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smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Tue, 9th Dec '08 6:33 PM

PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION

Ok Sun, I said I would ask some questions on this topic, so here they are! I thought I would first start with what little I know on the topic, and trust me, it is little indeed. All I know about the topic comes from a philosopher who talked about it in a different context. I'm new to education, so I know virtually nothing so far. My first question is, for starters, do you think the following is true about education?

"Some 2400 years ago, Aristotle Articulated what children need: clear guidance on how to be moral human beings. What Aristotle advocated became the default model for moral education over the centuries. He showed parents and teachers how to civilize the invading hordes of child barbarians.

Aristotle regarded children as wayward, uncivilized, and very much in need of discipline. The early Christian philosopher Saint Augustine went further, regarding children's refractory nature as a manifestation of the original sin committed by Adam and Eve when they rebelled against the dictates of God. Each philosopher in his own way, regarded perversity as a universal feature of human nature......

Rouseau denied that children were born wayward, insisting instead that they are by nature noble, virtuous beings who are corrupted by an intrusive socialization. The untutored child is spontaneously good and graceful......He rejects the traditional notion that moral education in the early stages must habituate the child to virtuous behavior. Contrary to the recieved view, Rousseau believed the child's nature to be originally good and free of sin....For better or for worse, Rousseau's followers ignored his Aristotlean side and developed the "progressive" elements of his educational philosophy.

The directive style of education (a.k.a. Aristotlean/traditional), denigrated as indoctrination, was cast aside......By the 1970's, character education had been effectively discredited and virtually abandoned in practice.

What happens when educators celebrate children's creativity and innate goodness and abandon the ancestral responsibility to discipline, train, and civilize them? Unfortunately, we know the answer: we are just emerging from a thirty year experiment with moral deregulation. The ascendency of Rousseau as the philosopher of education and the eclipse of Aristotle have been bad for all children.......etc."

What do you think Sun, true or false??

Feel free to ramble, your rambling may just clue me in to thinks I either didn't know about or haven't picked up on yet.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Tue, 9th Dec '08 6:42 PM

Sorry, I wasn't sure the above post made this clear, just something to add: Rosseau appeared to believe, if I remember right from the discussion, that you shouldn't even try to impose an external moral code on a child (emphasized: for the most part), but did inspire a movement that believed you should unlock their creativity and move away from rote teaching styles. This sounds like modern schools. Assuming it is, do you feel this is a step forward?

oogie54
Oogie54  (Level: 205.3 - Posts: 1120)
Tue, 9th Dec '08 7:14 PM

We don't need no education! We don't need no thought control! No dark sarcasm in the classroom, teacher leave them kids alone! Sorry, that may not be pertinent

luvnmexsun
Luvnmexsun  (Level: 147.4 - Posts: 711)
Tue, 9th Dec '08 9:32 PM

OK…I’ll jump in there. I taught through the seventies…that’s when parents screamed, “No values nor morals were to be taught by the teachers! That is the sole and sacred responsibility of the parent”! Fine, I agree that parents are the first and most important teachers of children and it is THEIR ancestral responsibility “to discipline, train, and civilize them”. I would propose that the “thirty year experiment with moral deregulation” was a parental experiment, because essentially they allowed their children to be raised by the media. Parents were off the clock while the TV was on, now the DVD player, computer, and latest video game. Time that used to be spent with parents is a fraction of what it used to be, if any at all. This is a cultural revolution of epic speed and proportions. Most of our children no longer know how to play when the electricity is out. Never before in the history of mankind has all family mores and values changed so drastically in one generation. The youth of today are put afloat without a paddle or directions for where they are going.

Yes, teachers have a responsibility for “discipline”, but only in the sense of keeping order, for preserving a safe environment of learning. I know of no GOOD teacher, ever, that “celebrated creativity” and abandoned discipline. That sounds like suicide in the classroom. In my career, there were many teachers that did not know HOW to manage their classrooms, but no conscious decision was ever made to abandon it. Frankly, I don’t believe Rousseau or Aristotle had any real influence at all on education in the last century. I think industry did, because the factory model of education has ruled and is still thriving. Dewey had more impact than either of them, and his brilliance was ignored and still is. “No Child Left Behind” has made the amazing leaps in teaching and learning during the 90s null and void: the factory model is well and thriving. That is intentional. Our accomplishment of “educating” our youth in this country is dismal. No matter what the schools say, less than half of our populace graduates from high school. And many of the ones that do, still don’t know shit. They can’t read a map nor telephone book nor application. They have no idea how to use their minds and access information (except in my space, youtube, etc).

