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    Of Education

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    Quicksilver

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    Of Education

    Post by Quicksilver on Sun May 19, 2013 10:36 pm

    Good evening,

    I am particularly curious as to the opinions of those who are or recently were educators or students, that is in the academic sense, on the structure of education systems as they currently stand- I make this international generalisation because variations in specifics not withstanding it seems that the underlying structure and deeper ideology is rather universal.

    What an 'education' may one get, I wonder, in a system that has internally self-corrupted to the point where students must actively change and suppress the ways they think, to fit into such a system so rigidly formulaic that one may lose marks for using the wrong font, or writing ones student number on the wrong side of the page (an extreme example but a genuine one)? Where it seems that exams have ceased to be a mere with which to measure a students progress and become the very reason for it, as though there is no reason to learn anything that will not be asked on a paper? I do understand that there is a necessity to cater to the dominant mode of thought, and do not deny that there is most definitely value to 'education' as it stands and indeed much to be gained from it, but it seems to me- and I can only write from personal experience- that a system that should always have been about promoting curiosity and encouraging breadth and depth of thought has in many respects managed to achieve the opposite, and I find this both highly personally frustrating, and more than a little bit sad.

    Admittedly as I am currently a student in yr. 11 my observations are primarily limited to secondary education; I would be very interested to know how tertiary education compares? And more generally, what your opinion is on the matter as a whole, particularly those of you who are either currently students, or educators- and I must of course ask whether you consider this to be an issue at all? If so, is it one that can be improved or a situation in which one must simply make do? I do wonder whether this isn't perhaps just another matter symptomatic of something far more ingrained.

    Your thoughts on the matter would be much appreciated.

    Regards,


    Quicksilver


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    seatea

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    Re: Of Education

    Post by seatea on Mon May 20, 2013 3:56 am

    It's the conflict between idealism and pragmatism -- is educating about improving the individual or producing a solid tax base. In our current time the pragmatic approach seems to be dominating. But in truth may be I'm looking at the education systems of the past through rose-tinted glasses; it seems the public school system* that was strong here in the UK in the past was mainly designed to churn out the good, solid, stolid chaps fit to be civil servants and rule the Empire, despite the strong Classical elements to it.

    Sometimes the practical and the idealistic can meet (to a degree at least). For instance in the case of the sciences; there are strong economic reasons for producing people that have a good grounding in science but science can also inspire and is one of the great human endeavours.

    Sometimes I think it the much maligned TV that does a better job at bring to people the more enriching side of learning and knowledge than many (most?) education systems, even if it is dumbed down and over packaged. Look at the popularity of of programmes by David Attenborough and Brian Cox (here in the UK at least).

    *I have read that this was a powerful influence on Jigoro Kano. Don't know if this is accurate or not.
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    finarashi

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    Re: Of Education

    Post by finarashi on Mon May 20, 2013 6:26 am

    I have been full time educator (university professor) since 2008. You should look the education from similar conceptual framework as we look our Judo education.

    Lowest form of teaching is "do like I do", "don't ask questions" and "behave". This is useful when we start with the basics. This is the way we drill basics to starting Judoka.

    Second main thing is learning though osmosis. Behaving the same way your buddies do. It would be fune to let everybody do what they want during practice, but this only works if there is small number of practitioners or large number of teachers. Typically everybody recieves the same class.

    Even when you make the black belt you still have to adhere to way the head sensei likes to work. Only when you learn enough to start your own dojo can you experiment with teaching.

    You ask "...to fit into such a system so rigidly formulaic that one may lose marks for using the wrong font, or writing ones student number on the wrong side of the page (an extreme example but a genuine one)? " but this is a serious matter. When you apply for driver's licence can you write your name in any place of the form? When you enter into foreign country and fill the visa application can you write what you want and where you want? You work for IBM; can you use the font you like most in your presentation? When I write to a scientific journal then each journal has its own format. Does that make sence? But this is the way the world is built.


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    seatea

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    Re: Of Education

    Post by seatea on Mon May 20, 2013 5:25 pm

    To be honest, if someone types an essay in comic sans then they should automatically fail whatever course they were doing. And be barred from having children.
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    genetic judoka

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    Re: Of Education

    Post by genetic judoka on Tue May 21, 2013 1:32 am

    well, this is a fun topic. one near and dear to my heart, as my life has been a long and frustrating pursuit of knowledge. QS, I'm glad to hear that even though I haven't spoken to you via PM lately, you haven't changed much.

    the thing is, you're nearing the end of what in my opinion is the worst part of the academic experience. from early childhood to the end of high school, you are not learning for learning's sake. what you're learning is how to follow the rules, and how to conform to societal norms. as fin pointed out, it's "sit down and shut up."

    many of your teachers took the job thinking they could make a change, be the one to inspire, and foster a love of knowledge. but they've been beaten down by a system that values test scores above knowledge retention, and budget expansion over mind expansion. at least at the collegiate level (a place you'll find yourself in soon enough) some of the teachers still love their jobs, and teach for the sake of teaching.

    if I were to list the 20 best teachers I've ever had, 15 would be from college, 3 would be from elementary school, and only 2 were from my high school experience. and of those 2 high school teachers, one later committed suicide because of how much the constraints of the system depressed him, and one was fired for not following the curriculum enough.

    the enemy of learning is the curriculum. the enemy's sword is the standardized test.

    but still, if you type an essay in comic sans, you don't deserve the right to reproduce.


