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Author Topic: Primary and secondary education  (Read 1473 times)
Topazan
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May 11, 2013, 06:37:52 AM
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We have a thread for higher education, so I figured why not.

I'm just curious what people think is the best way to run an education system.  I know many people here are in favor of leaving it to the market, but I'd appreciate if you could be a little more specific, maybe say what you would choose for your own children.

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May 11, 2013, 07:54:47 AM
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I believe the best method is private education.  But this can only be accomplished when people aren't being robbed to pay for state schools that fail entirely to successfully educate (I'm speaking specifically of America, as I haven't lived anywhere else thus far.)  If we're going to talk about the best way to operate grade school, we have to include everything which causes public school (AFAIK, there's no country which doesn't want to indoctrinate their students with state-owned schools; if anyone knows of a country that doesn't, I'd like to know.)

So it works like this: lets say Bill owns 90% of the schools in a country.  We can agree, when a sole entity dominates the market, it's essentially a monopoly, right?  As the effects of a monopoly go, the price goes high, and the quality goes low.  As Bill receives a protection fee from his fellow citizens, he can afford to keep these schools running, and he can also control what the schools teach; he can also create a rule which requires his fellow citizens to attend some form of school, thanks to the fact that he has a monopoly on the security business, as well.  Because most people are already paying for the public schools, and most people cannot afford to pay for public schools and private schools, most people opt to send their children to the public schools; they also generally have no option to home school, as both parents are probably working to make ends meet, and also no option to keep their kids out of school, thanks to Bill's rule.  This is generally how our public school system works in America.

How, then, can we improve such a system?  Now that we have outlined the flaws of the American public school system (at its core, because the school system is a monopoly founded by coercion, the quality of service deteriorates dramatically, while parents have no choice but to use the public school system,) we can develop a system which will solve these flaws.

First, and foremost, we must raise the standard of living.  This can be achieved when we allow the American citizen his every dollar earned; this, however, goes much deeper than taxation, which would require the government to lose enough power until it could stop allowing corporations to purchase it.  Because the government currently has a lot of power, it becomes much easier for those with a lot of money to push this power in any given direction with the use of money.  For example: nobody wants to pay $500 for a vacuum cleaner which doesn't suck very well.  Likewise, a government with very little power will not help a corporation; to buy a government like that, you would also have to buy its citizens, who, because their government is weak, hold much more power individually.  All this adds up to people having the ability to actually function as their own businesses; corporations can no longer play dirty, and smaller businesses will have much more room to prosper.  This will help further distribute money from massive intercontinental corporate empires, to the average Joe across the street.  So now, your mom, or your dad, either own a businesses, or work for a guy who likely pays well, lest his employees leave for better wages elsewhere (we're assuming people have the spines to stand up to shit wages, which brings me to my next point.)

Next, you abolish minimum wage.  This video will explain it better than I can.  Long story short, if you need work, you will find it, until you can figure a better method of selling your time.

Anyway, this all adds up to a better living; you draw money out of the rich by stop giving them your money, and instead, buy from mom and pop.  Everyone gets a little more prosperous.  So lets assume, because we're doing so well, we, together, decide to no longer pay taxes; we support our own infrastructure and all that jazz.  Now our public schools cannot be funded.  So how do we make schools?  Well, educators in every country don't simply vanish in this event; instead, they go forth, and create their own businesses, and compete with one another to create the best god damned educational institutions in the world.  Since Bill's power over his country is now slashed, he can no longer legalize any monopolies, and these businesses known as schools are forever destined to compete with each other, whether it be grand institutions like Harvard or guitar prodigy Jim Smith teaching music theory at the rec center.  Specifically, in the case of primary school, because parents are no longer forced to give up their hard-earned cash for protection money, nor do they have to send their children to school, or which school, or for how long they go to school, the parents can decide which school they would be able to best afford in their budget, for the best service, and could even decide to teach their children on their own, or perhaps hire a tutor; really, anyone can teach a child basic math and writing skills, you just need someone to do it.  There will, specifically, no doubt, be schools appealing directly to children, or there could be schools which appeal to all ages; depends on what people want in any given area, and what the business owner would believe is best for his business.

