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I read somewhere that the number one thing men want from their wives is to be appreciated for what they do right, as opposed to criticized for what they do wrong. I assume that showing appreciation is a learnable skill, just like saying please and thank you. So while the school girls in this country are learning that mylonite is a breccieated metamorphic rock frequently found in a fault zone (to recycle a phrase), they are learning nothing about how to keep their future marriages intact.

Likewise, the little boys in this country are learning nothing about how to be better future husbands and fathers.

Kids also learn nothing about the importance of a positive outlook, especially how it affects other people. They don't learn about setting goals, or managing risk, or discerning the difference between truth and lies in the media and in person.

You could make your own long list of skills that kids aren't taught during the time they are learning things they will never use. Yes, yes, yes, I understand that some of the subjects taught in school are meant to increase critical thinking and generally expand minds as opposed to teaching useful facts, but isn't there a way to accomplish the same thing with topics that ARE useful?

I'm in the process of building a house. (This is year 3.5 of the process, and ground was broken just yesterday.) While the project is frustrating, it is also intellectually fascinating. I had no idea how many technical disciplines would be involved. There's even an engineer who specializes in knowing how to move the dirt from one part of the property and fill in a hole in another, packing it down in just the right way to make it stable for the foundation.

You could take any tiny portion of the house project and make it an exercise in critical thinking. I can imagine a school curriculum organized around building an imaginary house, advancing from first grade through high school. Kids could learn all sorts of useful skills, from budgeting (math), to calculating loads (science), to learning how couples can decide on the fixtures and furniture. Your geography course could be based on deciding what country to build your house in. Geology would be oriented toward deciding what type of land to build on. Art class would involve interior design and architecture, with a semester on how to identify good art for the walls. Biology would involve understanding your own future garden and plants. Evolution would involve learning why your family dog walks on four legs and you walk on two.

You would learn all the critical thinking you ever needed just trying to design a kitchen that requires the fewest footsteps and fits into a defined space, with a limited budget.

Kids who are gifted would learn more about the math and science behind the engineering of the house. Kids on a more hands-on career path might be learning how to pave the driveway or design the electrical system. Designing and building a house employs almost every useful field of knowledge, excepting maybe history and language.

Maybe we wouldn't be in this economic mess if all kids had to learn about budgeting, mortgage loans, and risk analysis.

 
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Oct 23, 2008
My parents taught me about banks and the economy, luckily. Although this should be a part of parenting lots of children don't have parents who think to do this or even understand it themselves.

I found high school to be slow and too much of it seemed irrelevant. It would be interesting to see a class teaching kids about the economy, and financial decisions. An example is I notice a lot of friends leaving high school running up huge student loans and not working. If they only knew the difficulty of paying off large loans like that but they don't have much of an understanding in this area.
 
 
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Oct 22, 2008
It comes back to parents vs teachers.

I think its important to learn the theoretical maths before you learn it's applications, in Ausrtralia they had a sort of ranking system (there have been changes recentely) where the less intelligent kids would be taught a more practical mathematics and the smarter ones were more involved in the theoretical.

Ages 5-12 (approx) Primary school- classes were grouped acording to intelligence and performance and given slightly differing tasks (eg more practical etc), this was not advertised to parents.

Ages 13-18 (approx) Secondary school- The same was done again but more obviously, lowest to highest was literally Maths in Practice (MIP), Maths in Society (MIS), 2 Unit, 3 Unit and 4 Unit.

Parents continually berrated teachers in primnary school saying why is my kid dumped in the dumb class (not accepting their precious little johnny was a simp) and teachers arn't getting paid enough to put up with that crap.

There are a lot of ordinary teachers out there, but what do expect when CEO's are taking home 12 mill and teachers are struggling to pay bills, save for a few truely enthusastic and inspiring teachers i came across it would be me packing your shopping bag.

Parents are far to critical of what the teacher is and isn't doing and not nearly critical enough on themselves.
 
