Teacher, We Weren't Cheating, We Were Collaborating

from the we-swear dept

If a group of people is faced with completing the same task, divvying up portions of it to reduce the workload on each individual is a smart move, right? But if a group of students divides up the questions of a homework assignment, and trades the answer, then most people would say that they've crossed the line from collaboration to cheating, because the point of a school assignment is to get practice doing the answers, not just to turn in the assignment. And yet students are rewarded for the latter, which is why that becomes their primary goal. Obviously, new technology (we're not sure how kids in the above example were collaborating, but a wiki would have served their purposes well) has made it easier for students to "cheat" in the traditional sense, and schools feel like they're fighting a losing battle against the problem. But instead of banning this or that, or trying to come up with some way to check if students are helping each other out, schools should be offering assignments that can't be cheated on. Assignments should test students' knowledge, as well as their ability to collect and process information. Some education traditionalists will scoff at the idea of open-book tests and allowing students to find answers online, and argue for more drills and rote memorization. And while there are times when these methods are appropriate (if you have to go online to do multiplication tables, then you're in trouble), they should ask if it makes sense for most education techniques to bear so little resemblence to the real world, where knowledge is actually applied.


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  1.  
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    Eric Barnes, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 3:50pm

    Teach learning....not memorization!

    Cell phones, PDAs, the Internet, and even basic calculators are merely better tools to do what students have done for year....cheat. Academic curriculum should adapt to focus more on learning how to get information than on memorization of it. We allow students to take the SAT math test with a calculator in hand. In fact, SAT test books include the formulas to solve problems up front. Our respect for liberal art universities stems from our belief that a broad education - one that teaches students how to think - is more valuable (in certain circumstances) than a focused technical degree.

     

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    Alex, a student, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 4:35pm

    Good point

    Eric, that is a very good point. Memorizing doesn't help. Most people eventually forget whatever they memorized in school anyway, simply because they have no need for it. The real way to teach is to show people how they can teach themselves, how they can acquire information and then how they can creatively use the information.

     

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    Jay Coleman, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 4:50pm

    Wrong answer

    "Assignments should test students' knowledge, as well as their ability to collect and process information."

    Nope.

    Students should be tested on their ability to take information (knowledge) and either apply it or generate new information, especially in this era of readily accessible information. Rote memorization was fine when info was hard to gather and search, but now, we need people who can use knowledge, not compile it.

     

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    JP Fegan, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 5:15pm

    Why?

    Why do schools continuously feel the the need to force students to memorize formula after formula and fact after that none of them really retain after their "test" is done. How many people take part in cram sessions right before and exam? The purpose of which is to "cram" as much information into your brain before you take a test and hope you retain just enough of it pass. School should teach students how to think, how look for information to solve their problems, because if the school system as it is works and is how things should be done then why is it failing?

     

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    Shawn, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 5:18pm

    Exactly

    I am a fourth grade teacher and I teach and tell my students that the smartest people in the world don't know everything. Instead, the smartest people are good at looking things up, using the tools they have, and know where to find the answers. This has never been more true than in today's techno world. Great comments.

     

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    Matt, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 5:34pm

    Memorization is useless in the real world

    You can look stuff up in the real world, outside of school, to solve problems. Why force kids memorize stuff that simply isn't important?

    Teach them how to find information, digest it, and apply it. Memorization will not get you the job at the big company with the huge paycheck.

    Besides, you can put all the formulas that you need *memorized* into a TI-83 calculator in a matter of seconds. :)

     

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    Austin C., Sep 29th, 2006 @ 6:26pm

    Well, once you get in the real world, you're gonna have Wikipedia and other sources to get the info whenever you want, right? So why not learn how to get that info FASTER and EASIER in school, rather than trying to memorize it? I'm sure that it would be better to teach people how to get info when they need it, rather than drill the info into their heads over and over again, when they might not even need it in the first place. Why should kids have to memorize their history books for tests? It's not like the books and websites are going to disappear. There's really no need to memorize it, but there is a need to teach kids how to get the information they need.

