Thinking about thinking 
Author Message
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:

> I may be naive, but when I saw that the requirement to graduate from
> 12th grade was a 7th grade reading proficiency, I pretty much stopped
> looking further for causes.

Actually, many schools have no minimum proficiency requirement at all.
Reading proficiency is a tricky topic and a 7th grade level is really pretty
high, in my opinion. Personally, I would be happy to know that students
graduate with at least a 5th grade level.  This is approximately the level
where a person has transitioned from learning-to-read to reading-to-learn.

Quote:
>Don't you think it is sad that these kids pay 12 years of their lives
> for an education, and only receive 7/12ths of one?

So maybe we should kick them out after 7 years... or not let them graduate
until they can read at the 12th grade level when they're 25 or 30 or
older... or what should we do?

Tom

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Sun, 31 Oct 2004 12:14:28 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:
> Debate thus teaches hypocracy and skills in following after falsehoods.

Fascinating!  Every issue, every issue, *always* bottom-lines in ethics.
Even *thinking* about thinking.

xanthian, I too thought of this as I was judging the debate.  Especially so
after I judged(just a coincidence I assume) the winners those teams that
took opposite views from what I had thought before the debate(and still do)
were the correct views.

I was a non-theist judging theist debaters in a Baptist Church.  And like
you say, it is not against the rules to lie though the other side is
certainly encouraged to point out to the judge that their opponents were not
telling the truth(poor data, missreading of the evidence...) either
intentionally or not.

I am still thinking about this experience.  I have not thought so hard about
any Logo program I have worked on.  But obviously some of you real
programmers do.

I wonder if more programming would make better debaters or more debating
would make better programers?

Difficult subjects for a Bear of Very Little Brain.     Dale

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Sun, 31 Oct 2004 12:26:51 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking
Quote:
> So maybe we should kick them out after 7 years... or not let them graduate

until they can read at the 12th grade level when they're 25 or 30 or
older... or what should we do?

Hey Tom, now who is going "mainstream."   As you very well know these are
not decisions that "we" should be making for someone else.  We should be
encouraging other earthlings to make their own decisions about such
important issues.

But Tom, I know you were just trying to cause us to think about fundamental
issues.  Logoites, apparently, are always doing this.   Dale

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Sun, 31 Oct 2004 12:27:39 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking
http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0514/p13s01-lecl.html
Learning > In the Classroom: "Interview / Ron Ritchhart"
from the May 14, 2002 edition
Lessons in shaping 'intellectual' character

By Mary Kuhl | Special to The Christian Science Monitor

You're in an art museum and see a painting you wouldn't normally pay much
attention to. But instead of thinking, "I don't like it" and passing by, you
pause and wonder: "What was the artist trying to convey? How does it relate
to other pieces in the room? How does it make me feel?" You crouch down on
the floor, walk around to the side, tilt your head, and ponder how these
different perspectives have changed your answers.
<snip>
Ritchhart acknowledges there is content to be developed in the classroom,
and material that needs to be taught. But he urges teachers not to lose
sight of what else they need to teach. It is never too late to develop
intellectual character, he says: "The best time to teach thinking is always
now."

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Sun, 31 Oct 2004 12:32:48 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:


>> I may be naive, but when I saw that the requirement to graduate from
>> 12th grade was a 7th grade reading proficiency, I pretty much stopped
>> looking further for causes.

>Actually, many schools have no minimum proficiency requirement at all.
>Reading proficiency is a tricky topic and a 7th grade level is really pretty
>high, in my opinion.

Reading proficiency is actually not measurable with a single number, imho.
My son Heath tests well above his (8th) grade level on the reading tests,
but he reads slowly and haltingly, with enough pain so that he doesn't
read for pleasure, and he doesn't always understand what he's read even
though he can answer the questions on the test.

---

If a particular kid reads poorly because of innate learning disabilities,
then it's silly to punish the kid, and the school should be punished only
if they fail to diagnose the problem and give the kid *appropriate*
coaching in special reading techniques.

