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Education System: Evaluate

How do you really evaluate an education system as good or bad, inferior or superior to another? Is education system everything about imparting skills, campus placements, inventions, researches.... Do we really care about the human aspect like sensitivity towards other's etc.
Any thoughts......   

Just wanted to know ....
Monday, July 19, 2004

Any education system whose products feel it is a worthwhile exercise to evaluate an education system has clearly failed.

Stephen Jones
Monday, July 19, 2004

Well.. I think that's a bit harsh, Steven.  Are we never to question the quality of our education?  How do we improve it for the next generation?

muppet
Monday, July 19, 2004

I never really thought about how well our educational system was doing until I had my first child about 6 months ago.  Now, it's basically my life's goal to either beg, borrow or steal my way into a good school district, or somehow be able to afford private school.

I'd give my thoughts about where the good/bad districts are, but I don't want to start a "my state/city/rural area is better than yours" flamewar.

Greg Hurlman
Monday, July 19, 2004

A national education system is just too big an institution to make any meaningful analysis of. We can, and should, evaluate an individual school, university, exam syllabus or whatever.

Stephen Jones
Monday, July 19, 2004

Greg, join the club.

My trouble is, I've been broke all my life until the past year or two, and as such, my credit is shot.  Combine this with the fact that my daughter is entering first grade in the Fall...

:P

I've got much work to do, and quickly.

muppet
Monday, July 19, 2004

Me too, my wife gave birth to our first child four months ago, so no we're wondering about schools.

Even among the private schools there is a lot of difficulty in making a choice. You really just never know and have to take a chance (which I hate of course). Even the best, top-notch school may just not be "right" for your kid. This stuff is hard.

It is getting pretty silly over here in the UK. Some of the top schools in and around London are really getting ahead of themselves. They set all sorts of entrance requirements (apart from the big pile of cash and the "good family"). Stuff like the kid must pass academic and aptitude tests (even for pre-schools).

My wife's niece is at private school (she's 8) and a friend of her's was booted out of her private school as she wasn't clever enough. How awful to be branded a failure at 8 years old.

Nothing will stop this, as we live in a free market. As long as state education remains dire (which it will, in spite of various recent tax rises), there will be fierce competition for places in private education.

I just hope it doesn't spread to private medical care too !

Steve Jones (UK)
Monday, July 19, 2004

Public school is actually pretty good over here, IMHO; depending highly, of course, on where you go.

I went to public schools and I think I did all right, could have gone onto a very good university if I had cared to. 

The trouble is seperating the wheat from the chaff, as test scores aren't always a good metric.  There's also a bit of an issue of class, since the good public schools tend to be in the expensive neighborhoods.

muppet
Monday, July 19, 2004

I'd say that nothing beats visiting the school in person and meeting the teachers.  Find out the curriculum.  Find out disciplinary procedures.  Find out if the teachers have given up and are just babysitters.

Sad to say, but many schools are just that.  A place to drop off the kids while the parents go to work.

Aaron F Stanton
Monday, July 19, 2004

I've heard that America being big on home schooling. Does anyone here do it? Is it any _better_? I take it that it is considerable more expensive.

.
Monday, July 19, 2004

If you're in the U.S., go to http://schoolbug.org which gives the racial breakdown of the students for all schools in the country (which as everyone knows but will never admit, correlates to "quality").


Monday, July 19, 2004

"My wife's niece is at private school (she's 8) and a friend of her's was booted out of her private school as she wasn't clever enough. How awful to be branded a failure at 8 years old."

That's one way private schools maintain their good academic record. They're "better" because they chuck out anybody they can't teach! Does anybody actually take this into account when evaluating the quality of private education? Because it is so rarely mentioned I wasn't fully aware of it until recently!

Fernanda Stickpot
Monday, July 19, 2004

I don't know if I'd say home schooling is 'big'.  I've never actually met anyone home schooled.  But Americans are certainly known for taking things into our own hands when we can't get what we want any other way.  I think the cost for home schooling can be mitigated if you find a few other families to share home schooling duties with.  Plus, I think a lot of home schooled kids are taught by parents.