“We don't need no education! We don't need no thought control!” I would agree with Danny, as it is now manifested in the schools.

I believe education should be about learning and learning to use your mind well.

OK…I need to take a breath. I barely got started here. Better stop now before it becomes a book!

Thanks Jeremy, I do love this topic!

Sun


davidf
Davidf  (Level: 102.1 - Posts: 746)
Wed, 10th Dec '08 11:08 AM

I totally agree Sun, when I was a child I played with my toys, made my own entertainment. I used my imagination. Kids now have games consoles etc. They don't want to go outside and play like I did. I used to climb trees, ride my bike, build dens etc. Is so different now and I am only going back 25 years. What effect will this have on our future....probably not a good one.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Wed, 10th Dec '08 8:53 PM

I don't have alot to say Sun! I'm not about to argue with you or the philosophy professor, I don't think I'm qualified for it. If not the factory model of education, what type of model would you propose? And what would you consider the "reason" so to speak for the high number of non graduates in our educational system today??

oogie54
Oogie54  (Level: 205.3 - Posts: 1120)
Wed, 10th Dec '08 9:17 PM

Sun had actually started her own successful school, pioneering teaching methodology quite different from the assembly line process we currently have. Wish we could bend Obama's ear for a while....

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Thu, 11th Dec '08 8:40 PM

Wow, that's an interesting story in itself! Whatever happened to that?.....

davidf
Davidf  (Level: 102.1 - Posts: 746)
Sat, 13th Dec '08 10:10 AM

Yes, do tell

luvnmexsun
Luvnmexsun  (Level: 147.4 - Posts: 711)
Sun, 21st Dec '08 1:50 AM

Yes...it was a "school-within-a-school", but we had our own charter, budget, policies, state accountability, etc. We called it "Academy of Communication Arts and Technology - A Democratic Learning community".

Each student had their own personal academic plan, written jointly with the teacher (what they needed to know, by when, and how to do it). So no two students were working on the same thing at the same time. There were no level distinctions (freshman/soph/jr/sr) just skill/knowledge increments. So some freshmen would be doing Sr English and some seniors (a lot) doing freshman level math. Demonstration of learning was required for credit...some taking a month for a course, some taking two years. Responsibility was all the students', and the teachers and a small army of the community to assist.

Students were on the curriculum committee, discipline committee, hiring committee, etc (yes, they interviewed and voted for their own teachers). Seat time was not a factor...there were required "large groups", but that was maybe 10% of school time...a good third or more of their time was community service, apprenticeships, or civic boards in the community, depending on their learning plan.

Half of our students were previous "drop outs" and the other half had good grades. All had to apply to be in our school...we had a waiting list double the size of our school, always, but there were no requirements except commitment to learning. The demonstration of that learning included assessment by the community, parents, peers, and teachers. There was no way to fake it or cheat. Our student success rate was 99% (graduates) 75% average on SAT/ACT, 100% on state competency tests, 65% accepted to LA colleges, to name a few stats (remember half were already drop outs).

Our primary goal was to get students to use their minds well, in whatever intelligence they possessed, and use it better in their weak areas.Students were expected to be responsible for their learning.

That's just a brief thumbnail...it was quite different than the norm. It took years to get it started and had to fight to keep it every year. It won national recognition and awards for five years. Then my accident caught up with me...spinal cord injury. ACAT stayed strong until NCLB...school reform in this country was essentially chopped off at its roots. Learning theory forgotten.

I have been working on a book...struggling, I should say, if you want to know more, please ask. Your questions would be helpful to me. Otherwise, I don't want to bore people with the details.

