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(NPR)   More than fifty percent of high school students don't read good, and since we don't have a Derek Zoolander to build a center, we must change the reading standards instead of actually identifying and fixing the cause   (npr.org) divider line 52
    More: Fail, Zoolander, high schools, standards, language arts, Harper Lee, 46th state, Malcolm Gladwell  
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10763 clicks; posted to Main » on 20 Jan 2013 at 9:35 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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Archived thread
2013-01-20 09:09:31 PM
17 votes:
Am I the only one who finds it ironic that subby couldn't comprehend the contents of the article?   Nobody's changed the standards - in point of fact that's the central tenet of the article.  Reading scores have dropped, and so there is a new curriculum designed to raise them.

What I suspect is happening with reading scores is that it's easier than ever to skip the major works by scoping the Internet for the basic plot and some nuggets to make the teacher think the book has been read.  It's much harder to do that with non-fiction works, critical essays and things of the sort.

I'm not sure what Common Core is, but a 70/30 mix of non-fiction to fiction is not a terrible thing, in my opinion.  The ability to digest complex written ideas is of primary importance.  I love literature, and believe that critical genres and authors should be introduced universally by the end of high school, but we have a tendency to over-do many of the genres.  I'm also doubtful of its necessity for reading comprehension. For example reading Shakespeare is important, but more than one or two of his works is unnecessary.   High school lit should be like tapas.  Small servings of a wide variety of genres.
2013-01-20 09:57:32 PM
7 votes:
Welcome to Sagan's nightmare.

"I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...

The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance"

― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
2013-01-20 09:40:46 PM
4 votes:
More than fifty percent of high school students don't read good

They apparently don't write well either.
2013-01-20 08:34:11 PM
4 votes:
What's there to identify?  Read to your kids when they're young.
2013-01-20 09:56:51 PM
3 votes:

RabidJade: Proteios1: And people wonder why public education is no longer a sacred cow. They have been failing students on so many levels. It's sad because public education is one of the pillars of. Stable notion nd I can't help but see the connection between our weak public Ed and a faltering nation.

Parents who think teaching their children is someone else's problem and actively stay out of their kid's education until they get a call from the school are just as much to blame for this.


Of course, parents who do this are labled "helicopter parents" by the school system and other parents. Our culture is so confused right now, and that is by design. If we have really smart kids then the charlatans can't stay in power in religion or politics (I mean Rick Perry is a governor FFS).

You can't sell useless crap if people have critical thinking skills or understand statisitcs.
2013-01-20 09:50:22 PM
3 votes:
Fifty percent of school kids are sub-median. We must lower the standards.

Why doesn't this work?

Let's do it again!
2013-01-20 09:50:22 PM
3 votes:

Proteios1: And people wonder why public education is no longer a sacred cow. They have been failing students on so many levels. It's sad because public education is one of the pillars of. Stable notion nd I can't help but see the connection between our weak public Ed and a faltering nation.


Well, we have had half the country continually trying to defund, overtax, and dismantle our public education system because Jebus and 'Merica. So there you go.
2013-01-21 12:57:36 AM
2 votes:
Access to books, access to books, and access to books again - books they choose themselves and own so that they can return to them and practice. Books they enjoy reading - Pokemon, Captain Underpants, the classics, comics, whatever.

I have spent a good, good chunk of my professional life on this, working with thousands of teachers and probably 30K+ children in very high poverty neighborhoods. They have no books in their homes and their schools lack the resources to give them significant access. When they have the chance to choose their own books and build their own home libraries along with the rest of their classmates, they discover they love reading. Library circulation goes up. Scores go up. They invent the concept of book clubs with their classmates. They read more, get better at it, develop their curiosities and figure out for themselves why education is meaningful. The literacy culture in homes and schools changes. It is incredible to watch.

It is a game changer, and screw NCLB & the ridiculous depth of standardized testing that now goes on. I'm all for accountability and I don't think anyone was ever harmed by Iowa Basic Skills and such - but you're grinding teachers and their students into the ground with this crap, and one big part of the fix is readily available and incredibly cheap. Books. That they choose. Let them free read, and good things will follow.

Hi, fark - this is one of my few soapboxes. If anyone's truly interested, send me a line - I've got research out the wazoo.
2013-01-21 12:47:11 AM
2 votes:

gregscott: The article is an excellent example of a failed system failing to correct itself, and while outlining the problem, the article offers no effective solution. This is why you should home school, if you care about your kids and their education. Because nobody knows your kids like you do, and (gasp) nobody cares about them like you do. And the professionals can't do the job as well as you can.


