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Blobman's avatar

School system destined to blow up the brains of generations to come?

Asked by Blobman (516points) March 6th, 2012

Throughout history humanity has gained more and more knowledge. Each generation has had to learn things that the previous generation didn’t. For instance, fifty years ago sixteen year-olds weren’t required to learn chemistry in the detail that they are now. But as greater advances are made, more and more knowledge is required to advance any further. How will this play out in the future? Will there come a time when students will have to remain in school longer in order to obtain an understanding of the current science and all that is required to grasp that current science?

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11 Answers

jerv's avatar

We don’t even need to know basic math any longer. We are in decline, and I predict that we will see technology slow as the kids of today become the fry cooks of tomorrow.

cookieman's avatar

It seems to me that theories, skills, and practices are simply being absorbed at a younger age thus allowing for more advanced learning in middle and high school.

My daughter is on her third year of Spanish in third grade. I didn’t take a language until seventh grade and only took it for two years.

She just started algebra in third grade. I didn’t start it until seventh.

Then there are subjects that have almost become intuitive. I had to learn about computers, starting in tenth grade. She simply “knows” about computers almost through osmosis.

Also, certain skills (slide rule, drawing compass) go the way of the dinosaur.

tom_g's avatar

@Blobman: “Will there come a time when students will have to remain in school longer in order to obtain an understanding of the current science and all that is required to grasp that current science?”

First, as you probably know, science education in public schools is under attack in the U.S. We have to address this. Spending more time “teaching the controversy” or other unscientific concepts in science classes isn’t going to improve things.

Second, do you expect students to graduate high school as functioning scientists? I’m under the impression that the best high school science courses provide an understanding of what science is – not merely memorize facts that have been discovered by science. It works best, in my opinion, if high school science can help spark an interest and passion in science.

The threats to education (as I see them) are really coming from efforts around testing. Here in Massachusetts we have MCAS. Students lose a ton of time studying to take a test, rather than really learning how to think and developing passion for learning.

john65pennington's avatar

I think your question all depends on where you live.

I will agree, that fifty years ago, we were not required to take chemistry. But, today, I wish that had been a reuirement.

What you are learning today, is far advanced from what was taught to us years ago and rightly so.

Everything changes and in order to keep up, school’s curriculum must also change with the times. Lets give the caveman days as an example. About the only thing a caveman learned was how to survive and to club his woman over the head. Most of us do not do this today. This is contributed to future education and changes.

Grab what education you can. For tomorrow, you may be answering this same question from a total stranger.

LuckyGuy's avatar

We do not need to know the entire history and development of every science and technology. We only need to know how to use the science. Look at your computer. if you are like most people you don’t really understand completely how the internet works, how your keyboard sends data, how the operating system and CPU interpret the keystrokes, and, yet, here you are.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

You have heard the saying “the dumbing down of America.” I believe it. Up to now each generation built on what the last had learned, but now we are on the decline. I work at a high school, and did you know that this generation doesn’t even know how to write (they print)? They don’t know basic geography and are totally oblivious to history. I had to explain to a group of them what “prohibition” was. It’s sad! But then, look at the TV shows that are on. Adult cartoons that are raunchy and reality TV that follows every move some dumb family makes – why would anyone care about what they have for dinner, but apparently a lot of people do. I have seen the games the teens play on their myriad of devices. Really, it entertains them for hours to swirl colors around on their screen? Or to slingshot birds at pigs? I don’t get it. I would have to be bored out of my mind to enjoy that.

Ron_C's avatar

Public schools seem to come in two types, one is as a warehouse to keep kids off the street until they are old enough to be jailed and the other challenges kids, teaches language, science and art in a way that engages. What we need is more of the latter and ways to identify and fix the former. Children are born with an amazing ability to learn and learning must be started at an early age. I don’t think that schools can “over teach” kids but they can certainly undermine education.

jerv's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt I find those games to be a nice break from having to think all day. The problem is that some people don’t want to think at all because it’s too much effort, so they do nothing but mindless entertainment.

@Ron_C Actually, schools try to give us the skills required to be obedient sheeple. True education leads to discontent that threatens status quo, so some consider it better for kids to remain ignorant.

Ron_C's avatar

@jerv “schools try to give us the skills required to be obedient sheeple” in many cases that’s true. My experience is that, in small towns like mine, public schools really try to educate and teach children to think. We still have art, language, and music and a school board that is concerned with education and not personal power and agenda.

gasman's avatar

@Blobman “fifty years ago sixteen year-olds weren’t required to learn chemistry in the detail that they are now”. Not in my experience. That would be 1962. In 1965 I took 10th grade chemistry, then AP chem two years later in 12th grade—along with tons of other kids—as part of the science curriculum at my public high school in suburban Chicago. I can tell you that the textbooks and curriculum were already very old. I’ve seen modern basic chemistry exams and they haven’t changed much in 50 years. Maybe 100 years ago…

Yes there is always more to know in every subject, and it takes decades to filter down to the pre-college teaching level, but it happens eventually. Meanwhile advances lead to a better top-down perspective with a view to logically organizing information, so educators can still squeeze one subject into one school year, more-or-less covering the breadth and depth of the field under study even as individual topics come & go over the years as the field evolves.

jerv's avatar

@Ron_C I’m glad I grew up in a small town!

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