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Author Topic: Community-based and developed schooling  (Read 5110 times)

Jilks

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Community-based and developed schooling
« on: February 27, 2003, 12:43:36 pm »

Hello everyone.
 
I'm new to the FSP, but have eagerly signed up after reading numerous pages on the site, which I found myself to be in agreement with. Doing work on an education related project, I quickly came to this section of the forum. After reading many of the posts on this subject, I see that most of you are for homeschooling over public schooling. I'm not entirely sure why, but would like to hear/read the reason behind this. Anywho, this topic mainly covers the use and implementation of public schools. Specifically, I'll be discussing, in no particular order, public school standards, curricula, development, testing, money, computer usage, population, and recycling. A lot of subjects, I know, but you'll see how each are, by their own means, important and, currently, problematic.

Today, educational standards, those pertaining to when an aspect of a subject should be known and understood by a student, in the U.S.A. are, mostly, created and implemented at the state level and later integrated with a school district's standards. These standards can and usually do cover standardized tests along with the basic subjects (reading, writing, science, math, social science, and so on). Of course, with standards, not everyone can adhere to them. Some schools are a few months behind, while others (like my school district) are years behind. These standards, thus, do not benifit the students in any way. They set unobtainable goals for most schools.

The reason this "slack" happens is due to either one of two things or both. The first being the administration. School administrations are, typically, insanely slow to process anything of value. The second is lack of funds. While the school standards may be on par, they may lack the needed money to buy the books, which contain the new information that must be taught. In either or both cases, the students suffer greatly. Not only are they missing out on important, relatively speaking, information, they are missing out on the ability to meet the requirements of the state. Yet, that's just the curricular side of things. There are still the tests, which the students must do well on for the benifit of the school.

With standardized tests, there are the above stated problems and there are even more, typically, ignored problems. These problems range from a student's stress, caused by a family member's or friend's death, to sickness, to a general lack of sleep, which may be due to work related reasons or not. Worst of all, standardized tests cover very few subjects, typically only math and English. Say the student does terribly in math, but is a wiz in science. Well, too bad.

Of course, there are solutions to fix and/or remove these problems. Firstly, create modular tests. Allow the students to choose which tests they wish to take. A student should focus her or his strengths, not her or his weaknesses, when it comes to testing. Let's say a student has a great interest in biology and physics, why should the student take an English and history tests? It's nonsense, really, for she/he to do so. Modular standardized testing would show how students prefer to aim their interests and would allow the community to give greater focus to those areas. Would students choose to take tests they determine to be "easy?" Of course, but they determine it to be "easy" because they are generally good in that subject.

Secondly, remove the need for book funds. Don't force the schools to buy new books. Schools shouldn't have to do as much work as they are currently doing to comply with their state's educational standards. It should be the books complying with the standards. This can be done a better way by not setting standards, but by setting guidelines for the books to meet. This is much more practical. Yet, the problem of the books still being out-of-date still arises. To solve that minor problem, we can openly develop the books and distribute them without cost to the schools via an electronic format or for a small cost for printed versions. This allows the teachers to have a say in how the books are to be written/layedout. I can remember many of my past teachers saying something along the lines of, "Okay, we're going to skip this section and do some worksheets I've made, because I don't like the way this book explains this aspect. It's stupid." Going past simple (un)Fair-Use rights to a Free/Open Content system (e.g. using licenses such as the Free Documentation License or Design Science License) would allow teachers, who disagree with the way things are taught, to make the changes as they see fit. I'll be speaking more about Free/Open Content, the distribution of it, and the benifits it can bring in the following section.

