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Thread: Open Source Education

  1. #1
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    Open Source Education

    I had this loose idea just now (though somewhat part of an older idea I had)... Why don't we create an open source education system?

    What do I mean by open source? I mean somehow creating a type of educational system that is free and online that allows individuals to educate themselves at their own pace and have that education recognized in some way.

    We have the ability to do this with streaming video, websites, and volunteers.

    I was thinking something like...

    Person wants to learn a subject.
    Person goes and watches videos and reads book thus educating themselves.
    Person takes a test of some sort and sends it in to the system
    The test is then sent to vetted individuals that check it and relay pass-fail grade to system
    System then gives credits to person
    Person upon getting enough required credits and/or meeting requirements gets degree

    It sounds just like regular college, but makes it free and able to be spread over the world. That way if you want to learn say Japanese and you're in Africa you could learn it and get credit for it that you can say hey look i have a paper that says i can do it from a reliable system. Further it allows teachers that are able to teach higher level things to do both, teach, and work in their field while the lower level things can be handled by those trained in those area.

    It would be beneficial to everyone and be relatively cheap to do.

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    There is plenty of info available today to do just that. This suggestion doesn't sound like anything more than being self-taught except for the test bit at the end. The only problem with being self-taught is that the teacher doesn't know the subject. You can learn quite a bit on your own, but being able to ask questions and get answers makes learning far more efficient.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jfribrg View Post
    There is plenty of info available today to do just that. This suggestion doesn't sound like anything more than being self-taught except for the test bit at the end. The only problem with being self-taught is that the teacher doesn't know the subject. You can learn quite a bit on your own, but being able to ask questions and get answers makes learning far more efficient.
    That's why the internet is such a wonderful place. If we had a system precisely for self teaching that mattered to the common person it would improve the world 10 fold in my opinion.

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    This seems possible, a bit like MIT-OCW but with an actual instructor. It could pay for itself with advertising.

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    Certain 'factions' would seem to love this. Abandoning bricks and mortar schools
    is a dream for cheap people. These are the same people who don't know how to dovetail with society. And they wouldn't care if you or I dropped dead.
    We have schools so as to educate people for life in society. It's more than rote learning. You have to live with people. There are social skills involved here.
    Those who advocate the elimination of public schools think that medical science can be replaced with a box of band aids. Done!!!! And it didn't cost much.

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    danscope, strange thing...if i had something like this i'd probably be more social as it would allow me to get more job opportunities and free up more of my time and allow me to be better educated which would allow for more communication and thus more social.

    Arguing that something should be included in something just because it has that supposed side benefit in the current system misses the point of education. Humans are naturally social and will be so regardless of how they are taught. The mere act of educating them in the way we do is destructive to social building so your argument falls flat.


    Rue, not only would it pay for itself it would improve the efficiency of just about everything and if you open the database on who has what credits businesses could make specified searches while people could broaden their education and thus would bring more to the table for each individual job as well as meet he requirements for more jobs.

    Sorta like how stem cells are, broad based with the ability to fit into any system in a specialized manor.

    This system would also be better than the current degree program as degrees are more about showing length of time in college and education level...well with an open system you could see just how much work they have done overall.

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    The problem is accreditation. I don't mean in specific terms, but the problem of fulfilling it in general. Educational institutions are trusted because they are held accountable to their stakeholders. The stakeholders in real educational institutions are students, instructors, employers and higher education institutions that rely upon graduates, and alumni who want a certain level of distinction and demonstrable expertise. Then there are ancillary stakeholders like the locals who make money off the students.

    The inter-relation of all the stakeholders generally produce institutions that have means for demonstrating their ability to train students in various displines to a certain level of competence. An autodidact, a self-taught person, is the only person who can demonstrate his or her own level of competence, but most employers who would be stakeholders in their education have no means to verify such training without actually engaging in the expense of time and effort to measure an autodidact's fitness, or suffer the consequences for taking the word of someone who should be considered too biased to make an objective pronouncement. It's not enough to rely upon the honor system, as a person who is self-taught may not always know that they don't know something they should know, since they are not already experts. Hiring managers generally hire people based on referral, and with someone who is not already known via other employees, HR may decide to rely upon the word of someone or something they consider authoritative, e.g. a degree from an actual institution.

