The Instigator
DocORock
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
mors202
Con (against)
Winning
15 Points

US Education Requires Modernization

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/24/2007 Category: Education
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,256 times Debate No: 932
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (7)

 

DocORock

Pro

Debatable point: At least one class per day, per student must be dedicated to promote non-traditional "out-of-the-box" thinking over each standardized subject. US education must be broken out of its conventional box and teaching must be taken outside of the regiment reading, writing and arithmetic structure. We should require modernizing our teaching methods in such a way that teaching compliments learning back from our students - we should teach, straightforward, that learning methods, as well, are learnable.

Opening Argument: In the United States, our modern teaching methods are void of "modern". While our society maintains a foothold on the edge of technologies and consistently reshaping its product markets to keep up with the very latest trends, we have made little advancement in the teaching methods that are utilized in our public schools. A child of the US is apt to have access to the newest exciting video game only moments after its public release. In the same era, that same child is attending classes in a public school for which the standard teaching methods were designed in the seventeenth century or earlier.

By societal design, we are what I label "linear learners", meaning we learn in a step-to-very-next-step structure. As we grow older, we are able to become "conceptual learners", which suggests that we gain the ability to apply one bit of knowledge to the concept of another "untaught" piece of information. However, this powerful ability is not cultivated, nor does it come by way of any credit to our public school systems. My belief is that we can learn to learn better, and our teaching methods should be redesigned to accommodate this empowering skill.

Education itself in the US (not the education system) needs revamping. We need to teach our teachers the many uses that can stem from the difference in "linear" to "conceptual" learning.
mors202

Con

I understand where DocORock is coming from, however, I believe that the system we have in now, while in need of tweaking, is not all that bad. While it is true that the educational pattern we have now grew out of the ideas of the Enlightenment, it is a very good pattern. At a young age, students are taught in a linear pattern, with more open-ended class structures as the students grow up. This is logical. At a young age, children are less able to apply concepts, to see the "big picture"; this ability grows with maturity. It is right that education, for the most part, reflects this change.
In addition, there are core concepts that almost defy what DocORock defines as "modern education". Math, for example, must be taught in a linear way--if a student does not know arithmetic, than the concepts of algebra are impossible. My teacher once put it this way, "Math is a foreign language, learn the terms, and you'll learn the concepts." It would make no sense to teach straight conceptual math without teaching the rote information first.
While there are classes that lend themselves to a more open-ended structure, such as English or History, there are also some that need to move in a step-by-step form in order to actually educate the students.
I would like to add that I understand that there are deficiencies in our educadtional system, and means of education. I also recognize that there are bad school districts. However, I believe that the flaw lies in the way the educational system has evolved over the years, and not the method of education.
Debate Round No. 1
DocORock

Pro

Quoting my opponent: "At a young age, children are less able to apply concepts, to see the 'big picture'; this ability grows with maturity."

Rebuttal: One only needs to place a video game control into the hands of a four year old to prove this damaging outlook untrue. Young children are much more apt to be "conceptual learners" long before an adult who has never been taught concepts in any form, e.g., operating a computer. Point in case: Head a computer class; your two subjects are any 65-year-old person and any six-year-old child. Your mission is to teach them how to work their way around common applications such as word processors and spreadsheets.

Both the potential conceptual learner as well as the likely linear learner will need to be taught that to open a file you must first drive your mouse cursor to the FILE command in the menu bar of the program. The next step, you teach, is to select OPEN from the drop-down menu. The next step - select your file, select OK, etcetera.

What the child is much more likely to learn long before the adult is that these steps apply to most any application and before long, your young pupil is far ahead of the "rest of the class". That the older student is unlikely to catch on to the concept of computer applications is the product of that student's lifelong, traditional teaching - and limited learning - methods.

The ideal that "children are less able to apply concepts" is the true hindrance of our societal expectations of public schooling in the US. This philosophy represents the first hurdle to widening our teaching and learning abilities.

My opponent suggests, "Math, for example, must be taught in a linear way," which I do not refute. However, as we fail to include the concepts of math - its applications throughout the learning stages and throughout life - we fail to spark full interest in the subject for our students. Mors202 stresses this as well by adding, "It would make no sense to teach straight conceptual math without teaching the rote information first." Agreed.

Mors202 contends that the subject of History is offered in a "more open-ended structure". I do not agree. This subject is taught in an especially linear manner to our youth, event by event, year by year. We can use this particular subject, however, as a viable example of this one class that I propose we dedicate to teach concepts to our youth. We could further enhance the subject of History by teaching the concept that history repeats itself if not learned. In the Concepts Class, perhaps, we can open an assignment that has our students author a probable near future. In this one exercise, we apply concepts of not just History, but English, Writing, Statistics. The applications of this "concepts class" can be designed to include numerous daily teachings to the single concept that is in focus - while giving the students (and teachers) liberties of their own to widen the lens in its presentation.