I would believe in homeschooling as the solution if I believed even 1% of the population of parents is qualified and relied upon to teach up to high school level in ALL of the following subjects:

* Grammar & Spelling
* Literature
* US History
* World History
* Biology
* Chemistry
* Physics
* Algebra
* Geometry
* Trigonometry
* Calculus

In other words, there's no way in hell homeschooling in general* can replace education by professional educators.

I think the only thing homeschooling can be shown to be effective in teaching is that Jesus rode on dinosaurs and that the earth is 6000 years old.

*I'm sure YOUR parents are the 1% that can effectively teach in all of the above subjects.
2013-01-20 11:12:11 PM
2 votes:
I just want it known, for the record, that I read Catcher in the Rye and it sucked. It was not in any way a life-changing or enlightening experience for me, and I felt robbed of my time once I was done with it. Perhaps that is because I am neither male nor from a wealthy family, and so did not identify with the main character at all.

That said, I am more hopeful about the inclusion of more non-fiction reading in the elementary grades, and not so concerned with high-school material. In high school, the balance tips more to non-fiction anyway, because it shows up in the science and social studies courses that can no longer be avoided or set aside for language arts and math instruction. I don't see literature disappearing from the high school scene.

From my experience (as an upper-elementary teacher), non-fiction is nearly non-existent in the primary grades because science and social studies usually get only minimal coverage, and because fiction is so much easier to teach. Kids love stories, and understand their structure; they can read them, comprehend them, and write their own. Which brings me to my next reason I approve of the new standards...

Kids currently have great difficulty WRITING non-fiction, including articles, summaries, reports, analyses, and so on, because they don't understand them. They don't know their structure, having not been exposed to them in any great way. The hardest thing I have to do as a teacher in writing is to get them to STOP TELLING ME A STORY. Sometimes you just need to communicate information. There is no setting, there are no characters, there is just data and results.
2013-01-20 09:55:33 PM
2 votes:
couldn't we keep the English classes focused on the fiction classics as always and get the history classes to rely more on primary source material?
2013-01-20 09:51:11 PM
2 votes:

Proteios1: And people wonder why public education is no longer a sacred cow. They have been failing students on so many levels. It's sad because public education is one of the pillars of. Stable notion nd I can't help but see the connection between our weak public Ed and a faltering nation.


Parents who think teaching their children is someone else's problem and actively stay out of their kid's education until they get a call from the school are just as much to blame for this.
2013-01-20 09:50:30 PM
2 votes:
Nuclear Monk:
I tend to think that there is some value in getting it in to kids' heads that there are things like science and math out there that have a good idea how the universe works, rather than 'magic' or 'god'. Not from the standpoint of wanting to deny them faith, but rather to help keep politicians and religious leaders in check. I fully acknowledge this has been only marginally successful.

True.  However when talking about how well a group has learned or can do something, retention and use is more of a key aspect.

By no means do I advocate not exposing, but more I'm of the mind as a society we could do more to make it worthwhile to actually know these things and maintain such knowledge somehow.  Not entirely sure HOW but I can dream eh?
2013-01-20 09:46:37 PM
2 votes:

Contribution Corsair: I have a theory on this and English class in general for example.

We don't really have a NEED for anything but the basics in our society as a whole.  There is not really any solid reason to have above a very basic ability to read, write, or even speak for that matter, as most of the common thoughts and ideas we need to communicate within our society have been distilled down to be recognizable or intelligible to the lowest common denominator.

If people are not challenged to develop and learn and maintain a higher level, why will they retain or teach their own children similar skills or even try to reinforce learning a higher level than they use day to day?  Yes, we try to teach it, but what are we doing to make it so that the people USE that knowledge or retain it.  Similar to many sciences and mathematics  we teach it but many people don't LEARN it because...why remember or retain that knowledge if it is never used except by a small fraction of them?


I tend to think that there is some value in getting it in to kids' heads that there are things like science and math out there that have a good idea how the universe works, rather than 'magic' or 'god'. Not from the standpoint of wanting to deny them faith, but rather to help keep politicians and religious leaders in check. I fully acknowledge this has been only marginally successful.
2013-01-20 09:38:25 PM
2 votes:

Lsherm: Babwa Wawa: but we have a tendency to over-do many of the genres.

I am all for whatever reduces studying Melville or Dickens.  I read a quite a bit, but for the life of me I can't read anything by those two without feeling like I'm doing work.


