Tuesday, February 21, 2006

On The One Hand

It is nice to be able to contact your professor when you need help, but I thought school was about learning to find your own solutions. Half the fun of learning is trying to figure out where, who, why, what, which or how to get the information needed to accomplish the task. These kids are so spoiled.

For a generation that is functionally illiterate upon graduation, maybe they should spend a little more time focusing on the subject at hand instead of what makes them feel good at the moment or what is most convenient.
To: Professor@University.edu Subject: Why It's All About Me - New York Times: "College students say that e-mail makes it easier to ask questions and helps them to learn. 'If the only way I could communicate with my professors was by going to their office or calling them, there would be some sort of ranking or prioritization taking place,' said Cory Merrill, 19, a sophomore at Amherst. 'Is this question worth going over to the office?'

But student e-mail can go too far, said Robert B. Ahdieh, an associate professor at Emory Law School in Atlanta. He paraphrased some of the comments he had received: 'I think you're covering the material too fast, or I don't think we're using the reading as much as we could in class, or I think it would be helpful if you would summarize what we've covered at the end of class in case we missed anything.'"
Pay attention and you won't miss anything. My rule going through school was if the teacher repeated it more than once, wrote it on the board or assigned certain books, it was fair game for the test. Not that way anymore. Now classes are focused to the idea of testing, not expanding your horizons to cover every eventuality. There is a running gag in Real Genius (love that movie, based on real people and ideas) that involves students, tape recorders and lectures. Quite cute. Yesterday was this soporific little article, displaying a disconnect from the reality of most schools across the US (financially and otherwise), that says teaching to the test is valuable and everyone should do it. Of course, as you read the paragraph you will notice some of these courses don't exist in Mississippi, Arkansas or Oklahoma so most kids aren't going to benefit from his ivory tower view of the world and don't even know these options are out there.
In some classes, such as the Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge courses that have become popular in Washington area high schools, the need to prepare for a challenging exam outside of the teacher's control has often produced a remarkable new form of teamwork. Teacher and students work together to beat an exam that requires thought and analysis, not just memorization. If that is teaching to the test, let's have more of it.
Because we are doing so well with our latest program.
More than 50 percent of students at four-year schools and more than 75 percent at two-year colleges lacked the skills to perform complex literacy tasks.

That means they could not interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit-card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.

The results cut across three types of literacy: analyzing news stories and other prose, understanding documents, and having math skills needed for checkbooks or restaurant tips.
Our education system is falling apart faster than you can say "entropy"

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