OT - Basic Skills in Today's World

Page 11 of 13  

On Sat, 05 Aug 2006 11:53:16 -0500, F. George McDuffee

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While I believe that most of your premise is pretty close to on the mark, I'm surprised that you pick no child left behind (NCLB) as your sore point. Vocational and shop classes were being dropped long before the NCLB bill was initiated. The standardized tests and other elements of that bill were a response to the very real fact that children were graduating from school who were unable to read, write, or perform basic math. Those are skills that are fundamental, regardless of whether the person is going to college or to a career in the trades. Some means of assuring that high school graduates are capable of performing the most rudimentary elements of societal activities (ability to balance a checkbook, read instructions and ballots, etc) need to be established -- how else to do this but testing those candidates for graduation? IMO, the real culprits in taking time away from true education are those things identified as "crucial" by social engineers in the education system to effect their own view of how the world should work -- diversity education, inability to call anything "failure", and other "classes" that spend more time worrying about emotional adjustment of the child rather than instilling true knowledge, thinking skills, and information into that child. We've got to get the social engineers out of the educational system and get real educators back in. I don't care if Johnny or Jill are emotionally "well adjusted" graduates able to accept anyone who lives any sort of lifestyle and that Johnny knows that as a male he is responsible for all of the oppression and ills of society as it exists and that he must work to tear down the patriarchy and male-oppression in this society all the while working to ban any sort of technological advances in order to save the planet -- if neither of them can read or do math they are going to become drains on society and incapable of providing any sort of meaningful contribution beyond asking "do you want fries with that?"
Please, note, I'm not defending NCLB; after Bush let Kennedy write the bill and strip away the only portion that had any hope of saving education in America (vouchers that would have instituted a competitive, truly accountable educational system), I've seen no point in having the federal government get involved in what should constitutionally be a state and local issue.
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+--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+ If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
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F. George McDuffee (in snipped-for-privacy@4ax.com) said:
<snip>
| History clearly shows that any society/culture/economy where a | majority of its people loses (or never attains) at least a basic | level of understanding of its principal and major activities is | doomed in the long run (and most likely in the short run) because | they are unable to control what they have created (popularly | termed a "Frankenstein's monster"). Failure to understand | farming in an agricultural society, science in a technical | society, etc. is a disaster in the making.
Agreed - but I'd like to point out that we're failing at even more fundamental levels than you've stated:
We're not succeeding at teaching the basics of problem-solving. I'm finding that, more and more, kids and young adults seem to have difficulty applying knowledge they already posess to the solution of problems they haven't confronted previously.
Our educational institutions aren't getting across to students *why* it's important to learn what's being taught. History, for example, has become the boring exercise of learning dates and names rather than the adventure of discovering what mankind can/can't, must do, and must not do in order to survive and flourish.
Too much of education is disjoint from the real world. In the past, I occasionally taught junior high and high school math. In one school I was told to do nothing more than baby sit an unruly seventh grade class. The principal knew that I was a "computer guy" and suggested that I spend the hour talking about computers to fill the time. It was interesting that this bunch of "problem" kids, was able (in _one_ hour) to design logic for a (very basic) CPU - and they were so "into" the process that they didn't want to stop when the bell rang. The only possible conclusion for me was that it wasn't the kids who were the problem.
At another high school I was called in to take over for a math teacher who was laid up in the hospital for several weeks following an accident. I decided to take in a "show and tell" for each topic for all of the classes to illustrate how the stuff they were studying was used in the real world - and encouraged questions and discussions of the applications. It was damn near magical! The kids - all of 'em - decided that math could be not only interesting, but fun. The eighth-graders (studying arithmetic and geometric series) took the bit between their teeth and galloped into differential calculus without having a clue that's what they were doing. I feel truly sorry for all of the math teachers who miss out on having the kind of highs I experienced. But the important point is that all it took was providing links between the subject matter and the real world to "set the hook."
| It does not matter if the lack of understanding occurs because of | failure to teach and pass on hard-won knowledge, or new "things" | are introduced into the society/culture without a basic | understanding by the majority of the people *AND THEIR LEADERS*.
Actually, it _does_ matter if we consider it a problem and have serious intentions about solving it.
<snip>
| This is yet another example, where a critical public asset or | facility, in this case free compulsory education, has been | hi-jacked by the elite so they can impose their ideology and skim | the benefits (i.e. college preparatory education) while the vast | majority is deprived of the benefits (i.e. preparation for life | rather than for yet more education) although the majority is | expected to keep paying [more] for it.
I'm not sure that it's been hi-jacked by the "elite". I think it's being suffocated by apathy, mis-directed good intention, incompetence, changes to family structure, and laziness - and I don't think it's possible to lay the responsibility on any single grouping of people.
| The cure for this is local action, where the voters (parents) | fire the existing school board, and where the new school board | then fires the existing superintendents and principals, and so | on.
Some of the above (and I'm not excluding parents) definitely need to be replaced with better; but I have difficulty believing that what you're advocating would amount to very much more than a bureaucratic version of musical chairs. I think we need a better solution than that.
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto
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A little background. I'm the foreman of a small machine shop. Business has been picking up greatly and we are in need of machinists. We are having very little luck in finding qualified people and when we find someone that seems promising, it generally turns out that they are no more than a machine operator. Able to set up and operate a CNC (usually a vertical mill) but no more, nor do they want to do more. We have gotten to the point of training people into the position. We have gone through a number of them. Many, when they find out that it is real work and they can't just stop thinking and show up to work on autopilot after a month or two, either quit or become worthless to the point that they get fired. We have two trainees in the shop right now. One is female (extremely rare in this trade). She never made it through high school but has a GED. I'm finding that she has a great learning ability and enthusiasm. It is quite obvious that her problems in school were due to boredom. To get her math skills up to par, I have been giving her homework. She has been doing quite well now that she sees a need. To bad someone couldn't have instilled a real world need in her in school. She'd be that much further ahead. The other trainee, a male, just out of high school, made a comment the other day that really struck me. He said "I took trigonometry for two years and thought it would never be good for anything. Then, the first job I get, I need it".

