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Why Kids Should Be Building Rockets Instead of Taking Tests

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the because-the-failure-case-is-much-more-exciting dept.

Education 381

An anonymous reader writes "MAKE Magazine founder Dale Dougherty has an article in Slate about how educators are missing the punchline when it comes to getting kids interested in learning. He describes a recent visit he made to a middle school: 'The science lab was empty, as were the library and the playground. It was not a school holiday: It was a state-mandated STAR testing day. The school was in an academic lockdown. This is what the American public school looks like in 2012, driven by obsessive adherence to standardized testing. The fate of children, their schools, and their teachers are based on these school test scores.' Dougherty's preference would be to more tightly integrate basic engineering projects into the science curriculum. 'I see the power of engaging kids in science and technology through the practices of making and hands-on experiences, through tinkering and taking things apart. Schools seem to have forgotten that students learn best when they are engaged; in fact, the biggest problem in schools is boredom. Students sit passively, expected to absorb all the content that is thrown at them without much context. The context that's missing is the real world."

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Because they'll explode in their faces (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40223787)

Is a tad bit safer to take a test than to build rockets.

Re:Because they'll explode in their faces (4, Insightful)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224125)

You Sir, should watch 5 dangerous things kids should do:

http://www.ted.com/talks/gever_tulley_on_5_dangerous_things_for_kids.html [ted.com]

Re:Because they'll explode in their faces (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40224361)

Fantastic, I will. However, from the summary: "why a little danger is good for both kids and grownups" . A little danger.
Now...a rocket blowing up is not "little" by any stretch of the imagination. And usually it doesn't provide a second chance (the event). Therefore, teach them the theory, and only after that make them practice it (in a safe manner). I agree that practice makes perfect, and I agree with the OP's article that kids should be allowed to do more things, but unfortunately rocket building is not one of them. There's a reason they call that science: rocket science.

Re:Because they'll explode in their faces (1)

wiedzmin (1269816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224421)

teach them the theory, and only after that make them practice it

This. Also, nothing prevents you from "doing" creative things with your kids outside of school. If you want to teach your kids cool creative things - spend some time with them doing just that, don't try to delegate parenting to public education systems... slackers.

Re:Because they'll explode in their faces (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40224329)

so? got natural selection also covered then :D

nah, seriously, I did so many "dangerous" things as a kid, and all other ppl from my generation did that too, and we are all still alive.

Re:Because they'll explode in their faces (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40224509)

I did so many "dangerous" things as a kid, and all other ppl from my generation did that too, and we are all still alive.

Then those things weren't really all that dangerous then, were they?

Re:Because they'll explode in their faces (2)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224495)

I had a rocket blow up in my face before.

IT WAS AWESOME!!!!

The shrapnel was worth it.

Step-dad made a rocket out of a used CO2 cartridge that has its nozzle enlarged and then filled it with match heads. That does create a nice easy safe rocket, the problem happened with he decided to make it a little more powerful by adding gunpowder.

It was a fun little time waster.

Teach the test? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40223813)

Teaching the test beats teaching nothing at all. Parents are the problem, but given a political unwillingness to fix the problem, having teachers teach the test beats having them teach nothing at all. By the way, if the test is reflective of what we want the students to learn, than teaching the test is not actually a "bad thing". It's a bad thing to teach only the test, but again, it beats teaching nothing.

Re:Teach the test? (5, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224077)

It may be a suboptimal result but it is at least a demonstrable result.

People like to whine about rote learning and facts, but before you start applying "more sophisticated thinking" you have to have a solid grasp of the facts.

You have to have something that can be measured.

Clearly this idea scares a lot of people.

Re:Teach the test? (2)

reve_etrange (2377702) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224179)

You have to have something that can be measured.

Oh, you mean like English proficiency and whether or not students have coincidentally picked up the exact same misguided oversimplifications presented in the test questions?

As far as I know, accurately measuring intelligence and/or the potential for academic success are both open problems in psychology and neurobiology.

Educators aren't missing the punchline... (5, Insightful)

fotbr (855184) | more than 2 years ago | (#40223849)

They're doing exactly what they've been told to do by the system that politics has created. To fix our schools, you need to keep congress's nose out of the process, return responsibility to the individual states and local boards of education.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40223895)

Because if anyone knows how to create a quality education its the idiots that elect your local school board.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (0)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224187)

Look at the bright side: creationists would have it their way in their communities.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40224467)

Can we please stop the childish creationist crap in this site? Damn trolls. Everyone knows this is not the problem.

Yes let them build rockets so homeland security can lock them up.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (4, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224225)

Because if anyone knows how to create a quality education its the idiots that elect your local school board.

Are you trying to imply the federal department of education has higher quality idiots than the local school board?

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (2)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224229)

Which are the same idiots that elect your Congressmen/women.

