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High School courses . . .

jim_1 (Zone 9A)
last month

I work lots of crosswords. One of them today had a clue involving "cosine" and the 4-letter response was "trig", a class that I did not take in high and I am sure that I didn't miss anything as a result. My sister (2 years older that I) and I had to take two years of Latin, for unknown reasons. My younger brother got away with one year of Spanish. Oh well!


I am not really sure that I have used any of my Algebra II class in my lifetime.


I wonder how my life might have been different if I had taken other classes that my parents would not allow.


My high school, in the Chicago suburbs, had more than 3000 students. There were art classes, shop classes, home ec classes - none of which I got to take. I wonder if a class in salesmanship would have helped me, inasmuch as that is what I did for many, many years.

Comments (99)

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Nickel, orally learned grammar only conveys what sounds right and sounds wrong, not what the pieces are, nor what the alternatives are or why. It's enough for young children but not enough otherwise and not extensible. If it were, grammar and English wouldn't be covered in our schools at all. If oral learning from parents in a variety of subjects were enough, why send kids to school at all? I think it's mostly just illiterate and poorly educated people who have to rely on only orally learned language, they have no choice.

    My experience was that English as a subject was covered very poorly in the K-12 years and at least in the schools I went to, foreign language study was pursued by more than half of the students. Many of my classmates struggled and ultimately failed because the shortcomings of their English educations gave them a poor start they couldn't overcome.

    Europeans are much more adept at learning languages beyond their mother tongues than Americans are. For many reasons, but one of which is that the academic study of their own languages in most countries is much more demanding and rigorous than here. Latin is much more broadly taught and is mandatory in some countries.

    I don't know why we as a nation think that problems and issues we face are unique to us. Yet, when we find other places where "our problems" are not "their problems", we refuse to consider trying what's worked elsewhere.

  • chisue
    last month

    I have to 'second' Elmer about the unfortunate attitude of most Americans who *refuse* to learn from other nations. Not Invented Here is an awful default position.

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  • Anna
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I felt fortunate that I attended my public high school. My teachers loved their subjects and were so enthusiastic, you had to be dead not to at least appreciate some of the subjects. It was mandatory to take 4 years of math: algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus, 2 years of chemistry, 2 or 3 years of science, 4 years of foreign language, 4 years of the following: history and English, 3 years of drawing, 1 year of law. There’s probably more but I forget. It was hard (timewise) but I don’t regret any of the hard work I had to put in.

    I wish the public schools that need to would revamp their curricula and teach each grade two grade levels higher than what is currently taught. Emulate the private schools. You will then see more students performing at least at their grade levels in reading and math.

  • roy4me
    last month

    I graduated almost 65 years ago.

    The most usefully class I took was four years of journalism.

    I learned how to write stories using proper grammar and proper punctuation.

    As an editor I learned how to assign stories and how to lay out the page for the printer.

    I sold advertising to local businesses and made some really good contacts.

    My instructor was amazing and she enters my thoughts often.

    She made a difference in my life.


  • nickel_kg
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Elmer, "orally learned grammar only conveys what sounds right and sounds wrong" -- I agree, which is why I stressed having parents who spoke it well. Imitate the best. Also if you're lucky, your parents did convey alternate speech patterns, alternate perhaps better more exact words. Again, imitate a good role model. But if you're not so lucky, how do you learn the ins and outs of your native tongue? Like you point out, public school generally doesn't do such a hot job.

    I vote for more sentence diagramming. And Latin. LOL.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month
    last modified: last month

    In my area, nickel, there are a lot of kids whose parents may not speak English well or at all. Some are illiterate. Others may be affluent immigrants with poor English skills.

    If you subscribe to the notion that the bell curve of intelligence is about the same for all communities and ethnic origins, as I do, there are brilliant kids who in addition to needing to deal with the same problems of poor schools that others do, have the added handicap of having parents who sometimes can't provide anything more than a humble existence and moral support. Not all immigrants of East Asian subcontinent or Chinese origins are brilliant, though many are better academic achievers who were able to come here. It's hardly true of the migrant Western Hemisphere manual laborer families. Funny thing, given access to the right opportunities and educational programs, kids from any and all backgrounds can do well and make their parents (and communities) very proud of them.

