• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

At least we're fair

Juxtaposition of the week. From Time magazine:

The rise of China as an economic and political juggernaut has become a familiar refrain, but now there's another area in which the Chinese are suddenly emerging as a world power: education.

In the latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) comparative survey of the academic performance of 15-year-olds around the world — an authoritative study released every three years — Chinese teenagers from Shanghai far outscored their international peers in all three subject matters that were tested last year: reading, math and science.

[. . .]

Some nations that have put in place school reforms in the past decade, including Germany and Poland, did show improvement in the survey. But the U.S. and France, among others, had at best mediocre results that were lower than their reading scores in 2000, the first year of the PISA survey.

And from Chicago's WGN:

West suburban Indian Prairie District 204 has become the latest in the Chicago area to eliminate high school class ranks.

The District 204 school board on Monday voted unanimously and without discussion to eliminate traditional valedictorian and salutatorian honors at each of the district's three high schools. 

Instead, new honor designations will salute groups of top academic performers beginning with the 2011-12 school year.

"It's not perfect, it'll never be perfectly just," said board member Mark Metzger. "But it's a heck of a lot more just than what we have (now)." 

Posted in: Current Affairs


tim zank
Wed, 12/08/2010 - 1:38pm

Not unexpected at all. We've spent 40 years or so desperately trying to make every student average. No winners and no losers, everybody just "feels good" about themselves and especially others. This is what the democrats fought for, so congratulations, you own it.

William Larsen
Wed, 12/08/2010 - 3:15pm

Childhood development is a catch 22. If you allow the child to play while they are young (tinker toys, drawing, crayons, playing with dolls, using their imaginations) the child will grow up and learn differently from those who have a structured child hood where they are in daycare, early child learning classes, etc.

Allowing children to play and not force them to learn structured presented information more often than not develops the creativity within the person. They tend not to score as well on tests. Researchers say the imagination phase of a child is from age 2 to age 8. This is when they truly develop their creativity.

Structured instruction develops memorization skills, reading and math skills. They are thought of as smart, intelligent and smarter than most. They score well on tests.

The question is what type of person do you want? If you want someone to be able to calculate some end result and not appreciate the application, structured education works very well. On the other hand if you have a problem that has never been solved before or want truly innovative progress, then you want the child who was given ample time to play, explore their world and then is taught the structured material.

Presenting a lot of information to people without their ability to appreciate how to use it is not very good. Having a child use imagination to dream about new concepts and ideas is the first block to lay down. You have their attention now and they will be enthusiastic in learning all they need to, to solve problems.