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Topic: Possible reason(s) for education decline in US?
Replies: 3   Last Post: Sep 7, 2013 10:49 AM

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Wayne Bishop

Posts: 5,465
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Possible reason(s) for education decline in US?
Posted: Sep 7, 2013 1:06 AM
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I am reminded of one of the smartest man I've
ever known (took his English lit major from an
also-ran 4-year college to a job as a tech writer
for JPL and, within a year, was working
side-by-side as an engineer with several of the
people for whom he was supposedly writing, had
his job classification upgraded to an engineer,
etc.). Anyway, back to the story… We were
talking about my eldest, also very bright, and in
6th grade, in Pasadena Unified's nascent
Bilingual Ed program, the teacher put him
(fluently bilingual) in the front row with a big
sign "Información" hanging on the front of his
desk. Students were instructed to ask Jeff first
allowing the teacher more time to handle less
routine problems. We discussed the great ego
builder as was my friend's elementary school
experiences but he ended with, "I'd have given it all up to hit one home run!"


At 02:36 PM 9/6/2013, Greg Goodknight wrote:
>On 09/06/2013 10:51 AM, GS Chandy wrote:
>>The New Yorker often comes out with quite
>>provocative ideas on a variety of subjects.
>>The current issue discusses "Have Sports Teams
>>Brought Down America's Schools?"
>>- and suggests that an excessive *focus* on
>>sports achievement at the cost of academic
>>achievement may be a significant 'contributing
>>factor'. Having long ago witnessed some of the
>>frenzy attending school sports in the US, I
>>believe that there may be some truth in this claim.

>Doubtful. I think that has been the case for
>more than a century, without acceleration. The
>vast majority of average Joes (and Jills) have a
>chance for excelling in sports and there isn't
>much chance of community recognition for being
>so recognized in math and science. Here's an
>example from a 1927 Buster Keaton silent film summary:
>"Ronald's high school valedictory address
>praises books and condemns sports. His
>girlfriend Mary condemns his attitude. He fears
>losing her to rival Jeff, decides to go to
>college and pay more attention to sports."
>As an aside, I recall watching a showing of that
>film at the Claremont Colleges accompanied by an
>elderly (but still highly skilled) organist who,
>as a young man actually had played theater organ
>during the first runs of that and other Keaton
>films. The claim was made the actual athletic
>field used in some of the scenes was still in
>use at Pomona (the oldest Claremont college),
>but no longer the main field used for varsity sports.
>"“Even wealthy American parents didn’t care
>about math as much as football,” Ripley
>concluded." That was based on asking a few
>wealthy parents from Washington DC, and the
>wealth that drops into D.C. isn't from math
>ability, it's from schmoozing with power
>brokers, lobbying Congress. Getting a 5 on the
>AP Calculus BC exam is off that path.
>- -Greg

>>I'd suggest that one should not read too much
>>into this statement in any case: sports (or an
>>excessive focus on achievement in sports) may
>>be a significant 'contributing factor' - it's not necessarily the 'cause'.
>>There is a significant difference between the
>>'cause' of some occurrence in a complex system
>>and a 'contributing factor' to that occurrence:
>>these are two different things entirely and the
>>'resolutions' to the different problems are
>>different. (I don't know if the New Yorker
>>writer has correctly identified the underlying issues in her article).
>>When you believe you have found the *cause* to
>>some system phenomenon, you may be tempted to come out with slogans like:
>>(and things like that).
>>Very rarely - if ever, in a complex system -
>>are such 'radical' actions the right things to do or even to think about.
>>On the other hand, more mature reflection
>>('systems thinking') may lead us to understand
>>correctly that what we should do is to seek out
>>the 'contributing factors' relating to some
>>undesirable situation and then to work towards
>>changing just those factors (and perhaps a few
>>'elements' surrounding them) - not towards
>>destroying the entire system or sub-system.
>>We in India are more or less at the 'polar
>>opposite', so to speak. Many of our schools
>>don't even have playgrounds or sports
>>activities at all - recently a news channel has
>>been promoting a movement compulsorily to have
>>'Marks for Sports' as a part of the curriculum:
>>I for one fully support this campaign.

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