These guys wrote in the days when authors were paid by the word.
2013-01-20 09:31:04 PM
2 votes:

Babwa Wawa: but we have a tendency to over-do many of the genres.


I am all for whatever reduces studying Melville or Dickens.  I read a quite a bit, but for the life of me I can't read anything by those two without feeling like I'm doing work.
2013-01-20 09:21:17 PM
2 votes:
Surely there must be a way we can blame this on guns.
2013-01-20 08:48:16 PM
2 votes:
They don't need to read.  They just need to be smart enough to push a button on a machine.
2013-01-21 12:34:31 PM
1 votes:
-- quote

Between my wife and I, we're quite competent in all of the the above areas. We taught our two kids until grades 7 and 9 and they got excellent scores when they attended public schools. But they had already mastered the basics, and more important, had a love for literature, and enjoyed reading, mathematics, science, music, arts, and so on.

Test scores show that home schooled students tend to excel overall, or at least they did back when I was home schooling and following the literature on the subject. BTW, I was certified in Physics and Mathematics Education, and my wife in Home Economics, English, and History and special education, so I definitely know what the "professional" environment is like. I don't knock the teachers, they do the best they can, but the classroom is much less efficient than tutoring, and a student that has been taught to value and pursue an education is virtually guaranteed success. The primary failing of institutionalized learning is that it generally teaches kids to HATE school, and loathe education.

Are you blind or is your post a joke? Because most parents aren't certified in anything.

-- unquote

For all your claimed knowledge you fail at statistics if you think that homeschooling parents are representative of the greater population. If you don't think that, why discuss how good their kids' test scores are in support of your 'everyone should homeschool' argument?

I did mention that home schooled kids text scores are better than kids from public schools.
Those parents indeed are NOT certified in those areas. But their kids test scores surpass those of the certified professionals. My wife and I founded home school coop groups in Texas and Georgia, mainly as a way to help provide larger social groups where that was helpful. But we also helped in curriculum development and customization, and I assure you that the parents we knew did a fine job, in general, at devising a very strong curriculum.

Here's a citation from wikipedia backing up the assertion that home schools in 2008 did better than public, regardless of parents not generally being certified:

A study conducted in 2008 found that 11,739 homeschooled students, on average, scored 37 percentile points above public school students on standardized achievement tests.[26] This is consistent with the Rudner study (1999). However, Rudner has said that these same students in public school may have scored just as well because of the dedicated parents they had.[27] The Ray study also found that homeschooled students who had a certified teacher as a parent scored one percentile lower than homeschooled students who did not have a certified teacher as a parent.[26]

Note that having a certified home school parent is not necessarily an advantage.

My wife and I used a curriculum that was a hybrid of traditional tutorial methods and the "unschooling" philosophy of John Holt and others who were influential in non-traditional methods at the time. But our kids enjoyed Charles Dickens, for example, and lots of other classical English literature, as well as more modern literature.

One powerful two advantages of home school are that when something isn't working, you can try something else, until you find something that does work. Sometimes, that's just doing something else for a while. You can iteratively customize your curriculum to the student. Institutional teachers dream of the luxury of individualized instruction of this sort.

I'm not so a fan of some popular modern home school methods, which tend to be an electronic analog of a "workbook" approach, with canned lessons that everybody follows on their computer in sequence. One problem with that approach is that parents tend to be uninvolved, and assume that the computer will do the job. This undoes most of the advantages mentioned above, and kids can easily devise ways to be lazy and avoid doing the work, because the parents are trying to run the kids on remote.

Anyway, you've failed at statistics because you have cited none, whereas, I have provided the the source of current statistics, via the wikipedia article. Look them up, and educate yourself. It still works when you are an adult.
2013-01-21 11:19:14 AM
1 votes:

Kimothy: I'm almost at the point where I would pay my students to read. They don't read anything except the Internet. When I assign books, articles, poems, or anything written, all I hear is how difficult it is to read the  whole thing.

I've tried everything, too. Graphic novels, traditional novels, young adult, performance poetry (YouTube has some great poetry slam performances), you name it. I'm constantly wracking my brain to find stuff my kids will actually read. It's extremely frustrating. And sadly, more often than not, parents will tell me their child doesn't have time/can't/won't/whatever read, rather than trying to get them to read.

Not to mention the opportunities to cheat because of the Internet.

But yeah, blame the teachers. We've changed SO much since I was in school - when people actually would read.

//Get off my lawn.


If the parents didn't distill a love of reading in kids at a young age, and they don't care now, you have an uphill battle my friend.

