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Thread: It all comes down to education

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    It all comes down to education

    It seems that most of the problems that we face, including political, personal, economic, social, cultural, and even health, comes down to a lack of education. We often hear the term “If people understood” things would be different. Over the weekend it got me thinking about what education was, what it is, and what can it be.

    For much of history, education was made up of several components that included family, faith, community and apprenticeship and was often a component of the church. Even in the Old Testament, Moses is referred to as “Teacher”. The three “R’s” where actually taught at home but, not everyone’s parents had an equal understanding, so a few hundred years ago they were integrated into the school curriculum. Those who did not attend church were educated at home and even the wealthy would have private tutors come in to supplement their child’s education. In his book The Thomas Jefferson Education, Oliver DeMille talks about how the education of our founding fathers was primarily focused on critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, and statesmanship, (or being a good citizen.) There as a strong focus on what is right and wrong, good and bad, and what society will or will not accept.

    Today, things are different. For the most part, our educational system is dictated by predetermined platforms that are set forth by the government as being the foundational principles for our society. Basic math, science, reading, social studies (which groups geography, political studies, and history into one) are what most teachers focus on today.

    In addition to the 3R’s, I personally think that we should have a stronger focus on the following:

    1) Personal Finance. How would things be different if everyone understood interest rates and credit cards? I am not just talking about how to balance a check book, but having the ability to calculate AND UNDERSTAND compound interest. Furthermore, understanding taxes. We see them come out but how many of us truly understand where they go and how they are used?

    2) History. I am not just talking about where and when, but why. Why did a person think the way they did and why did his/her actions cause particular events. Everything in life is interconnected and history can help us understand why we are where we are today.

    3) Social Skills. This is a sensitive topic for many because there are many cultural components to it, but I think that the understanding of social skills is the great equalizer. I have heard people comment that they can’t get ahead because of particular limitations. I think that is BS. There are just too many people who came from adversity to make it big. It is also about understanding or even becoming a productive member of society. We as Planners try to establish an environment that will fuel this opportunity. We talk about front porches and back yard parties. But social interaction, conflict resolution, and critical thinking skills on a civilized level are things of the past. Classic books from people like Andrew Carnegie, Neapolitan Hill, Frank Betcher, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, James Allen, and Jonathon Edwards should be required reading before someone can graduate high school. Other more modern books from John Maxwell, Dave Ramsey, Oliver DeMille, Vince Pocente, Dr. David Swartz, and so many others are also important.

    4) The Arts. I was shocked to hear that there are actually kids who have never heard a symphonic band or orchestra live. There is an unmistakable power that comes from a strong brass line, then realizing that the sound is not electronic in any way. (Rock on Velloise)! Looking at the details of a sculpture or painting and wondering what the artist was trying to convey, or even looking at the details of a classical building where the corbels were not just a detail, independently each was a piece of art. Back then, craftsmen were artisans, not just contractors.

    Ultimately, I think our educational system teaches people how to do a job and not become a productive member of society. There are extracurricular that supplement it, but I believe that it should be an ingrained part of our education. Because of that, my wife and I have already decided that our kids will not attend a traditional public school. We have been looking at several different programs which we will still have to supplement with additional materials in a fun, hands on way, or we might just end up homeschooling and supplementing that with extracurricular activities for socialization.

    What subjects do you think should be a stronger part of our modern education system? Do you think that if we as a nation change the way our kids are taught, that we can change the nation? Are you satisfied with public education in America? Why or why not?
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Geography -
    economic (trading & resources),
    migration,
    political (treaties, boundaries, elections),
    and
    maps (so when you listen to to the news you know where/what they are talking about)
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    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Our education system is failing. Over the last twenty years we really have not put the money into it that we need, and no child left behind really screwed the pooch. But I think much of your complaints come from our cultural identity rather than the educational system. The failure of the educational system makes us not as smart or globally competitive, but it doesn't make us have the personal failings you describe. In the sense that America, especially since the 1980's, has become a culture of greed first. At a national level, we do not care about one another. America has become a culture where accumulation of great wealth at all costs is the primary goal of life, and our societal well-being has suffered greatly because of it.