    If we want to encourage autodidacts, then perhaps a real institution will produce tests. But educational institutions make money with such tests by giving them to students who are going to pay tuition and fees. Or they might charge fees for the tests. Maybe you could lobby government to provide such a service as an extention or see if textbook writers might offer testing. I don't think it would get much traction unless there was a way to independently validate an autodidact's knowledge without a trusted authority, and an anonymously administered service is unlikely to be trusted.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ara Pacis View Post
    The problem is accreditation. I don't mean in specific terms, but the problem of fulfilling it in general. Educational institutions are trusted because they are held accountable to their stakeholders. The stakeholders in real educational institutions are students, instructors, employers and higher education institutions that rely upon graduates, and alumni who want a certain level of distinction and demonstrable expertise. Then there are ancillary stakeholders like the locals who make money off the students.

    The inter-relation of all the stakeholders generally produce institutions that have means for demonstrating their ability to train students in various displines to a certain level of competence. An autodidact, a self-taught person, is the only person who can demonstrate his or her own level of competence, but most employers who would be stakeholders in their education have no means to verify such training without actually engaging in the expense of time and effort to measure an autodidact's fitness, or suffer the consequences for taking the word of someone who should be considered too biased to make an objective pronouncement. It's not enough to rely upon the honor system, as a person who is self-taught may not always know that they don't know something they should know, since they are not already experts. Hiring managers generally hire people based on referral, and with someone who is not already known via other employees, HR may decide to rely upon the word of someone or something they consider authoritative, e.g. a degree from an actual institution.

    If we want to encourage autodidacts, then perhaps a real institution will produce tests. But educational institutions make money with such tests by giving them to students who are going to pay tuition and fees. Or they might charge fees for the tests. Maybe you could lobby government to provide such a service as an extention or see if textbook writers might offer testing. I don't think it would get much traction unless there was a way to independently validate an autodidact's knowledge without a trusted authority, and an anonymously administered service is unlikely to be trusted.
    That is the problem and that is why there needs to be a way to accredit them. I am certain there is a way that I am not aware of that would fulfill this purpose.

    What I am suggesting a evolution of the current system, not tossing it out.

    What needs to be developed is a way that the educated side can be vetted and be considered able to grade a paper/test. The general fact question can be done via digital tests, but papers and such I would think that having the paper go out to several "volunteer educators" in that area of study and then having them give their say and then having a party take the comments and grades of the volunteers and merge them into one in some way would be the best way to do it...

    As far as free goes...This system would be much more efficient cost wise and more beneficial in the scope of the overall. Free would mean more people are able to get more education and with more education they would be able to get better jobs that they like which would make them more productive and earn more. The more they earn the more money they have to spend and the more money they have to spend the better businesses and the economy does.

    So in a business sense it lowers expenses and raises net profit. So everyone benefits from such a change.

  9. #9
    Some courses is good to be in the classroom with the one teaching so you can ask direct questions and get answers right away.
    Courses over the net would be good for things how to use certain software and a lot of first year college courses.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Durakken View Post
    As far as free goes...This system would be much more efficient cost wise and more beneficial in the scope of the overall. Free would mean more people are able to get more education and with more education they would be able to get better jobs that they like which would make them more productive and earn more. The more they earn the more money they have to spend and the more money they have to spend the better businesses and the economy does.

    So in a business sense it lowers expenses and raises net profit. So everyone benefits from such a change.
    People can already get an education for free at libraries. It's the validation that will cost them.

    By the way, the economy can't be modelled so simply. Changes in employee capabilities affect competition for jobs, which affects compensation. If everyone in the world was a physicist, we should have garbage men with PhDs.
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidlpf View Post
    Some courses is good to be in the classroom with the one teaching so you can ask direct questions and get answers right away.
    Courses over the net would be good for things how to use certain software and a lot of first year college courses.
    I certainly agree with you-- but I it seems to me -- though--that open-source genre of education fits better with those individuals who have the educational sophistication as well as maturity to know how to appreciate it. The type of maturity that comes from previous experience in traditional settings-- I would tend to say.

