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Thread: The education system

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Harvestdancer View Post
    Here's an issue then. The teaching of writing. It is in the province of the English department for historical reasons, but I'm not sure it belongs there.

    Overall, one can write about anything. Those who teach writing generally want you to write about their subject matter. So while a student might want to write an essay about baseball, the teacher assigns an essay about the symbolism in Dickens. I'm pretty sure Dickens would prefer to read an essay about baseball. What is being taught is that writing occurs generally in one area, and that is writing about writing. The writing assignment before college is the classic "five paragraph essay" in which the first paragraph is to state your point, paragraphs two through four are to give support for your point, and paragraph five, the concluding paragraph, is basically a restating of the first paragraph in sufficiently different words to make it not the same.
    If I never read a five-paragraph "San Francisco Essay" in my life again, it would be a mercy. Alas, this is highly unlikely. They are a pain to grade, not because you couldn't write a decent essay using it but because it backfires terribly if the student doesn't understand the purpose of said format and is just "filling in the blanks" with words. For god's sake, if one doesn't have a point to make one shouldn't be writing at all. And if one does have a serious point to make, it will probably take more than five paragraphs to do it well.

    As for who should teach writing, everyone should. Writing is a necessity in every skilled profession, and it is an art that generally has unique requirements and expectations specific to the field you are employed in. Experience with a variety of different disciplinary styles leads to a more balanced and self-critical writer, one reason that I think both creative and technical writing should be included in the repertoire of early education.

  2. Top | #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Harvestdancer View Post
    Here's an issue then. The teaching of writing. It is in the province of the English department for historical reasons, but I'm not sure it belongs there.

    Overall, one can write about anything. Those who teach writing generally want you to write about their subject matter. So while a student might want to write an essay about baseball, the teacher assigns an essay about the symbolism in Dickens. I'm pretty sure Dickens would prefer to read an essay about baseball. What is being taught is that writing occurs generally in one area, and that is writing about writing. The writing assignment before college is the classic "five paragraph essay" in which the first paragraph is to state your point, paragraphs two through four are to give support for your point, and paragraph five, the concluding paragraph, is basically a restating of the first paragraph in sufficiently different words to make it not the same.

    An essay is supposed to be an exploration of a topic, and if an essay is successful it starts with a question and ends with a conclusion. That's my opinion. Some of my favorite papers to write were in my philosophy classes where I really was challenged to make a point.

    Just as a music critic need not be a composer, and a writing critic need not be a writer, a teacher of literature need to be a good writer. Yet to learn how to write well, you would want someone who does write to be your teacher, or at least your coach.

    But if an English teacher is not the best one to teach writing, who is?
    Well a good teacher of literature probably should have expert knowledge of discourse structure, rhetorical devices, etc. that are part of being a good writer, even if the teacher cannot themselves write interesting things (perhaps due to a lack of other things that cannot be taught like voice, perspective, empathy, insight into human nature, etc..)

    That said, the focus upon fiction and to some extent narrative non-fiction within the discipline is certainly limiting in what is taught and learned about writing within English classes. I think this is increasingly recognized by those whose discipline is education itself, and there is a push to have more writing done by students in other classrooms that deal with non-fiction expository style texts, especially History/Social studies but also Science (both of which would lend themselves nicely to a paper about baseball).

    Another critical feature of non-fiction writing rather than fiction and narrative is that it puts more emphasis on the need to research one's facts and to construct reasoned arguments that consider alternative viewpoints. That makes the activity of writing as much one of developing critical thinking skills to form an idea/conclusion as it is about communicating ideas to others.

  3. Top | #33
    Quantum Hot Dog Kharakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Harvestdancer View Post
    What is the purpose of the art requirement? Is it to appreciate art, or to practice doing art? Is an art appreciation class what is wanted, or to try to get people to practice making art?
    Holy fuck. Seriously- blueprint drawing. The ability to do geometry, to make things look nice? Do you care how things look, taste, feel? Art man. It's art. Which is part of engineering. And engineering is part of art.

    They're the same fucking thing.

  4. Top | #34
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    The purpose of the art requirement is that some people want to be artists, so for that to happen you need to expose them to art. This is why the first year of any school program typically includes a broad overview of subjects, so you can sample everything and see what you want to specialize in.

    Art specifically isn't super lucrative, but some people want to learn it so they should have that option.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    The purpose of the art requirement is that some people want to be artists, so for that to happen you need to expose them to art. This is why the first year of any school program typically includes a broad overview of subjects, so you can sample everything and see what you want to specialize in.

    Art specifically isn't super lucrative, but some people want to learn it so they should have that option.
    No part of this post is accurate.

  6. Top | #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    The purpose of the art requirement is that some people want to be artists, so for that to happen you need to expose them to art. This is why the first year of any school program typically includes a broad overview of subjects, so you can sample everything and see what you want to specialize in.

    Art specifically isn't super lucrative, but some people want to learn it so they should have that option.
    No part of this post is accurate.
    Fair enough.

    I'd agree that this isn't the original intent of an art requirement, or any other requirement, but to me the idea of an education system being there to create a cultured citizen is more pretense, than reality.

    The lie is that education exists to enlighten, the reality is that it exists so young people can join the workforce of their economy. And where it doesn't do that it usually fails to enlighten too. So the art requirement stays a part of this because it's firmly entrenched in our culture and economy.

    But also note that in many high-schools the art requirement dies early, while the math requirement lasts a while. That's not a value judgement, just a shot at it's utility in advanced economies.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Actually the critical domain is not wanting. The critical domain is having capacity and history for exploiting that capacity. We develop education to reflect demands for conditioning what are known as useful in developing abilities. Who gives a darn if one (a student) wants something. One is only a student. Education is designed by adults with experience of their own learning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    But also note that in many high-schools the art requirement dies early, while the math requirement lasts a while. That's not a value judgement, just a shot at it's utility in advanced economies.
    Good luck getting a job in Marketing without at least some knowledge of artistic techniques related to aesthetics, scale, composure, perspective, color theory, and story-telling... or any kind of job in design (engineering, landscaping, interior design, fashion, makeup and costume).

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    Veteran Member Sarpedon's Avatar
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    It is important to expose children to a wide variety of experiences, because you never know which child might end up being talented in one thing.

    I shudder to think how much human genius we squander in this country thanks to our terrible schools.

    (point made in two sentences)

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    Veteran Member PyramidHead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarpedon View Post
    It is important to expose children to a wide variety of experiences, because you never know which child might end up being talented in one thing.

    I shudder to think how much human genius we squander in this country thanks to our terrible schools.

    (point made in two sentences)
    It's not too far off the mark, but I wouldn't emphasize the same things as you. I feel like we shouldn't think of education primarily as a way of producing talented people, or generating a resource of geniuses to benefit ourselves as a society. Education is a boon to the one who is educated first and foremost, and not just because she can earn more money by being useful to an employer. We should value the ability to expose ourselves to diverse knowledge and experience merely for the joy of it; even if you could get more talented geniuses some other way, it would still be worth having a comprehensive social investment in education, because it makes life more enjoyable in ways that aren't fully captured by the ability to serve as problem-solvers (which is also important, don't get me wrong).

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