  • nickel_kg
    last month
    last modified: last month

    As a species, we are lucky we can learn new and different things, in addition to and not limited by what our immediate family can teach us. Kids who overcome obstacles can indeed be proud of themselves, and we can all be grateful for their achievements.

  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Nickel, I come from a fairly cosmopolitan family. My maternal family are from Piedmont in Italy, where in adition to Italian, we speak French fluently. When my great-grand father was working in Egypt for an Italian company, his children's tuition at a private Italian school was included in his salary. My great-grandparents declined that stipend, reasoning it was better to send your children to school in a language you did not already speak at home, so my grandmother went to British schools.

    Since I spoke English at home, my children attended French schools. Many American, monolingual parents, choose to send their children to school in French, Mandarin, Spanish or German in the Bay Area- we just got an Italian school too in SF.

    I don't think anyone would characterize the children attending these schools as overcoming obstacles. They are normally referred to as privileged.

    What one speaks at home is immaterial to one's ability to learn a new language properly, unless one's parents are illiterate in their mother tongue as well, in which case, good luck.


    ETA My point is not that some people are so clever and privileged that they can manage many languages. My point is there is a peculiarly American belief that non native English speakers are at some kind of profound disadvantage and that is simply untrue. Children learn languages at school and in their environment. They can manage more than one or two languages even.

  • nickel_kg
    last month

    Zalco, that's such an advantage, learning multiple languages when young. At least I think that's the current theory, that a young child's brain is able to pick up new languages more easily than an adult's brain. Did your children have any French when they started school, or was it learn by immersion? Did they enjoy the process -- did they ever complain, or was it simply natural?

    I think I could be interested in linguistics -- but it would take an extraordinary teacher.


  • Toronto Veterinarian
    last month

    It is not just about "brilliance", or even "intelligence" -- some people's brains are wired to be more adept at some types of thought than others........while anyone can learn a second language or higher mathematics, it is a considerable difficulty for some but relatively easy for others.

    However, when you're talking about children, the plasticity of their brains makes learning new things easier - they take in and use new information much more readily than adults (interestingly, that crosses species!). So, learning a new language when you're 5 or 6 will be generally easier than even when you're 15 or 16, regardless of who you are.


    there is a peculiarly American belief that non native English speakers are at some kind of profound disadvantage and that is simply untrue.

    Well, I'm not American and neither are the people I've spoken with who've learned English later in their schooling (and were here as grad students), but they did all say that English is a particularly difficult language to learn compared to others they know (and many were multilingual). I have often been thankful that I am a native English speaker and didn't have to learn it as a second or third language, because it's a weird language. Then again, I'm one of those people with no tongue for languages; learning a second language was tortuous, and I was never any good at it. However, with some good Latin and Greek roots, I can usually understand a bit of written words (in Romance languages)

  • nickel_kg
    last month

    A quote attributed to James Nicholl: "english doesn't borrow from other languages. english follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over and goes through their pockets for loose grammar."

  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Nickel, my children started at the French school when they were three or four depending on the child. I spoke French and English with them at home, so they were fully bilingual from the get-go.

    My eldest son was a particularly self directed child, shall we say. When he went to an American preschool at age two, the teacher asked me if there was any chance he did not understand English. Two years later in the four year old class at the French school, the teacher asked me if there was any chance he did not understand French. The answer was no both times.

    Many of my children's classmates came from monolingual homes and became fluent in French. Dear friends from the school, both the husband and wife, have zero ability to so much as order from a French menu, their four children's French is flawless. That family gets weird looks when travelling in the French speaking world, I tell you. When the children were young a French mother, half jokingly, asked them if they had been kidnapped.

    I have four boys and one of them has no ear for languages, which astonished me, but we persevered and he managed. A French speech therapist helped us a lot with that problem. Nobody thought to complain about the schooling since everyone in our family is multilingual, it seemed natural, I suppose.

    TV, Learning a language in grad school was not what we were talking about. As for English being difficult, well that is a mystery to me as someone who has grappled with declensions and three genders in German.

  • nickel_kg
    last month

    Zalco, thanks for sharing -- do you agree (with what I've heard) that if you are bilingual very early in life, picking up additional languages later in life is easier, even languages from another language family?

