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is our kids getting more dumber?


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Well, as some of you know, I am managing the local branch of a private learning school (was a cooperation with Sylvan Learning until last year) who is the biggest corporation like that in Germany with 1100 branches.

 

We have 80 kids at the moment who are being taught by 13 teachers in all imaginable subjects, mostly Maths, English, German, Latin, where they have problems with at school.

 

Right as we speak, one of them (19 y in May) who happens to be the daughter of a good friend, is writing her Abitur exam in Maths after being in our school for a year, and Abitur being the highest possible thing you can achieve in German schools. So far so good.

 

On Tuesday, when she was having a single lesson with my best teacher to prepare for today's final exam, the following incident was being witnessed:

 

They were sweating over "x - 1" is the same as "1 - x", because she insisted that was true. No matter how long the teacher tried to make her understand that it is ONLY the same when "x" is actually "1", she insisted that her result was correct (which it was, because in this only case "x" was "1"!!), and that he was being wrong. :-O

 

So to answer the question:

 

Yes. Things are that bad. :frusty

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I use other methods too. Usually, I'll re-copy my notes and the terms or concepts that require memorization (some things do), I enter into a two column spreadsheet on google docs and use it to make flashcards that I can view on my iPhone (no need to carry around a stack of cards). The other things I will think out and talk through how they work together. I also teach the stuff to my husband and kids because explaining it to someone else helps me out a lot. They of course don't care about what I'm talking about but at least they humor me. I can also scan certain notes, diagrams, etc and save them to google docs and access them on my iPhone later. Same with the lectures in some of my online classes. One professor does podcasts that we can download too. I'm all about technology!

 

I'm also lucky enough to be able to hyperfocus on demand. When I do, I can recall details that I learned before, almost like I have a photographic memory. It's strange, but it hasn't failed me yet.

 

 

if you would only post your statistics questions somewhere before you submit your final answer you may do better. ;)

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if you would only post your statistics questions somewhere before you submit your final answer you may do better. ;)

 

Well, I did post the statistics question somewhere before I submitted my final answer, I just didn't take the advice anyone gave me. :stunned Lesson learned for next time!

 

I've managed to maintain 97% in that class though and even got 100% on the last test. :thumbup

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Well, I did post the statistics question somewhere before I submitted my final answer, I just didn't take the advice anyone gave me. :stunned Lesson learned for next time!

 

I've managed to maintain 97% in that class though and even got 100% on the last test. :thumbup

 

 

Good Job! fwiw, i don't think i chimed in on that thread until a few days after you posted the question. i might have answered too late anyway. (plus, that was a fluke, i never even took statistics)

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Good Job! fwiw, i don't think i chimed in on that thread until a few days after you posted the question. i might have answered too late anyway. (plus, that was a fluke, i never even took statistics)

 

Yeah, I gave my official answer the same day I posted the question. I should ask my professor the igloo building question for paybacks.

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My Two Cents:

I am a high school teacher in Kentucky. What's more, I was a high schooler in the 90's when Kentucky lost a lawsuit about how they fund schools. When told the usual way of funding schools wasn't legal (basically, the counties with coal were getting more money as part of the coal severance pay--where the counties that have to put up with the problems--ie. road damage, noise, sinkholes, etc got more money and Louisville and Lexington wanted more money as they had more students) the state switched to state standardized testing.

 

Guess what? Education improved greatly. Kentucky went from the second worst state to breaking the top 40 in a few short years and breifly became the poster child for education reform. More importantly (and something that didn't show up on national rankings) Kentucky put an emphasis on writing and our students generally were better writters then those of other states.

 

Well, No Child Left Behind was pretty much the same thing for the whole nation. However, there were some stupid parts of it like...

 

1) States like Kentucky were forced to do NCLB and since the KATS test (Ky's own, earlier version) was part of a long-term project they felt compelled to keep it too. Meaning schools now had two different tests they had to do.

 

2) Teachers teach to the test. There's no way around it... teachers started only teaching what they thought would be on the test, which is a crap shoot as you are not told what will be on the test, just some general areas.

