[FoRK] High school curriculum (was: Milestones toward the end of religion)

Kevin Elliott k-elliott
Mon Jan 2 14:17:22 PST 2006

At 16:09 -0500  on  1/2/06, Luis Villa wrote:
>Other adjustments: replace most HS math and physics with programming.
>The percentage of students who will ever need calculus is staggeringly
>small; the percentage who will derive any use from geometry smaller
>still. Understanding of computers is a necessity for everyone, and
>teaches the same kinds of logical reasoning that a good math course

I hate to break it to you, but at least at my high school calculus 
was ANYTHING but mandatory.  It was an advance course that only very 
studious college bound students took.  Most students stopped at LEAST 
2 years before calculus.  My wife only got as far as Algebra, and 
didn't understand then or now.

>I'd drop at least one year of english/lit and replace it with media
>creation and comprehension- every kid should be doing film and TV
>studies, and ideally creating such content. The current high school
>curriculum is a polite fiction that pretends that our children get all
>of their information from the written word, when vast swathes of the
>population gets most of their information from TV, and many people
>communicate more via power point than by the long-form essays taught
>in high schools. I'm not saying I *like* that situation, but we're
>better off preparing kids for it than pretending it isn't the case.
>And hell, if kids were taught to distinguish better between shitty TV
>and good TV, and shitty powerpoint from good powerpoint, there might
>be more good stuff.

Your rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.  Most of the graduates 
today can't read worth shit anyway.  Making a course where kids are 
forced to watch TV just sounds like a way to keep the idiots occupied 
and annoy those who are trying to learn useful crap.

The problem with our school system is very, very deep.  It starts 
well before high school and can't be fixed by then.  To many children 
simply aren't learning at all.  A shit load of time is wasted on 
glorified arts and crafts.  A major part of my Freshman high school 
Biology class was dedicated to COLORING (and I've hated Biology 

Virtually every class your describing was available in my high 
school- I know because I took them.  It was a bit early for video 
when I was in school, so I didn't have that one, but I'm told they 
have a video lab now.  For the record, I went to a fairly mediocre in 
southern Illinois.  The problem is that most kids weren't taking the 
courses, and weren't paying attention in the ones they did.  Learning 
wasn't "cool".

I don't know what the solution is.  I think school choice could work 
wonders, but I don't know what it would take to make it happen.  At 
the very least, it would provide a way out for those who really want 
to learn.

>I'd probably also resculpt the average two year bio+chem sequence into
>an environment/ecology course, with the necessary bio and chemistry
>interwoven where necessary to explain the bigger concepts.

I shudder at the thought.  My high school biology was a horrible joke 
intermixed with dissections.  I actually learned stuff in Chemistry 
(especially my second year).  Any time I hear about a "merged 
approach" I think "great, another way to avoid teaching by focusing 
on The Big Picture".

>If I really wanted to stretch, I'd drop most art courses and replace
>them with courses in design.

Well, I'd agree with the first part, but then again I can't draw worth crap...
Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud.
After a while, you realize the pig is enjoying it.
Kevin Elliott   <mailto:kelliott at mac.com>
AIM/iChatAV: kelliott at mac.com  (video chat available)

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