The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Intent of Education...

ᅠI don't see the slightest problem with emphasizing that parents must prepare their students for school. But the part of my mind I was engaging here was the one that works backwards from the end goal: not a perfect or complete method, but useful. Like saying: I want to prepare a tasty, healthy meal that will both nourish and bond my family." The first step might well be cleaning the kitchen, but the clean kitchen in THIS context is a means rather than an end.
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Thanks for the thoughts about education. Ethics, sex education, etc...all good. In terms of the "replace their parents" comment, and the skills required by an 18-year old...I say select the toughest set, and aim our kids at that. And yes, overall, a love of learning...and life itself...is critical.
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In terms of eating discipline and the Tibetans, a minimum of care would be that you don't DECREASE your quality and/or increase the quantity as you integrate your Tibetans. Remember: your ego will try to convince you you cannot change. One of the simplest ways to do this is to subtly increase the amount you eat as you start exercising.

Now, what would happen if someone combined the Tibetans and, say, Intermittent Fasting? I am seriously, seriously curious about this, and am going to experiment on myself.
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In terms of T and I spending so much time apart...I notice it when we're under stress, and I want to be cautious, to remember that you can't take intimacy and connectedness for granted. We absolutely have to function both separately and together. But I'd rather be too concerned than not concerned enough...
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Those who want to try the Tibetans for ten weeks, we'll track the results here. Start with three repetitions, and add two week (at most). One nice thing is that it is so easy to track the results.

When we know what level (3-21) you have reached, and what problems being experienced, we can begin to explore some of the connection between mind, and body, and life.

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If you reach a plateau with one Tibetan, your best course is to perform that Tibetan multiple times during the day--use the principle of Synaptic Facilitation to help you. You can also change the leverage, placing the hands on a set of stairs, for instance, to make #5 easier. Obviously, if there are weight concerns, the discipline necessary to perform ANYTHING daily (and this is a 7-days-a-week commitment) gives you discipline in other areas as well.

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Concentrate on breathing. Work to make the entire enterprise one long unbroken string of breath. If you can keep the emphasis there, you will multiply the results. In terms of the esoteric qualities of the exercise...you know, I have found it does little good to discuss those things directly. Most people who integrate a meditative or spiritual practice into their lives will start noticing some interesting things on their own. No need to lead the conversation...

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I think I can agree that it was a miscue to try to get everyone to college. Trade schools would be just fine for large numbers of people. My problem is that I hear people coupling trade-school recommendations to I.Q tests, and I.Q. tests to race. In other words, I am sensitive to a classest argument here: people in favor of trade schools for some rarely believe that THEIR children are going there. It's always someone else's kids. Who aren't quite as smart. And whether this is legitimate or not, I cannot forget that environment can have a massive effect on school performance. That said, it would make sense for a couple of generations of trade school might create the family stability necessary to allow your grandchildren to walk confidently through the doors of a college.

I cannot but remain cautious, until I feel that the tests and decisions are being made by a better cross-section of the populous being judged. I am perfectly aware that this is a personal hot-button issue. But what the hell: we've all got them.
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The Question of the Day Is: Is there anything I haven't discussed in a while you'd like me to address?

19 comments:

Dan Moran said...

"That said, it would make sense for a couple of generations of trade school might create the family stability necessary to allow your grandchildren to walk confidently through the doors of a college."

It can take time. My grandfather left Ireland before the English could hang him and never was an American citizen. My father was born in New York in 1930 and was an amazing success, by the standards of a kid raised in Corona during the Great Depression -- he died with money in the bank. I'm in a good career in a relatively stable field (2001-2002 aside) and my kids are growing up in an upper middle class neighborhood and my oldest daughter just got accepted into one of the best colleges in the U.S.

Patience across the entirety of your own life is practical, if you really believe that there's something better coming for your kids....

