Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2008 05:43 am
My girlfriend and I are having minor dispute about the educational system in Britain. Basically, she insists that it is 'about right'. The structure, the subjects and the right of passage/journey it represents.

I argue that as a prerequisite to embarking on this journey it is imperative that we are taught to learn via being taught to make decisions, to be existential and to be responsible.

My motives are that I see too many kids who don't want to be at school who are- perhaps quite rightly, claiming that they see "no point". Or I think another classic childhood phrase would be "it's not fair!!!!". Which I agree it isn't fair to force kids into an education they don't see the point or application of. I know my brother certainly thinks he was led into wasting 2 years at college at age 16, which in my opinion means he wasn't able to make his decisions at age 16, shocking if you ask me.

So my girlfriends main argument is that you can't teach young children how to make decisions (at least not in the way I'm suggesting*). So my questions (finally) are...

How can we teach children and people to learn?
How can we teach children and people to make decisions?

*The way I'm suggesting is probably an existentialist-style reaction to situations, where a moral and practical framework is quickly constructed when confronted with a decision in order to make the most out of the decision.

Hope I'm making sense, and thanks for any help.
Dan,
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dudette phil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2008 11:11 am
@de budding,
Interesting subject, I am currently in college and I am about to head into university.
As I recall their where an awful lot of people who didnt want to be in school when i was there and it makes it hard for teachers to teach and students to learn. However you cannot simply leave children to do their own thing. If given the right to make their own decisions they would simply choose to play on a computer all day long or hang about on street corners.
I think its important to remember there is a lack of jobs out their and alot less oppertunity for employment, so by not taking the education route (such as further education like college as your brother did) you leave yourself at the back of the queue for employment when leaving education.
Sounds like your takin abit of a Marxist view that the capitalists are shaping our decisions and teaching only what they want us to know.
Hope you find my views relevant to your arguement.
0 Replies
 
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2008 12:03 pm
@de budding,
No educational system is going to be perfect for every student. However, I do not think the universal complaint of students, 'this class is pointless, I'll never need to know how to do this, ect', is a serious objection to an educational system. Learning certainly will not cause anyone any harm.

But I do think that we can teach decision making. To do so, we teach students history, literature, and what have you. That's what an education is all about - learning how to live in this world. You cannot expect a 16 year old kid to make wise decisions. They might, from time to time, but we certainly should not expect such a thing, nor should we expect a wise decision from a 16 year old to be much more than luck.

When people say they wasted some number of years in college, I am always astounded. Perhaps some of them simply mean that their time in college has not helped them, to their knowledge, turn an extra dollar (or pound, or whatever). But college should not have anything to do with making money. All of our educational efforts should be for the sake of learning, of knowledge. If your brother really wasted two years at college, either he didn't pay any attention or he should have picked some better classes (perhaps a philosophy course instead of accounting or business).
Teaching people to learn is difficult if they do not want to learn. If they want to learn, all you have to do is hand them a book.

As for teaching decision making, this is threefold: 1. read your eyes bloody with good books 2. keep reading 3. go into the world. By 'go into the world' I mean leave home and comfort and set out into reality, on your own. Travel, but do not be a tourist. Spend some time living, instead of just thinking about living.

There is no systematic cure all. At some point we have to realize that most people do not want to learn anything they do not have to learn. So, we take those who do want to learn, and try to set them on the right path of study. We encourage them to see the world. As for the rest, we explain the virtues of learning. Either they will come around, or they wont.

Quote:
As I recall their where an awful lot of people who didnt want to be in school when i was there and it makes it hard for teachers to teach and students to learn. However you cannot simply leave children to do their own thing. If given the right to make their own decisions they would simply choose to play on a computer all day long or hang about on street corners.


This is very true, young people tend to dislike school. Always have. And so I agree that we cannot just let kids make the decision to stay away from school as a general rule.

I think we need schools to address the various needs of students. Some will pursue a liberal arts education, some just want to learn some skill and get to work. Both paths need to be available, though I'd probably prefer some mentor system for the teaching of work skills.