Most printed school textbooks, today, cost around $50.00 each, give or take about $10.00. So, a school with 100 students, teaching only five subjects (which is extremely rare, but this is just to give an approximation) and a book for each student to take home, would spend around $25,000. The information within these books will likely be out-dated or the books will need rebound within 3 years. It is a too costly and slow process to do textbooks within this manner. Instead, electronic books can be created, distributed, and updated for a total of about less than one third the cost of the printed version. These electronic books can be developed by the community (be it a world or local community). When new information comes out about a subject, the information can quickly be applied to the books within a matter of minutes or hours, thus keeping the books up-to-date with the world's collective knowledge. The initial costs of developing books in this manner can be high, but, once the books are complete, it'll only take a hundred or so volunteers to keep them in check and up-to-date, thus decreasing future costs by an incredible margin. Computers or sometype of electronic device will be needed to read/render these books, of course, but doing so doesn't require the lastest and greatest computers. For a nice experience, one only needs a computer running at around 133MHz, which isn't a lot. Today, computers of much greater power can be purchased for about $200 (not including monitor). The costs can be, even more so, driven down by implementing terminal servers (one powerful machine to be used by 20 or so computers that lack storage and other unneeded parts; see http://ltsp.org/ for more info). These computers can be used for great lengths of time, with, only, general hardware maintainance. With electronic books, the books can last, relatively, forever. No need for rebinding, just restore.

The use of computers, also, greatly reduces the need for pencils, pens, and paper. What little of these items are used, can be recycled and create a small revenue of money for schools, while, at the same time, help out the environment.  
 
I believe that's all I have to say. I sure would like some input and to discuss these or other ideas with others.
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inkedfairy

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Re:Community-based and developed schooling
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2003, 03:42:52 am »

Hello everyone.
 
I'm new to the FSP, but have eagerly signed up after reading numerous pages on the site, which I found myself to be in agreement with. Doing work on an education related project, I quickly came to this section of the forum. After reading many of the posts on this subject, I see that most of you are for homeschooling over public schooling. I'm not entirely sure why, but would like to hear/read the reason behind this.

Jilks, I’m going to give you my personal opinion—and there are as many of these as there are homeschoolers! ;D

The main reasons my 2 birth children are at home:  standardized tests (“teaching to the test”), revisionist history, curriculum that is more concerned with “the village” than with reading, writing and arithmetic, and (something I’m not sure is confined to the South) reverse racism.

Between the standardized tests and school food, my daughter wound up with ulcers that are just now healing, and my son was bullied by kids in his class that were “preferred” by the teacher simply because of their color—this was made <b>very</b> clear when my husband and son shaved their hair off in sympathy of my father-in-law’s battle with chemotherapy and the teacher informed my son (then all of 5 years old) that she “didn’t like his haircut”.  What this had to do with his learning basic reading—which he didn’t at school—I have no idea.

If it were an option, my two “foster” children (cousins that we have living with us) would be homeschooled as well, but it isn’t so I do still have my dealings with the public schools.  Spend more than 10 minutes with all 4 and you can immediately tell which are which.  

To me, learning should not be crammed into 1 subject/1 hour blocks.  Hah!  Just fixing dinner in this house is a lesson in math, communication, safety, cooking and budgeting!  And that’s just for one meal, doesn’t include laundry, bath times or any other chores.

Another point would be that schools tend to teach every child as if they all learn the same way.  They don’t.  I have one that won’t read at all—he doesn’t see the point, one that reads only when he wants—like video games or comics, one that likes to read—sometimes, and one that would rather write than read someone else’s work.  What works with one of these would make any one of the others run screaming in the other direction.

As I said, these are only <b>my</b> opinions and reasons.  Others will have differences.  But this is good.  
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TK

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. [F. Scott Fitzgerald]

Jilks

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Re:Community-based and developed schooling
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2003, 05:31:47 am »

The main reasons my 2 birth children are at home:  standardized tests (“teaching to the test”), revisionist history, curriculum that is more concerned with “the village” than with reading, writing and arithmetic, and (something I’m not sure is confined to the South) reverse racism.

Yeah, in some cases homeschooling is necessary. I homeschooled for a year, but went back because I wasn't doing well with it (for many reasons, none of which I care to explain). Homeschooling, sometimes, is the only/best choice.

What I wrote about in the parent topic doesn't solve the "teaching to the test" problem, which I think is terrible, but if the tests are made to-the-books, then the teachers no longer have to bend over backward, skipping parts and setting class time aside, to "teach to the test." Throw in some common knowledge and conclusive-if-understood-related-topic questions, and the tests should be pretty rounded, not perfect or great, but much better than what we have today.

