July 14, 2008

Schools in General

At the turn of the last century, Alfred Binet wanted to identify those students who needed special help in school. This idea has been horribly misused time and time again.

Educators and anyone with more then one kid, knows that there are different learning styles.
Dr. Kolb identified and categorized four of them. (this was probably a mistake, oh well)

Converging - the decision maker (active experimentation-abstract conceptualization) Accommodating - the do-er (active experimentation-concrete experience)
Assimilating - the planner (reflective observation-abstract conceptualization)
Diverging - the creator (reflective observation-concrete experience)

From the two above idea's, wouldn't you want to group children by ability and learning style to most effectively teach kids?

The current method of age grouping may have some kind of advantage, I just am not sure I can figure out what that would be.

I have two kids... geeze, One Adult and one young adult, who went through the public education system, did very well and came out with enough tools to deal with life. My youngest is unique in ability and learning style and trying to find teachers with the skills and understanding is a challenge.

I have found quite a few educators have sever limits they cannot overcome when dealing with children outside of a certain behavior variable. These teachers and their peers seem unaware of said limits until the teacher is put into the situation. Then getting the feedback that makes enough sense to change, or alter the situation is VERY difficult.

You heard that Cops have a code of silence? Teachers turn a blind eye to there comrades abilities and lack there of a lot.


ronnwaters said...

(Danger Long Rant ahead)
You are right. Many teachers are afraid of anything or anyone that is different. You and I can both vouch for that...
There is an informal code of silence. It's considered "bad form" to coach another teacher unless you are vastly more experienced and the other is very new. It's not right and it stagnates our learning, to say nothing of the student's.
I spend a lot of time work time training teachers. They all joke that "teachers make the worst students". It's beyond that. I have had teachers threaten me with violence, lawsuits and union action for insinuating that they might need to learn anything new. Because of an experience with a teacher I chose to do my masters' research on technology resistance by teachers. I found that it's not just tech. It's everything.
There are two types of people who go into teaching: Those that like learning and want to share that with others. There are also those who did well in school (teacher's pet) and like to replicate that. They tend to like the routine and don't like change. (There are also those who become teachers because they can't keep a real job, but I'll leave my brother in law out of this)
Kids that don't behave like the "average" throw a spanner into the works of the later group because they can't plan for it.
I worked with a woman who transfered all of her sped kids out because they were "disruptive". They came to my room. We had fun, everyone learned. It was my favorite year. Granted one kid bit me and another stabbed me in the ass with a pencil ("accidentally"), but it was still a good year.
The next year and the year after I had EVERY sped 4th grader at the school. We ALL got through the text books before the end of the year.
To make things worse, with NCLB (you knew this was coming) it's more difficult to differentiate instruction for those "non-standard" students. NCLB assumes all of the students are the same and will make "average" progress if the teachers will just follow the prescribed lesson format. As a result, the student gets shunted off to RSP or somewhere else so they do not effect test scores. There are some schools in OC that do not accept speds because they effect test scores.
Plus, thanks to budget cutting a lot of training is only being done on only those things that will raise test scores. Not enough on teaching skills for the "non-standard" student. Also, in teacher school you get a lot of theoretical mumbo-jumbo but damn little practical real word special ed training.
Yet another problem is all the legal stuff involved in sped. Teachers and administrators are afraid of it. I know I am. However, knowing a bit of the law has helped getting my son the services he needs.
I suggest asking the sped teachers for the name of a Special Ed Advocate in your school district. It will have to be done on the qt, as that is one of those things we're not supposed to tell civilians. Talk to the advocate and have them talk to the school. The schools hate that.
I also advise just start with the "nuclear option" and back away from it based on what the district is willing to do. That way they think they win while they give you what you want/need.
Make the system (as f-ed up as it is) work for you.
Don't take no for an answer.

flyingvan said...

