Teaching

Table of Contents

Today’s Headline: Maryland Teachers Union ’Milking’ Taxpayers While Test Scores Plummet

Well, whatever they’re doing these days, it ain’t working. We see people struggling to figure out the sales tax on an item in a store – pulling out their cell phones to access the calculator for the most mundane figuring!

In this essay, we’ll cover exactly what’s wrong with teaching, and how to fix it.

With some simple changes, it can become effective and enjoyable.

Pedagogy

“The approach to teaching, is the theory and practice of learning, and how this process influences, and is influenced by, the social, political and psychological development of learners.”

With test scores, enrollment, and satisfaction dropping across the board, it’s obvious the official pedagogy is a dead letter.

Oh, Oh

This may have something to do with it:

The university system in the US is run entirely by the UN through UNESCO “Goals for Higher Education.” Those goals are pure and unadulterated Marxism using new words that don’t have the meaning you think they have—diversity, equity, inclusion have other meanings.

Unless you end the UN’s control of Higher Ed (which then produces the K-12 teachers and dictates curriculum), and completely gut the universities, this won’t stop. They’re committed and actively pursuing their goals 365 days a year, and we’re taking our kids to soccer practice.

Ironic that their Vienna system of teaching is to mold obedient sentient robots, yet the misfits are legion, so their system doesn’t even work to their own purposes!

We need to admit that the current system is broken, whatever its intent.

“How Do I Reach These Keeds?”

First off, there needs to be a change of philosophy.

A huge flaw: Most of the topics in school – and this carries through to higher ed. – are taught as abstracts, with theory first, then the practical.

Ridiculous.

You start out with the doing, then use the theoretical to explain and examine what you are doing. You introduce the history and context behind your new ideas first, how and why it came about, which gives a framework to proceed to the finished structure. Then, you can go back in and examine the structure.

There is an essential need for a balance between the practical and the abstract.

A training syllabus needs to be set up with the anticipation of failure; that is, that it’s inevitable there will be pitfalls along the way. It’s essential to find those areas where students are going wrong, so the teaching can be corrected.

Good teachers should structure all lessons as exercises, and part of a continuum.

Teaching has to be made fun for the teacher, as well. If its a chore to teach something, it’s necessary to reformulate the method.

Instead, we head back to a dark ages model, as they dumb down education yet further.

A Secret

There’s a lot of big talk about “child abuse,” but what worse form of it is there than the schooling system of operant conditioning and mind control?

We ignore the somewhat volatile and fragile nature of our mental workings. By using conditioning to make people humble serfs, they are practicing one of the worst kinds of abuse. And they know they are doing it.

They keep records on all the victims that are pushed through the school system. And when they say, “permanent record,” they mean just that, saved for your lifetime. What are they concealing in those records? Go down and try to get your own records, and they will not provide them, by the way.

“Education” is an active process intended to “mold” or “shape” children’s minds, which is literally brainwashing, and they know it.

Which is to say we have been conditioned like dumb slaves. If we want a “whole life,” it would be relevant to find those areas of conditioning and discover how to negate them.

Problem Kids and The Punishment Game

They never worried if the “problem kids” were beating up smaller and younger kids. At school, what normally would be called torture and assault is given the euphemism “bullying.” Odd that it persists without being addressed in any meaningful way, because most everyone is bullied, it’s not just limited to a few.

We know that many people that get into teaching don’t do it for the right reasons. And just like the sadists that get into professions like policing, teachers are given opportunity to “vent,” or exercise their sadism on vulnerable students, thus perpetuating the bullying.

However, this also helps create the “future leaders,” AKA, low-level managers, that this sick system needs to continue to wobble along in its dysfunctional way.

Revision

We teach “subjects,” but people really need to learn concepts, entire holistic groupings.

More important still, these concepts must trace a solid, discernible line from start to the end of formal training

“Hard” Subjects

Identifying problems in education, we find one of the biggies is this idea of “hard subjects.” We’re told that the area of mathematics called “Calculus,” is somehow hard and you have to be smart to learn it.

