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Lallante
August 14 2012, 05:28:24 PM
Private Schools, namely schools in a system which provides for free schooling which cost parents money, are controversial.

I fully intend on sending my kids to a private school and will be able to afford to do so, but most people can't so afford.

I have lots of friends who intend to send their kids to state schools on principle. I see this as sacrificing your childrens' future at the altar of your own pseudo-political beliefs.


1. Does private school generally represent a "better" education?

2. Does it matter that money can buy you a better education?

3. What will you do / have you done / would you do if you could afford it?

4. How would you reform the system, if at all?

Seamus
August 14 2012, 05:32:09 PM
went to grammar mainly, but also state and private, and on that experience i reckon try and get ur kids into a grammar school first, if they dont manage it, go private. Grammars give good edumacation, without the snobbery (most) privates have, which will also have a bad effect on a kid. grammars>private>state.

As to the controversy, the worlds unfair, :dealwithit:

KathDougans
August 14 2012, 06:02:52 PM
I have lots of friends who intend to send their kids to state schools on principle. I see this as sacrificing your childrens' future at the altar of your own pseudo-political beliefs.


Out of interest, are these people willing to pay more for a house in the catchment area of a "good" school ?



1. Does private school generally represent a "better" education?
2. Does it matter that money can buy you a better education?
3. What will you do / have you done / would you do if you could afford it?
4. How would you reform the system, if at all?

1. Yes, in many ways. One such way is that it usually means there are fewer pupils with absolutely no interest in learning, and are only there to avoid the truant officer. This promotes an environment where pupils interested in learning can actually learn things.
Another way is a generally smaller class size, which will help pupils who are having difficulty, reducing the amount of time they stare out the window out of frustration.

2. money has always bought a better education, overtly or covertly. A more expensive house with enough rooms that children can have their own room instead of sharing, means they can get their homework done in peace.

3. Daughter went to state school, I took the time to talk to her about her day, what she thought about things, basically took an interest, encouraged her to have ideas and opinions about things, and to look things up.
If it was affordable, I think I might have looked at private school, so that she could meet people from different social backgrounds to our own.

4. Smaller class sizes, which would of course be expensive. When a lesson lasts ~45 minutes, in a class of 30, then that's 90 seconds of individual attention, less when there's a disruptive element.

Ralara
August 14 2012, 06:05:11 PM
Private Schools, namely schools in a system which provides for free schooling which cost parents money, are controversial.

I fully intend on sending my kids to a private school and will be able to afford to do so, but most people can't so afford.

I have lots of friends who intend to send their kids to state schools on principle. I see this as sacrificing your childrens' future at the altar of your own pseudo-political beliefs.


1. Does private school generally represent a "better" education?

2. Does it matter that money can buy you a better education?

3. What will you do / have you done / would you do if you could afford it?

4. How would you reform the system, if at all?

1) Yes
2) Yes
3) Yes
4) I have no idea.

BUT

I don't get the idea that private schools should be somehow "banned". It's some sort of bizarre mentality along the lines of "if my kids can't have it, no one's can".


EDIT: State 4-7, Private 8-15/16, State 16-20

Tafkat
August 14 2012, 06:07:41 PM
I don't think it makes much sense to ask whether private schools generally offer a better education (at least on this forum) because very few people have attended or considered more than a few schools and so will have rather biased and unrepresentative views of the two systems. With that said, my rather uninformed and probably very biased opinion is that most private schools offer a better education and general environment than the bad state schools but that the difference becomes increasingly small (and rapidly approaches zero) as school quality increases. The better private schools will however typically have better provision for 'worthy' extracurricular activities than even the best state schools.

As written, your second question kind of presupposes that the first was answered in the affirmative, but yes, I think it does matter and that it would be best for society as a whole if the opportunities available to children were as independent as possible of their parents means and circumstances. That isn't going to happen any time soon, though.

If I had kids, I'd send them to a good state school if one were available nearby. If the only available state options were shitty, I'd probably go private.

If made supreme dictator for life, I would at the very least eliminate the charitable status of private schools, and probably tax them heavily to boot.

Lallante
August 14 2012, 06:10:25 PM
I suppose the arguement is that a level playing field will bring up the standard of education experienced by those who, though intelligent (potentially), are unable to afford private education.

Thats pretty obviously true, in that most parents willing to shell out money for little Tarquin's education will probably be more involved in their schooling, and pointy-elbowed proactive parents definitely improve a school. Similarly intelligent kids in class help bring up the average kids due to competition, aspiration etc.

Frug
August 14 2012, 06:22:10 PM
I don't get the idea that private schools should be somehow "banned". It's some sort of bizarre mentality along the lines of "if my kids can't have it, no one's can".
Actually one obvious argument is similar to that used regarding private vs public health care. Good teachers will move to private schools, thus reducing the quality of the public system. Not sure how true that is, or if something as simple as a salary cap would work.


I don't think it makes much sense to ask whether private schools generally offer a better education (at least on this forum) because very few people have attended or considered more than a few schools and so will have rather biased and unrepresentative views of the two systems. With that said, my rather uninformed and probably very biased opinion is that most private schools offer a better education and general environment than the bad state schools but that the difference becomes increasingly small (and rapidly approaches zero) as school quality increases. The better private schools will however typically have better provision for 'worthy' extracurricular activities than even the best state schools.

As written, your second question kind of presupposes that the first was answered in the affirmative, but yes, I think it does matter and that it would be best for society as a whole if the opportunities available to children were as independent as possible of their parents means and circumstances. That isn't going to happen any time soon, though.

If I had kids, I'd send them to a good state school if one were available nearby. If the only available state options were shitty, I'd probably go private.

If made supreme dictator for life, I would at the very least eliminate the charitable status of private schools, and probably tax them heavily to boot. My views exactly.