I'm probably leaving New York City over the whole schooling issue (not the only issue for sure).  I couldn't even get my kids into private school even assuming I could pay for it.  I think you basically have to have an established record of charitable giving to get into a private school here.  For those of you considering a top private school anywhere, I recommend you start giving real money to your alma mater and some local charities or arts organizations now.  In addition to the tuition there is the assumption that you will also be donating to the school's endowment.  I think there is some degree of corruption in this, some schools really shouldn't need to charge tuition any more, their endowments are so big.

Personally I think buying into a good public school neighborhood is the way to go.  If you can't afford the very best, don't sweat it, just make sure it is good, and keep on top of your kids education.  A little tudoring can go a long way.

Keith Wright
Monday, July 19, 2004

We home school, and of course we think it's better (otherwise we wouldn't do it).  Home schooling doesn't have to cost a ton.  We have a decent library system and we can get pretty much any book we would want/need for free.  The toughest part is determining exactly what to teach your children.

That is where the pre made curriculum comes in handy.  All told, for three children we spend about $2000 per year on curriculum and books (ages 7, 5 and 4), plus the opportunity cost of my wife not working.

I can give a long list of my children's impressive achievements, but I'll spare you.  The truth is that home schooling works as well as the teacher wants it to and is willing to work at it.  Kind of like regular school, the main difference is that with home schooling you become very involved in what your children are learning and you get to spend a lot of time with them.  Our pupil to teacher ratio is currently 1.5 students per teacher, no public or private school can hope to match that.

Steve Barbour
Monday, July 19, 2004

Several families in my neighborhood have tried home schooling.  It may work for some, but I don't think it is a good idea.

The kids eventually resent the lost social opportunities that they would have had in a public or private school.  The parents tend to get burned out and get tired of their own kids.  Few parents have the discipline to carry out the education process year after year and the kids end up playing most of the time.

Your mileage may vary; here in Utah it is primarily religious fanatics who home school their kids.

XYZZY
Monday, July 19, 2004

----We can, and should, evaluate an individual school, university, exam syllabus or whatever.----

Yes, this I wanted to know,
How do you really evaluate a school/university education?
On which parameters!
What do you think is more important,
Curriculum, atmosphere which stimulates learning, place which imparts value in a child.......!? 

Just wanted to know ....
Monday, July 19, 2004

XYZZY,

I can point to anecdotal examples that are the exact opposite of yours.

Oh, and we would probably be considered religious fanatics by most people. ;-)

I do have to take umbrage with the whole "social opportunities" straw man though.  Home schoolers get just as many (if not more) social opportunities as children attending traditional school.

Steve Barbour
Monday, July 19, 2004

+++Curriculum, atmosphere which stimulates learning, place which imparts value in a child+++

of the three metrics you provide, I'd say Curriculum is the LEAST important, the second coming to a close first, with the third trailing ever so slightly behind

the trouble is the SORT of values being imparted.  You'd need to make sure they were compatible with your own.  Obviously, this is very much a parents' job, much more than the school system, HOWEVER, educators will invariably (and inevitably) impart portions of their own values (unwittingly or no) upon the students that they teach.

muppet
Monday, July 19, 2004

+++I do have to take umbrage with the whole "social opportunities" straw man though.  Home schoolers get just as many (if not more) social opportunities as children attending traditional school. +++

Explain exactly how that is.  How do you make up for the 6 or more hours per day spent with their peers in a traditional school setting?

Home schooling is a band aid on the very large problem of shit public schools.  Professional educators and a diverse student population are KEY.  Unfortunately, the system is corrupt, anemically funded, and just plain broken.

muppet
Monday, July 19, 2004

"The kids eventually resent the lost social opportunities that they would have had in a public or private school."

Nonsense.  Home schooled kids still play sports in youth leagues and participate in other activities that provide significant interaction with other kids.  Remember the "social opportunities" in high school often include being bullied and other crap they could certainly live without.

NoName
Monday, July 19, 2004

Ohhh, you meant peers.  Well, I don't know that having kids take their social cues from other kids (who are, by definition, idiots) is the best idea anyway. ;-)

But, our kids do spend time with other kids at soccer, chess club, church, play dates, etc.  They get along fine with other kids, and they get along well with adults too. [Self Righteous Sounding Defense Deleted].  I think they're socialized enough.

