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Thread: Should High school be optional?

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Vocational considerations aside, I think it is better to be a well educated person than to be an ignorant dummy.

    It is better to know something about history than not to know anything about history.

    It is better to know something about biology and literature and economics than not to know anything about any of these subjects.

    As for mathematics...

    Mathematics is the jewel in the crown of human intellectual achievement. It provides a model and template for all rational thought. Its clarity, precission, and standard of proof are the envy of all other acedemic disciplines.

    That's what I think.
    Totally agree! Even though you might not be an historian, or a biotechnician, or a novelist, or an economist, or a mathematician, or a musician, or ... It's better to be well educated. It might not have direct, or tangible relationship with what you would do when you are an adult, but these educations have given you not only the basic knowledge but also the valuable way of thinking, the way of standing on a higher ground to view a larger picture, to make you a better person.

    I do not agree to cut down high school education and have vocational school replace the regular high school. The only reason that a high school diploma is "useless" is not because the school didn't teach what the students should learn, it's because the education is not high enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ptichka View Post
    They believe that the grade school math in this country tends to go too slowly; then, once curriculum jumps to algebra, it becomes a "sink or swim", and many kids sink because they were never really taught to think
    That's what I firmly believe. More and more parents have realized it, so they have sent their kids after school or on weekend to have extra math education in private schools or with tutors as early as their kids are in elementary school.
    Last edited by jennylovskt; 04-23-2009 at 02:35 PM.

  2. #17
    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jennylovskt View Post
    I do not agree to cut down high school education and have vocational school replace the regular high school. The only reason that a high school diploma is "useless" is not because the school didn't teach what the students should learn, it's because the education is not high enough.
    First of all, let me just say that it's highly ironic for me (a left-leaning centrist) to be arguing this point with you. Here is goes anyway.The liberal argument goes that vocational schools breed inequality because their graduates are less likely to go on to college and end up with a good job. However, what in fact happens is that kids who do not want to be there do not go on to college anyway, and end up with no job at all. Vocational training allows one to get a decent job, even if the good job may stay out of reach without the college degree. Nor should college ever be out of question - a vocational school graduate with a diploma of a nursing assistant may get inspired enough to get into a full nursing program down the line.

    The way to ensure that more kids do well in HS and go on to college is by fighting poverty; it's by programs such as Head Start that do a great job but that are unfortunately way too short (kids from Head Start have significantly higher IQ than their peers from the same socioeconomic group at kindergarten, yet the difference disappears by high school - wouldn't it make more sense to continue investing in those kids past pre-school and make sure the original investment doesn't just go to waste?) There have been numerous studies suggesting reasons why the poor do less well academically; the latest one (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/20...10106.abstract) is truly fascinating, suggesting that stress which disproportionately affects the poor even at a young age, cause people to have worse working memory - working memory, of course, is necessary to commit explicit information to memory. Another study pointed out that kindergartners from the less educated classes often don't know how to focus their eyes on the page because they have never been read to. All this suggests that teachers at advantaged schools should be more attuned to the unique challenges of their students; with enough resources put in intelligently it is possible to narrow this achievement gap significantly. What I do not believe is that it is worth the trouble to keep a 16-y-o who refuses to learn in school.

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ptichka View Post
    First of all, let me just say that it's highly ironic for me (a left-leaning centrist) to be arguing this point with you. Here is goes anyway.The liberal argument goes that vocational schools breed inequality because their graduates are less likely to go on to college and end up with a good job. However, what in fact happens is that kids who do not want to be there do not go on to college anyway, and end up with no job at all. Vocational training allows one to get a decent job, even if the good job may stay out of reach without the college degree. Nor should college ever be out of question - a vocational school graduate with a diploma of a nursing assistant may get inspired enough to get into a full nursing program down the line..
    I don't know where liberals and conservatives stand on this topic. I think to choose between vocational school and high school - college is indeed too hard and unfair for a teenager. In most cases, the decision they have to make in such early age is irreversable. What if they realized, 10 years later, that they wanted to go on colleges, they have never had the basic high school education and it is almost impossible. They might go back to finish high school diploma in adult's programs. Even if they do that, the chance of going into college and the chance of finishing college are much less because they have lost the precious young age when their brain would have been more actively engaged with whatever knowledge they get. Therefore, going into college might only be remained as a dream for the rest of their lives.