  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    last month

    Nickel, I think knowing you are capable of doing something is they key to powering through the difficulties, but that is hardly an expert opinion ;-) I am astonished at what some of my friends are capable of, like learning Russian while in medical school, or picking up Mandarin in your 30s via your spouse and children, those are tough languages and the people I am referring to had basic American high school foreign language experience.

    Nickel, if you have a hankering to work on a language, please, please go for it. We have never had so many resources at our fingertips for acquiring languages as we do now.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month
    last modified: last month

    A British couple we became very good friends with when living in Europe remained in the city where we also lived, for another 4 years after we left. Their children went to local schools and those 4 years were their first elementary school years, in French. I had occasion to return nearly annually on business and always spent several days visiting them before or after the business I had to do. I remember marveling at the near-mother tongue pronunciation and vocabulary these little ones had in French (a language I was nearly fluent in but not with a local's accent).

    You can guess where the story is going - they returned to Britain, forgot all the French they'd learned, and I think both took Spanish in university, very useful for summer holiday trips. One of them needed to learn French for his work and has now moved to France. Mom and Dad reported it was a struggle for him to learn French, it was as if he'd started from scratch, nothing from his earlier years had stuck.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month
    last modified: last month

    "A quote attributed to James Nicholl: "english doesn't borrow from other languages. english follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over and goes through their pockets for loose grammar.""

    French was the official language of Britain following the Norman Conquest by WIlliam (real name Guillaume). More French trickled in (as well as words from other sources) later. So French words weren't borrowed or appropriated, they are indigenous. To this day, more words of obvious French origin are in common use in Britain for things we use other words for. Quick food related ones - our table napkin is a serviette in France and much of Britain. Our eggplant is an aubergine in France and Britain. Our zucchini is a courgette in the UK and France. Dozens and dozens of others like that.

    In the other direction, here's a communication any French person would understand

    Ce (this) weekend, je vais faire le (I'm going) shopping. Il y a (there is) un parking (a parking lot or structure).

    I don't know any Asian languages but all Western European languages absorb foreign words. English is a particularly big sponge but others are too.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    last month

    It seems to me that, for whatever reason, one word seems to have become almost universal: "okay".

  • bpath
    last month

    Elmer, you might enjoy "The History of English Podcast".

  • nickel_kg
    last month
    last modified: last month

    good morning, all -- We have never had so many resources at our fingertips for acquiring languages as we do now. So true -- especially compared to where I lived 40+ years ago, during & after my five years of high school Spanish. I'd got to the point I could dream in Spanish. But exposure to the language outside the classroom was limited to one half-hour sitcom on PBS about a immigrant family where the grandparents spoke almost nothing but Spanish, the parents were half and half, and the kids spoke almost nothing but English. The show ended its run, I graduated, and with no ready outlet, I let most of my ability go. Today there are all sorts of media programs available anywhere any time, and even my childhood white-bread suburban neighborhood has a more interesting mix of backgrounds/nationalities living and working there. A good thing all around.

    Jim, thanks for starting this thread! I hadn't thought about some of my high school classes in ages and ages. In particular now I remember a 6-week elective, Art History overview. I'd always liked some art but the teacher made it fascinating how styles evolved over the years.

    Good teachers are worth their weight in gold!

  • OutsidePlaying
    last month

    My DD saw this just yesterday in WM and sent it to me with the remark, ’We are truly doomed’.


  • Lars
    last month

    I went to a rural school until 10th grade, and in grade 9, I was forced to take Vocational Agriculture, which is rural central Texas meant learning mostly about livestock, in which I had no interest. I wanted to take Home Economics, but my father prohibited that, but I did take typing, and that was a great help.

    When I transferred to a larger high school with about 500 students in each grade, I was able to take more electives, and I took all of the higher mathematics that were offered, and I chose German as my foreign language, partly because it was my grandmother's native language. I found trigonometry to be helpful in my design career, although I rarely used calculus, except perhaps when I was designing an acrylic float to hold a sofa in my boss's swimming pool for a photo shoot. I had to calculate how large to make the hollow float so that the sofa would be just above water. I also took drafting in high school and excelled at that.

    I learned how to diagram sentences in the third grade, and I have found that to be extremely useful in life. However, it seems that many people (including journalists who should know better) cannot diagram sentences and therefore often use "whom" instead of "who" for the subject of a dependent clause. They seem to think that because the clause is the object of a preposition that they should use "whom" without realizing how that word is used in the clause. This irritates me no end because I consider this knowledge of grammar to be basic and elementary.

