A Marlfox Education Overhaul (in Debates)

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 20 2009 1:33 PM EDT

So, recently, I've been reading Plato's The Republic, and while I disagree with 50% of the book, the other half has given me some things to mull over, mainly about education, and the educational system. (Before we plunge into my rant, let me tell you, I don't believe education should be handled by the government.)

Currently in America, education... stinks, to put it succinctly. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that in American schools, children are subjected to tedious memorization that they lose as soon as they get their diploma's.
Nothing is retained, or learned for that matter, and it merely sucks away time for most of childhood and early twenties.
Worse yet, children are not prepared for real life, and most of what we learn is inapplicable to adult life.
Here are some notable (In my opinion) omissions from school-year curriculums:
-Logic, rhetoric, and reasoning; Perhaps more so than any other subject which I will suggest, this is the most important.
-Reading; Perhaps I'm biased in this area, but all of my "acquaintances" at my age group (13-14 year old) are basically illiterate. They do not read, learn, or mature, and are entirely stuck in a world of FaceBook and texting, with no exposure to reality, or concepts which make them think.
-Philosophy; I do believe that philosophy should be learned objectively, and with proper opposing points of view.
Debating; Sure, many schools have a "debate" team, but without the points I illustrated above, it is for all intents & purposes, useless.

I realize that it isn't likely that any change will come to our educational system, but I would like to draw attention to the facts that our schools are broken, and will likely stay this way unless they are radically differed.
Mathematics is the only area in which I (partially) agree with our system, but look at China. They're mathematical education far outpaces ours, and in fact, puts us to shame.
I would like to see a move away from learning useless facts, and into breeding a generation that can adequately compete and challenge the rest of the world.


AdminTal Destra May 20 2009 1:36 PM EDT

This is exactly why Kat and I are going to homeschool our children, I no longer believe in the educational system of the US because it lacks in so many areas.

Lochnivar May 20 2009 1:37 PM EDT

...and to think, I recently saw something about teaching facebook & twitter in schools to make education more relevant....

That said, I agree Marl... teaching people how to think and problem solve is very important.

Oh, and as for the Republic, how can I knock a book that got me 97% on a university paper (that, ironically, was criticizing said same book)

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 20 2009 1:38 PM EDT

I really do thank my parents, who homeschool me.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] May 20 2009 1:42 PM EDT

the public education system in america cannot be fixed until parents accept responsibility for raising their own children and quit viewing public schools as daycare systems. if we quit building public schools and put all of that money into providing computers and an online curriculum and the kids had to stay at home and learn i truly feel that parents would take a more active role in the upbringing of their children.

that would likely mean though that one parent would need to stay home with the kids which is another aspect of the problem in itself. right now though we have a half-baked system in that we expect our education system to do everything, but have removed their power to get anything done through frivolous lawsuits and petty complaints.

all in my humble opinion of course, my wife is a public middle school teacher in texas by the way!

AdminQBnovice [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 20 2009 1:50 PM EDT


The indoctrination system as it exists (it ceased to be about education a lot time ago) does far more harm than good.

My Father who is a teacher blames the politicization of the administrative aspect for educations woes. I see a systemic infection that has caused the academic world to completely fail to deliver the results needed. While the dismal state of the youth of this nation is not entirely the fault of the education system, it really isn't helping.

Put kids to work, give them a real world task and let them learn how to learn. Memorization and repetition have nothing on good old fashioned necessity. If nothing else, it'll teach them that real work is hard, and they don't want any part in it.

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 20 2009 4:24 PM EDT

Well, this is odd. No angry, spiteful remarks? No harsh, flaming criticisms? I feel let down.

Lochnivar May 20 2009 4:48 PM EDT

...maybe due to the fact they went through the education system in question they don't fully understand your post...

Flamey May 20 2009 5:52 PM EDT

Wait, you were homeschooled and you criticise the education system? I Australia if you're home-schooled you still follow the curriculum just at home.

