[FoRK] High school curriculum

Stephen D. Williams sdw
Mon Jan 2 15:40:29 PST 2006

Fixing the motivation issue is the biggest thing on the agenda.  My home 
life was unpleasant so I liked school 10-1 over being at home, I wanted 
to succeed so as not to be limited (i.e. imprisoned by lack of 
resources), and I was precocious, terminally curious, and had a lot of 
energy.  We need some constructive methods for generating internal drive 
and self-sufficiency that are continually reinforced.

My kids live in a relative paradise and can't quite internalize anything 
like a real drive to compete, succeed, or be interested beyond the play 
stage with anything.  I can tell they're affected by memes like: 
learning isn't cool, competing isn't desirable, teenagers shouldn't be 
told what to do, nobody can tell you your art isn't good or right (and 
therefore there's no point it learning much about existing art or 
techniques, whatever "I" want to do is automatically worth doing), etc.

I thought my high school was relatively good for such a small school, 
but another classmate thought he was underprepared when he got to college.


Kevin Elliott wrote:

> 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
>> does.
> 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 since).
> 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...

swilliams at hpti.com http://www.hpti.com Per: sdw at lig.net http://sdw.st
Stephen D. Williams 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 20147-4622 AIM: sdw

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