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Neutral values

Neutral values

Posted Dec 30, 2012 11:06 UTC (Sun) by man_ls (guest, #15091)
In reply to: Neutral values by apoelstra
Parent article: Petition: promote the use of free software in US schools

I don't know the first thing about BC, and not very much about the US system (assuming that BC is the code for some state). But I think that just educating your children is not a very social thing to do. First because education is very time consuming: probably one of the parents has to dedicate full time to it, and doing so is not being beneficial to society at large. But mainly because the efforts can be pooled very effectively to teach more children. If one of the parents is a very good teacher, they should become a teacher and benefit others. If the parents are very good curriculum designers, they should do that for their peers too.

Second because of the hubris: what makes you think that you are actually more qualified to teach your children than a professional? In your case it may very well be true, but I fear that people too dumb to know better will also think they are qualified to teach their children, and ruin them in the process.

Kant's categorical imperative says:

Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.
(Beware of the golden rule though.) I think that home schooling is not practical as a universal solution.


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Neutral values

Posted Dec 30, 2012 17:36 UTC (Sun) by Kit (guest, #55925) [Link]

> Second because of the hubris: what makes you think that you are actually more qualified to
> teach your children than a professional?

Having gone through the US education system (assuming the schools I attended, and the schools of the people I have spoken to, are at all representative), that's likely a safe bet. Most of the teachers I had over the years barely understood the material enough to present it to the students. Many, many teachers struggled to even answer basic questions. When I was younger, I had just assumed I didn't know enough to understand their answers. Later on, when there was material I already understood fairly well, it became quite obvious they had no clue what they were talking about when they gave completely nonsensical answers.

This is due to the design of the system. The system isn't designed to identify the best teachers are reward them, while removing the bad teachers. It's designed to reward those that manage to go the longest without doing something stupid enough to get fired. I have no idea how the teachers that are actually competent (they do exist) are able to stand it... maybe they can't and that's why.

There are many other problems beyond just the teachers, though.

Neutral values

Posted Jan 7, 2013 13:10 UTC (Mon) by sorpigal (subscriber, #36106) [Link]

> I have no idea how the teachers that are actually competent (they do exist) are able to stand it... maybe they can't and that's why.

Competent teachers get burned out very fast, or stick in due to an incredibly, incredible love of teaching. We lose many, however, who are more than good but just not psychologically prepared to be good teachers and constantly fight the school system.

I worked in US school IT for a while and I've seen all stages, from the engaged first-years, to the jaded but caring middle years, to the "I gave up a long time ago and only care about getting paid"s, to the lifers, some of whom still love to teach and some of whom seem to absolutely hate schoolchildren. Any teacher with >5 years experience in the US will tell you it's royally screwed up, but not many have the will to see past their daily grind and attempt any solution. And I can't blame them, given what they must deal with.

Neutral values

Posted Dec 30, 2012 18:56 UTC (Sun) by apoelstra (subscriber, #75205) [Link]

> Second because of the hubris: what makes you think that you are actually more qualified to teach your children than a professional? In your case it may very well be true, but I fear that people too dumb to know better will also think they are qualified to teach their children, and ruin them in the process.

There are two reasons (and both have obvious analogies in the software world, so we're almost back on topic here ;)):

1. Because I went through university alongside a group of people on the "teaching track". This is what we called them because their stated goals were to become public school teachers, but it became a slur in the rest of the department, because not -one- of these people understood the material she (or he) was studying. They all worked hard to find 120 credits of fluff, would make sure they were all in classes together (to force the professor to slow down, since they far outnumbered the real students, and there was some taboo about failing 90% of a classroom). Even in their final years, they'd routinely badger me with simple calculus or modular arithmetic questions.

As an aside, an analogy in the software world to the people on the "teaching track" are the people doing CS degrees just to get a get an accreditation to get a job. The sorts of people who manage an entire degree without knowing any theory -or- programming, and wind up being examples in the recent "how to filter out job applicants" thread.

Interestingly, I deliberately avoided CS department to avoid them, and ran into the same problem in mathematics. (But math still turned out to be a much better choice, because the student body was so small that they could run special topics courses on whatever I wanted.)

2. To become a "professional", you are required to go through an accreditation process, which assumes you are the sort of person from (1). (Not to mention the political problems with the process.) The process has nothing to do with teaching you to become a teacher and everything to do with saying the right things to the right people.

(3.) As Kit says, once you become a teacher, you are immune to market forces.

The fact of the matter is that smart (or even average-intelligence) people are heavily selected against, as are people who believe in personal responsibility or independent thought. If you somehow get through, you are not allowed to use any of these traits. You won't be allowed to do anything creative or useful. (Almost) nobody around you will be capable of doing anything creative or useful.

That's why I don't believe I'm a special case in being more qualified than professional teachers -- pretty much anybody would be. And as you say, it takes an enormous amount of time and dedication to do, which gives a positive selection effect to home-schoolers.

(Also, I am in Canada, not the US, though from what I hear, the situations are similar. I say this because there are a lot of problems that seem to only occur in the States (for very States-specific reasons), and this is not one of them.)

Neutral values

Posted Dec 30, 2012 20:49 UTC (Sun) by Wol (guest, #4433) [Link]

The UK system is somewhat better - in that most (secondary) teachers do understand their subject reasonably well.

It's just as bad in that any decent teachers soon want to leave ... :-(

My daughter is typical. She did a degree in Music Theatre, before deciding to go into teaching. She then did a PGCE (Post-Graduate Certificate in Education) which was largely spent in the classroom, before getting a job as a teacher. Six years on she is a very good "Head of Specialty", is getting really fed up, and is thinking of leaving her school - and possibly leaving teaching - in a few years time.

Her fiance is also a teacher, also fed up, and also wanting to leave ...

("Head of Specialty" - most schools in the UK specialise in something, be it maths, science, arts, whatever. She is head of her school's specialty department - performing arts.)

(The alternative to a PGCE is a Graduate Trainee - again, get a job as a teacher in a school and get trained on the job. Most of these people come from industry and teaching is not their first job.)

Cheers,
Wol

Neutral values

Posted Jan 4, 2013 19:57 UTC (Fri) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

I can confirm this. I know several people who were by all accounts excellent teachers in the UK, including some who left high-paying jobs they hated to go into teaching from sheer love of the subject.

Every single one left after a few years, often to go back to the jobs they hated, because dispiriting though they were they were less dispiriting than the UK state school system. (Private school teachers by all accounts have a better time of it, probably due to sheer funding issues.)

Neutral values

Posted Dec 30, 2012 19:04 UTC (Sun) by gerv (subscriber, #3376) [Link]

But mainly because the efforts can be pooled very effectively to teach more children. If one of the parents is a very good teacher, they should become a teacher and benefit others.

That would be fine - except, at least in my country, the government takes money from you and pays for the schools it wants, not the schools you want. If a group of similarly-minded teachers want to set up a school, and a group of parents want to send their children, you can do it - but you pay for their education twice, once in taxes and again in school fees. Which makes it an option only for the better-off.

They have recently started a "free schools" initiative which was supposed to be free of curriculum-based meddling and imposition of values, so the above school could get some of that tax money back to fund itself, but sadly turned out not to be. :-|

Gerv


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