Sign of the times

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jo4hn wrote:

Well, it did teach me to resist boredom.
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Douglas Johnson wrote:

in the 21st century. If you don't have a basic understanding of chemistry you will accept the fact that you can capture all of the CO2 from burning coal. That computer that you are using is based on physics and math, from it basic operation to the user interface.
As for history, if you don't understand the past you will keep repeating it with the same results. A good example is the policies of the thirties. They failed and it took a world war to fix the economy, yet to day we are getting ready to retry those policies.
If you don't understand government you will accept Biden statement that the White House should not be involved in the Senate. The Constitution defines the Vice President's responsibilities as being the Speaker of the Senate with no voting responsibilities except to break tie votes
It frustrates me to read articles about the lack of education in America today. Education has been a basic part of the government since 1780. Every child is required to go to school yet the parents do not encourage the children to learn. Don't complain about be second class citizens if you don't make most of the schools and library's that are everywhere in the United States
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J. Clarke wrote:

It taught me how to characterize a problem and to employ logical thought processes in formulating a solution.     mahalo,     jo4hn
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jo4hn wrote:

Lucky you. The only kind of "problem" we were required to "characterize" was "what's going to be on the test".
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Old fashioned. Nobody does that any more.
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Already doing it in my own way before I took the class.

Useless. We studied the "Rules of the Road" book by writing out the questions and answers verbatum, and took the drivers test to get our permit.

Optional, but very very useful class. I think this one had one of the largest lasting effects on me, as it gave me a way to draw out my ideas. I'm no artist, but via drafting I can get the point across.

We studied the various wars, the founding of the US, and the Amendments to the Constitution. In 7th grade I had an amazing history teacher who used motivations more than events. Learned more from him than I did in any future history class.

Optional, but extremely useful. (Naturally, I'd say that posting this message on a _Woodworking_ newsgroup.)

I had a touch of Chemistry, and no Physics.
After college, I got a 27' chemistry set, also known as a swimming pool. Glad I had Chemistry in college.

I use this off and on as a part of woodworking. The whole proofs part, though, not so useful in daily life.

Scheduled at the wrong time for me to take. Wish I had trig, though, as it would have allowed me to take the 11:00 Calculus classes in college rather than the &:$% ones (oops... Did I hold the shift key down too long?).

Funny, it seems the optional classes were the most useful ones.
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J. Clarke wrote:

I learned that language was important - that while a thing said one way might get me a fat lip, if said another way it might open the door to friendship. I learned that a really good idea that I couldn't get across to someone else when it seemed important to me wasn't any better than no idea at all. I learned that language was an essential part of problem statement and problem solving, and that it could be variously used to produce tears, laughter, sympathy, animosity, or cooperation.
I learned that French and Arabic both have nuances and built-in perspective twists that my native English does not, and that poetry and precise thoughts do not always translate well from one language to another.
I learned that language is closely coupled to culture and I learned that there are cultures different from my own, and that culture is the lens through which we see the world - and that different cultural lenses reveal different realities when viewing the same objects and events.
I read and discussed the statements of ideals and principles of my own culture, and somewhat of others. I learned a bit about how what might be good manners at home might not be so elsewhere.
I learned that history was more than names and dates and places - that it's actually a compendium of cause and effect for different groups of people in different contexts - that it's a record of what has already been tried and under what circumstances and with what consequences over the long haul. I learned that there are a lot more ways to get things wrong than there are to get them right, and that it might be really important to not repeat some of the mistakes.
I learned in sixth grade algebra class that everything that had come before was neander and that learning algebra amounted to a leap into the world of power tools for the brain. I learned about 'knowns' and 'unknowns', and how to determine if/when I had enough knowns to solve a problem.
I learned that matter consisted of atoms, and that different elements have different properties, and that those properties matter - that lead isn't good for bridge beams, nor plutonium for eyeglass frames, and that aluminum and copper are good conductors of heat. I learned that 'more' isn't necessarily better, and not to throw scraps of sodium metal into the waste crock.
I learned that transparent materials have angles of refraction and critical angles, and I learned that light goes really fast and that nothing in our ken goes faster. I learned of the happiness of energy and the sadness of entropy, and that time is, indeed, a dimension that must be accounted for in all actions and their equal and opposite reactions. I was introduced to the laws of thermodynamics and bid a sad farewell to fantasies of perpetual motion machines.
I've gone on past midnight and need to stop for sleep, but there's more - a /lot/ more - and it's all been useful.
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Morris Dovey
DeSoto Solar
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Morris Dovey wrote:

And you learned these things from teachers? Or would you have learned them anyway as part of growing up?

In what public school in the United States are Arabic and French taught?

