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Author Topic:   Do the flaws in education discredit the discpline being taught?
RobertFitz
Inactive Member


Message 16 of 41 (264963)
12-02-2005 5:23 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by randman
12-01-2005 5:05 PM


Re: Yea, I think it does some.
And you could say exactly the same about bible classes.....
This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by randman, posted 12-01-2005 5:05 PM randman has not yet responded

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 215 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 17 of 41 (264986)
12-02-2005 7:59 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by RobertFitz
12-02-2005 4:46 AM


Welcome to EvC!
As a teacher I think that you are overstating the fact that we may be guilty of a vast institutionalized conspiracy.

I'm not making that claim, take another look at the OP, it is randman (and others) that make this claim.

More correctly it should be flaws/ gaps in the knowlege that we teach, which we all strive to amend.

The topic is not about teaching things which later turn out to be false, but teaching things which contempory knowledge in said discipline already knows to be false.

This message has been edited by Modulous, Fri, 02-December-2005 01:01 PM


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 216 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 18 of 41 (264998)
12-02-2005 8:29 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by RobertFitz
12-02-2005 4:46 AM


From my own school career I would say I was frequently and often told things that are known not to be true by those teaching them to me (I know this because those same teachers taught me truer versions later).

Here's some examples:

Light is a wave.
There is no square root of a negative number.
The square root of 16 is 4.
Pretty much any chemical equation you care to mention.
Newtonian physics.

Teaching involves simplifying, often to the point of untruth, and that's not a bad thing - it's almost certainly necessary in order to impart a appropriate level of knowledge to classes in a progressive manner.


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kjsimons
Member
Posts: 665
From: Orlando,FL
Joined: 06-17-2003


Message 19 of 41 (265000)
12-02-2005 8:34 AM
Reply to: Message 18 by Dr Jack
12-02-2005 8:29 AM


The square root of 16 is 4.

I thought this one was still true !? :confused:


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Replies to this message:
 Message 20 by Modulous, posted 12-02-2005 8:44 AM kjsimons has responded

  
Modulous
Member (Idle past 215 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 20 of 41 (265002)
12-02-2005 8:44 AM
Reply to: Message 19 by kjsimons
12-02-2005 8:34 AM



The square root of 16 is 4.

I thought this one was still true !?

Well, it is, but its an incomplete answer. The square roots of 16 are -4 and 4


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kjsimons
Member
Posts: 665
From: Orlando,FL
Joined: 06-17-2003


Message 21 of 41 (265005)
12-02-2005 8:52 AM
Reply to: Message 20 by Modulous
12-02-2005 8:44 AM


Doh! (does the Homer Simpson dope slap to the forehead) I knew that! I guess I need either more caffiene or more sleep. :D
Thanks for the info!
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RobertFitz
Inactive Member


Message 22 of 41 (265012)
12-02-2005 9:29 AM
Reply to: Message 17 by Modulous
12-02-2005 7:59 AM


Re: Welcome to EvC!
Wasn't that you initial point 2? "Is it a conspiracy?" you asked.

Anyway I don't think that teachers teach incomplete or inaccurate knowledge deliberately, unless, as has been noted, we are simplifying things in order to allow pupils to access the subject without being overwhelmed by information. Teachers should then point out in due course that knowledge has moved on or has more to it. It's known as Blooms taxonomy, whereyou develop pupils knowledge from simply knowing, through 7 identified stages until you have synthesis, where people are taking all that they have learnt and are extending the boundaries..


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Modulous
Member (Idle past 215 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 23 of 41 (265026)
12-02-2005 10:53 AM
Reply to: Message 22 by RobertFitz
12-02-2005 9:29 AM


Re: Welcome to EvC!
Wasn't that you initial point 2? "Is it a conspiracy?" you asked.

Indeed, the manner of your response seemed to indicate that it was me that was overstating a possible conspiracy.


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nwr
Member
Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 24 of 41 (265067)
12-02-2005 2:27 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Wounded King
12-02-2005 2:34 AM


Re: Virtual storage
Do you really mean exaggerate? Could you give an example?

I was actually thinking of the one mentioned by Modulous in Message 1, that teaching about Columbus often says that the world was believed to be flat.

That's mostly an elementary school example. By the time of high school and university, I would think that there is mainly simplification.


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Rrhain
Member
Posts: 6349
From: San Diego, CA, USA
Joined: 05-03-2003


Message 25 of 41 (265170)
12-02-2005 10:42 PM
Reply to: Message 24 by nwr
12-02-2005 2:27 PM


Well, one of the problems is that the story of "they thought the earth was flat" is flat out wrong and anybody who bothered to read any of the discourse concerning Columbus and his voyage would know that it is.

