Thursday, September 19, 2013

Two Thoughts On The Improvements In Education

I have ranted before that conservatives simply have poor memories and/or do not recognise that the things they remember about education are unrepresentative samples.  It's a lot easier to be clearheaded when you had more than a few bad teachers, or were a difficult student in some way.  The cartoonist who draws xkcd has compiled an interesting collection of quotes from the Good Old Days, many of which overlap educational topics.  See also bethany's comment under "Are We Freer Now..."

I would add to this the great advantage of online communication between teacher and parent these days, which allows you to look up and see exactly what the assignments are and when they are (or were) due, and what your kid has done to date.  This allows parents to hold their children accountable, and teachers to provide visible evidence that they did too announce when the quizzes were coming and how much they counted.  I used to joke that my children had the amazing misfortune to have somehow gotten an unusually high percentage of the teachers in NH who routinely forgot to announce tests and assignments. And those were my high-responsibility, honor-roll sons.

There is simply no comparison between having that and not having it.  In fact, it is so powerful that it might unfairly penalise those students who were conscientious anyway, taking away an advantage that they worked hard to obtain.

I call all these programs Powerschool even though there are other versions, as that was the first one that we were exposed to.  It's as good a memory tag as any.  When someone starts to tell you how much better education was in the Good Old Days, think Powerschool.  It's just better.


Jeff said...

Technology marches on, making many things better, but culture does seem to be marching backwards, including in schools. My wife and I (born in the early 80s) are reading a history book by the Durants, and have been shocked at how much was skipped over in our "Social Studies" classes. The how of school has gotten better, but the what has gotten worse.

james said...

Unfortunately some of the xkcd quotes seem more prophetic than lacking perspective.