The only difference is that the local school board members might actually visit the local school on something other than a photo-op mission one day, and might actually talk to local parents and educators about local concerns.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40224365)

Yeah, once you've identified that stupid politicians are the cause of all your problems, I'm not sure if it's such a good idea to hand things over to even stupider politicians.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224487)

But you know what? The kids that are educated according to the dictates of that local school board are the kids of those who elected the school board. On the other hand, when the rules concerning how the kids are educated are set in Washington, the kids of those making the rules are not subject to those rules (they go to private schools).

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40223945)

They're doing exactly what they've been told to do by the system that politics has created.

"Student performance in the US is lagging China!"

    *adopt Chinese education model*

"Our education model stifles individual creativity and dehumanizes students!"

What, exactly, do you want?

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40223997)

It is not just the politicians that are the problem, many parents, and many school boards are also the problem. We do need standards, but we do not need to be so focused on said standards that we test them every other day. There are many thing wrong in the education world today and we can not treat it like it is a for profit entity.

P.S. Captcha: playtime

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (5, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224037)

They're doing exactly what they've been told to do by the system that politics has created. To fix our schools, you need to keep congress's nose out of the process, return responsibility to the individual states and local boards of education.

While I agree with your sentiments, educators are not only missing the punchline, they're one of the primary drivers behind the current system. Have a look at the curriculum of various education degree programs at colleges and universities... especially on the graduate side. You'll find a devotion to rigid institutional orthodoxy, and an almost cultish drive to keep non-education majors out of the the teaching ranks. Teaching has become something of a guild.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224131)

Also education degrees are trash, thanks to the courses being easy As (average GPA is 3.8) and certification being a joke.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (3, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224121)

The "better" system this guy proposes wouldn't work any better. How would you know which student learned, and which did not, if you do not have testing? What would happen is that a few students do all the work, while the other students slackoff and do nada. (Been there; experienced it)

How do you eliminate bad teachers like the joker I had who wasted 40 minutes of every class talking about his karate lessons and/or last weekend at the bar? You need testing to see if the teacher is really teaching, or not.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224247)

Smaller classes solves that one.

There are some benefits of Federal standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40224145)

They're doing exactly what they've been told to do by the system that politics has created. To fix our schools, you need to keep congress's nose out of the process, return responsibility to the individual states and local boards of education.

If that were to happen where I live, our school's science textbook would be the Bible and the "controversy" about Evolution would be taught and Intelligent Design would be the standard.

I do not have to resources to sue the school board and the ACLU has limited resource too. So what would happen is my local school board would get their way.

Instead of bitching, I think the scientific community need to use their brains and come up with a way to make science interesting to young people. The love of a subject can be very infectious and I would suggest they start there.

Re:There are some benefits of Federal standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40224475)

The people who should be researching how people learn and how to best teach have the most to gain out of the current system.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224173)

You mean, "local" schoolboards like the Texas one? See here for an example? I'll never understand why people think that local politicians are somehow better than Washington politicians. If anything, they can be worse, because there are far more possibilities for them to go completely off the deep end and be unchallenged.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224215)

Because my local politician lives in the same neighborhood as me, and is therefore accountable to keep me (and my student) happy.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224449)

Not really. The only ones he is accountable to is the majority of the school board election voters. And there, you are a tiny fraction, if you vote at all. And statistics say you don't.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224457)

No, he's accountable to those who vote or are active in local politics. Generally the worst people to make decisions since everyone who is more knowledgeable (or sane) is busy doing other things.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (3, Insightful)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224315)

Because, we do not have a citizen legislature (if we ever did), and it would still be impossible to get everyone on the same page if we did.

1) When the Washington pols go off the deep end, they drag everybody down with them.
2) One size fits all rarely fits anyone.
3) Local schoolboards know better what is needed for their locality than a politician living in Washington.

The "but then something I dislike could happen in one place" is a vapid argument.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (0)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224427)

3) Local schoolboards know better what is needed for their locality than a politician living in Washington

This gets trotted out every time. What is much more likely is that local schoolboards are made up of people with too much time on their hands and have an axe to grind. Think your local Neighborhood Watch grandpa or your HOA president. And when they go off the deep-end, the only option is to hope that more people vote during the next election (fat chance), or to move.

2) One size fits all rarely fits anyone.

Actually, education is the one place where one size does fit all. Facts are facts. There is no need to tweak the teaching of facts to local customs.

1) When the Washington pols go off the deep end, they drag everybody down with them.

And just to complete the reverse dissection - Washington Pols are less likely to go off the deep end, because they need to worry about a broader voting base, which moves them to the center.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224211)

And Federal spending on education is pennies on the dollar compared to what state and local governments spend. A lot of this chasing after tests is to get marginal additional funding. It seems a bizarre process to send money out of the state to the feds, cram for standardized tests, get money back minus beauracratic overhead.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (4, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224277)

You've got it exactly backwards.

