang.html

The AP English Language and Composition course is designed to help students become skilled readers of prose written in a variety of rhetorical contexts and to become skilled writers who compose for a variety of purposes. Both their writing and their reading should make students aware of the interactions among a writer's purposes, audience expectations, and subjects as well as the way generic conventions and the resources of language contribute to effectiveness in writing.


So I just thought this might cheer you up.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Game_boy » Sat Apr 11, 2009 2:27 pm UTC

This is UK-centric. GCSEs are done at age 16, most students stay on to do A-levels at age 18.

EDUCATION

Problems:

    Kids come out of school without basic reading, wrting and arithmetic skills
    Brightest students aren't being challenged
    Kids enter university for no reason when could be working
    Kids choose soft subjects that don't lead into jobs
    Teachers teach to exams
    Use of only Microsoft OSs and programs and Intel-based hardware for IT. Windows-centric IT courses.
    Exam boards are redundant (five specifications for one subject, technically equal but widely vary in content and quality) and areout to make money as if they were companies (insane remarking and entry fees; exclusivity deals with textbook companies)

Solutions:

    Primary schools scrap external testing. Substitute regular inspections and teacher assessments. Deliberate teaching towards the assessments not permitted.

    All children should be able to read, write and do basic arithmetic on leaving primary school. Those children that the teacher thinks will not, at age 7, are given additional tutoring.

    Two-tier system at secondary school.
    - Those children expected to receive 5 A*-C at GCSE do secondary school to age 16 then A-levels to age 18 per normal.
    - Those children not predicted to do so receive additional tutoring from age 14 in English and Maths, and share part-time with local college offering vocational qualification. Reduced workload of GCSEs if appropriate. At age 16 may enter workforce with the vocational qualification or go to college to obtain additional ones.

    Media Studies, Psychology, Public Services, Business Studies, Statistics, etc. no longer available at GCSE and discouraged at A-level. Vocational variants of these courses available at college but not at secondary school.

    Increased government sponsorship of university courses in the Sciences, Maths, Engineering, Medicine and similar courses. Some 'respected' Arts courses also, like English or History.

    Reduced sponsorship of e.g. Media Studies, Sociology degrees. Full sponsorship if done vocationally at college.

    Schools not permitted to organise own IT contracts. Hardware purchases cannot be by contract but must be done at time of requirement. Software purchases mandated by central government and must be open-source or free software. If no such programs exist then government writes and maintains programs themselves.

    Exam boards consolidated and independent status removed. Scope narrowed so only GCSE and A-level courses available from the unified exam board; vocational qualifications done separately per below. One specification per subject. International syndication not permitted. Grade boundaries fixed at certain percentages of students, to preserve difficulty.

    Separate body (though government controlled) controls vocational qualifications age 14-18. Specifications are designed in cooperation with several companies of the given vocation, to be neutral but provide good preparation. Each course must include at least 25% time in work under age 16, and 50% in work under age 18.

    Additional material at GCSE and A-level for brightest students in Maths and Sciences. No additional exams and no overlap with future courses, just going into more depth in the subjects covered. Example: A-level Calculus gives you f(b) - f(a) rule without explaining why, additional material would cover derivation and why it works.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby cspirou » Tue Apr 14, 2009 4:52 pm UTC

I've done some thinking about this and I believe I know what works for me. So this is what the cspirou education system would look like.

One thing is that handling multiple subjects at the same time is not something I ever did well at and I usually focus on one and resign the rest to being C's or a B if I'm lucky. Instead of taking 4 classes at the same time over 4 months I would rather take one class every day for one month and then move on to the next and the next. My proof is that summer school was structured by taking one class every day for a few hours for about a month and I learned a great deal when I only have to think about one topic. So my learning style would be "one subject at a time". To have balance I would also have some sort of athletic activity and playing an instrument on a daily basis. Those two activities essentially begin and end during that period. Not only that but they are active instead of sitting in a class which is more passive.

The order is also important. When you wake up in the morning you are pretty sluggish and you need to wake up your mind. So the music class should be in the morning, followed by the class you would take and ending with the athletic activity.

The best way to learn though is with feedback. I remember Feynman mentioning about the standard lecture in front of 200 students will always have limits and the best way is a one-on-one mentor/student model. However due to constraints we can never really educate everyone this way.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby Zcorp » Mon Apr 20, 2009 6:31 pm UTC

Specifics on how I learn best:

On subject at a time for a lengthy period (6-8 hours) each day. (much like cspirou)
Lots of discussion and group projects (with motivated peers who also work well in groups).
During the scheduled school time have assigned tasks that need to be done, that are then gone over in an effort to make sure my understanding of the subject is sufficient.


Also want to be 'graded' by my knowledge of the subject rather then my desire and ability to play by arbitrary rules to get an 'A'.

In general;

Schools need to start catering to the innate motivations of individuals to capitalize on students interest in learning.
Teachers need to start questioning what actually makes a good student, and start 'grading' appropriately.
The primary motivation needs to be imparting knowledge instead of making learning difficult.

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Re: Design your own ideal education system

Postby solitarysock » Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:21 am UTC

The ideal education system for me:
- The opportunity to access any material and ask any questions on any topic that crosses my mind and get them answered fully and accurately until I have no more questions. Including being given pointers to more material, related topics etc.
- Being given new ideas about topics, and new possible assignments on a regular basis, but being able to choose whether I want to do them. These assignments are to be fitted to my interests, but should also offer new outlooks.
- The possibility to get as many assignments as I want of the difficulty I wish, and the possibility to discuss them with someone who knows more than me.
- The possibility to take any exam of any level for any subject at any time I think I'm ready for it.
- The possibility to progress at my own learning speed and not having to wait for anyone except if I want to.
- Free schedules. I hate mornings and can learn very well between 10pm and 2am. I won't learn anything if I'm feeling tired or distracted.
- A quiet learning environment with as few people as possible. Class sizes of less than four, if any classes are to be held.
- The possibility to experiment with and try out just about anything, and someone to teach me how to do so.

I have yet to find a subject that is so extremely boring that there wasn't even a single interesting aspect to it. If challenged appropriately, I will learn just about anything by myself. With goals that are set too low, I lose interest and usually won't learn more than absolutely necessary.
How this is to be achieved... well, homeschooling with an infinite budget and parents who are experts on every topic, I guess. It probably wouldn't work out for many people besides me, either.


Actually, it would already be very good for schooling in general if they had:
- smaller groups -- at my school, there were classes of 35 people (that is, for example, 35 eleven-year-olds with no discipline and a teacher with no power to create any)
- the possibility to take advanced courses in subjects you are good in,
- more room for people to go to during breaks. Being allowed in the library (or anywhere quiet, actually) would've been great
- the possibility to fire teachers if they are not teaching. Yes, we had some, and no, they couldn't be fired.

That's the most basic changes I'd advocate, but I still doubt they'll ever do that. Politicians always say how fundamentally important education is and then cut budgets.


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