Quote:
Sounds like your takin abit of a Marxist view that the capitalists are shaping our decisions and teaching only what they want us to know.


Isn't this generally true, though? Society always shapes the education of it's youth, and our society is a corporate society, built on rampant, unrestrained consumerism.
de budding
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2008 01:25 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
dudette,
[quote]Hope you find my views relevant to your argument.[/quote]

Nothing but , and you hit the nail on the head with [quote]the capitalists are shaping our decisions and teaching[/quote], I guess it just pains me to see so many people un-free on a fundamental level. Hence why it is so important to me that children are given the right to make their own decisions, but as yourself, Didymos and my girlfriend insist, they would simply choose to play on a computer. This is what I would want to seek to change, it seems to undermine the point of education when the child doesn't fundementally understand it. I guess it is the job of a child psychologist to wokr out wether this is a mental impossibility or not.

Didymos,
Quote:
I do not think the universal complaint of students, 'this class is pointless, I'll never need to know how to do this, ect', is a serious objection to an educational system. Learning certainly will not cause anyone any harm.


Point taken and agreed upon. But in regards to[quote] I do think that we can teach decision making[/quote] and [quote]That's what an education is all about - learning how to live in this world[/quote]

I find this slightly contradictory. Decision making is delicate and takes great care, consideration and awareness (especially in earlier life), and this is not the attitude displayed by sometimes minor and sometimes major complaints*. Also I would like to add that 'learning how to live in this world' (in Britain at least) does not teach freedom and decision but conformism, Christianity (in the uniform morals presented in primary schools) and how to make the money. But that just takes me back to the second duddete quote, which is accurate enough to shut me up.

Quote:

There is no systematic cure all. At some point we have to realize that most people do not want to learn anything they do not have to learn. So, we take those who do want to learn, and try to set them on the right path of study. We encourage them to see the world. As for the rest, we explain the virtues of learning. Either they will come around, or they wont.


In the words of James Hetfield "Sad but true." Again I guess this is where my gripe lies.

Thanks guys for the feedback it was most helpful. Smile Even though I feel it essentially proved me wrong Razz

*On Discovery recently there was a documentary called 'The Big Experiment', and it was an inner-city London school, the complaints there were not just minor... heh heh, you'd have to watch the earlier episodes to believe the complete disregard for any information displayed.
0 Replies
 
de Silentio
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2008 07:02 pm
@de budding,
Quote:
How can we teach children and people to learn?


With patients, lots and lots of patients.

[QUOTE]How can we teach children and people to make decisions?[/QUOTE]

We cannot teach them how make rational decisions, they can only learn how to make rational decisions.
0 Replies
 
Arjen
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Apr, 2008 09:47 pm
@de budding,
I would like to make a very short statement. If indeed a person can be taught how to learn and mak decisions, the same problem exists. Some people will want to learn, others will say it isn't fair for the same reasons as in the first case. The unfairness being having to do things one is not naturally inclined to do. Your reasoning is the start of a regressus ad infinitum and therefore false.

Try looking at it this way:
Everybody wants/likes/does different things. That is the strength of humanity (diversity). Why not let everybody do as they please? Perhaps a balance can be restored without the constant harrassment of or own?
0 Replies
 
de budding
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Apr, 2008 01:03 pm
@de budding,
"Try looking at it this way:
Everybody wants/likes/does different things. That is the strength of humanity (diversity). Why not let everybody do as they please? Perhaps a balance can be restored without the constant harrassment of or own?"

Hmmm, well why do we already harass our own? If by harass you mean, force or badger 'responsibility' into individuals via the educational institutions, then the answer would be to do with the collective knowledge of mankind (the work so far) which predates all of us. It is a game of catch up as far as I'm concerned. Within the collective knowledge there will be the information needed to make responsible decisions and, paradoxically, the information needed to access the collective knowledge- so, an individual who is born and not taught to access knowledge is going to have a hell of a tough time (can you teach yourself to read?). Luckily for us, once we enter the world it isn't long before we are accepted/forced into local schools and taught/harassed by what is considered the fundamentals of the collective knowledge.