The states and local boards of education are THE PROBLEM.

Public education in this country is a magnet for failed middle-managers and failed politicians. They use local school districts to build their little fiefdoms, and to line the pockets of their friends with government contracts for construction, and books, and computers, and all that crap. Education is the LAST thing on their minds, and the glorification of standardized testing works right into their hands. Standardized testing means that school districts don't need to worry about actually TEACHING. They just need to teach the test. And they don't want to "teach the test" TOO well, because they want the federal government to keep throwing money at them, which the feds don't like to do for schools that are performing well already.

It's a giant mess. And almost ALL of the mess starts at the local school board level. They're crooks, the lot of them.

Re:Educators aren't missing the punchline... (5, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224297)

So that individual states can ban the teaching of evolution and institutionally ignoring climate change? If they can't find, or don't want to pay for someone who happens to understand alternating current versus direct current that's no problem, they'll just make whomever is the least liked teacher amongst the department do it.

Education should be a federal responsibility, US students go to schools all around the country, and compete on an international stage. Allowing one state to permanently disadvantage its children by institutionalizing stupidity is precisely the sort of thing that federal governments should work to prevent. Nor is it fair that a child in a poor state will have less education resources just because that's where he or she was born, when someone who had the foresight to be born in a rich neighbourhood in a rich state will get a much better experience.

That doesn't make any given standardized test a good idea, and it certainly doesn't make a lot of standardized testing a good idea. But you can't serious want a system where you have no idea how the kids are doing or where you need improvement. Big states (think New York, Florida, Texas, California) will still have to have some sort of standardized testing because they are big enough to warrant it, but when each state does it you can't even compare state to state easily.

The world is in an era where you can be born in India, raised in Dubai for public school, go to highschool in Georgia (the State), got to University in California, work in New York. At no step in that process do you really want states determining your education. Does Georgia (the state) really want to have some criteria on how to assess a student coming in from every country in the world? Does some university in California really want to have thousands of different metrics for every state in every country in the world to try and figure out who to admit, and does some company based in New York really want a situation where it can't trust education from some states, but not others, and to try and figure out how to track all of that? That system is enormously wasteful, and mind numbingly stupid. Part of why the US system has so many holes in it is because individual states and school boards have decided their should be holes. (Think Kansas and Texas on evolution).

Giving individual states responsibility for something makes sense if you can then extract the good ideas and apply them federally. It's not like states would ever be completely excluded from the process no more than the local school board or individual teacher are ever excluded from the process. But if you're all going to be americans, or south koreans or whatever, you should hope that the federal government will make sure you all get a fair opportunity if the states won't. Which they can't anymore.

If you want a truly harsh example look at what is going to happen to kids in Greece and Spain compared to germany and france. The former two are going to have to savagely cut education (along with everything else) because they're fucked in a currency union without a fiscal union. Those kids are going to have a much harder time helping their countries fix problems in 10 years because they aren't going to be as well prepared. Should some kid born in california get a shitty education because some dipshits voted for more spending and less taxes for the last 30 years, and left no money for schools today? They're having their futures held hostage by a stupid political process which they aren't responsible for nor even a part of.

Does that include localizing the funding? (5, Insightful)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224369)

To fix our schools, you need to keep congress's nose out of the process, return responsibility to the individual states and local boards of education.

Would you also eliminate federal funding and let states and localities pay for their own schools? Unless you do, the feds are going to put conditions on what they're paying for, and justifiably so. Personally I'd like to see the feds out of many areas, including education, since their participation comes with a lot of strings.

Kids in general aren't quite smart enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40223851)

However, middle-aged "kids" produce some neat stuff [myelectricengine.com] .
Useful rocket science is hard.

Oh God, yes, rockets not tests ... (3, Interesting)

wdef (1050680) | more than 2 years ago | (#40223857)

I was fascinated by all things science as a little kid. Doing, enjoying, fantasizing. I craved books for kids about science, electronics kits and chemistry sets - these were what I enjoyed. And toy robots. Then I got to junior high school and started formal science classes. Awful. Hated chemistry. Math was painful. Only physics became vaguely interesting. I did a BS, but school nearly ruined that path.

Re:Oh God, yes, rockets not tests ... (2)

NoSleepDemon (1521253) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224119)

I whole heartedly agree. I ended up spending more time making 'dumb' little video games and levels for Doom than on my homework. I even had real difficulty learning Math in school because we spent so much time on the theory instead of its practical application. Once I got to University things got more interesting; the course I took had a reasonable element of Math to it, but we weren't simply made to write answers to long differential equations - one of our courseworks involved modeling bezier curves in 3D which advanced my knowledge of mathematics forward more by itself than all of the teachers at secondary school ever had.

Re:Oh God, yes, rockets not tests ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40224207)

There is no math in junior high or high school.