Essentially, you take a monopoly out of the hands of the government, and give people the opportunity to own their own businesses, again.  This will provide a much healthier environment for children to learn, in general, and give them better opportunities to grow up and be something.  At which point, it is up to the parent to decide what is best for their children, and takes the matter out of the hands of the faceless entity known as government.  Our children are not a public matter.  Our children are the public.  Alas, as we can see, now, this entire matter boils down to the parent; the very core of the issue, the true creator of future societies.  But, having never been a parent, I believe there are others better suited to continue that argument.

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May 11, 2013, 08:10:41 AM
 #3

I appreciate your perspective, but in the OP I tried to clarify that I would like people to please be more specific than "leave it to the market".

You talk about private schools.  How do you envision these schools working?  Would they have a similar philosophy to current schools, or something more radical?  Which subjects would be more emphasized, and which would be less?  Would the time spent in school be about the same?  More? Less?

If it helps, imagine you're a parent in a free society looking for a school to enroll your kids in.  What would you look for?

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May 11, 2013, 08:25:22 AM
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I appreciate your perspective, but in the OP I tried to clarify that I would like people to please be more specific than "leave it to the market".

You talk about private schools.  How do you envision these schools working?  Would they have a similar philosophy to current schools, or something more radical?  Which subjects would be more emphasized, and which would be less?  Would the time spent in school be about the same?  More? Less?

If it helps, imagine you're a parent in a free society looking for a school to enroll your kids in.  What would you look for?

Ohh!  Sorry, I thought you were referring to something else Grin  You mean specifically how the schools themselves would operate.

Well, in my vision of education, they would all operate differently (otherwise, if they operated the same, they'd probably be owned by Bill.)  The school I would look for is the school which emphasizes philosophy.  Once you get someone yearning for knowledge, there's no stopping them.  The barrier is helping someone understand why they'd want knowledge; it's like Pandora's Box.  Once you understand, you can never not understand.  I'd like to introduce the idea of philosophy to my children at a young age; if I cannot do this myself (due to time constraints, of course,) I would seek a school which focused more on general education than the specifics, being math and science.  Those are important, too, but math and science don't develop thinking people; they develop logical robots.  Once someone develops a proper understanding of the world around them, then they can worry about why they'd want to learn math and science (of course, to change the world to their, and ultimately our, liking,) or they can worry about whatever it is they happen to enjoy.  Maybe they're really into art, or woodworking, or whatever the hell they think is neat.  Maybe they like computers.  Maybe they like animals.  I don't know; when I was a kid, I wanted to draw, and so I did, whenever everything else didn't take a priority.  A school which accommodates children, not children who accommodate the school.

I do not believe, however, that school is the end-all to produce a thinking child; as I said, it all boils down to the parent, the real educator, who shapes the child's attitude and wants.  So the question is, not what I would want to see in a school, but what society wants to see in their schools.  Now we're in tricky territory, as we're talking about a population which generally enjoys TV and gossip more than rational debate.  What would the previous generation want?  More than likely, the exact same thing they received, or better.  A school like mine would be hard pressed to succeed as a business, and likely wouldn't exist, unless I were the one to create it, as I don't believe many people share my same philosophy.  I would have to think long and hard, however, if I were to be an educator in such a school; what would I teach?  I'm not sure.  How do you teach someone to love to learn?  I'd essentially be getting the kids hooked on knowledge, thus increasing the businesses of any other school.  Perhaps such a philosophy would be popular after all.

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May 11, 2013, 08:39:21 AM
 #5

Hm, it seems like offering that many activities at one school would be a little impractical.

But, I agree with you that letting the students direct some of their education is key.  I definitely think we need to focus more on independent study.  From what I've been hearing, some homeschoolers have had great success with more self-directed, independent studies.

What I envision is a general scaling down of education.  A school will basically consist of one responsible adult supervising a small group of kids as they study pretty much on their own at their own pace, with frequent class trips to places of interest in the local area.  I'd also like to see more of an effort to expose students to the "real world" at an earlier age, maybe having them organize community service efforts or something.

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May 11, 2013, 09:35:37 AM
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Hm, it seems like offering that many activities at one school would be a little impractical.

But, I agree with you that letting the students direct some of their education is key.  I definitely think we need to focus more on independent study.  From what I've been hearing, some homeschoolers have had great success with more self-directed, independent studies.

What I envision is a general scaling down of education.  A school will basically consist of one responsible adult supervising a small group of kids as they study pretty much on their own at their own pace, with frequent class trips to places of interest in the local area.  I'd also like to see more of an effort to expose students to the "real world" at an earlier age, maybe having them organize community service efforts or something.