Instead, the reason Columbus had so much trouble financing his voyage is because he claimed the earth was small whereas everybody else thought it was much larger. Columbus used a poor map with a crappy translation and came up with a size that did, indeed, have a journey westward across the Pacific being a shorter journey than one around Africa to the east. However, most everybody else had a more accurate size of the earth (even Eratosthenes' calculation was pretty close) and refused to listen since the journey westward would have been longer than the journey eastward (which it is, even if the Americas weren't in the way).

I was taught this in public school about 25 years ago. The "thought the earth was flat" tale is on the same level as "Washington chopped down a cherry tree" apocrypha.

So I would say that if you were, indeed, taught that Columbus' big idea was that the earth was round, then that does deal a blow to the validity of the educational system.

Evolution, however, does not fall into this category. Or, more accurately, the problem is not that the concept of evolution is a fraud that is being taught in lieu of the "real thing" but rather that the simplified, reduced version of evolution that is taught isn't nearly as robust as the actual evolutionary theory that is out there.


Rrhain

Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by a jury of seventh graders so that they could look for balance and to allow them to make up their own minds. We are sorry to say that they found your paper "bogus," specifically describing the section on the laboratory work "boring." We regret that we will be unable to publish your work at this time.
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Replies to this message:
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 Message 27 by Trae, posted 12-03-2005 3:00 AM Rrhain has responded
 Message 29 by nwr, posted 12-03-2005 12:59 PM Rrhain has responded

    
Omnivorous
Member (Idle past 1079 days)
Posts: 3808
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005


Message 26 of 41 (265179)
12-03-2005 12:12 AM
Reply to: Message 25 by Rrhain
12-02-2005 10:42 PM


Let's keep science safe from history
History seems to me an excellent contrast to science in this context: established source materials, newly discovered source materials, matters of interpretation and evidential weight, faith and self-interest based distortions...

Take, for example, the European conquest of the Americas.

We now take for granted that a high school history class will explicate the conquest in terms of superior arms technology and ever-increasing numbers of conquerors--the underachieving savage, overwhelmed by musket and fecundity--though even this is a recent correction to a more jingoistic notion of Manifest Destiny.

But scholars now know that a overwhelming percentage of Native Americans were killed not by bullets but by pathogens, which raced far ahead of any armed might. An especially liberal school system might inform its students of the disgraceful handing-out of smallpox contaminated blankets to Native Americans by U.S. troops, but it is extremely unlikely that they will note this was hardly necessary: the pathogens found their own way very nicely, thank you.

A national mythos based on being a plaque vector doesn't have quite the same panache as "we just kicked their butts and took it"--Manifest Contagion, anyone? Without germs, the European influx might well have been repulsed despite superior arms. With greed and guile, the settlers defeated a disease-decimated New World; this is certainly not the stuff of parade ground exaltation.

A related example is the mythos of super-abundant American wildlife: the bounty of nature untapped by the thinly scattered natives.

It is now fairly clear that the herds of buffalo as vast as inland seas, and the skies darkened by passenger pigeons, were the direct result of pathogen-devastated Native American populations. Like the deer now denuding Eastern forests because the wolf was exterminated, these wildlife populations surged without the Native Americans' predation. This truer story makes the extinction of the passenger pigeon (and what a beauty it was!) and the near-extinction of the buffalo even more disturbing.

Ah, yes, Tonto lived lightly on the land, so scattered that he left hardly a trace: an attrative notion, but, in fact, Tonto was a sophisticated land use manager, burning off underbrush and harvesting wildlife resources aggressively to support large populations. The European conquerors first disrupted the ecological balance, and then took the resultant population explosions as a Limitless Bounty License for harvests that extinguished entire species.

Similarly, controversies about the Pledge of Allegiance, when examined at all by secondary history or civics classes, might at best consider the current religious-vs.-secular cultural conflict of "one nation under God"--but are very unlikely to note that the "under God" was a mid 20th century, Cold War addition to an older, secular pledge; yet the insistence on the current pledge most commonly relies on appeals to long tradition and the Founding Fathers.

These critical history studies--like earlier critical legal studies which made the (to me) apparent point that codified systems of law serve property and power--are rigorous and persuasive. But one is unlikely to encounter them in elementary or secondary school rooms.

Conspiracy? Not exactly, but certainly a reluctance to give up comfortable illusions and self-deceptions.