BTW ... I share your skepticism about IQ tests, and possibly you're skeptical about standardized testing in general -- I am. But whatever barriers there may be in standardized testing, IMO they're smaller than the barriers in fuzzier "teachers pick the good kids" approaches. If I'm a poor black kid from Alabama, I want the standardized test, not the teacher or system that's prejudiced against poor black boys from Alabama ...

Anonymous said...

I think we may need a different term than trade school, because from the old days I think it has a somewhat negative connotation that its only for those who are not smart enough for college. I think a non-college path could be right for many smart people. To use some examples in area I am familiar with, I see no reason why you need four years of college to be a software engineer, systems administrator, IT administrator, internet site designer or computer trouble shooter and repair person. As a Statistician perhaps I needed college, but in terms of being able to do that job I would say that two thirds to three quarters of my college courses were a complete waste. I won't say the other courses did broaden me as a person, but frankly neither my father nor my grandfather completed high school and both could quote Shakespeare, Plato, Kant etc.

Marty S

mjholt said...

I think I can agree that it was a miscue to try to get everyone to college. Trade schools would be just fine for large numbers of people.

Trade school and college are not at odds. Learning a trade and learning literature should go hand in hand. I would like to see a lot more emphasis on trade school because (1) the trades provide a huge service to our world, (2) they should not be treated as the end but the beginning of a life of useful work (3) people in the trades, esp those who go through apprenticeships earn a huge amount of money. A journeyman/master commercial electrician earns between $72K and $150K per year. Really, depending on overtime. People can also move into engineering degrees, owning their businesses, and many other opportunities from this very strong beginning.

Re Dan's comment about standardized tests, and prejudice is too true. However, the lack of trained workers could be a help for kids of all colors everywhere, as long as they don't have to study too hard for their drug test. In Seattle, I suspect that black kids are being channeled away from the trades by people who do not grasp the opportunity.

Just an observation: The people I know with the highest IQs have a hard time holding a job.

Kai Jones said...

To discuss: what are people who don't have TAB privilege supposed to do?

Anonymous said...

While I know quite a few high IQ people who have no problem holding a job, I have also seen that a lot of high IQ people have a problem. In the cases I am familiar with their problem generally falls into one of two categories. They excel at their original position, but get promoted on that basis to a position demanding people skills they don't have or they get bored easily at anything they do and keep skipping between jobs and fields trying to find something that holds their interest.

Marty S

Denis S. said...

Hi Steve,

I apologize in advance for going off topic, but I have a burning question for you. I just came back from watching Harold and Kumar 2. It's a funny movie. What I found interesting was that both titular characters end up getting their girls - a Latina and a white woman, both attractive and likable. The movie has performed well at the box office so far, so I am wondering what you make of it.

One possibility is that although it has done well up until this point, it may still fail to make it past the $100 million mark - that is, once mainstream whites figure out that there's some miscegenation elements involved, they "naturally" steer away from watching it.

Another possibility, perhaps quite remote, is that it does reach blockbuster status, or at least a status comparable to that in comparison to comedies in general as opposed to action thrillers.

If so, what would that mean? Is it merely an exception that proves the rule? Or is it a sign that things are changing? Is it possible to relate this to the report that voters 60 years and older overwhelmingly choose Hillary while 30 years and younger choose Obama? Are we seeing a light, however obscure, at the end of the tunnel?

Anonymous said...

"As a Statistician perhaps I needed college, but in terms of being able to do that job I would say that two thirds to three quarters of my college courses were a complete waste. I won't say the other courses did broaden me as a person, but frankly neither my father nor my grandfather completed high school and both could quote Shakespeare, Plato, Kant etc."

"Trade school and college are not at odds. Learning a trade and learning literature should go hand in hand."

These remind me of how, at the world's first university, the requirements included learning a trade aside from one's major!

http://www.timbuktufoundation.org/university.html

"...The University curriculum had four degrees or levels:...