Regarding taxing them, we had the opposite proposal made here recently. The argument was that sending your kids to private schools lessens the burden on public schools, thus you should be reimbursed/encouraged to send your kids to private schools via tax returns. The mayor who ran on that failed horribly, mainly because of public reaction to his support of this. I'm not sure where I stand, because if you do tax the shit out of them you also make it even harder for medium/low income families to get in. Perhaps a way of specifically helping those kids get in would work.

What I don't like about many private schools is that, around here, they tend to be religious. Catholic being the bulk of them, but also jewish schools. Not fond of the idea of wasting money and time indoctrinating children with religion.

Ralara
August 14 2012, 06:34:55 PM
Actually one obvious argument is similar to that used regarding private vs public health care. Good teachers will move to private schools, thus reducing the quality of the public system. Not sure how true that is, or if something as simple as a salary cap would work.

Then society should pay the teachers more who work in public schools.

Frug
August 14 2012, 06:46:17 PM
Actually one obvious argument is similar to that used regarding private vs public health care. Good teachers will move to private schools, thus reducing the quality of the public system. Not sure how true that is, or if something as simple as a salary cap would work.

Then society should pay the teachers more who work in public schools.

I'm not sure that we can compete with the cashola rich people can plunk down for their kids. That's why I suggested a salary cap of some kind.

Me
August 15 2012, 12:46:38 AM
1. Yes, by a lot.

2. No, that is a good thing.

3. Privately educated, any children I have will be privately educated.

4. People get too up in arms about bringing down the top rather than bringing up the bottom. Leave private schooling for those that can afford it (in Canberra where I was brought up that was everyone who's parents had full time work, it'd be close to 50/50 private/public secondary schools here). Public schools are dire places, my mother used to teach in them before getting work in a private school and from her experience and from what I've seen when I went into her work you'd never send you kids there if you had any other option. Apathetic teachers, open drug dealing and use, violence against teachers and students.

The old adage of "those that can, do, and those that can't, teach" is half the problem. Aside from the few that always wanted to be a teacher most teachers are in it for the decent pay, short hours and crazy amount of holidays. Leave private schools be since they are the only part of the education system close to doing it right and have reforms of the public schools. Get rid of the shit teachers, get rid of the shit students and make them closer to private schools.

Salary caps are bad. The best (or in teaching's case: the competent) should get the chance to be paid more. Teachers get pretty good pay when you consider the ~12 weeks holiday they get a year, how much salary would you need to sacrifice to get that in your current job? Comparing salary numbers with a 9-5 office job with 4 weeks holidays a year will always be flawed.

Zeekar
August 15 2012, 12:54:20 AM
Comparing how much work teachers do after school hours should also be taken in consideration. Their jobs do not simply end when they exit the classroom at least for most.

As to answer Lallantes questions:

1) In most part of the world that is true
2) Its a shit situation where only the rich get the best part of everything and not the capable ones
3) In the current situation and if I lived in a part of the world where private education would be better ( it really isnt here) I would send my kid to a private school
4) I have no clue how to solve it.

Me
August 15 2012, 01:03:33 AM
Comparing how much work teachers do after school hours should also be taken in consideration. Their jobs do not simply end when they exit the classroom at least for most.

My Mum teaches top level maths so probably one of the most work intensive subjects. Around assessment times she's really busy marking and preparing assignments late into the night but outside of that there's no real after hours stuff.

Zeekar
August 15 2012, 01:11:42 AM
Ugh math teachers are by my experience one of the most lazy ones in existence. Its a work intensive subject for the students but definitely not for the teachers. In my relative limited experience with some teachers amount of work goes by this:

Teachers working with disabled/learning disability kids > physics/chemistry/biology teachers > language / math teachers

They all have quite large work load around assessment times but most math teachers simply have a huge stack of preped assignments and then randomize the tests. Correcting them is also a lot easier then for example physics or chemistry exams at least in my experience with tutoring.

elmicker
August 15 2012, 01:16:16 AM
1. Does private school generally represent a "better" education?

Yes, but probably not a better value education, particularly for pupils who are already exceptional. What private schools excel at is accounting for mediocrity.


2. Does it matter that money can buy you a better education?

Yes. It distorts the education market. As I said above, excellent pupils are pretty much always going to excel to some extent, but private schools make it difficult to distinguish from a student who is genuinely excellent and one who has just had money thrown at their grades. Because of this, it isn't unusual that at a given gradeset and socioeconomic level for state pupils outperform their privately educated counterparts (http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/jul/23/state-school-pupils-better-university). Simply put getting that grade at a state school is harder so the state schooler with high grades is more likely to be more capable than the private schooler.

This, on the face of it, doesn't seem to be a problem, but with every single one of our top universities demanding absolutely top grades in the A*AA-AAB range, judging candidates on an easily-manufactured (especially for cashmoney) reference, an easily-coached (especially for cashmoney) personal statement and a grade printout, there's just no way to distinguish the genuinely excellent candidates. Oxbridge in general and certain courses at other places attempt to alleviate this by adding an interview element, but this is expensive for the university so mostly impractical, and again easily susceptible to coaching and the same kinds of distortion.

This is both a problem of distortion caused by private schools and of the inadequacy of our assessment systems.


3. What will you do / have you done / would you do if you could afford it?

I loathe private schools on principle, but principles aren't worth much in this world. I loathe the principles of the company I work for, but I still fucking work for them. There are certain unavoidable realities. If I've got the money, and assuming the performance gain is adequate, they'll be going to private school. As you said, it's really unfair on me to inflict the consequences of my left wing attitudes on children who may well, at some point in their future, end up disagreeing with me.

Though if they vote tory they'll be looking for somewhere new to live.


4. How would you reform the system, if at all?

This is a thorny one. I really don't think you can. At the end of the day people with money are always going to be able to buy an advantage for their children, and it's only natural that they want to. Enacting draconian measures to try and stop it would be an exercise in futility. A partial solution lies in seriously improving the quality of our end-of-school assessment systems. Grades should always be on a curve, for example, but information should be provided as to how that curve would look based on the historical performance of the applicant's school. Achieving AAA at my school was reserved for the 1 or 2 best and brightest in any given year, down the road at the RGS, despite being populated by mouth-breathing rahs, achieving less than AAB was seen as a serious failure. That kind of context should be available for universities when assessing students, if they don't already assess that kind of thing themselves.