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CW (in Vb6Bg.146$ snipped-for-privacy@newsread2.news.pas.earthlink.net) said:
| A little background. I'm the foreman of a small machine shop. | Business has been picking up greatly and we are in need of | machinists. We are having very little luck in finding qualified | people and when we find someone that seems promising, it generally | turns out that they are no more than a machine operator. Able to | set up and operate a CNC (usually a vertical mill) but no more, nor | do they want to do more. We have gotten to the point of training | people into the position. We have gone through a number of them. | Many, when they find out that it is real work and they can't just | stop thinking and show up to work on autopilot after a month or | two, either quit or become worthless to the point that they get | fired. We have two trainees in the shop right now. One is female | (extremely rare in this trade). She never made it through high | school but has a GED. I'm finding that she has a great learning | ability and enthusiasm. It is quite obvious that her problems in | school were due to boredom.
I see the exact same thing. One of my discoveries has been that enthusiasm, like love, is the outcome of an ongoing decision process. Let me encourage you to nurture her enthusiasm and to encourage the people around her to do the same (there are real benefits to both the nurturer and the nurtured in this process).
| To get her math skills up to par, I | have been giving her homework. She has been doing quite well now | that she sees a need. To bad someone couldn't have instilled a real | world need in her in school. She'd be that much further ahead.
I think I recall reading once that the root of "educate" was a word meaning "to lead". Those who failed to lead her missed out on the incredible experience of "turning the lights on" for another human being, which - to me - is truly sad.
Good on you!
| The | other trainee, a male, just out of high school, made a comment the | other day that really struck me. He said "I took trigonometry for | two years and thought it would never be good for anything. Then, | the first job I get, I need it".
Amazing, that :-D
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto
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On Sat, 5 Aug 2006 14:38:51 -0500, "Morris Dovey"