     

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    college student, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 6:47pm

    Tests

    Last semester, the hardest history test I have ever taken was given to me about two weeks before the actual test event itself occured. A copy of all the possible questions was given (mostly essay, some terms) to us, in sets. We were told of the say 5 or 6 given, we will have 3 or 4 of them and will have to choose one from our random version of the test out of that set.

    Essentially, got a bunch of questions and it was a given that at least half would be on the exam. Solution? In theory, sounds easy, right? Study it all? Yep. Until you realize that studying it all would be nearly impossible, at least impractical. That test ended up being as challenging as any other I've ever taken, and my grade on it was no better than what I typically score on 'traditional' tests.

    On the other hand, learned more than usual by being forced to intelligently choose what to commit to memory, and how to do it: does item a need to be memorized or do I merely need a broad understanding without minor details?

    Open book tests are a joke though. If the test is comprehensive enough, wtf are you going to do, flip carefully through 200 pages worth of complex content for 30 tough questions on a 50 minute exam? Open book policies help slightly; if you dont know the content you're still screwed, screwed badly.

     

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    Jo Mamma, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 6:57pm

    Ironically, we're going the other direction

    It's kind of a shame everybody on this board agrees with this point (including me), whenever that happens I always get kind of suspicious :-)

    But, I will point out that not only are we NOT instituting the types of programs outlined above, we're moving away from them... swiftly.

    Schools are moving to more of a test based system, in which the highest scoring schools are awarded with the most funding. This is to compete with our low test scores relative to nations like Germany and Japan (which definitely stress memorization above true knowledge). And I would argue that these test scores mean pretty close to jack shit.

    This is a relic of the industrial era when you just had to learn something and learn it well – and that was your job for 40 years. The entire structure of school is based around that mentality.

    Just think…
    All the kids go on a bus at the same time, get plopped down in front of a teacher in a mainly one way lecture, all kids have separate and distinct "subjects" they study
    Sounds pretty industrial to me…

    The world has changed. We need a MASSIVE overhaul of education in this country (and the world), and that would include kicking out the moron kids that ruin it for every other kid and giving the teachers some power again.

    I only hope that Bill Gates can get some of this stuff going for us here in the good old USA :-)

     

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    0megawolf, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 7:00pm

    Re:

    Should we forget about the atrocities comitted by Nazi Germany, Mao Tse Tung, our own fore-fathers whilst settling the USA? Why should we drill the lessons of history into the next generation of children???

    Because otherwise these horrible lessons that were forced upon us will be laid aside and NEVER learned/remembered because, (as you say), the URL/texts are always there - therefore why teach the lesson learned. If the lesson is never LEARNED, then all those people in all those COUNTLESS atrocities died for nothing. /imo

     

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    PhysicsGuy, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 7:04pm

    Re: Tests

    open book tests are a joke outside of psych class... our first test was actually a take home test. not that it wouldn't have been easy, but who wants to commit to memory, even if just short term memory, the teachings of a cargo-cult science (for anyone who doesn't know what i'm talking about and is curious, google: richard feynman cargo cult science). i would venture even further to say that a take home test for history would be worthwhile as well, i guess. unless it's within your interests or you suck at life and all you can do is mere memorization then detailed memorization of history is pointless. yes, it's good to have an understanding of what happened in the past, but that view should be a broad view. sorry for the semi-flamebaiting post but really, what good are you to the progression of human kind if you're not involved in either the sciences (the REAL sciences) or mathematics? (again, sorry for the flamebait explanation of my semi-flamebaiting post, it's just my opinion)

     

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    PhysicsGuy, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 7:07pm

    Re: Ironically, we're going the other direction

    japan stresses memorization more than actual knowledge?

    sorry to get involved in another of your posts but the japanese education system is excellent. there's a reason why they excell in engineering (especially the more modern kind) and modern physics.

