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Thread: The hedumacation system in modern Britain

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by hundredmillionlifetimes View Post
    Then don't complain when those kids, in turn, treat you like a piece of shit (abuse begetting abuse, and all that ...).
    I don't see what's wrong with a bit of competition, especially between the more able kids. I remember there being a friendly rivalry between me and a handful of other high achievers when I was at high school. I mean, most people push themselves a bit harder when they're comparing their own achievements to those of others, don't they?

    (Oh yes, I remember: competition is awful because it discourages the less able, and should therefore be banned. Sorry, my bad.)
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  2. #17

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    Teaching to the exam:

    I work for a maths ed research project looking at the transition from college to university and this comes up a lot...

  3. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by jenks View Post
    English kids are the most over assessed students in the world - there's some research which actually counts the number of exam papers, hours etc and it all makes horrifying reading for teachers like me who entered the profession to actually pass on their love of their subject.

    It is interesting to note that even the govt are starting to listen with the wholly discredited Y9 exams looking almost certain to go. However, the major problem is the almost Maoist state of permanent revolution in the education sector - all new A levels coming in 18 months, total review of coursework in GCSE, new qualifications for vocational subjects, Brown suggesting compulsory full time education till 18 etc.
    Someone told me recently that there are currently 58 separate initiatives running in schools.

  4. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post
    I don't see what's wrong with a bit of competition ...
    It wasn't about competition, but narcissism: the poster was confusing (or equating) educaton with the indoctrination of the dominant - anti-intellectual, hedonistic - ideology ("the pleasure of academic success").

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by hundredmillionlifetimes View Post
    It wasn't about competition, but narcissism: the poster was confusing (or equating) educaton with the indoctrination of the dominant - anti-intellectual, hedonistic - ideology ("the pleasure of academic success").
    The main thing I had in mind (apart from the 'kicking ass' bait which was swallowed so predictably - hey, we're all different! ) is that it is useful for kids not only to enjoy the subjects for the subjects' sakes but also enjoy 'doing well at the job that they have been given,' even if it doesn't fire them up immediately - in other words to strive for the A in Woodwork as well as in English Lit.

    Achieving academically and finding satisfaction in one's achievements is hardly anti-intellectual, unless if intellectual = those self-regarding under-achievers I knew at university who sneered at the 'careerist drones' who actually did the work that was required of them, rather than smoking in their rooms, listening to the Herbalizer and talking crap.

    In any case, if it takes a bit of competition to get the kids to treat the stuff they have to learn seriously, then so be it. This especially applies to boys.

    Hedonism? If you were to take pleasure entirely out of the process, you would have to wonder what any of us were in it for.

    Anyway, 100,000,000, tell us what your school day would look like - without the Critical Theory-speak.

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    they are careerist drones! half of them only ever talk about what bloody car theyre going to get when theyre rich. YUK

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    Quote Originally Posted by don_quixote View Post
    they are careerist drones! half of them only ever talk about what bloody car theyre going to get when theyre rich. YUK
    Hahah - yeah, well there are the careerist drones and the 'careerist drones.' The latter are preferred!

    There is a problem with being too much of a drone and academic people-pleaser: to borrow hundredmillion's idiom, you can become an unquestioning servant of the dominant ideology. Hey, but with Learning Objectives so pointedly provided for every lesson, the Man will never be able to sneak anything by us - right, kids?!
    Last edited by mixed_biscuits; 01-06-2007 at 10:35 AM.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mixed_biscuits View Post
    to borrow hundredmillion's idiom, you can become an unquestioning servant of the dominant ideology.
    Yes, but doesn't inculcating an attitude of "doing well at the job that they have been given" simply turn students into these drones? I think the passive voice in that phrase is telling. "Whatever you are made to do, do it and LIKE IT." I'm reminded of Zizek's parable of the "postmodern" father who doesn't simply force his child to go to Grandma's house, but guilts him into "wanting" to go -- "You know how much your grandmother loves you, don't you want to go see her?"

    I do understand the frustration with "self-regarding underachievers" -- it's annoying when the work one puts in to teaching a course goes unheeded and unacknowledged, and even scorned by students who are perfectly capable of doing the work, and there's no doubt strains of apathy tied up with it. Still, some of those students, while frustrating at times, were the most interesting thinkers (especially on my campus, a very conformist state university in the rural U.S. midwest -- oops, the topic says 'Britain').

    And I think I learned something by smoking in my room and talking crap (not listening to Herbaliser though, ha! Maybe Autechre?). Maybe not in terms of testable abilities, but a certain mode of critical thinking and skepticism... I don't know, maybe that was already there and lead to all the smoking and crap-talking once I got to college.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gavin View Post
    Yes, but doesn't inculcating an attitude of "doing well at the job that they have been given" simply turn students into these drones? I think the passive voice in that phrase is telling. "Whatever you are made to do, do it and LIKE IT."
    Heh, I think what I would be trying to encourage is the ability to delay gratification and knuckle down. I am quite open with students in explaining that any field has its share of wonders but, at the same time, requires of its aspiring experts periods of self-denial - when you might have to commit to long periods of difficult practice and blunt (self-) evaluation, whether it be ploughing through differential equations or a long Balzac in the original French or internalising scales at the piano.

    Obviously, I wouldn't want students to turn into easily manipulated drones, so my advice for a student would simply be, when confronted with a possible project:

    1) Ask yourself: in YOUR opinion, is there value to doing this?

    2) Ask yourself: is what is required of me reasonable, morally and practically?

    3) Ask yourself: am I prepared to get down to the work and finish the job?