You are taught Problem-solving and logic skills, just because schools can't force you to learn it, they do exist. In Australia - Maths (obviously), SDD, IPT (Both computers), chemistry, physics, business, economics?

Oh, we have a subject called economics, I'm sure you would too?

You can't blame the system for having stupid people give birth to kids and care for them in a stupid way. I think, if you find a decent portion of kids can do and have all the things that are seemingly lacking then the education system is doing fine.

Also, it's easy to say "nothing to do with real life", but its knowledge, it's not their job to teach manners and common sense. How can you be taught about it? I can see a lot of political incorrectness, I can see extremely hard to fit into a curriculum. I also don't see anybody picking that subject.

Our English classes are pretty much Philosophy with the over the top ridiculous analysis of everything we see.

Education needs to be handled by the government because then you'd only get rich people going to school, or you'll get kids with student loans from the age of 5.

I'm in my final year of schooling, not like I'm an old badger who doesn't remember what school is like, I'm finishing up fairly soon.

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 21 2009 11:26 AM EDT

I was mainly criticizing the American educational system; I'm rather ignorant of the Australian.
My experience on the school system is based on the effects I see it have with people whom I associate with, who attend public schools.
And no, we do not have economic classes in American schools. That I know of.

Cube May 21 2009 11:30 AM EDT

Blaming the parents is down right ridiculous. If that many parents are making the 'bad decision', to send their kids to public school then it's a fault of the system.

This is a bit touchier, I'm not trying to offend you, but home schooling clearly has it's downsides as well. Did you ever think that home schooling can make you pretty close minded about things?

You are learning from two people. Two people that you know, love, and trust deeply. I recognize that you can use outside sources and can read conflicting viewpoints, but in the end you are learning from two people. As you are growing up, your viewpoint can be extremely biased; it is hard to grow your own viewpoints with the same teachers.

Granted everyone is influenced by their parents; it just seems to me that parents being your only source of learning could potentially be a bad thing.

Not only that, but the only people I ever knew who were home schooled were socially awkward. I'm not saying this happens to everyone, but it certainly does to some.

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 21 2009 11:35 AM EDT

To be completely honest, my parents just let me do my own thing. And for years in America, before public schools, home-schooling was the only option. Most great Americans were home-schooled, such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and others.
In fact, the only other option was private tutoring.
As for being socially awkward; I am not especially. I just don't enjoy it. ;)

j'bob May 21 2009 11:43 AM EDT

"My experience on the school system is based on the effects I see it have with people whom I associate with, who attend public schools."

Now this my elderly eskimo friend, is a slippery and dangerous slope.

What you are doing is basically making a possibly extreme generalization having never even experienced that which you are criticizing first hand.
Yes, the publick skool sistem in the U S of A can be lacking.
One important question is, where are you from. (Aside from Alaska)
What is the demographic of people attending public schools within the area you reside.
I live in a large city in America. I work in the same city in a VERY different part. I could easily make sweeping generalizations regarding the school system based on where I live and work and the two would be IMMENSELY different. Could this have something to do with the "neighborhoods"? Hmmmm. Do you see how we've started sliding already?
I'm glad you feel you're obtaining a good education, and from the way you express yourself here I'd have to, at least at face value, agree.
Just beware of what you never learn.

AdminTal Destra May 21 2009 11:43 AM EDT

Kat was homeschooled and i wasn't, i hated school because of they way they make you memorize, i don't even remember half of what was taught, where as Kat is like a sponge and remembers 99% of what she was taught because it wasn't memorization it was hands-on and technical

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 21 2009 11:45 AM EDT

Indeed. That's why I was asking for criticisms from other people around here, who have experienced different things than I have.
I live in West Virginia, by-the-way, so that might explain some things.

j'bob May 21 2009 11:47 AM EDT

See, I refuse to step into the noose that Marly has hung for me by making sweeping generalizations regarding WV (even though that MIGHT explain some things indeed) ;p


AdminTal Destra May 21 2009 11:48 AM EDT

BTW Marl, in Texas we do have economics in high school, so you can't say that USA doesn't teach it

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 21 2009 11:49 AM EDT

My plan was foolproof! Can't count on J'bob, though... ;)

Colonel Custard [The Knighthood] May 21 2009 11:50 AM EDT

I've met a fair number of homeschooled kids at the Community College near my house. They're all like really good at stuff, as if they'd actually received personal attention and instruction and whatnot.