     

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    Mr Shag, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 7:17pm

    HighSchool experience

    We had a digital electronics guy teach us digital electronics. It probably a college level course, as we were doing low-level and system design, on a wirewrap board.

    For our exams, he told us that we would be able to use our refernce material, and books. 'In the real world, no-one would ever ask you to design anything without a book, or paper.'

    It was about being able to perceive that which someone needs.

     

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    Jordan, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 7:27pm

    Re: Memorization is useless in the real world

    Yeah, you could put the formulas in as notes, or you could write a program to plug in the variables and solve the problem for you. Basic programing ftw

     

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    Joshua, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 7:36pm

    Rote Learning

    I think rote learning has it's place in activities that don't change and that rely on translation, and that's it. Things like reading music and playing the right notes, knowing what the +, -, x, and ÷ symbols mean, and knowing what different words mean (basic English as well as field specific terms like 'sedimentary rock') fall under that category.

    Beyond definitions, I don't see the need for rote learning beyond convenience. The example of useful rote learning given here, times tables, is one that I know is not necessary. For all intents and purposes I did not go to the third grade where the times tables are taught (I was in a mixed 3rd/4th class and the teacher taught it like it was all 4th). To this day I can only say with confidence that I know by heart the times tables of 1, 2, 5, and 10. I know most of the 3's and a few of the more common 4's and 9's. All in all this doesn't hinder me since I can just hobble together what I know to generate what I don't. 9 x 6 for instance is not one I know off the top of my head but I can solve it fairly fast by breaking it down into something I do know like:3*6 = 18; 18 + 18 = 36; 36 + 18 = 54. Thus making my ability to recognize what is actually going on more important than being able to give you the right answer because I just know it.

     

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    Thomas, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 7:59pm

    My Highschool Experience

    I am a highschool student and currently taking US History, Calculus III and Physics II.

    My calculus and physics teachers basically believe that you can have an open book test, it doesn't really matter. If you know the stuff, you know the stuff, you just need to look up formulas and stuff. In the real world you don't need to know the formula, no one is going to demand that either you die or recite the formula word for word. I strongly agree with this. In fact, today we had a four question test in calculus, took about 50 minutes for me to do, and I finished first, in a 65 minute period. It was all open book and while I had to look up formulas or deritaves, and the odd methodology to solve something, you couldn't finish in time if you had no knowledge of how to apply it. This being said, all my math tests have been done without a calcuator except for the occasional algebra I test. I have been given the values of some cumbersome values, factorials and such when doing probabilities in algebra II, but this way we would not be able to just do it with the calcuator or a program on our calcuator without knowledge of what we were doing. I've heard this is a somewhat strange point of view but my understanding of math has far exceeded that of other people's in my school district who are enrolled in the same course.

    As for my physics class, my physics teacher gives us open book tests too and doesn't care what we have on our calcuator. She says that if you want to have programs on it, fine, all you're doing is cheating yourself. And while she doesn't want you to, she thinks that in the real world chances are if you have to cheat on a physics II course, you'll not be in a place for you to have to be innovative anyways. I use this to my advantage. For example, I use my own programs on my HP calcuator to find electric flux and such and it makes life so much easier. Even doing basic kinematics is easier when a program you made yourself because you avoid errors that could occur from a stupid error. Your understanding is no less when it is a program that you've created and while no one can really verify that you've created it yourself except yourself, in the end everything works out.

    I do believe that this is the opposite for history and such, although I don't think that I should have to memorize dates and people. Currently, for a test in a couple days, I have to memorize 240ish people and 75 or so dates for an APUSH test that is just matching dates to events and people to significant actions with no historical analysis. I would much rather memorize the large concepts and major events and apply them to concepts in essay format/apply them to current events. Thats how my world history class was. One of our essays on our final was "What historical patterns from our current global situation have appeared perviously in history, why are these important, and what are the global implications. Will these repeate themselves?"