That would be a good direction; not all students learn at the same pace, and I believe all public schools acknowledge this as fact, yet refuse to make any reasonable changes to their system.  Really, all study is independent; the only thing a teacher can do is point a student in the right direction.  As the learning process is a completely individual activity, it is up to the individual to decide how they learn.  A teacher can do their absolute best and still cannot teach all students; it is up to the individual to take in that knowledge and understand it.  If we can assume that a lot of any individual's learning process occurs both in and out of school, and primarily without school once an individual decides they no longer want to attend school (lets say, when they turn 18, or maybe after they get a bachelor's), then it would be reasonable to also assume that the most important thing a teacher can impart in their students is how to learn without the need for a teacher.  However, this would be counter-productive to the business of education, as the point is to keep a student for life, not turn them into self-efficient think-tanks who can study completely independent from any institution (which is exemplified with how much learning material there is on just the Internet, not including downloadable textbooks and other more 'official' learning materials.)

So then schools would want to create a dependency effect...  At which point, it would be up to the populace to snuff out deliberate crippling.  Unless people realize this is bad, however, it would likely become a very popular business practice, as it is a good thing that colleges today are taking in students with a dependency on official school systems for their core influx of knowledge.  Instead, I imagine a school, as you said, to be a place to go to be free to explore your desire to understand, at ones own pace; in adulthood, it would be a quiet area with access to knowledge, but then we could call these highly advanced libraries, right?  Libraries with classes, where it's more so people coming together on a popular subject and ironing out the kinks of their understanding of said subject, possibly with a senior to ensure they're headed in the right direction (whereas instead today, this senior would simply preach to a mass.)  This, I believe, is the true vision of school, on all levels, from primary to postgrad.

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May 11, 2013, 12:11:50 PM
 #7

I appreciate your perspective, but in the OP I tried to clarify that I would like people to please be more specific than "leave it to the market".

You talk about private schools.  How do you envision these schools working?  Would they have a similar philosophy to current schools, or something more radical?  Which subjects would be more emphasized, and which would be less?  Would the time spent in school be about the same?  More? Less?

If it helps, imagine you're a parent in a free society looking for a school to enroll your kids in.  What would you look for?

I know the "leave it to the market" seems a bit arbitrary but it's the market process that brings the quality to a product or service.

If you have a monopoly without competitors there is no incentive for you to innovate.  In fact, the risks and costs associated with innovating make it prohibitive to do if there is no need to do so.  The people working in the industry would rather spend the money on themselves and keeping things the way they are because that's what they perceive to be working as they think that's the way it's always worked.   Thus they don't adapt to the changing marketplace.

What would schools look like in a competitive market?  Who knows?  We can speculate on it but I don't think anyone truly knows.   Advancing technology brings forth ways of doing things that people have never thought of and upends previous ways of doing things.  Education is no different in this regard.  This is another reason why the current system is so bad.  It's not flexible to change and has government force behind it to prevent it.

I don't think it would look anything like the current system.  I think there would be more flexibility, more mixing of ages, more students following their own paths to knowledge.  I think the regimentation of going through each year until you get to the final year and all that would end up in the trash heap.   More of a focus on dealing with real-life and all the problems it brings up.  Hell, they might even get taught about money and credit.

And really, when you start speculating don't you come up with your own ideas that you find interesting?  Other people do I'm sure as well.  So why do we all have to be jammed into one system?  Who's to say it is the best?  Anyone who wants to can stay in the current system but shouldn't we allow others to choose other paths if that's what they wish.  Education should be about freedom of choice, not being locked into one way of doing things whether you like it or not.
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May 11, 2013, 12:24:44 PM
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I know the "leave it to the market" seems a bit arbitrary but it's the market process that brings the quality to a product or service.

If you have a monopoly without competitors there is no incentive for you to innovate.  In fact, the risks and costs associated with innovating make it prohibitive to do if there is no need to do so.  The people working in the industry would rather spend the money on themselves and keeping things the way they are because that's what they perceive to be working as they think that's the way it's always worked.   Thus they don't adapt to the changing marketplace.

What would schools look like in a competitive market?  Who knows?  We can speculate on it but I don't think anyone truly knows.   Advancing technology brings forth ways of doing things that people have never thought of and upends previous ways of doing things.  Education is no different in this regard.  This is another reason why the current system is so bad.  It's not flexible to change and has government force behind it to prevent it.

