Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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...betcha nobody ever thought of this before...
  (+7, -6)
(+7, -6)
  [vote for,


1) Take a number of children. 2) Place them in a room. 3) Find an adult who is willing to claim s/he has knowledge although this is rarely true. 4) Give the adult plenty of time and space to discipline the children and occasionally impart said "knowledge" to them. 5) Repeat.

halfbaked new idea:

1) Engage children in learning. Help them want to learn, perhaps even help them love learning. 2) Choose adults who actually have knowledge to teach, but ensure that these adults do not dislike children. 3) Teach essential life skills (communication, etc.) before teaching useless academic information such as the knowledge of who assassinated King Soandso XV. 4) Repeat.

mush, Mar 05 2000

Maria Montessori, _The Montessori Method_ http://digital.libr.../method/method.html
1912 [cosma, Mar 05 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

John Dewey, _Democracy and Education_ http://www.ilt.colu...y/d_e/contents.html
1916 [cosma, Mar 05 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

John Dewey, _The School and Society_ http://paradigm.soc...Dewey/DEWEY_11.HTML
1907 [cosma, Mar 05 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Reforming the Reformers http://www.people.v...u/~hl5s/hirsch.html
Balanced essay on current debates about education [cosma, Mar 05 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

The Keller Plan http://ei.cs.vt.edu...ubsection3_2_1.html
Like Montessori but for grownups too [LoriZ, Nov 26 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Evolutionary Education http://www.halfbake...tionary_20Education
[phoenix, Jun 05 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Sugata Mitra shows how kids teach themselves http://www.ted.com/...ach_themselves.html
[kamathln, May 21 2009]

A Historical overview of Education in India http://a.parsons.ed...fall02/research.pdf
[kamathln, May 21 2009]


       Make sure to teach the essentialest skill: how to learn and enjoy it.
rat, Mar 05 2000

       Been there, done that, got the alumni club t-shirt. Try John Dewey and Maria Montessori; "progressive education" more generally. Doesn't work so well once hormones start to kick in. (And skills, alas, are no substitute for the facts needed to support them.)
cosma, Mar 05 2000

       Full disclosure - I'm a former high school teacher and current education academic.   

       The best education-related novel idea I've heard is to do something else with students between about age 12 and 16. The hormones make any meaningful learning pretty much impossible anyway, so why not put them out to hard physical labour or something, and bring 'em back when they're ready to learn? All the wonderful stuff about making it interesting and relevant works well in elementary school, but the swell of the breast of the girl in the next desk is just so much more interesting to a 14 year old boy than anything I could ever do as a teacher...
Bravus, Apr 19 2000

       Perhaps why both boys and girls learn better in single-sex schools?
hippo, Apr 19 2000

       Surely that depends on _who_ the boys and girls find distracting. There's a rhyme about English public schools which is to the point here, but I can't remember enough of it to quote.   

       Anyway, I was _much_ happier learning Latin and calculus at 14 than I would've been doing physical labor, and I don't recall the hormones (which wer definitely there) being _that_ distracting. But I was several standard deviations above the mean in bookishness.   

       (If memory serves, Montessori recommended shipping teens off to farms, for pretty much the reasons Bravus recommends.)
cosma, Apr 19 2000

       teachers should always realize that not all teenagers are disinterested in learning... If given the right enviroment you'd be surprised how much excitement over calculus, chinese, or quantum physics you can foster in a 15 year old. many high school teachers walk into their classes at the beginning of the year and think that this is just a bunch of young punks unwilling to learn.. they never try to teach anything.... it's usually the teacher who fosters disinterest.. not the student.
Malakh, Apr 22 2000

       As one currently going through this great American public educational system, I can proudly say that the vast majority of teachers are incompetent. This might stem from the horrible incentive offered for teachers to teach. They get lousy pay and have to put up with students who are, for the most part, unmotivated and disrespectful.   

       <corny>Not to mention that very few adults would respect somebody who introduced themselves as a teacher. If we really valued education, we should respect the title of teacher. One should be able to say, "Hello, I am a teacher" with pride. </corny>
dontthink, May 11 2000

       An idea to make 'teaching' more attractive as an occupation is to allocate to each of a student's teachers a cut of that student's future income. That way, teachers will be highly motivated to teach well.   

       I already know that this view point is highly skewed in prioritizing financial gains over other types of rewards, both for the student and for the teachers. However, I doubt anyone here would be naive enough to claim much of anything else matters in our time :)
ps, May 11 2000

       Hey, I'm naive enough. I think that if you predicated a teacher's financial success on that of their students, they'd "teach to the test" by steering children toward careers in high-paying fields whether the kids were suited for that sort of work or not.   

       It also disadvantages special ed. teachers.   

       That said, here's my half-baked idea (which is similar to one of dontthink's): pay teachers a salary commensurate with the level of expertise they're supposed to have, and conversely make sure that they have that expertise. Kind of like what we do with doctors and lawyers.
bookworm, May 12 2000

       I still think some feedback loop is needed.   

       How about linking the salary of the people in charge of schools to such a scheme? The compensation could be designed such that it is fair. For example, to even out the difference between schools in wealthy and poor neighbourhoods, the compensation could be based on how well the students did compared to other students of the same background, etc...
ps, May 15 2000

       In any randomly gathered group of children there are three naturally occurring divisions.   

       One third will be idealists who need and must have a leader to follow.   

       Another third will be realists who need and must get clear-cut and unchanging rules and instructions.   

