Wednesday, February 27, 2008

AHHHHHHHHHH!

No Child Gets Ahead strikes again.


Survey Finds Teenagers Ignorant on Basic History and Literature Questions


I know, I know. I'm...



But honestly, this was in today's New York Times and reports the results of a new study that were released yesterday. 1,200 seventeen year olds were surveyed in January and asked 33 multiple choice questions. The conclusion that was drawn as a result of the study was "that a significant proportion of teenagers live in “stunning ignorance” of history and literature". Really? Hmmmm. I wonder why?

Okay class, here is our curriculum for the year:

Math, Science, Standardized Test Taking.
Math, Science, Standardized Test Taking.
Math, Science, Standardized Test Taking...
Please write it on the board 100 times.

Can you for a moment imagine how mind-numbingly dull and boring this crop of students will be when they are adults? How one dimensional they will be? Math and science (at least how they are commonly taught) are about rules. The laws of physics, constants, equations, learning to repeat the steps that others have already taken. Mindlessly marching along trails already traveled. Without history and literature and the arts, without the creativity and passion and longing of an open, expanded mind does anyone seriously believe that the people who blazed those well traveled trails would have ever taken the first steps? Would have ever dared to break the rules and veer from the well traveled roads of their day? If we are going to stand on the shoulders of giants shouldn't we at least know who the giants were? Leonardo DiVinci was a genius. A scientist and a student of just about everything he laid eyes on. And oh yeah, he did a little painting on the side didn't he?

To be fair to the kids that were surveyed, I didn't know the one about Ralph Ellison's novel "Invisible Man" (though I could tell you who wrote "The Invisible Man" and I bet they couldn't). Also the fact that the majority weren't familiar enough with bible stories to know about Job was in some weird way, encouraging. Still, the overall results were dismal and very discouraging.

The article concludes by saying "the Bush administration and some business and civil rights groups warn against weakening the law (No Child Left Behind), saying students need reading and math skills to succeed in other subjects." The only problem with that plan is that students will never succeed in other subjects if those subjects are NEVER TAUGHT because school administrators live in fear of losing funding because of "poor performance" on standardized test and not meeting requirements of No Child Left Behind!

Students may "need reading and math skills to succeed in other subjects" but I believe they desperately need those "other subjects" to give reason to reading, math and science and to not just succeed but excel, in life.

Okay, horse thoroughly beaten*.


*No actual horses were beaten during the writing of this blog.

15 comments:

Kat said...

Wow... This just isn't going to get better is it? I thought that my generation had it bad when I got to college and realized I had never REALLY learned about the Holocaust. And in math, I was taught to explain my answers, even if the question didn't need any more quantification than "2 + 2 = 4, so my answer is 4"...

What a world we live in...

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Welcome Kat. Thanks for dropping in. What a world indeed. I think it's all an insideous plot to insure a world of mindless followers. Sheeple.

Mike said...

When my oldest daughter was in high school, she wrote a paper on something for History class. It was full of misspellings, bad grammar, and totally lacked punctuation.

The teacher gave her an A on the paper.

I went to a parent/teacher meeting with the paper in hand and I questioned the pretty young history teacher about the grade. Specifically I wondered how someone could get an A on a paper that looked like it was written by an idiot. The teacher replied that she was "not an English teacher" and she was only grading on historical accuracy.

It was at exact that I became thankful that I had never used my teaching degree because I could have never taught in that environment.

Tequila Mockingbird said...

i suck like a toothless bangkok whore at a blowjob convention with math. but i rock out with english and history (but then i took the AP classes in highschool, so that is a factor). whippersnappers these days are lazy dumbasses. back in my day... oh wait, i graduated highschool in 2002.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Classic example Mike. When I was in 5th & 6th grade we had "team teaching". The four main subject were each taught by a different teacher that was part of a team and they all coordinated their lesson plans.
I didn't know you had a teaching degree. Learn something new every day.

TM the fact that you rock out in English is evident by your masterful use of colorful simile.

Kitty said...

At the school my kids go to (which is what we call a 'Primary School' here and what you would call an 'Elementary School') they have to do an hour of literacy and an hour of Maths every day. They get exposure to a wide variety of subjects and when my eldest goes up to her next schooling stage next year, she will have separate teachers for History, Geography, Art, Drama, English, Maths, Phys Ed, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and a language.

Recently the Headmistress at the kid's school did a talk in assembly. My daughter and one other girl were the only ones who knew who Mother Theresa was and what she did. How can kids not know things like that?

x

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Hi Kitty. My guess would be that they knew about Mother Theresa because their parents reinforced or augmented the information. My wife and I are both readers and all three of our girls are too. I'm rather proud that we can all sit around the dinner table and have a critical discussion about a particular book. Then I hear the statistic that 25% of adults haven't read a book in the last year and I'm in awe.

Malicious Intent said...

OH don't even get me started on "no child left behind" that is true, none are left behind, they are all just left to sit and do nothing. I was so enraged when my son started 4th grade this year and they were required to write all of their assignments in cursive. Well that is all and good, but they never taught them to write straight hand much less cursive! They don't have time, I am told, because of all the testing they have the prepare for in March. I am so sick of the system I could just spit nails, think I have matter of fact. They also fear me since I am a parent advocate for the disabled so I know the law and my shit. I put them to shame quickly and with no mercy. Ugh! now I need to medicate! I need to go shred some paper now. ;)

Oh nice article btw. :)

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Oh no, I did it again. Curse me for the lout that I am. Breathe MI! Breathe! Man, I have to come up with a blog about meditation or something. A post that's peaceful and tranquil. MI, your neighborhood can't handle another rampage and I can't have that carnage on my conscience.

Hey, how'd we do with the "Road Kill"?

Malach the Merciless said...

The operative question if No Child Left Behind what?

Colonel Colonel said...

No Child Left Behind is actually a plot by the Bushies to defund the public schools and steer everyone into private, for-profit, charter schools. I know that sounds paranoid and silly, but I believe it more and more every year...

Malicious Intent said...

Bruce,
It's ok, I only destroyed a few of the neighbors trashcans this time, as it was trash day and they were readily available for carnage.

We will not know the results of Road Kill until the race this weekend. I am going to be watching though. Someone should hide my chainsaw though, just in case they call it something like "fluffy."

meggie said...

Great rant! It is little different over here, & some kids go right through school totally unable to read or write!

melissa said...

got all the highbrow readers over here do ya? ;) hi bruce. I know this post is a few down the list, but I just found you through mike. howdy.

my best childhood friend grew up to be an elementary school teacher. it's what she always wanted to do. five years later she quit and is now finishing up year two of five to become a physician's assistant. part of the reason she quit was because of standardized testing. it puts so much pressure on the teachers and the kids and for what? so they can have a narrow view and limited understanding of the world? disgusting.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Hi Melissa. Thanks for coming over from Mike's. The fact that your friend made that decision probably reflects her intelligence. Which makes it a double shame that teaching and the kids she would have touched lost her. One of the first orders of business when we get rid of King George is to send his education policies with him. We are making our population stupid. Personally I think its a plan. Stupid people make better followers.
Sorry, this is a hot button for me.

Thanks for coming and I hope you come again.