Not that my teachers in public school ignored me or didn't care about my success; I just didn't learn any life skills from school. These kids can like cook and play 3 instruments and build robots and read books. I never got into reading books. That may have as much to do with my upbringing in the internet age as anything else, but I feel that if I had been educated differently, I may have actually embraced learning. Actually, I'm sure of it. I like learning things, but I don't even know how to find information that isn't being taught to me by someone else. Like I don't understand the concept, because I've never had to deal with it before.

But these homeschooled kids, man, they know how to do research.

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 21 2009 11:50 AM EDT

Oh really? I was mainly referencing middle school(s).

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 21 2009 11:51 AM EDT

Google, LC. ;)

Colonel Custard [The Knighthood] May 21 2009 11:55 AM EDT

"Kat was homeschooled and i wasn't, i hated school because of they way they make you memorize, i don't even remember half of what was taught, where as Kat is like a sponge and remembers 99% of what she was taught because it wasn't memorization it was hands-on and technical"

That's what I'm talking about, dude! I'll hang out with these kids and it always seems like I've just never learned anything compared to them. Cuz I just like sat in class, passed tests, came home and played video games or did whatever.

QBOddBird May 21 2009 11:56 AM EDT

I'm curious about whether your argument regarding the educational experience is based on your personal experience with the public education system or...what?

You can't take "my high school sucked guys" and turn that into "America needs better education!"

I refuse to look up to China as a shining example of education. Take a closer look.

Lochnivar May 21 2009 11:58 AM EDT

"BTW Marl, in Texas we do have economics in high school, so you can't say that USA doesn't teach it "

I assume you mean the 'more oil = good' doctrine Tal?


I kid, I kid!

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 21 2009 12:00 PM EDT

I'm not quite at a high-school age, and have had no experience in it.

j'bob May 21 2009 12:01 PM EDT

I attended public schools until 5th grade at which point I moved to a Catholic grade school. I was ahead of most of the kids in the Catholic school by the time I got there. I developed a fondness for reading within my home and I do believe that made a large difference.
Now, by the time I left the Catholic grade school I took an entrance exam for high school and scored in the top 3% in the state. I plowed through high school with more than enough credits to graduate by the halfway mark of my junior year (3rd year of high school). Which was a good thing because by then I was disgusted by the "system" and tired of school and threw my entire senior year away and never set foot in college.

Moral of this story. Huh, what's a moral? Nothing, what's a moral with you!!??

You just never know and I believe that in the end, much of the learning process depends not on the teachers, but the taught.

You can't learn a kid what don't wanna show up.

Thak May 21 2009 12:01 PM EDT

Yeah the education system in the US needs a major overhaul.
We are lacking the mentorship in the US when teaching imo. (i.e. blacksmith and his apprentice, knight and a squire) The go go go society has to do with it also imo as most dont have alot of time to spend with their children and teach since they have to work all the time to make ends.

Read read read instead of do do do seems to be the mentality when it comes to schools in the US

QBOddBird May 21 2009 12:02 PM EDT

Then where does the evidence, the opinion, the basis for the argument come from? That's what I'm searching for.

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 21 2009 12:03 PM EDT

From The Republic!

j'bob May 21 2009 12:03 PM EDT

OB!!! Marly clearly stated "My experience on the school system is based on the effects I see it have with people whom I associate with, who attend public schools."

My goodness OB!!! Can't you read??? Where did you go to school??? Have you no retention or ....

OH LOOK, CAKE!!!!!!!!

QBOddBird May 21 2009 12:04 PM EDT

I agree with Thak. If I had a big knight with a pokeysword standing behind me and yelling at me to study more, I'd probably have a better GPA.

