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  #51  
Old 02-14-2020, 02:37 PM
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Yes, but using achievement data to evaluate students puts perverse incentives that distort that data, making much less useful for both purposes.

Furthermore, the format of one number for a semester's performance in class, a number that represents a summation of mastery, improvement, effort, and compliance, is such a rough approximation of anything. Teachers collect and use much more granulated data. There's no pedagogical benefit to blending it. Blending 4 years into a single number is even crazier.
This is where you are incorrect, in order to succeed at a high level in a class a student must be some combination of smart, and hardworking, or lucky. The more classes a student takes the less luck has to do with with it. So while the signal of succeeding at an individual assignment may be very little, once you add up all the assignments they have provide a better signal and once you add up all the classes you get an even better signal.

It is possible to game the entire system by making the entire school easy but that is why colleges require intelligence tests which can be cheated at but not gamed.
  #52  
Old 02-14-2020, 03:55 PM
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Finland is different than every other country. What works in Finland may not work elsewhere and what is working in Finland may be different than the treatment.
This is just a deepity.
  #53  
Old 02-14-2020, 06:40 PM
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Art projects always sucked, IMHO - though the ones that make sense are if you are in an art enrichment class [go ye hence and sketch a cow in the style of Dali] I can remember the SRA Reading Comprehension boxes in 6th grade - if the kid in class got done with whatever insane project the teacher assigned as do in class work, we got to go and pick a module to read and do as a reward [?] My problem was that in 6th grade, I read 600 words per minute [as tested by the school system] and was reading at a college level of comprehension. I finished the entire box in 4 days, it took me roughly 3 minutes to do them and that included walking over to the corner and selecting a new module. They are supposed to take something like 5 minutes of reading and 1 minute for the handful of questions and about 15 seconds to self grade.
I was reading Jules Verne in 2nd grade. We had that box in third grade. At the beginning of the year they gave me the hardest thing in the box, I read it and passed the test, and they let me read what I wanted the rest of the time.
NYC schools did a great job for me when I went there. Especially the schools I went to.
  #54  
Old 02-14-2020, 09:29 PM
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When I think of education, specifically US K-12 education, both public and private, I think of kids learning things. With a school being defined as an institution for the teaching of children, this seems natural. I think this purpose gets undermined by something else. Grading.

Not testing, but grading, like you might grade a steak. Grading places students in a hierarchy, identifying certain students as smart, other students as... not so smart. Grading, as it's done today, creates a database of students, tracking their performance in a portable, easy to share report, in convenient card form, so that outside agencies, schools, employers, etc. can be readily provided with performance data about students. We grade students and help these agencies to pick and choose which students are afforded benefits, offered positions, jobs or scholarships, and which are not. Grading changes school from a place of learning into a proving ground for one's future opportunity. We understand this, it forms a deep undercurrent guiding our activities regarding school, but we don't often say it out loud. You don't get an angry parent in front of the school board saying the school isn't doing enough to differentiate the high performers from the slackers.

Despite this, tremendous amount of effort is put into developing these grades by schools, ensuring their usefulness, from constant testing of students, to the development of standardized tests, to tracking the grades of the students in individual schools or districts. Students cram for tests to get a high score, and we all know full well that they will forget it in a few weeks time, until they cram again for the final. The goal being not necessarily a top notch understanding of the subject at hand, but a good grade to put on the report card. The grade becomes the focus, not the learning.

Now, you'll say, grades are important because we don't know how well a student grasps the content without grades. This is a fair point. However, if a student does poorly on a test, the grade tends to just sit there like a mark of shame, and not a lot of effort by the school goes into re-teaching what this student failed to learn, or necessarily even documenting what it WAS they never learned. The grade, though, that is well documented and will remain part of this student's record, unchanged, whether or not the student eventually learns how to use Sine, Cosine and Tangent correctly. Even if we used grading/testing to directly help students learn more effectively, giving those grades to colleges and employers doesn't help students learn at all.

Parents, when they see a bad grade say "work harder to get those grades up". You got a bad grade in Fractions? You can "fix" it by doing better on the next topic, Geometry. We know that whether or not the kid knows fractions is irrelevant, the class is done with fractions, studying fractions NOW is a waste of time because the damage is already done. Maybe study it again when Finals comes along.