That's nice, but again I want to know where this incredible American public school is located.

You discussed? In an American public school?

In an American public school you learned this?

Algebra in the sixth grade?

Always useful, not throwing sodium into the waste crock. In what public school in the US did you learn strength of materials?

And how have you used that knowledge since?

It sounds to me like you have had a far, far different education from most Americans.
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J. Clarke wrote:

A lot of this was put into words for me by teachers before I'd have worked it out for myself or gotten it from peers.

Not in the US, although the school program was modeled after New York State's curriculum. Don't kids in at least some NY and NJ public schools have the opportunity to learn other languages? I'd be astonished if kids in south FL, TX, AZ, and NM don't have the opportunity to take Spanish. The teacher for both languages was Lebanese (and the only non-American teacher in the school).

The US component of that particular experience was at Richwoods Community High School in Peoria, IL. It's a good public school with good teachers and probably had better than average course offerings. I took a really interesting Projective Geometry and a (really difficult for me) Qualitative Analysis chemistry course there. Hmm - as I recall, they also offered French, German, and Spanish to fill in on your earlier question on languages in public schools.

You bet.

An exceptional history teacher, no? IMO, we could use more like him, and I wish my kids could've taken /any/ course from him.

I think so - but sixth grade might've been Plane Geometry with Algebra I in seventh. It's been a long time.

Didn't - at least not as such, but I do remember talking about "groups" in the periodic table and discussions about general properties of elements. I think I'd have enjoyed more specific coursework, but at that point I probably didn't have enough math to handle it.

Wow. It was the foundation for almost all that I learned later - and gave me the confidence to tackle all kinds of problems about which I started out knowing far too little. That's exactly what's been happening with the solar stuff recently - and even randite Tim might get a kick out of my weird engine that runs (limps actually, but it /will/ run) on sunshine to do direct conversion of radiant energy to mechanical.

I don't know - I think I was just lucky enough to have had a succession of really good, caring teachers who somehow managed to convince me that there were real and important connections between what they were teaching and real life. When the educational process breaks, it's seemed to me that the lack of that connection has been the fault line.
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Morris Dovey
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On Fri, 09 Jan 2009 10:29:14 -0600, Morris Dovey wrote:

Sounds a lot like the teachers in my day, Morris. Oh, there were some bad ones, but most of mine were dedicated to teaching me things which I greatly resisted. My only complaint was that there were no classes for children with high (or low) intelligence, although the good teachers did pretty well at reaching both.
And yes, we discussed things as well. Especially in history and social studies classes, but also in English classes.
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Morris Dovey wrote:

The public schools in Florida, Virginia, Louisiana, and California, at least when I was there, offered _no_ languages until high school. The Louisiana Catholic parochial schools taught French from first grade on, but no Spanish. I do wonder sometimes how my life might have been different if I had been able to stay in the Catholic schools--note that I am not Catholic.
In high school the Spanish teachers were not native speakers and were marginally competent, which, combined with the starting in high school, meant that most of the students learned "Queiro ir al cuarto de bano" (should be a tilde on that n") and that was the end of it.
New York and New Jersey might be better. They would have had to work at it to be much worse.

OK, that is a very, very unusual public school.

We sat quietly and regurgitated whatever the teacher told us, no matter how stupid it might have been.

Well, you begin to see the problem. I don't deny that there must be _some_ decent public schools out there, but I never attended any. The two good teachers in the ones I attended were constantly battling the system.

Geez, we got geometry in the 9th.

Again quite different. The teacher might have said something about groups but if she did it was one of those "memorized-regurgitate-forget" deals. Certainly never explained why anybody should care about those groups.

Good that you managed to hit on a field in which you could apply _something_. Most people need to know about potics like they need a hole in the head.

Which is far, far different from what most of us got.

Most of the teachers I encountered were career teachers who had never actually done anything else and housewife wannabees killing time until they found a victim. The superstars were two ex military who served in WWII, one as a Marine DI and the other as an AAC instructor pilot. They both taught you like your life depended on it and knew why you needed to know what they were teaching. The rest just droned on regurgitating the book, or some other book, not even recognizing when they told a whopper.
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J. Clarke wrote:

That's grim. I don't know about LA, but I'm fairly sure that languages other than English are now common (or at least not rare) in FL, VA, and CA.

Yeah - at some point along the way someone decided that it was more important for teachers to know about theories of education and how to handle administrivial paperwork than about the subject they were to teach. The results speak for themselves.

