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« Reply #45: May 30, 2009, 04:39:57 pm »

Why should income be an obstacle? If someone is truly interested and adamant about pursuing, say, an art career then they will find a way.

Oh, bullshit.  Some "truly interested and adamant" people have to spend their time struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads, you know.  "Oh, the magic of the dweam will open the possibility to them because aaaaaaht is speshul" magical thinking like this has pretty much no credibility to anyone who has knowledge of how that sort of work is conducted.

From what I can tell, the easiest way to be an ordinary working artist is to have a spouse with an income that can support the entire family.  (This, while it is a sarcastic comment, is reasonably accurate.)  Second-easiest is to have a full-time job and do one's art in the "spare time".  Both of these are heavily class-based options, unavailable to the person who needs to work three part-time jobs to pay the rent and keep the family above a starvation diet.

Because so many people think that art of any sort is a frivolity or a luxury, it just plain doesn't pay very well in most cases.  Unless one's very very lucky, very very good, and/or very, very skilled at managing finances.  All of which are heavily privilege-based possibilities, like it or not.
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« Reply #46: May 31, 2009, 05:50:59 am »


I am also not certain why you expect "personal initiative" to somehow replace the educational responsibilities of public schools to produce people with basic cultural literacy.  It is part of the *job* of schools to *expose* students to a wide range of fields and skills so that they have some idea of what they'd like to get more advanced training in, whether in private lessons, college, or whatever.  *Advanced* training in particular skills and areas of study -- including, y'know, science, math, literature, and history -- is, of course, beyond the resources of most public schools.  That's why it's called "advanced."


Kindergarten = Get the child used to being away from parents.
Elementary Grades = Keep children busy while parents go to work.
Intermediate/High School Grades = Teach you to show up at a 9 to 5 job.
College = Get you into debt so you have to go to that 9 to 5 job.
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« Reply #47: May 31, 2009, 01:45:13 pm »

Kindergarten = Get the child used to being away from parents.
Elementary Grades = Keep children busy while parents go to work.
Intermediate/High School Grades = Teach you to show up at a 9 to 5 job.
College = Get you into debt so you have to go to that 9 to 5 job.

We actually discussed some of this at the campout this weekend (reason for or against SS, depending on your point of view, parents have to do the camping with their kids, there are no summer camps through them like the GSA and BSA, and Y have.  If they need to take a 10 mile hike, you have to do it yourself, or hope that someone else in your small group who is a registered leader will.  OWwwww)

For people who are not homeschooling for whatever reason, a useful side effect of the public schools is childcare while the parents go to work.  But  all of us at the campout are of the opinion that it should only be a side effect, not the main reason for it.

My 16 year old spend the weekend home alone with his dad, and he;s have trouble with chemistry and the idea was, dad the geochemist can help him prepare for the final.  We know why we aren't home schooling.  His teacher is much better and the tutoring.
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« Reply #48: May 31, 2009, 06:22:31 pm »

Teaching religion as if it is science is not "cultural education." The problem isn't with teaching a particular subject, the problem is with teaching a subject as if it were ANOTHER subject. Two totally different things.

For the record. I never mentioned 'Teaching religion as if it is science' and it is not something that I advocate (although it may well be cultural education in some cultures - I have no idea).

My question related to the appropriate content of a general syllabus, to which I would now add questions about the purpose/goals/objectives of such a syllabus and who it is intended to serve.
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« Reply #49: May 31, 2009, 06:27:28 pm »

I feel that art is fine as a subject if it relates to history of a culture but I simply feel it is not needed or necessary to teach it as a skill.
I don't want to hijack this thread but I will say this..if a child wants to learn to paint, sculpt, kick a ball or play the trombone and is actually interested in such things then I feel this is the responsibility of the parents to orchestrate something. 

I'm not interested in agreeing or disagreeing with this point. I am interested to understand what you see as the difference between Art History and the practice of Art that one is a suitable subject of public education and the other best suited to private education. I am likewise interested in what differentiates two subjects, such that one should be taught regardless of individual preferrences, while the other should be taught only in response to such preferrences.
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« Reply #50: May 31, 2009, 06:36:34 pm »

Like I tried to say before, learning of art as how it pertains to culture is one thing and it also can inspire a child to try something or actually learn something on their own. I realize my view is highly unpopular but this is how I see it. I don't want to say more or I will be accused of thread hijacking.