If you really want to argue it, then define socialization and the expected benefits of it, and we'll see if we can evaluate how well home schooling meets those needs versus other means.

Steve Barbour
Monday, July 19, 2004

Interesting. Home schooling was accepted practice over here (arse-end of South India) upto 2 generations ago, say till around mid 60's. My mother and some of her extended family went through a few years of it.

Given the amount of spare time, middle-class Indian resident spouses have had and continue to have, I think it is sheer laziness or peer pressure that makes people ignore that option. Some are, of course, "prestige" driven.

What is worrisome is the M4DINKs* of my generation have become so engrossed in 'career management' and 'lifestyle development' that children are neither planned, nor are they 'brought up' when they just happen. They become automatons for the sake being automatons.** But they are qualified, competent and good automatons. Given a job, they do it. And do it right. Nothing less. Nothing more.

Glad to see some parents across the seven seas are still putting in that extra effort.

* M4DINK : Maruti-owning Middle-aged Middle-class Married Double Income No Kids.

** My comments are based on close interaction with about 10 schools in 2 states over 5 years. Of course that does not automatically make me right, but that is what I came out with.

.
Monday, July 19, 2004

"That's one way private schools maintain their good academic record. They're "better" because they chuck out anybody they can't teach! "

There was a program on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service, TV in the USA) where a Harvard Law School professor would moderate ethics discussions.

One was on education.

Willaim Bennet (Education director for Bush Sr., I think) was pushing for school vouchers.

Someone said "OK, but you have to START with teaching the bottom 25% of the students".

GREAT response.

Mr. Analogy
Monday, July 19, 2004

I don't think there is such things as bad or good schools. From what I've seen in my country schools all tend to be around average and the school one attends to has never been of any significance compared to the teachers one has.

To me it's always been a question of good or bad teachers, and within every school the quality of the teachers varies a lot. One will cone across both kinds during school life.

Probably the best thing you can do is to teach the child yourself but that's hardly an option as most families are dependant on the double income.

Private schools are exellent for spending yourself into poverty, but I seriously question the value you get for the money when you have the option to take one or two hours off every second day and have a good time with your child and time to show some genuine interest in the stuff the little kid does. This option also removes the depressions caused by the feeling of beeing a bad parent. "Hey I talked with my kid today!" (Notice: I haven't done the calculations.)

BTW the brain of a child changes rapidly at the age of 7 regarding to it's ability to learn, hence pre-school is quite a pointless idea. One should teach a child to read, write and calculate when the time is right and that is when the elemtary school should start. (Which actually starts at the age of 7, what a coincidence, or maybe not...)

That's my 2 cents.

Peter Monsson
Monday, July 19, 2004

If I were ever to have a girl pop out a sprog, I'd definitely look into homeschooling and Montessori stuff. The problem with homeschooling is of course there's no friends to share struggles with. But I will have a need to have a deep role in that kid's education, and travel a lot.

Of course, it depends on the child.

For the OP, education systems seem like things that have many right ways to go about it, but just require reasonable people and reasonable parents. and I suspect past a certain point, optimizing too much for job-oriented metrics will lead to educations becoming trade schools, and that kind of society is unsustainable.

I hear (this could just be a crazy rumor) the UN wishes to discourage homeschooling. There are obvious problems with homeschooling, but there are also problems with banning homeschooling. Might be a hard issue.

Tayssir John Gabbour
Monday, July 19, 2004

+++Ohhh, you meant peers.  Well, I don't know that having kids take their social cues from other kids (who are, by definition, idiots) is the best idea anyway. ;-)+++


This is flat out foolish and irresponsible.  If you expect kids to learn all (or even most) of their social skills through constant association with adults, you're raising miniature adults, not children.  There is a great DEAL of psychological damage to be done this way (I know a few examples, you'd have to know them personally).  Kids are kids, they need to have a childhood, and as such, need to spend it with OTHER KIDS.