If a particular kid reads poorly because s/he hates school and finds the
reading curriculum boring (especially if it's the sort of curriculum
that never actually lets you read anything because it's too busy asking
you questions about the reading), then it's silly to punish the kid.

In fact it's hard to imagine a situation in which punishing the kid
would be productive.

(Making a kid repeat a grade is punishment.  Well-orgainized schools
wouldn't organize kids into grade cohorts in the first place; they'd
let kids work at different levels in different subjects, as appropriate.)



Mon, 01 Nov 2004 00:21:52 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:

> these are not decisions that "we" should be making for someone else.
> We should be encouraging other earthlings to make their own decisions
> about such important issues.

I'm inclined to agree, but then I have to ask why is it "sad" that someone
has received only 7/12 of the whole? Or "good" that he or she has received
the full measure? And what do "our" low (or high) expectations have to do
with anything? Wouldn't it be completely up to the student's own
expectations?

Tom

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Mon, 01 Nov 2004 13:45:34 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:
> Every issue, every issue, *always* bottom-lines in ethics.

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/135/metro/At_MIT_they_can_put_words...
_mouths+.shtml
At MIT, they can put words in our mouths
By Gareth Cook, Globe Staff, 5/15/2002

CAMBRIDGE - Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have
created the first realistic videos of people saying things they never said -
a scientific leap that raises unsettling questions about falsifying the
moving image.

In one demonstration, the researchers taped a woman speaking into a camera,
and then reprocessed the footage into a new video that showed her speaking
entirely new sentences, and even mouthing words to a song in Japanese, a
language she does not speak. The results were enough to fool viewers
consistently, the researchers report.

The technique's inventors say it could be used in video games and movie
special effects, perhaps reanimating Marilyn Monroe or other dead film stars
with new lines. It could also improve dubbed movies, a lucrative global
industry.

But scientists warn the technology will also provide a powerful new tool for
fraud and propaganda - and will eventually cast doubt on everything from
video surveillance to presidential addresses.
<snip>

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Tue, 02 Nov 2004 11:32:49 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:
> Debate thus teaches hypocracy and skills in following after falsehoods.

More than a few folks do not want their children using Logo because it is
allied with Constructivism which encourages learners to construct their own
*subjective* realities.

These parents want their children using their senses and minds discovering
the *objective* reality of the real world.  Spending their study time and
lives becoming knowledgeable.     Dale
==============
Main Entry: knowledge
Pronunciation: 'n?-lij
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English knowlege, from knowlechen to acknowledge,
irregular from knowen
Date: 14th century
1 obsolete : COGNIZANCE
2 a (1) : the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained
through experience or association (2) : acquaintance with or understanding
of a science, art, or technique b (1) : the fact or condition of being aware
of something (2) : the range of one's information or understanding <answered
to the best of my knowledge> c : the circumstance or condition of
apprehending truth or fact through reasoning
---

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Wed, 03 Nov 2004 11:09:46 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:

> (Making a kid repeat a grade is punishment.

Many of my students tell me the reason they dropped out of school was
because their schools said they would have to repeat a grade. While they
always have many additional complicating factors in their lives, retention
does contribute to the downward spiral of many of them.

Quote:
>Well-orgainized schools
> wouldn't organize kids into grade cohorts in the first place; they'd
> let kids work at different levels in different subjects, as appropriate.)

We don't have grades in my school -- neither the cohort nor the letter
varieties. Looking at the daily chaos, the term "well-organized" does not
immediately come to mind. Maybe we're farther along than I thought :-)

Tom

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Wed, 03 Nov 2004 11:15:41 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:

> (Making a kid repeat a grade is punishment.

That's the mindset that got us into this mess in the first place: "How
dare you make MY kid repeat a grade!"  That parent is complaining about
the _parent_ being punished, not the kid.

Turn the inappropriate semantic freight around to see the reality:

  _Allowing_ a kid to repeat a grade is a _kindness_.  Remember, we the
public are offering in our wisdom about the different rates of mind and
body growth rates to pay with our tax dollars for an _entire_ _extra_
_year_ _of_ _school_ for that kid just to help him or her succeed.

