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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:44 pm 
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What are your ideas about the education system? Do you feel " home- schooling" is best


Here's an idea....why not stop making "self-esteem" the major course of study for our bratty, out-of-control schoolkids? Bring back discipline. Emphasize conceptual learning over rote memorization. Whatever Japanese and Korean schools are doing....let's do more of that and less of what we're doing.



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Math and science offer the only common basis for comparing American schools to the rest of the world. Other subjects vary from one country to another. Results of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) involving a half-million students in 41 countries are authoritative. Oversight groups included not only the world's leading experts on comparative studies of education systems, but also experts in assessment design and statistical analysis.
Comparisons are Fair Traditionally, the most common criticism of international studies is that it is unfair to compare our results to other countries because their national scores are based on a highly selective population. While this may have been true in the past, it is simply not valid in the case of TIMSS. Using several different methods of measuring enrollment, the data indicate that the enrollment rate in the United States is closer to the international average than to the desirable upper extreme. Even the theory that higher secondary enrollment rates hurt a country's overall achievement did not hold true. Students in countries with higher enrollment rates tended to score significantly higher on both the math and science general knowledge assessments. Higher secondary enrollment rates are associated with higher levels of performance, rather than the reverse. The range of scores, from high to low, is no greater in the United States than in the higher-scoring countries.

Participants This study included primarily the industrialized countries of Europe but also the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Asia. So-called third world countries that have a higher literacy rate than the U.S., like Costa Rica, and others that contribute a significant number of U.S. advance degreed immigrants, like India , were not part of this study; therefore, the results in terms of world competition are worse than portrayed in these charts.

Results In short, the tests showed U.S. fourth-graders performing poorly, middle school students worse. and high school students are unable to compete. By the same criteria used to say we were "average" in elementary school, "we appear to be "near the bottom" at the high school level. People have a tendency to think this picture is bleak but it doesn't apply to their own school. Chances are, even if your school compares well in SAT scores, it will still be a lightweight on an international scale.

By the time our students are ready to leave high school - ready to enter higher education and the labor force - they are doing so badly with science they are significantly weaker than their peers in other countries.
Our idea of "advanced" is clearly below international standards.
There appears to be a consistent weakness in our teaching performance in physical sciences that becomes magnified over the years.
Causes for Failure One would think that with our vastly superior resources and the level of education spending which far exceeds these competitors we would outperform nearly everyone - not so. Dr. Schmidt, who oversees the research effort into the TIMSS results, says the actual cause for the failures appears to be weak math and science curricula in U.S. middle schools.

A more insightful explanation was once proffered by Jean McLaughlin, president of Barry University who said "The public schools lack focus; instead of concentrating on education, they dabble in social re-engineering". That assessment was confirmed by the superintendent of the country's fourth largest school district in Miami-Dade, Florida who said "Half our job is education, and the other half is social work".

Downward sloping performance confirms John Taylor Gatto's thesis in his book Dumbing Us Down and his speeches which charge compulsory government education with deliberately producing robots instead of adults who are the best they can be.

Curricula The biggest deficits are found at the middle school level. In middle school, most countries shift curricula from basic arithmetic and elementary science in the direction of chemistry, physics, algebra and geometry. Even poor countries generally teach a half-year of algebra and a half-year of geometry to every eighth-grader.

In U.S. middle schools, however, most students continue to review arithmetic. And they are more likely to study earth science and life science than physics or chemistry.


Textbooks U.S. textbooks treat topics with a "mile-wide, inch-deep" approach, Schmidt said. A typical U.S. eighth-grade math textbook deals with about 35 topics. By comparison, a Japanese or German math textbook for that age would have only five or six topics. Comparisons done elsewhere between French and American math books show more innovative approaches to finding, for instance, the volume of a pyramid. Fractions don't lend themselves to computerization, so they're relegated to an importance slightly above Roman numerals. Calculators are here to stay, so kids breeze through long division. They concentrate on how to use math rather than how to do math, and with less entanglement in social philosophy.

American Education Not World Class
The schools systematically let kids down. By grade 4, American students only score in the middle of 26 countries reported. By grade 8 they are in the bottom third, and at the finish line, where it really counts, we're near dead last. Its even worse when you notice that some of the superior countries in grade 8 (especially the Asians) were not included in published 12th grade results. They do not need 12 grades.

In 1983, A Nation At Risk urgently recommended reforms in education warning "the United States is under challenge from many quarters". Today we're at greater risk than ever. The Government Education Monopoly continues to imperil our economy by failing miserably at preparing the workforce. Business increasingly looks for talent overseas. The world's greatest concentration of PhD's is in Seoul, Korea and half of Americans can't even find Seoul on a map.

Doing it Right One does not need to scurry around trying to devise a plan to extricate ourselves from this mess. The simplest way to improve American education (public, private, and parochial) quickly is to adopt books and teaching methods from countries at the top of the ranking. During ten years of the cultural revolution, South Korea adopted the U.S. System, dumping it when their results nosedived. Several International Baccalaureate schools have gotten dual accreditation from the participating sister country when they met the higher standards required abroad. In our own case, that required an extra hour of instruction each day, and phys-ed in a foreign language. One such government school nicknamed "teacher heaven" was organized by principal Lois Lindahl in Miami, Florida. Her motto is "Children will perform to the level of your expectations".



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During ten years of the cultural revolution, South Korea adopted the U.S. System, dumping it when their results nosedived.


:lol: You don't say?


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:58 pm 
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Great post loggerheads!

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 1:01 pm 
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Sarcasm? :lol:


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:19 pm 
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That was a nice post Loggerheads. I knew we were very near the bottom of the industrialized nations from previous readings, but didn't realize we are actually at the bottom.

There really is no need to try to make a comparison based on anything other than math and science, since the language courses are so much different, and history, language, and political science(?) (not a true science by any stretch of the imagination) are typically scored on a purely subjective basis, (at least in the US). Also, the teachers in the US typically only teach the one side of the issue (theirs), or tend to give their side greater emphasis when presenting. In Math and Science the answer is either correct or incorrect, if the answer is incorrect either the method is wrong, or you made a math error. Not much wiggle room there in the scoring.

I have read other studies wherein the results indicated that home schooled students perform better at the collegiate level than public school students. They tend to have better work ethics/study habits, and can present both sides of a debate equally well. I will look for the links and post them if you are interested.

Nice find. Where did you get it?

I suspect that BJM just didn't read it. It was more than half a page after all.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:55 pm 
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No sarcasm; very informative.

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