More importantly, the rigour of A levels would need to be significantly improved. Instead of using the same form of exam, easily predicted and coached, for a decade at a time, exams should change radically year on year, developed in partnership with our universities, who are almost certainly willing to provide that kind of help. If our final exams weren't so laughably easy to prep, private schools would have a much tougher time drilling their students in how to take them rather than teaching the content they're supposed to.

State schools are guilty of this too, but obviously to a reduced extent due to the lesser resources.

Me
August 15 2012, 01:27:38 AM
Ugh math teachers are by my experience one of the most lazy ones in existence. Its a work intensive subject for the students but definitely not for the teachers. In my relative limited experience with some teachers amount of work goes by this:

Teachers working with disabled/learning disability kids > physics/chemistry/biology teachers > language / math teachers

They all have quite large work load around assessment times but most math teachers simply have a huge stack of preped assignments and then randomize the tests. Correcting them is also a lot easier then for example physics or chemistry exams at least in my experience with tutoring.

Well of course working with mongs is more work.

Would have expected physics/chem to be the same as maths since for the most part they are both just equations. I've said the same to her in the past when she's complained about setting assessment, her response was you can recycle stuff for the lower levels but for the top stuff the kids study so much, and the past exams are available to students, so each year's stuff has to be brand new.

I suspect that half of it is that she takes pride in her top level students (and rightly so, these are the kids who will get Dux of the school and get into top uni courses.) However the lower level stuff it doesn't get the same dedication, and tbh bottom level kids who will go on to work in a trade don't need the same level of mathematics.

I've always thought it stupid that teachers are forced to take low level kids as well as top levels. Surely different teachers are better at teaching different levels, when you compare the complex calculus of the top levels and the basic arithmetic of the low levels it might as well be a different subject all together. Even going through school you knew which teachers were the ones good at teaching level 1 and which were good at teaching level 3. But the schools still insisted on mixing the teachers up. I'd imagine that's a large factor in teacher's apathy, working in a job you're ill suited for and seeing someone else working in the job you are better at will kill anyone's work ethic.

Paradox
August 15 2012, 01:34:57 AM
My education was completely public/ state from start to finish. My parents are farmers and don't have much money to spare on private education.


1. Does private school generally represent a "better" education?

Yes, I imagine so, although I knew a chap who was privately educated to the financial ruin of his parents, he has no GCSEs and the only qualification that he has is a driving license. That's just anecdotal, I'm sure there are very good statistics to prove that private school generates better students and I won't dispute them.


2. Does it matter that money can buy you a better education?

Yes. It's not an even playing field as you mention and I do feel somewhat hard-done-by by not having the opportunity to study in a private school environment, I imagine I would have done better with my life if I'd had the benefit of that sort of upbringing.


3. What will you do / have you done / would you do if you could afford it?

Any children I may have will go to private school if I can afford to send them there, I would imagine that I would always want the best for my offspring and currently private school represents the best in education. If that changes then I may re-evaluate this stance but I'm not likely to have children anyway.


4. How would you reform the system, if at all?

Well... I don't know. Maybe some sort of scholarship system based on SATS results? I think that kind of system is already in place though? I don't know, I wasn't really a model student so I was never approached about it. System probably needs to be more fair to parents without the financial means to send their children to a good school.

Am interested in learning more about this.

Keorythe
August 15 2012, 04:16:05 AM
Parent involvement helps a great deal. Mother has been teaching for a few decades and my sister is at the 8yr mark now. They have been very adament about the quality of student and the amount of parent interaction. My mother spent 6 years at a low income tier school previously in Pasadena (Texas) grade 6-8. Omg, some of the stories she has...terrible state of parents. Most just want baby sitters. The kids that succeeded almost always had a high level of parent participation and interest.

Case in point, they used to do a "graduation" for kids moving from grade 8 into 9 which is high school. Many parents went out of their way to dress up the kids and themselves. It wasn't supposed to be serious but the parents who were completely absent before took it serious and showed up. The same repititious answer of why? Because it was probably the only time they thought they would see their kids graduate. :psyduck: Talk about setting up for failure!

Private schools usually demand interaction from parents as well as the kids. Public schools will set minimums but are not mandatory. It would be interesting if there was a metric that could compare the two.

Lallante
August 15 2012, 08:15:26 AM
Actually one obvious argument is similar to that used regarding private vs public health care. Good teachers will move to private schools, thus reducing the quality of the public system. Not sure how true that is, or if something as simple as a salary cap would work.

Then society should pay the teachers more who work in public schools.

I'm not sure that we can compete with the cashola rich people can plunk down for their kids. That's why I suggested a salary cap of some kind.

A salary cap on teachers? You have to be joking.

Smuggo
August 15 2012, 08:59:33 AM
1) I'm not sure you can buy a better education as such, but what you can buy is a "better" peer group. I went to a super-selective grammar school that's usually ranked in the top 10 state funded schools nationwide for GCSE and A-Level, and even though the school was wealthy (it was tied to numerous generous charitable funds) and very prestigious we still had some pretty rubbish teachers. We had some great teachers too of course but I don't think the mix was any different to a comprehensive school or a private school really.

The benefit my school did have though was that everyone was quite academically capable, so the teachers can teach at a higher level and move on quickly. Everyone took the highest tier of exam paper, so teaching there was consistent, and no one ever really struggled with the basics so we could spend more time on the more complex aspects of a given subject. I think the school's success is more due to the fact its pupils were already very able when they started, rather than it offering some qualitatively better education.

Private schools probably achieve the same, though in their case rather than simply being based on ability it's likely based on the fact that the parents of those children are usually well educated themselves and thus their children are generally less likely to be underachieving and so again the school performs better because it already has a mix of pupils that are likely to perform better than average.