I would suggest that you should start my asking the students what THEY want to read and the only requirement be that it's a book. At this point even Twilight is an option (as much as it pains me to admit it)*.

I would start assigning writing reports as well to get them into a research frame of mind, give them a vague topic and have them pick the rest.

For example, My favorite English teacher had gave us 2 of my favorite assignments: Pick a Human Rights Abuse and Pick an "American Idol". You'd be surprised at how passionate kids can get over stuff like this.

I would definitely stick with books using modern language and throw out many of the "Classics" for now. Depending on age and maturity I would suggest Less than Zero, Fight Club, the Invisible Man, etc.

Anything on the "top 100 most censored books" is great IF you mention the fact to them, use the teenager's rebellious streak to your advantage. In fact, another favorite high school assignment of mine was where we went through the censored book list, read one of the books, and wrote a report discussing why it was censored and whether or not it should be, again very fun.

Encourage debates whenever you can, give the kid's the reader's digest version of Socrates, Plato, Freud, Jung, etc. Use current events for persuasive essays and encourage debate, get them engaged and interested. For example, I would assign a persuasive essays on gun censorship, it doesn't which side you pick as long as you reason well.

TL;DR: IMHO, the problem with English class is that there's an overemphasis on "classics" that are written in an entirely different language than today, make it hard to read for youngsters and many tune out. Also, overemphasis on grammar exercises and readings that where boring and tame. Push the envelope and engage them.

/Catcher in the Rye can go to hell
2013-01-21 09:42:00 AM
1 votes:

mgshamster: GungFu: Crap at reading and spelling?

There's an excuse for that.

You can call it dyslexia. Happy now? You're not dumb as fark and don't try, you have dyslexia. It's not your fault. It's not your fault....

Is dyslexia just a myth?
Dyslexia: a big, expensive myth

My wife is dyslexic. She's really good at math, and a genius when it comes to chemistry. She barely studied for her exams in school and aced them.

But when she reads, the words and letters tend to jump around. Sometimes even whole lines will get mixed up. She has to double and triple check her work at her job to make sure that she doesn't misread numbers or words; because she usually does on the first read.


Have her try this, it might be a big help for a brainy dyslexic...
2013-01-21 08:52:07 AM
1 votes:
"Our youth love luxury. They have bad manners and contempt for authority. They show disrespect for their elders and love idle chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants not the servants of the household. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers"
-- Socrates, 450 B.C.
2013-01-21 08:10:05 AM
1 votes:
FTA: "That's the rate of students who, upon graduating high school, must take remedial classes in certain subjects to take college-level courses."

A CSB that might be relevant here:

I was required to take "remedial" English courses when I entered college- despite having scored in the top 5th percentile in the state and the top 10th percentile in the nation for reading and language aptitude on the SAT.

Why was this? Well, in part because- even in high school- most of what I was being taught in terms of paper-writing formats was a decade outmoded (that is: 'no longer used') by the time they were teaching it to me.

The other part? Well, what I don't see anyone mentioning in this article is the conflict of interest an institution (be it a college or a "career training program") receiving a transfer student (be it a transfer from another college or from high school) might have in giving an entering student less courses and coursework to complete.

Colleges get paid by the course, after all. Anyone who's ever moved credits to another college or learning facility knows this, just as well as they know that the translation process for transferring credits is heavily biased by the recipient institution towards forcing the student to take more courses.

Already took that 300 level requirement in Economics for your plan of study in your origin institution? Expect to be forced to take it again after you transfer. Why? Cause if you don't have to take it again, the receiving institution doesn't get paid as much. Expect this to happen at least a half-dozen times or more during your transfer process.

Could it be that at least a few of these classes that are "lost-in-translation" are truly forced on the student again due to a lack of academic merit? Sure. I'd bet you could make that case about 33% of the time (I'm probably being generous here), but the rest is out-and-out bloodsucking, plain and simple. There are no real ways a student may arbitrate this process either, he is entirely at the mercy of whatever the receiving institution decides- right, wrong or indifferent.

Now we return to the matter of a student who is effectively "transferring" from a high school to a college. Do you think that colleges pad that "remedial" requirement of incoming students as a direct consequence of padding their bottom line? If you don't think so, you might not only have been born at night, you may have been born last night.