    Countries where great importance is placed on the commons, and on the well-being of all of society, do not have nearly the amount problems that you describe America having.
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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Critical thinking is sorely lacking today. This may be the result of teachers being measured only on the basis of standardized test scores. Sure its great that the kid knows Madison is the Capitol of Wisconsin or that 4 divided by two is 2, but it does not help them solve problems or give them the chance to think creatively. Trying to solve problems that are not computer related quickly beomming a lost skill in todays workplace. Not many of the youngsters I have to work with can think for themselves or devise ways of doing things that may deviate from literal translation codified in a CFR (federal regs). Federal regs are not very prescriptive so we often get people doing more than they really should, and I might add not in ways that result in better outcomes.

    I look for ways to address some of these issues in my nieces though unfortunately I cannot teach them all I want to due to distance. For example I was dring them somewhere and asked them what I need to do before I start moving the car. They were smart enough to tell me I needed to buckle my safety belt. I then asked them why. I was told because it was the law. So I asked them if there was no law, would it still be a good idea to drive without the safety belt? There were crickets in the back seat.

    I would not add to your four, but due to my Catholic school upbringing include under social skills classes or at least lesson plans in morality, world religions, and modern social problems. This could address many of the issues we have of tolerance and kids doing things that are just plain stupid.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    In college, some of my most useful courses were the ones that focused on ethics and morality. I do not believe those topics are taught in k-12? It probably woulld be good to teach those at an early age.
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    As college gets more expensive we need to turn public education into a funnel for success. Having basic skills is great, but not everyone needs to understand Algebra. More skill driven education is necessary. I think we need to look at following more closely the Japanese model of directed learning.

    If you want to go to college, you take a certain track, if you want to become an electrician, you take another. We seem to value less this type of education. I don't think there is anything wrong with a kid who wants to be a mechanic to not want to learn calculus. It is a waste of his/her time. Have them learn to be the best mechanic they can be.

    Do we really want to improve our electric grid, infrastructure, or other tech jobs? The amount of skilled labor is at an all time low. Education should help fill this gap, not create these "balanced" kids who theoretically can read, write, and do math to a certain level.

    I think the requirements for school should be focusing on 1. Personal Finance, 2. Government / History, 3. Directed Individual Study.
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    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    If you want to go to college, you take a certain track, if you want to become an electrician, you take another. We seem to value less this type of education. I don't think there is anything wrong with a kid who wants to be a mechanic to not want to learn calculus. It is a waste of his/her time. Have them learn to be the best mechanic they can be.

    I am not sure how our policies or thought process has changed since back in the day but as an example my high school now refers to itself as a college prep, but years ago they would offer shop and other trade based courses.

    I think (based on my limited understanding) this is much like how the German education model works as well. They take a massive comprehensive exam (Abitur) which acts as a filter for either University, Gesamschool, or a third option I can't remember. The point is, it's more difficult to get into their University programs, but you don't have to pay off the debt for half your life. I also think that socially a person in Germany isn't looked down upon for having some sort of trade for a career, which doesn't seem to be the case in the U.S.
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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Public education was introduced during the Industrial Revolution as a means of preparing significant numbers for (drudge) labor in the work force. Basic numeracy and literacy was required for various industrial tasks, and a government that provided, for example, shop classes had a work force well prepared to function in a manufacturing-based economy. We manufacture more now than we ever have, but increasingly the work of manufacturing is being performed by automation. I guess since we live/function in a service-based economy, we should be preparing significant numbers for working at Arby's; an endeavor in which our education system seems to be succeeding admirably.

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    All good points from the original post...however all of those things come at a cost and union negotiations, at least in the public schools

    Every point you listed was taught in my public high school and in RT's as well. She commented on the quality of her high school education this past weekend in comparison to some of her peers at college. While they are struggling in what should be first year level math and composition courses she is excelling. Many kids are simply not prepared to be at the university level when they graduate high school and many have to take a year of remedial courses at extra expense and no credit to make up for deficiencies. It's pretty telling that British universities will not accept a US high school diploma as a minimum entry into their schools and declare the diploma as inadequate for preparation for university.