Demigod May 21 2009 12:04 PM EDT

There seems to be a massive generalization that home-schooling is better than public education. The quality of public education varies a good bit based on the given school system within the US, but with standardized testing, you can at least follow along to judge the schools. With home-schooling, the quality of education is a gamble -- at least at first. Some parents can provide wonderful attention and guidance that far exceeds their respective school system; some parents should not teach. To those parents who can teach properly, it's wonderful, but that doesn't make home-schooling any better or worse as a whole.

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 21 2009 12:05 PM EDT

Probably not Demi, but I am not arguing for or against home-schooling.

QBOddBird May 21 2009 12:05 PM EDT

Marlfox - The Republic is your source on how the american school system teaches and what subjects are missing? No offense, but your source is outdated...

j'bob - that's what I was trying to get at. You can't base an argument that the American school system needs an overhaul based on "my friends are dumb and they tell me school sucks and u know they r right."

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 21 2009 12:07 PM EDT

"They" do not tell me school "sucks". In fact, they like school. It is merely based on my experience with their maturity, actions, and reasoning powers.
The Republic does have some very interesting and probing ideas.

QBOddBird May 21 2009 12:09 PM EDT

So tell me, how is that a basis?

I know some kids down here who are completely immature, and I know a few others - within the same school system - who are like small adults. Two entirely different outcomes from the same area, same school system...

There's a lot more to it!

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 21 2009 12:10 PM EDT

Exactly, which is why I was asking for criticisms and other ideas.

QBOddBird May 21 2009 12:15 PM EDT

I'm confused.

"Your thread doesn't really have a basis, you pulled the facts and figures out of your butt based on the fact that you know kids who were in school."

"Exactly, which is why I was asking for criticisms and other ideas."


Let me pull this entire exchange down to the meat and bones for you, because you don't seem to get what I'm trying to hint at for you. If you want to have a valid thread for us to discuss, you need to provide facts, figures, or research to back up the point you are trying to make! We can't debate "my opinion is this and has nothing to back it up" and "my opinion is this different thing and it also has nothing to back it up" because that's not a debate, that's just exchanging various viewpoints and poking fingers and saying mine is better than yours!

That's not what the debate forum is for. What I'm REQUESTING is for you to make this into a debate.

Colonel Custard [The Knighthood] May 21 2009 12:18 PM EDT

"You can't take "my high school sucked guys" and turn that into "America needs better education!" "

My high school was ranked the 70th best public school in the nation, and the best in the state of Minnesota. So, like, I kinda can just say that and almost be accurate, assuming whatever method of assessment used for those rankings was accurate.

And no, I don't mean the No Child Left Behind standardized testing results. I mean like some other list that gets ranked every year by some magazine.

j'bob May 21 2009 12:20 PM EDT

See Marls, what our overly attractive friend OB is fixated on is the fact that in the 3rd paragraph of your opening statement you say...

"but I would like to draw attention to the facts that our schools are broken, and will likely stay this way unless they are radically differed."

You say our schools are broken but have nothing more than hearsay and conjecture to base that statement on. Not even personal experience. :D

j'bob May 21 2009 12:21 PM EDT

So CC, you must be an AWESOME ice skater!!!

AdminTal Destra May 21 2009 12:22 PM EDT

I can't be for or against public education for 2 reasons

1. no matter where a kid is taught, he/she can be introverted so that gets thrown out, i mean, i was pretty much an introvert all the way through school, the only reason i did anything was for football and baseball (hated the popularity gain just because i played sports)

2. with the increase of students, teachers no longer have the time to do "hands on", therefore some kids will be lacking in experience, but then again, those kids might not grasp the concept even with "hands on" because of a mental capacity that doesn't and will never exist... Do you want to teach these impossible kids??

QBOddBird May 21 2009 12:23 PM EDT

YOU, colonel custard, could take that fact and use it.

"My high school is ranked the best in MN, and the 70th best in the nation. However, this is what I've seen out of that so called "best education system in MN: [insert evidence here] This leads me to believe that, if this is the best the American public school system has to offer, assuming whatever method of assessment used for those rankings was accurate, then the system really needs an overhaul."

