This is a continuation of the discussions from the Comment wall.


Some questions:

How do you think education in general can be improved?  

What are  your opinions on public, private, religious and alternative education?

What are your experiences in the educational system?

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Replies to This Discussion

Well, let's start this one off with a joke - a bit of satire which should ring true with many.


Q: What do you get if you cross a horse with a dog?


(I dunno, what do you get)


A: Nothing. You can't breed across species you fool. That's the sort of dumb-ass answer I'd expect from someone who went to school after you let the church control the state.




I've been teaching in some capacity since the late 1980s, and I'm currently teaching in a lovely private, non-sectarian elementary school.  I could go on for ages about this topic, but instead, I'll just pick one thing (for now). ;-)


I used to teach a science methods course at the local university.  This course was for 4th year elementary education majors, and the goal was to teach them how to teach science.  In my state, we have a program in place where students can "dual enroll" in college courses while in high school.  Essentially, successful students in the program graduate high school with an Associates degree as well.  This, in my view, puts these students at a poor advantage to their peers.  They would reach my class at the age of 19, instead of 21-22, like their peers who went the traditional route.  This age difference doesn't sound like much, but it is evident in the classroom.  Interest, quality of work, and ability to understand important concepts were all hampered by attending the class at a younger age.  Of course, this is a gross generalization, as I had exceptional students who were young, and mediocre students who were the traditional college age, but I certainly saw a pattern.


I wish our country (I'm in the US) was more open to a gap year in between high school and college.  I think students grow up so much when they have a year to either work, volunteer, or travel and see how other people live.  Currently, most competitive schools will not hold your admission for a year to take advantage of a gap year, which I think is a shame.  The more mature our students are when they walk into college classrooms, the better they will be equipped with choosing paths that meet their interests and inherent or learned skills.

Question: Would the problem be something other than age that would show up as a pattern that you noticed? Could it be that the education provided by the elementary and high school curriculum is not up to the task of preparing a beginning college student?  In other words, are the older students just exposed to certain classes that get them ready where the fast paced students are not exposed to yet?

I home educate my kids.....  has it's pro's and con's - I think engagment with children is important no matter what type of education you give them - so large classes with over worked teachers would not be conducive to this style of learning - I think kids need time, engagement, someone to take an interest in them - role models - as well as opportunities and freedom to follow a passion. 


Parenting and teaching is a challenging thing - as is learning and growing up!

I was interested to hear about Cameron's new 'freedom schools' here in the UK....  not sure where that will take the uk education system....

Don't get me f**king started on those.


KEEEERIST on a unicycle.


I'm already fighting one.






I'm not familiar with the education situation over there.  Would be interesting to learn about it.


Found these articles:

David Cameron wants education 'excellence' - BBC

David Cameron: we need elitism in schools


The only thing I've found in Wikipedia so far:

David Cameron / Raising teaching standards

At the launch of the Conservative Party's education manifesto in January 2010, Cameron declared an admiration for the "brazenly elitist" approach to education of countries such as Singapore and South Korea and expressed a desire to "elevate the status of teaching in our country". He suggested the adoption of more stringent criteria for entry to teaching and offered repayment of the loans of maths and science graduates obtaining first or 2.1 degrees from "good" universities.

Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, said "The message that the Conservatives are sending to the majority of students is that if you didn't go to a university attended by members of the Shadow Cabinet, they don't believe you're worth as much."


yes - this new freedom school situation has interesting implications - but when we add things like this to the causal mix we can't always control outcomes.....


i like the idea personally - me being someone who values rational thought and has a natural desire to bring my children up as 'good citizens' but then we think of extremest religious groups and we have another outcome that could be quite scary...

In general, the first thing we need to do is pay educators what they are actually worth and make the curriculum and standards to become a teacher on par with science and math majors.  They obviously will have different studies but what they are learning they should excel at.  The second is to scale back the size of classrooms so that the room is not simply a can trying to contain insane amounts of frenzied energy and distractions.  Teachers should teach, not have to micro-manage.

I only have experience with public schooling, both myself as a student and my children as students.  My views on private and alternative education are the-grass-is-certainly-a-lot-greener-right-now as they are not affordable nor available options to my family.  Cost aside, most do not accept autistic or mentally disabled children.  The only ones that are mandated to accommodate are publicly funded schools.

Religious schools are indoctrination centers that parents have no business placing their children in.  As adults, or teenagers at the very least, if they choose to go to a religious institution, that is their business and I have no qualms with that.

Overall, if it were not for public schools, I would be paying for speech, occupational, and social group therapy in order to help my children develop as close to normal as possible.  Public schools are required to provide these services to children in need.  We do not have community support anymore outside of institutions so I rely heavily on the public education system for this.

That said, I feel there is a serious need for improvement in some regions more than others.  I currently live in one of the better districts in the US and am fortunate for this, but four years in the LA district, for example, shows there are some drastic changes needed.

In addition to better pay (and training) for educators, I also think districts need to rethink how they move teachers around.  In our county, teachers are often juggled from one grade to the next year after year.  This does not allow the teacher to ever become a true expert in his or her area.  By allowing teachers to stay in the same subject and grade, we allow them to have time to continue to improve their lessons instead of starting from scratch each year.

I do have to agree with those who spoke of raising the pay of educators. I find it a touch ridiculous that everyone who makes $100k+ in the US has been taught by someone who barely makes a third of that amount. I also think that maintaining music and arts programs as well as other extra-curricular activities would help as well, seeing how at least the music and arts programs have the desired effect of higher average test scores.


I have attended private, religious, and public schools in my K-12 years and from what I've experienced the education tends to be better in the private institutions than in the public ones, but I was also lucky in that once I reached high school I also had a group of very well trained and great teachers. Granted most of them were old enough to have taught some of the students parents and in a couple of instances  grand parents, but it was still a pretty good experience for me overall.

@Alice - Are you ever concerned about your kids missing out on the social aspect of school?




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