    I did not learn a second language until I was in high school, but I feel that I managed to overcome that. I've always been impressed by how the Swiss and switch from one language to another, but I still struggle when I switch from Spanish to German, and I sometimes throw in Spanish words when I speak Italian.

    I took French in college so that I could read books in French, but I was never good at conversational French, and so I took an adult education French conversation class at City College in San Francisco. This helped a bit, but I find that my tongue and mouth are not comfortable pronouncing French words, but if I had learned how to do this as a child, it would have been a lot easier for me. I find Russian much easier to pronounce.

    My high school had Latin as an elective, but I did not take it until college. The grammar was helpful when I learned Russian, but I also think that grammatically, Russian is an extremely difficult language. Add to that the fact that much of Russian is idiomatic, and one can deduce that Russian is even more difficult to learn than English. English grammar could hardly be simpler, and so there should be no excuse for anyone to speak English with improper grammar. The Ebonics version of English is even simpler, since it often eliminates the possessive case - for no apparent reason. I do recognize it as a separate dialect, however.

  • bpath
    last month

    Lars, we had two French students stay with us one summer. One spoke English fairly well, as well as some Spanish, the other boy was less fluent in English. One day my cleaning lady came. We usually spoke Spanish because my Spanish was much better than her English. Or maybe she was just humoring me, she was so sweet. Anyway, we were all in the kitchen speaking 3 languages and translating for each other and I actually got a heading from the swirl of languages in my head! Especially translating between French and Spanish!

    When I was in the French-speaking part Switzerland I was so happy to hear that they are more efficient in their numbers. (well, of course they are: they are Swiss!) Instead of ”soixant-dix” for 70, it’s ”septant”. 97 isn’t ”quatre-vingt-dix-sept” (four twenties and seventeen) it’s ”neunant-sept” (ninety-seven). Whew!

  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    last month

    The Belgians use the same numbering convention as the Swiss. IDK who started it.

  • nickel_kg
    last month

    OutsidePlaying, that would be a great label for a cheese grater!

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month

    I'm not 100% certain but while I believe the Belgians go along with septante for 70, I think a number like 92 would remain in standard French way, quatre-vingt dourze. Or, if in Flanders, twee en negentig. (Yeah, I've picked up some Dutch along the way. English and German provide a running start)

  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    last month
    last modified: last month

    OMG, the Swiss say huitante! I had no idea. (Apologies for geeking out on this ;-)

    From Lingoda:

    Belgian and Swiss are more logical than the French concerning numbers. The madness begins with the number 70. In France, 70 is an addition: 60 + 10 = soixante-dix, and 90 is a multiplication followed by an addition: 4 x 20 + 10: quatre-vingt-dix! In Belgium and Switzerland, 70 and 90 are numbers that respect the Latin root: septanteand nonante. However, the Belgians, with their picky humour, have left traps with the number 80, they say like the French: quatre-vingt… That gives septante (70), quatre-vingt (80) and nonante (90). On the contrary, the Swiss are consistent with the numerical logic and say septante (70), huitante (80) and nonante (90)! Even if sometimes, as in Neuchâtel, some people also say quatre-vingt… What a headache!

    https://blog.lingoda.com/en/swiss-french-vs-belgian-french/


    Elmer, there is a table of belgicisms on this wiki, great fun. It lists the belgicism, the Flemmish, the Metropolitan French and English for the terms. They do use nonante.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgicism_(French)

  • chisue
    last month

    Is 'Grateful' a play on words -- perhaps something for the BBQ? (I can hope.)

  • blfenton
    last month

    Good teachers are worth their weight in gold! - Nickel

    And teachers who, without knowing it, make a student feel that they can succeed and who make a student feel that they do have worth and have something to contribute are priceless. I'm not sure how often they actually come along in a students life but they can truly make such a difference in self-confidence and subsequently in that students future.

    My first year Math prof.

    My sons Grade 12 History teacher.


  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Could be, Zalco, but my recollection is different. I don't have a lot of confidence in my recollection. I did experience in Belgium, as in Quebec, that word usage and pronunciation/accents vary considerably as between city folks and those out in the boondocks. I've done a lot of exploring in Wallonia and the language and accent changes over short distances are amazing. There are local dialects as well and those words tend to sneak into use in otherwise standard French among the country folks. In bilingual Brussels, I learned that the close proximity of the Flemish and French speaking communities and multi-lingualism of both (as well as a local dialect Brusselois, a combo of both) also bleeds words back and forth.

