Challenge Match: Skyfloating vs adjensen: Public schools are a waste of time

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posted on Dec, 26 2012 @ 04:38 PM
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I think most of us realize that much of the time we spent at school was wasted time. Thats not a realization we necessarily want to make, so we suppress those memories to some deep drawer within the subconscious and try to remember only the good times.

From the first to the twelfth grade we spend an average of 16 000 hours sitting on a chair. Not outside learning a skill. Not experiencing life. Not moving the body. Not engaged in creative work. Just sitting on a chair, passively, being indoctrinated by whatever the teacher says. Thats another thing isnt it? If schools actually taught children to think, speak and act then the teacher would be doing less speaking and acting and instead let the children think, speak and act. The passive manner and method of conventional public schooling (one teacher standing in front, talking, the class sitting) makes it a waste of time.

And then there are the topics. Hardly anything I learned in school was useful for real life. I learned not of...

LOVE

MONEY

SPIRIT

COMMUNICATION

FITNESS

BUSINESS/CAREER

MIND

and other vitally important issues for my well-being after school but instead a bunch of useless facts such as who fought the 30-year-war back in the middle ages, the demographics of Ecuador, Algebraic combinatorics....and millions of info-bits I cant even remember. Why cant I remember them? Because they are useless to real life. Hence, school was a waste of time.

Im quite successful in my career, but not because of anything I learned in school. Everything I know I learned by doing it. You learn much more thoroughly by experience, by actually doing and applying stuff than you do by mere reading about things in books. You cant truly learn how to operate an airplane from a book. You cant know the taste of turkey from a book, you have to eat it to really know. You cant understand plant life from a book, you have to go out and look, touch, smell, sample. In fact, the idea of sitting in a room and "learning" and "knowing" everything about the world from textbooks is ludicrous.
A waste of time.

What then, is the purpose of public schools? I guess for parents their purpose is to give them a much needed break from their kids. For Governments they offer an opportunity for collective indoctrination. The difference between education and indoctrination: If I want to indoctrinate you I tell you what to think. If I want to educate you I also ask you what YOU think. Schools, as most of you can remember, is more than 80% telling you what to think and only very, very little asking you what you think.

Another problem of schools these days is that the standards, or what is expected of students, has fallen. Most Governments would rather lower standards than to dismiss students that are not interested in learning. A teacher I know personally works in an inner-city "trouble neighborhood". She goes to work everyday and has enough to do just keeping the kids from being violent - nevermind education! Those particular schools are wasting not only time but also loads of resources and money.

In summary, I offer four reasons public schools are wasting our lives away:

1. Passive Learning Methods
2. Too many irrelevant topics
3. Too little learning-by-doing
4. Low standards in some places

Summary: We need to rethink and overhaul our entire system and structure of education if we strive for a future worth living in.




posted on Dec, 26 2012 @ 08:26 PM
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I would like to thank my opponent, Skyfloating, for suggesting this topic, and for the ATS Debate Forum for hosting what is sure to be an educational (har har har) debate.

 

My opponent's claim, that public education is a waste of time is, perhaps, reflective of a similar attitude during said public education. All of us can look back on our periods of education with the hindsight of years or decades of filtering, but in order to take an impartial view, I think that we need to look at the history, purpose and practice of public education with an impartial and detached view. If you thought history was a boring subject in school, I hope that you'll indulge my brief discourse on the history of education.

 

Not surprisingly, the earliest implementations of public education were at the behest of religions -- Jews have been required since the time of the Old Testament to teach their children, at least informally, to read the Torah, and in the United States, public education was first implemented by the Puritans, interested in raising the literacy rates in order to further Biblical studies. Both of these are excellent early examples of education in favour of anti-indoctrination -- Protestants were taught to read, so that they need not take the word of a preacher or anyone else as regards what the Bible had to say on a subject.

Consider the differences between 1820s New England and 1820s Virginia -- in 1827, Massachusetts passed a law providing for the free education of pupils of all grades; conversely, in Virginia it was against the law to teach slaves to read. Public education would eventually lead to the literal freeing of a whole suppressed race, by not only making it legal to teach them, but making it mandatory to do so.

Widespread government directed public education in the United States arose gradually, and from the local and state level, as they continue to be administered to this day. By 1870, every state in the US provided free primary school educations, and the country had the highest literacy rates in the world. In a time of unprecedented immigration, this was an amazing feat, and utterly impossible without the open and cost-free education that citizens made sacrifices to supply.