So as already stated;

Doing as one pleases leads nowhere but backwards (willing); doing as others please is frustrating, demeaning and a chore (unwilling).

It is the unwilling latter I seek to repair by making it willful; this would also combat the harassment and furthermore I think it can be done in one fell swoop by introducing- as a prerequisite to the 'considered fundamentals of collective knowledge', 'the information needed to make responsible decisions'. If it is ok to teach/force humans to access the collective knowledge in the way we do, then it will do no harm to teach/force them to want to in the first place.

Bit it would be a futile effort if 'We cannot teach them how make rational decisions, they can only learn how to make rational decisions'

So first we must teach them to learn, so they can learn to make rational decisions, so they can choose to learn. So we have to teach them to learn so that they can choose it? So the factor rendering my endevour useless is hindsight?

How about this? If we teach hindsight through warnings and told-you-so's it will diffuse into advice, but if we demonstart hindsight with philosophy a-priori it will evolve into forsight... ?

Dan.
Rivelli
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Apr, 2008 02:55 pm
@de budding,
I was thinking about a couple simple ideas. Why not teach Logic, a light form of Decision Theory, Metacognition, and of course the Socratic Method. This stuff doesn't come up till late High School or College and should be the other way around. I believe that kids can easily learn at least the basics of those.


You teach those early in school and not late, the kids will be making better decisions.
0 Replies
 
Arjen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Apr, 2008 03:02 pm
@de budding,
De budding, I dare say that the educational system forces people into a non-responsible posture towards their own actions. That we are being taught what others have thought up proves it. f I were to teach someone how I am responsible, it would be of no importance to the student because the way I am responsible has to do with all sorts of other character flaws of mine (apart from intending my opinion to serve as a rulebuse a mean). My responsibility would therefore be destructive for most others. It is the fact that things are being taught which is so destructive in this matter; not the content of the teachings.

Do you see that point?
Rivelli
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Apr, 2008 03:51 pm
@de budding,
I see the point perfectly and am a prime example of that. I had the worst grades in school and simply disregarded any work that was attempted to be force fed to me. It wasn't until after High School that I was able to learn the things that I wanted to learn. The perception of myself changed overnight. I now learn higher academic subjects for the sake of learning and how I want to learn it. The public school system took away my motivation and it wasn't until they were gone that I got it back.

I don't think it's right to force feed anybody what someone else deems fit. Now the areas I mentioned above I feel would be the some of the best areas to learn how to learn, become a critical thinker ect but I wouldn't force feed it to the masses.

I'm a strong Libertarian and believe in maximum individual liberty. To force any individual to do anything they do not wish to do is inherently wrong in my book.
0 Replies
 
de budding
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Apr, 2008 04:01 pm
@Arjen,
'Do you see that point?' I did, eventually. thank you. Very Happy
Arjen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Apr, 2008 10:25 pm
@de budding,
de_budding wrote:
'Do you see that point?' I did, eventually. thank you. Very Happy

Smile

I didn't mean that school is necessarily a bad thing, but looking at it from that perspective itcontributes nothing. I think comparing things can be valuable, but it is often used as a means of creating a certain frame of reference (the "rulebase" I spoke of earlier) and that has a detrimental effect on the reasonings of man I think. Do know what sophism means?
0 Replies
 
de budding
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Apr, 2008 03:22 am
@de budding,
Sophism, another new word Smile.
What part of my thinking premoted it to being sophist? I understand the fallacy of the argument now, and following the train of thought again with more logic I saw that my goal was, more or less, to teach wihout teaching. But still if it is a sophist argument it has to be plausible or have some logic right? What made my thinking plausible?

Dan.
0 Replies
 
Arjen
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Apr, 2008 10:19 am
@de budding,
First off:
I think your thought is an idealistic one. It suggests that there is at least some truth in what we observe and what others have thought up and that we can learn bits and pieces of that truth for ourselves. You question the things being taught in stead of the teaching itself. In part I agree with you.

