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Re: [Czechlist] CHAT: Education

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  • JPKIRCHNER@aol.com
    ... A minority of people in the US believe something like this, because one of our political parties nearly always comes out against anything that would
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 26, 2004
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      In a message dated 1/24/04 12:35:52 PM, veselypetr@... writes:

      > Though I am not a great suporter of the theories saying that hideous
      > politicians want people to be stupid and thus they do their best to achieve
      > the corruption of universities, school education, ruin the middle class etc.
      > etc., this concept comes into my mind in connection with the discussion
      > about educational reform and educational priorities.
      >
      A minority of people in the US believe something like this, because one of
      our political parties nearly always comes out against anything that would
      improve the current public educational system and raise standards to previous
      levels. However, it's probably not an attempt to keep people stupid as much as
      that these politicians are out of touch with reality (generally sending their own
      kids to elite private schools) and also get a great deal of campaign funding
      from the teachers' labor unions, which are usually against any reform other
      than more money.

      > When you've mentioned the computers, their are becoming a sort of idol at
      > (at least some) schools. During my teaching practise, I learned that the
      > subject that was focused on the work with computers and the Internet was a
      > priority there and the headmaster even cancelled some traditional subjects
      > such as domestic skills, workshops where the kids learn how to work with
      > wood, metals, electronic devices etc. and gardening and "donated" the
      > additional lesson time to computer lessons. So the reality is that kids sit
      > on their backsides for six or more lessons in a row and have almost no
      > subject where they could employ other skills that their intelectual
      > potential (apart from PE). The funny thing is that lots of kids learn how to
      > work with PC themselves at home and sometimes they are better at it than the
      > teachers who teach this subject so they don't learn much new stuff in those
      > lessons, while the manual skills have deteriorated a lot, so in a couple of
      > years everybody will know how to work with computer but almost nobody will
      > be able to repair a jammed sink or replace a defective tyre on a bike.
      >
      In the US there is an astronomy professor and computer expert named Clifford
      Stoll who wrote a book called "High-Tech Heretic" about computers in the
      educational system. Even though this man is tech savvy to the point of having
      helped the US government track down the people who originated certain computer
      viruses, he does not believe that computers belong in the schools at all until
      at least high school. There are claims that kids will be "behind" unless the
      schools start them on computers early, but he points out that adults become
      perfectly proficient at computer use in a matter of months, if not weeks.
      Beyond this, he says that children should be spending their early years focusing
      on the real world -- touching real things, looking at them, smelling them,
      listening to them, manipulating them, figuring them out. He tells some really
      sad but funny stories of extreme commitment to "computer literacy" in the
      schools, including one about a science teacher who was worried about the presence of
      magnets in her room. She was so concerned that the kids would accidentally
      or deliberately erase the floppies with these magnets that she removed all
      magnets from the classroom and then taught them magnetism through a computer
      simulation. He mentions another case where parents are oooing and ahhhing over
      the amazing artistic feats of children with clip art and will not stop to look
      at a paper house a little boy has designed and constructed after much trial
      and error. Of the two, the ugly paper house required more skill and ingenuity
      than the clip art pictures, of course.

      I'd really recommend this book if you're interested in it. Maybe someone
      should even translate and publish it.

      > > This is the road to ruin, because there is no stopping point once people
      > > decide they don't have to know anything that can be looked up.   Almost
      > anything
      > > can be looked up, so theoretically there are almost no facts that anyone
      > > actually has to learn.
      >
      > Right, in fact they wouldn't even know what to search for then, though they
      > would perfectly know how to do it. :-)))
      >
      That's absolutely true. They don't know what they don't know. I have
      noticed that people don't see any use for certain knowledge until they already
      know it, and then the uses for it appear.

      > > It's not true.   The Czechs justifiably make fun of how dumb educated
      > > Americans are, but after 10 or 20 years of this approach, they will be the
      > same.
      >
      > I think that you're too optimistic here. :-))) I believe that it due to the
      > liberal concept of educational process which appeared here after the
      > Revolution (which in fact was no revolution at all, as we were told in our
      > "political science" course :-). The kids will have a lot of fun in the
      > lessons and their mental growth won't be violated by evil teachers but they
      > won't learn much, so they will leave the school being happy but dumb.
      >
      Like here.

      > One good thing of the commie era was the fact that because everybody was
      > afraid of authorities and teachers represented the authorities too, pupils
      > didn't dare to disobey much and learnt what they were told. I believe that
      > our relatively good level of education derives from that time and it has
      > constantly been deteriorating since the situation changed.
      >
      I'm behind on what's going on. I should go over and take another look.
      One thing I noticed was that I got nearly no trouble from parents if I failed
      their children in a class. In fact, there were parents who met me for the
      first time and congratulated me for being so rough on their kids, because they
      were proud of how the kids applied themselves and conquered the task. Strangely
      enough, the kids whose parents called and asked what should be studied over
      the summer usually came back in August and failed their makeup exam. The
      kids who came through with flying colors were those whose parents never, ever
      contacted me.

      Anyway, this situation is opposite to that in the US, where some parents will
      come in and scream at a teacher over a C, and the more affluent the
      neighborhood a school is in, the more obnoxious the parents are in this.

      > > However, Czechs shouldn't laugh too quickly at that.   Ten years ago,
      > many
      > > Czech geography teachers taught that the US had 51 states.
      >
      > I was told that too. I am not sure but I think they told us that the 51st
      > state was Puerto Rico or Costa Rica. I mean the state where there is the
      > huge telescope in the jungle (visited by brave Fox Mulder in his search for
      > little green creatures :-))) and that it became part of the USA in the
      > 1990's.
      >
      The teachers in Marianske Lazne said that the 51st state was Washington DC.
      I told the kids it wasn't a state, but as with everything I told them about
      geography (including the fact that we think of North and South America as two
      separate continents) their geography teacher responded that it was "proste
      nesmysl".

      Jamie



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