====================This is becase the students are doing what they were trained/educated to do -- exactly what they were told -- no more and no less. If you were looking for machine loaders/operators this would be what you were looking for.
Unfortunatly, you are expecting trainee machinists with initative, curosity, interest in a manual trade/activity, and a willingness to experiment. Students are quickly "cured" of these traits or are kicked out of school for being "disruptive."
Try posting your help wanted notices in places where the type of person you are interested in is likely to be, such as auto parts stores, hardware stores, machine supply stores, etc. Gun ranges can also be productive. Also talk to the machine shop instructors [*NOT* the department/division heads] at your local community colleges. They will generally have several people in their classes which have talent, interest and the right attitude.
Unka George (George McDuffee)
...and at the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased, and the epitaph drear: A Fool lies here, who tried to hustle the East.
Rudyard Kipling The Naulahka, ch. 5, heading (1892).
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wrote:

==================Exactly the same reaction I got from both high-school [release time / concurrent] students and people who have been out of school for a while [work force development] when we get into using a sine bar to set/determine angles and do simple calculations such as helix angles in the machining classes.
Just how good can something be where you have to have a special police force to round people up and laws to imprison/fine their parents to get them to attend? It is the total lack of "hands on examples" and "contextualization" that is killing our educational system and it will continue to do so no matter how many times we make the students pee in a bottle, how many dress codes we impose, or how many uniforms we make them wear.
Slogans and endless repeating has not sold high cost, low quality Detroit cars and it won't sell high cost, low quality education to the students either, although it may keep the tax money flowing from Washington.
Unka George (George McDuffee)
...and at the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased, and the epitaph drear: A Fool lies here, who tried to hustle the East.
Rudyard Kipling The Naulahka, ch. 5, heading (1892).
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Good for you and/or your employer.
Just another view on the subject of education. Say you have a very lucrative hand assembly job for some of your machined components, but the actual procedure is so simple/boring that 'nobody in their right mind' would sit there all day doing it.
Will you insist on the person you hire for the job have math skills, etc, or would you settle for someone with a somewhat lower IQ who would be very happy to sit there all day? In other words, what happens to the individuals who don't happen to have the intellectual capacity on par with your top machinists?
Are they to be forever 'held back' in school till they become laughing stock of their so called class mates? Or should they be given a 'lower' grade, and proceed along with their friends/peers and ultimately enter society with some sense of dignity, get that boring assembly job you have and work tirelessly etc. for you?
I saw a scenario similar to this happen. After a employee was pestered for so long, he did quit...... It took four(4) other employees to do the same job, each only able to tolerate it for about 2 hours. Oh well............
Ace

Snippity snip, etc....
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Where I'm at right now, we do have that type of assembly work and yes, it is quite lucrative but very boring work. Our requirements are not nearly so high for that job for a couple of reasons. As you pointed out, the higher IQ individuals are not willing to do such a job and, of course, the job doesn't require it. Yes, people like that are very important. Unfortunately, getting the higher management to see that is proving difficult. Day before yesterday was the last day for our spring winder. He found an assembly job with another company making a few dollars an hour more. My thought is that there are no unimportant jobs. If a job was unimportant, why would anybody pay you to do it? You can't have a top without a bottom. Without a solid foundation, the top will collapse.

has
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Very well said! Good luck with the 'higher' management. Maybe I should be wishing them luck instead ???
Ace

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I have an excellent book I got in trade school called "Mathematics for the trades".It puts every problem in real world terms.For example how many pieces 27 inches long can be cut from a 20 foot length of bar? This book really makes a huge difference in how I understood mathematics.
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Wish I still had the one I had in school. It was along the same line but was machine shop specific. Published in the thirties, I believe. The school had it reprinted for them. The best of it's kind I've seen. Technology has changed but math hasn't.