Threads drift Cheesy We cope. Also I would like to say on my part that I don't dislike your view. It is one shared by a great many people in my society and one that I rarely get the chance to explore more deeply with the people that hold it (mostly because I rarely get to talk deeply on non work-related topics IRL). I appreciate your preparedness to respond and know that it can be a bit overwhelming to be the only proponent of a perspective in a conversation with several other people Sad

An aspect of theis that I am interested in your perspective on is how society could best address the needs of children who (for whatever reason) are not able to access education other than at school (e.g. homeless, busy/irresponsible/ignorant parents, poverty, etc.)?
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« Reply #51: May 31, 2009, 06:39:01 pm »

Seriously.  Every single educational theorist I have read -- and, since I teach children's lit, I've read quite a few -- considers practical, hands-on education in the arts a key part of a well-rounded education.  That's not "recreation," that's sound educational theory:  kids learn to appreciate and understand art, music, drama a LOT more when they have the opportunity to DO it.

For the benefit of those of us who do not have a solid education in educational theory, would you mind giving us the 30sec version of why they all say it is so important? Does it go beyond the exposure to possibilities point?
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« Reply #52: May 31, 2009, 06:52:09 pm »

...if they need help there is oodles of resources to get help.

As I have said, schools, no matter what kind they are, cannot give you everything, that is where personal initiative comes in.

This point seems to be key in making sense of how you see a viable and worthwhile, public, education system working. What sor tof support should the state provide to individuals in persuing these non-core skills and knowledges?
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« Reply #53: May 31, 2009, 06:59:34 pm »

If you are genuinely interested in seeing the professional research, evidence, and rationale for support of the arts, I encourage you to visit the Arts Education Partnership (http://aep-arts.org/) or the National Art Education Association (http://www.naea-reston.org/olc/pub/NAEA/home/). If you require additional information on the subject, feel free to let me know, I can hook you up with my professional sources as well (though they are dry and not designed for the general public, including a lot of terminology which may not make sense outside my field).

Thanks for the links. Could you perhaps give a short overview (in this thread or another) of the basic tenets of contemporary educational theory? It's a topic that is tangential to many conversatios here at the Cauldon and I suspect one of ignorance for many of us. I like to think that it's not sheer bloody-mindedness on the part of those of us who are ignorant. It's not that I want to avoid personal research (although truth be told I wouldn't know good information from bad without a significant investment of time and energy), but I do think that there are some people on this thread who could provide a sound grounding in this area for those of us who have not previousy acquired one.
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« Reply #54: May 31, 2009, 09:34:09 pm »

Thanks for the links. Could you perhaps give a short overview (in this thread or another) of the basic tenets of contemporary educational theory? It's a topic that is tangential to many conversatios here at the Cauldon and I suspect one of ignorance for many of us. I like to think that it's not sheer bloody-mindedness on the part of those of us who are ignorant. It's not that I want to avoid personal research (although truth be told I wouldn't know good information from bad without a significant investment of time and energy), but I do think that there are some people on this thread who could provide a sound grounding in this area for those of us who have not previousy acquired one.

Sure. (Goodness knows, it's a topic I never tire of talking about  Cheesy) There is a lot of information to cover, but I think I can summarize the main points. The easiest way is to compare the 'modern' model of education to the so called 'industrial' model (which I fully recognize is still prevalent in many parts of the country, we are working to change that.) For the sake of simplicity, I'll just cover the basics of the instructional side of education, there have been major advancements in behavioral management as well, but I think that may be beyond the scope of our interest here.

Industrial Model

This is what most of use grew up with, characterized by the following:

1. One size fits all--programs designed to teach to the 'average' student applied religiously, with students who fall above or below the 'norm' being pulled out to receive special services (ie 'special ED' or 'gifted ED') Most instruction is done whole group via lecture and note taking, regardless of an individual’s preferred modality of learning. Students are also expected to keep their questions and thoughts to themselves until the end of the lesson.

2. Rote Memorization of Facts-- the idea that facts are all important and that one becomes an intellectual by memorizing vast quantities of them through repeated ‘practice’ tasks. (example: basic facts, spelling lists, state capitals, etc…) The teacher’s job is to provide a steady stream of ‘closed ended questions’ (questions with one answer reached by a specific method with no flexibility) and then assess student achievement based on the correctness of answers. Most questions are of the type: “Who/what/when/where is…?”