    As for the collaboration effort, I see no issue with this. I have a group of students with a Wiki thats meant just for homework help/collaboration. We used this to define 200 english terms that we didnt have to turn in. On this wiki, we have tutorials for physics, chemistry, alg I and II, precalculus, calculus I, II, III, geometry, and IPC. Some teachers tried to bust us last year for cheating, this claim was fought by all of us ferverently. Basically, we all argued that this helped us learn better, supplemented the hackneyed and often substandard teaching that we recieve, and that since nothing discussed or collaborated on was a graded activity and thus, there was no problem. After some drama and 2 apeals, we finally got our way. There was, however, an issue when on this wiki, I personally posted my own analysis of the Scarlet Letter, and someone plagerized this. This analysis was released before the assignment was given and didn't even answer most of the question, the person just adapted and stole my symbolic analysis. Therefore, I can see a teachers and schools issue with the collaboration effort but frankly, it would happen anyways and so therefore, there should be no issue.

     

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    David Ellis, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 8:09pm

    Re: Memorization is useless in the real world

    i agree it is very easy to put the formulas into a ti-83, i did it with chemistry, math, and physics as a high school student. A teacher that i once had at Huntinton Learning Center said that he had no problem with this because it actualy forces the programmer to do two things at once
    1) they are learning to program which in todays computer driven word is becoming a very helpfull skill and
    2) by programing the formulia they are showing that they know how to work it out as well as learning it.

    when i programed a fromulia i always wrote it so that you could solve for all of the variables in the fromula which takes a lot of algebraic knowlege to do giving the fact that you are using all variable values (A-Z) to store the numbers and is a real pain when the formula contains exponents

     

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    David Ellis, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Re: Tests

    Memorization is also usless in the programming world, there is no way that you can learn all of the functions of a command or all of the command for one language, and most programmers to be successfull need to know how to use more than one language Java, C++, VB.NET being some of the biggest ones. Microsofts VB.NET visual studio always has a help tool built in that gives you a llist of commands and sometimes when you type certan commands you get a text box pop up that gives you information about what the command you ar typing does. My programming teacher was always surronded by many refrence books and used them all at one point or another. In the Computer Science AP test for the writen protion you are given a refrence sheet with examples of the code for the program you are "writing" as well as how to use some of the less common commands that you will need to write the programs

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2006 @ 11:11pm

    some things need learned, others dont

    Somebody said in here said that if people don't learn about Facism, Communism (the way it turned out, and how it was originally meant to be, and why it failed), all that type of stuff, yes very much needs learned otherwise mistakes will be repeated. The things in history that were/are actually good need to be learned because it can help make things easier for the future.

    However, on the other hand, depending on what career/profession you are after, no you don't have to memorize everything, even for the course for it. For example, if you are studying to be an electrician working live powerlines out of a helicopter, yes you need to know everything you can to save you from frying yourself. But if you are studying to be a banker or docter, just how much will you need to write a 20 page report, or know about why the tilt of the Earth effects seasons, etc?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2006 @ 5:22am

    Re: Re: Ironically, we're going the other directio

    I don't want to be stereotypical but most of the Asians (sorry for the broadness but I honestly cannot tell the difference between what countries they come from just by looking at them) who have come to my school are in honors classes and are generally smarter. I've heard that it's because they take responsibility for their failures in school. When they are doing bad in school they would never blame the teacher. Here, when a student is doing poorly they immediately blame the teacher. I can only wonder what these kids are saying, "It's not my fault mommy, Mrs. Smith is a b*tch. I mean, so what I was texting in class and never went in for extra help because I'd rather hang with my friends. It's all her fault!"

     

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    Dave, Sep 30th, 2006 @ 7:01am

    Complex Issue

    In this cut-and-paste world, and in an environment where you can purchase term papers online, there are more cheating tools than ever.

    Truth has become a sliding scale... for instance, the prevailing mores are that you're not doing anything wrong until you get caught.

    And with reading on the decine, the average person's vocabulary declines every year.

