One thing that doesn’t bother me about lockdowns is that “a generation of kids will be deprived of education.” Whatever it is that schools provide, it’s definitely not education.

There’s a moment in Kai-fu Lee’s book where he talks about seeing a bunch of college students huddled around a street lamp after lights are turned off in their dorm, trying to squeeze in one more hour of learning. I don’t know if the story is true but I know such students exist because I was one of them. I also know that US schools don’t send these kids to college. They teach the worst learning practices possible that are guaranteed to produce a terrible result. So I’m thinking that a break from whatever those schools are doing will let kids discover their natural curiosity, which is already better than what they normally get.

I’m really not worried about kids in all this. On the first day of lockdown I was worried that Klara would hate it because she’d miss her friends. But she’s loving it.

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They really have gutted the schools, it’s unfortunate. I really did learn a lot in US schools, and it was very important to be able to get out of the house / not be under control of parents all the time, have a life of my own.

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If you’re going into the sciences, math, or computer science in college, don’t you learn a lot of what you need in school?

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Apparently not, because my university teaches a lot of things that would have been in middle and high school when I was a child. Like, at my university the most basic math course you could get was calculus. Here and now, that’s a junior level course and most students are learning fractions, percentages, quadratic equations, things like that. This is at a PhD granting institution. Science here in some schools is about the Loch Ness monster as dinosaur, and if the schools have something they call computer science I wouldn’t guarantee it doesn’t amount to learning how to put more apps on an iPhone. So — no.

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I’m with Z. I’m close with people at our Math and Stats department, and they are saying that they get students who are unprepared even on the most basic level. They sink enormous amounts of time and energy into remediation. It’s very very hard because students arrive without basic calculus skills. And yes, they report exactly what Z says about having to teach fractions and percentages. I was stunned.

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” They sink enormous amounts of time and energy into remediation”

This is the flip side of ‘a masters degree is the new high school diploma’… the only way to make that workable is to turn the masters degree into what a high school diploma used to be (and blanche earlier years of content).

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And what’s the result? In order to survive and have reasonable graduation numbers, the department is forced to try to bring over as many Chinese students as possible. It’s a vicious circle.

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Instead of that, they should treat better those soudent who are currently in maths and stats.

Not many of those have my patience. Many in my entourage told me to drop it out.

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…student…

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Wow.

One of my stepdaughters is finishing a private high school in Boston, the other finished the local public high school 2 years ago. They’ve started calculus earlier than I did in my so-so high school in Toronto, more than 2 decades ago, and seem to be covering more material. They also seem to be learning more physics and chemistry.

I guess it all comes down to money. The local high school is in a wealthy suburb of Boston, not a poor neighborhood in Toronto. And the private school is expensive, of course, although I remember reading about low quality of education in private schools on this blog. Maybe the Boston area just has better schools.

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Those are super-prep academies. People who enter college with calculus can get credit for it if they want it, and it’s not expected.

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Calculus is traditionally where college math starts in US. HS had algebra, geometry, algebra 2, and trigonometry, back in the day, and you couldn’t get college credit for those courses. My university (where I studied) had ONE remedial course, algebra 2 + trig, for people who hadn’t had those in HS but it didn’t count toward any major or any requirement, or toward graduation. And I’ve just looked it up and yes — majors and minors both start out with 2 semesters of calculus, then multivariable calculus, then linear algebra and differential equations. As always.

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