    As an off-tangent example-- I use a free version of Unix-- on my PC but it has come at a cost of time, a certain amount of freedom and conformity. I learned MS 3.1, 95, NT, etc, ... (and I am aware that Mr Gates did for the most part base the MS O/S on Unix...).... but does anyone believe that an open source education movement could be truly appreciated by all.

    IMHO-- there is always someone who wants to profit on someone else's lack of ( for lack of a better word )--education.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Durakken View Post
    danscope, strange thing...if i had something like this i'd probably be more social as it would allow me to get more job opportunities and free up more of my time and allow me to be better educated which would allow for more communication and thus more social.
    While Dan doesn't really express what I'm thinking, he does have a good point. It's not so much the socialization and communication that is where the social aspects of college come in, it's more of the being able to fit into a culture where demands are placed on you.

    Where do you pick up the familiarity of deadlines? Goal oriented research? Listening to lectures? Following standards?
    These things (I'm sure there's more) are things that are common in the "real" world and necessary for good advancement in life.

    Besides, who decides what the criteria of testing is, and how do those standards get set? Who pays for that administration and testing?

    Besides, as an employer (I've been in that position a few times), I'm going to hire the person I know can get something done within a reasonable time, rather than someone that I have no clue how long it takes them to complete. A structured college degree gives me that confidence. If I looked at someone who just "tested" out of something, then I have no clue if that person might take 4 times longer than the average person.

    Quote Originally Posted by Durakken View Post
    This system would also be better than the current degree program as degrees are more about showing length of time in college and education level...well with an open system you could see just how much work they have done overall.
    I disagree, because a college degree has all the documentation on how much work they have done during that length of time.

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    Yes, you percieved my response well. It is the concept of community as well as the one-on -one interaction and direct behavior modification which can never be replaced in our educational system by a static on line tool.
    There are those who wish to chisel the system away and replace it with the internet. They know nothing of education.
    I don't see any country in western civilization abandoning it's responsibility to educate it's children thoroughly and give them the tools to shape a
    better future for everyone. Those tools give them the ability to learn well.
    When they go into the real world, they must needs be able to learn on the job quickly. Those who go into business must needs learn even faster.
    For those who have not the advantage of a well rounded education, their life and chances are dim. And it is not only the education these children get, but the opportunity to learn how to educate for themselves in that they soon enough will be parents of their own children. ........PARENTS ARE THE PRIMARY EDUCATORS !!
    This is a well known truth. But it is difficult to do this job .
    Education does this as no other agent can. It is a luxury we pay for.
    Those who don't understand that missed a great deal in philosophy.
    For them, it is more like "I've got mine." Those are a small and distinctly
    philosophically poor minority.
    Civilization is better than that. Really.
    Let's look at another community.... the US Navy ( and other navies as well).
    Do they just shanghai kids and throw them on a vessel to slave in ignorance? Obviuously no. Emphatically no. You would find that our navy
    is most dedicated to education and collective advancement for the safety and effective performance of the community as a whole and the advancement and carreer satisfaction of the individual who applies himself and takes advantage of the system which offers the best technical education available. They spend great time, money and effort to do so. It Pays. So does public education. Really.

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    We have something like that already over here called the Open University, it is free for those on low incomes it is open to everyone, it isn't that expensive unless you require certain qualifications prior to gaining a recognised degree. You have a tutor allocated to you for advice.
    The real art of conversation is not only saying the right thing at the right moment but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the most tempting moment. -- unknown

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    And the way it works covers most of the objections, as a course has a set time period to complete and there are standard tests during that period as well as exams at the end.

    The Open University is accredited in the UK as a full university, actually it's Britain's largest university based on attending students.

    The main thing that's missing is attending lectures and it's fairly few actual work situations where that's a relevant skill.