Anyone paying attention in a science classroom knows about the tentativeness of conclusions, and the importance of replicating results and attempting falsification: the encouragement to question is built into the subject.

Adulterated history, on the other hand, is America's second religion. Science courses may oversimplify or methodize, but the intellectual sign-posts of correction are built-in: what other subjects of study can make that claim?

Social, political, and cultural myths and illusions permeate all the "liberal (ha!) arts": what we are witnessing now is an attempt to reach into the science classroom with the same vapid hands, because science is dangerous to the maintenance of illusion. Ultimately, the movement to bring religion into the classroom is not so much about religion itself, but rather the alarming consequences of clarity.

This message has been edited by Omnivorous, 12-03-2005 12:13 AM


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Trae
Member (Idle past 2417 days)
Posts: 442
From: Fremont, CA, USA
Joined: 06-18-2004


Message 27 of 41 (265182)
12-03-2005 3:00 AM
Reply to: Message 25 by Rrhain
12-02-2005 10:42 PM


Doesn’t this fall into the whole ‘teaching to the test’ question? Seems to me there is far too much focus on teaching ‘things’ over teaching ‘tools’ knowledge and information. Don’t get me wrong, I have a huge amount of respect for those who teach.

It strikes me as being dishonest when fundamentalists are more concerned about teaching a bible in schools, rather then critical thinking and formal logic.


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Replies to this message:
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RobertFitz
Inactive Member


Message 28 of 41 (265209)
12-03-2005 10:26 AM


Indeed, there is much more focus today on making pupils aware of their own learning style, and modifiying our teaching style to accomodate different pupils. If pupils are more aware of how they learn they can be much more successful. It's all quite measurable and does indeed correlate to what we see in the classroom.

Also, there has always been resistance to teaching new ideas throughout the ages and I think, because previously knowledge had gone in cycles of (approximately) decades, it was enough time for it to become a paradigm or at least 'accepted' knowledge. This meant that when new ideas arrived, people of the establishment baulked at the thought of changing what had before seemed immutable fact.

I think it comes down to people being able to accept that our knowledge is not complete, about anything, and approach that fact, (and that is probably the only thing we can say with certainty, is a fact) in a cautious way.


  
nwr
Member
Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 29 of 41 (265258)
12-03-2005 12:59 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by Rrhain
12-02-2005 10:42 PM


Well, one of the problems is that the story of "they thought the earth was flat" is flat out wrong and anybody who bothered to read any of the discourse concerning Columbus and his voyage would know that it is.

Of course, that was my point. It is why teaching that the earth was flat would be using a great exaggeration. Incidently, that's how I was taught about Columbus in elementary school. I'm not sure if it was ever corrected in high school, but then I was in Australia where American history received very little attention in high school.
This message is a reply to:
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Rrhain
Member
Posts: 6349
From: San Diego, CA, USA
Joined: 05-03-2003


Message 30 of 41 (265304)
12-03-2005 5:05 PM
Reply to: Message 27 by Trae
12-03-2005 3:00 AM


Trae responds to me:

quote:
Doesn’t this fall into the whole ‘teaching to the test’ question? Seems to me there is far too much focus on teaching ‘things’ over teaching ‘tools’ knowledge and information.

That would depend upon what you mean by "teaching to the test." If it means such as what happens in the Academic Decathlon where the Literature section is based upon a particular book, then that is a problem if all you are testing is whether or not they have read it by asking plot questions.

You get farther if you then ask them to write about the various themes and such, but you can also run into the problem of knowing what those theme questions are going to be and spend your time telling the students what to write in their essays.

Subjects like math and science have an easier time of avoiding "teaching to the test" in that those subjects are skills-based and the learning comes in figuring out how to combine them. Thus, the dreaded word problems where you have to learn how to figure out what the question is, where the needed information lies, and how to combine all the various formulae.

When I was in fourth and fifth grades, however, we had "research" projects where we were taken to the class library and taught how to use it: How to read the card catalog, how to find items in the library, and then given a research assignment where we had to write on a subject that we researched in the library, including writing up the bibliography where we had to use at least three sources of which only one could be the encyclopedia. No plagiarism (which we were taught about, too). And this was done with a placement test to be taken in fifth grade so that you could be tracked through sixth and junior high for advanced placement or remedial work.

Does nobody do that anymore?


Rrhain

Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by a jury of seventh graders so that they could look for balance and to allow them to make up their own minds. We are sorry to say that they found your paper "bogus," specifically describing the section on the laboratory work "boring." We regret that we will be unable to publish your work at this time.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 27 by Trae, posted 12-03-2005 3:00 AM Trae has responded

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