In the adult education world, grades are not really a 'thing' the same way they are for kids. If I go to a class to get my CDL certification I don't get a grade. At least I don't put down on my resume that I got a 90 in the class, or a 75, I put down that I completed the class to the satisfaction of the instructor, passed the test and can now legally drive large trucks. Nobody is keeping track of the adult classes I took where I didn't do well, where I decided it wasn't for me, and then punish me down the line for that failure. But we do this to kids, in addition to just the need to learn new things all day long, they deal with the pressure of knowing that what they do right now, when they're 13 years old, is going to have a lasting impact on their future opportunities.
Grades are to some extent a sorting exercise.
  #55  
Old 02-14-2020, 09:33 PM
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Grades are to some extent a sorting exercise.
If the only grade you think of is the GPA, yes. But most of the grades a student receives is feedback, not sorting. If a student ignores the feedback and doesn't work harder on areas where they get low grades, then they do get sorted out. But they can only blame themselves.
  #56  
Old 02-14-2020, 10:00 PM
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I always wonder about this claim. Do you feel that school sports teams also should not have MVPs awarded or no lettering their sports? We always seem perfectly fine picking out the best athletes at school and are troubled by picking out those who are best at academics.
People seem to be far less comfortable with the realization that their kids are of only middling intelligence than the knowledge that they are of only middling athletic ability. They know that athletic ability is not likely to translate into financial security.

Fact is, half the kids in this country are below average. In the same way that the star athlete might be the most popular kid in some of America's schools the star student is the most popular kid in school in other countries where academics are more valued.

It shocks me sometimes how much time effort and money some families expend to get their kid good at some sport but think it's crazy to spend a similar amount of time and effort on academics. I know one family that is basically bankrupting themselves on youth sports while their kids could use some remedial math instruction. And their kids are probably only good enough to be an average varsity high school player.
  #57  
Old 02-14-2020, 10:03 PM
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I was reading Jules Verne in 2nd grade. We had that box in third grade. At the beginning of the year they gave me the hardest thing in the box, I read it and passed the test, and they let me read what I wanted the rest of the time.
NYC schools did a great job for me when I went there. Especially the schools I went to.
Hunter? Stuyvesant? Bronx Sci?

You mentioned being in JHS SP (spoecial progress). Did they have IGC (intellecutally gifted class) in elementary school back in your day? I am about a generation behind you I think.

The EdD's of the world have decided that gifted programs are bad for education and are slowly trying to get rid of them in favor of more teaching to the lowest common denominator.
  #58  
Old 02-15-2020, 01:28 AM
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Hunter? Stuyvesant? Bronx Sci?
Nope, Francis Lewis. No one from my junior high went to Bronx Science because it was so hard to get to and Francis Lewis was so good. We had the highest SAT scores outside of the selective high schools. I read an article in the Times that it is still the place parents want to send their kids to.
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You mentioned being in JHS SP (spoecial progress). Did they have IGC (intellecutally gifted class) in elementary school back in your day? I am about a generation behind you I think.
No IGC. But there were four classes per grade in elementary school and after third grade they were sorted by perceived ability.
  #59  
Old 02-15-2020, 01:35 AM
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It shocks me sometimes how much time effort and money some families expend to get their kid good at some sport but think it's crazy to spend a similar amount of time and effort on academics. I know one family that is basically bankrupting themselves on youth sports while their kids could use some remedial math instruction. And their kids are probably only good enough to be an average varsity high school player.
Too right. I was on the site council of the high school my kids went to, and was invited to a meeting where parents were to give what we were looking for in a new principal. This was a middle class high school, no parents were hoping that sports would lead their kids out of poverty. But parent after parent said that the new principal's most important job was to support the sports program.
I got up and said that the new principal should focus on what was most important - academics.
The other parents looked at me like I was crazy.
My high school in New York didn't even have a football team. When they thought about starting one, they started to sell seasons tickets to measure interest.
They sold 7.
My graduating class was over 1500.
Like I said, great school.
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Old 02-15-2020, 04:34 AM
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Hear, hear.

Nothing makes me happier than that my eldest is choosing precisely 0 sports extra-curriculars this term (and just did table tennis for fun the term before). Am totally cool with her doing all the art, drama and a capella she wants. That's why we picked the school we did, for its academic and arts focus.

Her younger sister is a mix, but judo isn't fiercely competitive when you're 7...
  #61  
Old 02-15-2020, 05:52 AM
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When I think of education, specifically US K-12 education, both public and private, I think of kids learning things. With a school being defined as an institution for the teaching of children, this seems natural. I think this purpose gets undermined by something else. Grading.