Was there some degree of "indoctrination" into the American way of life taking place at the same time? Of course, but teaching pupils to strive for the American dream, encouraging adoption of English as a primary language, and the joining into our "melting pot" society, can hardly be seen as nefarious or suspicious. To the contrary, the American education system is what brought our country to the position of success that it finds itself in today.

 

My opponent's critical swipes at the public education system are the common complaint of the overworked student… "Why do I have to learn algebra? I'll never use this in real life!" whines the high school junior, little aware that mathematics plays a critical role, not simply in real life, but in training the brain for other studies, such as science, art or music.

I find it ironic that we hear "education is indoctrination" on the one hand, and "history is boring, stupid and pointless" on the other -- the knowledge of history, what went before us, is one of the key tools that we can use to identify, avoid and debunk indoctrination when we hear it.


Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.

-- Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

Skyfloating may be forgiven for not having paid attention in class the day that Burke and the philosophy of history was discussed.


Im quite successful in my career, but not because of anything I learned in school. Everything I know I learned by doing it. You learn much more thoroughly by experience, by actually doing and applying stuff than you do by mere reading about things in books. You cant truly learn how to operate an airplane from a book.

I would suggest that this last statement not be tested by grabbing an average person off the street, throwing them in a cockpit and telling them to fly to Kalamazoo. They have ground schools for a reason -- without "book knowledge" of the fundamentals behind flight, I wouldn't trust a pilot to not crash the first time they go into a stall.

Ditto doctors, lawyers, teachers, drivers, power plant operators, and so on. Learning by doing is great, but if you take an eight year old at toss them in a factory as a machine operator (as they used to do, before the advent of compulsory public education,) the result is more likely to be a maimed child than a factory owner who worked their way up from the bottom.

Public education in the United States is likely the number one cause that resulted in molding our country into a success such as the world has never seen -- to call it a waste of time is a denial of reality.



posted on Dec, 27 2012 @ 03:52 PM
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On short-term memorizing to pass exams and teachers/students who "kill time"


Originally posted by adjensen
it was against the law to teach slaves to read


Teaching children to read is one of the worthwhile things public school does. But as already shown, thats about all it does because the children then spend the next 12+ years sitting there reading when they should instead also be speaking, thinking, drawing, moving, creating!




mathematics plays a critical role, not simply in real life, but in training the brain for other studies, such as science, art or music.


True. Mathematics is important. But in school so-called "left-brain learning" is overemphasized at the expense of the creative "right brain" side and the even more important life topics already mentioned in my list above. For instance, every one of us will go into relationships later in life, but so many are utterly clueless how to handle all the emotions, responsibilities, chemistry, sexuality and questions regarding relationships because school acts as if the subject does not exist. What use is advanced algebra when someone falls in love, is love-sick, is sexually confused, is looking how to find and chose the right partner, etc. And thats just ONE of the topics from the list. Why is it that everything that is actually of deep importance to a human being is not a school subject?

Id wager that people are so ill prepared for life that it takes until they are about 40 years old to get a good sense of how reality works.



I find it ironic that we hear "education is indoctrination"


I didnt say that. I said there is education and there is indoctrination. One presents facts and asks you what you think. The latter tells you what to think.



I would suggest that this last statement not be tested by grabbing an average person off the street, throwing them in a cockpit and telling them to fly to Kalamazoo.


Learning begins with theory but should then swiftly move to practice. In fact, even the theoretical part would be more aptly and quickly understood while sitting in the cockpit. School, as we all know, begins with theory, continues with theory and ends with theory, thereby crippling a true learning process.



Learning by doing is great, but if you take an eight year old at toss them in a factory as a machine operator the result is more likely to be a maimed child.


The choice is not between slaving in school or slaving in a factory. Rather than taking all information from textbooks the teacher might at least take a field trip not only once a year but once a week - to a factory for example. And if thats too much asked, then one of those gadgets or machines might at least be demonstrated in class. And if thats still too much asked, the textbook might contain a little more picture or quiz rather than only text to be memorized. You see...thats the hallmark of passive-learning, of indoctrination, of dumbing-students-down: Instead of...

exploring

extrapolating

experimenting

exciting

excelling

students are mostly (80% of the time) expected to memorize stuff in their short-term memory for use in tests and exams.