    The bit missing is that it's not free, though tuition is heavily subsidized by the government, something I found out when I took a couple of courses and wasn't covered (because I'm not British).
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    It isn't free to everyone that includes those on a high income to afford it. But those on a benefit or have children and on a low income. I have checked it out.
    The real art of conversation is not only saying the right thing at the right moment but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the most tempting moment. -- unknown

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    The collegiate academic situation is far different from grade school.
    Once a person has graduated from high school, they should be ready to push themselves. In college, there is no one looking over your shoulder to see if you have done your homework. You pays your monies and you win or lose based on performance. Fail too often and you are invited out of the college.
    On line university gives the logistic advantage to someone who must keep his day job, and cannot attend college 1200 miles away at exhorbitant fees..... books, dorms, etc etc . Online, one can take care of children and household and still have access to advanced education. That is what it is for.
    The net is an extraordinary source of specialized information conveniently available to the individual. It remains to be seen how much you have to pay
    for it, and how well it will be respected if you are trying to 'sell your degree'.
    For the person who simply wants the information, the net remains his oyster
    and the degree is not required.
    It's a whole new library.

    Dan
    Last edited by danscope; 2009-Oct-17 at 06:28 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HenrikOlsen View Post
    The main thing that's missing is attending lectures and it's fairly few actual work situations where that's a relevant skill.
    Most of the jobs I've had involved meetings skills.
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    It sounds like a good idea on paper; in theory I'd support it. But, it runs into a few potential problems:

    1.) Even "free", the cost to develop and maintain that infrastructure--in terms of teachers, materials, hardware/software, power grids, and so forth--for the largest percentage of people would be formidable.

    2.) Though (according to Wiki) world literacy is about 80%, the remainder still represent some one and a quarter billion illiterate people, strongly concentrated among poorer countries, and among them, women. These are the people who could use it most, yet who have the least ability to use it. As described, I think it would only help people who already have a reasonable access to higher education.

    3.) Though I've never been a big fan of Maslow's hierarchy, this is a case in which I think the key point of satisfying lower interests and needs (food, security, economic stability) trumps the need for higher education, which usually requires not only stability, but a decent amount of free time, both at a premium in many parts of the world (even the more literate ones).

    In short, though it's a good idea, I think the expansion of education globally is more important, a program that would be best implemented with a bottom-up approach, though I apologize if I've misread your post or the intent behind it (e.g., if you were talking about developed nations to begin with).

    Re Ara Pacis:
    I don't think it would get much traction unless there was a way to independently validate an autodidact's knowledge without a trusted authority, and an anonymously administered service is unlikely to be trusted.

    Key point...

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    The thing is if you are going to do this, even if you develop it for one country the shear nature of the system makes it worldwide.

    As far as costs. Running this would cost roughly the same amount or less and have a greater amount than the system we run now.

    Let's limit this down to the US and say that there are 100m people that are in some way being educated right now. I would argue that at least half of the people in that 100 mil are being overlooked as fast or slow and are getting a worse education than they could. (2/3 would be a more logical ratio though) So 50million students are either over achievers and are being held back or are under achievers and can't keep up for some reason, whether that is because they didn't understand one thing and that throws them off or they just take a lot longer to understand or they don't and won't.

    So in the "fast" learning camp we have people that are disenchanted with education and end up not contributing due to them not gaining the knowledge that they could use, people that just push on through a system not designed for them and overall lowers their knowledge cap, or people that quit their system learn on their own and educate themselves, but don't get credit and could have been so much better with people they could look to for help.

    This is 25+% of all students that are being underutilized that have the passion to make a difference and have the ability to naturally but we aren't nurturing it and it is reducing the overall ability of these people.

    these people don't need as much looking after and often take up little of the teacher's time, but in some cases they are actually a hindrance to the system itself because they are overly insightful and disrupt the class.

    On the other hand we have under achievers who need more attention or just need to have more time to with the presented material which can't be done with the regular classes so they slip further and further behind and miss out on the understanding of many subjects. These guys are a hindrance due to interrupting the class with question that others understand and or simply take up a lot of time from the teacher that could be spent on the mediocre students.