  • matthias_lang
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I see nothing wrong with the spelling of grateful. It is truly spelled correctly.

  • bpath
    last month

    Yet ”truely” is truly spelled incorrectly lol Get it?

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month
    last modified: last month

    "Elmer, you might enjoy "The History of English Podcast"."

    Thanks, bpath. I used to listen to that podcast awhile ago but I found the guy a bit too pedantic (imagine me saying that about someone else!) and the episodes too long.

    Grammar Girl is better but I've taken a break from that too. The host is a knowledgeable person with what I think is an ironically unfortunate name - Mignon Fogarty.

    Her first name means "cute" in French but mignon is the masculine version. The feminine version would be Mignonne. French names do have masculine and feminine versions,

    Michel or Michelle

    Rene or Renee (accent marks missing)

    Emanuel or Emanuelle

    Just funny to me that a person who makes their living with grammar has (arguably) what could be said to be a grammatically incorrect first name.

    I've also read a few books on the subject, including one that was a companion text to a PBS series many years ago called "The Story of English". I'm sure it can be found, it was well done.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month

    "Good teachers are worth their weight in gold! - Nickel"


    Sure. And bad teachers can do more harm than good, turning kids off to school, turning them off to the subjects they present poorly, etc. But bad teachers, of whom there are far too many, still get their paychecks, can still get by with half-hearted efforts, and have job security such that absent a gross violation of pretty lax rules, cannot be terminated for poor performance.

  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    last month
    last modified: last month

    And bad teachers can do more harm than good, turning kids off to school, turning them off to the subjects they present poorly, etc.

    Now there is a courageous statement. I agree wholeheartedly. There are metrics kept on what kind of students major in education.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I unfortunately have had too much firsthand experience with this. No damage done. Those instances where our own kids were involved, we recognized the problems and made changes. Other instances are family members and teachers my wife encounters regularly when pursuing her hobby as a credentialed substitute teacher in public schools. She's blown away by the incompetence she encounters.

    The stories she can tell, including those about friends we know who call her to sub, not realizing what she can learn with little effort once inside their classrooms.

  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    last month

    No damage done. Those instances where our own kids were involved, we recognized the problems and made changes.


    Same.

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  • bpath
    last month

    Re: Mignon Fogarty, blame her parents for naming her, not Mignon! Perhaps learning about her own name is how she became interested in the subject.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month

    Of course, bpath.


    It's easy enough to change one's legal name. If I (hypothetically) as a male had the given name of Renee, or Emmanuelle, I'd have changed the spelling at my first opportunity in early adulthood. Having to look at a mistake like that constantly would have driven me bonkers. I have no elements of OCD in my personality but something like this would be akin to seeing a large framed whatever on a wall sitting at a 45 degree angle to horizontal. For me, hanging items don't need to be perfectly level but off by a big margin is off by a big margin. Poor Ms Fogarty's name is simply wrong, off by a big margin.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    last month
    last modified: last month

    "Can we send all the anti-vaxxers back to school to retake biology and civics?"

    If we're going to send them somewhere, how about we send them abroad, to a country we dislike? China, North Korea, Russia, anywhere but here!

  • Mrs Pete
    28 days ago

    I wish the public schools that need to would revamp their curricula and teach each grade two grade levels higher than what is currently taught. Emulate the private schools. You will then see more students performing at least at their grade levels in reading and math.

    What you must understand about public high schools: We essentially operate two schools in one.

    - The kids in our AP /honors classes are being taught at a high level, challenged and well prepared for college -- in terms of scholarships and college admissions, they're kicking the private schools in the pants. Numbers say it year after year.

    - In contrast, our general-level classes are filled with children who haven't been exposed to books and reading at a young age, whose families haven't provided a good example of spoken language -- and we have to meet them where they are. It'd be great to suddenly be able to teach them at a higher level, but when they come into my class senior year reading below grade level, it's better to improve their current skills than to wish they came in stronger.

    The most usefully class I took was four years of journalism.I learned how to write stories using proper grammar and proper punctuation.

    Yes, reading and communication skills are the most important thing anyone learns in school.