Learning for short-term memory so that you can pass exams is something entirely different than true and authentic learning for life. In fact, its a Outrageous Waste of Time!

You`ll remember that much of what you "learned" was not retained after the test was over because it did not interest you the least bit and was not useful for anything in real life. We are now at the dawn of the Internet which is actually transforming education as we know it. Anything I have a keen interest in I can go learn, find pro- and con viewpoints on, several links and references on, etc. I no longer require a teacher to decide for me what is of interest. I bet most of you, reading this, have learned more in the Internet than in 12+ years in school.



Public education in the United States is likely the number one cause that resulted in molding our country into a success such as the world has never seen


It was actually the creative inventiveness of the business people in the industrial revolution + our Constitution that had the greatest influence.

To be clear: I am not proposing an anarchic vision in which we do away with public school. All I am saying is that the way it has been done, wastes a lot of time. Public schooling requires some serious rethinking. Almost all of us know that, but public institutions are often slow and sluggish, requiring hundreds of years to change. If you look at modern adult education you`ll notice that hardly any of it resembles the dull machinations of school. We want to see schools that are more Colorful and in which students and teachers dont have the feeling they need to "kill time".
edit on 27-12-2012 by Skyfloating because: fixed coding error



posted on Dec, 27 2012 @ 06:31 PM
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Teaching children to read is one of the worthwhile things public school does. But as already shown, thats about all it does because the children then spend the next 12+ years sitting there reading when they should instead also be speaking, thinking, drawing, moving, creating!

Wow, I don't know what school you went to, but my middle and high schools offered classes in speech, debate, art, physical fitness and creative writing. And that's not just my generation -- my daughter's schools offered much the same curriculum. The Wikipedia page for one of the schools in my old hometown lists the departments, which include art, computer science, theater arts, music and technology, and these are not uncommon offerings for today's high schools.


For instance, every one of us will go into relationships later in life, but so many are utterly clueless how to handle all the emotions, responsibilities, chemistry, sexuality and questions regarding relationships because school acts as if the subject does not exist.

How does one teach "love"? How does one articulate "beauty"? Is it really the providence of schools to completely supplant the family as the source of emotional development? I don't think so. And I don't know about you, but both the school that I went to, and that of my daughter, covered sexuality (in a broad, generally inoffensive manner,) during heath class.


You see...thats the hallmark of passive-learning, of indoctrination, of dumbing-students-down: Instead of... exploring, extrapolating, experimenting, exciting, excelling students are mostly (80% of the time) expected to memorize stuff in their short-term memory for use in tests and exams.

Educators are well aware of the fact that, while rote memorization is a proven technique for building those fundamental knowledge blocks upon which advanced learning is laid (as I noted in my last post,) it can be uninteresting to many students. Hence, the ongoing development of new techniques in education -- these are methods that are not theoretical, they are in actual practice in public schools today:

Inquiry-based learning

Inquiry-based instruction is a student-centered and teacher-guided instructional approach that engages students in investigating real world questions that they choose within a broad thematic framework. Inquiry-Based instruction complements traditional instruction by providing a vehicle for extending and applying the learning of students in a way that connects with their interests within a broader thematic framework. Students acquire and analyze information, develop and support propositions, provide solutions, and design technology and arts products that demonstrate their thinking and make their learning visible. (Source)


Problem-based learning

Problem-based learning (PBL) is focused experiential learning organized around the investigation and resolution of messy, real-world problems.

PBL engages students as stakeholders immersed in a messy, ill-structured, problematic situation.

PBL organizes curriculum around this holistic problem, enabling student learning in relevant and connected ways.

PBL creates a learning environment in which teachers coach student thinking and guide student inquiry, facilitating learning toward deeper levels of understanding while entering the inquiry as a co-investigator. (Source)


Discovery Learning

Discovery learning is a powerful instructional approach that guides and motivates learners to explore information and concepts in order to construct new ideas, identify new relationships and create new models of thinking and behavior.

Well-designed discovery learning educational sessions are highly experiential and interactive — using stories, games, simulations, visual maps and other techniques to grab attention, build interest and lead a journey of discovery toward new thinking, actions and behaviors. (Source)

These are just a sample of teaching methods that are currently in use within American public education. We can assume that, as the efficacy and sustainability of these techniques is furthered, they will become even more widespread.