    These people need more looking after in the long run, but they also need more time or more information usually. Of course there are a few that just wouldn't get it no matter what and neither system will work in that case so who cares?

    So what we are doing is wasting 50% of our children potential or more because those 50% hinder the other 50% as well and the whole correct ration might be 2/3 which in that case we are probably wasting something like 70-80% of the potential but meh.

    Now if you were to take those students out to the side and allow them to learn in this method you cut all those problems save for then you have not enough teachers, but then look at what we have done... we have created a system where people are going to learn and if you don't think people that are capable of explaining information to these other people won't go there then you are missing what would be happening. Further teachers would have more time on their hands and if you make it part of regular teaching they'd be given probably equal or less work overall due to the fact that slow people and fast people both don't need as much time in this system because it is at their own pace so the fast person will likely ask few question and the slow person will ask lots but further in between.

    As far as funding such a system... all the staff is already there. The only problem would be the system which wouldn't be that expensive to develop in comparison and the servers which even if you paid a monthly fee for would still be extremely cheap.

    Further more with this system it is assume that plenty of qualified people would contribute, not only because they would be there learning themselves, but because most people are good natured and because of this questions that might be hard for a teacher to teach would be answer more efficiently by more qualified people and from different viewpoints and in different ways.

    Like it is always said, "people learn differently" if we apply this we allow all the people that are willing and able with all different ways of learning and teaching to teach all the people that are will and able with all different ways of learning and allow those who should be credited, regardless of how they came to know something with the abilities that they have rather than dismissing them and losing their potential from the system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ara Pacis View Post
    Most of the jobs I've had involved meetings skills.
    I consider meetings and lectures to be vastly different in the skills needed, for one, in meetings you have to be able to speak yourself.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Durakken View Post
    [snip]
    Wait, children? You're proposing that a 5-year-old should teach him/herself? Because that's effectively what someone does in an online class. The teacher is there, but the student has to take responsibility, try to understand the material on their own, and reach out for help on their own. (I speak from experience here, and this is exactly how the system you propose would have to work.) I don't know that I would even let a 14-year-old learn this way. (I speak from experience here, too, since I was giving myself D's on algebra homework that I was stuck learning by myself at age 13.)

    There may be issues with the current education system, but your system is not appropriate for children. It could work for post-secondary education (as in the Open University), but not earlier than that.

    However, the infrastructure needed for what you propose in that post would be very expensive, no matter the education level. Teaching, grading, and communicating with students takes a lot of time. For the number of students that you want to use this system, it's going to take a moderate number of people a lot of time to act as teachers or it's going to take a whole lot of people with a limited amount of time to act as teachers. Since you're asking these people to teach for free, it's the latter, and you won't be able to find the manpower for a number of topics. This open source system won't reduce the overhead cost significantly either, considering all of the inner workings that have to run smoothly. There are legitimate reasons why post-secondary education costs a lot.

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    Tobin, flat out you are wrong. Most kids are more comfortable doing exactly what you are saying they aren't than there are kids that are comfortable with the current system and quite frankly I find it highly insulting that you think that children aren't capable of learning in this method especially when I know I could and did for a lot of what I learned pre-highschool and I wouldn't consider myself special AND the thing that you are saying they can't do... IT IS MORE NATURAL TO DO IT THE WAY I AM PROPOSING.

    The only reason people think it's not natural or a bad idea is because the modern education system is ingrained into their minds as a good system. The natural way people learn is to seek it on their own at their own pace.

    There are two problems with learning on your own... you often get distracted by other things that look like they are interesting or that they fit with what you want to know. A little guidance and in this area, which isnt overly strict as it is in the current system solves this.

    The other problem is credit and this solves that as well.

    As far as your comments about expenses go... no, I explained why that is bunk.