2) This isn't a great question as it assumes you answered Q1 in the affirmative, you might want to revise it. On the subject though, you can't stop people buying additional education for their kids (they will always do something) so discussing whether or not it should be banned etc... is pointless. And ultimately the poorer parent does have the option of assisting in their child's education if they can't afford private education.

3) My choice would be to enter my kids for a grammar school education, but otherwise comprehensive is fine. If I felt that they weren't learning enough in school though then I would probably just step in and provide some additional schooling at home. Ultimately I'm of the view that I will be the biggest factor affecting my children's educational achievements rather than what school they go to.

4) I think more grammar schools would be a good idea. Governments have been ideologically opposed to selection over the years but I think if it's done right then it can be very beneficial for everyone. The problem with the old Tripartite system was it basically threw the non-grammar school kids on the scrapheap, rather than providing them with a more suitable education that matched their ability and talents. At the end of the day, the education system needs to realise different people have different levels of ability in different areas and one-size-fits all approaches aren't suitable.

LoudSpeakly
August 15 2012, 11:32:44 AM
How much of the knowledge that you gained during your K -> 12 years of school do you think is directly relevant to your professional lives at the moment? For me, the answer is very little.

Anyone who does particularly well with their lives is going to be naturally curious and driven, to a point that school is actually a hiderence to them truly learning. Private schools can't foster this kind of talent any more than public schools can. Private schools just have a nicer coat of paint on the walls, and the cost of entry prevents the ferals from becoming a nuisance within the community.

To answer the questions though...


1. Does private school generally represent a "better" education?

2. Does it matter that money can buy you a better education?

3. What will you do / have you done / would you do if you could afford it?

4. How would you reform the system, if at all?

1. Not really. It looks good on paper and you're probably connected to better families due to the relationships you build during school years, but that's about it.

2. I like how this assumes an answer from the previous question. But hey, expensive schools do serve a purpose for giving well off families a sense of doing something good for their kids.

3. Fairly certain I'd be OK with sending my kids to the public system when the times comes.

4. The only changes I'd like to see is allowing less rigid, slightly more creative teaching paradigms trialled and measured. Hard to gather interest in something like that due to the time periods involved.

Grendelfreak
August 15 2012, 12:46:42 PM
1. Does private school generally represent a "better" education?

2. Does it matter that money can buy you a better education?

3. What will you do / have you done / would you do if you could afford it?

4. How would you reform the system, if at all?

1. Yes to better education. There are smaller classes and fewer retards disturbing class (trust me ADHD and FAS kids really kill the desire to enjoy school). A 'better' social circle of adults to be role-models and when entering the university/workforce this social circle provides useful networking links.

2. It does matter in that it reinforces social enclaves and expectations (If you do X, send you kids to Y) and gives some children based on the accident of birth an accumulating advantage, but of course life is unfair and i'm not sure how to make it fair.

3. In the hypothetical future where I have kids AND can afford the choice I would send them to a private school. Sure it would be perpetuating the system I mentioned before and others described much better, but when push comes to shove the family comes first and the poor can go fuck themselves.

4. Convincing more parents in the lower-end state schools of the importance of education. I was lucky in that more parents loved to read and were pro-education even before going to uni for the first time in their 40s but so many of my peers bought into the whole "reading is for poofters" line and that originated from the parents.

Smegs
August 15 2012, 08:22:23 PM
Please also consider that the private schools are the very beginning of the 'old boys' network, which i find abhorrent.

They do provide better education, but is an education only open to those who can afford it, reducing social mobility for intelligent, but less wealthy children and in the end kind of fucking over society as a whole (but the effects take a few decades to appear), where the originally intelligent children grow up to be rather poor adult's, who can't afford to send their children to private schools perpetuating the system, sadly.

The issue, i think, with state schools is that the education is based on targets and scores (which leads to teaching the children only those questions which will be raised in the tests, as opposed to tests getting easier, instead of providing an education) and inclusion of all students, including the disruptive ones, and the typical government departmental thinking of 'everything on the cheap' leading to poor standards of management, equipment and worst of all teachers. :(

Lallante
August 16 2012, 08:52:08 AM
I've never understood finding the old boys network abhorrent. Its no differnt from employing a plumber because your mate has used them and recommended them.

Jolin
August 16 2012, 11:02:20 AM
In India, private schools are better funded so usually it means better teachers, better lab equipment, desks and stuff that aren't threatening to fall apart and tend to be smaller class sizes as well. If I was still living there, I'd send my kids to private school even if I had to skimp on other things.

Edit: To add an addendum, public schools aren't completely free either. You're still paying tuition fees, they're just 1/3 the cost.

Tafkat
August 16 2012, 12:08:50 PM
I've never understood finding the old boys network abhorrent. Its no differnt from employing a plumber because your mate has used them and recommended them.
That's not really true because your mate's recommendation of the plumber is presumably based almost exclusively on his performance and the prices he charges whereas the typical view of old boy networks is that they're based more on shared background and social factors than competence and ability.

Navigator Six
August 16 2012, 01:46:43 PM
1. Does private school generally represent a "better" education?

2. Does it matter that money can buy you a better education?

3. What will you do / have you done / would you do if you could afford it?

4. How would you reform the system, if at all?
1. Yeah; not much point otherwise.

2. No, IF the (free) alternative is of sufficiently high quality. Generally (at least in most of the US) that's not the case, and therein lies the problem.

3. Barring an awful three months at a Montessori school before my parents pulled me out, I was exclusively educated in public / state schools. Turned out fine, though I was in a plausibly affluent area which would have meant better education in general. I would like to hew to that principle if possible (though that has produced some arguments with the other half). At the very least state schools give a good education in what all of (your local) society is like, which is useful.

4. Pay public / state school teachers more, and fund public schools more. Provide enough support for public school teachers so that it's a viable and desirable career option (most of the teachers at my high school were fired and re-hired every year. Every year a few of the good ones didn't bother to reapply). Remove most tax credits and government incentives for private schools (I don't know exactly what these are), to discourage them from being viewed as a replacement for public sector education (which they shouldn't be, and frequently are).