Re:Oh God, yes, rockets not tests ... (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224291)

"Many have the desire but few have the skill." - Albert Einsteain. Yes science requires a lot of math..... if you're no good at math, science is not the proper choice, no matter how much you enjoyed reading Astronomy or Asimov magazines as a kid. (shrug)

Re:Oh God, yes, rockets not tests ... (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224355)

Well ya, part of the problem is that real science isn't playing with toys. It's learning to do math, to predict results, to analyse results and to communicate results. Teaching kids that science is duct taping things together and seeing what happens isn't preparing them for real science. Nor is it giving them the critical thinking skills required to understand science or to apply scientific processes to any problem.

Mixing chemicals and seeing what happens is fun, as is shooting rockets into the air. But if you don't learn how to document and interpret your results, and if your rocket kit was a kit you assembled you haven't actually learned all that much.

Re:Oh God, yes, rockets not tests ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40224419)

The main reason for this is that teachers are chronically underpaid. I'm finishing a masters in physics at the moment, teaching companies are all over us trying to woo us into jobs because there's such a lack of good graduates entering the profession. However, until they raise the salary to something palatable, none of us want to touch it with a barge pole. For comparison my PhD pays more than the basic teaching salary after tax. I have the choice of going to god awful schools teaching kids who don't want to be there or spend four years tinkering around with cameras, robots and lasers living the student life.

Standardized testing has always been there (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40223903)

If they had come to my school in the 70s they would have seen us kids hunkered down the same way for SRA tests. Remember the SRA test? They were just an evaluation, AFAIK. I don't know what they did with them, other than call you in for a parent-teacher-child conference to let you know how you did and what you could do to fix problems.

The difference now is that they teach to the test. It was all part of a lame compromise between GWB and Sen. Kennedy. What was really needed was the ability to evaluate teachers the same way people are evaluated in private industry, and to empower administrators with the ability to promote and, yes, FIRE accordingly.

It was a non-starter for the teachers unions. GWB being the idiot he was, he crafted this deal that put the responsibility for making it work in the very hands of the people who did not want it to work!

That gets us to the heart of the matter. To Wisconsin. The people will speak there today, one way or another.

Re:Standardized testing has always been there (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224133)

No child left behind: lower the bar far enough, and nobody can slip underneath.

Re:Standardized testing has always been there (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224197)

If they had come to my school in the 70s they would have seen us kids hunkered down the same way for SRA tests. Remember the SRA test? They were just an evaluation, AFAIK. I don't know what they did with them, other than call you in for a parent-teacher-child conference to let you know how you did and what you could do to fix problems.

Standardized testing came about in the first place because of declining quality of graduates. When reasons for that decline were examined, one of the things we found was that the previous methods for ensuring quality... reliance on teachers and local schools to police themselves and give tough tests... was failing because new ideas about education stressed that such demands were detrimental at times to the child. One of the first practical applications of this thinking was that things like class discipline, rote learning, and traditional English instruction had to go. The sixties and seventies then brought us such fads as "new math", whole language instruction, and "open classrooms", where some schools actually brought in workmen to knock down walls joining several classrooms into one large, cubical-farm like space. The 80's and 90's brought us the "self-esteem" craze. Meanwhile, real knowledge and understanding of curriculum declined, but for various reasons, many kids were passed and promoted to the next grade anyway. In other words, standardized testing came about to ensure that kids really did have the basics, because we could no longer trust the classroom process to produce those results.

It says everything that there was truly a time where an A could be trusted to really be an A... a mark of excellence in classroom work... and now it can't be.

###s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40223937)

You can't reduce education to numbers. Everything starts locally, with parents first then teachers and classmates, then administrators. If these local influences are good, no amount of bad decision-making from above will ruin your school. The opposite is true as well.

Blaming tests doesn't solve any problems. Why don't we have kids build rockets AND take tests?

Great Article (2)

richpoore (925284) | more than 2 years ago | (#40223959)

There are good teachers that don't teach to the test. Unfortunately, because of the high-stakes testing which can determine pay raises and personnel decisions, this is typically on non-core subjects. My physics (which does have a STARR test now) teacher was great. We rarely used the textbook but we measured the speed of sound and used a lot of hands on physics demonstrations. This is a good article. I'm hoping to begin teaching science, math or computer science next year. Maybe I can be part of the change.

Re:Great Article (2)

reve_etrange (2377702) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224311)

There are good teachers that don't teach to the test.

In principle, yes. However in most areas teachers are literally required to use a script.

The state standards actually give teachers freedom to approach the basic knowledge that we expect students to learn in ways of their choosing, but districts often don't trust their teachers, or want to cover their asses, and so choose one of the pre-approved curricula.

Re:Great Article (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224377)

Same for me, my Core stuff was in effect rote memorization from the textbook, but the non-Core ones were quite engaging and I still remember many of the lessons taught us then.