    Even so, as a parent, you are your child's primary teacher and it's your responsibility to enrich and advocate for your child's education. School shouldn't exist to replace good parenting.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Logic. We teach subjects that require logical thinking, but we do not teach our kids what it means to be logical, how to form a logical thought, or how to identify logical fallacies. Validity is important.
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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    It seems as though we are always comparing the best and brightest of other countries who come here, not with our best and brightest, but with those who have failed in our schools. I don't think that education in the U.S. is necessarily worse than elsewhere other than in our obsession with a college education for everyone regardless of intellect or aptitude.
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    Cyburbian
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    Everything above looks good. I think that there should be a new language arts curriculum that instructs students on appropriate syles of writing and when each style is used. I think that text messenging language and abbreviations are becoming commonly used when they shouldn't be. I know that language changes and evolves, but I still believe that someone who has strong writing skills would be at an advantage.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    I fully agree that we are sorely lacking in education of basic math and personal finance, basic micro and macro economics, history, art, civics, basic home economics and trade skills (ie, how to cook more than a bag of microwave popcorn or do basic home and car repairs - we changed the oil in our cars by ourselves when I was young), basic reading and writing and speling and grammar (ie, you do NOT teach one to read and write an alphabetic language such as English in the way that you must teach that in a symbolic language such as Chinese), basic physical ed/gym, logical and critical thinking, etc. Why does a first-grader need to know everything about the latest touchy-feely fad at the expense of the true basics? And why are schools being turned into the kids' homes with them offering (at taxpayer expense) three squares a day? Etc?

    IMHO, the educational downfall began when teachers started rising and falling based on seniority instead of how well or poorly they performed in the classrooms.

    And don't get me started on the utter cesspools that the universities are turning into. The way things are going with them, especially regarding rampant and fast worsening political correctness on campus, I'm becoming more and more amazed that major employers aren't starting to reject degrees from many of them.



    Mike

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    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek View post
    Even so, as a parent, you are your child's primary teacher and it's your responsibility to enrich and advocate for your child's education. School shouldn't exist to replace good parenting.
    Exactly what I was going to say. While I agree that all these things are important to teach, and for children to learn, I think it needs to start at home.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek View post
    Even so, as a parent, you are your child's primary teacher and it's your responsibility to enrich and advocate for your child's education. School shouldn't exist to replace good parenting.
    I can not agree more! Which is why I also say some people should not be permitted to own a gold fish, let alone parent a child.

    I feel bad for many of the teachers that I know. Many of them agree that they teach what they are told to teach, and not what the student needs to learn.


    Quote Originally posted by mgk920 View post
    And don't get me started on the utter cesspools that the universities are turning into. The way things are going with them, especially regarding rampant and fast worsening political correctness on campus, I'm becoming more and more amazed that major employers aren't starting to reject degrees from many of them.
    I agree! Which is why it does not surprise me when I learned that our former Governor is teaching at Berkeley and wrote a book as if she knows how to fix the economy. It is like a person who has been blind since birth teaching advanced finger painting.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mgk920 View post
    And don't get me started on the utter cesspools that the universities are turning into. The way things are going with them, especially regarding rampant and fast worsening political correctness on campus, I'm becoming more and more amazed that major employers aren't starting to reject degrees from many of them.



    Mike
    I find this assertion interesting. Nothing requires anyone to attend a University. I think it works both ways... Hillsdale is a pretty prominent conservative university (they even have ads on Sean Hannity)...Liberty, BYU, etc. are strongly religious. There is nothing wrong with this. You pick where you go.

    I think Universities need to be places of higher learning. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with faculty. That is what the place is for. Obviously if you are unable to think for yourself, or can't deal with a faculty member not having the same view as you, it might be difficult to find the right university, but in the end that is on you.

    I strongly doubt that universities as a whole (liberal arts, war colleges, ivy, or community) are any worse than they were 10 or 30 years ago. We are much more touchy about all kinds of subjects today. If by political correctness you mean some specific liberal agenda than I think you are wrong. Most employers are smart enough to realize that a degree from Harvard is a good degree because it requires a lot of effort to get. The professors are world renowned in their fields (from all political spectrums).

    Or were you talking about Online colleges. Because that is a different story....
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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I have two comments to make regarding this interesting discussion.

    The first is that I have been thinking about these issues more and more as my kids get older. My oldest is in 5th grade and the younger is in kindergarten. One of the things I feel aware of but simultaneously in the dark about is that the future of “work” in our society. I feel that we are exiting an age of physical production (at least in America) and entering an age of information production and management. What exactly this will entail is the “in the dark” part. I heard somewhere at sometime, some intelligent sounding person say that the jobs our kids will do have not even been invented yet. How they know that, who can say, but the point is well taken. Things are taking a different course, I think, especially compared to when I was growing up. Even manufacturing, which used to be very centralized, is increasingly deconstructed with some parts made in this country, others made in another and the final products assembled in yet a third place. I read recently how the production of knowledge and knowledge management is being similarly outsourced.