 

3) If your school had special ed students who weren't reading at the regular class level, you were considered to be non-compliant. Yep, if your special ed kids weren't reading as well as non-special ed kids you were failing. Think about that. Oh, and smaller districts like mine could avoid that failing designation if they had fewer then a certain number of special ed kids. So the fewer you had the less you had to worry about their scores. Weird system.

 

4) There was no accountability to the kids. In other words, students didn't have to try. In the early days you could bribe them with rewards, but even those got cracked down on pretty hard. What you couldn't do is fail anyone for not trying. Imagine if a pro sports team were told: no matter how little you try, you still get paid and you get to come back next year, but your coach might get fired.

 

5). The whole concept is flawed as how can you judge how much kids have learned if you only test that group once and then you move on to testing a different group the next year. You have smart classes and you have less smart classes. However, since you're expected to improve your scores every year (and this is the KATS test I'm talking about) you had better hope that you keep getting stronger and stronger classes.

 

In summary: trying something helped for a while, however, the flaws in the system can hurt the education system over time. The Kennedy/Bush NCLB was probably good for education in those states that didn't have other testing systems, but it was not perfect.

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3) If your school had special ed students who weren't reading at the regular class level, you were considered to be non-compliant. Yep, if your special ed kids weren't reading as well as non-special ed kids you were failing. Think about that. Oh, and smaller districts like mine could avoid that failing designation if they had fewer then a certain number of special ed kids. So the fewer you had the less you had to worry about their scores. Weird system.

That is crazy, but how many districts would've pushed to move lots of kids into spec. ed. just to keep them out of NCLB standards?

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That is crazy, but how many districts would've pushed to move lots of kids into spec. ed. just to keep them out of NCLB standards?

 

I have to say, I kind of agree with this. Districts in trying circumstances would slap an ADHD or dyslexia label on every kid who was behind, shuffle them into those classes, and keep their funding.

 

ETA: Someone who knows more about this than I do (which would be a lot of people) can correct me or expand on this, but I know that after my first year of high school, there was a huge effort to mainstream a lot of the special ed. kids, which actually - now that I think about it - coincided with the passage of NCLB. I wonder if my district, at least, found that they were giving a lot of this kids an education less than what the students were capable of.

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Now I want to add my two cents on the side conversation of technology in schools, etc.

 

You know what you can't do in a high school classroom anymore... give lectures. Every principal I know has pretty much stuck to the rule of "Don't give notes that take more then 1 minute per year of age of your student." That means Freshmen should get no more then what, 14 minutes of notes. Now that includes the 5 minutes of interuptions, the five minutes of explaining, and the four minutes of waiting for everyone to write down the notes in awkward pauses after every line. Ugh. As soon as the notes are over you get to show a short clip (that took the teacher probably three hours to discover) that the students will ignore anyway. Then you get your hands-on activity (that took the teacher hours to plan and money out of their own pocket to buy supplies as the classroom fund of $100 was spent long, long ago in the semester) in which the kids just half-ass or let a smart kid inthe group finish while they chat. Then you switch gears and give the kids a reflective writing assignment about what they learned from the activity, to which little johnny writes "Nothing, this was stupid."

 

This is part of a trend that says "kid's don't have good attention spans, so rather then work on lengthening the attention span we should just accept it and deal with by giving them hands on activities." You know what, hands-on stuff is great. It really helps some kids. However, it isn't a magic cure. You're just as likely to have a kid come back a month later and say "can we make another thing with the baloons like that last time" as they are to say "I remember the distances between planets because of the representation we made in the hall with balloons."

 

My point is this: high schools are babying students to deal with their short attention spans, then when they hit college it's all notes and we wonder why they don't make it? When the non-college crowd (which is much smaller then it should be) hits the workworld they can't focus on their tasks at their job either. Also, there's a huge lack of communication between colleges and high schools. I had a professor of a Master's course in history as me why none of his Freshmen seemed to have a basic understanding of the early American republic. He was quite suprised when I told him it was because in the state of Kentucky the last time you have US History pre-Civil War was 8th grade, seven years before you take US History as a college sophomore. He was shocked to find this out.

