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Are schools slacking or are kids getting dumber?
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Sage

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 7:46 pm    Post subject: Are schools slacking or are kids getting dumber? Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I have nothing to base this off of except my personal experiences in the Montana educational system, so I could certainly be mistaken and for all I know, it could just be my area or just my state, but I have come across a good deal of troublesome material.

I have a part time job tutoring kids in local schools. These kids are not geniuses, but it's mostly that they have trouble with reading, specifically textbooks. It's not as if they are invalids. Once they know what they're reading, they're fine with that material. I'm just saying that I'm not basing my questions on comparing those with learning impediments with gifted children.

So, my observations while working with some of these children make me wonder. This kid that I'm about to talk about is in the typical 8th grade math class. I help him with it because the teacher has switched my help from just reading books to working with him on reading texts and problems. What appalled me was that he didn't know his multiplication table. I asked what 8 x 8 was and he said 62. There were several other examples where he had to stop and think about it. He also had difficulty adding and subtracting without using a calculator. I also help a 7th grader and he has similar problems in that manner, but can do all the homework as long as he has a calculator.

I had teachers that let students use calculators and some that absolutely forbade them. Regardless, we had to know our basic 10 x 10 multiplication table before we hit jr. high. Even the remedial among my class had that done. So I find it very odd that these kids can't do the basics, but are supposed to be able to graph things and understand geometry.

It's not just math. I often help students with writing. Other students in the 7th grade class display similar problems. When they are told to write things, they first of all have no idea how to write at all. It's almost as if their brain vomited on their paper. There's no order to it at all and their grammar is atrocious. Even in their best work, they miss the basics: paragraphs are indented, punctuation, capitalization. And these students are not in the remedial English classes.

When I was in jr. high, we were taught all of the grammar basics. We had lots of homework over what the parts of speech were, spotting grammatical errors, and writing practice so we learned how to use all of that information. Even when we were first taught to write, indenting paragraphs and using periods were a must.

When I bring up these things, they seem foreign to the students. One kid even asked me what "indent" meant and was fairly oblivious when I showed him indentations in a book he was reading. I must admit, I was stunned for a moment. I'm not sure whether it is because they never learned it or they simply forgot.

So like I said, I'm comparing what I see today to what I experienced not too far from here less than 10 years ago. Does this trend exist anywhere else? Has anyone noticed? Is it the schools or is it the kids? Any other thoughts or comments?
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Failure_Urn

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

No there is the same problem with math and specifically grammar in Michigan. Or at least in the Metro area.

I can relate to the multiplication problem. When i was in 4th grade my teacher assigned us 12x12 tables every time we got too loud. I was pretty talkitive so needless to say by the end of the year i knew my multiplication like the back of my hand. Another good thing we used was flashcards and made a game out of it in class, so everyone learned them to do good in the game.

We have the same problem with grammar but i think it was just in my district. We learned the basics in elementry school and did not touch on it again untill 7th grade where we learned it all over again, after that, we again dropped it untill 12th grade where we were drilled on it. I have always had pretty good grammar, i used to not be able to read very well so i tried real hard and read alot (but I've ALWAYS been a bad speller =\ still am).

I have a question though, are they very good readers? I remember listening to people read in my 12th rade class and was shocked at the words they would stumble on and how slow they would read aloud.

I have heard schools are assigning a lot more homework now adays but from what i am seeing and from what you have said i dont think it is helping. I think there may be in class changes that need to take place to make significant improvements.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Failure_Urn wrote:
I have a question though, are they very good readers? I remember listening to people read in my 12th rade class and was shocked at the words they would stumble on and how slow they would read aloud.


It depends on how you define "good reader." Some have excellent fluency while reading aloud, but don't understand what they're reading. Others, are the opposite: slow, clumsy, but they have a good fix on what they're reading. Most fall in between. None are ideal readers, but the ones I am assigned to are not awful readers.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I agree and have noticed this where I work, and some teachers there have some sort of possible reasons as to why this is the case at times. Of course it varies depending on your location and that is what they actually bring up (and what some research in this area shows).

One important contributing factor is how the students are taught. In my school, test scores are everything. They are published and broadcasted in the news and this affects real estate with people moving, funding, and respect. All schools here pretty much compete. And we do 'teach to the test'. Quality is sacrificed over Quantity. And if it doesn't make matters worse, but the concept of No Child Left Behind sweeping the United States puts additional stress on schools and teachers to 'teach to the test' and avoid quality education. The teacher, particular untenured, know they are being watched and have to do what is needed to get their students to pass and true education suffers. So the concept of an indent may not be important compared to learning how to take a multiple choice exam.