But it, like any other subject, is just learning a rote series of procedures and some concepts. If viewed in that regard, it becomes the same as anything else to learn, it loses its “mystique.”

Anything that doesn’t have clear day-to-day application and relevance, and requires some effort, practice and study, is going to be hard. Anything that you don’t come up with yourself is of course, novel, and often somewhat alien.

Concepts like calculus could and should be taught in sixth grade. Calculus should be introduced as soon as we learn graphing and algebra. Also, we’d look at how it applied in other areas besides pure math, like chemistry, biology, physics, even, at times, where it can be applied in the arts. In English class, you might skip the calculations aspect, but study an essay on calculus, for example.

For Bugger’s sake, if something is truly “hard,” then you need to introduce it sooner, practice it more, and work on it more (over a more extended period of time). Not sequester it, build it up with a big bad rep of being “hard,” or “genius level.” Just the nasty voodoo of worship of words like “hard,” “genius” and all that is annoying and a big red flag.

Instead of finding calculus “hard,” rather, find ways to reform it, and teach it better, instead of making it a senseless tool for oppression. Those that don’t find it hard, and breeze through it, should be the ones tasked with re-formatting it, re-imagining it, so it’s easier to learn for all.

True teachers would welcome the presence of these “hard” topics, so they’d know what to concentrate more time on, and to assess their own talents as teachers.

Something else: the limitations of our methods should be strongly emphasized, and this never seems to happen. For example, calculus has its applications, and areas where it doesn’t work well. It is essential to discuss things like this to help with our understanding! In the current fiasco, it’s all rote, which is not real learning, and ultimately a self-defeating and absurd system.

We need to explore the more abstract concepts, as well, which are never given formal attention at school. At what times to be solitary, and when to cooperate. To learn stoicism, and self-reliance. We must learn to cooperate, and we must learn competitiveness. We must learn how to trust, help and understand others, the good and the bad. And when respect is due, and not due.

What could be more essential? And since we learn by example, what tragedy that more teachers can’t set that example.

We need teachers and administrators who are motivated by the question of how to improve learning. We need to be enthusiastic in determining why some people learn things more quickly, or slower. We need to ask how we make the whole process of teaching easier both on teachers and students.

Our teaching methods don’t improve, but devolve, and we already know why: They want you to obey unquestioningly, which (supposedly) serves employers well. There’s a terrific historical example that makes that clear. In early America, there was a more competitive environment, and free-entrepreneurial spirit. Here’s what happened: Employers started to gripe bitterly, that folks would learn on the job, then take their experience with them, to start their own enterprises!

That’s a great real-world case study that tells us pretty much all we need to know. They had to change things up, post-haste, because it wasn’t convenient for monopolists and robber barons, but that system is actually an ideal, if you want to talk about a real “greater good.” And it proved itself, since America had unparalleled growth and prosperity. Yes, the Prussian system of education serves (an ever-diminishing pool of) employers well, at a toxic, ultimately fatal, cost to society.

Tests

Testing of course, is exactly backwards. We go and get “tested” for the right answers we can produce, while it should be the opposite: The teacher should be down-rated for the wrong answers and misconceptions he gives to the students.

We’re trying to improve people, not knock them down or belittle them. Or “fail” them.

If – if, mind you – we’re taught properly in the first place, there’s no need for this predatory approach.

This is not to say we want “touchie-feelie” inaccurate knowledge from children. Some schools are “teaching” students to “give the answer that ‛feels right.’” Doesn’t work so well in Mathematics, however. We don’t want children emerging as know-nothing products spit out of the school system, we already have that. No, we want the opposite. For people to learn every bit of what they can absorb.

Hypnotic

It’s harder to make critical assessments, if one is a “hypnotic.” Most people are easily induced into a sort of hypnotic trance that makes them readily suggestible (that is, easily led or misled). Which is what happens in a classroom.