Not testing, but grading, like you might grade a steak. Grading places students in a hierarchy, identifying certain students as smart, other students as... not so smart. Grading, as it's done today, creates a database of students, tracking their performance in a portable, easy to share report, in convenient card form, so that outside agencies, schools, employers, etc. can be readily provided with performance data about students.
That is because the entire world (so, SO many teachers included) is fucked upside the head up their own arse about grades, and keeps saying or thinking shit like this instead of understanding what the point of grading is to begin with. That includes parents who punish/reward their children based on their grades.

There are only two people in the world who are, or should be, concerned by a given test grade : the teacher, and the student. To the teacher, who can't necessarily remember the specific performance of all 400 kids they teach to every week, it's an indicator/reminder of where a class is at, where a student is at, which children are having difficulties with which specific subjects and thus who needs more help - it helps target advice. The aggregate is also useful to see longer term trends/issues or notice a sudden disruption. It's also feedback for the teacher himself : if the entire class got shit grades or failed that one specific exercise then either the teaching method should be reviewed because it failed, or the test itself should be reviewed because it's not testing what has been taught.

To the student, it's an indicator of what exactly is going subpar, which topic or exercises they misunderstood exactly and thus what to focus their efforts on going forward (provided they care about reaching said specific par, which isn't nor shouldn't be a given).

Everyone else can fuck right off. It's not a mark of worth or valor, nor is it a shameful moral failing. It's not a hierarchy or an intelligence score. You can't "make up" for a bad grade because that's not what grades are for. You shouldn't punish your children for not understanding something, you bunch of sociopaths - either help or sit down and shut up instead of fucking up your child and warping their worldview.

Or, what Voyager says :
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Grades are feedback to the student. If the student who got a bad grade on fractions never got a grade, perhaps he would think that he knows fractions where he doesn't. Never underestimate our capacity for self-delusion.
It's not like grades from elementary school and junior high show up on transcripts a college sees. They are there to guide a student into doing better.
I bet the kid who got a bad grade in fractions also got bad grades on homework before the section test. If the kid ignored the danger signal, don't blame the system.
  #62  
Old 02-15-2020, 06:04 AM
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Yes, but using achievement data to evaluate students puts perverse incentives that distort that data, making much less useful for both purposes.

Furthermore, the format of one number for a semester's performance in class, a number that represents a summation of mastery, improvement, effort, and compliance, is such a rough approximation of anything. Teachers collect and use much more granulated data. There's no pedagogical benefit to blending it. Blending 4 years into a single number is even crazier.
Hear ye to the motherfucking hear ye. To say nothing of blending data from every field into a single numerical average. What does anyone get out of a GPA ? What information does it convey ? Search me.
  #63  
Old 02-15-2020, 08:31 PM
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Hear ye to the motherfucking hear ye. To say nothing of blending data from every field into a single numerical average. What does anyone get out of a GPA ? What information does it convey ? Search me.
My jr. college GPA was 3.9 but I was at a satellite campus, not the main locale, and was not invited to the Honors graduation. So GPA alone wasn't enough. Grrr.
  #64  
Old 02-15-2020, 09:12 PM
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Hear ye to the motherfucking hear ye. To say nothing of blending data from every field into a single numerical average. What does anyone get out of a GPA ? What information does it convey ? Search me.
I teach at a bilingual school as well as tutor some students from other schools.

In Japan and Taiwan, you life and die by a several-hour test. One test covering several subjects including math, Chinese, and English.

One of my private students is shooting for the electrical engineering department of the National University of Taiwan, which is the most difficult university to be accepted for. His test scores consistantly place him in the top two or three students in his high school which is one of the two best in the prefecture.

He just took the entrance exams but he made a couple of small mistakes on his math test and will probably not get admitted on the first round.

In the past, he would have been screwed. He would have had to apply for a lesser ranked school or waited a year, but now they have a system where there is a second test. For the second test they also look at the various accomplishments and such, but they never look at the student's GPA. It's just not taken into consideration.

There will always be a difference in the quality and desirability of universities and there will always need to be a way to differentiate between applicants.

Now I live and work in a test culture where grades just aren't so important, I don't think that eliminating them is the answer.
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Old 02-15-2020, 10:12 PM
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The EdD's of the world have decided that gifted programs are bad for education and are slowly trying to get rid of them in favor of more teaching to the lowest common denominator.
I disagree. My sons HS has both regular and AP classes.
  #66  
Old 02-15-2020, 10:16 PM
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Nearly every country in the world has testing so why shouldnt the USA? plus for many countries the tests are required for passing onto the next level.

