What makes us Human?

Discussion in 'Education' started by midcan5, Apr 18, 2010.

  1. midcan5
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    midcan5 liberal / progressive

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    What is education for?

    Very often some wingnut on USMB posts an absurd opinion piece on education and how it is failing our students. The repetitive nature make me wonder why and from whom. The reasons for failure are usually teachers, government, Unions, or some vague liberal conspiracy. I use conspiracy loosely. I have given my reasons often, so I won't repeat them. The debate goes on for several pages as the OP is generally so ridiculous and vague users attempt to clarify their ideas on education. Since we were all educated, we are all experts. Life is just that way.

    Long ago, like the blog author below, I started reading Harper's, it is in the top five of best magazines. I still read my son's copy monthly. So instead of the usual finger pointing in this OP Mark Slouka asks what is education for and why. Tough questions.

    "....Slouka poses many questions that need to be asked more often, and perhaps loudly:

    * What do we teach, and why?
    * Is the “job” of education to help students “get ahead”?
    * Do our students really need to take more and more math and science, get higher SAT scores, and gain acceptance into better colleges in order to “compete” with other students (and prospective workers!) around the world?
    * Do schools have a critical role that they ignore in order to devote so much time and energy into “competing” in a global economy?

    Slouka discusses, at length, the disequilibrium that exists. This is a Crisis in American Education that has little to do with the economy and everything to do with the kinds of citizens we are teaching and shaping (not “producing”). “Mathandscience”, he suggests, has become the “all-purpose shorthand for intelligence”.

    Slouka ends the piece with a wonderful story about an English teacher named Marcus Eure, who doesn’t spend all of his time preparing kids for tests. Instead, his students are immersed in questions, for example, that tackle what it means to be correct, to lie, and to be desensitized by what we see on tv and in movie theaters."

    Above comment from: What Makes Us Human | Art21 Blog


    Dehumanized: When math and science rule the school?By Mark Slouka (Harper's Magazine)
  2. RetiredGySgt
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    RetiredGySgt Gold Member

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    You are NOT Human.
  3. Dis
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    Oh, you're one to talk, Captain Coherent... :eusa_whistle:
  4. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Gold Member

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    What is wrong with you...

    you are, once again, an apologist for failure:

    International assessment shows American children falling behind in math, science, reading
    By The Grand Rapids Press
    August 19, 2009, 7:10PM

    AP File PhotoArne DuncanU.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says a new ranking that shows American students are slipping compared to students in other countries "a wake-up call," saying the country has "stagnated educationally, putting our long-term economic security at risk.

    Duncan reports International Assessments of Student Achievement rankings show American 15-year-olds have fallen behind those in 31 countries in math.

    In science, our eighth-graders' scores now lag behind their peers in eight countries that had also participated in the original assessment, Duncan said. In reading, five countries have improved their performance and surpassed our fourth-graders.

    International assessment shows American children falling behind in math, science, reading | Head of the Class - MLive.com

    "Today's report is another wake-up call that our students are treading the waters of academic achievement while other countries' students are swimming faster and farther. Our students have stagnated educationally, putting our long-term economic security at risk. "http://www2.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2009/08/08182009.html



    "Very often some wingnut on USMB posts an absurd opinion piece on education and how it is failing our students...."
    While I avoid the use of cliches like 'wingnut,' you certainly fit the definition of absurd.
  5. midcan5
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    midcan5 liberal / progressive

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    The piece raises questions. Anyone who lives in the real world must know by now that tests only prove you can take the test. They prove nothing else. Did anyone watch 60 Minutes tonight on the con-artist? A man with a PHD in science and he had the soul of a mole. If every student scored higher in the test noted above what would that mean exactly? Would it create jobs or productive interesting work? Remember in America Money is number one, Sports number two, Entertainment number three, etc etc Religion a bit down that value scale. Education lower down.

    Answer his questions based on real world experience with real people, and tell me a 85% in a math or science test means more than a 75% and if it does, this very experienced, highly paid, senior manager would love to know?

    "....Slouka poses many questions that need to be asked more often, and perhaps loudly:

    * What do we teach, and why?
    * Is the “job” of education to help students “get ahead”?
    * Do our students really need to take more and more math and science, get higher SAT scores, and gain acceptance into better colleges in order to “compete” with other students (and prospective workers!) around the world?
    * Do schools have a critical role that they ignore in order to devote so much time and energy into “competing” in a global economy?


    Check this out, a bit dated but excellent. [ame]http://www.amazon.com/Joyless-Economy-Psychology-Human-Satisfaction/dp/0195073479/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8[/ame]
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2010
  6. Granny
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    Granny Senior Member

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    The thing that makes us most human is our fallibility.
  7. Skeptik
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    Skeptik Astute observer

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    I see you are trying to get a serious discussion going, but without much success.
    Unfortunately, what we teach and why is governed in a large part by politics, not by what we know about child development nor about students developing their unique skills and abilities. The necessity for showing progress on a big test eliminates anything but a cursory swipe and what is not on the test.