3. Read to Learn-- in the industrial model, relatively little of a student’s education focuses on the acquisition of reading skills with direct instruction in reading ending somewhere around third grade. From that point on, most academic tasks in the classroom involve reading as the primary means of learning, despite the fact the most students haven’t moved beyond the basics of the skill. Reading skills are often reinforced only through ineffective tactics like ‘round robin reading’ (where the teacher has kids read books out loud a paragraph at a time, assigning a different paragraph to each student)

4. Content not Context-- in the industrial model, content is taught outside of real world application. No attempt is made to incorporate things which are important in a child’s world or which are relevant to the specific cultural origins of the class as a whole. There is also no attempt to integrate the subjects or show how they relate (for instance, how math affects science and vice versa).

Modern Model

This is what most good colleges are training their teachers to do:

1. Differentiation, Integration, and Individualization --programs are designed to be modified based on student needs, allowing flexibility and a reduced need to remove students from the classroom to render effective services. Most instruction (especially in reading) is done in small groups with the rest of the class rotating through independent activities tailored to their specific needs as a learner. When whole group instruction is utilized, it spans a wide range of learning modalities which accommodate not only auditory learners, but visual and kinesthetic as well. Most ‘lectures’ are frequently broken up by or delivered in tandem with ‘hands on’ activities and sustained student feedback and interaction throughout. The lesson is often modified on the fly to adjust for student responses, discoveries, or confusion in the class.

2. Investigation of Concepts—students are not only encouraged but expected to discover concepts through active investigations of content material. Facts are presented in context (usually after the students have already puzzled them out for themselves) and are rarely memorized. When memorization is necessary, it is done organically through activities which do not make the memorization the sole focus but place the student in situations where successful completion of the activity requires knowledge of the facts in question. Teacher questions are open ended and may have more than one possible solution or ways of reaching the solution and students are assessed on their ability to come up with a solution more or less defensible based on facts/concepts they know or can deduce. Most questions are of the type: “What do you think is the best way to go about doing….? Why do you think that?” (example: no flashcards saying 4 x 10, but a cooking activity where each child needs 3 jellybeans, 2 cookies, and ½ a tablespoon of icing where the teacher requires the students to figure out how much of each material is needed for the class as a whole and a class discussion, conducted forum style, allows the students to decided how to calculate the materials with minimal teacher interference. At the end, the teacher may reveal the standard way to go about solving the problem and lead the students in a ‘closure’ discussion about what was good in the student solution and what didn’t work also addressing the ‘whys’ of that assessment)

3. Always Learning to Read --teachers instruct students in reading throughout the grade levels, with the focus switching from the usual ‘phonics’ to such diverse topics as etymology, metacognitive reading processes (learning about how we ‘think’ when we read and why),  literary criticism, etc… Many of these more advanced subjects are integrated (in admittedly simpler forms) in the early grades as well. “What is the author doing here? How do you know?” becomes a common question, even in kindergarten!  Round robin reading is completely eliminated in favor of small group or individual reading assessment and ‘choral reading’ where the class reads selections as a group (mainly done in the lower grades)

4. Context and Relevance-- Subjects are integrated, with overlap and connections pointed out and explored. A concerted effort is made to teach concepts through subjects which are culturally relevant and age appropriate (or at least interesting to the kids). This usually translates to social studies getting fully assimilated into the ‘basic’ subjects (reading, writing, math, and science).  Real world application is considered key and community based projects are liberally encouraged.
 
Now, these two models are essentially opposite extremes, so most places will fall somewhere between the two, but the trend is to move away from the former and toward the later.

I hope I’m being coherent, it’s the last weekend before school gets out and I’m swamped with report cards and other such stuff (my school works on a modern model, and as you can probably tell, it is a lot more work…especially in the area of assessment, since everything is ‘performance based’ or ‘project based’ with rubrics and extensive teacher comments as opposed to paper-pencil tests 'mark a-b-c' type  Wink)
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« Reply #55: May 31, 2009, 09:49:22 pm »

Sure.

Thank you for that. I found it very useful as a background to this thread. I'd be interested to understand more about the sort of qualities a subject needs to have in order to be deemed worth teaching as part of a general, publicly-funded curriculum. If you have the time during the chaos to shed some light (or if anyone else is carrying a torch) I for one would appreciate it.
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« Reply #56: May 31, 2009, 10:13:06 pm »

Thank you for that. I found it very useful as a background to this thread. I'd be interested to understand more about the sort of qualities a subject needs to have in order to be deemed worth teaching as part of a general, publicly-funded curriculum.

