Well Rounded?

Discussion in 'General Education Archives' started by JenPooh, Jun 15, 2005.

  1. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2004
    Messages:
    6,367
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 15, 2005

    I have a question for anyone who is interested. I was pondering this for awhile. Why do you suppose it's important (or maybe not that important) for children to pass all subjects before going to the next grade? I don't mean this to sound stupid, here is what I mean. In high school I struggled with algebra a great deal. I had to take it three times in college as well in order to pass and get my degree. I want to know why the heck I needed to pass when I don't even use it a single minute in my life in the first place!?! I considered it a waste of my time, and still do. And no, I don't feel I achieved anything more by finally reaching the goal.

    It's not that I think it's not important for students to be well rounded and know certain things to prepare them for life, but in some situations, I strongly believe that there are certain subjects that shouldn't be pushed on kids to pass/take in order to graduate unless they are that interested. Can anyone give me a good reason to think differently? :confused:
     
  2.  
  3. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

    Joined:
    May 1, 2005
    Messages:
    1,266
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 15, 2005

    French is one of those subjects also. Here in Canada (at least in Ontario) French is mandatory. You must have a certain amount of French credits to graduate. In theory, it's good since Canada is bilingual but the students don't get it reinforced at home, the core French is not enough for them to absorb anything useful and retain it, so as a result, core french is one of the worst subject to teach (especially at intermediate levels) because students fight it all the way.
     
  4. lowrie

    lowrie Companion

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    206
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 15, 2005

    In Manitoba the situation is the same. Core French is mandatory from grade 4 to grade 8, once the students enter high school they can opt out of French. Frankly, I think they'd be better served by taking an immersion course over a six week period in the summer in Quebec -- they'd certainly learn more useable French!
     
  5. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2004
    Messages:
    6,367
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 15, 2005

    The way I see it, if a child is that disinterested in a subject, the more likely it is that the child will not be doing anything with the subject when they are in the workforce. Of course, outside of the basic math, language, etc. is what I'm talking about. There are certain things that are just plain mandatory in order to fit into society and be able to take care of yourself, but some of these subjects like Algebra, Foreign Language, Chemistry, I just don't see why it needs to be mandatory unless the child is interested in using it in their future. The same goes for Drama, Music, and the arts. I for one love the creative arts and music, but I would never want to force anyone into it who doesn't like it because they will most likely not use it as an adult.
     
  6. lowrie

    lowrie Companion

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    206
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 15, 2005

    I have to agree totally with this. I mean, if you struggled with advanced calculus you wouldn't go into engineering! I don't know the logic behind it :(

    no help, just sharing in your frustration....
     
  7. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2004
    Messages:
    6,367
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 15, 2005

    I'm glad I'm not alone. I'm not necessrily frustrated (well, a little), but it's something that I've been pondering for awhile.
     
  8. AMK

    AMK Aficionado

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2003
    Messages:
    3,019
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 16, 2005

    Jen, I struggled with math, science and languages my whole life. my teachers passed me b/c i tried but did have to take some summer classes. I teach kindergarten and will never use chem, alegbra and so on in my life. I never understood it myself why I had to take the classes when I always knew I wanted to teach small children.
    My father on the other hand spoke 4 languages but I would never be able to.
     
  9. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2003
    Messages:
    1,237
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 16, 2005

    This is precisely why I won't teach regular education; I love teaching functional education because I can see it in authentic use RIGHT AWAY and I'm pretty much guaranteed it will transfer over to adult life. State standards and requirements are good in theory but I think they often leave a lot to be desired.
     
  10. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    1,912
    Likes Received:
    14

    Jun 16, 2005

    At the end of my junior year of high school, I had finished all the math my school offered. My Pre-Cal teacher tried to talk me into signing up for Calculus at the local college. Instead, I took Math for liberal Arts, which was required for my degree. He never could understand why I did that. I'd rather take a useful class that I'll actually pass than struggle through an advanced math that I don't even need!!
     
  11. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,322
    Likes Received:
    13

    Jun 17, 2005

    Then again, how can you know for sure unless you give it a try? Knowledge is power, even if you don't "use" it in "practical" ways, it's enriching you by showing you yet another connection between something learned in the four walls of a classroom and life. Even if the 'life' connection is just a billboard containing a word or phrase, or a crossword puzzle, or simply the knowledge that you know something. . . . .

    To know is ALWAYS better than to not know. And what is "practical," anyway? The best things in life are not practical.