As for children having different learning methods, I can't think of any good options, except for homeschooling. Maybe smaller classes would help, as the teacher could spend more time with each individual student, but would only help those students that say, "Hey, I'm not getting this." Some students are embarassed to say such things. But, unlike today's public schools, the type of learning environment we can create would _allow_ a teacher to take a student to the side, with her/his parents, and say, "Your child would be much better learning in a homeschooling environment."
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JasonPSorens

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Re:Community-based and developed schooling
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2003, 09:15:18 am »

Let's not forget private schools either.  A lot of private schools are doing a really good job with very limited resources.  Private schools usually use standardized tests purely for entrance exams.  The main test for a private school is what colleges (or for K-8 schools, what prestigious high schools) their graduates get into.  So they tend to deliver a well-rounded education with lots of individual attention.  The main problem with private schools is that sometimes the quality of the students can be variable; you can have some dumb kids who are there solely because their parents are rich.  But heck, we used to mix all grades & abilities together in the one-room schoolhouse, and kids turned out just fine.  Some of the advanced/intermediate/remedial categories that schools force kids into at an early age are counterproductive.
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"Educate your children, educate yourselves, in the love for the freedom of others, for only in this way will your own freedom not be a gratuitous gift from fate. You will be aware of its worth and will have the courage to defend it." --Joaquim Nabuco (1883), Abolitionism

inkedfairy

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Re:Community-based and developed schooling
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2003, 11:00:11 am »

What I wrote about in the parent topic doesn't solve the "teaching to the test" problem, which I think is terrible, but if the tests are made to-the-books, then the teachers no longer have to bend over backward, skipping parts and setting class time aside, to "teach to the test." Throw in some common knowledge and conclusive-if-understood-related-topic questions, and the tests should be pretty rounded, not perfect or great, but much better than what we have today.

The only problem that I can see with this would be that standardized testing is an "across the board" type thing.  I'm not sure about this, and would welcome any correction, but if memory serves correctly the same test is used everywhere, not just in one region.

But, unlike today's public schools, the type of learning environment we can create would _allow_ a teacher to take a student to the side, with her/his parents, and say, "Your child would be much better learning in a homeschooling environment."

I would truly love to hear a teacher say that! ;D  Don't see it happening any time soon, but a body can dream.  Only in a free market society would you see teachers working in concert with the parents to guarantee what is best for "little Johnny".  A teacher like this in the current system would be a pariah.

Someone made the suggestion in another thread (sorry, it’s Saturday and I’m being too lazy to look it up ;)) that ownership of the schools be given to the teachers and the school charge tuition, similar to private schools.  Scholarships and/or private donations could be worked out for students who qualify.  In my thinking, this would work the best because the teachers at (hypothetical) School A would have to show the consumers (parents) that they are delivering “the goods” (education) or the consumers would take their children elsewhere and so School A would go belly up while School B winds up with all of the money, students and prestige.  


If none of that makes sense please let me know.  I haven’t had enough coffee to be making sense yet….
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TK

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. [F. Scott Fitzgerald]

Jilks

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Re:Community-based and developed schooling
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2003, 11:21:50 am »

Quote
Some of the advanced/intermediate/remedial categories that schools force kids into at an early age are counterproductive.

I agree. My little syster was placed in "remedial reading" and she reads very well. That was 9th grade, in which year she was taken out and placed into homeschooling. When she completed the 9th grade in homschooling, she was required to take a test (I don't remember what it was). The test showed she read at a 11th grade level, just bordering 12th. Boy, was my mom pissed/right. ;)

Quote
The only problem that I can see with this would be that standardized testing is an "across the board" type thing.  I'm not sure about this, and would welcome any correction, but if memory serves correctly the same test is used everywhere, not just in one region.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "across the board." As for "...same test is used everywhere, not just one region." This could be changed in such a way that allows the schools to create their own or use ones which were made from the curricula that the school uses.
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inkedfairy

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Re:Community-based and developed schooling
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2003, 11:50:49 am »

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "across the board."

I just realised exactly how redundant I was there....See?  Coffee depravation is a disease!


As for "...same test is used everywhere, not just one region." This could be changed in such a way that allows the schools to create their own or use ones which were made from the curricula that the school uses.

Now, if we do get rid of federal $$$, this will work.  But until then, the feds are the ones who dictate the "standards" for these tests.  Other than that, it should work.  
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Blessings from the peanut gallery
TK

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. [F. Scott Fitzgerald]
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