    Most of the jobs I've had involved meetings skills.
    I meant to cover this in my last post. This is another misinformed idea. The kids that would benefit the most from what I am proposing are more or less outcasts in the current system and there is no social education going on that you are suggesting... On the other hand things such as forums and games which are stupidly being called antisocial are very social. They may not be the same social customs and the physical parts may be lacking a little, though that is changing, but they are social. If they aren't then i'd like to know what you call talking with groups of people... and not just small groups but groups that are in the thousands or millions.



    I am not saying to take apart the current system. I am saying construct this new system so everyone has an option to do it this way or that and not to mention this system would even help out those who want to remain in the current system as well.

    There is no downside to something like what I am proposing and it really boggles my mind that people can be so resistant to an idea that benefits everyone.

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    The reason we won't employ this scheme is that we love our children.

    Now, if you want to talk about parallel tutoring, well.... there may well be a
    place for this. Helping students brush up and catch up with things like nomenclature in algebra and geometry, online video presentations of history,
    Power point demonstrations of geography, science, chemistry. Yes, I can see these things brought on to supplement the classroom, and serving our educational community well. No question. And it will be done for free,...
    free access to this. Everyone is well served.
    But don't for a minute think we will abandon our children's education
    and substitute a TV. Not gonna happen. Wouldn't be prudent.

    Dan

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    Quote Originally Posted by HenrikOlsen View Post
    I consider meetings and lectures to be vastly different in the skills needed, for one, in meetings you have to be able to speak yourself.
    I've been in meetings that were more like lectures than seminars. It involves the ability to take notes while listening and thinking ahead for what to the information as well as thining of questions to ask during Q&A.
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    The reason we won't employ this scheme is that we love our children.

    Now, if you want to talk about parallel tutoring, well.... there may well be a
    place for this. Helping students brush up and catch up with things like nomenclature in algebra and geometry, online video presentations of history,
    Power point demonstrations of geography, science, chemistry. Yes, I can see these things brought on to supplement the classroom, and serving our educational community well. No question. And it will be done for free,...
    free access to this. Everyone is well served.
    But don't for a minute think we will abandon our children's education
    and substitute a TV. Not gonna happen. Wouldn't be prudent.

    Dan
    Dan I have to ask if you have watched the TED conference videos on youtube.

    Here's one for example...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPQVi...e=channel_page

    You should go and watch them.

    Also, nice try at an emotional plea, which is a logical fallacy and not to mention it's wrong. You love your children so you are limiting their education? That sounds off. Think about it.

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    No one puts limits on education. If you think your 5th grader is capable of quadratic equations, push him. You are the one responsible for your child.
    No question. Accelerated learning is a separate reality for a few. And it remains a separate debate.
    And I shall view your youtube link.
    Best regards,
    Dan

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    Quote Originally Posted by danscope View Post
    No one puts limits on education. If you think your 5th grader is capable of quadratic equations, push him. You are the one responsible for your child.
    No question. Accelerated learning is a separate reality for a few. And it remains a separate debate.
    And I shall view your youtube link.
    Best regards,
    Dan
    That doesn't work for most.
    Parents supposedly don't have time.
    Schools don't like to advance students beyond a grade due to social awkwardness.
    Some people are better in one area and not in others that they need to take say english at a lower level and math at a higher level.

    This type of thing is not supported in any way by our system.

    An average system created for average students results in an average future. We should strive for excellence both in the students and in the system.

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    R.I. USA
    Posts
    10,014
    You appear to have quite a sterile and clinical view of education. The idea of parents that don't have time for their children's education is the shabbiest concept in western civilization. YOU MAKE TIME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!\
    No question. Those who make time and use it well have a much better
    handle on raising children and have a better relationship throughout life.
    These children tend to do well. And they tend to not be boomerangs.
    There can be no compensation for a good childhood and parents who do there job. I pray for those who must try to be that. They are pressed for much.
    An electronic village will not be any substitue for The Family together with
    their school and community. And that's a fact.

  30. #30
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    798
    You missed the sarcasm bit in there. I think parents that can't make time for their kids should have their kids taken away... but then I also think that the family system is something that should go away.

    As far as replacement. I am not saying get rid of the family or the community but rather expand it through the technology that we have.

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