That gets much more fidgety. The curriculum is rarely decided by professionals in the field because 'state standards', or the specific items of curriculum taught, are decided by each individual state government, usually by politicians and not educators.  How I teach is a professional issue, what is taught is a political issue. For our part, national groups of educators, academics, and other contributors have created so called 'national standards' which are used as a reference by educators across states so that we can have some kind of consensus when working across state lines to better the educational system, but they are rarely (if ever) adopted whole sale by the states. In the case of things which educators feel should be taught, based on research in student achievement, but which are political controversial, (such as the arts we were discussing here) educators often form advocacy groups to try and lobby for those subjects and services.

As for what educators feel should be taught...well, opinions vary. Even the 'national standards' are decided largely by majority vote. However, research plays a big role. In general, the focus is on overall student achievement. Things that research shows help students achieve in school/life are lobbied for. Diversity and cultural sensitivity are also valued at the national level and actively included in national standards. I am personally of the opinion that the national standards are, on the whole, typically more 'liberal' than they are 'conservative'. State standards tend to be more 'conservative' than 'liberal'. But that's just personal observation. It's a complex issue, and one I am not as familiar with having worked mostly in the educational system itself and not the policy making state offices. At the end of the day, I teach what they tell me to, and by they, I mean the elected officials that end up having final say in the matter (indirectly, the voting peoples who pay the taxes, which is why I get so snippy when people complain about the 'curriculum' as if it is the educator's fault. My response is "write to your senator and vote"...like the rest of us.)
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« Reply #57: May 31, 2009, 10:48:23 pm »

The easiest way is to compare the 'modern' model of education to the so called 'industrial' model (which I fully recognize is still prevalent in many parts of the country, we are working to change that.)

Thank you! This was a great post.

Quote
For the sake of simplicity, I'll just cover the basics of the instructional side of education, there have been major advancements in behavioral management as well, but I think that may be beyond the scope of our interest here.

They probably are, but I would be very interested anyway.  If you lack the time or interest, if you could point me to someplace that compares what I grew up with in the 1960s to more modern ideas, I'd really appreciate it.
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« Reply #58: June 02, 2009, 08:58:59 am »

For the record. I never mentioned 'Teaching religion as if it is science' and it is not something that I advocate (although it may well be cultural education in some cultures - I have no idea).

My question related to the appropriate content of a general syllabus, to which I would now add questions about the purpose/goals/objectives of such a syllabus and who it is intended to serve.

Ah, I think I misunderstood your post. Mea culpa.
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« Reply #59: June 14, 2009, 12:35:54 pm »

Why should income be an obstacle? If someone is truly interested and adamant about pursuing, say, an art career then they will find a way. Last time I heard, there are programs to  help people and if there is not whatever happened to the idea of communities getting together and doing stuff themselves rather than depending on an already bankrupt government to do it for them?

I have two questions for you: do you have any children, and has your family ever lived at a low income level?  It seems to me like you just haven't experienced either of these things.  Personally, I very much agree that encouraging a child's interest in the arts is the responsibility of the parents (like when I was in junior high and reaaally wanted to quit band, but my mom made me stick it out).  But I think a child's exposure to the arts is a hugely necessary part of a well-rounded education.  The truth is, it's just not effective for kids to sit in a chair for eight hours every day and read about science, math and grammar.  They learn much better, and much more quickly, when presented with a variety of topics and a variety of activities throughout the day, including both concrete and abstract concepts and active and passive activities.

I'm graduating this year with my degree in music education, and my fiance has six more years to go 'til he gets his PhD, so I'll probably be low-income for a long time coming.  The fact is, we just can't afford to send our little girl to classes at an art studio, or to music lessons should she decide to play an instrument I couldn't teach her.  Does that mean she doesn't deserve to learn more than the basics of art or music?  The community support structure you talked about just doesn't exist.  There are no classes or things without a fee attached to them.  This is why the schools are there, in my opinion - to provide a free, well-rounded education to those children that need it.

And as for religion in schools, I would have no problem if my local high school introduced an 'Overview of Religion' course in which they introduced students to the basic concepts of the largest of the world's religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism) as long as the course was taught without bias and each major religion was given time in the sun.  Less populous religions would have to be the responsibility of the individual student, as obviously every single religion can't be touched on in a semester long course.  The problem I have with religion in schools is when it is only ONE religion, and it is taught like it is RIGHT.
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