    I hated math and I took only the bare minimum that a college-bound student could get by with: back then, it was geometry. I've never had a single math class of any kind since my sophomore year in high school.

    And I discovered back then, that geometry was awesome; it was beautiful; it was everywhere around us, in the real world. Algebra, on the other hand, bored me to tears because it had no purpose, in my mind. Do I resent having had to take it? Not a bit. It was one more thing to KNOW.

    There is no such thing as 'not needed knowledge.' And if it's something we have to force ourselves to endure, well, that's an education, too. How can we possibly know that we will never use knowledge? We don't. That's why we should get as much of it as we possibly can.

    Bring it all on. There can never be too much to learn.
     
  12. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2004
    Messages:
    6,367
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 17, 2005

    Not for me! I don't even remember a single thing about any algebra course or geometry or chemistry. I learned it to get by, then let it out of my brain. If I could have remembered it, then maybe it would have made more sense to me, but I don't remember a single thing. To me, it was a waste of my time. Now, taking African American History, even though I don't use it a single day in my life, was worth it to me. I got to learn a lot (and I'm not African American) and it facinated me, that was well worth it because that did open my mind and I learned a lot, AND more importantly I remember it. Something I don't even rememeber is a waste of my time to me.
     
  13. HMD

    HMD Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2005
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 17, 2005

    I disliked algebra, too. From what I hear, people tend to be either good in geometry or algebra. I am the geometry type. It seems real world to me, whereas algebra seems too remote to understand.

    But, I will admit that I have found uses for algebra, if only the very basics of moving numbers around in an equation to determine an unknown quantity. It is essential to know algebra in order to understand, say, the time value of money. Am I some big-shot investor that uses this stuff on a regular basis? Not even close. I just happen to be someone proud of the fact that I have rudimentary knowledge of finance, investments and the economy. It may not be applicable to my future career but it can certainly help in my personal life. I can understand the crisis of our declining dollar, make better investment choices for my retirement and understand fiscal policies to enable me to vote more wisely.

    And, if nothing else, hopefully I can use the knowledge to help my children in the future when they're struggling with algebra/chemistry, etc.!
     
  14. lowrie

    lowrie Companion

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    206
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 17, 2005


    I absolutely admire your attitude!!!

    and I have to admit a smile at the crossword puzzle comment - i do the crossword puzzle in the paper every day and seemingly arcane bits of knowledge have helped me to do it!

    (and for the record, i love both algebra and geometry and i'm good at both!)
     
  15. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,322
    Likes Received:
    13

    Jun 17, 2005

    Besides, a good secondary teacher will have all kinds of trivia challenges going, all the time. How can a kid with limited exposure according to his/her likes and dislikes, ever win anything? I used to award prizes to kids for making connections between something in the classroom and that same thing in the real world. It's everywhere, people; don't limit yourselves to things you understand "right this minute." The future comes, and we must all be ready for it, and the very best and most important things of all can not always be understood in a concrete way. Abstract is just as real. We are all capable of creative expression till it's standardized out of our systems.

    Measurable knowledge is the cheapest of all. Gerbils and flounders and paramecium have measurable knowledge. It's what can't be measured that makes us great.

    Too bad administrations and government officials can't understand that. They must have limited themselves to those few subjects they could easily and immediately understand.
     
  16. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2004
    Messages:
    6,367
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 17, 2005

    My point is, I don't even remember anything about those certain subjects, so what was the point for me personally when I don't even remember? I love to learn new things and take pride in what I learn, but why keep wasting my time on things that I can't even remember months later? Would someone who can't carry a tune sign up for choir? Gosh I would hope not!

    I wish I could have that same attitude as you Jane, but for me, some things just don't come so easy. I'm the creative performing artist, not the kind of book brain I'd like to be sometimes.
     
  17. sdhudgins

    sdhudgins Comrade

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2004
    Messages:
    416
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 17, 2005

    Math and history never came easily to me. Do I regret having to have taken them? Only when I see my GPA from high school and college! Some of it has stuck with me, and being a secondary teacher, it has come in useful occassionally. I found out in college why those classes were so hard for me, I have discalculia,which makes dealing with all those numbers difficult. Had it not been for my college algebra teacher I never would've found out why they were so hard, just that they were! I still, to this day, accept any challenge with open arms! I still love to learn, and delight in my children and my students who have the same passion...

    and I think requiring a certain amount of each of these subjects IS a good thing, though I still haven't figured out why I took TRIG when I majored in Music Ed!!!