You can't expect a 5 year old to socialize exclusively (or close to exclusively) with 25 or 35 year olds.  It's just not healthy.  Kids learn from each other.  Kids create together.  Kids learn to interact from each other in ways you can't fathom because, having built your portfolio of interaction skills already, you're not privvy tot he nuances of building them all over again.

Your kids will have to deal with their peers when they're grown, anyway.  Do you really think that the best way to prepare for such a world is to be isolated from it?  That's very, VERY scary.  Such is the making of sociopaths.

muppet
Monday, July 19, 2004

muppet, you obviously missed the part where I state that I have three kids very close in age (actually, there are four, but the youngest hasn't started schooling yet).

Furthermore, I'm sure I can find just as many anecdotal examples of children raised taking most of their social cues from adults who turned out very well.

Furthermore, I am not raising adults, I'm raising full sized children to be full sized adults.  When my kids are grown, their peers will be adults, and they will have a lot more experience dealing with adults than will kids who have spent all their time learning to deal with kids.

I've seen the result of kids spending way too much time with others of their own age.  Heck, I am a result of that.  I think I'll take my chances, thanks all the same.  :-)

Steve Barbour
Monday, July 19, 2004

+++When my kids are grown, their peers will be adults, and they will have a lot more experience dealing with adults than will kids who have spent all their time learning to deal with kids.+++

Foolish, foolish, foolish.

Your kids will learn incrementally to deal with adults as they and their peers incrementally BECOME adults.  As they make all their own mistakes, go through all the same "growing pains" as their peers and have peers to RELATE TO about it, they'll become much more well-rounded than they would if they were simply trained to be adults without any of the pre-requisite context.

I look forward to seeing your kids on the news someday.  In coverage of a hostage crisis, no doubt.

muppet
Monday, July 19, 2004

I look forward to it as well, although I don't really envision them as hostage negotiators.

Steve Barbour
Monday, July 19, 2004

Your kids will never be as you envision them. Or said in other words: If they someday are, you've done something terribly wrong.

Peter Monsson
Monday, July 19, 2004

"One should teach a child to read, write and calculate when the time is right and that is when the elemtary school should start."

Does this mean I ought to have been put into elementary school when I was 2 and half years old? I could read and write by then, though I always got my E's with a wrong number of prongs.

.
Monday, July 19, 2004

Yeah sure, shut up if you've got nothing useful to day.

Peter Monsson
Monday, July 19, 2004

"day" should have been "say".

Peter Monsson
Monday, July 19, 2004

There are some rather interesting comments through out this thread.  I have 3 kids, ages 17, 15, 11.  They have all been in church based private schools since our oldest hit kindergarten.

Muppet says "Kids are kids, they need to have a childhood, and as such, need to spend it with OTHER KIDS." And he is right. Much as muppet and I might not agree on anything (or we might), we agree on this. Unfortunately, my experience with HS kids (and I have alot of exposure here) is that they don't get along well with other kids. HS kids, from my experience, don't know how to work out their differences - apparently because there is always an adult around.  When I'm around HS kids, my common phrase is "I don't want to hear it".

There are some advantages to "institutional" learning, even the "bad" parts of it.  So your 3rd grade teacher is a jerk.  Someday you will work with some jerks.  Tests are unnecessarily competetive and don't necessary measure ability to think. Life is competetive and imperfect - get used to it. Even the "bad" experiences - if not too extreme - are good for kids.  And it is important that parents back off and let their kids take their lumps like everyone else. It helps them formulate a world view that, contrary to "I'm a special flower, and the world revolves around me" becomes "there are 6+ billion people besides me here, I've got it pretty good."

Often, HS kids lack the competetive drive to score well on timed acheivement tests. This because competetive testing is not part of the day to day rigors of HS. Whereas in a traditional school setting, testing is a weekly or monthly activity.