Lallante
August 16 2012, 04:31:03 PM
1. Does private school generally represent a "better" education?

2. Does it matter that money can buy you a better education?

3. What will you do / have you done / would you do if you could afford it?

4. How would you reform the system, if at all?
1. Yeah; not much point otherwise.

2. No, IF the (free) alternative is of sufficiently high quality. Generally (at least in most of the US) that's not the case, and therein lies the problem.

3. Barring an awful three months at a Montessori school before my parents pulled me out, I was exclusively educated in public / state schools. Turned out fine, though I was in a plausibly affluent area which would have meant better education in general. I would like to hew to that principle if possible (though that has produced some arguments with the other half). At the very least state schools give a good education in what all of (your local) society is like, which is useful.

4. Pay public / state school teachers more, and fund public schools more. Provide enough support for public school teachers so that it's a viable and desirable career option (most of the teachers at my high school were fired and re-hired every year. Every year a few of the good ones didn't bother to reapply). Remove most tax credits and government incentives for private schools (I don't know exactly what these are), to discourage them from being viewed as a replacement for public sector education (which they shouldn't be, and frequently are).

TMA the Montessori stuff - seems like a good concept in principle

Navigator Six
August 16 2012, 07:01:23 PM
TMA the Montessori stuff - seems like a good concept in principle

Hard to say, really. We had a mixed age class (9-12 I think; I was on the lower end), which is supposed to be one of the big principles, but all that meant in practice is that the older kids ganged up on the younger ones quite often; there was one teacher and one assistant, and they weren't very good at keeping order. In terms of their "personal development" stick, what I mainly recall is that when I got out of the school and back into public education, everyone in class could do division while I'd never learned it. :? At the end of the day I'm not sure my experience was at all representational; I spent most of the time learning how to swear and getting bullied. 8-)

Keorythe
August 17 2012, 04:36:08 AM
4. Pay public / state school teachers more, and fund public schools more. Provide enough support for public school teachers so that it's a viable and desirable career option (most of the teachers at my high school were fired and re-hired every year. Every year a few of the good ones didn't bother to reapply). Remove most tax credits and government incentives for private schools (I don't know exactly what these are), to discourage them from being viewed as a replacement for public sector education (which they shouldn't be, and frequently are).

Some of you may remember the old 20/20 series of stories. Much like 60 Minutes it did it's fair share of in depth stories. It's a shame we don't get full hour programming like this anymore. This video is actually pretty good. Old but it highlights a lot of points that still hold true. Even givens perspective from a Belgium school.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bx4pN-aiofw

ValorousBob
August 20 2012, 06:58:50 AM
http://m.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americans-keep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/

TL;DR: One of the reasons Finland's education is so much better than America's is because they have no private schools and the associated cultural differences.

(seriously though, just read the article)

Sponk
August 20 2012, 07:40:49 AM
this post: http://economics.com.au/?p=9182

sense or no sense?

Keorythe
August 21 2012, 07:10:13 AM
http://m.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americans-keep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/

TL;DR: One of the reasons Finland's education is so much better than America's is because they have no private schools and the associated cultural differences.

(seriously though, just read the article)

Read the article. Was shit. He tries to link various things together but does a poor job of doing so. Maybe there is some concrete data and some expanded information on the topics in Sahlberg's book. Otherwise that's a lot of speculation. Especially when you have to note that just above poverty kids and below get free meals and free student guidance. Health care and psych. counseling are also offered free to kids above poverty level and below. I should know. I passed out those services all of the time when I worked for CPS. In Texas we have WIC so food isn't (or shouldn't be if not for shitty parents) an issue. My mother, an assist. Princ., regularly furnishes free field trips for children and sometimes even include parents for those in need. The social services and subsidized items are often there and used quite regularly. And of course the whole Kansas debacle comes to mind when they had enough money to afford teacher pay raises, computer labs, Olympic swimming pools, and to taxi in new kids but grades were still bad.

But really, this article is indeed shit. It causally ignores much of what goes into the teaching process, curriculum, and most importantly parental interaction. There seems to a a LOT of interaction with parents and teachers which seems almost compulsory going by other papers on Finland's education. The funny thing though is that when he touches on the money and the teachers, he makes a solid case for school vouchers and private schools. A Masters degree to become a teacher? Where would we find that many? Finland can afford to be super selective like that especially with a population that is just double of the CITY in which I live. I'm not sure if it's possible in the US.

The best line though, " If a teacher is bad, it is the principal's responsibility to notice and deal with it." Oh really? How? Reprimands? Termination? Like most of this article, this section is incredibly bereft of information.

Navigator Six
August 21 2012, 07:26:26 AM
this post: http://economics.com.au/?p=9182

sense or no sense?

I'd be inclined to say sense: in higher ed the qualification is what most people are going for today, and massive online courses just don't offer that (and even if they do offer a qualification, I don't think it's going to be held in the same esteem by employers). It's plausible that those courses give a decent education, but getting a job by "being smart" is much harder than getting a job by "being smart and having a good degree." As a result it's going to be hard to charge money for the courses, and by extension it will be hard to keep quality up and maintain the business. Here (http://blog.oreillyschool.com/2011/12/my-thoughts-on-codecademy.html)'s an article about Codecademy that (when not serving them back-handed compliments) talks about those kinds of issues.

Alex Caine
August 21 2012, 10:58:31 AM
Private Schools, namely schools in a system which provides for free schooling which cost parents money, are controversial.

I fully intend on sending my kids to a private school and will be able to afford to do so, but most people can't so afford.

I have lots of friends who intend to send their kids to state schools on principle. I see this as sacrificing your childrens' future at the altar of your own pseudo-political beliefs.