I did not mean to say that your thoughts were sophist. I ment to say that people who are teaching for their livelyhood (get paid for it) are, in Socrates definition, sophists. Sophism is the usage of wise remarks (or thoughts) to get something done. According to Socrates sophists were often paid large sums of money to teach the children of rich people what their fathers wanted them to learn; what was of use, in stead of what is true.

What sophists have in common is the usage of generally accepted "truths" with a certain "goal" in mind. This "goal" has the effect of twisting that "truth" so that it is only "true-ish" (and therefore not true). A lawyer who gets a guilty person off would be a sophist for instance; a statesman who gives a certain deal to the company that gave him a nice holiday on Hawaii would be a sophist and last, but not least a teacher being paid by a government to teach what that government deems "right" or "true" is a sophist (all in that definition, for there are less radical theories as well).

Perhaps you, like I, have read in the papers lately that teachers are now being paid by large companies to teach their pupils what is needed for said companies in the near future in stead of the normal things. That is a very serious thing indeed (in my eyes).

Anyway, I was not necessarily criticising you there Dan.. Wink

Note:
The articles I am referring to (in which teachers are said to be paid by companies) are Dutch ( I'm a Dutchie ). They will do you little good. I have looked around for a second, but I have found no english articles on that. Perhaps that only happens in Holland; but I doubt it.

--[edit]--
I think your idea of the possibility of learning lies in the intentions of the recipient and that sophism in the sense that there is a goal with what is being taught lies in the intentions of the teachers/institutions.
--[/edit]--
de budding
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Apr, 2008 02:52 pm
@Arjen,
I don't think it is the thought that is idealistic, it is me.
I was disappointed to learn that tomorrow (the 24th) UK teachers will be on strike for more money. I think the fact I'm disappointed shows my idealism and the abandonment of pupils for money demonstrates your point about sophism

I did smile eventually though, after I got back from uni my girlfriend, whom was concerned about her a-level exams (four weeks away) in relation to the strike that was going to close her school, was very proud to announce that a few choice dedicated teachers would be opening the school tomorrow to keep the a-level revision classes going. Mr. X the head of their 6th form (year 13) is sadly not one of the choice few, he has chosen to leave that day because, as he defended to the worried students, his union are who he would turn to if his job was in jeopardy due to student accusations (sexual harassment and the like, and yes he did use that as an example :mad:.)

My minor outrage with regards to the teachers union's perfectly rationale actions shows that I am being idealistic. There demands were reasonable as well, they want there wages to simple rise with inflation, but still I will maintain that education is far too delicate and important of an area to be dealt with in such material driven ways. Although 15,884 (25%) voted against the strike, isn't that nice.

"Perhaps you, like I, have read in the papers lately that teachers are now being paid by large companies to teach their pupils what is needed for said companies in the near future in stead of the normal things. That is a very serious thing indeed (in my eyes)."

Another sad story; in England we have McDonalds and Tesco's degrees to look forward to, god knows how they are going to turn out, I heard the local radio comment yesterday 'Tesco degrees, by one get one free'. The amount of focus on vocational qualifications in Britain at the moment worries me, I think we're going communist or something.


"Anyway, I was not necessarily criticising you there Dan.. Wink"

Well if you were not I was:D.

And lastly I would like to recommend a TV show from the BBC, 'Chinese School', there system is so different that it makes my ideas feel trivial.

Thank you for your responses, I don't want to exhaust you I just never know when to stop responding:), I don't seem to run out of things to type so I simply keep going.

Dan.




0 Replies
 
Arjen
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Apr, 2008 10:46 pm
@de budding,
I would like to nuance my earlier post a bit. I am of the firm conviction that teachers should also be able to live and unfortunately they need money to do so. Our earlier example Socrates may just serve us now again. He was put to death by a trial because he was (among other things) accused of corrupting the young.