This is where I think the US does it wrong. The tests mean nothing to the kids so they dont take them seriously. I think they should be graded on them and they should have to pass them in order to move up a level.
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Old 02-15-2020, 10:22 PM
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I teach at a bilingual school as well as tutor some students from other schools.

In Japan and Taiwan, you life and die by a several-hour test. One test covering several subjects including math, Chinese, and English.

One of my private students is shooting for the electrical engineering department of the National University of Taiwan, which is the most difficult university to be accepted for. His test scores consistantly place him in the top two or three students in his high school which is one of the two best in the prefecture.

He just took the entrance exams but he made a couple of small mistakes on his math test and will probably not get admitted on the first round.

In the past, he would have been screwed. He would have had to apply for a lesser ranked school or waited a year, but now they have a system where there is a second test. For the second test they also look at the various accomplishments and such, but they never look at the student's GPA. It's just not taken into consideration.

There will always be a difference in the quality and desirability of universities and there will always need to be a way to differentiate between applicants.

Now I live and work in a test culture where grades just aren't so important, I don't think that eliminating them is the answer.
I'd like to ask, is the #2 school that much less?

We have discussed this topic on this board of just how much better is one American university compared to another. It was pretty much agreed on that for the most part, a degree from one college is just about the same as another. In the case for engineering I'm not so sure say even MIT is THAT much better than many other engineering schools. has there ever been a big test where say they put a bunch of engineering school graduates into a room, gave them some real world tests, and looked to see which ones actually had the best solutions?

Doesnt it sometimes come down to the student?

Granted Taiwan is a tiny country and there might well be only one good university with an electrical engineering school in it.
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Old 02-16-2020, 12:59 AM
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Nearly every country in the world has testing so why shouldnt the USA? plus for many countries the tests are required for passing onto the next level.

This is where I think the US does it wrong. The tests mean nothing to the kids so they dont take them seriously. I think they should be graded on them and they should have to pass them in order to move up a level.
When I was in high school, New York had a Regents exam for most subject which you had to pass to get credit for the class. I don't know if they still have it.
But I'm not too keen on European testing which determines a kids future early. My son-in-law didn't do well on these tests, and had to wangle a space in a secretarial college to go. (Which has come in handy.) He made it through regular college and to graduate school, and now makes big bucks, but he had to work really hard to prove his ability.
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Old 02-16-2020, 01:17 AM
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I'd like to ask, is the #2 school that much less?

We have discussed this topic on this board of just how much better is one American university compared to another. It was pretty much agreed on that for the most part, a degree from one college is just about the same as another. In the case for engineering I'm not so sure say even MIT is THAT much better than many other engineering schools. has there ever been a big test where say they put a bunch of engineering school graduates into a room, gave them some real world tests, and looked to see which ones actually had the best solutions?

Doesnt it sometimes come down to the student?
Maybe your problem is that you seem to think that the way to measure the quality of an engineering student is giving them a test.
At MIT today every student does research. That was just starting when I went there, but it gives each student experience hard to find elsewhere.
I've looked at lots of resumes of MIT students also. They do amazing things. Far better than what we did.
If you say it comes down to the student, the best schools on the whole have the best students. I've taught computer science at Illinois and at a state school in Louisiana, where CS majors were the elite. No comparison on the average quality of the student, though of course there are exceptions.
Then there are the professors, who will be better at the better schools. I got taught Bio 101 by a Nobel Laureate. My lab was across the hall from Claude Shannon. (Look him up.)
And finally there is the halo effect. Prove that you can make it through a good school and you are halfway to first - at least when you start out. Good schools have good alumni associations also which can help.
BTW my company didn't even recruit in lower level schools.
There is a difference. Though inferior schools don't want to admit it.
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Old 02-16-2020, 05:32 AM
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I'd like to ask, is the #2 school that much less?

We have discussed this topic on this board of just how much better is one American university compared to another. It was pretty much agreed on that for the most part, a degree from one college is just about the same as another. In the case for engineering I'm not so sure say even MIT is THAT much better than many other engineering schools. has there ever been a big test where say they put a bunch of engineering school graduates into a room, gave them some real world tests, and looked to see which ones actually had the best solutions?
My bolding. ::Checks location. Oddly enough, the entrance exams were not to see which American university he would be attending but which Taiwanese university he could get accepted to. Imagine that.

What does the difference in American universities have to do with someone in Asia? They are applying for a university here.