    But I agree that the education system is going backwards; you're not taught to think, you're taught to take tests, where you're regurgitating factoids. And this encourages cheating, because the point of the test is not to know something, but to plug in the right answer during the hour you're taking the test, and then you're home free. This is an unintended byproduct of "no child left behind".

    I think one reason for this is that it's hard to quantify intelligence, and easy to quantify a test. School administrators want quantification to be easy.

     

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    DigitalRAGE, Sep 30th, 2006 @ 4:37pm

    Re:

    I disagree with you view slightly on this idea of not memorizing history. One of the things that I find important is that people know there history. The reason why I feel this way is that people can learn from the mistakes of the past. So if people do not know their history, how can they keep things such as the holocaust from happening again.

    As for school in general I personally think that it would be of a better benefit to give more assignments with more interaction in these social groups. I believe that these social interactions will only benefit students just getting out of school. From these social interactions, students will learn how to better solve a problems through thinking. Which will only help them when they get into real world situation, and become an even more productive member of the work force.

    Note:
    I know some of you might pick through what I have said an not agree with it fully, but please do not flame me for my wording and grammer. I am a product of the American education system in NY. Hell for being 22 , atleast I am political and can voice my opinion in a reasonable manner.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 30th, 2006 @ 8:53pm

    Re: Teach learning....not memorization!

    Memorization is a part of learning.

     

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    Jo Mamma, Oct 1st, 2006 @ 1:22am

    Lost posts?

    Hey, did you guys happen to misplace some posts? I posted to a couple Friday articles here, and my posts aren't up anymore.

    And my posts weren't even stupid this time - honest!

     

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    Jo Mamma, Oct 1st, 2006 @ 1:30am

    Re: Lost posts?

    Hmm, now I see them again. Must've caught you guys in a backup or something...

     

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    Jo Mamma, Oct 1st, 2006 @ 1:50am

    Re: My Highschool Experience

    Wow, you're pretty well spoken for a high school student (hell, even an adult!).

    You must go to private school? Or at least one of the few good public schools?

     

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    Jo Mamma, Oct 1st, 2006 @ 2:11am

    Re: Re: Ironically, we're going the other directio

    No, I don't mind being challenged, and you may well have a point on this one, because I have little experience with the Japanese education system.

    I based this statement off of a couple of off-hand articles I've read over the years (I think cnet was one of them) stating that Japanese typically stress memorization, and that a good portion of the students never really got the world class education Japan is famous for... essentially Japan's lower class workforce – the ones that build our TVs.

    Now, whether this amounts to worse than the USA is certainly up for debate... but our schools certainly don't drill data into student's heads... for better or worse.

    I saw a similar statement on PBS about Germany.

    Also, one thing to keep in mind is that the foreign nationals that typically work and go to school in the USA are the cream of the crop in their country... that's why they can afford to come to the US. So our opinion of foreign educational systems may be overly biased on the positive side.

    But, I'd be willing to concede my point without too much prodding because the US schools basically suck... period. Thankfully we still have the best and most accessible college system in the world -- and if I had to choose which one needed to be the best, I'd choose college.

     

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    Mousepaw, Oct 1st, 2006 @ 6:31am

    cheating or collaborating

    Wow. Everyone sure has a lot to say about our school system(s).

    My initial reaction to the story of the kids who farmed out the work was that they were very creative and demonstrated an inate capacity for efficiency. I admired their desire to build a team and work together; that is the real world. The companies who are the most successful (i.e., Campbell's Soup, Mitzubishi) are the ones who have great teams who have their own autonomy within the team.

    Having said that, you still need to know what to know. The basics should remain the same and I see nothing wrong with some memorization. If you can easily call up information that you know, it speeds up the extrapolation process. Not only that, doctors today are saying use your memory; it helps prevent Alzheimers. I've heard that a strong memory is almost as good as a high IQ.

