This is an article I'm currently working on. If I were to start a private high school based upon these principles, would you be willing to consider it for any of your current or future children?
1. Too Much Emphasis on Literary Analysis, Not Enough Career Research and Analysis
The typical four-year high school English curriculum consists almost entirely of analyzing fictional literature as a means by which to improve reading comprehension, improve writing ability and develop analytical thinking ability. While reading and analyzing narrative fiction is a critical part of a well-rounded education, it is overemphasized. Furthermore, this overemphasis within the high school English curriculum has failed to achieve its primary goal: inspiring a love of fine literature in its students. This particular issue will be addressed in a later section, but back to the matter at hand.
I would replace the standard fiction-focused syllabus of a college bound or honors freshman English class with a Career Research and Analysis class in which students improve their reading comprehension, improve their writing ability and develop analytical thinking ability while learning about different career fields and job opportunities. Different career fields and job opportunities that students could study include:
1. Engineering: Project Engineer, Civil Engineer, Structural Engineer, Environmental Engineer, Biomedical Engineer
2. Health Care: Physician, Nurse, Physical Therapist, Physician Assistant
3. Technology Sector: Software Architect, Systems Engineer, Software Engineer, IT Analyst
4. Business Administration: Entrepreneur, CEO, CIO, CMO
5. Finance & Accounting: Accountant, Actuary, Financial Adviser
6. Psychology: Counselor, Psychiatrist, Forensic Psychologist, Cognitive Neuroscientist
7. Natural Sciences: Biologist, Chemist, Physicist, Botanist, Virologist, Forensic Scientist
8. Social Sciences: Anthropologist, Economist, Sociologist, Lawyer
Over the course of six months, students would take tests and write essays regarding a variety of different career fields, job opportunities and educational pathways. The class would also include inviting guest speakers from every different career field to discuss their experiences in the industry, what is necessary to succeed in their industry, what it is like working in the industry and what level of education is necessary to get different types of jobs in said industry. These guest speakers — most of whom would be students' parents — would be asked to have a few talking points prepared for their presentation. Naturally, this presentation would then be followed by a question and answer period. The teacher would also incorporate some of the guest speaker's points into the next test. Ideally, at least one guest speaker would be brought in every other week and there would be at least one from every different career field.
After 6 months of career and analysis, the class would begin 2 months of college research and analysis. Students would research different colleges, would compare and contrast them in their essays, learn about their different admission requirements and visit a few different local colleges. Former students who are now attending college, as well as a few professors, would be brought in as guest speakers.
As a result of taking this course, students will be able to conduct the rest of their high school career with a sense of purpose. They will also have three more years to conduct further independent research, to reflect on their interests and to arrive at a final decision before they choose what college to attend and what subject they will major in. Similarly, I would like to see colleges replace most first semester freshman English courses with a Career Research and Analysis course.
2. Students Are Not Asked to Study Current Events
The typical High School Social Studies curriculum consists entirely of studying history. The question arises; why aren't students studying, analyzing and discussing both historical events and current events during their social studies classes? The whole point of studying history is that we apply it's lessons to contemporary issues. Otherwise, we are doomed to repeat our past mistakes. However, high school students — and even the overwhelming majority of college students — are NEVER asked to compare and contrast current events with past events, current political issues with past political issues, current economic conditions with past economic conditions, current wars with past wars and so on. In other words, while the purpose of studying history is that we applies its lessons to contemporary issues, students are not being asked to do this; they are simply made to memorize and then regurgitate historical facts without ever putting them to practical use.
"Practical application is the only mordant which will set things in the memory. Study without it is gymnastics, and not work, which alone will get intellectual bread." - James Russel Lowell
Why do many students find history boring? Well, what causes something to be boring? Among other things, irrelevancy. Unless students are able to relate historical wisdom to something that can affect their lives in the world today, history is entirely irrelevant. It may contain a few interesting stories but without application, historical knowledge is nothing more than trivia.