1. Does private school generally represent a "better" education?

2. Does it matter that money can buy you a better education?

3. What will you do / have you done / would you do if you could afford it?

4. How would you reform the system, if at all?

1: I would have to trawl data, but i;'d be VERY surprised if the answer was "no".
2: yes, it matters, of course it does. However, I won't lie. IF i have kids (no plans), i will buy them the best education I can. My parents were poor, but still scraped up Uni fees for me (although i went to state/normal schools), where I worked my balls off and got a 1st. So it's not VITAL, but of course it gives an edge.
3: As above, I would never, ever sacrifice my kids chances for MY principle. They would get the best.

Sponk
August 21 2012, 11:01:24 AM
Looked up the school where I will be sending my kids.

$13k per year, each.

Ow, right in the wallet.

Navigator Six
August 21 2012, 03:19:02 PM
http://m.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americans-keep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/

TL;DR: One of the reasons Finland's education is so much better than America's is because they have no private schools and the associated cultural differences.

(seriously though, just read the article)

Read the article. Was shit. He tries to link various things together but does a poor job of doing so. Maybe there is some concrete data and some expanded information on the topics in Sahlberg's book. Otherwise that's a lot of speculation. Especially when you have to note that just above poverty kids and below get free meals and free student guidance. Health care and psych. counseling are also offered free to kids above poverty level and below. I should know. I passed out those services all of the time when I worked for CPS. In Texas we have WIC so food isn't (or shouldn't be if not for shitty parents) an issue. My mother, an assist. Princ., regularly furnishes free field trips for children and sometimes even include parents for those in need. The social services and subsidized items are often there and used quite regularly. And of course the whole Kansas debacle comes to mind when they had enough money to afford teacher pay raises, computer labs, Olympic swimming pools, and to taxi in new kids but grades were still bad.

But really, this article is indeed shit. It causally ignores much of what goes into the teaching process, curriculum, and most importantly parental interaction. There seems to a a LOT of interaction with parents and teachers which seems almost compulsory going by other papers on Finland's education. The funny thing though is that when he touches on the money and the teachers, he makes a solid case for school vouchers and private schools. A Masters degree to become a teacher? Where would we find that many? Finland can afford to be super selective like that especially with a population that is just double of the CITY in which I live. I'm not sure if it's possible in the US.

The best line though, " If a teacher is bad, it is the principal's responsibility to notice and deal with it." Oh really? How? Reprimands? Termination? Like most of this article, this section is incredibly bereft of information.

Finally got around to reading the article. I wouldn't be quite as negative as Keo about it: the article certainly doesn't present any studies or hard evidence that Finland's success is due to a particular part of its educational focus, but successful it certainly is. Having comprehensive education might be one of the ways it got there. There have been a few (http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/blog_comments/time_to_talk_about_comprehensive_universities) articles (http://labourlist.org/2011/06/abolish-oxbridge/) recently about trying to level the playing field, and getting rid of entry requirements would certainly be one way to do that. It's got to be a cultural shift at some deep level, which is why I don't think something like that would ever work in the US or the UK: class is simply too ingrained. In the US it's "the American way" to distinguish yourself by shifting class, and essentially a God-given right to be able to buy better education. The UK is buying into such an idea even more these days with the increase of student fees.

I don't think it would be a big shift to up the degree requirements for teachers. It would take a while, sure, and you'd have to couple it with increased pay and job security to make it worthwhile, but it's not at all out of the question. And with better-educated teachers you can move towards giving them more autonomy, and shift away from having quite as much assessment.

Me
August 21 2012, 11:41:16 PM
I don't think more education (as in masters/doctorates) for teachers would be an improvement just by itself. I know at uni the better lecturers and tutors seem to be Mr. Teacher with experience in the field rather than Prof. Teacher who's never stepped outside a uni.

If anything make the education bit more comprehensive. Here it's just a year tacked on after your regular degree, a year isn't long enough to change someone from student to teacher. Make the teaching bit longer and drop some of the less relevant classes from the normal degree to compensate would be better imo. Plus for practical type subjects have the teachers need to have done the stuff professionally. IT, accounting, the trades, etc can't really be taught as well if they only know it from a textbook.

Smuggo
August 22 2012, 08:48:21 AM
I don't think more education (as in masters/doctorates) for teachers would be an improvement just by itself. I know at uni the better lecturers and tutors seem to be Mr. Teacher with experience in the field rather than Prof. Teacher who's never stepped outside a uni.

If anything make the education bit more comprehensive. Here it's just a year tacked on after your regular degree, a year isn't long enough to change someone from student to teacher. Make the teaching bit longer and drop some of the less relevant classes from the normal degree to compensate would be better imo. Plus for practical type subjects have the teachers need to have done the stuff professionally. IT, accounting, the trades, etc can't really be taught as well if they only know it from a textbook.

I think a lot of good teaching is about communicating. Some of my teachers at school, while very knowledgeable, weren't good at getting their ideas across and weren't good at engaging with a classroom full of teenage boys (admittedly that's a very tough thing to do). Other teachers though were just good at communicating and made you want to learn and want to listen to them.

Teacher training should be far more about effectively communicating with groups and engaging with young people than about having a marginally more specialised knowledge of their subject matter.

NoirAvlaa
August 22 2012, 11:34:06 AM
I don't think more education (as in masters/doctorates) for teachers would be an improvement just by itself. I know at uni the better lecturers and tutors seem to be Mr. Teacher with experience in the field rather than Prof. Teacher who's never stepped outside a uni.

If anything make the education bit more comprehensive. Here it's just a year tacked on after your regular degree, a year isn't long enough to change someone from student to teacher. Make the teaching bit longer and drop some of the less relevant classes from the normal degree to compensate would be better imo. Plus for practical type subjects have the teachers need to have done the stuff professionally. IT, accounting, the trades, etc can't really be taught as well if they only know it from a textbook.

I think a lot of good teaching is about communicating. Some of my teachers at school, while very knowledgeable, weren't good at getting their ideas across and weren't good at engaging with a classroom full of teenage boys (admittedly that's a very tough thing to do). Other teachers though were just good at communicating and made you want to learn and want to listen to them.

Teacher training should be far more about effectively communicating with groups and engaging with young people than about having a marginally more specialised knowledge of their subject matter.