In the short form, I am not certain that measuring the number of "remedial classes" a student must take upon moving on from high school is at all truly indicative of how "undereducated" or under-prepared they might be upon leaving their origin institution.
2013-01-21 08:02:37 AM
1 votes:
The disconnect between what college professors think is important and what a society needs to function is surprisingly vast. Read 'catcher in the rye' if you WANT to. It's fiction and many people find it pretentious and insipid (in addition to boring and just plain awful).
2013-01-21 03:07:44 AM
1 votes:

stiletto_the_wise: gregscott: The article is an excellent example of a failed system failing to correct itself, and while outlining the problem, the article offers no effective solution. This is why you should home school, if you care about your kids and their education. Because nobody knows your kids like you do, and (gasp) nobody cares about them like you do. And the professionals can't do the job as well as you can.

I would believe in homeschooling as the solution if I believed even 1% of the population of parents is qualified and relied upon to teach up to high school level in ALL of the following subjects:

* Grammar & Spelling
* Literature
* US History
* World History
* Biology
* Chemistry
* Physics
* Algebra
* Geometry
* Trigonometry
* Calculus

In other words, there's no way in hell homeschooling in general* can replace education by professional educators.

I think the only thing homeschooling can be shown to be effective in teaching is that Jesus rode on dinosaurs and that the earth is 6000 years old.

*I'm sure YOUR parents are the 1% that can effectively teach in all of the above subjects.


Between my wife and I, we're quite competent in all of the the above areas. We taught our two kids until grades 7 and 9 and they got excellent scores when they attended public schools. But they had already mastered the basics, and more important, had a love for literature, and enjoyed reading, mathematics, science, music, arts, and so on.

Test scores show that home schooled students tend to excel overall, or at least they did back when I was home schooling and following the literature on the subject. BTW, I was certified in Physics and Mathematics Education, and my wife in Home Economics, English, and History and special education, so I definitely know what the "professional" environment is like. I don't knock the teachers, they do the best they can, but the classroom is much less efficient than tutoring, and a student that has been taught to value and pursue an education is virtually guaranteed success. The primary failing of institutionalized learning is that it generally teaches kids to HATE school, and loathe education.
2013-01-21 02:53:41 AM
1 votes:
ukgovernmentwatch.files.wordpress.com

"I was in Nashville, Tennessee last year. After the show I went to a Waffle House. I'm not proud of it, I was hungry. And I'm alone, I'm eating and I'm reading a book, right? Waitress walks over to me: 'Hey, whatcha readin' for?' Isn't that the weirdest farkin' question you've ever heard? Not what am I reading, but what am I reading FOR? Well, goddamnit, ya stumped me! Why do I read? Well . . . hmmm...I dunno...I guess I read for a lot of reasons and the main one is so I don't end up being a farkin' waffle waitress."
2013-01-21 02:08:09 AM
1 votes:
www.global-air.com

Started in 1965, the ''Head Start'' program doesn't work, has cost taxpayers $180 billion, and should be eliminated. But, politicians think it makes them look good to poor voters, and more money should be thrown at it. (new window)
2013-01-21 01:13:47 AM
1 votes:
Man, NCLB is the closest I ever get to being a conspiracy theorist. Not for social engineering, but if you look at where all the fancy curricula, text books, and test mechanisms come from...you see who's making bucket loads of cash, and who their high-level political and personal connections were in the previous administration...yeah.

I honestly don't think NCLB was malicious, but it's certainly a case of a few companies going 'I have a hammer - hey look at all these little nails in classrooms across the nation I can hit! And for every one - MOOLAH! And so the snowball began to roll.

It makes me sad more than anything. And pissed. Whatever, I'm fighting the good fight and thousands of poor kids get books from it. We'e working on having a larger voice in the conversation.
2013-01-21 01:02:30 AM
1 votes:

hasty ambush: The U.S. spends more than any other nation on education.
Each year, the United States shells out billions of dollars on education. In 2010, the total annual spending on education was more than $809 billion dollars. That's more than any other industrialized nation, and more than the spending of France, Germany, Japan, Brazil, the U. K., Canada, and Australia combined. The difference is substantial when you look at annual spending per child as well. In the U.S., the average student costs the government about $7,743. The next highest nation is the United Kingdom, with $5,834 per student, a difference of almost $2,000 a year per student. So what do top performing nations like Finland and South Korea spend? Just $5,653 and $3,759 per student, respectively.