    If all three check out (imho many PhDs fail at no.1, which impacts on no.3 once you hit the second year!), then you just gotta get down to it!

    One problem is that it is often hard to work out 1) before doing a lot of 3) and even after finishing 3), 2) might be a tough one to answer. And so, to an extent, the teacher must be trusted.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavin View Post
    Still, some of those students, while frustrating at times, were the most interesting thinkers (especially on my campus, a very conformist state university in the rural U.S. midwest -- oops, the topic says 'Britain').
    Absolutely agree - and I dare say that often the tediousness of many lectures, unimaginative essay titles and general lack of interest of many tutors in their charges' progress leads to a lack of application and a diminished sense of involvement in the intellectual life of the institution.

    It is a pity that much potential is 'lost' through lack of application - creative, interesting, possibly new thinking should prove its mettle by tussling with the best that has been thought thus far and, if surviving intact, should be recorded, so that others may benefit. That's what academia's for.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavin View Post
    Maybe not in terms of testable abilities, but a certain mode of critical thinking and skepticism... I don't know, maybe that was already there and lead to all the smoking and crap-talking once I got to college.
    Haha - probably!

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gavin View Post
    Yes, but doesn't inculcating an attitude of "doing well at the job that they have been given" simply turn students into these drones? I think the passive voice in that phrase is telling. "Whatever you are made to do, do it and LIKE IT."
    But this is - or should be - completely irrelevant at the university level, and (ideally) even at A-level: no-one's made you study the subject ("given you the job"), you chose it yourself!
    If you don't like it, it's your own fault for not choosing better in the first place.
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  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post
    But this is - or should be - completely irrelevant at the university level, and (ideally) even at A-level: no-one's made you study the subject ("given you the job"), you chose it yourself!
    Well, I am not entirely familiar with the British university system, but in the states college is basically compulsory for the middle class (though they pay through the nose), and as the secondary schools get shittier and colleges lower admittance standards because they are broke, college increasingly turns into High School 2. Most of my students aren't there out of choice (although many want to go to college, this was already guaranteed for them), and most have no idea what they are doing or why. They are just putting in their time, same as high school. Many have never really written a paper, almost none have ever done anything close to academic research, many do not even read the textbooks.

    And can't you use the "you chose this job yourself" argument in any number of situations in our "free employment" economy? I've "chosen" many jobs I haven't particularly liked or desired, but I did them because I had to. Luckily no one was demanding I enjoy it!

    If you don't like it, it's your own fault for not choosing better in the first place.
    This sort of smells of neoliberal fetishization of the individual where your fate is completely determined by your own choices... like you could slip into castigating "welfare mothers" for being poor because they are lazy at any minute. You must be very happy in your program!

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gavin View Post
    This sort of smells of noliberal fetishization of the individual where your fate is completely determined by your own choices... like you could slip into castigating "welfare mothers" for being poor because they are lazy at any minute. You must be very happy in your program!

    Oh come on: who but the craziest hardline anarcho-libertarian - the sort of person who stockpiles their basement with bottled water, canned food and ammunition - would seriously claim this? I could equally well rant about the tendency of many leftists to imagine that we're all mindless zombie automata without free will or personal responsibility, helplessly wandering here and there according to the will of big business, media and government. Which is quite clearly complete tosh, as well. As ever, the truth lies somewhere between the two extremes: yes, we're all products of our environment and we're all born with different levels of advantage which we can do nothing about; but at the same time we still have free will and the choice to live one way or another.

    Back to the topic at hand, I said you only have yourself to blame if you take up a degree (at a UK university) that you're not interested in, unless you've been seriously pressured into it by your parents, or something. If you do it because you think it'll be 'a laugh', or because 'Eng Lit chicks are hot', then I can hardly see how it's anyone else's fault if you don't exactly excel at it.

    (Edit: I'm not sure what "welfare mothers" have to do with this - they aren't poor (at least in the UK) precisely because they get benefits. I'm not saying this is a bad thing - it's certainly preferable to having hoards of destitute women and kids all over the place, obviously - but then, people would probably be a bit more careful about not having kids they can't support if there wasn't any welfare, wouldn't they?)
    Last edited by Mr. Tea; 02-06-2007 at 05:17 PM.
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  13. #28

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    What if you take up a degree or A-Level in a subject you want to learn about, only to find that all that is on offer or required is memorisation of facts/formulae, original thought is not encouraged, nor required nor rewarded?
    Sometimes the subject is interesting but the curriculum / teaching aims leave a lot to be desired.

    This was definitely my experience of A-levels.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward View Post
    What if you take up a degree or A-Level in a subject you want to learn about, only to find that all that is on offer or required is memorisation of facts/formulae, original thought is not encouraged, nor required nor rewarded?
    Sometimes the subject is interesting but the curriculum / teaching aims leave a lot to be desired.

    This was definitely my experience of A-levels.
    Yeah, I guess this is always a risk - as I said, "...this is - or should be - completely irrelevant...".
    I've found myself that my PhD has been a lot less interesting than I thought it would be, but then, perhaps I should have done a bit more research about what a PhD in my field entails before signing up for one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward View Post
    What if you take up a degree or A-Level in a subject you want to learn about, only to find that all that is on offer or required is memorisation of facts/formulae, original thought is not encouraged, nor required nor rewarded?
    Ask your prof for extra, more interesting work or do some off your own back? Find out why you need a stockpile of facts? Change subjects? Do S-Levels too? Campaign to have the system changed?

    Or just eat it and plough through the courses anyway.

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