    In my area, nickel, there are a lot of kids whose parents may not speak English well or at all. Some are illiterate. Others may be affluent immigrants with poor English skills. If you subscribe to the notion that the bell curve of intelligence is about the same for all communities and ethnic origins, as I do, there are brilliant kids who in addition to needing to deal with the same problems of poor schools that others do, have the added handicap of having parents who sometimes can't provide anything more than a humble existence and moral support.

    Yes, one of the neighborhoods our school serves is a trailer park. The trailers are crammed in sideways with about 15' between them. Most of them have a little deck or porch on one side, which tends to be furnished with bucket seats taken from cars (it seems to be a fashion). One home I visited had a hole in the door and a hole in the plywood living room floor; admittedly, it was the worst of the worst -- most of the trailers are old, in poor condition, but not open to the elements.

    Whether we like it or not, some kids DO live in these conditions, and education isn't their families' biggest priority. Again, we have to meet them where they are and work to improve what they have.

    Few of these kids are "brilliant" -- the truth is often obscured with adjectives, and few of our kids who grow up in lovely custom homes with all the advantages are genuinely "brilliant" -- but few of our students are unable to learn the basics. And for those who genuinely can't learn what we teach in a mainstream class, we have several levels of special ed class.

    I seem to be saying this often in this thread: We meet our kids where they are.

    A quote attributed to James Nicholl: "english doesn't borrow from other languages. english follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over and goes through their pockets for loose grammar."

    That is a great quote!

    However, it seems that many people (including journalists who should know better) cannot diagram sentences and therefore often use "whom" instead of "who" for the subject of a dependent clause. They seem to think that because the clause is the object of a preposition that they should use "whom" without realizing how that word is used in the clause.

    True, but this doesn't bother me half as much as the imaginary word "alot" or the constant misuse of pronouns.

    But bad teachers, of whom there are far too many, still get their paychecks, can still get by with half-hearted efforts, and have job security such that absent a gross violation of pretty lax rules, cannot be terminated for poor performance.

    Blatantly untrue -- any school who is harboring a poorly performing teacher has administrators who aren't doing their jobs. Or who have no balls. The high school where I teach is ranked #15 for academics in a large state, and one reason is that our administrators pay attention to what's happening in the classrooms.

    A teacher on "career track" -- often incorrectly called tenure -- cannot be fired without reason, but they absolutely can be fired.

    Can we send all the anti-vaxxers back to school to retake biology and civics?

    I've thought that so many times in the last year.

    Perhaps a visit to an English classroom to discuss identification of "fake news" would be worthwhile as well.

  • Anna
    28 days ago

    “I wish the public schools that need to would revamp their curricula and teach each grade two grade levels higher than what is currently taught. Emulate the private schools. You will then see more students performing at least at their grade levels in reading and math.”


    “What you must understand about public high schools: We essentially operate two schools in one.

    - The kids in our AP /honors classes are being taught at a high level, challenged and well prepared for college -- in terms of scholarships and college admissions, they're kicking the private schools in the pants. Numbers say it year after year.

    - In contrast, our general-level classes are filled with children who haven't been exposed to books and reading at a young age, whose families haven't provided a good example of spoken language -- and we have to meet them where they are. It'd be great to suddenly be able to teach them at a higher level, but when they come into my class senior year reading below grade level, it's better to improve their current skills than to wish they came in stronger.”


    We need wholesale change in elementary and high schools. The status quo of leaving things as they are is simply not working. Honors classes are not enough. Starting with first grade, curricula of poorly performing schools must be changed to a higher level to match high performing public and private schools. As those first graders move up to subsequent grades, they will be learning from these new higher standards. For example, multiplication and division should be taught in third grade and mastered by students. Book reports required in second grade. These are just some of the improvements that can and will make a difference.


  • Anna
    28 days ago
    last modified: 27 days ago

    “- In contrast, our general-level classes are filled with children who haven't been exposed to books and reading at a young age, whose families haven't provided a good example of spoken language -- and we have to meet them where they are. It'd be great to suddenly be able to teach them at a higher level, but when they come into my class senior year reading below grade level, it's better to improve their current skills than to wish they came in stronger.”