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I used to be a supervisor at a shop building custom bakery equipment.We had a little test to see if someone could read a tape measure.Out of 12 high school graduate applicants only 2 could find 1/4 on the tape measure.
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Im a CNC machine tool repair guy. I front for a couple manufactures, do repair of their machines, do infrastructure repair (air/electical etc etc) and there are two types of "machinist".
1. Actually involved in setting up and performing operations, able to do design and determine if the machine is optimal etc etc
2. Button pushers. Somone who loads parts, pushes a button, takes measurements, maybe changes offsets, but basically a human parts loader.
#1 is very very hard to find #2 is very very easy to find, and in Southern California..is nearly 50% female, with many learning to be rated in Catagory #1
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
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I'd sure like to have a 1 but if yoiu can find a couple of 2's that want to move north (Seattle area), send them my way. We have manual machines too. People qualified to do anything with them is becoming near non existent. I've been told I'm old school. Guess I am but, to me, 2 is not a machinist. They're a machine operator. A machinist, the way it used to be, is a machine maker. The tools he uses (mills, lathes, grinders, ect) are incidental to the job, they aren't THE job.
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wrote:

very
shop
learning
were
be
school,
Im a CNC machine tool repair guy. I front for a couple manufactures, do repair of their machines, do infrastructure repair (air/electical etc etc) and there are two types of "machinist".
1. Actually involved in setting up and performing operations, able to do design and determine if the machine is optimal etc etc
2. Button pushers. Somone who loads parts, pushes a button, takes measurements, maybe changes offsets, but basically a human parts loader.
#1 is very very hard to find #2 is very very easy to find, and in Southern California..is nearly 50% female, with many learning to be rated in Catagory #1
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
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I believe the most important skill to teach is problem solving and research skills.With these 2 skills a person can learn anything.You cannot instill in a person all the knowledge they will need,No 2 people have the need for all the same knowledge.I guess the best way to put it is like my old drill sergeant said...."adapt and overcome".We must teach our children to "adapt and overcome" problems and challenges.
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F. George McDuffee wrote:

<SNIP>
In

<SNIP>
Oh my God! Does this mean all my woodshop classes for next year (2006-07) at the high school where I teach have been dropped? Does this mean I am now out of work? Are my fellow IA teachers who teach masonry, auto shop and computer repair also out of work? Do we now hold our department meetings at the unemployment office?
The scenario you present might be true in some places, but not in all. I have been asked (along with a few of my cohorts)to work on a funding grant to expand our vocational offerings in our school, and maybe the district as a whole.
Glen
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The school that has any sort of shop class..is the exception, rather than the rule. And not just in California where I live.
Gunner
"Pax Americana is a philosophy. Hardly an empire. Making sure other people play nice and dont kill each other (and us) off in job lots is hardly empire building, particularly when you give them self determination under "play nice" rules.
Think of it as having your older brother knock the shit out of you for torturing the cat." Gunner
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Gunner wrote:

I, too, live and work in SoCal, and you are correct in saying that VocEd is the exception rather than the rule, but I merely wanted to point out that there are some good VocEd programs out there, and some are growing and flourishing. There is such a demand for our Wood classes that sessions of Wood are offered after regular school hours, and the Masonry and Auto classes are filled to capacity with many more wanting the classes than there is room for students.
In response to another gentleman's comments later on, our principal is nearing retirement (as am I), but our three previous principals were also devoted to VocEd. We will have a new superintendent next year, and I hope that this individual has the same commitment as the previous super.
As a side note, the community college near where I live (I don't know much about the CC near to my job) has an excellent Wood program, even periodically offerring a guiter building class.
Glen
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wrote:

======================You are very fortunate in that your schools appear to be run by educators and not administrators. The students and community are fortunate in that the board members are acting in the best interest of the majory of the students and community and not responding to the latest fad or buzz-word.
My guess is that you leadership is very senior and approaching retirement. When your educators are replaced with administrators that conduct per pupil class cost evaluations, legal risk evaluation of possible injury, and avoidance of things that make noise or a mess, your vocational programs will die the death of 1,000 cuts. I note in passing that far more students are injured and injured more seriously in contact sports than vocational education.
Most universities have dropped their Industrial Arts teachining options because of the falling demand for their graduates.
Fearless forecast -- as your vocational programs are scaled back, your student retention and completion problems will increase. Following normal administrator logic, additional vocational programs will be eliminated to make funds available for retention/completion activities and remedial education that are then required to keep the now totally academic programs filled.
Unka George (George McDuffee)
...and at the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased, and the epitaph drear: A Fool lies here, who tried to hustle the East.
Rudyard Kipling The Naulahka, ch. 5, heading (1892).
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