I don't think it would look anything like the current system.  I think there would be more flexibility, more mixing of ages, more students following their own paths to knowledge.  I think the regimentation of going through each year until you get to the final year and all that would end up in the trash heap.   More of a focus on dealing with real-life and all the problems it brings up.  Hell, they might even get taught about money and credit.

Taking into account emerging technologies today aimed at education (such as Khan Academy and Coursera,) I don't think it's a stretch for people of tomorrow to self-educate at home, when no other options are available/preferable.

Lets consider the teacher: say, Ms. Smith, gives the same lecture about basic Algebra each semester.  If she recorded this lecture, she wouldn't have to lecture anymore.  Thus, you wouldn't have to keep paying her to lecture; instead, one could refer to the video, with the drawback of being unable to ask questions (but every question about Algebra has been asked at least fifty times, so these should also be readily available as a FAQ.)  I believe this is exactly how Khan Academy works; one video, watched several times, educates a lot of people, or in the very least, acts as a refresher, or a precursor to a class.

The main argument against this is, "It could never replace the physical experience."  Which I cannot dispute; we haven't had the Internet for long to begin with, so there's still a lot of foggy areas that we cannot yet touch.  But a virtual class isn't impossible; we could have one right now, if we wanted.  All we'd need is a knowledgeable person and an audience, maybe a chat room with screen share.  But again, I have to refer back to Ms. Smith, who already recorded a class about this or that.  Hell, we're learning right now, just by talking to each other on this forum.

Problem is, this all cuts deep into profits made by businesses.  So as you said, we don't know.  Education could be free in the future, in another sense of the word; free because it's copyable and easily distributed, not the false sense of free today when directed at public schools paid by everyone.

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May 11, 2013, 09:31:36 PM
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@hawkeye: Let me repeat this:
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If it helps, imagine you're a parent in a free society looking for a school to enroll your kids in.  What would you look for?

Frankly, we aren't going to have much of a discussion by just reiterating that free markets are good.  In addition, I'd like this discussion to also be open to people of other political persuasions.  How the overall system should be run and how an individual school should be run are two different questions, and I'd like to focus on the latter.

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May 11, 2013, 09:43:42 PM
 #10

How the overall system should be run and how an individual school should be run are two different questions, and I'd like to focus on the latter.

Each parent is going to have a preference on that. They will not necessarily agree. Nor is there one objectively "better" method. Thus, the market.

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May 11, 2013, 10:16:33 PM
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So what's your preference then?

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May 12, 2013, 04:33:58 AM
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@hawkeye: Let me repeat this:
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If it helps, imagine you're a parent in a free society looking for a school to enroll your kids in.  What would you look for?

Frankly, we aren't going to have much of a discussion by just reiterating that free markets are good.  In addition, I'd like this discussion to also be open to people of other political persuasions.  How the overall system should be run and how an individual school should be run are two different questions, and I'd like to focus on the latter.

OK, you want actual ideas.  Since I'm not a parent and don't really have anything invested in education, other than I believe it is lifelong and should be pleasurable (it mostly is for me), I'll just say that I think it should be and can be a pleasurable experience for children too.   And I don't think that fits the current paradigm.
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May 13, 2013, 04:17:55 AM
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I think that at the fundamental level there should be no education system at all. I mean, in the society we have now it wouldn't work if we just took the education system away because there would be a high increase in unemployment; but if we got rid of concepts like "child ownership", child labor laws and minimum wage laws I think it would have a favorable effect on society as a whole.

If you think about it for a second, when are we learning? All the time. So why should we have this huge chunk of our lives set apart to learn irrelevant things that 90% of the time we don't care about and actually do things that would benefit the well being of ourselves and others?

Let say we never had elementary/middle/high school. Then we would have been working, exploring and playing for the first 20 years of our lives. We'd learn about how to manage our finances at a much younger age and we'd have so much more time to decide what we want to do with our lives. When we get to the age of 18 or 20 or whenever most people finish their education we would already have a bit of money and real-world experience under our belt and would be able to retire at a much younger age.

Plus we wouldn't have these impoverished parents living on food stamps and welfare because their kids would also be generating income to the household instead of just being huge money suckers, which essentially means less of a workload for everyone, since kids wouldn't be wasting their efforts on useless homework assignments and actually contributing the economy.

