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Old 06-26-2011, 12:19 AM   #41
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An incompetent High School math teacher (in his first year of teaching) only accepts problem solutions which follow the exact steps he outlines in class. Unfortunately he is hard to hear, doesn't take questions and most kids in the class do not know his official sequence of steps since they are not in the book. My child invented her own (absolutely mathematically correct) method of solving the problems and used it on tests. He marked them all wrong but gave her credit after she protested only if she provided separate formal proof of her method, despite it being obviously valid. Other kids on seeing she knew a way to get the answer started asking her for how to do the problems and we were called in for a behavior review that could have got her expelled based on his complaint that she was misbehaving in class. Her transgression was not following his exact steps in solving problems and showing other kids similar ways to solve problems outside his officially taught methods. If I were an administrator this would have been a significant red flag that this teacher could be in trouble. Instead we were given official warnings that if she continued to use methods not taught in class she would be flunked. If she continued to show other kids her methods she would be given detention.

Neither the teacher nor the administrator had any interest in hearing my defense of my child's behavior. Obviously getting angry wasn't going to help matters.

It's not always the child who is in the wrong.
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Old 06-26-2011, 12:32 AM   #42
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In the same school in a class my children were not in, a long term substitute was used for a math teacher for 7 months (nearly a full school year). She was often in over her head and didn't know her subject matter and did not have sufficient classroom management skills. She taught 5 classes of algebra for a total of 150 students and all 5 classes were in such trouble that she was issuing more detentions than all the other teachers in the school combined. Parents from all 5 classes started banding together and volunteered to take turns teaching her classes for her. One month into the school year she issued a blanket detention for every student in every one of her classes. Fifty parents show up at school to serve detention in support of their students. Letter writing campaigns are conducted to the school board and central office. Principal fields multiple parent complaints daily. They organized so at least two parents complain every day.

Despite all this, this teacher was retained for the full 7 months with no assistance or improvements to her teaching. Students who could drop the class generally did so. A few withdrew entirely and went to private schools.

An entire 5 classes of students (and their parents) were not the problem in this situation.
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Old 06-26-2011, 12:42 AM   #43
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In an elementary school, my child's teacher selects one student each year as the class scapegoat. Luckily my child was not selected. This unlucky child is routinely berated by the teacher when she is in a bad mood. After one particularly ugly incident where the teacher dumped the child's backpack contents on the floor while yelling how stupid he was, my child and a few friends got up the courage to see the principal and tell their parents. The parents quickly also came to see the principal. The principal's response was that he had spoken to the teacher and the behavior would stop. Astonishingly, he acknowledged it had been a problem in the past but since the teacher was near retirement they would handle the situation by "keeping an eye on her"

Personally, I think this conduct deserves immediate removal from the classroom. It seems possibly criminal.

We later confirmed similar incidents in previous classes for the last few years. As far as we know, no disciplinary action was ever taken against this teacher.

It's not always the "helicopter" parents or the children who are the problems. I have lots more examples like this just from my own children's limited school experiences. I'm sure there are many others that other people have experienced.
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Old 06-26-2011, 01:24 AM   #44
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An incompetent High School math teacher (in his first year of teaching) only accepts problem solutions which follow the exact steps he outlines in class. Unfortunately he is hard to hear, doesn't take questions and most kids in the class do not know his official sequence of steps since they are not in the book. My child invented her own (absolutely mathematically correct) method of solving the problems and used it on tests. He marked them all wrong but gave her credit after she protested only if she provided separate formal proof of her method, despite it being obviously valid. ...
I don't know anything about high school teaching, but this sounds like the teacher who (I was told by a friend) was the most effective teacher in a department of philosophy somewhere in southern Ohio (I forget the college -- perhaps in Cincinnati?). He was such a dope, that in class his students had to keep correcting his confusions. They learned much more than students in classes taught by more competent instructors. Sounds like your kid did great.
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Old 06-26-2011, 11:45 AM   #45
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I had a calculus teacher who was brilliantly capable and made a practice to deliberately introduce a mistake into lecture a couple of times a week. It kept us alert and looking for the mistake to challenge him. If he ever did make an actual mistake we were keen to catch that and he had a self checking system of an entire class wanting to validate everything he said. Needless to say, his results were excellent.