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Granted Taiwan is a tiny country and there might well be only one good university with an electrical engineering school in it.
The same thing happens in Japan so that has nothing to do with it.
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Old 02-16-2020, 08:18 AM
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Nearly every country in the world has testing so why shouldnt the USA? plus for many countries the tests are required for passing onto the next level.

This is where I think the US does it wrong. The tests mean nothing to the kids so they dont take them seriously. I think they should be graded on them and they should have to pass them in order to move up a level.
We test the hell out of students, and in many states we do require them to pass exams in order to graduate/move up a level. That has its own problems--the first being that the point of education turns into getting each kid to a very minimum standard and then stopping. But beyond state graduation exams, there are the big ones: SAT, ACT, AP, IB. Then there's the specialty ones, like SAT Subject tests, AMC, PISA (which is for the school, not the student).

Right now, colleges and universities use a range of ways to evaluate students in order to get a more complete picture of a student--grades, test scores, essays, recs, accomplishments. It's not perfect, but probably better than any of those in isolation. And it's not that grades are meaningless: an A student is different than a B student is different than a C student. But when you start drawing conclusions between students based on a half-point difference in GPA, you might as well be using astrology.

You also have to look at the reasons, the context. Is this students a B student because they were working at the top of their academic potential and that's their best day? Or were they working at a job to help pay bills? Or are they just more interested in some extracurricular activity, and that gets all their time and passion? Or do they settle easily, working hard enough but no harder, and spend most of their time smoking pot and playing video games? Or did they have a rough start Freshman year, but matured and improved dramatically? Or did they start high school with a weak skill set (bad middle school) and they caught up?

Each of those kids is really, really different. Grades alone don't show that at all.
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Old 02-16-2020, 08:31 AM
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Maybe your problem is that you seem to think that the way to measure the quality of an engineering student is giving them a test.
At MIT today every student does research. That was just starting when I went there, but it gives each student experience hard to find elsewhere.
I've looked at lots of resumes of MIT students also. They do amazing things. Far better than what we did.
If you say it comes down to the student, the best schools on the whole have the best students. I've taught computer science at Illinois and at a state school in Louisiana, where CS majors were the elite. No comparison on the average quality of the student, though of course there are exceptions.
Then there are the professors, who will be better at the better schools. I got taught Bio 101 by a Nobel Laureate. My lab was across the hall from Claude Shannon. (Look him up.)
And finally there is the halo effect. Prove that you can make it through a good school and you are halfway to first - at least when you start out. Good schools have good alumni associations also which can help.
BTW my company didn't even recruit in lower level schools.
There is a difference. Though inferior schools don't want to admit it.
Hmm... well good food for thought there.

I really dont know too much about engineering. I'm from Kansas City and I only know a couple of engineering firms Like Burns and McDonnell and I know they mostly recruit from midwest schools like Missouri S&T or KU. I really dont know anyone who went to MIT.

So to be honest I dont really know in the field of engineering about how to decide which school is best.
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Old 02-16-2020, 08:48 AM
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What is the purpose of education? It is twofold, one is to pass along information, but this can be done for most people in much less time than we use now. The second is to signal to who is smart and hardworking because in general those are the people who make the best employees. Probably half of high school and 80% of college is signaling the rest is actual knowledge transfer.

The only alternative would be for companies to do the filtering themselves and that would be massively expensive. The kids need to be in school to get the basic useful education, why not accomplish the signalling at the same time?
They need to be in school, but that's mostly not true of college. Why do kids have to shoulder the massive expense of this signalling via college loans so companies can save money? Is that really better for society?
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Old 02-16-2020, 10:51 AM
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What is the purpose of education? It is twofold, one is to pass along information, but this can be done for most people in much less time than we use now.
Sorry, this keeps eating at me, and if anyone has yet pointed out how wrong it is, I missed it.

Transfer of information is only part of what education is, and not the most important part, especially now that we all have constant access to the Information Superhighway. If it were just passing along information, it would be both much easier and much less important. But it also involves training in skills (e.g. being able to solve mathematical equations and problems, being able to read and analyze a piece of text, being able to make a coherent argument in writing, being able to think in certain ways) and understanding (e.g. what all those facts mean, how they fit together, and which of them are important and why).
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Old 02-16-2020, 11:19 AM
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There are a lot of people that don't believe you really learn anything in school. They think everything they know how to do they just know, and the remember school as a bunch of boring bullshit, just a matter of jumping through hoops. They think smart kids are fine regardless and other kids are hopeless. I've encountered this again and again as a teacher, from parents, students, and the community.