    Not everyone is the same. That statement shouldn't evoke any debate, even on this forum. Yet, we try to place everyone into the same mold, and hope none of them will be left behind.

    So, what does make us human? How does the human animal differ from the other creatures with whom we share this planet? Now, there's a topic for discussion.

    We are the only animal that uses a written language, and the only one that uses fire. Other than that, there really isn't much.

    One thing we have that makes us human is our culture, defined as the sum total of learning, history, beliefs, language, and concepts of a people. That is pretty broad, just as a good education should be. Passing on that culture to the next generation needs to be the top priority of education.

    There is evidence that whales and dolphins have cultures, too, so that doesn't make us unique necessarily.

    As for your other questions:
    That depends on what is meant by "get ahead." There is more to life than making more money than the next guy.

    No, students need to learn math and science so that they can understand the world around them and not be taken in by charlatans selling snake oil, whether it is really homeopathic medicine, or whether it is a non scientific notion being passed off as a scientific theory.

    Yes.
  8. PoliticalChic
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    PoliticalChic Gold Member

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    " Would it create jobs or productive interesting work? Remember in America Money is number one,...

    There are those of us who are not burdened with the misguided belief that the government or the 'common good' should decide what one does with one's education, and that the purpose of education is to "create jobs or productive interesting work..."

    Some folks see education as being its own end.


    In short, the end of government control is in providing an education that allows one to make a self-determined use of that education. The determination as to whether or not the education is satisfactory is the comparison with thaat of the rest of the world.
    Further, it is not your business, nor anyone else's business what one does with said education, once it is accomplished.

    As for " Remember in America Money is number one, Sports number two, Entertainment number three, etc etc Religion a bit down that value scale. Education lower down." Could this be a rare insight into your life?

    This material view is not true for all of us, and explain much about the views of those of your persuasion...
    Learn from this:
    "We usually hear about charity in the media when there is a terrible disaster. For example, after Hurricane Katrina, we heard about the incredible outpouring of private generosity that amounted to $6 billion. What gets less attention is that Americans routinely give that much to charity every week. Last year Americans gave $300 billion to charity. To put this into perspective, that is almost twice what we spent on consumer electronics equipment—equipment including cell phones, iPods and DVD players. Americans gave three times as much to charity last year as we spent on gambling and ten times as much as we spent on professional sports. America is by far the most charitable country in the world. There is no other country that comes close."
    https://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=2010&month=01

    Did you get that "Americans gave three times as much to charity last year as we spent on gambling and ten times as much as we spent on professional sports."?
    So, where does that leave you?


    "Anyone who lives in the real world must know by now that tests only prove you can take the test. They prove nothing else. " Absurd.

    Only educrats and union supporters claim that tests are not a method of determining the efficacy of government education, for the self-serving view that it actually indicts 'educators' who don't educate.

    From “Troublemaker,” by Chester E. Finn, Jr. Former Assistant Secretary of Education under President Reagan:
    “Teaching to the test” is deplored in education circles, although that complaint is easily answered: if the test faithfully mirrors the skills and knowledge set out in the standards, then preparing one’s pupils to ace such a test is an honorable mission!"

    The nature of that education?
    "Hirsch was also convinced that the problem of inadequate background knowledge began in the early grades. Elementary school teachers thus had to be more explicit about imparting such knowledge to students—indeed, this was even more important than teaching the “skills” of reading and writing, Hirsch believed. Hirsch’s insight contravened the conventional wisdom in the nation’s education schools: that teaching facts was unimportant, and that students instead should learn “how to” skills. …expanded the argument in a 1983 article, titled “Cultural Literacy,” in The American Scholar.

    [He] launched the Core Knowledge Foundation, which sought to create a knowledge-based curriculum for the nation’s elementary schools. A wide range of scholars assisted him in specifying the knowledge that children in grades K–8 needed to become proficient readers. For example, the Core Knowledge curriculum specifies that in English language arts, all second-graders read poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, Emily Dickinson, and Gwendolyn Brooks, as well as stories by Rudyard Kipling, E. B. White, and Hans Christian Andersen. In history and geography, the children study the world’s great rivers, ancient Rome, and the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, among other subjects."
    E. D. Hirsch’s Curriculum for Democracy by Sol Stern, City Journal Autumn 2009

    As long as folks with your limited views are in charge, our children will continue to fall further behind.
  9. CrusaderFrank
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    CrusaderFrank Gold Member

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    What makes us Human?

    ObamaCare
  10. uscitizen
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    uscitizen Senior Member

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    We are all human from Hitler to a new born child.
    Being human is not much of a recommendation to me.
    However being a good human is.

    Teaching morality in school? So the schools should take over for the parents and churches?
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2010
  11. saveliberty
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    saveliberty Gold Member

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    The ability to kill for sport, not food.

    Being able to overcome self-preservation instincts and protect others.

    Being able to use the quote function on USMB.

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