DailyDirt: Back To School Time…

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

It’s that time of year again — time for kids in the US to go back to school after a summer break. There are plenty of folks who argue that summer breaks are unnecessary and waste valuable teaching time. There also seems to be no end of suggestions on how to fix the US education system. Here are just a few more opinions about improving educational systems.

By the way, StumbleUpon can recommend some good Techdirt articles, too.

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Comments on “DailyDirt: Back To School Time…”

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Rekrul says:

Google’s Eric Schmidt admonishes British teachers for teaching students how to use Microsoft applications — instead of programming. Out of spite, how about we teach kids how to use Microsoft Visual C++?

Don’t you know? Knowing how to check your email and browse web sites counts as knowing how to use a computer. If you know how to download and install something, you’re an advanced user and if you can edit an INI file, you’re an expert.

A Guy (profile) says:

Teaching as a career doesn't seem to be a highly-regarded profession

Of course not. Teachers can’t afford to take expensive vacations and retire early no matter how good they are at their jobs. Teachers also have to put up with crap from both parents an their children like a nanny or a babysitter might. As someone whose sister is a teacher, I cannot imagine why anyone would ever want to spend their time and money becoming a teacher. Seems like a poor investment.

fb39ca4 (profile) says:

I have to agree with the second article

IMO, everyone should have at least a basic knowledge of BASIC (hehe) in a simple environment. Schools already have the resources to teach this, graphing calculators. They are a very friendly and forgiving way to learn how to program. A little over two years ago, I got a graphing calculator, and became interested in programming it, and I have since learned C and ASM from that base.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Teaching Kids Programming

These days I think the most friendly language for introducing kids to programming would be Python.

But what sort of programming problems would keep their interest? Back in the days of LOGO, they used ?turtle? graphics in 2D.

Would a similar thing work today? How about if we extend it to 3D, if not at first then in the later stages?

Jimr (profile) says:

In Canada the teachers seem to be better off then the horror stories I hear in the US. A friend of mine, who is a teacher in Canada, now makes nearly 100K a year as a teacher in a smaller center with a lower cost of living.

They have 197 school days and he works at least 10 hours each of those days. So in the end he works about the same as a typical job with the bonus of being able to ‘bank’ that extra time and get two months off in the summer and nearly two weeks at Christmas.

At times I wish was a teacher but then as stated earlier you have to deal with crap from overly delusional parents.

farooge (profile) says:

(think Rockey & Bullwinkle)

>>”But it’s not clear how the trend of diminishing status for teaching professionals can be reversed.”


“But it’s not clear how the trend of giving a shit about the ‘status’ of your profession can be reversed. Status among peers – sure, whatever floats your boat (or bank account)

I know, some businesses are all about status (like Floor64) – but that’s a choice.

Austin (profile) says:

Reform Tenure

I realize this isn’t exactly a new idea, but a large chunk of the “bad apples” in education do occur as a result of tenure. That said, rather than abolishing it outright, why not have a “strikes” system in place. That is, after students or parents file (this number is obviously debatable) 5 complaints against a specific teacher in a single school year, their tenure is suspended until the next school year. Thus, any complaints after this temporary suspension are treatesd as though the teacher has no tenure, and is thus easier to fire if they are truly a bad teacher.

Can someone please explain what’s wring with this idea?

As a 24 year old typical American, I can say I have dealt with a wide array of teachers. Half were totally average. They cared, but usually more about the subject matter than the students – they knew their material, just not their audience. Of the other half, about 30% were total mooches, and were pty clearly phoning it in 4+ days per week. These people would’ve made excellent white collat managers, but just aren’t cut out for a job that doesn’t welcome sociopaths. They kept their head low, got tenure, and shelled out discioplanary infractions on a whim just because they felt like teaching a smaller class that day. The remaining 20% are like my 8th grade science teacher. We had 34 students in that class. I was new of 5 she had on a special curricukum. We’d be given chaoters to read just like the other kids. The next class, she’d ask us each a totally random question, and it was usually very, very specific. No way to skim those answers. If we got them right, we got to spend the class goofing off on a classroom computer that day. However, ALL of us had to get our question right, else we ALL spend the class listening too the lecture. I actually got mine wring twice because some of her lectures where that good, but usually we all made a point of living with 20 minutes of bring text each night because it meant an hour less boredom the next day.

This was an innovative technique she used on then smartest kids in the class. Hiwevwr, it eventually inspired many of my classmates to also study harder. I came back the next year for a visit and she had improved the program. Now, after each test, she chose the top 5 scores to participate in the program rather than a static 5 each year. A month from the end of the achol year, she said her test scores were uip almost 40% overa

In otherwords, she knew her students. She realized that if given a proper incentive, they’d put in the effort. In this case, she had a class full of two kinds of people. Those who wanted to learn, and lost causes. By using laziness as an incentive, she motivated both. In the end, the kids learned more, enjoyed the class more, and I heard the got a raise 2 years later.

Anyhow…badly off topic, but if we’d structure tenure to give an oppritunity to fire the worst teachers, then rehire more teachers like my 8th grade science teacher, I think it’d make the system better for everyone.

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