"Like dissolves Like"

Excuse me but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40223965)

If the teachers them self would be able to actually make stuff in the real world would they be teaching?

Re:Excuse me but... (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224203)

Some would. Just not enough.

Blame the Unions (0, Troll)

buk110 (904868) | more than 2 years ago | (#40223981)

Blame the teachers unions. You do what you're told - nothing more and nothing less. Well of course, once you have tenure it's "nothing more" and "as less as you can without getting fired". The teachers don't care - nor do they want to care. The Department of Education needs to be scraped and academics need to be more academically focused instead of making K-12 a government funded daycare full of youths that would prefer to text on their cellphones and be told to regurgitate a bunch of nonsense for pointless "standardized tests"

Re:Blame the Unions (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224175)

Blame the teachers unions.

You do what you're told - nothing more and nothing less.

False. My sister has consistently been doing more, and as a reward they are paying her for the additional education requested to make her an Assistant Principal, where they want to keep her for a year before making her a full-on Principal of a whole school.

The problem here is that the members of the teacher's unions behave as if the guideline is exactly what you want to do, and not just the minimum.

Re:Blame the Unions (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224473)

False. My sister has consistently been doing more, and as a reward they are paying her for the additional education requested to make her an Assistant Principal, where they want to keep her for a year before making her a full-on Principal of a whole school.

So, the reward for being a great teacher is that they get you out of a classroom and into an office?

Re:Blame the Unions (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224405)

Teachers Unions don't have say in the curriculum. That's set at the State and Federal levels by the government; taking away the unions will just let teachers be paid even less then they are now.

Agreed (4, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#40223983)

My third grader informed me one day that "science is boring". You could have hit my in the nuts with a hammer and it would have hurt me less. I inquired more and found out that he is reading a lot of stuff and he just doesn't find it exciting.

First, I got ahold of a few interesting science videos dealing with astronomy and robotics. He was intrigued. On a trip to Disney I took him on a behind the scenes tour at their greenhouses where he got to talk to a Botanist and learn more. And I"ve found a few other opportunities to get him involved in some hands on science.

I'll be damned if I let school choke out his love for learning. He's border-line gifted if not gifted (I'm Triple Nine) and it would be a shame if he limited his options because of school...

Homeschool (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224113)

Do not let a good mind go to waste. It takes a lot of effort, but homeschooling will ensure your child can grow up creative and free-willed.

At least you are doing what you can, but the power of the public school to crush minds is strong. That s what they are designed to do.

Re:Homeschool (2, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224177)

I love the idea of home schooling, but after serious investigation, it is not something that would work for us. My wife isn't really cut out for it, and I'm cut out for making a nice income. Believe it or not my kids are in private school but with a switch to a higher-income city we'll switch to their public schools.

I love teaching, so I spend probably ten hours a week with my kids directly on academics and because I'm a nerd even when I am playing , education comes out.

What we really need are more nerds and less politicians in charge of our education system...

Re:Agreed (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224367)

Pont him here too: My love of science started with magazines, because of the potential to learn new things.
http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/prior/ [clarkesworldmagazine.com]
http://sciencenews.com/ [sciencenews.com]
http://astronomy.com/ [astronomy.com]
http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/ [nationalgeographic.com] (formerly NatGeo World)

Re:Agreed (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224447)

If your child has limited learning opportunities it isn't because of the school. Another approach is what I am doing with my oldest which is similar to what you are doing with your child but could be expanded upon is to try and make every activity a learning activity. My oldest (3 years old) and I are always going and doing things that he finds interesting. I teach him as much as I can while we are doing things. We have done a model rocket where we put it together and I explained what each part did and how it worked and then went and shot it off in the park behind my house. We have a large garden where I have been going over all things plant related with him as they happen. I have taken to see the big ships (salties and lakers) up in Duluth, as well as the various stuff up in the iron range (old equipment and an operational mine). His favorite thing so was going the the threshing show and seeing those machines and tractors up close. All the while he is learning all about these things. I try to make every activity a learning one for him even if it is mundane stuff like maintaining the car or fixing something. Granted it isn't as extreme as SuperKendall suggests but will do wonders as well as ensure that they are getting a more complete education. As my kids get older I look forward to doing more activities with them to expand their knowledge and experiences. I got some of this from my dad who went to a 2 year trade school so didn't have the depth or breadth of knowledge that I have now but was active in teaching me about the things we did.

Home School (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40223991)

Home School not for religious reasons, but for educational. My kids have to engage, they have no choice. I know what they need to know and where they need to go with what they are learning.

Prob is it is soooo expensive to home school. Try living on 1/2 your household income and buy the tools to educate them properly it is very difficult.

Re:Home School (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224069)

private schools...

Plutarch quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40224001)

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled."

