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US Schools - are they that bad?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Norwegianwood, Jun 5, 2005.

  1. I just listened to the radio, wich is something I very seldom do. Anyway, this guy, who is a Norwegian journalist working in Washington, read one of his weekly "letters" from the US to Norway. This time he really flamed the american school system, based on his experience with his daughter. He basically said that the students were trained to not think for themselves. Most of the tests his daughter had were simple "a,b,c,or d?" tests, he said. That sort of assignments are almost banned over here. But, as his daugher concluded, she learned more on this school than in Norway. More of the things she could easily find on Google. He also said there were no "smalltalk" between students and teachers, and that the students had an enormous respect for authorities. They even have to adress teacher with their surname, according to this guy. He also said that the good universities over there cost a fortune. (Here it's all free.)

    Basically, I'm just a humble student interested in how you guys on the other side of the globe, get around. You don't have to be from the US, i'd be interested in any country for that matter. Guess I'm a weirdo :D
  2. It varies greatly from school to school, teacher to teacher. My experience in high school was nothing like that, and much time was spent in discussions with the teachers about what we were learning about, and it was very interactive. One thing to note is that in the US, there are two major advanced academic programs called Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate. (You should have IB in Norway as well) On the whole, those programs are very good, difficult, and interactive. You will not see multiple-choice tests often. However, from my experience the classes that are non IB/AP are dumbed down and do not provide a good education. Most of the kids in them either don't speak fluid English or just don't care about their education.

    As for not being taught to think for themselves, I actually took a theory of knowledge class that was on the subject of thought itself, and forced you to explore how you think etc, and make your own conclusions. There were many elements like this in my other classes. However, this obviously does not represent the school system in the US as a whole.

    As for the Universities, the private ones cost a fortune, and the public schools cost a lesser fortune. Many of the public schools are just as good as/better than many private schools, but some of them aren't so great. As for the surnames thing, most of my instructors prefer to be addressed by their first name. When talking about the "thinking for yoruselves" thing in colleg, from my experience the opposite is true. Many of my instructors would actually get upset if noone would ask questions. In some of my classes the discussion would flow based on input by students. So no, that opinion expressed on the radio does not represent the US educational system on the whole. (But mine doens't either.)
  3. Mike Money

    Mike Money In Memoriam

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    No, they are not as bad as they are made out to be...

    ABCD tests are not a problem... I don't think they hinder education at all. Whenever we have a test like that, the answer is never obvious, so we have to think about it, and most of the time work out the problem. The answers will all either be very similar, or a world different.

    I do think our system needs reform, though. To much time is wasted on the kids who just don't/can't/won't get it. We need to go to a Europe-style system where we prep the COLLEGE kids for COLLEGE, and the others for trade school and such.

    I'm 191 out of a class of 592... I'm not great at math or science, but I am one of the better students at the school at History, English, and Reading Comprehension... I write killer essays. I suck at format, but the content is great. So is my vocabulary... In 8th grade, I was sent to the principals office for using the word "pyrotechnic". Apparently, 13 year olds are not allowed to know that word, and if they do, then they are probably going to blow the place up. Anyways, that was cleared up, and I was given extra-credit for a word that was "ahead of my years".

    What I'm getting at, I guess, is that people like me that are better at English, Reading, History, etc... and not so great at math and science should be put into classes where we excell... and in the end, if that means some sort of vocational school, I can live with that. Atleast I don't have a transcript with A's in everything except math and science.
  4. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    If we're talkin' K-12 public:

    Some areas of the country that you think would have the worst schols, have pretty good schools. Other places one would assume they have good schools, don't.

    School quality is really community based.
  5. UnsungZeros

    UnsungZeros The only winning move is not to play.

    School quality here can vary a lot from place to place. This is largely a result of our federal system of government where the states and localities run the schools. It also means that there is not a standard curriculum for the country. Teachers have a good deal of control over how they teach, although that freedom is becoming increasingly limited as there is a lot of pressure to have the students preform well on standardized tests.

    As far a multiple choice assignments go, in my experience, I didn't get a lot of them. Although most of my tests were multiple choice, but there was usually a free response section in addition to the multiple choice. Teachers are always refered to and addressed by their surnames. That's just a matter of respect.

    Small talk is a matter of how individual teachers run their classrooms. Some develop relationships with their students and some don't. Some allow for free class discussions on a subject that may go off on tangents. Others stick strictly to the lesson.

    University education can be quite costly. Its common for some people to start saving for it as soon as your child is born. Private universities tend to be much more expensive than public universities which are subsidized by tax money.
  6. gilbert46


    Sep 21, 2004
    Sacramento, CA
    In CA atleast, to my knowledge they are teaching to get the standard test scored higher instead of teaching the kids what they need to know for life, and more importantly, the next step in thier education and future career.
  7. Interesting reading! This just proves once again that one can not rely their knowledge upon one source.