I think it is a big difference when a competent (excellent even) teacher uses a deliberate stratagem, compared to a teacher who is so bad that his sheer incompetence sometimes motivates students to just do it themselves. If that really is an effective teaching method, then lets get rid of all the teachers we currently have and replace them with random lowest possible wage people who know nothing about the subjects and students can
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Old 06-26-2011, 02:49 PM   #46
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Saw this last night: Number of the Week: U.S. Teachers’ Hours Among World’s Longest - Real Time Economics - WSJ

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Among 27 member nations tracked by the OECD, U.S. primary-school educators spent 1,097 hours a year teaching despite only spending 36 weeks a year in the classroom — among the lowest among the countries tracked. That was more than 100 hours more than New Zealand, in second place at 985 hours, despite students in that country going to school for 39 weeks. The OECD average is 786 hours.
Yet the US is "average" in education ranking per the same OECD: AFP: US falls to average in education ranking

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The three-yearly OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, which compares the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in 70 countries around the world, ranked the United States 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics.
Something is clearly broken in our education system.

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Old 06-26-2011, 03:27 PM   #47
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Something is clearly broken in our education system.
I'm not sure some of these comparisons between countries work all that well. Most especially when they are with much smaller nations with much more homogeneous populations. Like Finland, with a similar population to my metro area, but they're 98% Finnish compared to the 100 or so different nationalities/languages represented in my local school population.

Some critics also point out that poverty plays a huge role in this, and if you took the scores of US schools with similar poverty rates to other nations, that the US schools consistently score better on the PISA.
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Old 06-26-2011, 03:43 PM   #48
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I'm not sure some of these comparisons between countries work all that well.
Perhaps the best comparisons of a country's education system are the numbers of citizens of other countries trying to get into that country's colleges.
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Old 06-26-2011, 05:27 PM   #49
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Perhaps the best comparisons of a country's education system are the numbers of citizens of other countries trying to get into that country's colleges.
I don't think so. The University of Hawaii graduate programs have in the past had few students who grew up in Hawaii and many from Japan, Thailand, China, Korea, Singapore. I think we'd prefer our education system work well for our own, as well as attracting applications from elsewhere.
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Old 06-26-2011, 05:38 PM   #50
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Originally Posted by Leonidas View Post
I'm not sure some of these comparisons between countries work all that well. Most especially when they are with much smaller nations with much more homogeneous populations. Like Finland, with a similar population to my metro area, but they're 98% Finnish compared to the 100 or so different nationalities/languages represented in my local school population.

Some critics also point out that poverty plays a huge role in this, and if you took the scores of US schools with similar poverty rates to other nations, that the US schools consistently score better on the PISA.
I'm sure the reasons are multifactorial and include those issues you raised. The outcome is what matters though. We compete on a world stage and we are being out-educated.

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Old 06-26-2011, 10:57 PM   #51
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I don't think so. The University of Hawaii graduate programs have in the past had few students who grew up in Hawaii and many from Japan, Thailand, China, Korea, Singapore. I think we'd prefer our education system work well for our own, as well as attracting applications from elsewhere.
My point is that, despite all the media bashing, the American college system seems to be pretty popular with a sizeable number of foreigners who have to go to great lengths to get there.

If the educational systems of those other countries were so much better than America's, then I'd expect to see hordes of American high-school students scrambling to get into colleges in Japan, Thailand, China, Korea, and Singapore.

There are other complicating factors. For example we encouraged our daughter to go to a Mainland school so that she'd (1) cut the parental umbilical faster and (2) gain a better appreciation for Hawaii. But if she was back in Hawaii for an MBA then she'd do fine at Shidler.
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Old 06-26-2011, 11:31 PM   #52
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Colleges are radically different from public elementary, junior high and high schools. The fact that we have some elite colleges that are among the best in the world should not be taken as endorsement that every other unrelated school in the country is similarly excellent.
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Old 06-26-2011, 11:49 PM   #53
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My point is that, despite all the media bashing, the American college system seems to be pretty popular with a sizeable number of foreigners who have to go to great lengths to get there.
Yes, we have an excellent college system. But, being a little picky here, you did refer to our educational system. We can have the greatest universities in the world, and still fall short when it comes to the upper level education of our own kids.
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