So much this. I remember a maths teacher I had in High school. I moved up into his class half way through the year, and suddenly I was hitting top marks regularly instead of borderline high marks. It was noticed in his other classes too, when he took one of the lower sets suddenly they jumped up a grade or two, purely because he knew how to communicate the lesson with the kids.

To learn pythagoras and some other things we had a few weeks lessons building a scale replica of one of the great pyramids in the school courtyard, he integrated it into our woodwork classes and delegated jobs to different kids in the class. 3 weeks later we had an exact scale model 6 foot tall in the courtyard of the school. Damn he was a p. awesome teacher. (Every other teacher just used the textbooks, thus lessons were boring)

Logan Feynman
August 22 2012, 09:23:05 PM
1. Generally, yes.

2. Yes it matters. How much your parents make should not be a determining factor in your education.

3. In Croatia, private schools are bad and should feel bad. Children come out as overprivileged assholes, with good grades and mediocre skills and education. The 'elite' highschools are still state-run, and children compete with elementary school grades for admission into highschools. I will send my children to the best school their grades can put them in. (once they get born and go through elementary school)

4. Here it goes:

a) The Fins and Danes are on the right track. You need to invest a lot of money in teachers and schools and provide equal opportunity to all children, to the best of the State's ability to do so.

b) Curriculum should be reorganized and reformed to take into account the existence of Internet. We should foster logic, research, critical thinking and creativity instead of repetition of facts. Cooperation should be fostered over competition.

c) The system should provide education in accordance with a particular child's strengths and weaknesses. Yes to equal opportunity, no to equal treatment. Introverted kids should have smaller groups, kids with shorter attention span should learn through more interactive methods, etc.

Here's a great RSAnimate on the subject: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

Children are not all the same and we should stop treating them all the same. And money should DEFINITELY not be what sets them apart.

SAI Peregrinus
August 23 2012, 12:54:43 AM
The problem with private schools is that public schools are so bad the private ones can be better.
In the US 2013 federal budget about $72 billion are allocated to the Department of Education. About $941 billion are allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services (mostly medicare and medicaid). $883 billion goes to Social security. $673 billion to the Department of Defense.

Taking care of the elderly is treated as more important than educating kids. The US has spent about $35 billion on the F-35 development. Almost half the budget of the DoEdu has gone to an underperforming, low quality fighter plane. Properly funding public education could make the discussion irrelevant.

Navigator Six
September 18 2012, 12:30:58 PM
http://m.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americans-keep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/

TL;DR: One of the reasons Finland's education is so much better than America's is because they have no private schools and the associated cultural differences.

(seriously though, just read the article)

Read the article. Was shit. He tries to link various things together but does a poor job of doing so. Maybe there is some concrete data and some expanded information on the topics in Sahlberg's book. Otherwise that's a lot of speculation. Especially when you have to note that just above poverty kids and below get free meals and free student guidance. Health care and psych. counseling are also offered free to kids above poverty level and below. I should know. I passed out those services all of the time when I worked for CPS. In Texas we have WIC so food isn't (or shouldn't be if not for shitty parents) an issue. My mother, an assist. Princ., regularly furnishes free field trips for children and sometimes even include parents for those in need. The social services and subsidized items are often there and used quite regularly. And of course the whole Kansas debacle comes to mind when they had enough money to afford teacher pay raises, computer labs, Olympic swimming pools, and to taxi in new kids but grades were still bad.

But really, this article is indeed shit. It causally ignores much of what goes into the teaching process, curriculum, and most importantly parental interaction. There seems to a a LOT of interaction with parents and teachers which seems almost compulsory going by other papers on Finland's education. The funny thing though is that when he touches on the money and the teachers, he makes a solid case for school vouchers and private schools. A Masters degree to become a teacher? Where would we find that many? Finland can afford to be super selective like that especially with a population that is just double of the CITY in which I live. I'm not sure if it's possible in the US.

The best line though, " If a teacher is bad, it is the principal's responsibility to notice and deal with it." Oh really? How? Reprimands? Termination? Like most of this article, this section is incredibly bereft of information.

So I've gone and read the book, and it's pretty good. Sahlberg doesn't offer solutions for other countries (unlike that article), as every country is different in culture and so forth. What he does do is present why he thinks the Finnish education system works, and that includes a range of things from the way teacher training and qualifications are handled, to the lack of high-stakes testing, to Finnish culture and corporate involvement from companies like Nokia. He also lays out why he thinks approaches from many other countries aren't the way to go (so he's pretty anti-high-stakes-testing, for example, but he's not saying that removing that will solve everyone's problems; it's a bit more complicated than that).

If I had to try and summarize the key points of the Finnish system, they'd be:
High teacher quality. This comes from high social standing (though not high pay), large amounts of responsibility and discretion in how they teach, and is strongly correlated to the lack of private schools, which in turn arose as part of a strong welfare state. Large amounts of teacher discretion require corresponding amounts of confidence in them, which is related to a lack of test-results-linked-to-salary and inversely related to the idea of corporatism in schools.
The idea that all students have equal capability, though they don't learn the same way. There's a strong emphasis on personalizing education and supporting everyone; for example, a huge percentage of students take some sort of "special needs" class at one point or another, and it doesn't carry negative stigma as a result.
Following from equal capability, the idea of equal opportunity for all, which in turn links back to a strong welfare state, low income disparity, no university tuition fees, etc.
The goal of helping students to enjoy learning, first and foremost, so that they will continue learning. This is linked to the general lack of high-stakes testing; students don't have that sort of formal assessment until quite late in their education, close to university-level.

I've probably missed a few things, but that's the basic idea.

Lallante
September 18 2012, 01:21:48 PM
How does the Finnish system deal with the problem of bad teachers? How does it attract the best teachers into teaching without any form of performance-related advancement?

"The idea that all students have equal capability" is ridiculous and completely discredited. Does he honestly believe every student is capable of achieving the same standard, has the same intelligence and abilities etc?

