11/20/12 questions and discussion
1-why do we have questions?3
2-should free speech have a monetary limit?5
3-what do we prefer in the Middle East: secular dictators who play nice with the US, or democratically elected religious politicians.7
4-has humanity’s happiness increased as time has gone by since the pursuit of knowledge began?8
5-what is human nature?6
6-can we make observations without value judgements and if not what’s the implication?4
7-which parts of public education are worth saving?8/5
8-if privacy is lost in a society is that society destined for tyranny?8/4
which parts of public education are worth saving?
Sara: I study this in school -- plan on becoming a teacher after graduation. Reading a book “The Privatization of Education”. It's about public education's death. What is public education and what parts of it are most important? I define public education as a free and accessible/appropriate education provided for every American.
David: do you include colleges of all kinds?
Sara: yes. But let’s emphasize the public ones
Jim: which aspects of public education are most important to you?
Shannon: with the way society has gone, teaching has become more about discipline and accommodation to various interests in society and less about learning.
Sara: it’s changed even since I was in grade school! Education has always been very local so the kinds of changes depend. Some teachers have no problem with discipline. The economy and policy changes have seriously affected public education.
Jon: the actor Matt Damon's mother is a public school teacher. He recently spoke out against teacher merit pay. A journalist from a Libertarian/conservative media asked if as an actor isn't his job security dependent on merit? He replied "what makes you think job security is why I'm an actor?" His mom, standing next to him, looked very proud of him in that moment. She was a teacher because she loved teaching, not because she sought job security.
Dick: I have a son and daughter-in-law who are teachers. Their districts are becoming the targets of Teach for America, an organization that ostensibly intends to improve the American education system. They pursue quick and dirty school reform, using improperly trained teachers.
Marla: who are they supported by?
Dick: Koch brothers, corporations, conservative organizations.
David: (to Sara) what is good?
Sara: non-core subjects (other than reading, math, science).
Jim: is the Teach for America system focusing on those core subjects due to not getting good results at present?
Sara: no, I think it’s about the "accountability movement."
Jim: my kids went to a private high school, when they got to college it was a breeze but their peers were at a loss. Their private educations better prepared them for college than their public educated peers.
Shannon: how does public and private ed differ?
Dick: I went to parochial school, every day we spent one hour on religion and we still had sports, band and gym. Schools have lost the emphasis on the individual in favor of what the capitalist machine wants.
Sara: what’s valuable is it being free. Private school is not free. They also have a very specific set of mission statements. Public schools must be much more diverse.
David: both my kids went through school. I don’t think there’s really been a change as to how things are taught, even compared to when I attended school.
Sara: there have absolutely been serious changes. Some public have uniforms (which has not had the intended results). Teachers are expected now to do different things. They realized that a controlled room is better for learning. It's also clear that mass-testing/teaching to the test is a bad idea.
Jim: the difference between public and private is: who’s in charge at a public school? Parents, teachers, principals? There’s no boss. A mission like education requires a boss. Public ed has too many cooks in the kitchen. If I had the job I would know what to do!
Sara: what do you know that the professional doing this work don't already know? Principals are in charge in public schools.
Jim: I’m convinced I would be a benevolent dictator.
David: in private school parents care more than most parents in public schools.
Sara: that train of thought is dangerous! Vested interests like Bill Gates are the big money behind magnet and charter programs. Gates met with Governors to influence their thinking on this issue (he's pro charter/magnet schools). He's part of a movement by "Venture philanthropists." What happens next? Powerful men have a vested interest in school "choice", so what happens? Unions are kept out, for one. Charter schools need to be able to fire people and unions get in the way of that. Venture philanthropy always leads to charter schools. Their intentions are good but these leaders have no experience in teaching. Hours in the classroom are more important than theories on education.
Shannon: I come from a family of teachers, I have worked as a coach in schools. It seemed to get more difficult with time because they’d get kids who had less and less of the basic needs leading to learning. The occasional parent would say it’s not their kids it’s the teachers who are at fault.
Marla: I agree with David as to parent involvement. We now have no more stay at home parents. Parents are so much busier with lots more distractions that weren’t here in the 50s. Increased testing/teaching for tests irritates me. School administration that doesn’t monitor teachers is bad. There has to be someone in charge.
Jon: what would you save?
Jon: what do we want saved?
Sara: procedures that are consistent.
Phillip: concentrate on basics. Emphasis on the long term both as teacher and as students.
Lynn: how we set priorities for what we do in schools. What we have now doesn’t seem best related to what is wanted/needed. Too much politics now.
Dick: physical education and civics and sociology
Sara: well-rounded democratic education
Steve: lock step vs. the ways people learn. Flexibility is needed.
Richard: lunch! What’s missing is the general pursuit of knowledge. The means aren’t as relevant as long as that’s happening.
Jim: one thing: free education, open to all.
Shannon: critical thinking.
Jon: imagination and discipline.
David: not worth saving in its present form. Too many hands in the pie. Too many levels, bureaucracy.