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US Education System: Gone to the Dogs?
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9557
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm, interesting stats. Thanks for that. Better to get an idea of where you are coming from. But one gets a strong feeling that numbers in the articles are being fiddled for the domestic readership and to look less embarrassing.

And you are right, my main argument is quite anecdotal. But I can safely predict that the vast majority of EFL teachers from outside the US will recognise what I describe. Your stats may be manipulated, have extenuating factors thrown into the mix etc. to show that the US is the world leader, but the final result, i.e. an intelligent sounding graduate of a teritary institution, still falls short very often, as EFL staff rooms around the world bear witness to.

Not knowing about Dante OK because that is eurocentric? Oh, come on. If you are a literature graduate from the western world, how can you not have heard of him? That would be like me defending having never heard of Mark Twain or Harriet Beecher Stowe because I'm not from the USA. I'm sorry, but this is a sore point with me because a witticism of mine about a Beatrice fell flat due to m'colleagues lack of ...erm ... education. Tsk tsk!

In any case, I think you are right to lend your support to teachers in the US. It does seem like they are under all sorts of political and even religious pressure. Darwin seems to be virtually proscribed in science classes. Can't imagine how that is supposed to work. However, I think a useful first step might be to admit that academic results are not as rosy as they are being manipulated to be.

If all else fails, plenty of teaching jobs in Moscow. Smart students, despite regional poverty. No religious or political interference : )
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12731
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Sasha,

"But I can safely predict that the vast majority of EFL teachers from outside the US will recognise what I describe."

Well, you can predict - heck, I can predict the opposite - but not, I think, "safely."

Could you explain to me how your prediction can be "safely" made?

Regards.
John
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9557
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Johnslat

The prediction is 'safely' made, based as it is an experience and evidence, because I am certain of the outcome.

There are not too many British teachers, or Germans or French for that matter, who are ridiculed for their impoverished vocabulary, especially when they make spurious claims to having superior education. They don't attempt to bask in the reflected glory of their top unis (to which they didn't actually go), impervious, or perhaps oblivious, to the biting humour at their expense.

I know I am being harsh here. And I do actually have good American colleagues. I mean, they are even friends. But how many mixed groups of over 100 teachers does one need to observe before 'safe' predictions can be made about the constituents? It is not just I who has ever made this remark. It is almost accepted as a truism in EFL.

Regards

Sasha
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12731
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Sasha,

"But how many mixed groups of over 100 teachers does one need to observe before 'safe' predictions can be made about the constituents?"

Probably about the same number as making generalizations about any large group: whites, blacks, British, Americans, Russians, etc.

"It is not just I who has ever made this remark. It is almost accepted as a truism in EFL."

I guess in my over twenty years of EFLing, my non-American colleagues were trying to spare my cultural sensibility since I never encountered that remark/truism until now.

Decent of them, I must say.

Oh, by the way, did you mean to write ". . . almost accepted as a truism . . ." or " . . . accepted almost as a truism . . .?

And I could be wrong here, but should't it be "It is not just I who have . . .", rather than ""It is not just I who has . . ."

If I'm wrong, I apologize for my mistake; if I'm right, I apologize for being so darn picky. Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

Regards,
John
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9557
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Johnslat

Now John, your non-US colleagues would probably have never had any cause to question your level of culture. Regular Yeats quotations would see to that. The endless stream of offenders I am referring wouldn't even know how to pronounce his name, assuming they'd heard of him in the first place.

Don't know what I meant to write: almost accepting. Have been hitting the vodka really hard. Have to kill a chest infection. (It is true what they say about Russians BTW. And long may it continue to be true, hic!) But I think 'almost accepted' is OK, because it seems there is some way to go before it becomes universally accepted.


Regards

Sasha
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12731
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Sasha,

Thank you for your restrained response. I almost accept your explanations. Very Happy

Regards,
John
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9557
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Johnslat

As a Lenin medalist (Red Banner class) you are of course afforded many privileges. : )

And as regards the crucial have/has question, I safely predict that you'll find that even Microsoft Word, on US settings, will get finicky if you use your variant. (Perhaps, though, you are right and the programmers went to University of Colorado?)

Very Happy


Regards

Sasha
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Matt_22



Joined: 26 Feb 2006
Posts: 193

PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2012 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I belong to the church of the scientific method. Anecdotal evidence doesn't mean anything to me, nor do offhand claims that the numbers are being cooked - without having made any attempt to provide evidence or support of it. Otherwise I would believe everything about global warming being a farce.

Very Happy
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9493
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, I'm finally back and I've actually read the entire thread. Not sure if I'm proud of it, though! As someone said, it was likely to cause dissention by nature - not my intent, really, but if I were wiser I could have foreseen this.

I'm trying to overlook the fair and balanced nonsense:-)
Quote:
But the U.S. must be doing something right because it is still the place people go to for a better life. Hands down.
(yeah, tell that to the Brits, Germans, Dutch, Italians, Belgians, Spanish, Swiss, Scandinavians, and French all overrun with immigrants and struggling to cope wtih cultural differences, cultural sensitivity, and assimilation issues!! Shocked Very Happy )

Like Johnslat, I worked in the US public school system (briefly and long ago, I admit) and of course, as in any system, there are a whole range of possibilities from dismal to superlative going on. I've seen pure greatness, teachers who can take seriously disadvantaged children and give them the tools to succeed - and then there is the chemistry teacher found drunk on the floor and fired, who sued on the basis that she was fired for her race rather than her classroom 'manner '- and who regained her position with raises for seniority Shocked .

I myself spent the first seven years of my education in an experimental system outside of Washington, DC, where the children were basically allowed to specialize from day one, and where outcomes were found to have been far above control schools applying more traditional methods. The effort was abandoned later on on the basis of cost - we had four certified teachers per 30 children - obviously unsustainable, but certainly desirable!

I agree with this statement:
Quote:
I just wish there were more voices speaking on behalf of teachers in the United States, because there is a strong conservative agenda set out to undermine public education. And if you think us Americans are idiots now, just wait until organizations like the Family Research Council are writing the textbooks and flushing science down the crapper.



It's also about economics in the sense of funding for education as versus funding for other 'priorities' such as military and the failed 'war on drugs.' The prohibitive cost of a university education in the US is criminal; educating the citizenry is, IMO, a major benefit to the entire society and should be more strongly supported by public funds.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9557
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

'Controlled for poverty', is a phrase which raises alarm bells for me. Poverty? In 'the greatest nation on Earth'? Sounds very much like excuse-making to me. Something is wrong somewhere.

But academic results aside, how can a system that needs metal-detectors at its schools' doorways and permanent security guards, and seems to have regular shooting-spree massacres, how can this system make any claims to being the best in the world?

Not an off-hand remark - just genuine curiosity as to how this square peg and round hole will be reconciled.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9493
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the safety issue isn't specifically related to the education system, but to the culture/society at large. Children are exposed to dangerous weapons at home and in their neighborhoods; it becomes the norm (not everywhere, but frighteningly widely). Some of my Dutch students on exchanges to the US were shocked and frightened to see other kids with knives and guns at parties.....

Schools are obviously affected, but again I think this problem isn't specifically related to the education system.
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