Another factor that affects this is cultural. Here with my experience, sports is where it is at. Students get scholarships with colleges and universities if they are wonderful athletes! But the studious student does not V_V And in fact, as my school has fought many times for books and materials for the academic classes, the money is used for uniforms, band, and drama. It is backward. And parents are for it. And that leads me to the other point...parents.

In today's society, both parents have to work to survive and things are always rush rush in society. It is far and few to come across parents who care for how their students do. If they are passing that is all they care for. They are too tired from their job to really focus all attention to make sure their child is doing their homework and what-not. Which brings me to my next point...laziness.

Students are lazy. I have many students who hate homework, don't want to do homework and this is because of television and increasing 'awesomeness' of technology and electronics. I tell them that it is important to practice their work--to practice grammar, to practice the math and they tell me they don't care. To them, college is not important. Which brings me back to cultural.

Many cultures promote education, particularly college education. It is an 'honor' to bring honor to family if one does good in school. It is respectful to pay attention in school and to adults and do what is expected of you. Some cultures don't promote that.

I learn for a fact, that our education system here in the United States is sadly nothing like that in other countries. There seems to be many factors affecting this as you see with what I wrote and I hope maybe some day I can leave this and teach some place else where it is more appreciated.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Personally, I think it's a chain reaction. When my moms was in school, they had completly different methods of doing certain things, and they seemed to be more convenient and easier to understand then the ones we had to learn. So, it could be the fact that kids arn't understanding these new supposedly "easier" methods. But, then again, my brothers kinda stupid, so is his best friend.

Another good explanation for the lack of knowledge of todays children is kids are starting to get lazy and not do there homework. I'm sure if you have no idea what you're doing cuz you don't practice at home even the slightest bit, you're gonna get bad marks, keep getting bad marks, and therefore never learn a new thing... I suppose. :D
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Kids are getting dumber. They really are. I'm the second child of five, and have been noticing that each younger sibling is more stupid than the last. I don't really remember how my older half sister did in school, because she's around 12 years older than me, lived with her own father, and what not, but she didn't end up going to college. That much I do know.

I was one of those kids, who refused to do homework unless absolutely necessary, but got A's on all the tests. So my own grades were pretty lackluster, but I got into a really good college, and have my BA in Culinary Arts, and getting my degree in Food Science.

My younger sister, graduated last year, and... I thought for quite a long time, she was probably the most stupid person I've ever met. To give an example, when she was 16, she in all seriousness asked me who Hitler was. I kinda of just stared at her for a while, then walked away. She's my full sister, so she lived with me and our father, but moved to my mothers house the last year after graduating. She's now working at a pizzeria near my mom's house. And 'planning' on going to school, 'eventually'.

My younger half sister is in 9th grade. So really just starting her Highschool career. She's an ok student, she just doesn't seem to retain the knowledge she's taught. She does well on homework and classwork, where she has her notes and books in front of her, but on tests she bombs horribly. Even if she spends hours and hours studying.

My younger half brother doesn't count yet. He's 7, and hyper and social. He still gets S's and E's and what not. And he does ok with them. I have a sneaking suspicion that he'll be one of the kids who rather talk and hang out instead of doing school work.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I agree with you Darkwing Duck, but I think it's because the teaching method changed. I can only speak for the federal state of Germany where I live and from my own experience. When I was in school we had to learn much more the elemental things than kids do nowadays. We had to learn the multiplication table as long as we knew all multiplications, we had to learn the whole grammar and punctuation, we learnt letter after letter and started to read. We had a lot of homework to do.

Now the teaching method for learning to read for example is: the kids get a list with the letters, every letter has a symbol ("s" has a sun, "a" an apple ...). The kids shall write the words the way they hear them, no matter if it's grammatically correct. They are allowed to write these uncorrect words in 1st and 2nd grade. Then, in 3rd grade, the teacher tells the kids how they write the words correct. I asked myself why this should be a good method to learn the grammar? Of course the kids have problems in 3rd grade, 2 years it was okay and now it's wrong.

The same in maths: the kids mustn't learn the whole multiplicatory table. The teacher said it's not necessary that the kids learn the whole table in the elementary school, they will learn in junior highschool or highschool and it would be too much for the kids if they have to learn all this in the elementary school. In highschool the teacher was surprised that the kids didn't know the whole multiplicatory table, he expected them to know it and said, he lost a 1/2 year because they had to learn it.

In the elementary school many teachers have the opinion: kids shouldn't do homework when they are so young, they would lose all interest in school if they had to do homework. So when the kids go to junior high or highschool and suddenly have to do homework it's too much for them. A friend told me this story: in her daughter's class was a girl who never made the homework. The teacher wanted to talk with her mother and ask why the girl doesn't do it. The mother asked the daughter who said: Homework? What's that? No, I don't have to do homework. Well, it turned out that the girl didn't know what the teacher wrote on blackboard every day, she didn't know that this was the homework and that she had to write it down.