Performance pay and a voucher program. Also eliminate everything in schools that has nothing to do with teaching---no free breakfast and lunch, state funded field trips that are just for fun, bussing, counselling, healthcare, movies, and so on. I fully support paying tax dollars to realize the potential in every kid out there. Food and entertainment is a parental responsibility.
Good post Lee. Good response Ronn. You will be missed at the reunion

- Rob said...

No movies? No fun field trips?

As far away as I am from school, I still remember those things fondly. I truly believe that they save the sanity of kids. I agree with not over-using those things, buy let's not swing the pendulum TOO far the other way.

flyingvan said...

There should be movies, but not a feature length movie every day (sometimes 2) that has nothing to do with the curriculum, like in Patrick's class. We complained and so did other parents, to no avail. Fun field trips are good too; I just don't think taxpayers should pay for them.

Tina said...

Our kids went to the Oregon Caves, the Applegate Trail Museum, to the Capitol, and the 5th grade trip is to the high desert to study the ecology there.

I didn't have a problem with the field trips. The end-of-the-year Hellgate trip was pretty stinking cool!

I think they only do one or two a year here. If it' something more expensive, the kids are required to do something to defray the costs as well.

I don't see our kids watching many movies at school either, unless it's the end of the year or a party afternoon day.

However *I* recall having to sit through "Johnny Appleseed" and "Beaver Valley" at least 10 times each!

Lee said...

NCLB was authored by:

George Miller of California
Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts
John Boehner of Ohio
Judd Gregg of New Hampshire

It was bi-partisan, which everyone gets warm fuzzy's about.

Joe said...

Here's the problem: Some parents suck. If you bundle them all together in ghettos and ignore them, you end up with neighborhoods that suck, kids that suck, and in 20 years, unbelievable crime, welfare, and spreading ignorance.

The best way to defeat this is in school. We've got the little bastards trapped for six hours a day, and if we feed them and train them properly, they won't turn into monsters. Instead, they'll be useful and productive workers.

Somewhere along the line, Americans have gotten the idea that school is something kids to to improve their opportunities -- it's an investment. In fact, a more important function of school is molding kids into not being huge societal problems.

Only the most ignorant could think that denying kids food because their parents are stupid is a good plan.

flyingvan said...

Well, it would be equally beneficial if they got 8-10 hours sleep a night, and limited their TV time at home. Should the schools facilitate that too? At some point the parents have to take some responsibility. There are already tons of free food programs; if the parents can't take the free food and put it in a free paper sack for the kids, I've got no problem with an intervention. My overall point is, so little of the education dollars actually goes to education. Wer are very involved in our kids' school. My differing opinion isn't out of ignorance, it's a conclusion based on first hand observation----my tax dollars are buying lunches for kids wearing sneakers far too expensive for us to buy our own kids.

ronnwaters said...

When I was in the classroom, I taught in a school that was 100% free lunch and breakfast, plus the kids could get free uniforms if the "needed" to.
my school had a "home visit" program. A sort of meet the parents, see what the kids have for homes etc. A hearts and minds sort of thing.
I stopped after noticing that most of the parents had better cars than we did and we went to a home with an Escalade in the driveway and not one but TWO big screen TV's in the living room. No books but every game console.
All the other teachers had similar experiences and the program ground to a halt.
The problem with public education is the PUBLIC.

I loved Beaver Valley and Charlie the Lonesome Cougar!

ronnwaters said...

On Movies:
We have a school named for a guy who drew a mouse and built a themepark in the same city as the district. He also made some movies.
Years ago, at Parent Night, they decided to show a movie about a young lady who lived "under the sea".
Someone who worked for the guy with the mouse saw this and mentioned to his boss. The guy with the mouse sued the school (that was named for the guy with the mouse) and everyone involved. It was thrown out of court, but now schools have to purchase a $25 license to show disney films.

Oops, I'm not supposed to say the name.
You didn't hear it from me....

The Happy Cynic said...

Joe says: "Here's the problem: Some parents suck. If you bundle them all together in ghettos and ignore them, you end up with neighborhoods that suck, kids that suck, and in 20 years, unbelievable crime, welfare, and spreading ignorance.