"...[in "2. The secondary degree"] This level may be called the General Studies level. Here the students are introduced to the different branches of Islamic knowledge. These Islamic sciences are: grammar, commentaries of the Qur'an, the Hadiths or the Prophetic narrations, jurisprudence, mathematics, geography, history, Islamic schools of thoughts, physics, astronomy, chemistry, sciences of the purification of the heart and soul, etc. The students also spend time in learning a trade and the Islamic business code and ethics. The university trade shops offered classes in business, carpentry, farming, fishing, construction, shoe making, tailoring, navigation etc. This is very important because as an Imam or Islamic scholar one has to impart honest and unbiased judgments in settling legal issues. This integrity will be compromised if the Imam or the scholar living expenses are being supplied by the rich people. In order the Imam or scholar to be just and fair in discharging legal decrees, he has to earn his own halal (permissible) income..."

Today's students who gripe about distribution requirements can console themselves a bit with being part of a long tradition. That also goes for students who gripe about paying back loans:

"...There was also the case of one Muslim who was wealthy and generous. Whoever was in need in Timbuktu approached him and secured a loan. As time went by, the Imam ofJingare Ber noticed that the number of attendance of Mosque was decreasing each Friday. (Jingare Ber, up to the present day, is the only Masjid open on Fridays in Timbuktu. The entire population converges to this famous Mosque). The Imam inquired about the cause of the lowered attendance at the Masjid and discovered that most people of Timbuktu owed money to the generous wealthy man. The people who owed him money were unable to pay their debt so they decided to stay home for fear and embarassment of running into the man. The dilemma now is what to do. The matter was submitted to the circle of knowledge who decided that the wealthy man should stayed home or forgive the debt. The wealthy man was called in. He forgave the debtees and said he had no idea that the lower attendance was because of him."

"To discuss: what are people who don't have TAB privilege supposed to do?"

Have every opportunity to prepare for the jobs they *can* do. Your post just reminded me of something I read a while ago about Benjamin Underwood: http://www.benunderwood.com/aboutme.html [this page is written by his mother]

"...His school doesn't have anything for a blind person right now. You see, I am his mother and I will try ever thing in my power to make sure that he doesn't miss out on anything in life..."

It's no fair that his school doesn't or can't offer enough support every year!

"Another possibility, perhaps quite remote, is that it does reach blockbuster status, or at least a status comparable to that in comparison to comedies in general as opposed to action thrillers."

In other words, reaching blockbuster status, controlling for the genre variable?

Anonymous said...

The Question of the Day Is: Is there anything I haven't discussed in a while you'd like me to address?

I'd like to hear more on the topic of finding really good readers who will help you move into being a better writer when you are not married/whatever to a good reader.

I do not produce editor-ready manuscripts without a lot of work, which is fine, and a lot of editing. Also, I like people to point out problems in the storytelling so that I can improve, but I usually get a confusing mash-up. What do I ask people to help me with? How do I know what's good/right? How do I know what is good criticism?

Anonymous said...

I am not a writer, but as an avid reader I'm going to give my thoughts on the question about good readers.

1) You need honest readers who aren't afraid to criticize.
That means you need to be open to criticism and by your actions
make this known to your reader.

2) You need a compatible reader. By this I mean if you are writing a romance novel you need someone who likes romance novels not hard science fiction.

3) You need to direct the reader. You might have a questionnaire for the reader to fill out at the end, with questions like what were the three things you liked least/liked best about the book. Also if you know you have a particular problem like getting too descriptive about things that don't move the novel on you could ask the reader to be on the lookout for overly descriptive passages.

Marty S

Anonymous said...

"2) You need a compatible reader. By this I mean if you are writing a romance novel you need someone who likes romance novels not hard science fiction."

...or someone who likes romance novels *and* hard science fiction. :)

Anonymous said...

"In other words, I am sensitive to a classest argument here: people in favor of trade schools for some rarely believe that THEIR children are going there. It's always someone else's kids."