That is backing a statement with a valid experience and offering a strong argument for debate. That's fine. :)

But there's just gotta be something to back it up when you make a statement like the original posts, or someone can absolutely tear your argument to pieces because it's THIN.

Marlfox [Cult of the Valaraukar] May 21 2009 12:49 PM EDT

Ah, I see. Perhaps I should not have used a different phrasing. I merely made this thread to see if my ideas were good ones, or if I am just crazy.
Probably the latter.

AdminQBVerifex May 22 2009 4:48 PM EDT

I had a rather pleasant and fulfilling grade school experience. I learned a lot, but I forgot most of the things that I didn't need outside of school. However, I would note that the school system never encouraged or showed in any thorough way how to "learn" things, or how to "research" things very well. They just seemed to teach me rote learning. The benefits of that are debatable I suppose. I really wish there was more of a focus on showing kids how to "learn" things, and how to be self-reliant in many important areas. The idea that you should be constantly learning new things throughout your life isn't properly conveyed to kids in our current educational establishment.

That isn't to say that our current educational establishment is totally broken, it just needs some tweaks here and there.

[P]Mitt May 22 2009 6:21 PM EDT

What I find most interesting with this thread is that everyone seems to believe that the public school system in America promotes rote memorization and squelches most forms of logic, reasoning, and intuition. Why I find that interesting is because all through grade school to the end of high school, my father always said the opposite. Growing up, he was in the top school in Hong Kong from first grade to thirteenth grade (the British system went to grade 13) and he was one of the top students (head boy, held some sprinting records, very good at school by any means). He also was admitted to (and attended) one of the top private universities in the US. What he had a problem with in his early education (once he saw my education) was that his high school taught and graded rote memorization - if you write a description of something, it would have to be word for word (yes, word-for-word) from what the teacher lectured about or from the book. Math was not taught in a series of Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, where all students would be in one of those classes. It was taught like a large cycle - everyone would learn parts of all math, and every year, you would go over the math you had learned previously and then some. A not-so-good student (30th-40th percentile maybe?) by the end of his high school would be able to take the SAT I math section and score over 700 consistently because the way they learned math, history, English, Chinese, and all subjects was memorization by repetition. So while you praise the Chinese math aptitude, you would disagree with a far more intensive version of our "tedious memorization" that they would use to gain that aptitude.

Now compare that to our public schools. I attended one of the top elementary/middle school systems in California, and while my high school wasn't stellar, was always certified at the top level of high schools. Rather than feeling like I learned by rote memorization, I feel like I learned more by intuition and figuring out ideas in my mind, and then confirming my ideas with whatever I would learn in the book or from the teachers. Which, if I understand correctly, is not rote memorization.

To respond to Marlfox's original post. Yes. Children are not prepared for real life. You will find this to be true all the way through college. However, they are not just learning the material in the classes (which, according to you, they promptly forget) - material that is useless in adult life, but they are also learning the skills and values of how to do hard work, how to study, and how to apply themselves to something fully and wholely that they will require for the rest of their life. I don't like making judgements on your comments based on your age, but at 13 or 14 years old (in middle school), as much as you believe you do, you do not, no, you can not have any idea of higher learning. I promise you that high school, college, and further, are far more intensive than middle school. Economics is taught in high school and universities. However, why should it be taught in middle school? There is no need to - you will not be starting your own business or entering the work-force where it is useful for at least another 4 to 8 years, which I assume, would indicate enough time where you would forget it all.
I agree that Americans do not read enough (and rather spend too much time watching TV, Facebooking, txting, and other pretty useless activities. Which lowers their ability to write intelligently or contribute to interesting discussions like this one.

Homeschooling is another issue that I have a problem with. While it is true that the potential amount of knowledge you will have will be far higher than any high school, you lose out on the intangibles. Social interactions (to put an adult word to it - Networking) skills do not develop. While you may say that children will pick up those skills in college, I highly doubt that. In college, I have witnessed how most of the home-schooled kids here are extremely socially awkward and are hard-pressed to make friends.