Mr. Analogy said "Willaim Bennet was pushing for school vouchers. "OK, but you have to START with teaching the bottom 25% of the students". Having been involved in private education for over 10 years, I can tell you a few horror stories about "cherry picking" students. OTOH, many schools maintain significant scholarships which are specifically designed to maintain economic diversity within the student body. No, these schools aren't going to admit gang-bangers and social outcasts - sorry those are problems that no school is going to "fix",

However, that is the political backdrop which frames the education debate "What to do with the bottom 25%". Just because public school teachers and administrators are frustrated by having to deal with them, doesn't mean that the rest of us will quietly be held hostage. Thus the whole "school dictates where you live" thread here. In other words, cherry picking of students is not the exclusive domain of private schools - it merely takes a different form.

The advantage to vouchers is that it allows those who cannot escape a bad neighborhood to get into a school outside what has been allocated by the state. Those who oppose vouchers somehow think that holding everyone hostage to a violent school environment will fix it. As Dr. Phil might say "and is that working for ya?"

hoser
Monday, July 19, 2004

BTW the brain of a child changes rapidly at the age of 7 regarding to it's ability to learn, hence pre-school is quite a pointless idea. One should teach a child to read, write and calculate when the time is right and that is when the elemtary school should start.

I disagree.  The point of pre-school is not to read, write or calculate. It is to listen, obey, learn to get in line, how to raise your hand, how to share toys, how to respect authority other than your parents.

Although when I was a kid, this was kindergarten.  For better or worse, today's kindergarten has prerequesites.  I kid you not, whether you like it or not, K has prerequesites. Put a kid who has not had at least 6 months of preschool, 2-4 hours/day, and you'll put them in a difficult situation.

And then, you might be in the particularly unpleasant dilemna of deciding whether they need to repeat K or not.

hoser
Monday, July 19, 2004

There is an advantage to socializing with older people. The problem is the very sharp line drawn between people of different ages.

Of course I'd look at this hypothetical sprog of mine to see what social environments she tends towards. Some people have a naturally strong bias one way or another.

Tayssir John Gabbour
Monday, July 19, 2004

Here is evidence that putting one's child in the right kind of learning environment will affect how he will be later in life:

"She concludes that the individual's peer groups have a more powerful and long standing influence on the child’s speech and action than the individual's parents. There is, she says, much socialization of children taking place in peer groups, socialization being the process that establishes the role each member of a peer group will play as he or she interacts with other members. Furthermore, when role learning in one’s peer group conflicts with role learning in the family, the peer group is much more likely to win in role casting. The roles a child learns at home, Harris believes, are usually of little use at school and in the community."

Judith Harris
"The Nurture Assumption"

http://keirsey.com/harris.html

Yoey
Monday, July 19, 2004

Yoey, I can't decide which side of the debate that last comment is supposed to be on.  It seems to favor home schooling though.

Steve Barbour
Monday, July 19, 2004

Steve -

if you got from that comment that the author supports home schooling, you really ought get your head examined.

Cripes.

muppet
Monday, July 19, 2004

Well muppet let's read shall we?

"She concludes that the individual's peer groups have a more powerful and long standing influence on the child’s speech and action than the individual's parents. "

Yes, I see now that this is a compleeling reason to put a kid in public school.  Let's go on!

"Furthermore, when role learning in one’s peer group conflicts with role learning in the family, the peer group is much more likely to win in role casting."

Oh yes!  Send the cildren away!  Yes, let their equally ignorant peer group show them how to behave.  Then when they come home and you try to correct the misperception that smoking is good habit or [insert stupid child behavior here] you can rest secure in the fact that little Johnny will listen to his peer group  instead.

Then finally we have this gem: "The roles a child learns at home, Harris believes, are usually of little use at school and in the community."

Thanks for sharing Ms. Harris, now how about some evidence.

So, as I was saying, this bit of fluff tends to make me want to keep my kids out of that kind of situation.

No one's yet bothered to define socialization and what effect it's intended to have.  Furthermore, considering that home education was the norm until around 1850 I don't really spend a lot of time fretting over it.  But if you want to spend time worrying about the fact that my 7 year old is a hell of a shot, go ahead.  It's [still] a free country.    :-D

Steve Barbour
Monday, July 19, 2004

You must be kidding hoser! 6 months to learn how to get in line and stuff just to get into Kindergarden, I'm pissing my pants :D

In my country the prerequesites are something like, be able to walk and go to the toilet yourself. Kindergarden is free play, screaming and beating each other with plastic showels under adult supervision.