These are only two examples, I could write so many examples. But the politicians who are responsible for educational affairs say it would be too much for the kids if they learnt these things in elementary school. I wonder why we were able to learn this in these days and why it should be too much for the kids now.

I agree also with Dew Dust who mentioned the parents role. Even though parents go to work they should have time to look after the school-things of their kid/s. They don't need to do the homeworks with them, no, but they should ask how it's going in school. Something which is very important (in my opinion): they should start to read to the children when they are very young. Children mostly are interested in reading books when parents read to them, and children who read books learn to write and the correct grammar easier.

Of course this doesn't work for all children, I don't want to generalize it, but it's a trend. You can see the effects of this trend here when the kids leave the school and search an apprenticeship. There are many companies who don't train them anymore because the kids aren't able to do the tests for the employment. But that's another topic.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I should point out that I have only seen that in the public school. I also tutor kids in private elementary & kindergarten schools that have an overall different philosophy regarding education. These kids are very smart. When my usual student was absent, I helped a 5th grade girl with a vocabulary assignment and there were several words I had never heard of. She hadn't either, of course, but she was expected to know them.

I see how the kindergarten teaches kids to read. They start with the basic phonetics (so they can read words like "hot" and "sun"), introduce sight words gradually (like "to" and "for"), and eventually move on to other, more complex word structures. It's all done at an individual level as well. Some of these kids are more fluent in their reading than my middle school students, but they aren't in the same kind of reading material of course.

I can't really say that these kids in public school here are being taught the test. Most of the English class assignments I see are poetry and assigned reading where they either have to choose a book from a certain genre or they all read the exact same book. At least in the English department, this isn't the case here. Math, I'm not sure. They jump around a broad array of subjects and it's nowhere near the same math work I did. When I was their age, the book explained what we were doing, had a couple examples, and then had a page or two (or more) of problems to do. These books have pages upon pages of reading and then half a dozen story problems. It's good that they can do story problems and such, but they lack the mechanics they need to be able to easily and simply do these problems.

I had daily homework from a lot of my classes when I was in jr high and high school and I turned out all right. (sorta ;)) Another thing I see is a concern for not how the child is doing, but whether they pass a class. When I was in their position, there was no or little late homework allowed, no extra credit, and if you screwed up, well then they would see you next year. The kids and their classmates have tons of late work, which most teachers readily accept regardless and if a student is doing terribly, several teachers arrange for extra credit assignments in order to boost their grade.

One teacher who has two students I tutor brought this up in class one day while the other tutors and I were in the room and asked us if we get those kinds of breaks in college. She was trying to scare the kids into actually doing their work on time and realize that they need to make life changes if they want to succeed. Sadly, most of the profs here allow late work but deduct significant percentages off for each day it's late. I'm sure the kids only heard the first part though. And there is almost never extra credit. The kids seemed shocked, but not enough to make them change. So at least some teachers here know what's going on.

It's apparent to me from this situation schools and/or the educational system overall has/have a role in this, but it's more a question of whether they are the main culprit.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2007 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I hear some colleges -are slacking- and might be lenent just to say "we had (x ammount) of graduates) In my county college one teacher let a guy do his preseusavie report/speechs on Euthinasa cite "the bunny suicides" as a resoruce material.

others, like higher up colleges let the students get away with stupid stuff. They want them out of there.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think it all depends on the location and background of the child. Schools in the US are run at the local level so the federal gov't have very little impact on it. The "No Child Left Behind Act" only applies to public schools, and states can reject the act if they want. In some areas of the US, education is very lacking and funding is not sufficient. I'm pretty familiar with this since I'm from Louisiana which is ranked 46 in education nationwide. Lack of funding and professionals forces schools to hire inepted teachers. I have to help my sister with her math all the times because her math teacher is just a plain idiot. For example, she taught my sister that to add fractions you have to add the denominators and add the numerators. That's a load of BS and that should be something at least a 9th grader should know. How the heck did someone who doesn't know how to add fractions end up being a math teacher anyway.

However, it also depends on the child's personal background. I've seen some good teachers, but some kids just don't want to learn if thier life depended on it. I guess its up to the parents. They have to at least care about thier child's education and put some kind of pressure on them. Again, if you at who a student generally hang out with, their friends usually make the same grades in school.

It's really hard to tell what's the cause, but education in the US is definately not in good shape. By that I mean secondary school, colleges in the US are in a whole different world. I was actually surprised to see that the majority of my class in college actually cared about their grades when I entered college.