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    Steve Leadbeater

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    Re: Of Education

    Post by Steve Leadbeater on Tue May 21, 2013 1:51 am

    Gentlemen, QS is my student and an absolute Knowledge Sponge, she will soak up everything you give her and still come back for more, I actually fear for her teachers at High School as I believe she knows more than they do.
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    genetic judoka

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    Re: Of Education

    Post by genetic judoka on Tue May 21, 2013 3:02 am

    Steve Leadbeater wrote:Gentlemen, QS is my student and an absolute Knowledge Sponge, she will soak up everything you give her and still come back for more, I actually fear for her teachers at High School as I believe she knows more than they do.
    so how much have you taught her about beer?


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    JudoMum

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    Re: Of Education

    Post by JudoMum on Tue May 21, 2013 3:17 am

    I was talking to my kids about my experience of being a child at school in Britain in the 1970's - before the National Curriculum. I remember my teacher catching me gazing out of the window one snowy afternoon, and asking what I was thinking about. I told him I was wondering if snowflakes really look like the patterny images on christmas cards. We discussed this as a class, packed up our maths books and workcards, put on coats and wellies, and all trooped outside with sheets of black sugar paper to catch snowflakes on, and magnifying glasses to enable close inspection. Of course the snowflakes melted before we could properly look, and the magnifying glasses wouldn't have had the power to look closely enough, but the freedom of the teacher to pack up and go investigate something on an impulse really stayed with me - I later went into teaching and know that in this era of targets and pressure for results it just wouldn't happen - not to mention 'elf and safety'...

    I believe these days that the education system exists to serve itself. Children are pressured to pass exams, the content of which bear little relation to the skills they will need to be happy, useful, and productive members of society. Things like health and education are about people, not targets and tick boxes, this seems to have been forgotten in our bonus/blame culture.

    I just remember the joy of escaping that maths lesson and running in the snow, catching snowflakes, and feel so sad for kids today.
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    Quicksilver

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    Re: Of Education

    Post by Quicksilver on Wed May 22, 2013 12:09 am

    Good evening,

    Genetic- You just can't quite seem to get rid of me. Smile
    I have been very lucky to have a few particularly good teachers. But of the vast majority, I have observed precisely what you describe. And to be fair, it probably can't be totally blamed on the system; it must be said that out of the groups of people that one may choose to teach, I imagine that high school students would probably be among the most disillusioning. It is nice to hear that tertiary education is an improvement, though. Out of interest, does the statement of information so blatantly oversimplified as to be almost useless (mainly a problem in the sciences) as though it were unequivocal fact also cease with college?

    I tried typing an essay in Comic Sans. Couldn't bring myself to go through with it.

    Steve- I… must… not… start… an… epistemological… debate…

    Finarashi- I was wondering whether someone would bring up Judo as a system of education in and of itself. I don’t deny that there are parallels from a point of view of pure pedagogy, but in practice I have not quite observed the same issues in Judo, perhaps because the nature of the activity is different- or perhaps because it has not bureaucratically corrupted to the same degree? It could also be because generally speaking, everyone who is either teaching or leaning Judo is there because they want to be simply because of the nature of the activity, which I’d imagine makes a difference, as well as that there is in some respects rather less pressure- it’s not hugely likely that your future employment prospects are dependent upon your Judo grade and competition results.

    My example of fonts and student numbers was perhaps a rather ill-considered one that skirted around the actual nature of the objection I was making. My concern lies more where the minor stylistic qualities of a piece of work become more important than its intellectual content to the point where perfectly valid responses are theoretically recognised but ultimately frowned upon simply because they deviate from the set rigid formula. I’m one of those nutty people who cares more about what I’ve actually learned than about what a piece of paper says I have, but it is not so much the practical immediacy of this that concerns me as its broader implications.

    But then, I’ve long found it strange, the societal conception of how a person is expected to interact with others and the wider social world; almost as though one owes the rest of humanity something or is even somehow owned by it, simply by being alive. It’s rather sad in a way that there is literally in a very physical sense no-where one live away from the oft absurd trappings of society should one happen to disagree with them.

    Many thanks for the discussion, it is interesting and I am greatly enjoying reading what you guys have to say.

    Regards.


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    genetic judoka

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    Re: Of Education

    Post by genetic judoka on Wed May 22, 2013 1:40 am

    Quicksilver wrote:Good evening,

    Genetic- You just can't quite seem to get rid of me. Smile
    I have been very lucky to have a few particularly good teachers. But of the vast majority, I have observed precisely what you describe. And to be fair, it probably can't be totally blamed on the system; it must be said that out of the groups of people that one may choose to teach, I imagine that high school students would probably be among the most disillusioning. It is nice to hear that tertiary education is an improvement, though. Out of interest, does the statement of information so blatantly oversimplified as to be almost useless (mainly a problem in the sciences) as though it were unequivocal fact also cease with college?
    that is one area where there is an improvement. my experiences thus far have been that professors of the sciences in college tend to love their jobs. they transfer knowledge to you, and not just in the form of bullet points that need to be remembered word for word for the next test and then purged. you learn about the subject. and it's wonderful.

