Re: The Education Function

Michael Lorrey (
Tue, 08 Dec 1998 08:49:27 -0500

Damien R. Sullivan wrote:

> >
> >
> > The articles refers to the education functions of Sweden, the Netherlands
> (The US is "far behind" them.)
> > A well-educated populace is generally a more rational populace. So that's
> > my tie-in to the list's subject matter. :)
> > Doug Bailey
> On Dec 5, 2:04pm, Terry Donaghe wrote:
> > Don't those countries (Sweden, the Netherlands) have socialist
> > governments? I couldn't consider socialism to be particularly
> > rational...
> On Dec 6, 6:38am, Terry Donaghe wrote:
> > As long as we in the US continue to demand government provided
> > schools, our education system will remain poor. The function of our
> On Dec 7, 5:16am, Terry Donaghe wrote:
> > Remember, the free market ALWAYS provides better solutions to problems
> > than the government.
> And finally:
> On Dec 5, 11:37pm, Spike Jones wrote:
> > the u.s. must eventually face the hard truth on how damaging it is
> > to our education system to hold to certain politically correct notions.
> (talks about evolution vs. creationism.)
> Indeed.
> Let's see. Sweden and the Netherlands have better educational systems. They
> are also more socialist in general, and their schools are at least as
> socialized as ours. Obviously any AI with minimal pre-conceptions would
> have to conclude that the problem with US education is that we have too much
> government.
> Or maybe it would conclude that this thread has shown a certain amount of
> libertarian political correctness.

I quote the following from the actual page that is listed at the top of this message:

> Too Much to Absorb
> One of the key findings after an analysis of more
> than 1,500 textbook and curricula frameworks
> from about 50 countries was that Americans tried
> to teach too much, Schmidt said in a telephone
> interview.
> For example, U.S. math textbooks for 8th
> graders cover about 35 topics compared to an
> average of seven in Germany and Japan, he said.
> U.S. curricula also covered more topics than in
> those of virtually all other TIMSS countries.
> This can be a problem because it gives
> teachers little time to spend on each topic and
> textbooks often repeat familiar ones, Schmidt
> explained. This fails to challenge students and
> causes them to lose interest.
> “This is the mile-wide, inch-deep curriculum
> we are talking about,” he said.
> However, the study also showed U.S.
> students did not start off at the bottom of the
> educational ladder, even though they dropped
> down quickly.
So we are trying to teach too much, eh? I can understand the repetition of familiar topics. I remember that most math teachers would spend the entire first quarter of the year reviewing what the kids were supposed to learn the previous year.

The problem as I see it is that teachers are to reticent to hold poor students back, and far far too reticent to advance smart students forward ahead of schedule. As are parents. We are far too concerned about developing the social skills of students than about what they are actually learning in classes. Kids have no real need to know the people they are in primary and secondary school with that well. Most of the kids I went to school with at that age I have not seen in ten years, nor would I care to see most of them.