 
Oct 22, 2008
Actually we had a entire topic at school about how the media distorts facts, aligns stories and points of view to be more like the people watching and all that stuff. That was in the same year we learned that advertisers use everything as a metaphor for a penis, however, so the messages may have become a little muddled.
(In Brisbane, Australia)
 
 
Oct 22, 2008
Hmmmm.....You may be on to something. There could be a push for integrating practical thinking within the school curriculum that would certainly be beneficial for the students in deciphering truth from fiction.
 
 
Oct 22, 2008
My second try at adding a comment:

So you are not saying, as it appeared in your previous post, that skills in math and science are not necessary, but that they are being taught in an un-engaging way. I would have to agree that is often true.

In order to make good decisions in life, it is often necessary to have knowledge beyond the minimum required for your day-to-day life. For instance, if you borrow money or make a major purchase, it is important to understand how interest is compounded; even of your daily routine does not require it. If you don't want to be fooled by commercial or political advertisements, it is important to know something about statistics and about how a real scientific study is performed. It is also important to have some idea of how your government works (I am often surprised at how little the average person knows about a system in which they are supposed to be an active participant).

Unfortunately, I have observed what I refer to as a “culture of ignorance” in this country. Even in college, I have observed that the desire to learn is almost non-existent. Too many students are only interested in a acquiring degree, not in accumulating any knowledge or exercising their minds. The goal of many seems to be to see how little they can learn and still graduate. No one seems interested in learning anything that it is not absolutely vital that they know to perform whatever function they see themselves fulfilling when they get out into the real world (which may be very different from what they actually end up doing).

There seems to be a social and political movement that embraces ignorance as a virtue. We can see this when a person of humble origins who has worked hard to get into a good school and obtain a good education can be labeled an “elitist”. In fact, it often seems that the common perception is that the less you actually know about any subject, the better you are prepared to deal with issues concerning that subject.

I would like to hope that a better educational system would be able to somehow change this. I have to wonder though, along with Anfauglir, just how much our leaders really want an educated population capable of critical thinking.
 
 
Oct 22, 2008
I've always said that school is one part useless facts, two parts experience, and three parts basic skills.

While that doesn't really add up to anything, you're right Scott - kids today aren't learning - by experience or example - how to be good, useful, people.

We do the same thing to our kids that we do in the workplace. Rather than yell and scream and show disapproval, we coddle and hug and hand out trophies and tell our kids how special they are. We do their homework for them. We let them watch TV instead of taking them places. And it's !$%*!$%* them up.

I work and live around adults who can't fix their toilets. Some of these people are in positions of power. Some of these people are currently running for office.

Some schools are doing well. My 1st grader was presented with a critical thinking exercise - pick three things in a group of four that belong together, and then state "why". I was insanely proud because the last one was a bag, a milk bottle, a box, and a rug. The "correct" answer was of course, was that all three things "held things". My kid's response? "They can all be recycled."

I get told I'm old fashioned for putting my kids to bed at 8:00, limiting their TV, eating around the dinner table, etc.

I'm OK with that.
 
 
Oct 22, 2008
Scott Adams which world are you in?

If genes could transfer acquired knowledge, kids would be born with the knowledge of a Ph. D and continue to build on it further. 100% of all knowledge has to be acquired by each newborn in its lifetime.

The recorded knowledge of previous generations is only a means to save time.

Or do you know anyone who knew anything about anything at birth?
 
 
Oct 22, 2008
Scott Adams which world are you in?

If genes could transfer acquired knowledge, kids would be born with the knowledge of a Ph. D and continue to build on it further. 100% of all knowledge has to be acquired by each newborn in its lifetime.

The recorded knowledge of previous generations is only a means to save time.

Or do you know anyone who knew anything about anything at birth?
 
 
Oct 22, 2008
Scott Adams which world are you in?

If genes could transfer acquired knowledge, kids would be born with the knowledge of a Ph. D and continue to build on it further. 100% of all knowledge has to be acquired by each newborn in its lifetime.

The recorded knowledge of previous generations is only a means to save time.

Or do you know anyone who knew anything about anything at birth?
 
 
Oct 22, 2008
Scott Adams which world are you in?