Kids would effectively be less spoiled, mature and responsible as well since they aren't getting things handed to them on a silver platter for the first two decades of their lives.
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May 13, 2013, 04:40:42 AM
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I think that at the fundamental level there should be no education system at all. I mean, in the society we have now it wouldn't work if we just took the education system away because there would be a high increase in unemployment; but if we got rid of concepts like "child ownership", child labor laws and minimum wage laws I think it would have a favorable effect on society as a whole.

I mean, if you think about it for a second, when are we learning? All the time. So why should we have this huge chunk of our lives set apart to learn irrelevant things that 90% of the time we don't care about and actually do things that would benefit the well being of ourselves and others?

I mean, if we never had elementary/middle/high school, we would have been working, exploring and playing for the first 20 years of our lives, we'd learn about how to manage our finances at a much younger age and we'd have so much more time to decide what we want to do with our lives. When we get to the age of 18 or 20 or whenever most people finish their education we would already have a bit of money and real-world experience under our belt and would be able to retire at a much younger age.

Plus we wouldn't have these impoverished parents living on food stamps and welfare because their kids would also be generating income to the household instead of just being huge money suckers, which essentially means less of a workload for everyone, since kids wouldn't be wasting their efforts on useless homework assignments and actually contributing the economy.

Kids would effectively be less spoiled, mature and responsible as well since they aren't getting things handed to them on a silver platter for the first two decades of their lives.
I approve of this. We should teach kids how to learn, and then let them learn.

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May 13, 2013, 06:35:44 AM
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I approve of this. We should teach kids how to learn, and then let them learn.

It's odd knowing we have all the answers on how to fix "this" or "that" but not being able to go through with them; there's no button that says "do this", but instead, millions upon millions of people whose minds would need swaying.  All I could really do is raise my kids in this fashion and explain to others (not now, of course, as no parent would listen to the parenting advice of the childless) why one method trumps another.

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May 13, 2013, 05:51:02 PM
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I approve of this. We should teach kids how to learn, and then let them learn.

It's odd knowing we have all the answers on how to fix "this" or "that" but not being able to go through with them; there's no button that says "do this", but instead, millions upon millions of people whose minds would need swaying.  All I could really do is raise my kids in this fashion and explain to others (not now, of course, as no parent would listen to the parenting advice of the childless) why one method trumps another.
One of the many pitfalls of a democracy, unfortunately.

I find comfort in the fact that technology can and has undermined this system and I hope that it will be gone in my lifetime.
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May 13, 2013, 07:45:03 PM
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I approve of this. We should teach kids how to learn, and then let them learn.

I think we should force them to learn how to learn, and then provide them with materials and sources to learn from. I think kids are lazy. I also think "letting them learn" shirts parenting and educator responsibility by suggesting that as long as they know how to learn, they're on their own, instead of providing them with tools. My bias comes from me growing up and being surrounded by lazy American kids, and watching them be completely wiped out in education and skills by Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Russian/Ukrainian kids.

Then again, I guess as long as America can sustain being lazy, and competing in the world by continuing to import immigrant labor (I don't mean for farming, I mean for all the top management and research positions in top businesses), then it'll be ok. But my fear is that fewer and fewer educated immigrants are choosing to come to America.

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May 13, 2013, 07:54:21 PM
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I approve of this. We should teach kids how to learn, and then let them learn.

I think we should force them to learn how to learn, and then provide them with materials and sources to learn from.
Well, that's a big part of letting a kid learn... providing them the sources, making it fun, and learning along with them.

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May 13, 2013, 08:06:35 PM
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... making it fun ...

I think that's the part no one has really figured out yet. Used to be you were forced to learn how to work a farm to survive - not fun. Now it's being forced to learn how to do office work - still not fun. When is the fun supposed to come in?

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May 13, 2013, 08:11:34 PM
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... making it fun ...

I think that's the part no one has really figured out yet. Used to be you were forced to learn how to work a farm to survive - not fun. Now it's being forced to learn how to do office work - still not fun. When is the fun supposed to come in?

Just because the job is boring doesn't mean learning the skills for that job has to be.

For instance: The skills you use in insurance actuary are the same skills you use in determining the odds in a game of chance, such as D&D.

You'd be surprised how much you can learn by playing. Wink

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