    I tried typing an essay in Comic Sans. Couldn't bring myself to go through with it.
    there is hope for you yet.


    Finarashi- I was wondering whether someone would bring up Judo as a system of education in and of itself. I don’t deny that there are parallels from a point of view of pure pedagogy, but in practice I have not quite observed the same issues in Judo, perhaps because the nature of the activity is different- or perhaps because it has not bureaucratically corrupted to the same degree? It could also be because generally speaking, everyone who is either teaching or leaning Judo is there because they want to be simply because of the nature of the activity, which I’d imagine makes a difference, as well as that there is in some respects rather less pressure- it’s not hugely likely that your future employment prospects are dependent upon your Judo grade and competition results.
    I'm not fin, but I'm gonna respond to this part anyway. that part about people being there because they wanna be there and that making all the difference. you know what that reminds me of? college. I once told you the story of a teacher devoting an entire class period to deriving, proving, and explaining the implications of Euler's equation (when it was not gonna be on any test). he did it because he thought it was a cool aspect of calculus, and wanted us to appreciate the coolness of calculus (calculus is very cool, btw) you wouldn't ever see that in high school. trust me, it gets better. you have one more year before you get to find out for yourself.

    My example of fonts and student numbers was perhaps a rather ill-considered one that skirted around the actual nature of the objection I was making. My concern lies more where the minor stylistic qualities of a piece of work become more important than its intellectual content to the point where perfectly valid responses are theoretically recognised but ultimately frowned upon simply because they deviate from the set rigid formula. I’m one of those nutty people who cares more about what I’ve actually learned than about what a piece of paper says I have, but it is not so much the practical immediacy of this that concerns me as its broader implications.

    But then, I’ve long found it strange, the societal conception of how a person is expected to interact with others and the wider social world; almost as though one owes the rest of humanity something or is even somehow owned by it, simply by being alive. It’s rather sad in a way that there is literally in a very physical sense no-where one live away from the oft absurd trappings of society should one happen to disagree with them.
    you are correct. but in the business world it's not the least bit uncommon that the manner in which material is presented is often more important and more influential than the material itself. it's not what it is, it's how it looks. they are trying to prepare you for that. and as much as we wish that wasn't the case, that is absolutely the way it is in the real world. the real world sucks.

    also, by existing you do owe something to humanity. you owe it to the world to make it a slightly better place. or a much better place, if you have the means to do so. many disregard that responsibility, but that means it's even more important that the rest of us pick up their slack. the purpose of education in general is to make you better equipped to contribute positively to society. we learn this in judo as well.

    Many thanks for the discussion, it is interesting and I am greatly enjoying reading what you guys have to say.

    Regards.

    any time. I'm happy to participate.


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    Steve Leadbeater

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    Re: Of Education

    Post by Steve Leadbeater on Wed May 22, 2013 1:56 am

    genetic judoka wrote:
    Steve Leadbeater wrote:Gentlemen, QS is my student and an absolute Knowledge Sponge, she will soak up everything you give her and still come back for more, I actually fear for her teachers at High School as I believe she knows more than they do.


    so how much have you taught her about beer?
    [i][u]

    Sufficient that She joins us after training at the pub for supper, Chess and Go !! goodjob
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    Quicksilver

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    Re: Of Education

    Post by Quicksilver on Wed May 22, 2013 5:06 pm


    genetic judoka wrote: you are correct. but in the business world it's not the least bit uncommon that the manner in which material is presented is often more important and more influential than the material itself. it's not what it is, it's how it looks. they are trying to prepare you for that. and as much as we wish that wasn't the case, that is absolutely the way it is in the real world. the real world sucks.

    also, by existing you do owe something to humanity. you owe it to the world to make it a slightly better place. or a much better place, if you have the means to do so. many disregard that responsibility, but that means it's even more important that the rest of us pick up their slack. the purpose of education in general is to make you better equipped to contribute positively to society. we learn this in judo as well.

    any time. I'm happy to participate.

    Perhaps I'm a hopeless idealist. 

    Regarding "You do owe something to humanity"; I find that interesting. I readily agree that 'giving back to the world' in whatever capacity one may is a good, morally favourable, worthwhile thing to do. But to say that one actually 'owes' seems to imply that a mere state of neutrality in terms of contributions to society- if hypothetically one were to, for example, become a hermit and totally isolate oneself from the rest of humanity and be completely self-sufficient, and thus never interact with another human again- would be actively amoral? This also leads to the question of how one does evaluate the sum total, positive or negative, of the contributions a human being either has made or may make to the rest of humanity; and in all this, how important is intent- a very complex factor in and of itself? And how important that subjective, multifaceted, elusive concept known as freedom?


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