This suggestibility is a huge advantage in test situations, and the rote memorization skills so favored by “modern education,” so it’s a trade-off to not be a hypnotic. Nevertheless, it is better to not be, and to have a mental buffer that first examines new ideas for logical consistency.

Teachers

The Proper Role of Teachers

Have you ever heard, “You wouldn’t want an airline pilot who got a ’D’ in piloting at school, would you?” Or, “Who wants a doctor that just barely passed her classes?”

Yet we never hear anyone say, “Who would want a teacher that barely can teach the pilots and doctors?”

Teachers should be looking for areas where their students stumble, and seeking ways to bypass students’ trouble zones. Teachers should go “Wow – the student didn’t learn the lesson. How can I take this opportunity to teach it in a different way that will be absorbed?”

Not impractical, since it wouldn’t have to be an individual basis, it would only be necessary to teach a topic from several perspectives, which would address the “sticking points” of most of the students.

In a sensible society: The role of the teacher should be to look for reasons why students don’t learn the lesson. It isn’t “piling more work on the teacher,” it is what teaching really means.

So, the philosophy of teaching must be changed. The teachers’ goal is to find the problem spots each student has in learning. Teaching has to be flexible, not static. And teaching has to be enjoyable for teachers, and students, not a chore.

And, along with impatience, there can’t be any judgmentalism, which is a cop-out. It’s laziness, or fatigue, or fatalism, but it doesn’t belong in the classroom.

In my job, I can’t say the computer “can’t learn,” when I have trouble writing a computer program or making the computer do what I want it to do. I have to keep at it until it works. Perhaps I should start spanking it, giving it “time-outs,” and sending it to the principal’s office. It works so well with children, that it feels stupid not to have been doing it before. It's all so clear now, a no-brainer!

And the computer is just a machine that performs rote operations, it doesn’t have anything like the intelligence of a child. So let’s demand a little more performance from teachers.

Computing is a good example of a profession where you acquire and build up a skill set, then have to start the learning process all over again, year after year.

It’s never ending, much like medicine or engineering. Teaching is pretty slack by this standard, teachers being able to just pull out the same old notes and textbooks, year after year, grade a few papers (if they can’t find a way to get someone else to do it for them, like a “T.A.” (teaching assistant)), then it’s off for another extended vacation!

Why Not?

So why don’t we have a relaxing environment in schools, listening to music composed by music class students, using furniture made in shop classes, enrolled in classes under the tutelage of students in the higher grades, with guidance and assistance from a new type of teacher, one who isn’t hired to humiliate and “tame” children, and who can experience his own type of learning and growth through his job?

Instead, those who should be helping us, are harming us.

These days, we have “teachers” that don’t seem to be interested in teaching.

Teachers are often bored. That’s because they don’t have an ongoing productive task to occupy them. They themselves know at some level that they’re just making their students regurgitate a bunch of pap.

Also, they may not have the imagination required to make learning a game, and entertaining.

Or they were smacked down for trying just that, by “superiors.”

But only if they were allowed to really teach...

But they aren’t, because people get into positions of power and make decisions about the method of teaching and the curriculum, just because they had the backing, contacts and influence to get into those positions.

Therefore, we don’t put people capable of making good decisions into those positions.

So we have people hiring teachers, not because they are good teachers, but for other reasons.

Teaching Is Hard

Wait – belay that – it’s not hard, it is non-intuitive.

We don’t act as if the learning is important, just throw people in the deep end hoping they pass their indoctrination. We act as if just the lip service to “teaching” is important, not the learning.

To wit, this juggling “instruction,” from a book on how to juggle. “Gather three balls and start to juggle them in the air.”

In learning foreign languages, you’ll come across quite the variety of “helpful hints.”

One book tells us to, “think in Spanish.” Now, if we could think in Spanish, we’d already know Spanish, you wanker!

Someone else advises not to use a Spanish dictionary, which is not too bad an idea: It stops you from getting dependent on a dictionary (and you usually forget the word soon after looking it up, anyway).