    When I was going to high school, we were lucky enough to have, within our boundaries, high schools that differed in their main thrust and curiculum: business, vocational, technical, etc. You went where you were most likely to succeed based on your interests. The only problem there was: how many 13 year olds actually know what they want to be when they grow up?

    Overhauling the system would be too huge. We need to start all over again. We need people to set up schools and go into competition with the current school boards and I don't mean hoity-toity expensive private schools.

    Or, figure out a way to get through the current ones. Like those kids in the article.

     

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    James, Oct 1st, 2006 @ 12:09pm

    I am a teacher

    Unlike most of you I am a teacher. Although the goal of teaching is not to have people memorize reams of material, i think it is in the best interest at times. I mean what is the importance of memorizing the founding of our country right? Who cares when the civil war started right? You see often things need to be memorized so that you can have a basis for building on. And school is NOT about memorizing or necessarily learning the material at hand. NO, in fact it is about learning to do what you do not want to do and learning to do it well. That is the real world application and is applicable to EVERY job. You will not like everyhting about your job but if you can push through that you will be successful.

     

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    Kilroy, Oct 1st, 2006 @ 3:18pm

    Memorization is good ... so is learning how to le

    It all depends on what the objective is. I meomrize how to spell in public school and the basic rules of language. It makes it possible for me to communicate my thoughts later on in life. I memorize things I need to know right off the topp of my head ... at various times in my life.

    For instance the recipie for Pizza dough and sauce from a restaurant I worked in once. But, I had to modify the recipes when I went to a different job. And at still another job where we developed a menu for a new place, we collaborated our collective knowledge of recipies and created unique recipies for that estableshment. Recipies and cooking require a basic practical understanding of chemistry. Don't believe me - eat some of that nasty HOT sauce ... and try to stop the burning with water ... then eat some more and try to stop the burning with milk or sour-cream or yogurt ...

    I didn't memorize the varriations of the recipies; if you wanted a half batch or a double batch ... I did the math in my head. Without a rudimentary knowledge of basic math I could never have done that.

    I memorize the basics of programming and the fundamentals of software development and design. But I could never know all of the syntax for all of the programming languages and technologies I need to use to accomplish my job. From day to day, I might need to know some subtle point of SQL or some other language. I might need to modify settings on a server, or on many servers running different OS, or make changes to some software that was created years ago in a previous version of some language that I never used or have not used in a long time. For a task like that it is important that I know how and where to look for the information that I need to fulfill the requirement. I need to know how to learn and where to begin ... and where to stop learning. If I have to tweak a query in a web aplication, I do not neccessarily need to learn how to optimize the SQL server or how to manage the logging and transactions.

    I could waste years of my life trying to memorize the syntax contained in the nine reference manuals here beside me on the desk. Or I can know how to use the index and find the syntax.

    I could understand the design-patterns and logic and controll folw of programming languages and a bit about their varrious strengths and weaknesses. But I only need to comprehend it at an abstract level ... I am not teaching a university course I am creating aplications. And generally, the technological specifications of and for that software gets decided by people who do not do the grunt-work of coding. I am satisfied letting someone else be the engineer, I am good at what I do ... and I was never good at school. I am barely any good at collaborating either ... but, I am learning.

    That's just my two cents and it ain't worth the paper I wrote it on ...

     

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    beeker, Oct 1st, 2006 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Re: Teach learning....not memorization!

    Memorization may be a part of learning, but it's important to be explicit what parts of education benefit from memorization and which ones don't. Once basic facts are commited to memory (as already discussed above), building concepts using those facts should not be forced to be memorized. I nearly flunked out of my undergrad engineering program because I was no longer good at memorization, yet the majority of my technical courses required it.
    Yep, industrial-age training in an information age is really dumb.
    I excelled (and still do) at analyzing and evaluating, but this was rarely apparent because I couldn't memorize which equations to use when. When I went back to engineering grad school (a different school, that didn't require memorization) I did fine. The sooner we ditch today's "fossil", last-millenium professors, the faster the human race will progress...