The best way to defeat this is in school. We've got the little bastards trapped for six hours a day, and if we feed them and train them properly, they won't turn into monsters. Instead, they'll be useful and productive workers."

You're delusional if you think teachers really have any power to teach kids right from wrong, a strong work ethic, or how to be "productive workers". Teachers are lucky if they can teach kids to read beyond the 6th grade level by the time they graduate high school, IF they graduate. Teachers are overworked, underappreciated and underpaid. Some even have to buy school supplies out of their own pockets.

Parents EXPECT teachers to raise their children, not just teach them, because quite frankly, they don't have time to do it themselves. Many are single parents, and most people work a 50- to 60-hour work week just to pay the bills. They're exhausted. Child-rearing for them is at the very bottom of the priority list.

It's not an excuse. It's just the reality.

The solution, in my opinion, is get them to STOP BREEDING. No, I'm not kidding. Do you know how many people are having children who have absolutely NO business doing so? Today, in downtown Denver, I watched a beautiful 2-year-old in filthy clothes pick up other people's gum from the sidewalk and put it in her mouth repeatedly, while her teenage parents in their baggy clothes, painted eyebrows and fake bling smoked cigarettes and cursed loud enough for everyone within 30 feet to hear.

Until people like THAT stop breeding, this problem is never going away.

Lee said...

I wounldnt dream of going the mass sterialization route. Or even the "parents must be licensed" route. Two cans of worms we do not need.

Because the problem your outlining doesnt exist in numbers that need 'culling' few and far between.

Observational thinking people with real values, inspire change. If your a parent, thats your job.

The Happy Cynic said...

The problem I describe DOES exist in numbers large enough to require culling. Without a doubt. All you have to do is watch the national evening news. Read about teen pregnancy rates and drug use. Follow crime stats. Visit a poverty-ridden city. Talk to a teacher at an inner-city school.

The rest of the nation is far from an idyllic small-town life in the Northwest, or the privileged upbringing enjoyed by kids in Orange County.

You're right, parents are supposed to instill values, inspire change. But many aren't doing their jobs.

And that's the problem.

It's not the fault of the children. It would be like blaming a dog for barking all night.

I'm all about being optimistic, but do it with your eyes wide open.

Lee said...

Why would you watch the news when you say "Admittedly, journalism today is a joke".

Teenage pregnancy is down, people are living longer, Diease and Starvation in the US is almost nil, Violence in the inner cities is way down.

You get great people from bad parents. You get bad people from great parents. I would slant the odds in favor of great parents though.

People do the right thing more times then not.

I personally feel that the education business needs less intervention by Government. Un funded mandates suck and are only some 'feel good' band-aid that is not needed or desired.

I would personally eliminate anything about a principal and have all the fedral government do is Cut a check for the school year based upon the 4500.00 per kid (Oregon) to the school.

Have a simple mandate. Teach them to read, write and to do math. Expose them to art, sports and nutrition.

The Happy Cynic said...

Journalism is a joke, but how else would I get my news, Lee? I try to vary the sources, to verify facts (if I can), and try to read more in-depth stories (magazines, usually) on news issues, which are much more informative. Did you think that because journalism isn't what it should be that I should just not read it or watch it? I do what I can to be informed.

I'd be interested to know where you get your stats. Teens aged 15-19 (I couldn't find stats including kids 12-14) are getting pregnant at a rate of roughly 80 per 1,000 people. http://www.coolnurse.com/teen_pregnancy_rates.htm

Poverty and hunger are alive and well in Good Ole' America, and there are plenty of statistics to back that up. http://www.citymayors.com/features/uscity_poverty.html

Current violent crime stats are hard to find and depending on which source you use, they're up, down, and stable. And most stats seem to end between 1999 and 2003 (the latest I could find), but information I found on crime rates show they are up in inner-cities. http://www.citymayors.com/features/uscity_poverty.html



And there's plenty to read here: http://www.children.smartlibrary.org/NewInterface/questions.cfm?segment=1713&question_id=8549&from_segment=1715

I agree that you CAN get great people from bad parents and bad people from great parents, but I don't think the current odds are in favor of great parents. And yes, most people *we know and and are fortunate enough to associate with* do the right thing more often than not. I think there is a large segment of the population that will do the right thing, AS LONG AS it doesn't hurt them in any way.