My opponent states, "...the flaw [in our education] lies in the way the educational system has evolved over the years..." while I contend that we harbor the flaw heavily in that the system has not - evolved, that is.
mors202

Con

My opponent has used an argument that cites a hypothetical computer class, however, this very scenario proves the importance of linear instruction. Before any conceptual learning could be used, a foundation must be wrought. The students in my opponent's hypothetical class had to go through a step-by-step instruction on how to first use a computer, and it was only after the instructions were given that they could apply them conceptually. I believe that conceptual learning has its place, but so does the linear.

I realize that there may be some who say that I am splitting hairs with my opponents hypothetical example. But what I stated regarding his example is true in all situations--for any learning, a basic foundation must be laid. My opponent stated his belief in teaching a conceptual history, one that would allow students to use history to make inferences for the future. I am all for that. However, for such a vision to become a reality, students must have the proper framework. It is not enough to teach them the why and how, but also the who, what, when, and where. For example, with no knowledge of the first half of American history, there can be no knowledge of why the Civil War happened, and no conceptual application. Linear learning is designed to provide the tools needed to perform necessary projects, which are the applications. Without tools, no project can be done--but with not project, the tools are useless.

For this very reason, young children cannot be conceptual learners, they do not have the knowledge to make a conceptual application. The older they get, the more they learn (through linear schooling), the more they can apply what they learn linearly. For example, very few children start math by doing word problems, just simple arithmetic. These young children just do not have knowledge to comprehend what a word problem is asking, or be able to apply math, or other subjects, in real life.

In addition to providing the necessary tools for application, linear learning, in many instances, provides social literacy. No one wants to be the guy on Jaywalking or Who's Smarter Than a 5th Grader that looks like he did not pass 4th grade. Knowing facts about people and places, being able to provide scientifically reasoned answers, speaking with good grammar and a wide vocabulary presents a good face to society. A person may be able to apply a whole bunch of concepts, but if they have never learned the rote material, they may be considered uneducated. Is it a fair judgment? No. But does it exist? Unfortunately, yes. Thus, it can be fairly said that the way education is organized now allows people to function in society.
Debate Round No. 2
DocORock

Pro

It seems Mors202 is attempting to oppose my primary debatable point while being in complete agreement with me.

I refer back to my first point: At least one class per day, per student must be dedicated to promote non-traditional "out-of-the-box" thinking over each standardized subject. A number of times Mors202 mentions "the importance of linear instruction", labeling the traditional method as a "foundation", adding that "conceptual learning has its place". I am satisfied with this argument - so its place is in this one class, dedicated to teaching concepts. Mors202 is "all for" my method in teaching "conceptual history", only stipulating that the conventional framework of knowledge be present - again, leaving me no argument.

Taking care not to misspeak for my opponent, Mors202 does attempt to oppose me by stating, "For this very reason, young children cannot be conceptual learners..." I'm not certain what "very reason" to which this eludes, however, a very true statement follows this: "...[children] do not have the knowledge to make a conceptual application." The very reason for this sad truth is that we do not offer any such practices to our youth. And, again, I concur with my opponent. In fact, it validates the cause to compliment linear learning with concepts.

Mors202 tries to state that very few children start math by doing word problems. I will argue this point. Most teachers begin with the concept of math before asking a young mind to comprehend the uses of the word "subtract". Do we not recall the sample application we were given in kindergarten, "If I had two apples, and one was taken away..."? This is a concept we are taught before we advance into the mechanics of mathematics. Unfortunately, conventional teaching methods separate from offering such useful concepts - once the mechanics are in place we stick to "subtract", "add" and "multiply".

Back to the point, the simple idea is that we should break free of the doldrums into which our linear teaching methods lock our young minds. We can do this by offering a Concepts Class which continues on a path of teaching the applications of what we learn in each standard subject. With our fourth graders, we can invite the students back into that world of use - allow them to dream up why apples are multiplying, what might occur if we allow history to repeat itself.

What brings us back to the hurdle - quite efficiently - is my opponent's view that "These young children just do not have knowledge to comprehend what a word problem is asking, or be able to apply math, or other subjects, in real life." This is traditional thinking; this is the outlook - and a fixed product - of the seventeenth century minds that designed the structures of public teaching in the US.

This is the outmoded viewpoint that robs our society of surprising - perhaps wondrous - possibilities.

Let's visit the stage of "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" with my opponent, where dates and names are quizzed. The disheartening common ground any fifth grader and any adult contestant of this show share are this: Ask both why they have learned these important details.