Socrates defence was quite simple. He argued that it was not his fault that hordes of younglings followed him around through town asking him all sorts of questions. So how was he to blame? He never asked any money for his teachings and therefore there was no way to blame him for "faulty services rendered" or something. He did agree with the court that he should be punished for his actions (criticising the state) though. Seeing as the greatest punishment anyone could recieve was not being able to take care of himself he argued that as a punishment he should be paid by the state for his actions. That would be suitable seeing as he rendered the service of criticising the state and if ever he did not criticise the state correctly he could be held accountable because he was being paid for it.

Remembering that he was facing death charges that plea angered the jury who were inclided to let him off with a banishment to convict him to a death penalty regardless.

That story shows in my eyes clearly that also teachers can be quite idealistic. I'd say any one teacher such as Socrates is more valuable then a whole school full of the other. BUt it does go to show that even teachers should be paid for their job. Their job being criticising the state and other actions being undertaken in the country.

p.s. I bet you'll notice when you have outposted my interest...I'll stop posting Wink

p.p.s. Socrates defence cracked me up several times. Where does an old geezer like him get that attitude?? Smile

--[edit]--
I am now at work, but I wanted to add this:
- Love for the sake of love is love; otherwise it is golddigging for instance
- Science for the sake of science is science, otherwise it is pseudoscience for instance.
- Teaching for the sake of teaching is teaching; otherwise it is sophistry for instance.

See how things for their own sake are what they are and if done for a "goal" it becomes some corrupted (passing away) thereof.
--[/edit]--
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2008 06:39 am
@de budding,
At all levels of education the best way to teach learning is to teach interactively and to foster independent study through projects and assignments. It works for the med students, residents, and (occasionally) undergrads that I teach, but it also works at the elementary school level (according to my mother, who is an elementary school principal).

In medical education we usually refer to our style of teaching as Socratic, though that's a sort of colloquial use of the word -- but we DO focus on questioning the learner to lead him/her to generate his/her own answers.

This, in contrast to pure didactic teaching, actually forces the learner to be actively involved in the learning process.
0 Replies
 
de budding
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2008 06:54 am
@de budding,
Are you ever met with any resistance from the learners?
Dan.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 May, 2008 07:17 am
@de budding,
de_budding wrote:
Are you ever met with any resistance from the learners?
Dan.
Not outright resistance. There are a few obstacles, though. First, if someone is completely disinterested in a subject, they're not going to be able to muster up much motivation. Second, people who have made it as far as medical school and graduate medical education (i.e. interns, residents) are very successful and usually self-critical students -- and therefore can really beat themselves up when they don't know something. So sometimes they are reluctant to put themselves out on a limb and really participate because of insecurity. The other extreme is they overcompensate by really trumpeting things they do know and can appear arrogant, whereas allowing themselves a little more humility would let them fill in gaps and supplement knowledge.

Some students like to work independently. Last year I taught a small group for the first year infectious diseases course at Harvard Med, and the med students there (who are exceptionally bright) have for most of their lives been studying independently. So sometimes they wouldn't even show up to class, because they just wanted to sit in a cubicle and study.

It's a problem when they become clinical medical students during their third year, because despite being amont the most elite students in the country, they have never really cultivated interactive learning or teamwork (which IS by virtue of participation and interaction an important learning experience).

The most important aspect of teaching, in my opinion, is empathy -- i.e. understanding how different students differ from one another and have different needs. But there's a point at which students need to be adaptable and self-motivated too, and some of this is character.
0 Replies
 
de budding
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 May, 2008 12:56 pm
@de budding,
Thank you for your response, it is much appreciated. It seems I have a lot to learn about the relationship forged between teacher and learner- whether the level be primary, higher or even medical education, before I can for such idealistic opinions about the learners.

I originally was quite upset at the efforts made and sometimes wasted by a teacher on a 'disinterested' pupil. But I feel that as soon as I get a glimpse at what teacher training has in store that my opinions will shift even more.

Dan.
0 Replies
 
 

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