 

Finally, from a practical standpoint, high school dropouts earn considerably less than those who finish school, demonstrating, clearly, that public education is not a waste of time, certainly not from an economic standpoint.


(Source)



posted on Dec, 28 2012 @ 09:02 AM
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Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I might remember. Involve me and I will understand.

- Chinese Proverb




Originally posted by adjensen
my middle and high schools offered classes in speech, debate, art, physical fitness and creative writing.


Yes...and unfortunately no more than 20% of the time.

(outside of America its often even lower. In private schools its higher)



Is it really the providence of schools to completely supplant the family as the source of emotional development?


Asking for a little more relation of school subjects to real life and practical living and livelihood is not asking for school to "completely supplant the family".



covered sexuality (in a broad, generally inoffensive manner,) during heath class.


...as a purely biological function with no relationship whatsoever to real life situations? Yeah, we all remember that. We always snickered in class because of how dry and unrealistic the whole subject was "covered".



rote memorization is a proven technique for building those fundamental knowledge blocks upon which advanced learning is laid


No its not. Its a proven technique of turning a human being into an input-output-machine. You do that when you need a good slave that fulfills repetitive labor tasks or parrots an ideology. Its the technique totalitarian regimes use on prisoners of war to convey their wretched ideologies.

***For example, if you are learning a foreign language you can either repeat a new word 30 times, trying to memorize it, or you can USE it 3 times, by which you will much more likely keep it. Thats the difference between memorization-based-learning and learning-by-doing/using***

Advanced modern learning is through simulation. Because education facilities cannot afford to directly experience the various scenarios and places talked about, students are run through simulated scenarios in which to acquire various skills. Experiential learning is the way corporations and business learn. They have no money to waste, thats why they dont choose your methods.



Inquiry-based learning, Problem-based learning, Discovery Learning


Im glad that my critical remarks brought out these more advanced modes of learning. Thank you for posting them. The next step is to actually implement them in our public school systems. How long do you figure its going to take until they are standard? Another 200 years?



Finally, from a practical standpoint, high school dropouts earn considerably less than those who finish school, demonstrating, clearly, that public education is not a waste of time, certainly not from an economic standpoint.


Im not arguing that education as such as a waste of time. On the contrary, I consider education the most important pillar of civilization. Thats why I am passionate about public schools changing their ways.

Tell me honestly adjensen, do you really think rote memorization is more advanced than experiential and action-based learning? Or are you just creating a pretense because you want to win this debate?

Dear Readers,

I now present the two strongest pieces of evidence that public schools are a waste of time. They are Private Schools and Home Schooling both of which outperform public schooling. . Those are facts my opponent will not be able to refute in his last post no matter how he twists and turns the data.

For your information I am adding two infographics that drive the point home.





Public schools are wasting your childrens time ladies and gentlemen. Homeschooling and Private Schools outperform public schools. Experiential learning always outperforms passive desk-sitting and consuming (yes, the student should be doing more than the teacher, the teacher already knows the subject!). Topics relevant to real life always trump abstract and useless trivia and "in-form-ation".

Mere memorization

...does not build intelligence,

...does not build critical thinking,

...does not build creative thinking,

...does not build self-responsibility

...does not build character

...does not build ability.

Public schools today are burdened with a number of problems: Obsolete learning methods, obsolete need for information (because of the Internet - they should be teaching how to process, filter and deal with information instead), lower standards and lack of funds. Because of the mass of information now available through internet and other media, sitting in school all day and hearing even more information is not necessary.

Memory keeps about 10% of what we read and hear, about 20% of what we see and about 30% of what we say and 50% of what we actually DO. Schools emphasis is on reading/hearing information rather than using and doing, actually slows our learning down.

Sincerely,

Skyfloating



posted on Dec, 28 2012 @ 04:49 PM
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In his closing argument, Skyfloating sums up his side of the argument in this fashion:


Public schools are wasting your childrens time ladies and gentlemen. Homeschooling and Private Schools outperform public schools.

It is a leap of epic proportions to say that, because public education can be improved upon, it is a waste of time. By that logic, since modern health care cannot cure all cancers, visiting the doctor when one is ill is a waste of time.

In addition, the benefits of home schooling and private schools are the result of resources, not methodology. Because both private and home schools are held to the same academic standards as public education, it is obviously a fallacy to claim that such teaching methods are radically different. History? Algebra? Chemistry? If these subjects are required to be taught in public schools, they are similarly required to be taught in the other two.