But sometimes, it’s good to use a dictionary – say you need to figure out what some document means. Dictionaries are useful. Should we not use one for English, then?

It wouldn’t hurt to try to think in Spanish, if it doesn’t cause too much frustration. But the “thinking” part is mostly consequential to learning the words and the rules of the grammar.

The problem with that “advice” to think in some brand new language, is that it confuses cause and effect. If you know Spanish, you think in it. But you can’t rush the process, and become frustrated, trying to “think” in the language prematurely, putting the cart before the horse. Good to keep trying to articulate the language, however.

Anyone going for academics was forced to take French language starting in grade 9 or 10. A foolish requirement, since it’s not something you’re likely to use. Oh, they had their rationalizations. Anyway, apparently there were French language comic books the teacher had stashed away. But they were only for “the good students.” There’s that perverse, egregious mindset rearing again. If comics might help, wouldn’t a decent teacher welcome the opportunity to any avenue that might broaden especially the bad students’ exposure to French language?

But teachers are rarely very smart themselves. But not just that; they have little insight.

It appears no one ever gets mad at themselves for being an ineffective teacher.

Many of them have simply been brainwashed that learning has to be a chore, a punishment, and that students must “learn to fight boredom,” as a “character-building exercise.”

They probably think they were “doing good,” using the carrot-and-stick punishment game. You’re bad! You don’t get to look at the funny-books!

School is not the place for learning to cope with boredom: There is ample opportunity for that elsewhere in life.

No one comes out of public school having learned how to speak a foreign language, due to ineffective teaching methods. The best teaching is when vocabulary rules are laid out in a simplified manner, not talk about “gerunds” and “participles” and “conjugations,” right from go, but in finding the consistencies in the language – the easy parts – and presenting them so the student feels he or she has learned something in a way that helps to limit all the extraneous “noise” encountered when learning a new language. The way we learned our native language, in other words.

There are some language courses that are excellent, several even freely available online, that make languages more accessible and somewhat fun to learn. Why did schools never attempt something similar?

Teaching could be made easy, but that would take some work. And some introspection and humility. Look at this quote from a English language teacher.

Even after a year of university English, a lot of my students still said ‛I listen music’ even though to listen to is one of the most basic verbs that is taught in their middle and high school classes. It is certainly not possible that they had never been exposed to this verb before freshman year of college. And yet, they still had not learned to express themselves properly in English by using fixed phrases instead of translating word for word.

That is an interesting puzzle to solve, not an “intractable problem.” Sticking points are areas for the teacher to concentrate on. That is, teachers should be happy to notice and identify this quirk in students’ understanding.

There’s a resistance by teachers to try different things, to always be dynamic and evolving, because people, including teachers, want routine in their work.

“Covering the Material”

A teacher will say, “I have to cover all this material.” Not, “I have to make sure you all learn this material.”

While all the studies have been showing years of decline in education. Ridiculous.

Life would be better if people could put up their hands in class or press a button to say, “I’m not absorbing this – can we go to another class, or do some recreation or take a break, or review the material?”

People should be able to “drop out.” Not out of school, but instead, only out of a course they can’t stand for whatever reason. If all the courses build on each other, they’ll learn core principles and ideas anyway.

Yes, why aren’t teachers ensuring students know all the material, and that they’ve effectively taught the material? (The sad thing is, in many cases it’s just BS and propaganda anyway, and better that you don’t know it!)

This is surely a priority gone astray.

It’s especially absurd to want to “cover all this material,” when you realize that people can’t be expected to remember every little thing anyway.

Instead, all courses that run into time pressures need revamping. Something critical, is the need to have time to go back and review the whole course when you finish. This would let students see points missed the first go-round. The course should be complex enough that this review is worthwhile, but not so complex that there's no time for this comprehensive review.

You could easily make the case that teachers shouldn’t be allowed to use a textbook. If they don’t know the subject well enough to teach without a text, why are they teaching? References, of course, are fine.