...and sometimes it's "my kids will do college prep instead" and sometimes it's "my kids? I don't have kids." Personally, I don't have kids and I'm in favor of every high schooler having both college-prep and vocational options without being disrespected for either one. :)

BTW, I heard that the UK now has vocational counterparts of the A-Level qualifications:

http://www.qca.org.uk/14-19/qualifications/index_a-levels.htm

One version even lets secondary schoolers take both uni prep ("college prep" doesn't seem to apply given what "college" means in UK English) and voke school at the same time! :)

"...Vocational A level (6 units)

The new six-unit vocational A level is available in the full range of vocational subject areas. It is designed to promote flexibility and breadth in the post-16 curriculum, allowing students to mix the six-unit award with other qualifications, including other vocational A levels, vocational AS, GCE A level and GCE AS..."

Anonymous said...

Whether it is classist or not to be in favor of a vocational path through high school, from the statistics I've seen less than one third of students go on to college. It seems to me we owe it to the two thirds that don't go on to prepare them to be productive members of society who have the means to earn a decent living.

Marty S

Anonymous said...

Voc vs. College:
There is a natural inclination by teachers who went to college to push college. Ironically, they have not idea how the education they impart is used. Teachers should have to get out into the world and learn how geometry is used in everyday life; how chemistry is used; how wood shop is used. The people who fall between voc and college are the ones who really loose out, because they often have to take the drone jobs, and stay in them for life.

mjholt

Dan Moran said...

"The people who fall between voc and college are the ones who really loose out, because they often have to take the drone jobs, and stay in them for life."

Somebody needs to do those jobs. Any system's going to produce winners and losers. The key is to make sure that everyone has the same opportunity, not that everyone has the same results.

Anonymous said...

"Thanks for the thoughts about education. Ethics, sex education, etc...all good. In terms of the 'replace their parents' comment, and the skills required by an 18-year old...I say select the toughest set, and aim our kids at that. "

OTOH, the "toughest set" piles more on each generation instead of maintaining consistently high standards. In that version, trying to "replace one's parents" at 18 can mean cramming the equivalent of their tertiary education into one's elementary and secondary education.

Do the math:

Suppose the first generation of a family finishes 12th grade/A-Levels/etc. at 17 or 18, finishes their bachelor degrees by 24 on average, and has kids with similarly educated people.

To do the tougher version of replacing them, this second generation would have to finish their bachelors degrees at 18. Suppose they're prodigy enough to actually manage that instead of failing by this standard, and then nearly all proceed to earn graduate degrees before having kids with other people who did the same thing in their families.

Now, for the 3rd generation to "replace" their parents by this same standard, they have to get their graduate degrees at 18...

Anonymous said...

A lot of this discussion seems to assume that one needs to finish all their education before they go out into the working world. I think that's wrong. At my college you needed a zero index to graduate. I graduated with something like a .09 index. I was a terrible student to large extent because I didn't want to be there and had no idea where I was headed in life. It took four years in industry to realize I didn't want to do what I was doing and to realize I needed more education to get the kind of job I wanted. I went back to school at night and got first my masters in math and then an MBA in operations research. Because I was more mature and knew what I wanted my grades were way higher in grad school then under grad. I think many young people would benefit from some time in the work force before continuing their education.

Marty S

Steven Barnes said...

I'm not against standardized testing. I'm saying that if group A creates and administers the test, and concludes that group B is inferior thereby, I feel no obligation to accept their results unless those results are in alignment with my own observations.
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Harold and Kumar was a hoot. I don't clearly remember if there was a love scene, although they both ended up with girls. Let's say there was, and it crossed th 100-million mark. It would be the first American film that passes that mark with a non-Caucasian male having sex. ("Crouching Tiger" did it.) It is indeed a positive sign, but remember that they are both Asian--so that implies some things about the TYPE of non-Caucasian who is becoming acceptable. Still, no blacks. However, I'd still be pleased to see it...as long as we don't get into a period where whites, Asians and dark-Skinned Asians can have sex...and still no black people. What would be really irritating is that that situation would actually make it even harder for white people to see the problem, much as people seem to think that because Denesh D'Souza has dark skin, he somehow speaks for black people. Different group, different issues.

Pagan Topologist said...

Steve, did The Color Purple cross the hundred million mark?

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