"Whatever study tends neither directly nor indirectly to make us better men and citizens is at best but a specious and ingenious sort of idleness; and the knowledge we acquire by it only a creditable kind of ignorance, nothing more." - 1st Viscount Bolingbroke, Henry St. John
Students should never be asked to study history without simultaneously spending an equal amount of time studying and researching the modern world. Aspects of the modern world that students should be asked to research MUST include multiple opposing viewpoints regarding contemporary politics at the local, state and federal level. Otherwise, how are we to expect them to be informed voters by the time they turn eighteen? Students should also be asked to study opposing viewpoints regarding modern U.S. economic conditions, global economic conditions, public policy issues, foreign cultures, foreign governments, terrorism, national security and so on.
Some ideas for compare/contrast papers that students could write include:
The Iraq War and the Vietnam War
The War on Terror and the Cold War
The United States and the Roman Republic
The Great Recession and the Great Depression
President Obama and any former President
One's current Governor and any former Governor
The Advent of Wireless Electricity and the Advent of Wireless Internet
3. Students are Not Studying Opposing Viewpoints
As it stands today, there does not seem to be a single high school, college or university in the world that asks students to study opposing viewpoints on both contemporary and historical issues as an integral part of their social studies programs. Rather, students are asked to simply regurgitate the biases of their textbooks, teachers and professors. This would be a perfect system for people living under a monarchy, in which citizens are to simply do as they are told, but as we live in a democracy, this makes absolutely no sense. Having students simply regurgitate what they are told not only biases students towards a rigid political ideology (whether conservative or liberal), but it is inherently boring and fails to prepare students for the real world.
"The only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject is by hearing what can be said about it be persons of every variety of opinion and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by ever character of mind. No wise man has ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this." - John Stuart Mill
"Difference of opinion leads to inquiry, and inquiry to truth." - Thomas Jefferson
I am not suggesting that we should get rid of tests altogether in social studies programs or that students should not be asked to prove their ability to recall what they have studied. However, I do suggest that testing should be scaled back a bit in favor of asking students to write research papers, and take part in discussions, in which they provide an analysis of historical and/or contemporary subject matter and cite historical evidence to bolster their arguments. In this way, students will actually retain more historical knowledge because they will be using it for a purpose. Furthermore, they will actually be thinking about what their reading and forming their own evidence-based viewpoint.
And while there are historical facts we can all agree on, every history textbook is, to some extent, biased. Beginning in high school, students should be made fully aware of this, be able to identify their textbooks' point of view and be introduced to opposing viewpoints regarding contentious issues in both U.S. History and World History. Again, the Opposing Viewpoints series provides us with a good starting point. Opposing Viewpoints in American History Volumes I and II as well Opposing Viewpoints in World History I and II should both be utilized as part of every social studies curriculum. However, students should not be restricted to only considering the arguments presented by the editors of the Opposing Viewpoints series; it is merely a good foundation and starting point for further research and analysis.
"In our media-intensive culture it is not difficult to find differing opinions. Thousands of newspapers and magazines and dozens of radio and television talk shows resound with differing points of view. The difficulty lies in deciding which opinion to agree with and which 'experts' seem the most credible. The more inundated we become with differing opinions and claims, the more essential it is to hone critical reading and thinking skills to evaluate these ideas. Opposing Viewpoints books address this problem by directly by presenting stimulating debates that can be used to enhance and teach these skills. The varied opinions contained in each book examine many difference aspects of a single issue. While examining these conveniently editing opposing viewpoints, readers can develop critical thinking skills such as the ability to compare and contrast authors' credibility, facts, argumentation styles, use of persuasive techniques, and other stylistic tools. In short, the Opposing Viewpoints Series is an ideal way to attain the higher-level thinking and reading skills so essential in a culture of diverse and contradictory opinions." - Mitchell Young
High school and college students should routinely study and evaluate opposing viewpoints throughout all of their social studies and social science courses.