Bad Attitudes

Sometimes, would-be teachers get carried away.

You can see this in their attitude. They’ll be trying to teach something and instead of taking the trouble to explain in detail, say to “just do it,” in a strange mixture of impatience, belligerence and arrogance.

Of course they have forgotten what it took them to learn.

There can’t be any impatience on the part of the teacher.

If someone berates you when learning to drive stick, when you, understandably, dump the clutch and stall the car, it’s counterproductive.

Yet we can effectively teach things too complex to master in one go with a simple technique: You break them down. For driving a car, first off, you sit stationary, engine off, and have the student work the stick and clutch and through the gears, to get a feel for the activity. Then you do the next simplest thing, which would be coordinating the gas and clutch, again with the engine off. The teacher could explain that there is a “sticky point,” where the clutch starts to bite, where you need to nudge the gas pedal a little more.

Revising How Teachers Teach

We’ve got it backwards. When you already know something, and you try to teach it, coming from the perspective of someone who already knows it, you’re sharing what was learned, not how it was learned. An important distinction, hence the importance of the suggestion to have students a grade or two higher handle much of the teaching, before they’ve forgotten how they learned it, and to reinforce it for themselves. This system was routine in the old days, before government got a hold of and ruined education.

Teachers’ Unions

Mish Shedlock of MishTalk:

On June 30, 2008, I commented Public Unions Have No Business Existing: Even FDR Admitted That

Collective bargaining cannot possibly exist in such circumstances. Unions can and have shut down schools. The unions do not give a damn about the kids.

Notice I said “unions” do not give a damn. Many, if not most, teachers do care for the kids, but the union does not. The unions can, and do, protect teachers guilty of abusing kids. It is nearly impossible to get rid of a bad tenured teacher or a bad cop.

Their “care” for the kids is obviously dispensable, if it exists at all, and Mish is right about unions, wrong about teachers. By definition, since the teachers vote in the union, most teachers don’t care for the kids, since their votes don’t serve the children’s interest.

Another phony “problem.” With the listed reforms here, the need for a teachers union would become nil.

University Con

Is this the worst con out there?

After years of crap public school, then you have to pay for even worse crap, for years upon years.

And people are getting hundreds of thousands into debt for it.

The law of diminishing returns applies here, as anywhere, making the degree not worth pursuing at such prices.

To add insult to injury, you don’t get what you pay for. The relevance of the subjects offered are minimal at best. When I first went to college, the computer science department was offering courses based on punch cards you had to punch out and feed into a punch card reader, for batch processing. Especially absurd, because Apple Computer had released their new personal computer, and a friend was making good money in California, programming them. No “punch cards” involved, just a nice keyboard and screen! There was no excuse for the glacial pace and not keeping up with the times, but that’s what student and taxpayer are conned into paying their money for.

And they completely ignore that problem by asserting that the prof isn’t there to teach, but to do research! (How do you research if you aren’t keeping up with progress?)

Universities should be changed to be serious advanced research centers, with real goals, to advance the general state of knowledge. Discoveries could be licensed to corporations. One “doctor,” a PhD in computing, told me he didn’t have to research any new breakthrough to complete his doctoral requirements, simply “incremental advancements.” Basically a term paper, then. Used to be, someone had to make a significant fundamental contribution to their field to qualify for a doctorate.

So, we have today, exactly what they’re called derisively, diploma mills.

The “Ivy League”

What do they mean by that term?

Yale is a good school!”

How is it a “good school?”

It uses the same textbooks as everywhere else, the professors are as flawed as anywhere else, usually with a very Commie “liberal” mindset (or else they’re gotten rid of).

What that really means is that it is connected. You’ll find more wealthy people there, and potentially make more “connections,” to help you in later life.

Of course, that term also means it’s very exclusive, so you won’t get in, anyway!

It’s good to know the definitions of these euphemisms and politically correct speech.