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Narg, Oct 1st, 2006 @ 6:03pm

    Schools today are wrong anyway.

    The whole idea behind higher education is just flat wrong. It should never be a scale of "who's best" and "who's slow". Learning happens at different paces for everyone. Schools don't take that into consideration and will miss out on educating some of the most brilliant minds today because they are more concerned about grade points this semester rather than truely teaching. If schools would move toward an open ended schedule then more kids would learn more information more fluidly and more indepth than before. The only problem that may come from that is one of costs. It has been often argued that higher education is only for the rich. But, hey, if they got money, let them keep spending to learn. Let the student put their education on a time line, not the schools.

     

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  33.  
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    mousepaw, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 5:55am

    Re: Schools today are wrong anyway.

    Totally agree.

    Eg., The smart kids in our classes suffered because of the slow pace we had to move along at, in order to acomodate the slower learners. I finally started doing well when I was taught by a math teacher who moved along at a spanking pace. (And I found out that I actually liked math.)

    The other thing in this case was that I was returning to high school after working for a year. I had a lot of focus because I wanted to get my grade 10. I can't help but wonder what would happen if kids got a shot at the real world before continuing into high school. Maybe then they wouldn't take education for granted so much?

     

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  34.  
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    Onyx Viper, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 8:22am

    If Only

    It is unfortunate that the times seem to change much faster than our school systems can react. There are those that are trying to keep up and do things “right”. The problem is that to know things are “right” it takes time to implement them, evaluate the methods used and make sure that the overall effect is positive. I love the Simpson’s and one of my favorite quotes from the show is from Grandpa Simpson “I used to be with it, but then they changed what it is.” In our current world, it, seems to change at a frighteningly fast pace. As educators, parents, and employers we need to be constantly boiling down what we are teaching to a point that “it” does not change.

    Some in this discussion have mentioned the extreme value in being able to find the applicable information to solve a problem, or to self educate. Other have talked about wrote memorization of facts. Both are extremely valuable in education. The big disconnect is in WHY we teach what we teach. To teach to the end result allows us the ability to sift out the facts, figures, strategies, and ideas that are critical to subject being taught. This idea of backwards design in school curriculum is nothing new, the problem is that currently the backwards design is based off of the test, and so we teach to the test. This causes our students to value the end result of a grade, a numerical number, more than the knowledge, skills and techniques that are the “reasons” for learning in the first place.

    If we can change the focus of our teaching and learning from the end result of a test to the end result of personal growth, enlightenment and understanding. Then we will have a change in the way that the US “does” education. The outcome, I hope, would be students learning in many different modes, hands on, lecture, group work, etc. with an appreciation of the learned material and the ability to then apply that knowledge across many different situations.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 2:44pm

    Oral Exam

    An effective, allbeit time-consuming, method of evaluating students would be to have them do 1 or 2 large projects as a culmination of what they've learned through the semester, rather than 30 one or two page assignments, and being tested orally about what they've written. Similar to how people have to defend their thesis work but less rigorous. Then at least the students would have to know what they stole about. Of course this allows much more subjective grading, which can be dangerous.
    This is impossible in the current system, though, because there are too many students and too few teachers. A result of too much being taught in college that is not necessary, and too many students who shouldn't be there. There are too many people in college who are too stupid to get any good from it.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    satan, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 10:39pm

    so

    So, you're saying that kids don't learn this way?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Leigh Nataro, Oct 4th, 2006 @ 8:58am

    Re: Memorization is useless in the real world

    Some memorization is needed to check reasonableness of answers. Here is something that happened in my class today. A student did 360/50 on his calculator and got an answer of 7. Clearly that is not correct. However, if a student didn't have 7*5 memorized, he wouldn't have known the answer is unreasonable. So, why did his calculator give him the wrong answer? The calculator was set to round answers to the nearest whole number. TI calculator users make sure your mode is set to FLOAT to fix this issue.

     

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