I read once that remembering where or when we learned something is it's own type of memory and the one we develop last. I really honestly believe this is a cognitive bias a lot of people have. They remember suddenly understanding something and it seemed automatic, self-evident. They don't remember the earlier iterations, when they didn't get it, or the careful process it took to get them to the point that something suddenly seemed trivial.

The amount of time and skill it takes to get an idea into a child's head is not to be believed. But they never see that.

Last edited by Manda JO; 02-16-2020 at 11:21 AM.
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Old 02-16-2020, 01:25 PM
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Maybe your problem is that you seem to think that the way to measure the quality of an engineering student is giving them a test.
At MIT today every student does research. That was just starting when I went there, but it gives each student experience hard to find elsewhere.
I've looked at lots of resumes of MIT students also. They do amazing things. Far better than what we did.
If you say it comes down to the student, the best schools on the whole have the best students. I've taught computer science at Illinois and at a state school in Louisiana, where CS majors were the elite. No comparison on the average quality of the student, though of course there are exceptions.
Then there are the professors, who will be better at the better schools. I got taught Bio 101 by a Nobel Laureate. My lab was across the hall from Claude Shannon. (Look him up.)
And finally there is the halo effect. Prove that you can make it through a good school and you are halfway to first - at least when you start out. Good schools have good alumni associations also which can help.
BTW my company didn't even recruit in lower level schools.
There is a difference. Though inferior schools don't want to admit it.
I strongly agree with this. And I went (for undergrad EE) to an "inferior" school, a large land-grant university. I know that the standards I was required to meet weren't in the same league as those at MIT.

But that EE degree got me a job at a government agency where I got to work with and for some really brilliant people. One of my bosses went to MIT (his thesis advisor was Alan Oppenheim, whom I'm sure Voyager won't have to look up). I eventually completed advanced degrees at Johns Hopkins and George Washington (not MIT, but certainly better than where I went to undergrad). I recently retired after a very successful career--I had numerous Ivy League alumni reporting to me.

I guess my point is that while the quality of engineering schools does follow a bell curve (like most things) the educational system and workplace are very efficient at getting the most out of people, and surprisingly forgiving of motivated people who didn't start out at top schools.

Incidentally, one Harvard physics alum told me that he thought people overrated the standards of many Ivy League schools. He said that MIT and Cal Tech alums were invariably six-sigma smart, but that there were mediocre Harvard grads. People tend to conflate name recognition with high standards.
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Old 02-16-2020, 02:18 PM
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Hmm... well good food for thought there.

I really dont know too much about engineering. I'm from Kansas City and I only know a couple of engineering firms Like Burns and McDonnell and I know they mostly recruit from midwest schools like Missouri S&T or KU. I really dont know anyone who went to MIT.

So to be honest I dont really know in the field of engineering about how to decide which school is best.
Lots of more local companies recruit locally because it is cheaper and because the recruiters can build a good relationship with professors and thus get the top students.
And there are plenty of engineering jobs which require brains but not too much creativity. They are essential also. Not everyone even likes to do research, let alone is good at it.
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Old 02-16-2020, 02:20 PM
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Sorry, this keeps eating at me, and if anyone has yet pointed out how wrong it is, I missed it.

Transfer of information is only part of what education is, and not the most important part, especially now that we all have constant access to the Information Superhighway. If it were just passing along information, it would be both much easier and much less important. But it also involves training in skills (e.g. being able to solve mathematical equations and problems, being able to read and analyze a piece of text, being able to make a coherent argument in writing, being able to think in certain ways) and understanding (e.g. what all those facts mean, how they fit together, and which of them are important and why).
And as an example of this very true observation, almost all the computer science facts I learned in college 50 years ago are now worthless. What I learned about learning, analyzing problems, and working out things has been priceless.
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Old 02-16-2020, 02:38 PM
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This is not a good study. Finland is different than every other country. What works in Finland may not work elsewhere and what is working in Finland may be different than the treatment.
Finland is a sequestered society that developed its culture over thousands of years. Kind of like what the nation-states of the Lenape and the Siwash and the Mikmaq might preside over today if larger and more powerful empires hadn't come in totally fucked up their society in the name of "progress".