 

Don't even get me started on IEP's (Individual Education Plans, which require teachers to make modifications to give each student a personalized education based on their ability or disabilities. Including helping hyper kids by not requiring them to try to focus).

 

By the way, for the most part I like my job. Having two months off in the summer to regain my senses helps quite a bit too.

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"off topic"

:P

 

 

More importantly (and something that didn't show up on national rankings) Kentucky put an emphasis on writing and our students generally were better writters then those of other states.

There has to be more emphasis on writing in schools. I'm stunned at the writing skills (mostly, lack of skills) among my co-workers. People seem to be incapable of organizing their thoughts, writing coherent sentences, addressing the topic at hand...

 

And no, that's a not a technology/"kids and their damn texting!" issue. This applies to people in my office from 20 up to 70 years old.

 

A lot of these people speak perfectly well. I don't understand the disconnect when it comes to putting their thoughts on paper (or in an e-mail, or whatever).

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Now I want to add my two cents on the side conversation of technology in schools, etc.

 

You know what you can't do in a high school classroom anymore... give lectures.

 

My classes were discussion-based. We had assigned reading, then we discussed it the next day. My teachers only lectured to clarify points or get us back on topic. Saw a movie maybe twice in my history classes in high school. If we didn't do the reading, we had a lecture and a quiz on the lecture the following day. Worked fine for us, and that wasn't that long ago.

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Mainstreaming also helps reduce the need for special ed teachers, which are the hardest to find.

 

You know, I don't want to start anything but from my point of view, the ADHD label is slapped on way too many kids. It's to the point where you can really tell a difference between those who have it and those who are labeled with it wrongly. (Or maybe there are different levels of it and that explains it). The problem is that once a kid is labeled with it, it can be hard to shake it. I had a kid one time that in his IEP it was noted that he was last tested as a fourth grader and had ADHD. You know how they tested him? They had someone observe him in class. As he would rather look at the window then read, talked to his classmates rather then listen to the teacher, and passed notes during outloud reading he was marked down as having ADHD. He was never tested again, but as a Sophomore he still had an IEP which basically said the teacher needed to restate all questions to him, give him extra time to finish his work, and make his multiple choice questions easier by eliminating two of the three wrong answers, amongst other things.

 

Oh, and by the way, lots of parents get their kids diagnosed with ADHD or other issues so they can get them on medicines to make them behave better when their left alone. Then they get to draw checks on the kids if its serious enough. I know this isn't all of them, but it is a pretty big chunk.

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There has to be more emphasis on writing in schools. I'm stunned at the writing skills (mostly, lack of skills) among my co-workers. People seem to be incapable of organizing their thoughts, writing coherent sentences, addressing the topic at hand...

 

Oh, this drives me nuts! I don't even understand how people can write any other way than how their thoughts come out in their head, which just plain scares me when people can't write.

 

Usually the best writers I come across in my job are non-native speakers who learned English outside the U.S.

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"My classes were discussion-based. We had assigned reading, then we discussed it the next day."

 

This is a painful experience in non AP classes (and in AP classes too nowadays!). Student's just don't do the assigned readings. You wind up making the handful of kids who did read have to carry the entire conversation while the others tune out. I remember my AP class in high school being predominately note based, then outside readings required, then a movie maybe once a month and a discussion. Then of course we had to practice Document-based-questions. I know every AP teacher in the school pulls their hair out over student's not doing the reading. I love dicussion, but you wind up leaving out so many of the kids who just tune out. Getting them to read nowadays has become very, very difficult.

 

As for writing skills, one thing Kentucky required was a technical piece. You had to make either a brochure or letter describing a process, something that was much more likely to be encountered in the workplace than a paper on an assigned topic. But guess what? They scrapped the portfolios (which was the end result of the writing emphasis) and non of it is required as of last year.