    Its funny, because it seems like your university situation is quite opposite from in Norway. Those who go to private universities here are basically those who doesn't have good enough grades to get into the public once.

    The surname thing is a matter of cultural differences, I guess. I have never yet experienced, nor heard of, a teacher (or person, for that matter) that would like to be entitled by his surename.In my opinon, respect should be earned by the teacher as much as the student anyway...
  8. Yeah, this year they tried to begin with standard tests over here as well. Hovewer, most of the students refused to put them in, so I believe the ministry of education gave up :smug:
  9. Toasted


    May 26, 2003
    Leeds, UK
    Multiple choice tests are a joke. Get an essay written, that shows understanding.
  10. One thing to note about multiple-choice tests: Most of my tests in high-school were not multiple choice. The most notable multi-choice ones were actually my IB exams, which were created for an international audience. (mostly Europe and the US I believe, originating from the UK.)

    And I need to emphasise something: You have a choice in most cases as to wheather you take the tougher classes (usually with much better teachers) or the more basic ones. The students who want to learn and make something more of their education and their life take the tougher ones, and the ones that don't care (or are 3rd-world immigrants) take the regular classes. My point is that if you want a quality education it's there for you, but if you don't want one then you don't have to have one.
  11. Ericman197


    Feb 23, 2004
    It can go both ways. You can bull**** an essay, but how can you bull**** a multiple choice test? One can always guess and get about 4% to 50%, depending on the structure of the test, but many tests will deduct points for guessing incorrectly (APs and SATs for example). An essay/fill-in on the other hand can easilly be BS'ed for at least partial credit. I'd have to say that a skilled BS'er could do just as well if not better on an essay than a true or false test.

    My school is trying to get away from objective based learning. We do PBLs (problem based learning). In a PBL, the students do most of their own research/learning while the teacher makes up the rubrics and projects while facilitating our work. By all accounts, this system better prepares us for work in the real world and allows us to learn and accomplish a great deal more than we would in a lecture. In practice, it has been failing miserably.
  12. If the person grading the essay test knows what he or she is doing, then BSing the essay will result in a very low mark.
  13. UnsungZeros

    UnsungZeros The only winning move is not to play.

  14. Scottie Johnson

    Scottie Johnson

    Sep 8, 2004
    Rant Warning.

    There are so many highschools in this country, so it really depends where you live and your financial situation.

    What really ticks me off is universities.

    It costs an obscene amount to go to a good college here. Where it gets very pricey is when you find a college you actually want to go to, but you don't live in that state. Out-of-state tuition is usually double the cost if you had been lucky and lived in the state you wanted to go to college in. That is what really makes me mad.

    Then when you get to the typical american university, you have to take 2.5 years of general studies classes, on average. This leads to a large amount of money wasted on classes you were not even interested in and didn't learn anything in because all you did was memorize to pass the test.

    I went the University of Nebraska at Lincoln for 1.5 years. The thing that college really taught me was how to deal with people.
  15. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    i'll only need *counts*...four general education classes.

    yay for AP!

    as far as high school goes...

    i am from florida.

    that's one of the bottom three in the country, i think, in public schools.

    and of that, i was in a county whose schools are headed in a downward spiral, not-so-vaguely reminiscent of a flushing toilet.

    the good teachers are few and far between; i am thankful that i managed to have a lot of'em. but they are getting fewer and farther-between with each passing year.

    my old high school probably won't even have a physics program next year. which means that if i had been two years younger, i might have been doing something completely different right now and not being as happy with my life's calling as i could be.

    yeah...that high school is hanging by a thread.
  16. I know some have already touched on this, but I believe both forms of test taking have advatages/disadvatages. I used to look forward to essay tests...even when I hadn't studied. Snow balling an essay test takes a minimal level of actual comprehension of the specific question at hand and a great deal of imagination and general knowledge of the studied subject.

    Do you always get a great grade? No. But you have a far better chance than if you are asked specific questions and asked to choose the correct answer.

    Bottom line: multiple choice tests provide a handful of possible answers and one correct one. Essay tests allow you to create your own.

  17. Ericman197


    Feb 23, 2004
    True, but I'd like to think I'm better at BSing than the graders are at detecting BS. That's just me though.
  18. Petary791


    Feb 20, 2005
    Michigan, USA
    Supposedly I go to the second best public school in the state, and i'd say it shows. My parents complain about the high tax dollars, but they said that's why they moved to GP-- for a better education.

    Now my cousin goes to East Detroit High, and what a **** hole.
  19. How humble of you.

  20. Ericman197


    Feb 23, 2004
    Same here, more or less. The real estate taxes in my district are of the highest in the country :meh:

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