Maybe if we better allocated the money:

Education leaders say they want to devote greater funding to low-income students, but within most school districts per-pupil spending is higher at schools with more-advantaged students. Education leaders say they want to focus resources on the core subjects of math, reading, history, and science, but per-pupil spending tends to be much higher for electives, extracurricular activities, and sports. Education leaders say they want to emphasize remedial instruction to help lagging students catch up, but in most school districts per-pupil spending is significantly greater for Advanced Placement (AP) and gifted classes than for remedial ones.
2013-01-21 12:11:01 AM
1 votes:

James F. Campbell: Karma Curmudgeon: Summer Glau's Love Slave:
This thread makes me wish I were illiterate.
I were illiterate.
I were.

There's this thing called the subjunctive mood. Look it up.

/And try reading a book, while you're at it.


Oooooo, failed and burned!
2013-01-21 12:06:31 AM
1 votes:
FTA: "I worry that we are going to find that teachers will teach shorter works, they will spend less time on those classics and they'll tend to orient them more toward topical, relevant concerns,"

That's supposed to be a worry? That students will end up reading things which are topical or relevant? You can't motivate kids to read by assigning Chaucer. You can't even do it anymore by assigning  Catcher in the Rye. No sixteen year old is going to care about Tom Sawyer whitewashing fences or about Holden Caulfiled whining about phonies at his goddamn prep school. If the purpose is to teach them to read, then use material that they might actually be interested in. If the purpose is to motivate an interest in the classics, then show why the classics matter. Assign fiction or non-fiction which they actually might have heard of and can be related to themes in classic literature, or which reference it or was influenced by it. Christ, move from Harry Potter to Tolkien to Beowulf. Virtually no high school student is going to be interested in Dostoevsky without some explanation as to why they ought to care.

He wonders if students who are curious aboutThe Sound and the Fury orThe Brothers Karamazov, for instance, would have a place in this new standard.

*Facepalm*
2013-01-20 11:38:28 PM
1 votes:
Take away a kids toys and electronics, restrict them to their room for reasonable amounts of time with access to some good books, and they will learn to like it.

Staring at the wall gets old.
2013-01-20 11:13:15 PM
1 votes:

jst3p: Keep in mind there is a strong correlation between being a minority and being impoverished.


Even if that were true, there isn't at the same time a strong correlation between being impoverished and being violent... there is abundant empirical evidence to suggest that, for genetic reasons, the descendants of African populations throughout the Western world are more likely to engage in violent crime than their non- black counterparts.
2013-01-20 11:05:08 PM
1 votes:
This is actually a wonderful, wonderful decision. Things like Shakespeare and Paradise Lost are invaluable contributions to the literary canon and indispensable to those who want a full understanding of the evolution of the English language.

They're also farking worthless and possibly even detrimental to anyone who could not care less about the literary canon or English language. Most high school graduates are never going to read another serious novel again once they leave. They're going to read, at best, op-eds on news websites and maybe the occasional essay. They'll be hearing speeches and structuring arguments in presentations at work. They need to understand how rhetoric works, in addition to being able to pick out useful information from droll informational texts such as instruction manuals. The ones that do read the occasional novel will be reading popular garbage like 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight, things that go so far beyond the realm of intellectualism that to examine them using the same analytic methods that are used to scrutinize classic works of literature is insulting to anyone who has ever hoped to have their writing taken seriously.

So why do we teach them these things? Why do we hand kids, who no longer have the time or attention span to watch a farking movie that's longer than three hours, books written in dusty 18th century English with 300 pages and a plot they can't connect with? They can't be assed to read it and we know it, that's why we end up teaching and testing them about the plot instead of having them learn and discuss how an author achieves his desired goal through effective use of language, something that is an actual critical thinking skill that they'll be using in real life.

Meanwhile, if you hand them a different two page essay from the New York Times or some magazine every couple days and ask them what words the author uses to get his point across, the students will actually read them and even try to answer your question because it's not a frustrating, time-consuming biatch to do so. On top of that, you get to cover more ground, catering to the interests of your actual students instead of ancient English professors who make their living training other people to become the same as them.
2013-01-20 10:59:15 PM
1 votes:
"The idea is that things like Lincoln's second inaugural address and Martin Luther King's letter from the Birmingham jail ... are worthy of close attention," he says. "Not just in a historical context, but also for the interweaving of thought and language."
...
"When they realized how relatively low they were, it was a real wakeup call for them," she says. "We understood at that point that we needed to start challenging the students more."
To get students to think deeper about a story, for example, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel with deceptively simple language, is paired with Malcolm Gladwell's New Yorker piece that alleges it is an elitist story.

"So the students find that there's a purpose in the reading that may not have been as apparent before," she says.