 _Pushing_ a kid into a grade for which the kid is not yet ready is
_child abuse_.  Whether to punish the guilty parents or the guilty
teachers or the guilty administrators is the only remaining issue.

I know I personally graduated high school two years before I was ready
to handle the _emotional_ world post-high school, however mature school
skills or body may have been, and my life would have been much better
ever since if I'd entered first grade at age seven instead of age five
as the laws then permitted.

Quote:
>  Well-orgainized schools
> wouldn't organize kids into grade cohorts in the first place; they'd
> let kids work at different levels in different subjects, as appropriate.)

Except that if something as fundamental as reading is still not working
correctly, everything else presented at a higher level is going to cause
pain from lack of the reading skills needed to cope with it.

You need to ignore your kid's tested level and get him or give him some
heavy duty reading help; two to four hours a day wouldn't be excessive
from what you describe.

xanthian, parent of one kid who struggled and didn't get the needed help
and never did graduate HS.

--
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Thu, 04 Nov 2004 02:36:04 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:

>> (Making a kid repeat a grade is punishment.

>That's the mindset that got us into this mess in the first place: "How
>dare you make MY kid repeat a grade!"  That parent is complaining about
>the _parent_ being punished, not the kid.

Well, I'm one of those parents you're objecting to.  I don't know about
your parents, or some other kid's parents, but I can promise that what you're
saying isn't true about me.  I have no emotional investment in my kid's grade
level; he wasn't my kid when he got into this mess, so I'm not imagining
people blaming me for it.

California recently introduced anti-social-promotion, standard-test-based
hurdles for promotion.  But they wisely allowed for exceptions for special
education students; if Heath had to pass those tests, they'd demote him to
first grade instead of promoting him to ninth, because he can't write for
beans, he can't do arithmetic, and he reads okay but painfully.  But he's
really clever in other ways, and would be bored to tears in first grade,
or even in eighth grade again.

On the other hand, a year ago he was saying "I don't need friends; my computer
is my friend," and now he's part of an inseparable gang of four, with several
other less inseparable companions.  To tear him away from these hard-won
friendships would be a disaster, even for his academic learning, because he'd
be so angry and antagonistic to school.  His social development took a lot of
effort and pain, and all the {*filter*}s at his school recognize that.

Quote:
>I know I personally graduated high school two years before I was ready
>to handle the _emotional_ world post-high school, however mature school
>skills or body may have been, and my life would have been much better
>ever since if I'd entered first grade at age seven instead of age five
>as the laws then permitted.

That's different, isn't it?  You would have made friends in first grade
and stayed with them for the next 12 years.  You wouldn't have had to go
through the shame and heartache of being torn away from your cohort
midway through.

I concede that there may be cases in which repeating a grade is the lesser
of two evils, for some specific kid.  But (1) as a rigid policy, test-based
promotion is at least as bad as universal promotion; and (2) I reiterate
that with some sensitivity and creativity, we could have ways of teaching
and learning that wouldn't force us into those two unpalatable choices.

John Holt wrote (in _Instead of Education_, I think) about visiting a
Danish "folk school" in which there is no fixed curriculum, no grade levels,
and no coercion.  For the most part, kids learned stuff at *more or less*
the same age anyway, even though one kid would be faster at one subject and
the next kid faster at something else.  But one kid didn't learn to read at
all until he was 12 years old.  The {*filter*}s didn't make a fuss about it, even
in this extreme case, and suddenly at 12 the kid did learn to read.

P.S.  The system is problematic at the other extreme, too.  I skipped two
years; at my high school graduation I was age 15 years 9 months.  Like you, I
wasn't emotionally ready -- not for the academic stuff, but socially.  Should
they have refrained from skipping me?  I would then have been smart and bored,
the classic recipe for making juvenile delinquents.  If there had been enough
flexibility about age cohorts so that I could have had friends my own age (or
maybe even a little younger) while still studying college math and science, it
would have been much better than the skip/no-skip choice I had to make.