    (and btw people who can't sing sign up for Choir regularly trust me on this one!!)
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2005
  18. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2004
    Messages:
    6,367
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 17, 2005

    You had to audition for choir in my schools so those ones always got weeded out-thank God!!!!
     
  19. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,322
    Likes Received:
    13

    Jun 17, 2005

    I bet you remember a lot more than you think you do. It's all still in your head, you just haven't had occasion to use it. But if you ever do, you'll retrieve it. And if you don't, well, nothing learned is ever lost. You'd be surprised how much you know, and so would our students. That's one (of many) reasons why I always had them ask ME three questions at the end of every test. If I didn't know the answer, they got the point. If I knew, they had to give me harder questions next time.

    When I was a kid, I always wondered why nobody ever tested me on things I DID know, instead of seemingly trying to find out all the things I DIDN'T know. Sigh.

    Nothing grows to its full strength without encouragement. Sometimes we have to encourage ourselves, and force ourselves maybe just a little.

    My 'thing' is books, and music, and drama. Do I regret having to take all that science and math and social studies? Heck, how could I make connections in plot, character, point of view, etc, without having something to connect it to? It is impossible to properly study mythology without also studying astronomy. And the best of all possible kinds of books require the reader to bring a little prior knowledge to the table. To always begin with the assumption that the reader is ignorant, is condescending and rude. And whose responsibility is it to make sure the reader has prior knowledge to bring to the table? The reader, that's who.
     
  20. srh

    srh Devotee

    Joined:
    May 4, 2005
    Messages:
    1,199
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 17, 2005

    I'm enjoying this philosophical discussion! I'm with Jane...I may not use everything I learn (or try to learn!), but everything I learn adds to personal confidence, understanding, acceptance, etc. I SO admire people who are math whizzes or science geniuses. It's just not for me. But as a teacher, I think it's important to always be inquisitive, to always build on the foundation, in order to challenge students and help them discover a passion for learning (or their gifts) in SOMETHING!! So I try. I may not be great in math, but I have seen some Kindergarteners whom I believe will become experts, and some fifth graders who couldn't stop asking "why." I believe that having at least a background in algebra, geometry, science, whatever, gives me a better idea of how to guide students--in whatever grade level!
     
  21. TeachGrd1

    TeachGrd1 Rookie

    Joined:
    May 26, 2005
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 17, 2005

    I think that there is one question to ask when discussing this subject, How can we know if we are good at something or like something if we are not exposed to it? Also, at different points in our lives we may become better or worse at various subjects, alot depends on who teaches us and and how it is taught. During Junior High I loved writing. All of my journals talked about wanting to become a professional writer. When I was in High School I did horrible in my Language Arts classes. The school I was in only had one teacher and for some reason I never applied myself with her. There will always be subjects that you are strong at and some you are weaker at, but you will never find out unless you experience the subject. I am a strong believer that taking a class at the least will teach you one new thing. To me, learning something new is invaluable and I will take the opportunity whenever possible.
     
  22. cinmcl61

    cinmcl61 Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2005
    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 18, 2005

    I always thought algerbra taught problem solving. SOme of these subjects and those I learned in school are gone from my brain. But I think its important to be exposed to these things. I have a hard time drawing a stick figure but I enjoy looking at great art. I can't carry a tune but I love music. It is importnat to be exposed to these things - and maybe some things like algebra should just be modified. This is quite an interesting discussion. Great topic
     
  23. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2004
    Messages:
    6,367
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 19, 2005

    I understand the need for appreciating different subjects and being exposed to everything. But I can tell you that by a young age, I pretty much knew what I liked and disliked, and what I was good at and not good at. Jane, I'd like to say that I remember my algebra, but seriously, I really don't. That and chemistry. Maybe you guys appreciate it more because you DO use it in your profession-I don't. I don't teach high school algrebra or chemistry to pre-K kids. Maybe if I used it, I'd see more of the purpose. And, maybe learning comes easier for some of you who do appreciate it more. Learning certain things like chemistry, algebra, and geometry do not come the slightest bit easy for me. Come on, I think after taking it multiple times and still not passing says that It's just not something meant for me. If schools really stood by the saying "every child is different and learns at their own pace", then our curriculums would be different. School curriculums are not geared for every individual child, without taking in account special ed.

    Let me add this quick. When I started this forum I wasn't considering grade school in my head at all. The things you learn in grade school are all things that we as adults use today (addition, subtraction, language, simple science, etc.). I even remember taking typing (which was required) in 7th grade, but that is something the pretty much everyone uses in todays society. The grades I was thinking of were more of the 7-12 grades.

