Friday, September 18, 2009

Is our children learning?

Apparently not.

Well, actually, given my own experiences in the teaching profession, probably the reactions of the high school students were:

  1. Am I getting graded on this?
  2. Will this be on the test?
  3. You didn't teach us any of this! Why are you giving us a test on stuff we didn't study?
Once question #1 was answered "No", the next thing they did was whine, "So why am I doing this?" and once told, "because it's the assignment", then just go down the rows marking shit at random.

In other words, I don't think American high school students are as stupid as this survey says. Apathetic, yes. Unmotivated, yes. Stupid? Well, a lot are... but a lot aren't, too, and I find it hard to believe that only 23% of American schoolchildren know that George Washington was the first President of the United States of America.

-- Badtux the "They're dumb, but not THAT dumb" Penguin


  1. Is Oklahoma one of those "teach the controversy" states? Because that's about the only thing that would explain it. The fact that the chart says that no one got more than 7 right out of 10 is downright terrifying.

    What I'm more curious about is who these students think was the first President. Jesus?

  2. MD, while it's easy to pile onto Oklahoma here, my bet is that you'd get the same results if you did the survey in New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, or California. Our kids are just plain tested out thanks to Every Child Left Behind and its state clones, and giving them one more thing that looks like a test -- but isn't, doesn't get graded, doesn't count towards graduation, doesn't result in any more or less funding for the school -- is going to get bullshit results because as far as they're concerned, it is bullshit, just yet another meaningless rote exercise to go through on the course to getting out of school so they can do something more meaningful than regurgitate rote-memorized nonsense onto standardized tests.

    -- Badtux the Schol Penguin

  3. Looks like the test format was multiple guess. The answer spread is graphed here.

    And by the way, the first President was not George Washington, it was John Hanson, not one of the options offered.

    Jzb the Constitution-loving trombonist

    WV: anterser, as in "How come all them Okies got all them antersers all rong?"

  4. The President of the Continental Congress is hardly the same job as the Presidency set up by the U.S. Constitution, Jazzy. It's like comparing the President of the local PTA to President Obama -- they're simply different jobs.

    And yeah, it was a multiple guess test, just like all those Every Child Left Behind tests that are taking up two weeks of every child's school year that they could otherwise be using for learning. And like I said, I doubt the results would be any different in any other state -- our kids are just plain tested out, and tossing something else that looks like a mutliple guess test at them, but a) it doesn't count towards their grade, b) doesn't count towards graduation, and c) doesn't count towards their school's funding, is not going to get a very accurate response from kids who are just plain sick of BS tests.

    - Badtux the School Penguin

  5. Au contraire, my dear Tux. As my link indicates, "The new country was actually formed on March 1, 1781 with the adoption of The Articles of Confederation."

    And: "Hanson, as President, ordered all foreign troops off American soil, as well as the removal of all foreign flags. This was quite a feat, considering the fact that so many European countries had a stake in the United States since the days following Columbus. Hanson established the Great Seal of the United States, which all Presidents have since been required to use on all official documents. President Hanson also established the first Treasury Department, the first Secretary of War, and the first Foreign Affairs Department. Lastly, he declared that the fourth Thursday of every November was to be Thanksgiving Day, which is still true today."

    Sure this was pre-constitution, but not pre-U.S. as defined in the Articles of Confederation. Hanson had to make it up as he went along, since the job had never existed before, but IMHO, for all of that he should get more credit, not less. This happened after the war was over and the U.S was trying to decide what sort of a country we were going to become. His decisions were monumental in determining what the roles and responsibilities of future presidents would be - the 6 who followed under the Articles and the 44 and counting under the Constitution.

    Not at all like President of the local - or even national - PTA.

    JzB the not-conceding-this-point trombonist

  6. "When I think back on all the crap
    I learned in High School,
    It's a wonder I can think at all."

    says it all
    Simon And Garfunkle

  7. "When I think back on all the crap
    I learned in High School,
    It's a wonder I can think at all."

    and, of course, the crap was 'taught' (I would say 'indoctrinated') specifically to ensure we would find difficulty in 'thinking'..

  8. Your high school must have really sucked, then. At my high school I learned enough chemistry and biology and physics that I later tested out of the entry-level courses in those subjects at college, learned enough about how our system of government is *supposed* to work to know that how it's supposed to work isn't how it's currently working, etc. Yeah, there was a lot of bullshit too, like our entire American History class was careful to be a propagandized version of American history rather than what really happened (the Filipino-American War was quite completely omitted, for example, because the fact that the U.S. ran concentration camps and exterminated entire villages was not something anybody wanted to put into a high school classroom), but by and large there was a lot of content too.

    The main problems our schools have today is our current society, which disdains expertise and teaches that the way to succeed is by being a lazy slacker who achieves success via dishonesty and getting other people to do your work for you, not anything taught in the schools or the way it's taught. Other countries get better results from basically the same curriculum and teaching methods, so the problem ain't the curricum or the teaching methods. The problem is a society that by and large is willfully stupid, amoral, and lazy.

    - Badtux the Former Teacher Penguin

  9. I'd also lay some blame at the feet of standardized testing and the entire every-child-left-behind mentality. Here in MI we have the MEAP (MI educational Achievement Plan) test. What happens is teachers teach the test. Students practice the test. School becomes, to some degree, about the test, not about learning the curriculum.

    Jzb the non-standard trombonist


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