Wikipedia on Plutarch [wikipedia.org]

Re:Plutarch quote (0)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224349)

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be Nookd. [slashdot.org]

FTFY.

Re:Plutarch quote (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224437)

Or "a fire to be Nookd" if the book of quotes is from Barnes & Noble [msn.com] .

I hated hands on science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40224003)

I always hated all the hands-on lab days in school. The experiments never worked like they were supposed to,and then I had to write some kind of boring ass report. I've always enjoyed people talking about theory and history and stuff then actually DOING IT. No sarcasm. Seriously.

Fantastic idea, but complicated implementation (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224009)

I'm in complete agreement that kids should be engaged and care about what they're learning, and be actively learning it. But at the same time, not all kids are going to love making rockets. Some would love working with animals, or arguing about literature. Making those kids build rockets isn't much better than making them study 17th century geography or cram for a stupid standardized test.
Ideally we'd figure out what kids want to learn, and help them learn those things, with some encouragement for them to learn things that benefit society as a whole. A problem is we don't all agree on what benefits society as a whole. Standardized testing is a reaction to a widespread perception that kids were learning stuff that wasn't useful (by some scrupulously unspecified definition of useful.) So, trying to get all, or even most, kids interested in subject Y is going to involve lots of bored kids, and trying to facilitate kids' interest is going to get big chunks of the community at large upset that Kids These Days Are Just Wasting Time In School Learning About whatever this week's bogeyman is, be it vocational education, renaissance literature, sculpture, or evolutionary biology.
Which is to say: he's totally right, but he's not addressing the root cause of the problem he's trying to solve.

Then do that too!!!! (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224171)

Some would love working with animals, or arguing about literature

Ok, then YES.

Standardized testing is a reaction to a widespread perception that kids were learning stuff that wasn't useful

What makes you think that? It was wholly a response to the fear that kids were not learning enough. It was designed so that teachers could demonstrate we should not fire the lot of them and start public schools over from scratch.

he's totally right, but he's not addressing the root cause of the problem he's trying to solve.

Sure he is. It's right there in the summary - give kids the real world experiences that provide context to learning. That works for any and every subject.

By giving kids the context they automatically spend less time doing stupid things, so it does help address the root problem.

Real world context (1)

wiedzmin (1269816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224013)

The context that's missing is the real world.

Arguably, real world context should be provided in post-secondary education... when middle school and high school have enough trouble laying theoretical ground work for that. Of course in reality university education is purely theoretical, with graduates being absolutely clueless when it comes to being employed in the real world... if anything, technical colleges is where the real world context is provided.

I guess my point is - Dale Dougherty is an idiot who obviously haven't tried teaching algebra to teenager, so he/she can get into a post-secondary institution later. Or he thinks they could launch some rockets during their entrance exams...

Re:Real world context roxy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40224181)

The Make guy talking about "science", but he judges all of science education based on one day when they happened to be having tests? Nothing scientific about his methods.
If this testing complaint had any merit, then universities would also abandon their endless testing with real life activities. With mature and motivated students, it would be a no question win for everyone. Tests are valuable for many reasons. Like anything, they can be misused, but don't blame the tool for how it is used.

I see an idiot for sure (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224201)

Or he thinks they could launch some rockets during their entrance exams...

On an application for MIT a video showing someone building and then flying a custom rocket would actually be quite compelling.

Waiting until after 18 (!) for real world context is insane. Kids can handle context starting around two years old, we don't need to spend a decade or more trying to hammer that ability out of them.

Re:I see an idiot for sure (1)

wiedzmin (1269816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224375)

Well, then, when you have kids - remove them from public education system and get them to launch some rockets for MIT. I'm sure it won't at all lead to them living in your basement well into their 40s.

Problem with public education (and post-secondary education, actually) isn't that it follows a defined program and scoring systems, it's that those are designed for the lowest denominator. There should be more tests, and they should be hard enough for kids to fail, and be afraid of repercussions of failing - that's the real life context for you... not playing with rockets, on tax-payer's buck... that would provide a "wasting taxpayers dollars in NASA", not "real world" context :)

Re:I see an idiot for sure (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224387)

Dogs can also handle contexts. Funny how school administrators and politicians can't.

Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40224025)

Because building anything is experience gained in many aspects.

Regurgitating answers of questions on a piece of paper is simply what I just said, "writing on paper, answers that you regurgitated from a book."

F*ck You Corrupted American Leaders and your LACK of push towards innovation and acceptance to implement better for the world.

It's no wonder why our previous generations of fathers are still whacking off to john wayne, dreaming about being a cowboy, because they are all a bunch of idiots.

Only now it's no longer cowboys, since, thug gangster pete has taken over that image, so now we have people in 2012 still repeating a lifestyle that was broad casted by in 1995.

China banned a lot of things for a good reason, so people would let go of the past and move on to the future...