You want communitarian ideas to work, you have to have a community first. A real one, not one that's artificially manufactured, one that has grown organically.
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Old 02-16-2020, 03:47 PM
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I was reading Jules Verne in 2nd grade. We had that box in third grade. At the beginning of the year they gave me the hardest thing in the box, I read it and passed the test, and they let me read what I wanted the rest of the time.
NYC schools did a great job for me when I went there. Especially the schools I went to.
There are different class-levels of boxes in the SRA bunch [or there used to be, no idea if they are still used, I know they seem to have stopped using the Dick and Jane books] We had them every year from first grade on, but they were restricted previously by those teachers to 1 per class [english class was 1 hour of a 6.5 hour day and I had it on tuesdays and thursdays most years.]
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  #81  
Old 02-16-2020, 08:31 PM
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There are a lot of people that don't believe you really learn anything in school. They think everything they know how to do they just know, and the remember school as a bunch of boring bullshit, just a matter of jumping through hoops. They think smart kids are fine regardless and other kids are hopeless. I've encountered this again and again as a teacher, from parents, students, and the community.

I read once that remembering where or when we learned something is it's own type of memory and the one we develop last. I really honestly believe this is a cognitive bias a lot of people have. They remember suddenly understanding something and it seemed automatic, self-evident. They don't remember the earlier iterations, when they didn't get it, or the careful process it took to get them to the point that something suddenly seemed trivial.

The amount of time and skill it takes to get an idea into a child's head is not to be believed. But they never see that.
But is the modern public school the most efficient way to do that?

When you think about the average day in say middle school, sometimes 15 minutes of each class is just the teacher settling the class down and taking role. Then their is all the time moving between classes, the pep rallies, and other things that take up time. Many classes are just teachers showing movies.

I've known families who homeschool and knock out the days "lessons" in a couple of hours each day and then the kids can work on other things. Some homeschool families form cooperatives where they will spend all day doing say art projects or do music or go to museums.

Now I'm not knocking the hard work teachers put in but I dont think the modern schools are always the way to do things. I think we could be more flexible. Why cant we develop more modes of learning like say 1 room schoolhouses or supported homeschool or online schools where kids only go to class say 1-3 days per week?
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Old 02-16-2020, 08:54 PM
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I strongly agree with this. And I went (for undergrad EE) to an "inferior" school, a large land-grant university. I know that the standards I was required to meet weren't in the same league as those at MIT.

But that EE degree got me a job at a government agency where I got to work with and for some really brilliant people. One of my bosses went to MIT (his thesis advisor was Alan Oppenheim, whom I'm sure Voyager won't have to look up). I eventually completed advanced degrees at Johns Hopkins and George Washington (not MIT, but certainly better than where I went to undergrad). I recently retired after a very successful career--I had numerous Ivy League alumni reporting to me.

I guess my point is that while the quality of engineering schools does follow a bell curve (like most things) the educational system and workplace are very efficient at getting the most out of people, and surprisingly forgiving of motivated people who didn't start out at top schools.

Incidentally, one Harvard physics alum told me that he thought people overrated the standards of many Ivy League schools. He said that MIT and Cal Tech alums were invariably six-sigma smart, but that there were mediocre Harvard grads. People tend to conflate name recognition with high standards.
You say you have retired.

The point others have made is that in the last few years that bell curve has started to flatten out and the quality of all the schools has been going up.

Think about this. Say the US has for arguments sake 10,000 TOP, I mean super TOP engineering HS seniors every year. Add in thousands more from other countries. Well MIT only takes about 1100 students a year. Where will the others go?

That is where the other schools programs come in. Those schools have to attract students and they attract them thru attracting good professors and offering good scholarships.

And dont underestimate the power of regionalism. Top Ivy league schools like MIT and Harvard are east coast. Will a top student from say California, Texas, Kansas, or Florida automatically pick them or might they instead choose a local college or one which offers a better scholarship?

So I agree there is a bell curve with some top schools but I think its starting to flatten out.
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Old 02-16-2020, 09:45 PM
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And dont underestimate the power of regionalism. Top Ivy league schools like MIT and Harvard are east coast. Will a top student from say California, Texas, Kansas, or Florida automatically pick them or might they instead choose a local college or one which offers a better scholarship?
Out west we have Cal Tech, Harvey Mudd, Stanford, USC, a few U.Calif's, Pomona, USF, Reed, and various other schools thought of fairly well. Are Hastings grads worse lawyers than Yalies? Are UCSF grads worse doctors than Harvard MDs? What the Ivy League has are connections with Established Power. That'll change as power shifts westward.

