Posts Tagged ‘education’

Back to School

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

I am so close to getting out of the Army I can almost taste it. The next 27 days will probably fly by, but they can’t go fast enough.

I’m not going back to school right away, but at some point I’ll be taking advantage of my GI Bill. Pondering going back to college has got me thinking about my past experiences…

I went to Harding University after high school. It’s a small school, as Universities go, but it’s a good one. I especially liked the School of Business. The staff and faculty were talented and genuinely interested in the welfare of their students. Unfortunately, I was an Accounting major and most of the jobs in public accounting are in the NYC area. When I transferred to SUNYA, I exchanged a great education for a good one, but I gained better prospects for a job. I guess for some that’s what counts, but I often bemoan the loss of the small-school atmosphere.

So here I am looking to go back to school. The thing is, I already have a degree and I don’t have the desire to enter an intensive degree program. I’ve had a “career”; now I want a life. If I were enrolling today, I’d probably take a bunch of history classes, none of which would gain me a degree, but all of which would be on topics I’m interested in. I spend so much time studying ancient cultures and history, it’ll be nice to have someone (the US Government, no less) paying me to do what I love. Who cares if I get a degree out of it, I’ll enjoy the ride.

Of course, I only need 12 credit-hours for a Masters. I wonder if UW has a program in ancient near eastern history…

Target: Education

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

On 05 November 2001, The Buffalo News ran a story, entitled “Schools take first step in eliminating grades.” It read, in part:

The Niagara Falls School District in New York is phasing in a new evaluation process as it phases out the grading system. Report cards will show lists of skills in each subject area and indications of whether students have mastered those skills.

Eventually, school officials say, they want to do away with grade levels. Students will move ahead according to their abilities rather than their ages.

“The problem is, we’ve been locked into a system that was created years and years ago and doesn’t work today,” said superintendent Carmen Granto. “The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.”

Kudos to the Niagara Falls BOE. It has become obvious to me lately that such an approach would be infinitely better than the one most schools use today. Does it really makes sense for a child to be stuck doing every subject at the same level, when he may excel in one more than the others? Does it make sense for a child’s education to suffer in all other subjects because he has trouble in one? Does it make sense to track a child’s knowledge based on his age, rather than on whether or not he has mastered the requisite skills in a subject? I’d say the answer to all these questions in a resounding no.

To be fair, the current system isn’t bad. I went through public schools. I did ok. However, the current system is not the best. It has many flaws. It is geared toward the average student. Students who are above and below this average suffer, because they cannot get the education they need. This is especially true for the talented and gifted student – who often become bored when not challenged. Boredom can turn into apathy, or worse.