Why Kids Should Be Building Rockets... (2)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224045)

Right. Give fucking Homeland Security something else to go after...

Re:Why Kids Should Be Building Rockets... (1)

robinsonne (952701) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224465)

Well ok, not rockets, but how about building simple catapults/trebuchets? Not quite as "dangerous" as a rocket, but still a lot of fun to do.

In school/high school, I built rockets, a trebuchet, and a crude coilgun. It was a blast, we learned a lot, and nobody got hurt, no property damage...but yeah, lets keep filling in those little bubbles with #2 pencil because that'll make them learn!

I agree, make education fun, however... (1)

Tha_Big_Guy23 (603419) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224049)

I'm simply happy that the schools have the paper to actually print the tests. Here, the budget is so out of whack that most school systems require that parents to supplement their classrooms with much more than notebooks, pencils, and tissues. The budgetary issues aside, it comes down to the parents (who elect the folks in charge of the school systems) to decide how their children are taught. I do believe that children who are engaged are more apt to learn than those who are bored to tears. Go beyond engineering projects, teach kids that math can be fun, how to have fun with the English and/or foreign languages, or demonstrate how historical events can be fun to learn about. These things are important as well.

And if you feel like you child isn't getting enough education at school, try bolstering their education outside of normal school hours. Get involved with the education of your kids and find out exactly what it is that they're learning. Only then, can you as a parent determine where their education is lacking.

Re:I agree, make education fun, however... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224309)

Hey.. they have pay that incompetent superintendent $200,000. If they don't they get one even worse.

The biggest money drain in the school corporation today are the executives. And they are all perfect examples of the Peter Principle.

The more they yell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40224065)

The more educrats yell about standardized testing the more convinced I am the policy is optimal.

Against state's rights? No right to complain... (1, Informative)

Whatsmynickname (557867) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224079)

Against state's rights? Then this article explains lays out what you asked for.

When the public got an ear full of "Johnny cant read", No Child Left Behind and the STAR test is EXACTLY what a large faceless federal bureaucracy (aka, President / Department of Education) is going to have for a solution. To expect anything else is living in fantasy land.

Therefore, give back education requirements to a per state basis and get rid of not only No Child Left Behind, but also the Department of Education. If you feel a state's electorate isn't qualified to determine what's good for their kids, tough.

If you expect education to be run by a federal executive branch with no input, you will continue to get these solutions. And for those who love this, don't complain when that same bureaucracy is run by a president you didn't elect.

This is *not* a problem. (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224083)

This is Defective By Design brought into the Western education system. Standardised tests cater for the "average" or below; they do not challenge the intelligent, who are later deemed to be mentally ill(!). Normality these days is shuffling fries and frying burgers. When Joe 170 stands up and says "I'm going to do something different", he's ridiculed by those who scored Cs across the board because they do not know any better - because none of them were taught to challenge.

I pity those Average Joes because as a 170, I see the world from outside the box and often see better ways of doing things. Following several years of having my self esteem floored by the knuckledraggers around me, I'm at the point of "fuck it, you know what, I don't care anymore. Enough of trying to do good for others, I'm doing this for *me* and the rest of the world can go fuck itself."

The rest of the world can go fuck itself. I won't even gloat when the oil runs out and you're all sitting there bemoaning the fact that you all didn't listen. I'll just fire up my solar powered car and leave you in the shit of your own making.;

Flame away, Joe Average, let us know who you are so we can avoid you.

Re:This is *not* a problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40224217)

elitist
unforgiving
over-critical
crass
sociopathic

If you're as smart as you say then you ought to understand that these "qualities" make you a jerk. I think I'm above average but please avoid me anyway.

Re:This is *not* a problem. (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224345)

If he *is* that way (and I'm not sure he is) then what made him that way?

Re:This is *not* a problem. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224395)

Virtually ALL public education caters to the average, or more generally, the first quartile.

If you are an 'exceptional' student you either 1) have to be lucky - be in a school that has enough money and brains to support more than one kind of student 2) come from a well off enough background to get into a good private school 3) have your parents / family / friends help you along 4) do it yourself.

I suspect if you look at the majority of high functioning adults, most of them have gone through one of those pathways. Public schools (in the US at least) are not designed to help the best and the brightest all that much.

Re:This is *not* a problem. (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224471)

The problem is not so much the people in the schools as the whole no child left behind mentality. Had that been the case when you were in school you may not have been subjected to the ridicule you've most likely experienced. I fully agree with you about the tests catering to the lowest common denominator. Exceptional people should be treated as such and pushed in a way to encourage their pursuit of knowledge. Instead we are stuck with the "reality tv" generation. Insert laugh track here, like we don't know that was a joke.

I'm completely average myself, but I fully agree with you about education. My daughter is in that above average portion of children. I want her to have the education that I was too stupid to realize I needed. I want her to be a thinker, not an underling.