    I think vocational school after high school is a good option for someone who do not want or cannot go to college. It gives a choice for high school graduates and it will not create a big knowledge and ability gap in general population.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ptichka View Post
    The way to ensure that more kids do well in HS and go on to college is by fighting poverty; it's by programs such as Head Start that do a great job but that are unfortunately way too short (kids from Head Start have significantly higher IQ than their peers from the same socioeconomic group at kindergarten, yet the difference disappears by high school - wouldn't it make more sense to continue investing in those kids past pre-school and make sure the original investment doesn't just go to waste?)
    I don't know about Head Start. We have a program called TAG (Talented and Gifted) that starts from grade one all the way to grade twelve. The content of the program and the way it runs are debatable but they gave the opportunity to the high IQ students, who find the regular class too easy, to challenge themselves and learn earlier and learn faster.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ptichka View Post
    There have been numerous studies suggesting reasons why the poor do less well academically; the latest one (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/20...10106.abstract) is truly fascinating, suggesting that stress which disproportionately affects the poor even at a young age, cause people to have worse working memory - working memory, of course, is necessary to commit explicit information to memory. Another study pointed out that kindergartners from the less educated classes often don't know how to focus their eyes on the page because they have never been read to. All this suggests that teachers at advantaged schools should be more attuned to the unique challenges of their students; with enough resources put in intelligently it is possible to narrow this achievement gap significantly.
    You might be right. I don't know. I have never studied this. But I have to say that no matter the income level, the families who emphasis the importance of learning and who created good learning environment, their kids tend to study better than the families who don't. On this one, I am with your president Obama. His mother (and father) planted "a good education is so important" seed in him since he was very young, before school age. His mother used to wake him up at 4am to teach him English before she went to work and he went to the local school in Indonesia. I didn't mean that everyone should wake their kids up at 4am to study. What I mean is that his parents' expectation on learning kept the young Obama going and formed the earliest idea which would become the base of his thinking later in his life. Obama said every family has to take the responsibility. Turn off the TV while your child is studying. I have found that many North Americans think that they have sent their kids to school, the school should be solely responsible for their kids study. The families who hold this belief, their kids studies are not as good as the families who involve in.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ptichka View Post
    What I do not believe is that it is worth the trouble to keep a 16-y-o who refuses to learn in school.
    How and what does a 16 year old know?!
    Last edited by jennylovskt; 05-02-2009 at 10:42 PM.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jennylovskt View Post
    I don't know about Head Start. We have a program called TAG (Talented and Gifted) that starts from grade one all the way to grade twelve. The content of the program and the way it runs are debatable but they gave the opportunity to the high IQ students, who find the regular class too easy, to challenge themselve and learn earlier and learn faster.
    Head Start is rather the opposite. Although the program is open to anyone, their clientele for the most part comprises children from homes and communtties where the children are already behind their peers before they enter kindergarten.

    Pticha is quite right. Every study of the program has concluded that Head Start is successful in the sense its clients do better in the first and second grades than do children of similar backgrounds that were not in the program. But without a follow-up program they quickly fall back into the morass with eveyone else.

    My sister was a Head Start teacher for many years, serving the communities in the state of Washington where the migrant farm workers eventually settled who came to California to escape the "dust bowl" famine in the midwest in the 1930s (think Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath.) The majority of her children come to her having suffered abuse and neglect so severe that the State had to intervene. Part of her job, besides teaching children, was regularly to visit the homes of these children, often taking her life in her hands. (Not all Head Start programs are of this type.)

    Head Start is still in business, despite the annual effort of the Bush administration to do away with it.

    But I have to say that no matter the income level, the families who emphasis the importance of learning and who created good learning environment, their kids tend to study better than the families who don't.
    Indeed. How could it possibly be otherwise?

    So the societal question is, how can we best educate children who do not have the advantage of coming from such homes?

    How and what does a 16 year old know?!
    I agree. It is our responsibility as adults to tell children what they need to know. Even if one of the things we know is that they are not going to listen to us.
    Last edited by Mathman; 04-24-2009 at 03:00 PM.

  5. #20
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    I've been a school teacher for 37 years and although I see the importance of a high school diploma for those going on to college, I also see the need for vocational and trade school options for those who don't wish to pursue a higher education. Schools were first developed for "scholars" and not everyone fits into the academic lifestyle. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be educated with the basics of math, reading, history, etc., but a student who wishes to be a plumber doesn't need to read "Antigone" to change a washer.............42

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