Sun

tsk9653
Tsk9653  (Level: 113.2 - Posts: 1466)
Sun, 21st Dec '08 6:06 AM

Sun:

Very interesting. Arne Duncan, the in-coming Education Secretary, seems to be a "teach to the tests" kind of guy and my initial view is that he is not impressive. I would be interested in your thoughts.

I am also interested in your thoughts on charter schools. The ones in Michigan have, if anything, performed less well than their public counterparts. At the same time, they have had an exceedingly bad impact on public school finances where they have risen in any number. Thus, although actually doing less well on the mandated state tests, they take money from, for example, the school district that I am in, which has resulted in school closings, layoffs, etc. (There have now also been two charter school failures within my district brought about by financial mismanagement.)

It's a hard question what to do. In Detroit, with some exceptions, the schools are atrocious, and even if you went there to learn something, good luck with all of the distractions. Now, I certainly don't want to condemn some kid to an educational experience like that, but charter schools have not been the answer in Detroit either.

Nor do I think the Michigan Board of Education's fairly recently mandated curricula is the answer. In fact, had this curricula been in place when I was a student, I think it is reasonably likely that I would not have graduated from high school because I would not have passed trigonometry -- which all high school students are now required to pass to graduate. I know one of the State Board members who voted for this "reform" who I know to be even less capable in math than me. When I called her on this, her response was something like "these are different times", and claimed some mason told her that you needed to know trigonometry to be a bricklayer. (I was subsequently told by a builder that this was untrue, but in any event not everybody is going to be a mason. In fact, in Michigan, it's a career with a vast over supply of practitioneers at present. Maybe those bricklayers can all get jobs as trigonemetry tutors.)

luvnmexsun
Luvnmexsun  (Level: 147.4 - Posts: 711)
Sun, 21st Dec '08 7:52 PM

Hey Tsk…so nice to see you here! Thanks for your questions.

I am underwhelmed by Arne Duncan. I was hoping for a change agent…someone to help get us out of the mess we are in with schools failing and with NCLB (which added to the problem). Someone with some broader knowledge that IS available and (dare I say it?) imagination. Waiting to see/hear something better from him (crossing fingers). I certainly haven’t heard anything better about him.

Charter schools terrify me because of the way they are playing out with the religious right (no doubt in my mind that’s the intent: make public monies available for special interest groups that want to NARROW knowledge, not pursue it…and weaken public education at the same time). It is an idea meant to make public monies available to private schools.Charter schools MUST be held accountable, and NOT fiscally detract from the public schools. I could never understand why they should be exempt from the same scrutiny fiscally and meet the state’s standards just like everyone else that gets public monies. We (ACAT) had to be better, not just meet the requirements. Frankly, it’s is not that hard to meet public standards in education. Charter schools can be focused on a “magnet”, like art or music, but should abide by the democratic expectations of all public schools. Too often they are exclusionary….which should never be allowed.

We had a school-within-a-school because charter schools were not yet available in my state. A charter school would have saved us a lot of friction with the traditional campus. So, we had a facility (the old buildings in the back) and the salaries of the teachers, which was appropriated according to our student population, just like everyone else. All of the rest of the funds we raised ourselves. One choice for senior English was to learn grant-writing and submit a grant. One of my ex-students now makes a bunch of money doing that for a living (should look her up now that I’m thinking about it…could use a grant).

Ah yes, let’s require Trig for graduation. What a good idea! Raise requirements because our kids need to know trig…(no, actually just because it sounds good…as long as someone else has to do it). Another thing I could never understand: legislators and boards that don’t know a damn thing about education dictating how schools are run and what is taught. I’m not familiar with Michigan’s PES, but I am familiar with Minnesota’s and Pennsylvannia’s and many others on this side of the country. A small minority of our kids nationally can do algebra…failure in math courses is the single largest academic reason for failure to graduate.

Sure, let’s require Trig now…I have to laugh. I aced math always, but it bored the hell out of me. I’ve done many things in my life…even building. Geometry and algebra (as a way of problem-solving) is all I ever needed. Threw away all my Calc and Trig books first.

