May 2019
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free public education is necessary but the current system is mediocre bordering on abusive

icon: "bluestocking (photo of a book laying open on a table in front of an open window, with light streaming in and a yellow spiral fractal overlay)"

from bunnika: What are your feelings on education at large? Its necessity (or lack thereof), benefits, downsides, cost. Feel free to include all levels of education that you have opinions on from preschool through grad school.

I think free public education is absolutely necessary, and the way the US does it is super shitty. I think at least 50% of what kids are taught is USELESS and the other 50% is barely a beginning. Also the way schools are funded is horrifically classist and awful. There's a zillionty problems with it. I'm just gonna talk about what I think should be done instead.

I think writing is a necessary class every year, and maybe 3 grades of arithmetic. In addition, critical analysis (where people learn to absorb media in critical ways) should alternate with self-development (where people learn to be self-aware and express themselves) every year. Every year there should be a 'basic skills' class which teaches things like laundry, gardening, nutrition, stretching, etc. Other than that, kids should have to take one class in each of many practical specialties before high school, and then in high school they should choose their own classes. It should be possible to go to 9th grade and learn neuroscience, baking, construction, gymnastics, and horticulture (in 101 classes of course). The idea that every kid should learn the same basics for THIRTEEN FUCKING YEARS is part of the reason we have so few actual thinkers and so many people who get stuck in their ruts. If it was all mixed up and by choice, kids would absorb new information from their friends constantly and naturally, and it would be actual consensual learning instead of meaningless obedience and memorization. Kids would learn that the world is full of really cool information and they'd develop an interest in learning and in self-educating. Also, other than tests on reading and basic math (not quite sure how those should be handled), everything should be graded by portfolio. You should be judged by how productive you have been and how much you have improved, never by how well you meet an external standard.

College should not need to have any 'core classes' because everyone should already have been exposed to enough paths to feel sure of which one(s) they want to invest further study in. And college should not be restrictive! if a person can do the work in a class they should be able to take it even if it has nothing to do with their main courses of study. For grading, a teacher should collect work and give feedback along the way and then at the end of the course give pass or fail (you learned the basic concepts or you didn't).

Grad school? I think if college was done right, this would just be a part of regular college. There should be further classes in any specialty that would benefit from a deeper understanding, but they shouldn't give you a new title/rank. You should take them only if you actually just want to know more. Classes should be things that get listed on resumes, not degrees.

I think most of the education system as it stands is mediocre bordering on abusive of both teachers and students (which is why so many good teachers burn out, and so many creative people drop out). I hate it. But I love and admire everyone who gets in it to try to make it better for the students. A teacher with enough passion can make up for a lot of the failures of the system but that is NOT the system functioning as it is designed. Those teachers have to break the system to save their students. The system is built to create drones, not educated lively productive people.

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secret_keep ══╣╠══
I have so many thoughts on this. Postingaaaah.

Short version: OMG yes I agree! Consent in all things! Web of knowledge to improve the world.

I think writing and math are both very useful, but definitely not as they're taught. I was in a class this summer that had a book excerpt, I wish I remembered the name of the book. It talked about how math is a beautiful art, and it was ruined by being forced. It talked about what the system would like if music or painting were required in the same way that math is, and how it would ruin them.

rubyelf ══╣╠══
I was a teacher. I quit. It was pointless. No one was teaching or learning anything.
naimahlopez ══╣╠══
This is wonderful!!! Agree 1000%. I thought I was the only one feeling this way!!
Feel the Wind
aerialmelodies ══╣Feel the Wind╠══
I want to say there are some schools for the lower grades that are taught the way you're mentioning. Not 100%, but it's a similar idea where the kids are able to really focus on the skills and interests they have rather than dabbling in a lot of various ones. I could be wrong... my memory is a bit blah lately. :\

As for college, I agree it should be pass/fail. Where my degree was concerned, I didn't understand why my artwork was given a "C" but the teacher's pet was given an "A" despite the fact no one liked that person's art. It felt very arbitrary. The only two professors I had that used pass/fail (they simply gave an A or an F to appease the college's method of grading) were my watercolor and my graphic design ones. You either understood the concepts or you didn't, and if you didn't understand, did you at least attempt to figure it out and learn?

This may simply be because I have a degree in art, but no job interview I've ever been on has looked at my school or my degree as a wow factor. They all go "I just wanted to see if you could finish something you started, which you did." It almost makes the money spent feel worthless, though I do feel I learned a lot in my studies. Having a pass/fail system would make it feel less like you're chasing an A only to hear what I always hear and can instead really focus on learning and growing within the skills your chosen field requires. I think that would make the degrees feel worth a lot more.

My last thought expands on your college idea - co-ops! You leave college and they say you have no experience so you can't be hired. Meanwhile the people companies want to hire with experience don't want that low of a paygrade. It makes sense, then, for college to offer programs where students can intern. This may not be as feasible in smaller towns, but I know of a few colleges that do this. If a student qualifies for federal aid or the company feels like it, you can even be paid for the internships. The experience you gain actually being at a company is something you can't put a price on and would help end this rut of "I see you went to school, you're obviously right for the job, but oh look you haven't worked at this type of position yet so nope."
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
Art more than anything is entirely too interpretational to allow for grading except pass/fail, I feel. I like that idea about co-ops, too.
kiwi ══╣╠══
The running joke within my most recent education program was that it was hoop jumping and the most valuable lesson we learned from everything was the ability to "acknowledge and move on" when the $h!t hit the fan.

*shrug* there's likely some truth to that. But boy do they charge a lot to you to learn to be flexible, if you want to look at it like that. ;)

I absolutely agree that critical thinking skills needs to be taught early (and often). I took a class (mandated) and it was one of the best things I've taken...but was dismayed that it took getting to college to be able to take it. WHY AREN'T WE STARTING THIS TYPE OF THINKING EARLIER?!
bunnika ══╣╠══
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.