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Honestly, I think programs like No Child Left Behind should be scrapped after a while and something else brought along. All the good teachers will keep the best parts of the old system anyway and learn something new along the way. It can be frustraiting as a teacher to have to put up with wave after wave of change to what we do, but if we can take the best practices and incorporate them into our teaching system the kids can benifit. So I won't shed a tear when NCLB become extinct, but I will take some emphasis of it with me through the next wave of reform.

 

 

And yeah, if special ed kids were exempted I'm sure some principals would start moving lower performers over into the non-testing category by any means. Principals are nearly as likely to cheat as their students if the only thing that matters is their grade (or making the required scores). This is probably the biggest single problem with education, we value the grade more than we value learning.

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You know, I don't want to start anything but from my point of view, the ADHD label is slapped on way too many kids. It's to the point where you can really tell a difference between those who have it and those who are labeled with it wrongly. (Or maybe there are different levels of it and that explains it). The problem is that once a kid is labeled with it, it can be hard to shake it. I had a kid one time that in his IEP it was noted that he was last tested as a fourth grader and had ADHD. You know how they tested him? They had someone observe him in class. As he would rather look at the window then read, talked to his classmates rather then listen to the teacher, and passed notes during outloud reading he was marked down as having ADHD. He was never tested again, but as a Sophomore he still had an IEP which basically said the teacher needed to restate all questions to him, give him extra time to finish his work, and make his multiple choice questions easier by eliminating two of the three wrong answers, amongst other things.

 

Oh, and by the way, lots of parents get their kids diagnosed with ADHD or other issues so they can get them on medicines to make them behave better when their left alone. Then they get to draw checks on the kids if its serious enough. I know this isn't all of them, but it is a pretty big chunk.

 

I'll give you some scenarios and you tell me which ones have ADHD...

 

A) 13 year old girl who talks a mile a minute, is overly emotional, spends hours on end drawing very detailed pictures, and makes the honor roll every marking period.

 

B) 8 year old boy who does very well in school, but is constantly hounded by the teacher because of his messy handwriting. When his mom asked the teacher about his behavior at school because she wondered if she should have him evaluated for ADHD, the teacher said "Absolutely not, he's a delight to have in class and is way too smart to have ADHD." He is an emotional mess when he gets home from school and he bounces from one couch to the other pretty much all night long.

 

C) A 33 year old woman who can never find her keys, goes to the store for bread and milk and gets home after spending $100 but forgot the bread and milk, constantly frustrated to tears over stupid things like helping her 5th grade son with math homework.

 

D) 19 year old college student on the verge of academic probation. She was an honor roll student all through school and even took AP history, English, and chemistry, which she passed with flying colors.

 

E) 10 year old boy who has a messy backpack, does well in school, spends hours reading a book and explodes at his mom when she takes the book out of his hand because she had called him to the dinner table 4 times already.

 

F) 34 year old non-traditional college student with a 4.0 GPA who is also a member of her school's honor society.

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In high school, especially during the track and cross country seasons, I read pretty selectively for my courses, generally cramming right before exams. However, argumentative as I am, I enjoyed picking on the kids who annoyed me, during class discussions. To do so, I often had to quick-scan the readings to know what the hell I was talking about. If I weren't so argumentative in high school, I would have sunk like a rock in most of my classes. Or I might have actually done the readings.

 

I think it takes a special kind of teacher to be able to elicit engaging discussion formats for students, and there are some topics that just don't lend themselves very well to it. The teachers I know in my life are some of the most resilient people I know.

 

I loved DBQs. Loveloveloved them. A lot of teachers at our school used them for non-AP courses, on their exams.

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Within boundaries of the definition, I don't think anyone is born "dumb". Therefore if our kids "is gettin more dumb", maybe the people teaching them are gettin more dumb. The world in general has changed exponentially in the last 15-20 years yet is seems cirriculum has not. I honestly think some educators can't hold the attention of kids these days because they're jamming irrelevant shit down their throat 8 hours a day. Below is a simple equation:

 

 

stupid mom + dont give a shit dad x scared educator/hours on Facebook = DUMB KID

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