    So, what skills do our kids need to know? For me, aside from the basics that everyone has hit on here, I feel that dynamic, adaptable and unconventional thinking skills are going to be critical to success. As markets expand worldwide, the need to compete and acquire an edge over the competition hinges on small but significant adjustments to processes rather than finding a novel product to further flood the market. In an episode of Planet Money, they went and looked at a guy (an immigrant working in America – an argument for continuing to recruit abroad) who makes the little electrical connectors that link processors and other electronic parts to circuit boards. This industry moves so fast and the demand for faster performance, smaller sizes and lower heat production items is so intense that he says he has to come up with at least one key innovation and move it to production each year. He predicts that that will have to increase this to 2 or three significant improvements/year in the coming decade to stay competitive. That’s intense!

    So, this guy has to know about electrical engineering, yes, but more importantly, he has to be able to constantly innovate. That is not a skill everyone has.

    My second comment is about an article I read recently by an Indian writer commenting on how a large part of the rise of Indian information industries in the last decade has hinged on companies providing extensive and intensive job-specific training after hire. It’s a heavy investment of time and money up front, but they have found that by doing this, production is much higher as are retention rates (people stay at these jobs longer). So, it may be that even beyond educational basics provided in the schools, jobs may become increasingly specialized (and change often – maybe too often for school curriculums to keep pace) and require intensive job-specific training provided by the employers. In this sense, I can see there emerging another additional site of education which is provided by employers seeking very specific, specialized skills.
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  18. #18
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    I find this assertion interesting. Nothing requires anyone to attend a University. I think it works both ways... Hillsdale is a pretty prominent conservative university (they even have ads on Sean Hannity)...Liberty, BYU, etc. are strongly religious. There is nothing wrong with this. You pick where you go.
    Hillsdale? You need a bazillion trillion dollars to go there. It is also a relgious school. It has its underpinning with the baptist church. Many may be surprised that it was one of the first colleges to have women graduates, so it many ways it is also progressive and has been such since an early age. It also sits in the middle of the rustbelt withing a couple hour drive from Detroit, Toledo, Fort Wayne..... While this may have once been a good feature, now it means stuck in an area without employment opportunities or the fortunes that it took to send your kid there. No wonder they advertise on nationally syndicated radio. They have to!

    Me? I was stuck with the cesspool (AKA state universities).

    My point is you can pick to go to a school like Hillsdale but if you don't have a fat wallet you ain't getting in.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    In this sense, I can see there emerging another additional site of education which is provided by employers seeking very specific, specialized skills.
    The problem is that currently employers want highly specialized skills but refuse to do the training. They'd rather have a position remain vacant then fill it with a candidate that's a 90% match. This creates a situation where some jobs are impossible to fill since the only way to get the appropriate training is to come from a competitor where you did the same thing. Obviously this will likely change in time but it would definitely be unfortunate if the trend continues.

    At least right now, it gives employers the line that "we're hiring but there just aren't enough qualified candidates." What they're saying is true to an extent but they're able to address the situation if they were really interested in hiring.

  20. #20
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    Hillsdale? You need a bazillion trillion dollars to go there.
    Two of my cousins graduated from Hillsdale. There are pretty good scholarship opportunities there as well... with over 75% of the cost covered. These happen to be private scholarships, as Hillsdale doesn't take federal money. Being all conservative and what not
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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    My second comment is about an article I read recently by an Indian writer commenting on how a large part of the rise of Indian information industries in the last decade has hinged on companies providing extensive and intensive job-specific training after hire. It’s a heavy investment of time and money up front, but they have found that by doing this, production is much higher as are retention rates (people stay at these jobs longer). So, it may be that even beyond educational basics provided in the schools, jobs may become increasingly specialized (and change often – maybe too often for school curriculums to keep pace) and require intensive job-specific training provided by the employers. In this sense, I can see there emerging another additional site of education which is provided by employers seeking very specific, specialized skills.
    The Indian workplace culture is one of loyalty...between both the employee and employer. This is something that no longer exists in the American workplace IMHO.