    It’s possible to teach at a higher level. Look at the private and some public schools. If poor non-English speaking immigrant students can catch up and perform at or above grade level, there’s no reason why other students can’t do the same. With remedial help, students performing below grade level need to catch up or be left back. Regardless of their backgrounds, most students except for those in unstable homes, are able to overcome the odds and do well in school. But they can’t perform above grade level if they’re taught below grade level. The dumbing down of education based on the bigotry of low expectations is condescending and a waste of money.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    28 days ago
    last modified: 28 days ago

    "Blatantly untrue -- any school who is harboring a poorly performing teacher has administrators who aren't doing their jobs."

    Perhaps this is true where you are, it isn't true where I am. The unions lobbied for and got very strict laws in my state that provide job security to those undeserving of it. Teachers cannot be easily fired. At the bottom of this comment is a link to an oldish newspaper article mentioning that in California, fewer than 10 teachers PER YEAR were able to be terminated under the rules between Jan 2003 and March 2012. Can you imagine how low that number is in, a state with more than 10% of the country's population? You can be sure there are more than 10 per year, maybe 1000 times more than that who should be dismissed each year.

    After having a few encounters with dunderhead teachers and principals unwilling to fix simple problems, we could afford to remove our own kids from public schools and put them in schools where excellent teachers and accelerated curricula gave them superior educations.

    I recognize the essential role our public schools play for our society and wish all kids could get a superior education. So long as public schools are overstocked with poor teachers, and so long as kids aren't pushed and challenged in ways all can respond to, the outcomes for our communities across the ability spectrums (which are the ones that matter, not just at the top) will remain mediocre and kids will have been cheated.

    Firing a Tenured Teacher in California Can Be Tough

  • ladypat1
    28 days ago

    As a retired teacher, I spent a lot of time explaining why they needed science and the metric system. When we made homemade ice cream in lab, and they had to fill out a lab sheet about what happens with ice, salt, cream etc. they didn't seem to mind! Lol, We did many things with chemistry and cooking and how fireworks are made, etc. They discovered that the metric system was much easier although the USA would not use it. I went on and on about knowing a little about everything in the world is a good thing, and makes them a well rounded person.

  • ladypat1
    28 days ago

    PS. I hated the teacher union and got out quickly. The teacher union is the richest, most powerful union and does NOTHING for a good teacher, only protects the poor ones.

  • matthias_lang
    27 days ago
    last modified: 27 days ago

    Which teachers union are you speaking of, ladypat1? Teachers do not all belong to the same union. In what sense are they the richest? In what sense are they the most powerful union?

  • Elmer J Fudd
    27 days ago
    last modified: 27 days ago

    Teachers unions have very strong and effective lobbying efforts, though these vary from state to state. In California, the unprecedented employment rules (unprecedented because no other occupational group has anything similar) were lobbied into state law. They severely handicap and effectively prevent any school district's ability to deal effectively with poor performers. The rules in place intentionally place an unwieldy Machiavellian roadblock in place that's nearly impossible to overcome.Take a look at the article I linked just a few items above described as "Firing a Tenured ........" for details.

  • chisue
    27 days ago

    A report out this week says Ameican kids are not getting enough sleep. I was reminded of what our DIL said about students at the school she was assigned fresh out of college. They fell asleep at their desks, exhausted by living where nighttime was 'party time' in their drug infested neighborhoods.


    I would love to see public boarding schools for more kids. It would surely cost less than locking them up as they fail out of life by the time they are adults. Stop paying their 'parents' stipends to raise them. Few of my DIL's students at that school even lived with a parent. I think most parents would sign up for such a school because, poor excuses for parents they are, they love their children and have hopes for them.

  • Toronto Veterinarian
    27 days ago

    "not getting enough sleep."

    A whole interesting topic that touches on a lot of areas - not just living in "drug infested neighbourhoods", but multiple areas of the economy, social status, and the school system itself.......Teenagers are biologically not morning people,and they would probably be much more alert if school started at 10 or so. Not because of the amount of sleep they got, but literally because of the way their developing brains are wired: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2820578/ (lots of associated articles there as well). There's a reason they want to stay up later and sleep in, and it's not just laziness or poor recognition of the amount of sleep they need. Yes, kids usually need more sleep, but there are probably a dozen different reasons they're not getting it (and neighbourhood "parties" are only one).

    "boarding schools"

    Talk about places rife with drugs! (and sex, and bullying).