The learning to get in line and how to raise your hand is taught in first grade here. I don't know when the obey, listen, respect authority things are taught, everyone forgets it during their teenage years anyway ;)

To me pre-school is more pointless than I thought.

Peter Monsson
Monday, July 19, 2004

"...screaming and beating each other with plastic showels under adult supervision."

Must be Australia  :)

hoser
Monday, July 19, 2004

"Furthermore, considering that home education was the norm until around 1850 ..."

So was slavery.

I put the same stock in your "historical proof by example" as the fiction generated by a "social scientist".  They're both bullshit.  Though, because of cultural circles and associations, I certainly have come across selective historical tidbits as a means for justification more often.

Umm, just for fun, how did that Y2K thing turn out?

hoser
Monday, July 19, 2004

I don't think I learned anything from being forced to put up with jerks - as an adult, I *still* shape my life so I can avoid them.  Or from socializing with my peer group and taking on their values - I did sort of socialize, but I barely survived the clinical depression that resulted.

I didn't have to go through public schools - my mom was at home and had a college education in teaching.  But my parents bought into the idea that experiences with my peer group were important.  Even when they could clearly tell I was constantly bored waiting for the rest of the class to catch up and miserable dealing with my peers, they didn't seem to take the idea of home schooling seriously.  If I'd had the choice, I would have done it in a heartbeat.  And I think the result - that by high school, some of my agemates started to be peers, and by college, there were enough that I didn't get lonely - would have been about the same.

Really, to say that home schooling would have turned me into a psychopath is a bit harsh, and doesn't sound like an educated, reasoned opinion either.  It's not criminal not to fit in the system, it's criminal to limit kids and parents to one system that has nothing to do with the real world.

Mikayla
Monday, July 19, 2004

> Probably the best thing you can do is to teach the child yourself but that's hardly an option as most families are dependant on the double income.

My parents founded a Montessori school for me (with other parents of children of a similar age). They hired a trained teacher, rented a classroom, found other parents (whose fees were used to pay the year's expenses ... no-one had extra money to invest then, they only invested time and organizational skills and so on), sat on the board ... the school is still going, nearly 40 years later: http://www.ottawamontessori.com/

My mum became an assistant there (not during the first year, I think, but soon after it started), and over the years took the teacher training: and it became her career.

> How do you really evaluate an education system as good or bad, inferior or superior to another?

Well, several ways. An obvious way is "by its fruits", to paraphrase Jesus.

Another logical way is to assess it on its goals and methods: what are its goals? How well does its methods achieve those goals? And do you agree with those as being good goals?

Christopher Wells
Monday, July 19, 2004

Mikayla  -

so instead, you turned into a narcissist?  I'd read up on that...

muppet
Monday, July 19, 2004

Home schooling can only be a big win for everyone.  It gets kids involved with people who care about their education, so they receive a better education more likely than not.  It also gets them out of the school system, meaning a better teacher-to-student ratio, which means a better education for those in our public schools, more likely than not.

Home school advantage
Monday, July 19, 2004

If you've got bright kids, unschooling can be very effective:

http://www.unschooling.com

Unschooling Right Now
Monday, July 19, 2004

"It also gets them out of the school system, meaning a better teacher-to-student ratio, which means a better education for those in our public schools, more likely than not."

Except that the government will cut the funding for the public schools if the number of alumni is reduced.

Peter Monsson
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

It already works that way - schools get x dollars per pupil. If the student is 'special needs', like his parents speak spanish at home, then the school gets x+k dollars per pupil where k is a positive number.

This is why schools do everything they can to get as many students classified as special needs as possible. One way is to label them a non-english speaker and put them in dummy classes, even when they speak english perfectly well but their parents don't. Another way is to get them diagnosed with ADHD. All of these are techniques of increasing school revenue, which can then be used to increase tecaher salaries and benefits.

Dennis Atkins
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

This idea that pre-school should start at 7 because that's when kids are capable of learning is rubbish. My mother read to me from a very early age and by 3 I was able to read on my own. What was I meant to do for the next four years?

.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004

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