    One more thing, algebra did not teach me how to problem solve one bit. Socialization taught me that. I hope I am not sounding rude while typing. I don't mean to sound like that. This is just something that had always had me frustrated in school.
     
  24. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,322
    Likes Received:
    13

    Jun 19, 2005

    Everybody is different. I am a person who wants to know everything about everything; I can't STAND not knowing. And I have always rewarded students for knowing things not directly related to the subject at hand. I still do it. The flashcards on my college website contain questions related to the reading my students did that week. The answers are not in our book; they must be researched.

    I am also a person who is usually able to connect almost any topic to at least one other topic. Things learned in isolation aren't useful. It's only when we connect all our bits of knowledge together that we can see a bigger picture.

    I made really bad grades in math because I found it boring. Even now I won't try very hard if I am bored. But do I regret having to take math? Absolutely not. Do I use it in my job of teaching college writing? No. But I'm glad I know it. Nothing learned is useless. If I didn't have a good background in diverse subject areas, how could I help my students notice certain words, or point out related things to them?

    I also truly believe that a subject is boring only when the teacher makes it so. It is our job to fascinate our students, to make them frantic to learn things.

    I remember very little about grade school, other than that I spent most of it in the hall tutoring the dumb kids. I had learned to read at age 3 and I used to sit in wonder at a room full of kids who didn't even know their colors or how to count. When I reported this fact to my mother (Mommy, my school is full of stupid kids!!!) she told me that it wasn't their fault; their parents hadn't done their job properly before sending them to school, and that I should be nice to them. I still believe this is true. Once my schooling became departmentalized, something in me came alive and started soaking facts and logic and connections and fantasy like a dry sponge dropped in the sea.

    It is our job to find out as much as is possible in the short time we are on this earth, and to pass as much of it as is possible on to others. Why else are we teachers?
     
  25. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2004
    Messages:
    7,775
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 19, 2005

    I remember taking algebra in high school. It made absolutely no sense to me at all. I have never missed not understanding it and will never regret not being good at it. It is useless to me.What you know is not what matters in this life. What matters is what kind of person you are deep inside. We are all better at some things than others and that is what makes each one of us a unique and valuable individual.
     
  26. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2004
    Messages:
    7,775
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 19, 2005

    P.S.Don't let your schooling stand in the way of learning.
     
  27. lowrie

    lowrie Companion

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    206
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 20, 2005

    It's funny, when I first replied to this thread, I wasn't thinking in terms of my personal "bigger picture" beliefs about learning, only my frustration with certain requirements that I don't see the reason for. Now, reading through the other replies, I need to restate my response, if only for myself ;-)

    While I find it frustrating that my children are required by law to take "core French" classes that I know I never retained much from, I think that learning another language is a wonderful thing! I went and took an immersion course a few years ago so that I could have that in my skill set.

    What I think is the problem, at least for me, with some of the "subjects" is the way in which they were taught to me.

    An Example: In Manitoba the grade six curriculum for social studies has a cluster (unit) on explorers. I recall being in grade six and I remember a name or two from that cluster, but I can't tell you anything concrete about explorers. I may be student teaching in a grade six class this year and that may mean I am going to have to teach this. As a result, I'm going to have to review it all. It was taught to me in the style of teaching back in the 70s the "sage on the stage" -- a teacher that stood at the front of the class and lectured and we took pages of notes. BLAH!

    My middle son is just finishing grade six. When he studied the explorers, his teacher put the students into pairs and each pair was assigned an explorer. They had to research his life and what he did and write a play/sketch. They had to include in their sketch where and when he was born, what he discovered and what he was known for. They had to hand in a written report complete with a map showing his exploration routes, and the map had to be aged (dyed with tea and burned edges). Then they had to perform their skit, with costumes and props and during the skit they had to touch on all the facts about their explorer -- WITHOUT reciting facts, it all had to be done dramatically.

    As a result, my son knows about the explorers and I wager he will retain it for a very long time.

    So for me, I love to learn, I just didn't like the style in which I was taught in school!

    I'm like Jane, I can't stand not knowing ;-)
     
  28. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2004
    Messages:
    6,367
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 20, 2005

    That is a wonderful point lowrie! Too bad there are not enough teachers like your sons who are that creative. That is my main problem-I don't learn unless I am doing it hands on in a creative way or I am extremely interested.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Ima Teacher
Total: 206 (members: 2, guests: 181, robots: 23)
test