Both sides will receive the buzzer after an uncomfortable silence with that stabbing question.
mors202

Con

My opponent has, unfortunately, missed the point in my last argument. For any true application to take place, there must first be a foundation. It was when students are young that such a foundation is placed. Yes, teachers do give the "math apples" demonstration, but as a lead in. People cannot go throw life just learning about apples and not plus signs--it is more apt to consider the demonstration a foreshadowing of how the material will help later on in life. Young children do not understand the application of what they learn, they do not care. Very few kids have a realistic job plan, much less realize the skills needed to achieve. Education, as it is today, provides the necessary foundation, mainly through linear learning, that will allow people to branch off into their chosen skill sets. As the students grow older, conceptual learning takes more of a role, as it should.

My opponent speaks of the "doldrums" that our education puts young students into. I would question changing something to make it more "interesting". For example, many students would find that a study of classic literature, such as Shakespeare, boring. However, is it not good for their writing skills to be exposed to many different types of style? Is it not for their own cultural literacy and appreciation that teachers make students read such books? Besides, what one students finds "interesting" may bore another to tears. School is, indeed, a one size fits all. While my opponent would, most likely, say that all he wants to do is add variety to help those students who do not find school in their correct "size", doing so would be disastrous to education. There will always be students who find the study of addition boring, but they must learn if they are to be successful in life and productive members of society. The foundation that our education supplies is, when education is done properly, egalitarian. It provides the same foundation, the same tools, to each member that partakes in it. To change education in order to tailor to the interests of some would be to destroy this great equalizer.

My opponent references the 17th century minds that developed our education system. I would like to point out that this system has turned out a society with the greatest minds of any age. While there have been some that conventional education has passed over, Edison and Einstein come to mind, these men are the exception, not the rule. From statesmen like Hamilton and Jefferson, to scientists like Newton, Watson, and Crick, the western education system has churned out, and still is providing, some of humanities greatest thinkers. That is why a Western Education is so sought after, why what we do is replicated world wide. This is a situation where the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" comes into play. I will once again return to my first argument, it is not the way that we educate our children, but the educational system that is broken. It is not because we have in place a bad teaching method, but bad administrators. I believe that the problem with today's educational system is managerial, not material.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by DocORock 8 years ago
DocORock
Hey, Solarman1969: Before you wish for society to "get back to basics"...can you describe what benefits the "basics" provided our society in the United States? Show me where the grade point average was statistically higher in the early 1900s, when high school dropouts outnumbered even the adolescent population of today. Or throughout the 1800s, when your teenage son was more respected for working in a coal mine than he was to attend school.

"Back to basics"? Blind statement when you can't prove that "basics" were the way to go.

Also, you miss the point: Basics are still the basics. This idea proposes to COMPLIMENT the existing structure.

As for the rest of your comments...er...killed any tree-huggers lately?
Posted by Solarman1969 8 years ago
Solarman1969
Mors gets my vote- we need to get standards back

In order to prepare to study weighty and difficult undergraduate and gratuate level subjects, such as engineering , physics and Chemistry, you MUST have a 12 year consistent, fundemental basis of the CORE subjects

Mathematics through Calculus and Differential equations
Chemistry
Physics
Reading and Writing the English Language
Being able to write a paper or thesis

as well as being rounded in

Geography
History
Social and Humanities

and others

those fools who tried to push the "new math" in the 70s and the liberal socialist democrat teachers unions have nearly RUNIED the public schools

this allowing of the stadards to diminish and our children to be allowed to proceed year after yeat WIHOUT having the proper and required scholarship has made this country less competetive in the world and our populus stupider and more subject to falling for NONSENSE like man cause global warming and other such BS

We need to return to the standards of the 1920s and 1930s if anything , and FAIL kids who do not meet the minimum requirements for a C grade.

Most of the blame can be placed on lazy parents in my opinion

Asian kids' parents ALWAYS push their kids and REQUIRE scholarsahip and ENCOURAGE competition

they were all my classmates at US Berekely in Chem Engineering and at the University of Hawaii in Mechanical Engineering

I truly beleive that part of this "dumbing down" and degradation of morality in the schools is part of a long term communistic plot hatched in the 60s by the USSR and its allies in the ACLU to undermine this great nation so it would be ripe for revolution and takeover

they have partially , but not totally suceeded.

Fortuntely, as I have always maintained, there is a hard core patritoic, hard working, intelligent class of Americans that will always prevent our becoming another loser socialist nation.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Solarma
Posted by mors202 8 years ago
mors202
You are welcome. You are, also, very intelligible and logical. Perhaps we will meet again, thank you for the great debate.
Posted by DocORock 8 years ago
DocORock
Mors202: It's been a great pleasure debating with you. You are levelheaded and very presentable with your obvious intelligence.

Thanks for sharing a great (first) debate with me.

- DocORock
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by kc0wys 8 years ago
kc0wys
DocORockmors202Tied
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Vote Placed by animadiaurum 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by Rousseau 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by Solarman1969 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by DocORock 8 years ago
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