Re:This is *not* a problem. (1)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224479)

Well, Mr. Joe 170, you are mentally ill. You claim to have such a high IQ, but you've not figured out how to game the social system to get what you want. Instead, you've turned spiteful and bitter. At least, that is how you portray yourself in the above post. I would say that you are broken, aka mentally ill.

Standardized Testing - (3, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224085)

Virtually useless, until someone invents a standardized student.

Education will suffer until the Powers-That-Be realize not every person learns the same way.

Re:Standardized Testing - (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224411)

Virtually useless, until someone invents a standardized student.

Don't tell anybody else, but you've found The Holy Grail.

Re:Standardized Testing - (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224461)

Right on the head. One of my biggest problems with schools going all the way back to my own school days is the treatment of students like commodities. If you do the exact same process to a block of wood you get the same result. If you do the exact same process to a kid you don't. Kids are not raw materials. They are humans with their set of experiences and a lot more complex. The problem with NCLB and the school system in general is they are treated in that way, and testing makes this idea worse. You can't poor ingredients into a person's head and get the same results. Assembly-line education will always fail.

I was one of the last classes to build rockets... (2)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224167)

The next year they shot off rockets, one hit a car at a local dealership and damaged it, and that was the end of rockets in school.

In these times, I'm afraid the lawyers won't let them...

drill and kill (2)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224183)

That's what an elementary school teacher calls timed tests for math (give students 10 minutes to finish arithmetic test). She promoted math is more than just doing calculations (add, subtract, multiply, divide), she liked to have students do hands-on stuff like filling different shaped containers with beans (not cooked of course) to illustrate proportions. However, hands-on kinds of stuff is hard to measure with a number saying how well (or poor) student performance. So the admins always want timed-tests ("drill and kill!").

Hands on beats make believe learning (1)

Life2Death (801594) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224239)

Hands on, meaningful critical thinking and hands on learning (applied science vs book learning) will teach kids and grab their attention far more than 500 math problems that have no relation to their lives.

I can remember many times peers asking "what does this have to do with my life" -- well, if we can build a catapult and show physics and geometry and other sciences applied, people may start to get their gears turning and think of how can I use this /somewhere else/ instead of "i dont get why i need to learn this"

So it seems (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224261)

Kids should stop using numbers and just have some sort of directed play-time, all the time.

Maybe instead of having to read Chaucer they can just watch the Lord of the Ring movies?

Simple Solution (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224285)

I've watched the American school system degrade into the pathetic excuse for an education system that it is. The whole issue is not as much as getting children interested in this stuff as much as the parents focused on standards of learning.
Since no child is able to be left behind you have not just 1 child who is behind instead you now have 34 other students suffering academically due to the one. At what point do you admit something is a failure? Is it when future generations are so dumb they make Frito Pendejo from Idiocracy look like Einstein?

The system is a failure, admit it and move on. Smarter kids should be moved to the head of the class the slower ones should not drag the rest down.

Parent of a child in a public school.

Matchcar boxes and angled tracks (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224293)

No day in physics class was more fun than the lab involving calculating the angle of trajectory of toy cars and them smashing them into stuff. If you did the math just right, your car would fly across the track in a perfect arc and then knock over a tennis ball propped up on a paper cup. (Or, more likely, knock the entire cup and tennis ball assembly clean off the table.)

Logistics/time are a problem (2)

unimacs (597299) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224347)

We had a similar discussion with my son's middle school science teacher. We asked why there wasn't more hands on activities. He said that he would like to do more but that getting the materials can be expensive; preparing a lab takes a lot more time than preparing a lecture, and a great deal of time is spent policing the kids to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to do. Further, he was limited to things that could be started and completed within an hour.

The previous science teacher was much better about preparing hands on stuff, but she got burnt out and quit after a few years.

If you really want to teach science in a manor that would engage kids, you need some exceptional teachers. Short of that, building some flexibility into the schedule might help. Give science teachers more prep time. Instead of having science 5 days a week for 50 minutes at a shot, make it four days with one of the days being longer for lab time.

Schools ain't designed to do what Dale thinks.... (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40224423)

Dale is confused. He's mis-framed his argument, based on the presumption that (American) public schools are intended to spawn entrepreneurs, inventors, and creators. Unfortunately, that's not true, and never was. They're designed to create a competent workforce and serve a lowest common denominator, nothing more. Now, we can argue all week long about whether a "conspiracy" brought about this particular evolution, but it doesn't change the design. The emergence of those entrepreneurs, inventors, and creators is simply left to chance, assuming that the inherent ambition and drive such people possess will speed them along to success in those endeavors, as opposed to nine-to-five employment. That in fact is also substantially true, though there are undoubtedly edge cases of the sort that Dale is fretting about here.

It brings to mind the lyrics of an old Rush song from the Eighties, Mission.

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