This isn't a bad idea. I'm not a big fan of non-fiction; it doesn't have the same benefits for a person as fiction does. If they're understanding more of what they read, even if it's less -- improvement?
2013-01-20 10:51:04 PM
1 votes:

skullkrusher: couldn't we keep the English classes focused on the fiction classics as always and get the history classes to rely more on primary source material?


Came here to say that.

History classes should include reading some history: some stuff by modern historians and some nonfiction written during the times being studied.

Science classes should also include reading some good popular science literature.
2013-01-20 10:42:50 PM
1 votes:

EvilRacistNaziFascist: Phaeon: I feel that The Handmaids Tale is useful because it gets referenced a lot on FARK, especially when the article involves the GOP.

True enough: the idea of a Christian theocracy dominating the modern Western world is merely flattering leftist paranoia at a time when, among the religions, Christianity is in retreat and Islam is expanding its influence.


1) I teach the Handmaid's Tale. It is not about a Christian or Jewish theocracy. There is no discussion of Jesus or the Rabbinate in the sociopolitical structure in that novel. In fact the only mention of Christians are Baptists and Quakers and they are rebels fighting against that totalitarian system as reported on the warnews in that novel. It is a composite dystopia that explicitly includes Karl Marx as a "prophet." 2) Christianity is not on the decline. In fact its as vibrant in the Americas (North and South) as ever and is rapidly expanding all over Africa and in the developing world. Put down the political shocksite crap and actually read some scholarly literature on recent global trends in conversion. 3) And yes Islam too is expanding--yet few predominantly Muslim areas (usually rural ones) have anything resembling an Islamic 'theocracy.' The vast majority of the Islamic world is not like Saudi Arabia or the rural parts of Pakistan.
2013-01-20 10:39:27 PM
1 votes:
BTW, if you think you hate Mellville, give him one more chance and read "Typee". It is very short, and you'll know by the second chapter if you want to finish it. That book would make an awesome movie if made today, what with the nudity and cannibalism and all.


As far as the reading problem, I once worked on a public awareness program to teach new parents of any class and income level what they could do help their kids achieve better literacy. There are lots of cheap or free little things to do, one of the easiest is to just bring home a newspaper, even a free, days-old copy - and lead them thru the pictures of their choice, reading the captions out loud and discussing the story. Ads, too. Anything. The newspapers and mags can also help teach them to start paying attention to current events at a young age, so they are smart about what's going on in the world. Old magazines are good for this too. You can get the free or dirt cheap at yard sales, thrift stores, and the like. Having reading materials always present, whatever they are, is the important thing. Helping them make flash cards or signs for common household objects also gets the kids familiar with the shapes of words way before preschool. And that's how we learn to read: we learn by associating the shape of letters to sounds, and the shape of words to concepts. That's why you try to use mixed-case letters as much as you can; it makes decoding word shape easier.

Whenever we went to the grocery store, I would put my baby girl on my shoulders and have her read the price numbers out loud to me, then the names of the fruits and veggies and then other things too. We would point to the words and the actual things. Making a game out of killing time shopping made it fun for both of us. You should have seen the old lady in the produce aisle when my three-year-old points and shouts: "Daddy! The bananas are on sale for fifty-five cents a pound!" Then of course you work on numeracy, by slowly adding stuff to the bigass hanging produce scales and watching the numbers roll up.

Of course the number one tool is reading to your child every day, even if it's just from the paper, but reading them bedtime stories is pure gold for both of you. Don't be afraid you're not good enough, or doing it wrong. The kid wants your time most of all. All my kids were several grade levels ahead and able to read when they entered preschool, never mind kindergarten. I was reading Treasure Island and then Homer at age five.
2013-01-20 10:22:08 PM
1 votes:
I did a little reading on this and what a relief it is to find that White Children are not doing any worse. Whew.

It seems that adding more minorities to our country and expecting them to perform the same as white kids is causing problems. Especially when you don't want higher education to look too white.

Here's one solution:

Florida Passes Plan For Racially-Based Academic Goals


Then there is that persistant black / white gap.

On average, black students typically score one standard deviation below white students on standardized tests-roughly the difference in performance between the average 4th grader and the average 8th grader. Historically, what has come to be known as the black-white test-score gap has emerged before children enter kindergarten and has tended to widen over time.

And now we find out that Head Start has been a waste of money!