4. Students are Not Studying Public Policy
Every high school and college in America should have a required course regarding opposing viewpoints on public policy. Rather than studying a textbook, students could be provided with books from the opposing viewpoints series, videos of formal debates and similar resources so that they could dedicate their time to studying, researching, writing about and discussing the issues that every American should have an informed opinion about. For example:
1. The Middle East
2. The War on Terrorism
3. Gun Control
5. Health Care
6. Genetic Engineering
7. Global Warming
8. Civil Liberties
10. Criminal Justice
11. Government Spending
12. Global Resources
A course on public policy could be incorporated into any college curriculum. As part of a high school curriculum, I would make it the area of study in a Junior English Class. Thus:
Freshman English: Career Research and Analysis
Sophomore English: Literary Analysis
Junior English: Public Policy
5. Art Classes are Suppressing Students' Creativity with Rigid Curricula
One would think that in an art class, you would be able to dedicate your time to creative self-expression. If a student wants to learn how to paint portraits in art class, he or she could find a few books on the subject, agree on a set of projects with the teacher and then proceed to begin learning and perfecting his or her art work. If one week you feel like learning how to draw cars, you could pick up a book on it in the library and immediately start drawing cars. If you feel like painting a wedding scene, you can paint a wedding scene. If you want to paint something that represents the effect that your father's passing away had on you, you could spend some time figuring out how to represent it in a painting and then proceed to do so. But not so fast! In an art class you have to draw, paint, sculpt or graphically design what the teacher tells you to. If he or she wants everyone to draw flowers, you are all drawing flowers. If the teacher wants everyone painting landscapes this week, you are spending your week painting landscapes.
But why? What successful artist spends their time drawing, painting, graphically designing or sculpting things they do not want to? What is art without passion? A complete waste of time. In art classes, every student should have a self-directed curriculum based upon their areas of interest, their passions and their personal objectives. If a student wants to draw comic books, for God's sake, let him draw comic books! Then grade him based solely upon whether his artistic ability is steadily improving over time. In such a class setting, the art teacher could dedicate their time helping students decide on what their projects will be from week-to-week, providing specific feedback on completed projects and giving help to students who specifically ask for it. Furthermore, students would be able to teach each other how to draw certain things or how to draw with a certain style. In this way, the students' self-directed learning would also have a very positive and rewarding social aspect. I mean honestly, who wouldn't have enjoyed teaching their high school or college crush how to paint or draw something?
6. Students are Not Developing a Practical Life Philosophy
Every high school student should graduate with a comprehensive life philosophy, ideally one based on continually improving themselves and the world around them, and have the practical knowledge necessary to lead a successful life. A life philosophy course would be an interdisciplinary course that would address such questions as:
1. What is my ideal lifestyle?
2. What are my ambitions, my dreams and my goals?
3. What are my values?
4. How does one overcome social conflict?
5. How does one have a successful marriage?
6. What are my ethical principles?
7. How can I continually improve both myself and the world around me?
When students address the questions, sources would include their own personal experiences, self-improvement literature, positive psychology, relationship psychology, the field of ethics, sociology and so on.
For example, students might choose to read the 7 Habits by Stephen Covey:
7. Education Majors are Not Learning From the Most Successful Teachers
If you want to learn how to be great at doing something, what is the first thing you do? I would say it is to find a few people that are well-known for being absolutely amazing at doing it and rigorously study their methods and ideas. This applies whether we're talking about playing a particular sport, running a business, playing music, practicing medicine, performing surgery, parenting and yes, teaching. However, very few, if any education majors are asked to study the methods and ideas of the the best teachers in recent history; teachers like Marva Collins, Dr. Lorraine Monroe, Rafe Esquith and Jaime Escalante. All of these teachers have received widespread acclaim for their their ability to take under-performing students from impoverished and crime-ridden areas and transform them into lifelong honors students who go on to become highly successful doctors, engineers, civil rights lawyers, business owners, professors, teachers and so on.