I also agree that education needs less intervention or "help" from the damn Government. The "No Child Left Behind" act had the net effect of essentially forcing pressured teachers to pass kids to keep numbers up (to ensure funding), regardless of whether those kids could actually READ or not. It sickens me. Money should not be doled out based on performance, either excellent or poor.

This nation has become much too complicated EVERYWHERE, mostly due to the huge number of people now existing here, the severe absence of common sense in most of them, and the resulting lack of accountability. Our systems (education, finance, health care, etc.) have become too large to adequately control/police.

Quite simply, we have become too big for our britches.

Lee said...


Coolnurse.com is a political site not factual.

Crimerates http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States

The most telling is from the fbi website. Total violent crime stays steady with a peak in 93 then Drop.

People in poverty are having obesity troubles.

I need to dig further into the USDA.org's stuff on hunger in the USA.
I recall it showing a decline in impoverished going back to the 1890's

Anything complicated, I have found, is caused by people trying to cover all the bases or feeling 'we have to do something' instead of looking at history and common sense.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions never rang louder.

I disagree with your saying as long as it doesnt hurt them in any way. While its true that makeing a stand on something you belive in, is not popular. It still happens everyday.

Luckily people like Me, Shoo, Flying Van, Keeka, RBG, and Ronn are doing something about it every day. Which is why things just keep getting better, dispite what the media and the DNC want you to think. (they are selling you something)

The Happy Cynic said...

Clearly, you didn't read a single link I posted. :(

Please stop reading everything I post as absolutes. I never said that all people won't stand up for what they believe in. Yes, SOME people stand up for what they believe in every single day--and SOME people would rather kill another person than be caught doing something they weren't supposed to be doing. SOME people will stand by and watch people be wronged, tortured, or deprived of their freedoms without speaking up because they don't want the same thing to happen to them. This happens every day, too.

It's easier for you to put me and my opinions in categories because then it's easier to dismiss them. That's why you keep trying to make my opinions complete polar opposites of yours, when they're not.

Yes, you've surrounded yourself with good people, as we all try to do. It makes life special for us. Unfortunately, many people are not as fortunate as you and I, but you seem unable to see that. I'm sorry for you.

It's so valuable to be able to walk in someone else's shoes, especially those less fortunate. To turn a blind eye to the problems people face every day isn't doing a thing to help solve the problem. You have to first ACKNOWLEDGE THERE IS A PROBLEM before you can work toward solutions.

The Happy Cynic said...

Unquestionably, we have all changed over the years, but the fundamental core of a person typically doesn't change much. So I'm wondering, Lee, if maybe I never knew you at all? Or has your stubborn optimism just kept you from seeing the ugly realities of life?

You always were optimistic and full of the joy of life, but to hear you deny that people surviving in inner-cities aren't suffering through poverty, hunger and high crime makes me wonder how someone can live so many years with their head under a rock? How can you deny that all that is happening? Perhaps because admitting it would mean having to change YOUR outlook, and maybe who YOU are?

I don't know the answers, but I do know the realization has made me sad. Another happy childhood memory gone ...

Lee said...

Please stop reading everything I post as absolutes.

None of the information shows that these things have been eliminated.

There will always be the less fortunate. Someone who needs help. There will always be a need to offer help.

I havent denied any of that. I am saying that through the work of good people, things have gotten better.

My orginal posting here was showing the stagnation of the public school system.

Also, I am not required to live up to your expectations of me. If I choose to be an optimist, then thats my choice.

If you choose to jettison memories, thats your call. Good luck with that. Just dont pretend to be all noble.

The Happy Cynic said...

Of course you don't have to live up to my memories of you.

I guess I was just being optimistic.

I'm glad you're doing well, Lee.