HHS' latest Head Start Impact Study found taxpayers aren't getting a good return on this "investment." According to the congressionally-mandated report, Head Start has little to no impact on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting practices of its participants. In fact, on a few measures, access to the program actually produced negative effects.
The HHS' scientifically-rigorous study tracked 5,000 children who were randomly assigned to either a group receiving Head Start services or a group that did not participate in Head Start. It followed their progression from ages three or four through the end of third grade. The third-grade evaluation is a continuation to HHS' first-grade study, which followed children through the end of first grade.

The first-grade evaluation found that any benefits the children may have accrued while in the Head


So to be honest, I don't think there is an education problem for white kids. The national numbers goes down as their percentage of the population goes down.

This diversity thing is becoming a pain in the ass.
2013-01-20 10:19:04 PM
1 votes:

Phaeon: I feel that The Handmaids Tale is useful because it gets referenced a lot on FARK, especially when the article involves the GOP.


True enough: the idea of a Christian theocracy dominating the modern Western world is merely flattering leftist paranoia at a time when, among the religions, Christianity is in retreat and Islam is expanding its influence.
2013-01-20 10:17:16 PM
1 votes:
largedon: Welcome to Sagan's nightmare.

"I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...

The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance"

― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
2013-01-20 10:08:39 PM
1 votes:
Unionizing teachers has brought us here.
2013-01-20 10:06:52 PM
1 votes:
Reading books is a good way to learn grammar and writing. I would not, however, recommend reading newspapers. Seriously, I have no idea when every newspaper in the U.S. decided to stop employing copy editors. I can't even get through an edition of my local newspaper, and the news links I read on Fark are equally poorly-written.
2013-01-20 10:04:47 PM
1 votes:
This thread makes me wish I were illiterate.
2013-01-20 10:02:19 PM
1 votes:
wallpapersfor.net
2013-01-20 09:59:02 PM
1 votes:

iaazathot: RabidJade: Proteios1: And people wonder why public education is no longer a sacred cow. They have been failing students on so many levels. It's sad because public education is one of the pillars of. Stable notion nd I can't help but see the connection between our weak public Ed and a faltering nation.

Parents who think teaching their children is someone else's problem and actively stay out of their kid's education until they get a call from the school are just as much to blame for this.

Of course, parents who do this are labled "helicopter parents" by the school system and other parents. Our culture is so confused right now, and that is by design. If we have really smart kids then the charlatans can't stay in power in religion or politics (I mean Rick Perry is a governor FFS).

You can't sell useless crap if people have critical thinking skills or understand statisitcs.


Without critical thinking skills, people also tend to smell conspiracy where there's none
2013-01-20 09:48:33 PM
1 votes:

WhippingBoy: Lsherm: Babwa Wawa: but we have a tendency to over-do many of the genres.

I am all for whatever reduces studying Melville or Dickens.  I read a quite a bit, but for the life of me I can't read anything by those two without feeling like I'm doing work.

You think you've got it bad? In Canada, we had to read "The Handmaids Tale".


I feel that The Handmaids Tale is useful because it gets referenced a lot on FARK, especially when the article involves the GOP.
2013-01-20 09:43:39 PM
1 votes:

CruiserTwelve: More than fifty percent of high school students don't read good

They apparently don't write well either.


*sigh*
2013-01-20 09:41:25 PM
1 votes:
The College Board makes money by telling Americans that their children will fail at life if they don't buy college board courses and materials. I trust them about as much as I trust Pearson and the other test makers.
2013-01-20 09:41:14 PM
1 votes:
I have a theory on this and English class in general for example.

We don't really have a NEED for anything but the basics in our society as a whole.  There is not really any solid reason to have above a very basic ability to read, write, or even speak for that matter, as most of the common thoughts and ideas we need to communicate within our society have been distilled down to be recognizable or intelligible to the lowest common denominator.

If people are not challenged to develop and learn and maintain a higher level, why will they retain or teach their own children similar skills or even try to reinforce learning a higher level than they use day to day?  Yes, we try to teach it, but what are we doing to make it so that the people USE that knowledge or retain it.  Similar to many sciences and mathematics  we teach it but many people don't LEARN it because...why remember or retain that knowledge if it is never used except by a small fraction of them?
2013-01-20 09:40:22 PM
1 votes:

Lsherm: Babwa Wawa: but we have a tendency to over-do many of the genres.

I am all for whatever reduces studying Melville or Dickens.  I read a quite a bit, but for the life of me I can't read anything by those two without feeling like I'm doing work.


You think you've got it bad? In Canada, we had to read "The Handmaids Tale".
2013-01-20 08:56:21 PM
1 votes:
F*ck it. They're doomed anyway.

Teach them to make meth. At least they'll learn a trade.
 
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