Navigator Six
September 18 2012, 03:16:58 PM
How does the Finnish system deal with the problem of bad teachers? How does it attract the best teachers into teaching without any form of performance-related advancement?

"The idea that all students have equal capability" is ridiculous and completely discredited. Does he honestly believe every student is capable of achieving the same standard, has the same intelligence and abilities etc?

Re: bad teachers, there are no metrics to measure that by (due to lack of tests), and the Sahlberg dismisses the "question of teacher effectiveness" as not relevant. Instead the system places an emphasis on working together with other teachers and shared accountability (a bit hand-wavy, but I think that's the point, and the results seem to support that the system works). In terms of getting the best teachers, in addition to the cultural status teaching holds, the required degree for teaching is apparently of high enough quality that it's useful in other professions too. From my perspective I suspect it would be difficult to show that performance-related advancement is required in order to attract the best candidates anyhow.

Sahlberg doesn't argue that all students can attain the same standard; the "equal capability" thing is more closely tied to the goal of "equal opportunity" (as in you have to assume some sort of abstract level of equal capability, in principle, in order to provide equal opportunity). I chose a poor phrase; the point is that there isn't tracking, but instead support when a student is having difficulty.

Lallante
September 18 2012, 03:44:58 PM
How does the Finnish system deal with the problem of bad teachers? How does it attract the best teachers into teaching without any form of performance-related advancement?

"The idea that all students have equal capability" is ridiculous and completely discredited. Does he honestly believe every student is capable of achieving the same standard, has the same intelligence and abilities etc?

Re: bad teachers, there are no metrics to measure that by (due to lack of tests), and the Sahlberg dismisses the "question of teacher effectiveness" as not relevant. Instead the system places an emphasis on working together with other teachers and shared accountability (a bit hand-wavy, but I think that's the point, and the results seem to support that the system works). In terms of getting the best teachers, in addition to the cultural status teaching holds, the required degree for teaching is apparently of high enough quality that it's useful in other professions too. From my perspective I suspect it would be difficult to show that performance-related advancement is required in order to attract the best candidates anyhow.

Sahlberg doesn't argue that all students can attain the same standard; the "equal capability" thing is more closely tied to the goal of "equal opportunity" (as in you have to assume some sort of abstract level of equal capability, in principle, in order to provide equal opportunity). I chose a poor phrase; the point is that there isn't tracking, but instead support when a student is having difficulty.

As far as I'm aware, in the UK "teacher quality" is considered one of the most important indicators for pupil success / engagement with a subject. Subjectively, thats also been my personal experience of school!

In any case, dismissing it as "not relevant" is unacceptable (as you concede). The Finnish system may work overall - doesn't in any way mean each element of it is optimised.

The idea behind performance-related advancement (or at least pay) is that high-achievers tend to be driven by ambition/recognition.

CastleBravo
September 19 2012, 01:07:45 PM
I like the proposal to change the way schools are funded so that the tax money is attached to the child and the schools, both private and public, have to compete to get that kid to come there. This way even the poor have the ability to send their kids to a private school provided the private school does not spend more $$$ than the public school.




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bx4pN-aiofw

I really like most of Stossel's work, and this is one of the better ones in my opinion.

Lallante
September 19 2012, 01:17:39 PM
I like the proposal to change the way schools are funded so that the tax money is attached to the child and the schools, both private and public, have to compete to get that kid to come there. This way even the poor have the ability to send their kids to a private school provided the private school does not spend more $$$ than the public school.




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bx4pN-aiofw

I really like most of Stossel's work, and this is one of the better ones in my opinion.

I suppose you mean giving parents a coupon they could exchange for cash-4-schoolfees? Otherwise how would poor parents send their kids ot the private school? Also inb4 schools offer a "give us you 5,000 school fee voucher and get 500 cashback!" pupil place in a new race to the bottom.

CastleBravo
September 19 2012, 01:42:43 PM
The problem with private schools is that public schools are so bad the private ones can be better.
In the US 2013 federal budget about $72 billion are allocated to the Department of Education. About $941 billion are allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services (mostly medicare and medicaid). $883 billion goes to Social security. $673 billion to the Department of Defense.

Taking care of the elderly is treated as more important than educating kids. The US has spent about $35 billion on the F-35 development. Almost half the budget of the DoEdu has gone to an underperforming, low quality fighter plane. Properly funding public education could make the discussion irrelevant.

Before you go and bash the US maybe you should try to understand how schools are actually funded here. Public education is for the most part funded by state government, and in the case of my state (Texas) the lion's share of the funds come from property tax assessed by the county. With a bit of googling I found a document (http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/Public_Education/Finance_PublicEd_3dEd_1001.pdf) that put the 2002-2003 K-12 funding in Texas at $56.9b, only $5.4b of which came from the federal government. There are a lot of people who see the federal dept of education as redundant and unnecessary and would like to see it closed down.

Navigator Six
September 20 2012, 07:00:33 AM
I like the proposal to change the way schools are funded so that the tax money is attached to the child and the schools, both private and public, have to compete to get that kid to come there. This way even the poor have the ability to send their kids to a private school provided the private school does not spend more $$$ than the public school.




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bx4pN-aiofw

I really like most of Stossel's work, and this is one of the better ones in my opinion.

I suppose you mean giving parents a coupon they could exchange for cash-4-schoolfees? Otherwise how would poor parents send their kids ot the private school? Also inb4 schools offer a "give us you 5,000 school fee voucher and get 500 cashback!" pupil place in a new race to the bottom.

Yeah, they call 'em "vouchers" in the US. They also have the obvious effect of weakening public schools, as every voucher used to go to a private school takes away funding that would have normally gone to public education. Wikipedia has a reasonable run-down (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_voucher) on pros (well, pro, as it's basically "free markets are good") and cons.

Zumwalt
September 20 2012, 07:18:00 AM
Am half drunk but will reply to this for reals later. Parents put over $100k into my private education, and you do see results. I know many people who went to top schools as a result (dozens who went to Harvard, Stanford, etc)


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