No, the most telling statistic in Skyfloating's "Homeschooling versus Public schools" is one that likely escapes notice -- "National average children per household: Homeschooled: 3.5 children". Rounded up, we find a teacher to student ratio of 1:4, as opposed to the 1:16 ratio that public schools saw in 2007 (Source). So home schooled students see four times the amount of time with the teacher, and yet the scores posted show only about a 30% improvement. Combined with the fact that the demographics of the home and private schooled is different, primarily as regards income, the fact that public school performance lags slightly cannot necessarily be attributed to the methods of public school educators.

 

As I noted in my previous post, my esteemed opponent's focusing on rote memorization represents an outdated view of education in two different ways. First, it is ludicrous to claim that US public education uses nothing but rote learning -- as I showed, a number of new educational techniques are in use in the US education system, and in fields where experimentation is appropriate, such has always been in use -- thirty years ago, most of my time in physics and chemistry was spent in conducting experiments.

Secondly, claiming that rote learning is worthless is not borne out by the facts. We've seen that such techniques are used in both private and home schooling, and it is well established that some fields, such as mathematics, are best taught through such a method.

Finally, I need to point out another technique, Depth of Knowledge, which is widely used in more than ten states and meets the exact specifications of what my opponent says is lacking in public education. Space prevents me from a detailed description, but the link above and the graph below are a great introduction.



 

In the closing of my last post, I noted that public education has a clear benefit, economic wise, as high school dropouts earn considerably less than graduates. If public education truly was a "waste of time", dropping out would result in a better off person, but we find the exact opposite to be true, as dropouts:
  • Have lifetime earnings of $260,000 less than graduates
  • Commit 75% of the crimes in the US
  • Are not qualified for 90% of the jobs in the US (Source)
  • Represent 60% of prison inmates
  • Have a 2 1/2 times higher death rate than graduates (Source)
These and other factors show that clearly, education, public or not, has a significant positive effect on a person, as well as society at large.

 

So, to summarize, we have seen that, since the early 1800s, the United States has made free public education accessible to all those who wish to learn. Among those who take advantage of this offering, the result is lifetime earnings significantly higher than their dropout counterparts, as well as a longer life span, they are less likely to abuse alcohol or illegal drugs, less likely to commit crimes, and more likely to be a productive member of society.

We've also seen that, contrary to outdated perceptions, public education is embracing new teaching techniques, refining existing ones, and progressively improving graduation rates and breadth of knowledge. The field is, necessarily, limited in the amount of resources that it has at its disposal, but teacher hour for teacher hour, it performs as well, or better than either the private or home schooling versions.

Unlike my opponent's claims, it is abundantly clear that, personal feelings aside, public education in the United States is highly beneficial on a personal and societal level, therefore hardly a waste of time.



posted on Jan, 5 2013 @ 10:26 PM
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The judgements are in:


This one goes to Adjensen.

Skyfloating brings up some wonderful points during closing which I feel needed more emphasis early on. Some of the points related to personal experience just didn't have the same far reaching impact as the later argument. I believe the pro position was a little disadvantaged from the start having such a strong argument to justify.

Adjensen played fairly solid (though harsh sometimes!) debate. It's a shame that this particular debate didn't get warm until later rounds. Would have really liked to see Skyfloating's responses to Adjensen's closing.



Both opening statements leave me wondering, as both debaters share their opinions as facts. Skyfloating comes out with opinions and percentages that seem exaggerated while Adjensen provides his side of the debate with an interesting historical summary of education but followed by rebuttals that also seem to push the envelope a little too far. Hard to judge these openings and I decided to leave it at a tie.

In the second round, Skyfloating comes back on certain points with different opinions and could have taken that round except that, this time, his opponent comes back with excellent rebuttals and a strong final punch - the economic standpoint. This round is Adjensen’s.

The third round sees Skyfloating at his best. He is still on track with his opinions to further strengthen his side of the debate and provides factual information that is hard to avoid. However, Adjensen also shows his best. He is still coherent in his final post, sticks to his topic and sums it all up efficiently. This final round is, once more, a tie.

In this debate, my opinion hasn’t been swayed one way or another. Both debaters did well but Adjensen, having taken the second round in a very very tight match, wins this debate. Thank you to both debaters for an interesting read.


This debate goes to Adjensen.

Congrats!









 
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