In the case of Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut, and Harvard University, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, it probably is a helpful way of telling you, “Don’t bother to apply unless you are connected yourself, and save yourself the embarrassment of rejection.”

See how nice euphemisms are? They just want to save your feelings (plus they don’t want to have to bother sorting through all those applications from the dumb-asses).

It’s like when girls call someone a “nice guy,” meaning, a sucker, or Beta. It’s all to save a lot of ill feelings.

Solutions

The problems that currently exist in education seem staggering. What an ideal place school is, though, for using “best practices.”

We covered the idea of older students doing a lot of teaching of the young ones, setting enough time to go back and review the entire course, adjusting teachers’ mindset and teaching more tricks to get things done easily.

Another summary point is that all the courses have to build on each other where possible, to show the interaction, the holistic nature of subjects. That is, how they all fit together. It’s important, too, that schools work on identifying and integrating universal principles.

New Topics

The subjects in curricula don’t seem to be well thought out. Instead, some good topics would be:

  • Memory methods. In reviewing a particular system to improve memory, it is striking how useful that would be at school, yet that terrific tool is never even mentioned;
  • Logic and Critical Thinking;
  • Law: how to go to court and win, the origins and purposes of the court system;
  • Finance: practical finance, money and its origins and creation, and banking;
  • Scams: identifying scams and scam artists;
  • Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics, emphasizing the practical aspects for daily life, and practical Astronomy and Navigation. In Chem., we should spend some time creating explosives and blowing things up (so we could also incorporate stump removal and Hillbilly fishing into our curriculum, heh-heh);
  • Survival, Camping, Shooting and Hunting: Care and safe usage of firearms, reloading, trapping, wilderness survival, general survival techniques;
  • Travel: How to travel, where, when and why. What to see and do at your destination. Efficient packing and transportation;
  • Civics, rights of man, comparative political systems;
  • History (but something that makes sense, not a bunch of propaganda and lies), including the origins and pitfalls of religions;
  • Art and Music: Everyone could participate in these, and everyone could be trained to a high degree of competency. This brings to mind the late Bob Ross, who could demonstrate to people how to complete competent landscapes in the span of a half-hour televised program, complete with his trademark, “happy little trees.”
  • Reading: Everyone should learn that reading need not be a chore. One good idea would be to have at least a half hour of comic book reading, two or three times a week. The comics would progress in depth and complexity, of course. Perhaps people could also learn to make their own comics, which would combine art and literature class.
  • Business, and entrepreneurial skills. Too much of our society is based on this idea of “going to work for someone else.” That is not always practical or desirable. But it shouldn’t be necessary to learn at “the school of hard knocks” what businesses are practical, what skills you need, and so on. School could provide much of this important information.

Avoiding Self-Limiting

While George Dantzig was a graduate student at UC Berkeley in 1939, at the beginning of a class for which Dantzig was late, professor Jerzy Neyman wrote two examples of famously unsolved statistics problems on the blackboard. Dantzig arrived, and assumed that the problems were a homework assignment. Dantzig felt that the problems “seemed to be a little harder than usual,” but a few days later he managed to complete and hand in correct solutions, still believing that they were an assignment that was overdue.

Now, this has attained a sort of legendary status, but remember, mathematics was Dantzig’s obsession, so he already had a leg up. Nevertheless, it shows the power of not limiting yourself, or not knowing limits imposed by others, at least in some cases.

In teaching, we need to be aware of this phenomenon, to not let it sabotage learning.

Projects

Another good ambition for school reform would be the completion of real-world projects. In grade two or so, educators would endeavor to find the subjects each student enjoyed and was suited to. Elementary, middle and high school students would each have tangible, useful projects that required completion in order to move on.

Simple enough. In high school, for example, those intending to become mechanics would have to build a hot rod in shop class from some wreck. People with intent to go on to Journalism or other writing careers would have to complete a short novel or set of novellas (certainly a way to discover who is cut out for that sort of thing). Science students would have to do some papers on subjects that had real world significance, and actually related to real unsolved scientific problems.


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