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Education: Our Most Overrated Product

We educate nonsensically...and what to do instead. Read More

PE actually makes kids dislike exercise...and languages are off the mark too

According to this article:
http://education.penelopetrunk.com/2013/05/20/forced-gym-makes-kids-hate...

PE can actually turn kids off to exercise.

Basically, PE, like many other aspects of the current state of education, is one-size fits-all. That doesn't make sense.

For one thing, PE is typically focused around competitive team sports. Nothing wrong with that, except not every kid has the ability or desire to do that. Personally, I sucked at the ball sports, but excelled at cross-country and track. I still run today, although not as fast and not as far.

What's more, these sports are something you don't typically do when you're older. I'd like to see PE focus on activities you can do for the rest of your life, as well as on things like stretching properly, nutrition, etc.

When it comes to languages, much of that is driven by trends such as the trend to learn Japanese in the 1980s.

Two languages I found helpful were Latin and Greek. These languages helped me out tremendously on the verbal portion of the SAT/ACT, thanks to the Latin and Greek "roots" I learned.

Thanks

I always appreciate your good comments and faithful reading of my stuff.

Ms. Trunk is selling Junk

What you've got there, Reader, is a blog article posted by someone selling online career classes. Is this a good source for critique of public schools? Personally, I can't say that gym was my favorite class all those years ago, but I certainly enjoyed running around in the middle of the school day. I might suggest that you need a little more than what you have there to prove, or even suggest, anything.

Vouchers

I agree with most of what you said. The best and quickest way to solve the problem with the education system is to give parents vouchers. They can then decide where to send their kids, and the free market will provide plenty of excellent alternatives.

BTW, Neuroscience is not what I think of when you mention STEM. Sure, it has the word "science" in the name. But it is more a medical degree. When I think of science, I think of Chemistry, Physics, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Civil Engineering. Even so, having a STEM-type degree doesn't guarantee you a job. You still have to be a productive employee that is willing to put in the hours.

Regarding replacing mixed

Regarding replacing mixed ability classes... some schools already do, without announcing it, so it can be done. Also, for example, you can split 1st grade reading groups into the "bluebird group" and the "red bird group". Each group gets their needs met and are appropriately challenged, but no one is stigmatized for being in the "dumb" group or the "nerd" group.... or whichever term kids will use to taunt each other. Of course, as they get older, kids figure these things out, but as long as it's done discretely, it can work.

Education

It's horrifying enough that schools now don't want to teach cursive writing. When I was young (now 68) we were even taught diagramming sentences. How else can we learn to construct a good one? Today the misplaced modifier is more common than otherwise. I absolutely loved parochial school because those nuns knew how to teach!

Grammar must be taught in

Grammar must be taught in context for students to learn it. Repeatedly, studies have shown that teaching things like sentence diagramming does very little good in actually teaching kids how to write. Reading is the best way to teach grammar.

Teaching Grammar

So who says diagramming sentences is OUT of context?! That's foolish. Denying the value of such a critical tool is the same as if you told a student you'd teach him to be an architect but then refused to teach the reading of blueprints!

Just because you declare something to be so doesn't make it true. That's magical thinking. No wonder you prefer to remain Anonymous. I hope you're not involved in philosophy or anything in education, because you do NOT exhibit critical thinking skill. Don't you know that anyone who claims 'studies show' had better be able to pony up a reputable example? Etc etc etc.

"Grammar in context" is

"Grammar in context" is educator jargon: it refers to the practice of teaching grammar through actual writing and other active-learning exercises. Something like sentence diagramming does not hurt, but it a very small part of the picture.

As for "magical thinking"---please do a little research into the subject before becoming quite so indignant. I'll post it again: repeatedly studies have shown that teaching grammar apart from actual writing does little, if any, good; there are plenty of webpages, books, articles, and PDFs online. See for yourself.

I'm afraid I am not the one failing critical thinking here.

Yeah, STEM is actually mostly

Yeah, STEM is actually mostly computer and engineering jobs. Here's an example from the 2011 census (50% computer):
http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acs-24.pdf
Those 450 neuroscience graduates were probably all of them in the country (don't know, of course :) ).

I don't know if the off shoring will last forever. I thought I heard that the standard of living increases in the off shoring countries, and prices (wages) rise. Bringing it back to the US. Sure, I've heard they can switch to other underdeveloped countries, but there's only so much space on the Earth. The other issue is foreign workers coming to the US. We're not just a nation of European, African and Mexican descendents anymore.

I agree from the commenter about PE should be about lifelong fitness, and not run by army sergeant/coach type teachers, at least which I had growing up.

I'm also a runner, and something that's been lifelong. If I had only had team sports in PE, I would have quit doing anything after high school and gotten fat.

With the fact that foreign languages may help stave off Alzheimers, I don't know about eliminating them. It's good to know how another part of the world communicates. But, maybe not every kid should be required to do it. I'm actually learning a foreign language in middle age. I think it's good at any age.

Eliminating everything but subjects that enhance critical thinking and writing, I think would be detrimental. Creativity and open mindedness is also lacking in areas of business and science. You don't want human robots, but people who can solve problems and think creatively.

I always think of unions as mainly K-12. I don't think they're going away anytime soon. They continually cry that they are mistreated and underpaid (and since their salaries are public knowledge, I can't blame a lot of them). But, keeping the really good ones and supplementing courses with the online dream team would be ideal.

And YES, college campuses are bloated like country clubs. After getting my graduate degree, I went back some years later and they had a huge brand new fitness complex with indoor track and basketball courts, a huge new arena for basketball games. I said to myself, so THAT's where all my tuition went!

True, but...

The unfortunate reality behind fitness complexes and indoor tracks is that these are, for better or worse, some of the primary reasons students choose schools. Add the quality of dormitories and dinning halls also. Amenities sell schools to a large segment of the undergraduate population, particularly for less competitive state schools. In an era when state and federal monies are covering less and less (sometimes as little as 15% of a college's costs), administrators are desperate to attract students who will pay. Thus the non-education bon-bons.

I do wish Marty would tackle (or at least address) this aspect of higher education. Instead, I am afraid, he simply tirades.

Maybe the thing about this

Maybe the thing about this post is that it is very easy to be critical and make declarations such as "we should have transformative teachers," but very hard to actually prove and enact such ideas.

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Marty Nemko is a career and personal coach based in Oakland, Ca. and the author of 7 books. 
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