I'm sitting here giving thanks that this didn't happen to me because I'd have been dead meat - I can learn, but I've never been able to memorize anything.
I was blessed (although it didn't always seem that way at the time) with teachers who wanted their students to /think/ - who were always asking: "So where do we go with that?" or "When might that be useful?". I had an English teacher (not in public school) who regularly walked over in front of my desk, looked down at me, and smiled broadly just before he'd ask: "And what does The Dove think of /that/?" I'm sitting here laughing about it now, but in the beginning it absolutely terrified me. :)

I /do/ see the problem. Somehow we need to replace indifferent instructors with _teachers_ who know their subject, the value of its knowledge, and who see that the future is in the hands of their students. It's the "somehow" that's the hard part.

Hmm. I was a math major who went into computer new product development (and who only rarely ever used any of the math) :-b
I only tackled the solar technology because (at age 60) I decided it was important enough and potentially valuable enough to use up my last years demonstrating its potential.
Think of it as an attempt to be worthy of the efforts of those Good Teachers, however lame that might seem.
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Morris Dovey
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Morris Dovey wrote:

But introduced at what level? If they don't start it until high school then most students are not going to develop any fluency.

And now they're loaded down with paperwork to satisfy the bureaucrats besides.

And we have to get off the backs of the ones who do. I have a friend who has a PhD in education and is a retired teacher. Every time I see him he has another horror story passed on to him by one of the many teachers with whom he has contact. Idiocy like being disciplined for answering a student's question with anything other than "look it up" on the basis that they're "supposed to be teaching studends how to learn" for example. I don't know how widespread that sort of thing is--he seems to think it's pretty commonplace. The last teacher I dated was good with the kids and good with dealing with the administration, but quite frankly outside of work she was NUTS (not going to go into anecdotes) and I suspect that the work had done it to her.

Good thought. The thing is if I was going to do something worhty of my Good Teachers I'd be an author, and in that area, well, I have seen talent and it is something that I lack.
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J. Clarke wrote:

I suspect that about the best that can be hoped for is /preparation/ for fluency. For most of us, real fluency probably only comes with actual use of a language. AFAICT, the most effective route to fluency is a total immersion - and that's difficult to do in a school setting.

From what I've heard, it's at least not unusual.

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Morris Dovey
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Morris Dovey wrote:

Just for grins, I looked to see if the school is still there (it is). This online satellite imagery stuff just boggles my mind - there's a bird's eye view of the school, my home, and the rec center where I spent a lot of my time at
http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/Misc/AbqaiqSatAn.jpg
And you can get a look at the "moonscape" around the town by going to Google maps and specifying 'Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia'. Any green you see outside the town is /not/ vegetation. :)
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I got a lot of the components of that from teachers, especially the "how to" part. Depending on context, it goes under various names -- persuasive writing, debate, etc.

Dude, French is probably the most taught non-dead foreign language in US schools. Where *isn't* it taught? I had a year of that in 5th grade, but didn't stick with it. I don't recall if I ever had Arabic available. But it isn't something that would have interested me at that time.

It is clear that your schools sucked (assuming that you weren't just a complete slacker).
My public schools (1967-1980) sound a lot like Morris'.

I had the intro, along with geometry by other names in 5th grade. (Cranston-Calvert School, Newport, RI.)

Your original question was in the form, "What did you learn that you found useful later?"
It's pretty clear that you really meant, "What did you learn that I also had available to me and that *I* currently consider to be useful."
BTW, my first computer programming was in a US public school. I'm still finding that useful, as today's paycheck reminds me.
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Must be nice to be so young.
My grade school had no computers - they had not been invented yet.
I saw my first computer in my last year of high school - you could walk inside it.
The first computer I played with was a 360-50 - only needed half a room for it.
Now I have a PC with more power than the 50 and it sits on my desk.
I still need a bigger and faster playtoy.
P D Q
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Well, that first computer (a HP 2000) I used was also in my senior year, and I never set eyes on it. It was somewhere across the county, being shared by all the high schools. I hate to think what the connection was, probably 300 baud. But we did have CRT terminals and keyboards. So it's modern compared to a lot of stories I hear.

I occasionally reflect on the fact that my 6 year-old cell phone has more computing power than was used for the Apollo program. Not entirely sure that says good things about what we do with our current potential, but that's a long discussion for some other day.

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I don't remember the numbers on the computer but it was a burroughs and we had to be careful not to trip over the wires. It was the only "room" in the building that was air conditioned.
I remember 300 baud as "time out for coffee". Once got into a real setto with a know-it-all at work when he said 1600 was blazingly fast while I maintained all it did was allow one to "read the periods". In those days we had a 6400 line to a branch office in Montreal - didn't have to read the periods there.

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PDQ wrote:

Wanna have some fun, google "Hercules". Runs 360 code on a PC faster than any 360 ever did.

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