If you wish to see some of these teachers in action, go to Youtube and type in these keywords:
1. Jaime Escalante
2. Dr. Lorraine Monroe 60 minutes
3. 2. Marva Collins 60 minutes
What do all these teachers have in common? For one, they were more than just teachers! They were also leaders and marketers. As leaders, they totally and completely believed in every student's ability to succeed despite their surroundings and they communicated this belief to their students in sincere, charismatic and inspiring ways. Even though school officials, parents, other teachers and even some students tried to convince them otherwise, these teachers were unfazed and continued to communicate this belief to the point that it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. As marketers, these teachers were all able to sell what they were teaching before they taught it. The overwhelming majority of teachers give absolutely no thought to how to effectively communicate the value of what they are teaching to their students. Thus, we are currently a nation great at marketing cell phones, Big Macs and alcoholic beverages but terrible at marketing the value of studying to our students. This is just one of the many important lessons that we can learn from some of the most successful teachers in recent history.
So if education majors aren't learning from the proven methods of the most successful teachers in recent history, what are the learning? For the most part, they are being taught a series of unproven theories and cheap gimmicks with absolutely no real-world results to back them up. For example, there is a recent theory that student should not be asked to memorize facts at all but rather should only be taught how to be "critical thinkers" . However, they fail to take into consideration that if you don not know what the facts are then you cannot separate them from opinions and then think critically about those opinions. For example, if a student does not learn about the agreed-upon facts of the Vietnam War, how can or she possibly decide whether it was an ill-advised war that needlessly cost tens of thousands of young Americans their lives or a strategic military action necessary to combat the spread of communism?
8. Students are Not Studying Recent Developments in Science, Technology and Medicine
What is the purpose of high school science courses? Is it so that the small-percentage of students that go on to pursue careers involving the application of physics, chemistry or biology can get a head start on their studies? That would be quite a tremendous waste of time and energy for the rest of students now would it not? I would say the purpose of the high school science curriculum should be that every student is better able to understand the implications of recent developments in science, technology and medicine. Progress in these closely-related areas is radically transforming the nature of everyone's existence; thus studying them is fascinating and inherently valuable regardless of what career path one chooses.
However, high school students — and indeed, the overwhelming majority of college students — are rarely, if ever, asked to study recent developments in science and technology. Furthermore, very few, if any students are asked to regularly apply what they've learned in their textbooks to understanding recent developments in science and technology. I would dedicate the entire first month of a high school course in biology to just studying recent developments in science, technology and medicine that are directly related to biology. After peaking their interest in the subject of biology, I would regularly ask students to apply what they're learning in their textbook to better understand recent news articles regarding an advancement in science, technology and/or medicine. Some new stories I might cover include:
Lab-Made Organ Implanted For First Time - CNN
New Hope May Lie In Lab-Created Heart - CNN
Cancer Patient Gets World’s First Artificial Trachea - Time
Scientists Look to Cure HIV With Gene Therapy - Fox News
Genetically Engineered 'Mighty Mouse' Can Run 6 Kilometers Without Stopping - Science Daily
Genetic Tweak Creates Super-Fit 'Mighty Mouse - Fox News
Researchers Say They Have Created Cancer-Resistant 'Super Mouse' - Fox News
The goats with spider genes and silk in their milk - BBC News
Genetically Altered Salmon Get Closer to the Table - New York Times
First Gene Therapy Successful Against Aging-Associated Decline: Mouse Lifespan Extended Up to 24% With a Single Treatment - Science Daily
(You can find these articles online by copying and pasting their titles into Google.)
The need to incorporate current events in science and technology also applies to advanced college science courses. I have met quite a few pre-med students at the hospital I work at and very few of them were familiar with any of the recent advancements in genetic engineering. Many of them were also unfamiliar with the case of Timothy Brown, the first patient to successfully be cured of HIV.
9. Students Are Not Being Encouraged to Pursue Any Level of Self-Education
10. Students are Not Being Provided With the Chance to Study Math at Their Own Pace
I think what John James means to say is (and this may be hypocritical coming from me): Use some damn paragraphs and I will think about reading this.