       The remaining third will be pragmatists, who need and muat have continuous interaction with their peer-group.   

       A good teacher caters for all three groups, usually by dividing the day into three.   

       One third of any day he [she] he does what leaders have always done to ensure that they are liked as persons, as role-models, to keep their followers on-track behind hem.   

       A second part of the day the good teacher acts the part of the drill-sergeant doing what drill-sergeants have always done to turn raw recruits into obedient "soldiers".   

       The third part of the day is devoted to organising and supervising the hands-on interaction beloved by young pragmatists. They don't want to be led. They don't want to be drilled. They want to leaders and drill-sergeants too.   

       The natural situation described varies greatly over time and by location but the three groups are always there.   

       Any schooling system that ignores their differing needs is bound to fail. I took 50 years in schools to reach this conclusion.
rayfo, Dec 06 2000

       I taught at a private school for a couple of weeks back in 1994. This was a good Catholic school, mind you, the same one I had attended from 1983-1985. The sad truth was that a good percentage of these kids were loud and undisciplined. Not horribly so, but so. I was hoarse from yelling at the end of every day, and I constantly had to send kids to the principal's office. How much worse it must be in public schools. Kids and their families are the biggest block to learning in the US. Kids who really want to study and who are willing to be quiet, do their homework, and perhaps even study more than they are required by the school will certainly learn. On the other hand, teachers should definitely be more competent and get paid more as well.
Vance, Jan 29 2001

       So it's about a year late to annotate, but I'll take the chance. I'd like to address a couple of things:   

       First, the major difference that I see between Primary and Secondary/College students is motivation. Primary school kids _tend_ to learn because they like to learn. Call it a sense of wonder... this kind of thing had me up 'til all hours of the night reading about dinosaurs, marsupials, bugs, etc., to the point that my parents would take me to museums so I could make sure the curators were keeping up with the facts.   

       Secondary school rolls around, and older kids seem to be motivated by something else: "concrete" incentive. They want to pass the test or whatever so they can go play. They choose classes that will help them make money later on, etc. There seems to be less learning for the sake of learning.   

       So. One needs to target the young with something like Montessori or whatever method works to keep them learning quickly, providing them with new material to learn and build on. As for the secondary schoolers, something different has to happen. Now's where the "half-baked" part comes in, as this is still fuzzy in my head. Secondary education needs to move away from a lecture format to something more interactive. _Conversation_ is the key, because this is how most people learn, through questioning and formulating ideas. It is difficult for teachers to encourage/aid this when they have a set curriculum to go through, especially since it really doesn't benefit the teacher to deviate. Perhaps earlier career tracking may help as well, though one has to be careful to avoid crossing the fine line into "programming" or "social engineering" the children.. Office hours like college could be helpful to encourage new paths that may not fit with what's going on in the classroom, etc.   

       Of course, to make this work, one needs more teachers, who are more qualified, and I guess that opens another can of worms. But by now, you're all tired of reading this tome.   

meninotis, Nov 23 2001

       << Perhaps earlier career tracking may help as well >>   

       "My goal in life is to not wake up at the age of forty with a bitter realization that I've wasted my entire life at a job that I hate because I was forced to decide on a career in my teens." - DARIA
pottedstu, Nov 23 2001

       Hence the rest of the sentence: "Perhaps earlier career tracking may help as well, though one has to be careful to avoid crossing the fine line into 'programming' or 'social engineering' the children."
meninotis, Nov 25 2001

       I don't think 'stu was considering that 'programming'...more like having to decide what you want to do 15 years later, working to get there and finding out that being a vet is not what you wanted to do, even though you really enjoyed the stylized ideals you had as a kid.
StarChaser, Nov 25 2001

       Thank you, mush. A very simple and ingenius concept - teaching...the right way. But someone's got to teach the teachers how to do it, first. As we've all probably realized at one time or another, we seem to be surrounded by idiots. I'm sure there are many "learned" teachers out there who won't grasp the concept of teaching life skills before teaching book knowledge. The fact is, many adults are not aware that there may be more to life than what they took away from their formal education.   

       When reminiscing about schooldays, don't we often remember the things we learned about life outside the classroom? Kids tend to learn about socializing, morality, cliques, etc. between classes. Hopefully they'll learn the right lessons. I interpret your suggestion to be that there be formal lessons on the things not normally taught in classes, and that these things be taught before requiring students to learn traditional facts and theories, etc. This would be kind of a proactive measure to ensure kids learn the right lessons and that they are well-equipped to handle whatever else life may throw at them...including calculus homework.
XSarenkaX, Jun 05 2002

kamathln, May 21 2009

       I wish i could comment on this but i'm going through a hopefully brief phase of non-existence. Normal service will be resumed as soon as BT send me a new thingy.   

       [On_cloud], you are both lucky and unlucky to have been born when you were. Unfortunately, i wasn't.
nineteenthly, May 23 2009

       It may be a bit late, but shouldn't this be [marked-for- deletion] no idea? All it is a short rant, arguing that teaching should be better. There is no new idea here whatsoever.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 23 2009

       Why was this drivel churned up? Some things are best left at the bottom of the bottom to quietly silt over. bone
xenzag, May 23 2009

       Yeah—it's more of a rant than an original idea, isn't it? Bone from me too.
notexactly, May 27 2019

       Yes, but the idea's been here for 19 years now. If we remove it, it'll leave a clean patch on the wall.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 27 2019


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