I could go on…and on. Will wait for rebuttals and questions. Hey, I know restraint…I was a public school teacher for 3 decades!


tsk9653
Tsk9653  (Level: 113.2 - Posts: 1466)
Mon, 22nd Dec '08 12:32 PM

Sun:

I had actually written a long response which failed to post as I apparently spent too much time in composition and was logged out. I'm not in the mood rigth now to try to reconstruct it, but maybe will later.

luvnmexsun
Luvnmexsun  (Level: 147.4 - Posts: 711)
Mon, 22nd Dec '08 2:49 PM

I hate when that happens Tsk! I learned a secret the hard way:

Back space to the written text, copy it, go to the thread again, response, and paste it. It works!

I also have learned to just copy before hitting submit, just in case. The time out feature drives me crazy on this site!

Looking forward to your response!

Sun

tsk9653
Tsk9653  (Level: 113.2 - Posts: 1466)
Mon, 22nd Dec '08 6:41 PM

Sun:

I'll try again. I don't use cute & paste at present. I actually intend to take a course on some of the basic computer features through the Library district in the Spring.

1. From everything I've read, Arne Duncan seems to represent what is (to my mind) currently wrong with educational policy. I am not surprised. As I've said several times on Sploofus and elsewhere, with Obama you don't get the Second Coming -- unless you refer to the Second Coming of Bill Clinton. Arne isn't an old Clinton hand from what I can ascertain, but he may have been selected because he's a basketball buddy of Obama's.

2. As to Michigan charter schools -- they actually are required to have their students take the same standardized exams that public schools administer. That is how I know that using academic performance as determined by these tests -- overall, charter schools do less well than the public schools within the area where the charters operate. Of course, the argument for the charters in the first place was that academic performance would be superior. Instead, even by the measures beloved by the right -- this is untrue.

3. In my experience as a public school student, I had a handful of exceptional teachers, a fair number of good teachers, and a majority of mediocrities or worse. The new Michigan plan seems to be to take money from the public schools for the charters and impose across-the-board academic requirements that leave little room for students to pursue areas of interest. Now, I'm not saying the public schools were great when I was a student in them, but I do suggest that its counterintuitive to think that providing less financial resources for the public schools, while establishing an alternative system of charter schools that are even less well funded is the solution.
The local public schools are falling apart, and there have already been two charter insolvencies that served kids in this district. So, I think the evidence suggests that at least some supporters of charter schools know they will fix nothing, an it is just a campaign in the war against public education -- and a war on the teachers unions.
One of my big disappointments with the MEA in its opposition to charters was its unwillingness to fight charters as a labor as well as an educational issue.

4. I have often puzzled over what to do with poor teachers, including by what criteria that judgment should be made. In this respect, I do think student performance tests can be a tool in this process. This doesn't mean that I would necessarily think a teacher whose students near universally failed a standardized test of the teacher's subject matter. I would be concerned, however, if students of a particular teacher in the Okemos School District (an affluent suburban district) were consistently underperforming other teachers within the district. Ultimately, I am very concerned about changing the process by which tenured teachers in Michigan may be discharged because arbitrary dismissals happen in employment all the time.

5. My career as a math student. Actually, I was strong in math at an early age. I performed well enough in 7th grade math, that I was selected to take algebra in 8th grade. (I have no idea when algebra is introduced these days.) My math problems started with algebra, and I'm sure I would have failed it but for the fact that my math teacher actually went out of his way to help those of us who were having a hard time. In fact, I was permitted to take three tests covering the same critical concepts because I failed the first two. On each occasion, the teacher worked after school with me and made it clear that I would not fail the course if I ultimately mastered the material. I ultimately got 86% the third time around, and the guy gave me a "B'. I would never have learned algebra, but for this teacher, who left teaching after fulfilling the terms of a government scholarship he received while a college student. I was a middling geometry student. I took advanced algebra in 11th grade -- which was one semester -- to be followed by a semester of trigonometry. I had maybe 50% in advanced algebra, but that ended up a "C" so that the teacher didn't have to flunk 75% of the class. I was only spared trigonometry after repeated sessions with my high school "counseler".

6. When I composed the earlier version on this, I devoted a fair amount of time to how government policy as decimated liberal arts and social science programs at the university level -- essentially making it too costly for anybody but the rich to pursue studies in these areas. I think that's a crying shame and maybe i will elaborate on this topic in the future.



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