"If men are not angels,
then who shall run the state?"
And of course knock the size down by a third. Our education has ruined us, we need twitter size.
My humble blog
It's easy to refute an argument if you first misrepresent it. William Keizer
Paragraphs and larger font, please.
If I had a cake and ate it, it can be concluded that I do not have it anymore. HHH
Ah, what the heck.
http://www.theorganizedunschooler.com/the-public-school-nightmare-why-fix-a-system-designed-to-destroy-individual-thought/ [The page needs some editing]
Bottom line, fixing govt education is like teaching a corpse to swim.
Oh...the irony of you attacking the English curriculum.
How are your Math studies going, Freidmanite?
It had paragraphs when I composed it. However, when I posted it the paragraph breaks did not show up. I tried to delete the post but I suppose that didn't work...
Where is the paragraph break button?
Just hit enter before your topic sentence.
Just like this.
Okay, I guess paragraph breaks don't carry over when you copy-and-paste something here. You have to manually redo all the paragraph breaks.
"Bottom line, fixing govt education is like teaching a corpse to swim."
You don't have to teach it to swim, you just have to make sure it floats so that people will see it and quickly bury it. In other words, ensure that students in both public shools and private schools are introduced to opposing viewpoints regarding public policy rather than being indoctrinated.
The only reason government education exists is because students are indoctrinated rather than being encouraged to become independent thinkers.
1 word: privatize
I will firmly say that one has not looked into education deep enough if he has not watched this vid:
“Since people are concerned that ‘X’ will not be provided, ‘X’ will naturally be provided by those who are concerned by its absence.""The sweetest of minds can harbor the harshest of men.”
kelvin_silva: reply to this to see how putting a video in the thread is done.
:640:385 are the window dimensions
Is it the flash button that i use? I tried it but apparently i forgot to put the dimension thats why it wasnt working, so i just put on the URL.
You embed YouTube videos like this: surrounding brackets, url, :640:385
No spaces in embedding the videos. No buttons needed.
If you need further help, regard the first link in the first link of John James' signature (under Welcome; or just click here).
There are many ways to learn how to write a song, learn about music, or play bass...
the problem would lie in when you claim you have THE way, subsidize your position, and perform top down analysis and create shitty Platonic confirmtion bias mathematical models around it.
"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann
"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence" - GLS Shackle
"I will firmly say that one has not looked into education deep enough if he has not watched this vid."
Very good, I'll certainly have to listen to a few more lectures by Sir Ken Robinson and read some of his writings.
I believe this is also a great video to watch:
"1 word: privatize"
I agree but a free market in education will not be coming about in any state in our nation anytime soon. Nevertheless, there are still private schools that are in desperate need of innovation. At the moment, private grades schools, high schools and colleges are not innovating. Very of them are significantly different than your average public school.
"There are many ways to learn how to write a song, learn about music, or play bass...
the problem would lie in when you claim you have THE way, subsidize your position, and perform top down analysis and create shitty Platonic confirmtion bias mathematical models around it."
I'm expressing my opinion on how an organization should be run, just like any entrepeneur would. What do you think I'm trying to? Get appointed to the U.S. Department of Education and regulate the curriculums of every school in the nation? I'm not here discussing public policy, obviously we both agree that government-regulated and government-run schools are a mistake. Otherwise, why would I be posting here?
That being said, I'd like to convince both private schools and public school teachers and administrators to try out my ideas. I suspect that private schools and charter schools will be more receptive but it's still worth trying to reach out to those in the public sector as well IMHO. The less children that are indoctrinated, the better.
Sudbury Schools clearly demonstrate you can still innovate in private schools.
If nothing else, I'll just have to start my own school. All I need is the right business proposal, the right investors and the right parents. But I'm certainly going to wait until I get some serious business experience and my MBA. In the meantime, I'll continue to develop and refine my ideas on education.