Education means learning. Learning means change. Take a fair-size lead ball and drop it from X height. Note where and how far it "bounces" and rolls. Now repeat the process. It moves differently because of the change impressed on it. It has "learned". Thus, dropping people on their heads is "education". Charter schools apparently work this way.
  #84  
Old 02-17-2020, 03:20 PM
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My high school in New York didn't even have a football team. When they thought about starting one, they started to sell seasons tickets to measure interest.
They sold 7
A bit off topic but is HS football even a thing in someplace like NYC? I canít picture a school being able to afford the land needed for a football field there, or is there some type of facility outside the city that they would have access to.
  #85  
Old 02-17-2020, 06:50 PM
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They need to be in school, but that's mostly not true of college. Why do kids have to shoulder the massive expense of this signalling via college loans so companies can save money? Is that really better for society?
No not at all, most of what is spent on education is a waste from a societal view since the same signaling could be done with an intelligence test and an yearlong internship.
The problem is there is no real way to break from the current equilibrium.
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:10 PM
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A bit off topic but is HS football even a thing in someplace like NYC? I canít picture a school being able to afford the land needed for a football field there, or is there some type of facility outside the city that they would have access to.
I once asked the same question and I looked on the NYC website. Yes, there is football but it doesn't seem to be as connected or run by the schools and the stadiums seem to be more part of the public parks programs so yes there is HS football, but no, it isnt like in Texas.

Try this site.
  #87  
Old 02-18-2020, 01:14 AM
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A bit off topic but is HS football even a thing in someplace like NYC? I canít picture a school being able to afford the land needed for a football field there, or is there some type of facility outside the city that they would have access to.
Not Manhattan, I suppose, but in Queens where I grew up high schools had plenty of land. We had a big track. Another high school did have a football team - a kid from my junior high went there to play football. The hack he used was that he said he wanted to study Latin, which was only taught at that school.
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Old 02-18-2020, 03:48 PM
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I am 51 years old and have a PhD and a JD from extremely reputable schools. I have been practicing in my area of law for more than twenty years. When I was applying for jobs in the past year, law firms still wanted a copy of my transcript from undergrad before they would consider me. My transcript is fine, but the fact that I still need to produce it sucks.
College transcripts maybe, but I doubt you have ever been asked for primary or secondary school transcripts (high school or earlier).

~Max
  #89  
Old 02-18-2020, 05:25 PM
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There are a lot of people that don't believe you really learn anything in school. They think everything they know how to do they just know, and the remember school as a bunch of boring bullshit, just a matter of jumping through hoops. They think smart kids are fine regardless and other kids are hopeless. I've encountered this again and again as a teacher, from parents, students, and the community.

I read once that remembering where or when we learned something is it's own type of memory and the one we develop last. I really honestly believe this is a cognitive bias a lot of people have. They remember suddenly understanding something and it seemed automatic, self-evident. They don't remember the earlier iterations, when they didn't get it, or the careful process it took to get them to the point that something suddenly seemed trivial.

The amount of time and skill it takes to get an idea into a child's head is not to be believed. But they never see that.
This is pretty insightful. I think this is one reason why so many people are such poor teachers, especially in universities. University professors are undoubtedly experts in their field, but many suffer from the curse of knowledge, "a cognitive bias that occurs when an individual, communicating with other individuals, unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand."

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For example, in a classroom setting, teachers have difficulty teaching novices because they cannot put themselves in the position of the student. A brilliant professor might no longer remember the difficulties that a young student encounters when learning a new subject.
I taught chemistry and physics for seven years in a military prep school. I got numerous awards for my teaching (including "Instructor of the Year"). One reason I think I was such an effective instructor is that I have generally have very clear memories of when I learn a new skill, and I remember exactly what I went through to learn it.

I clearly remember exactly where I was and what I went through to learn all of the various things you learn in a general chemistry class. Indeed, I clearly remember not knowing them. So I was always able to easily put myself in the student's shoes and see where they were coming from, and I believe this made me a better instructor.
  #90  
Old 02-25-2020, 01:30 PM
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Yeah, I've heard a coupla times that the best people to learn a subject from are the people who struggled like hell to learn it because they know all the snags that will catch a person out.

Very insightful posts from Manda Jo and they sync with what I hear over and over again from a friend who teaches middle school.
  #91  
Old 02-25-2020, 05:27 PM
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Yeah, I've heard a coupla times that the best people to learn a subject from are the people who struggled like hell to learn it because they know all the snags that will catch a person out.
I've always believed this to be the case, partly because it applies to me. For various reasons, science and math were not easy for me in college, and I think this has been a factor in the very positive feedback I've received on my adjunct teaching over the years.

But I think robby's point above (about the ability to remember what it was like before I grasped the material, and the process of mastering it) and how that can make for a more effective teacher--is a very interesting insight.
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