Some colleges do let students get away with stupid stuff, but it probably comes with the amount of freedom students have compared to highschool. I'm sure the main focus is still education.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Seraphblade wrote:
Lack of funding and professionals forces schools to hire inepted teachers. I have to help my sister with her math all the times because her math teacher is just a plain idiot. For example, she taught my sister that to add fractions you have to add the denominators and add the numerators. That's a load of BS and that should be something at least a 9th grader should know. How the heck did someone who doesn't know how to add fractions end up being a math teacher anyway.


Wow. That reminds me of Math teacher in Macau. He was horrible. I hated him because I knew he didn't know how to do the problems himself without the book. He couldn't explain the crap and he called us idiots for not understanding it. I lost confidence in Maths because of him... :( But when I had to take Grade 12 Calculus here in Canada to get the required credits to graduate, I ended up finally understanding the thing and getting a decent mark even after failing my first few tests. *shudders*

Anyway, it's possible that in addition to poor teaching quality in schools today (I'm not sure, really, I thought school here in Canada was decent... ) the children born today are dumber. It's sad, but I think it's a product of women deciding to put off marriage and child-bearing until their 'twilight years'. This decision gives rise to children being born with... less potential. I read somewhere that children born to middle-aged mothers are more prone to be born with mental disabilities than children born from... well, 'younger' women. This whole new age where people decide to have fun lots before being 'tied down' may be leading to a... oh... bad future for humanity? *giggles*

Oh, one thing I noticed about schools here is the fact that children aren't prepared at all. It's like they let them 'enjoy' school before High School. It's ridiculous. So when these kids go into high school, they get hit by the responsibilities and hard subjects and struggle...

Guh. Now I'm thinking about how hard children are being driven in Asian countries... I remember, when I lived in Macau (China), there was this little kid, probably in Grade 1 or 2, at most 3... and he'd be awake at like, 3 in the morning, sitting in his study table by the verandah and doing homework. Every. Single. Day. Chinese students have school on Saturdays too... And sometimes, they're not just for the light subjects. I've heard some students actually have exams and hard subjects on Saturdays....
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2007 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Puu wrote:
Guh. Now I'm thinking about how hard children are being driven in Asian countries... I remember, when I lived in Macau (China), there was this little kid, probably in Grade 1 or 2, at most 3... and he'd be awake at like, 3 in the morning, sitting in his study table by the verandah and doing homework. Every. Single. Day. Chinese students have school on Saturdays too... And sometimes, they're not just for the light subjects. I've heard some students actually have exams and hard subjects on Saturdays....


I know what you mean. I'm Asian and my parents are really hard on me when it comes to grades but it's nothing compared to what students in Asia go through. One of my friends is from Korea and has a student visa. She says she had no choice but come to the US because to get to college in Korea you have to be either rich or a genius.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2007 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I have a friend in South Korea. She sends me music and stuff, yay. But I digress. From what I understand, she does have school on Saturdays, yes, and she has cram school after school. I don't think she has cram school on weekends though. Except during exams, which come every 3 or 4 months I think, she has school all day, then she goes to cram school until about 2 or 3 in the morning, then studies until the exam. She says that she hardly gets any sleep during exam week at all.

As for the actual classroom, she says that the teachers are totally mean. They hit you if you don't get an answer right or if you're not paying attention or something, I forget her exact words. And she has to learn 5 languages and pass her courses with good marks or else she gets in trouble. She goes to a local school though. If she went to an international school, then system would be the same as North America or Europe or something.

So that's all I know on school in South Korea. Wow, it actually seems worse than what I tohught before.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2007 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Seraphblade wrote:


I know what you mean. I'm Asian and my parents are really hard on me when it comes to grades but it's nothing compared to what students in Asia go through. One of my friends is from Korea and has a student visa. She says she had no choice but come to the US because to get to college in Korea you have to be either rich or a genius.


Ugh. My friend who's from South Korea... she was our second honor (err, the person with second highest grades :D) and she told me she failed almost every Uni she took an exam for. It was crazy hard. XD
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2007 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I've been helping my younger sister with her schoolwork since we were little kids and I can tell you, most of the time students are just put through the motions and no one cares about whether or not they retain the material. Like Milan, I was a kid that never did homework but could recite the multiplication tables while spinning and quote Shakespeare by the age of ten. What I've learned from working with my sister is that it doesn't really matter anymore. She's seventeen and she reads the "Shakespeare translations" or watches the movie when she has to read something she doesn't understand. She doesn't sit down and read through something, and pick it apart like I did. So in some ways it is up to the student but I think that students would have a much higher drive to reach for the stars if they weren't handed up the ladder each year, no matter what the circumstances.
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