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Public Education System and Learning

   George Edwards, giac2002.org

 

This, as the voting system/fraud prevention paper was and is a work in progress, prepared by the observations of learners, not teaching specialists.

 

I assume the basic material for our elementary and high school public education has changed little over the years:

  • Teaching elementary students the basic skills to get by in our society: reading, proper grammar, proper spelling, penmanship, writing essays, arithmetic including learning the multiplication tables, basic hygiene, basic history and basic everyday skills like how to write checks. Home and private schoolers probably have no problem with that basic subject matter, possibly excepting the particular literature, history selections and sexual education offered.

  • Offering secondary students more reading material and history, giving more writing practice and critique, teaching the basics of national government (civics), offering more advanced mathematics classes requiring algebra, perhaps geometry and some calculus, and offering specialized training in business, manual arts and some exposure to science—general science, biology, chemistry and physics. Home and private schoolers probably have no problem with that basic subject matter with, again, the possible exceptions of the particular literary and history selections and sexual education.

 

However, parents are often dissatisfied with the education their children receive in public schools. And home-schooled and private-schooled children, as a generality, have been proven to perform better than those attending public schools. The often-suggested response to that is to allow home, and private schools to compete with public schools. Some oppose this for stated reasons such as the alternate schooling may not be available to some children giving others an unfair advantage or that alternate schools will result in lower funding of public schools. Making vouchers or other measures available  for children who can not otherwise afford alternate schools alleviates economics from preventing children from getting educated in alternate schools. And the fewer children having to be educated in public schools could lower the costs for public school education while improving its quality.

 

The economic burden for home-schooled children could be eased by allowing those children selected usage of public school facilities*, and for those not enrolled in religious schools, busing to private schools.

 

In all cases, the parents could be allowed to choose the reading, history and hygienic material provided to their children and participate in the selection and retention of teachers. Public funding for public education that prepares children to enjoy the economic opportunity that this country provides and make educated choices is good for everyone—individual students, their families and society as a whole. Publicly funded “government” schools per se have been shown to be ineffective however compared to what appears to be possible with otherwise totally or partially funded  public education other than strictly schools.

 

Teaching, coaching,  and convincing children and parents that education is to the student’s and his or her children’s personal benefit has the potential of bringing children out of the economic doldrums that they otherwise will stay in. This is a very important phase of any educational approach.

 

Potential teacher/coaches should be vetted as to knowledge, attitude and teaching capability personally and by rigorous testing in the fields that they are expected to teach—and hired and retained accordingly.

 

Different people learn better in different and varieties of combinations of ways. The historical direct personal teaching approach has proven itself as it can provide one-on-one inspiration and coaching. The particular problems in understanding and communication can be most efficiently addressed “man-to-man.” Information, if understood, can be handed off more quickly by reading than by word of mouth, for those who become adept at reading. Computer-led training can be designed to allow an individual to progress at his or her own personal rate, arguably better and faster than any other method beyond, perhaps, one-to-one tutoring, because of the possibility of  almost immediate question and answer feed-back.

 

Once perfected machine instruction, may be the least expensive—it is a question of the comparative up-front to overall costs. Given reader comprehension, reading existing books is less expensive yet. Human teaching on other than a lecture-only basis may be the most effective while being the most costly approach. Obviously, the best cost-benefit-availability mix depends on the availability of resources and the computer and other literacy of the student.

 

As is usually the case, within reason, the best mix of training techniques and resources for a particular group can be best determined at the local level with the acquiescence of the adults involved. The use of nationalized tests, for instance, may make excellent sense but not those produced by the national government. In fact, national governmental selection of tests as with the national selection of books does not accord with our principles of government and potential inculcation of values only by the states and the people.

 

Learning material in the areas of arithmetic, mathematics, writing and reading skill, science business and manual training skills should not reasonably be argumentative except as to presentation—human, literary or machine—with the possible exception of those materials having to do with religion, sexual education, history or literature selection. These last remain and should be determined among local adults within local cultures.

 

A common conflict may remain between religion and science in the ideas of evolution and creation by design. Neither of these approaches is subject to determination of absolute truth and can be taught in that vein. The ideas of evolution have some educational value in providing general ideas as to relationships,  geological and biological history but have no absolute corner on causation. Choices as to what is best with regard to sexual education can be reasonably made within a local culture as can choices as to literature and even historical selections insofar as the latter is not demonstrably false.

 

In any case, students should be taught so as not to be technologically dependent on such as calculators—e.g., they should learn their multiplication tables—or computers to compose. But they should be taught the keyboarding and the basic computer literacy they need to compete in today’s environment. The capability to use basic algebra is so fundamental in so many areas that it should be taught and learning to use and follow geometrical proofs is so illustrative of effective reasoning that it is desirable that it, too, should be taught. In today’s world, students should be exposed to General Science.

 

*Facilities and instruction that could be shared include: – access to all extra-curricular activities including sports in the appropriate age groups, gymnasiums, sporting arenas, coaching and teams, libraries, auditoriums, laboratories, manual arts facilities, study spaces and the associated parking lots.. Book selection and teaching in the areas of history, literature and sexual education could desirably be kept separate from that provided in public schools.