    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    Hillsdale? You need a bazillion trillion dollars to go there. It is also a relgious school. It has its underpinning with the baptist church. Many may be surprised that it was one of the first colleges to have women graduates, so it many ways it is also progressive and has been such since an early age. It also sits in the middle of the rustbelt withing a couple hour drive from Detroit, Toledo, Fort Wayne..... While this may have once been a good feature, now it means stuck in an area without employment opportunities or the fortunes that it took to send your kid there. No wonder they advertise on nationally syndicated radio. They have to!

    Me? I was stuck with the cesspool (AKA state universities).

    My point is you can pick to go to a school like Hillsdale but if you don't have a fat wallet you ain't getting in.
    My daughter goes to a damn expensive school but they cover 73% of the cost and it works out cheaper than if she were living at home and attending Rutgers, which did not have her program anyways.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    I'm a product of public schools from kindergarten (never went to pre-school) on through grad school and have no complaints about the quality of education that I received. But that doesn't mean that I'm deaf to the complaints I've heard about the system for years.

    An expert on the education system in America I am not but if I had to pick two catalysts for our perceived decline in the quality I would point to the proliferation of standardized testing, the advent of the information age.

    Standardized testing: With everybody always gearing up for the next big test, teachers and schools are bound to start teaching to the test whether it's a concerted effort or just subconsciously leaning towards a particular direction because of what their years of experience tells them will be there. This causes the students to learn rote information at the cost of other subjects or spending time working on critical thinking, problem solving, or exploring other topics that aren't specifically on some mandated "important" test. Additionally some students just don't take standardized tests as well as others. If the tests had less multiple choice and more short answers or essays, you may find that the students who previously floundered are now striving and vice versa.

    Information age: In our 24 hour news cycle and internet age, hearing stories about some kid 2,000 miles away who did awesome accomplishment X or how kids in Japan are Y-times better prepared than our kids is just all too commonplace. For every story you hear about a school district with absolutely horrible grades and graduation rates, there are probably 10 school districts who are doing just fine that you never hear about. Yes, that people are failing and don't have the resources to ever make a valiant effort is horrible, but it's not the norm.

    And as somebody above mentioned, when you hear about foreign students coming to America and blasting our students out of the water at the universities we need to remember that they were the cream of the crop in their native countries and more importantly, there is a positive sign to this: Our universities are still prestigious enough to be attracting these foreign students. When American students start leaving the U.S. en masse for India, Turkey, or Belarus for higher education, that's when we need to worry.
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    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    I find this assertion interesting. Nothing requires anyone to attend a University. I think it works both ways... Hillsdale is a pretty prominent conservative university (they even have ads on Sean Hannity)...Liberty, BYU, etc. are strongly religious. There is nothing wrong with this. You pick where you go.

    I think Universities need to be places of higher learning. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with faculty. That is what the place is for. Obviously if you are unable to think for yourself, or can't deal with a faculty member not having the same view as you, it might be difficult to find the right university, but in the end that is on you.

    I strongly doubt that universities as a whole (liberal arts, war colleges, ivy, or community) are any worse than they were 10 or 30 years ago. We are much more touchy about all kinds of subjects today. If by political correctness you mean some specific liberal agenda than I think you are wrong. Most employers are smart enough to realize that a degree from Harvard is a good degree because it requires a lot of effort to get. The professors are world renowned in their fields (from all political spectrums).

    Or were you talking about Online colleges. Because that is a different story....

    It is not surprising that universities are in general more liberal. As the conservative movement has gone to such anti-science extremes, why would it be surprising to anyone that conservatives are less represented in places where science is important?
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  24. #24
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Education, in my experiences, doesn't effectively teach critical thinking and problem solving. In the last decade, the push for performance measurements has eroded this further. I notice that my kids are tested on their ability to test well rather than their ability to demonstrate critical thought.

    I've heard it said that public school (and private for that matter) ensures that you know how to be given a set of instructions or directions and can follow those instructions for the benefit of corporate america.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    It is not surprising that universities are in general more liberal. As the conservative movement has gone to such anti-science extremes, why would it be surprising to anyone that conservatives are less represented in places where science is important?
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    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    C'mon and get me you twist of fate
    I'm standing right here Mr. Destiny
    If you want to talk well then I'll relate
    If you don't so what cause you don't scare me

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