If genes could transfer acquired knowledge, kids would be born with the knowledge of a Ph. D and continue to build on it further. 100% of all knowledge has to be acquired by each newborn in its lifetime.

The recorded knowledge of previous generations is only a means to save time.

Or do you know anyone who knew anything about anything at birth?
 
 
Oct 22, 2008
Scott Adams which world are you in?

If genes could transfer acquired knowledge, kids would be born with the knowledge of a Ph. D and continue to build on it further. 100% of all knowledge has to be acquired by each newborn in its lifetime.

The recorded knowledge of previous generations is only a means to save time.

Or do you know anyone who was knew anything about anything at birth?
 
 
Oct 22, 2008
Yet another good reason to push challenging education for our children:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7681451.stm

"Job Choice Affects Alzheimer's

Going to university, then choosing a mentally demanding job may help protect the brain from the devastating impact of Alzheimer's disease on memory.

Scientists found tissue damage was much quicker to lead to memory loss in the less intellectually stimulated.

They suggest mentally tough work, or genes which help people achieve such careers, may help the brain compensate for disease.

The Italian research was published in the journal Neurology"
 
 
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Oct 22, 2008
While I agree that much school curriculum is not ideal to the purpose the primary problem with making what you teach school kids in say science VERY specific is that they miss the basic knowledge required for many fields. As an example biotechnology requires a quite solid grounding in math biology and physics in order to be ABLE to learn the specialties of the field. There is also the problem that interests are largely shaped by what you hear, and learn- if you taught every kid in the USA things based on making a house you'd be likely to get a shortage of theoretical mathematicians (who we also need).
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 22, 2008
"They don't learn about setting goals, or managing risk, or discerning the difference between truth and lies in the media and in person"

This alone deserved my " 1".
But great post overall.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 22, 2008
Actually, that is exactly the way my son is taught math at the moment (9th grade, Germany gymnasium). They learn intersecting lines theorem, Pythagoras etc by going outside and measuring trees or other landmarks, i.e. starting with the theory and then immediately applying it.
Granted, he has a young teacher with fresh ideas, but that's the way teachers are taught to teach ;-) nowadays.
While the old adage "non scholae sed vitae discimus" (we don't learn for school but for life) never was true, we do learn how to learn - which in the end is the most important skill school should impart. And to foster the love of learning (instead of killing it, like some comments to yesterdays post rightly say school often does).
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 22, 2008
Scott
Hear hear to a much more applied bent to our educations. You don't have to sacrifice beautiful theory when teaching someone how to use their hands. Curiosity of underpinnings & principles will arise naturally & through encouragement, even if the practical goals have been achieved. Of course, higher education would lose it's monopoly on being able to charge $40k/year because people wouldn't buy into sending their kids to harvard to learn to build a bicycle. They have to dangle far out claims of ivory tower BS to get that to happen!
 
 
Oct 22, 2008
Maybe this topic should be titled "Simplistic Solutions to Complex Problems". Surely the point of schooling is that it is the one time in a person's life when they have the opportunity to expand their horizons and understand a little more about the world to which they belong. And you want to show them how a house is built? The rest of their adult lives will be full of the ordinary, the day to day, and I think this sort of narrow focus would be real wasted opportunity. I for one would choose the rocks.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 21, 2008
Scott, on your first paragraph - http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/ian_dunbar_on_dog_friendly_dog_training.html

I actually started appreciating my better part at loud, not in silence as before, after this vid. It works.
 
 
Oct 21, 2008
As far as teaching kids about "risk analysis" and "mortgages", I can think of no better organization (for boys, at least) than the BSA. In order to get Eagle, the boy must earn the personal management merit badge, and all that information is in there. Honestly, when I look back on my Boy Scout career, I realize that Personal Management has actually helped me the most. Most kids think it's boring though. I'm not sure how the young girls can learn... I'm not too familiar with the Girl Scout program
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Oct 21, 2008
Scott,
If you want to make building your house easier, get a copy of the book "Critical Chain," by Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt. It will save you MUCH headache and most importantly time.

It is a business novel and very easy to read.
 
 
 
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