I see little to no problem with our public school system other than they are underfunded and teachers are underpaid. Most of the best potential teachers do not go into education because they are paid so little, and those that do can generally find a job at a private university where they are paid far more than a public high-school or elementary-school teacher. Our system is not broken, it just is underfunded and undermanned. In comparison with the rest of the world, the public school system here does not teach by rote memorization, and if you think we do teach that way, you just have not experienced true "rote memorization". Furthermore, you have not analyzed or mentioned the universities in America. America's Universities and post-high school education are arguably the best in the world today. And I fully enjoyed my public school education - it was entertaining, fun, and interesting. After all, it got me into college - 28 years after my father graduated, I'm attending his alma mater.

[P]Mitt May 22 2009 11:43 PM EDT

Do I really always kill threads like this?

three4thsforsaken May 26 2009 12:37 PM EDT

I agree with Mitt. I don't think many realize how good our education system is when you compare them to many (not all) countries.

Take China for example. China's education does not promote innovation as much as plain memorization and pattern recognition. And it shows. Most of China's marketing strategies include product replication and enhancement as opposed to risk and creativity.

But is really has to be that way in China. It is because there are so many people the time and money investment per child is very small, so schooling is very methodic and efficient.

Now lets look at Europe. Being socialist and all, education is free, including Universities. This also means competition is incredibly fierce. In France, your entire career path is determined by a set of test you take throughout early education. So schooling is very much set up to prepare you for these tests. Very formulaic. Very Intense.

In Japan, it is even more extreme. Career paths must be chosen in Middle school, and the application process for High school is one of the most stressful times in a person's life. Most competitive kids are forced to go to school, then directly after, go to a class every night to prepare for examination tests.

In the above countries, often the purpose is not so much to learn the material as it is to prepare for the tests. Of course we have standardized testing, but they are so much less important in our culture.

From my high school experiences, I've definitely learned to think for myself, to apply logic. Of course, in order to apply logic one must have a background in hard facts, that's where a little memorization occurs. I had good student to teacher ratio, but most importantly, I had resources. If I didn't understand something there was always a teacher or a tutor that could help me. And yes I did go to a public school, the same one as Mitt in fact.

A point I want to drive home though, is that the public system doesn't force you to work hard. Which is fine, because at what level should the system force us to succeed? Currently as it is setup, it allows for the people who care and value their learning to really take advantage of resources offered to them, which is often neglected by the majority of the students. Perhaps that's the problem you've been seeing Marl.

Adminedyit [Superheros] May 27 2009 6:43 PM EDT

public education is a sick joke at best.

i base this opinion on having gone through it myself and by now watching my son go through it as well. the main problem that i can see is that there is no real teaching, there is a ton of memorization and repetition.

my son is in 1st grade, he's very good at math and enjoys school for the most part, but as the year has progressed i have seen a steady decline in his interest in it. he already knows his multiplication tables as his mother and i have spent time with him on these. his school teachers though don't seem to care or acknowledge that he is a little ahead of they're current math curriculum, so i see him bring home homework that is far from mentally stimulating for him, at least as far as the math is concerned.

why have a child that is at a higher level in math / science / reading take the same monotonous boring memorization route that everyone else is forced to take. why not take a child that shows an aptitude for something and nurture it and cultivate that in them, instead of smothering the spark of interest they have in learning at an early age.

i personally think that a lot of fault wrong with the education system in this country lies in the teachers themselves.

QBOddBird May 27 2009 6:56 PM EDT

As one of my professors once told me,

"It is unimportant what you learn in this class. What is important is that you learn how to sit behind a desk, listen for a long period of time, and then go to another class and do the same thing each day. This prepares you for your career, where you'll go sit in a cubicle, listen for long periods of time at meetings, and do the same thing repetitively every day."

Granted, he was kidding when he said this, but you have to admit it makes some sense. :P
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