Fri, 05 Nov 2004 01:51:33 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:

> That's different, isn't it?  You would have made friends in first grade
> and stayed with them for the next 12 years.  You wouldn't have had to go
> through the shame and heartache of being torn away from your cohort
> midway through.

If this were in fact the tragedy you describe, in general, then no
parents would ever pick up and move to a new job, but in fact that
happens in the US every couple or three years for the average family of
school age kids.  All school districts would have identical boundaries
at grade, middle, and high school levels, to prevent disrupting
friendships, but they don't, fan out and fan in systems both exist.
Kids who reach the age of socialization will socialize _compulsively_,
even if their group of friends is disrupted every month.
This doesn't work as an argument against keeping kids in a grade until
they learn the skills of that grade.

Quote:
> I concede that there may be cases in which repeating a grade is the lesser
> of two evils, for some specific kid.

It isn't "the lesser of two evils", you are still stuck in a flawed
mindset.  It is a positive good.

There are two sides to the issue, one must also consider the degradation
in value (to society and to the other kids holding one) of a diploma if
it does not in fact represent a particular, fairly specific level of
achievement.  California's choice to make a 12 year diploma represent
only 7 years of reading skills is the tragedy, as the recent local furor
over 85% failure levels on tests of minimal skills in math and English
to enter Fresno State University demonstrate.  Ask employers about the
readiness of today's graduates to join the workforce, and you get the
same story, different details.

Social promotion is an _unmitigated_ evil, in my opinion, makes our
education system the laughing-stock of the first world, and reduces our
ability as a people to compete in the world.  Worst of all, probably, is
falsely telling a kid s/he is educated and ready to take on the world,
only to have the kid face a life of unrelenting disappointment as skills
never learned cripple life-choices and prevent success.

Find some _other_ way, while his parents are at work, to entertain a kid
who tops out in learning skills in 6th grade, don't foist him on society
six years later as a "high school graduate" wioth six consecutive
meaningless grade level promotions.

xanthian.

--
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Sun, 07 Nov 2004 00:16:00 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:
>Social promotion is an _unmitigated_ evil, in my opinion

Clearly you have strong feelings on this issue, based on your own life
history.  I don't think I'm denying the importance of that history by
pointing out that other people's lives have different central issues
and different trajectories.

I think that you're making an all-or-nothing issue out of something
much more complicated.  For example, the current situation in California
is actually that there are two different levels of diploma: the minimal
7th-grade-level one that you're complaining about, and a much more
rigorous one based on statewide (optional) standard tests that are meant
to correspond to the U.C. entrance requirements: four years of high
school English, three of math I think, a foreign language, and several
other things I'd have to look up.  (And there is a de facto third kind
of diploma, the GED, which is the least rigorous of all.)

But why does there have to be a comprehensive diploma in the first place?
How about the British O-level system, in which students are certified
separately in each subject?  That way, the poet who can't do math
and the engineer who can't write a coherent paragraph (I see a lot of
the latter in my classes) get exactly the certification they should.

Or how about the vocational-ed student who's not so hot at English *or*
math, but is terrific at building or fixing mechanical things?



Sun, 07 Nov 2004 03:39:22 GMT  
 Thinking about thinking

Quote:

> Or how about the vocational-ed student who's not so hot at English *or*
> math, but is terrific at building or fixing mechanical things?

This, at least, is a Good Thing, and a "voc ed" degree that does not
dilute a "diplomate" degree is a common way of doing education in other
first world countries.

Where, after all, to get back to your familial situation, is the benefit
in retaining in a "college bound" track, a kid who finds reading
painful, but might find a career as, in the case of a cousin of mine, a
luthier, to be a wonderful and fulfilling choice?

E.g. http://www.kleinguitars.com/dolan/dolanguitars.htm

xanthian.

--
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Sun, 07 Nov 2004 08:39:25 GMT  
 
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