Here is a question many of you would probably consider a bit whimsical, if not heretical; but I assure you, it has a dead serious intent.  If you were education czar, what would YOU require be taught (or not taught) in American schools?

Let me get you started.  Here are three things that I believe SHOULD be taught but AREN’T: metric system; evolution; critical thinking.

And here are three that ARE being taught, but SHOULDN’T: spelling; long division; propaganda.

My full list is much longer; but I would like to hear your thoughts.  If I get responses, I am prepared to vigorously defend my philosophical positions.

Also, what do you think should be the ultimate goals of education?  As a teacher for 36 years, mine were the development of ATTITUDES; specifically - responsibility, self-reliance, creativity, initiative, integrity; and most of all - the value of hard work.  And repeated testing/grading do NOTHING to inculcate these values.  I hate to say it, but most American teachers test and grade in order to avoid the hard work of teaching 40 kids in a classroom.  That’s not entirely their fault, though.  It is the fault of the entire 19th century paradigm under which our education system stuggles, impotently, to succeed. 

By the way: Sal Khan ROCKS!   

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Comment by Marc Poulin on October 17, 2012 at 8:13pm

I'm sorry, I can't get past the fact that you don't think spelling should be taught in school. The way kids spell on Facebook and Twitter makes me think teachers don't focus enough on spelling. 

Comment by Ed on October 17, 2012 at 10:15pm

@ Marc

With the advent of personal communications devices such as the ubiquitous  I-Phones and the social phenomena called texting, there seems to be a wanton disregard for grammatical structure and dictionary correct spelling. "Tweets" with their maximum character limit seem to make the phenomena even more apparent. All this has already boiled over into many web forums. Brevity seems to be a most sought after quality. I am thankful it is not appreciated on this site. 

Comment by Unseen on October 18, 2012 at 12:02am

Brevity, when not required, needs to take a back seat to clarity. Clarity is best achieved when the communication medium is used according to mutually understood rules.

Comment by Unseen on October 18, 2012 at 12:23am

"long division is a special case of one that traditionally requires far more classroom time to teach than is efficacious"

Translating that into plain English, you're saying that most kids spend time studying long division without learning it, aren't you? Why is it then that most of us can do long division?

Let's take that kind of argument further. Most people who take college-level philosophy don't end up being competent philosophers. Does it follow, then, that we should shut down the college philosophy courses? 

Comment by Ed on October 18, 2012 at 9:49pm

@ Arch

Texting, with all it's inherent dangers, will hopefully prove to be just a social trend that finally fades away. But I wonder.

Comment by Unseen on October 18, 2012 at 10:11pm

The kids like texting because they can do it unobtrusively around other people who can't listen in. They can also covertly do it in class rather than paying attention, which explains a lot in terms of the functional illiteracy one sees in so many of the young.

Some kids text hundreds of times per day, which I think qualifies it as an OCD.


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