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"I repeat, we have no I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E.!"

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Rob4Broncos, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. Rob4Broncos

    Rob4Broncos
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    From Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence:

    "The guiding visionary behind Project Specrum is Howard Gardner, a psychologist at the Harvard School of Education. "The time has come," Gardner told me, "to broaden our notion of the spectrum of talents. The single most important contribution education can make to a child's development is to help him toward a field where his talents best suit him, where he will be satisfied and competent. We've completely lost sight of that. Instead we subject everyone to an education where, if you succeed, you will be best suited to be a college professor. And we evaluate everyone along the way according to whether they meet that narrow standard of success. We should send less time ranking children and more time helping them to identify their natural competencies and gifts, and cultivate those. There are hundreds and hundreds of ways to succeed, and many, many different abilities that will help you get there."

    This is something I've given some thought to in recent years, regarding what it means to be "smart" and "capable" (at least in the United States). To me, there's a lot to be desired about the current model of education; in particular, the one-size-fits-all method of academia, which classifies certain subjects as "standard" and leaves others by the wayside. Should you fail to live up to one or more of those standards, you're considered a failure, to some extent. Quite simply, some areas of study are vastly overrated, and others are sorely neglected (or ignored entirely).

    Focus: Pretend you could do K-12 all over again. Which subjects would you devote more time to? Which ones would you want to take that aren't classified as "subjects" by conventional education (see examples below)?

    Alt. Focus: Which subjects would you gloss over or omit, and why? "Because I wasn't very good at them" isn't an entirely unreasonable response, but do elaborate if you can.

    I think that starting from an early age, every child would be well-served to be taught logic and reason. I'm sure I speak for many people when I say that the average young person today (and many older ones, as well) couldn't argue their way out of a paper bag. I'm not asking for a dictionary definition of the regression fallacy, but knowing how to ascribe the proper cause to an effect would do the world a lot of good.

    Another focal point that would be neat to see as part of standard education, would be one listed in the book itself: interpersonal skills. This is another area in which many people I know seem to lack, particularly in the advent of Facebook and other "social" media. Again, from Dr. Gardner: "Many people with IQs of 160 work for people with IQs of 100, if the former have poor intrapersonal intelligence and the latter have a high one. And in the day-to-day world no intelligence is more important that the interpersonal. If you don't have it, you'll make poor choices of who to marry, what job to take, and so on. We need to train children in the personal intelligences in school."

    These are just two off the top of my head, and I'm ignoring the feasibility of implementing them into the current U.S. education model, but hopefully it'll get the ball rolling towards other, similar ideas. Don't hesitate to think "outside of the box" (whatever that means).
     
  2. Blue Dog

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    I are goodest at mathe, butt I no think I need english any. Me speek it bestest already, why need lern mor?
     
  3. lostalldoubt86

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    I would probably focus a lot on developing my writing skills earlier. I don't have a mind for math, and I haven't had to use anything but basic math ever in my life. I would also try to focus more on history, although continuously not making it to the 1960's always pissed me off.
     
  4. silway

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    Money. We need education on managing money. Things like how credit works and how to maintain and grow your credit score, how to deal with monthly budgeting, retirement accounts, and so on. Have it shade from personal financial management into some understanding of things like the stock market and taxes and the like. We'll have people coming into adulthood with good money handling habits and an awareness of the broader financial world. As a contrasting example, I didn't know how marginal tax rates worked until a federal income tax class in law school taught me and that's the sort of thing that should never happen.

    Good money habits would have prevented or softened the recent crash and is a key life skill. I sure as hell wish I hadn't had to learn, and still struggle with, those good habits the hard way.
     
  5. rei

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    I should have tried way harder in math. So many people I know make the "I just don't get math" excuse - and I did that too when I was a whiny arts student. I've since manned up and just acknowledged I put no effort at all into it.


    That said, taking "college" (as opposed to "university") highschool math taught me fairly valuable finance lessons that were absent from the more advanced calculus classes.
     
  6. Frank

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    Focus:

    1.) Programming, programming, programming. Why I only took one computer programming course will haunt me until the day I die.

    2.) I don't need it because I'm pretty savvy, but I think everyone else should have had to take a personal finance course to get their high school degree. Basically a course that has you simulate making a budget, explain savings and checking accounts, credit cards, taxes and mortgages. We would need an outside company to teach this course though as the government run class would be "maxed out your credit cards? take out a new one and let the good times roll!"

    3.) Basic cooking for bachelors. Until I was 20 I didn't know how to cook anything except for scrambled eggs and mac and cheese, this should not be allowed.

    Alt Focus:That's pretty much it, I'm a bit of a fatalist and think most people would not benefit from logic classes, either you're smart enough to get it on your own or you're not smart enough to apply it in a useful way. And I don't care how many public speaking courses you take, you're either good with people or you're not. You can have personal epiphanies that can change this, but I doubt it has really happened inside of a classroom.
     
  7. Rob4Broncos

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    True enough, but that could also be said about, literally, any other discipline. "You're either good at it or you're not" isn't by itself a reason not to teach something. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. The problem is that many of them are left untapped and unexplored.

    Actually, "you're either good at it or you're not" is losing sight of the bigger issue: it's precisely because such fundamental skills such as managing money and interacting with people aren't properly developed, that they're later merely explained away as things that someone never had in the first place. Sure, there are some people who are no good with math, but that hasn't stopped us from deeming it one-third of the criteria necessary to getting into our universities. This goes back to that "narrow standard of success" from the original quote.
     
  8. Frank

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    I disagree. Things like computer programming, history and foreign languages are learned skills and subjects. Sure some people are better at it than others, but pretty much everyone gets better at it in the classroom or through practice. For example, I think that had I taken more computer programming courses than I did, I would be much better at it today.

    However, no matter how many logic classes I took I probably would have been no better at critical thinking than I am today* or no matter how many soft skill classes I took, I wouldn't be better with people than I am today.

    *I do think critical thinking can be improved, but it shouldn't be focused on since it will be developed through learning new subjects and skills.
     
  9. Frank

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    I can't believe I didn't mention this in my first post, but either no kid should graduate without taking at least one course in using spreadsheets or teachers should pull their heads out of their academic asses and start incorporating them in their classes, specifically math/stat classes.
     
  10. $100T2

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    AUTO SHOP. I never took auto shop, and I should have. So should everyone else. Everyone should be able to change their own oil and at least troubleshoot basic problems on their car. I do most of my own repairs now, and it's amazing how much money I save that way. On top of it, I don't have to worry about some unscrupulous asshole not really changing parts or what not.
     
  11. PIMPTRESS

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    If I could do it all over again, I wouldn't allow my terror of a mother to impact my education. She pulled me in and out out of school to "homeschool" me, despite the fact she was a tenth grade dropout. I ended up missing huge chunks of basic education, especially in math.

    Most of my challenges with school were based on my trembling self confidence, because I felt like I had missed so much that the idiots around me seemed to know.

    Funny thing, I am a GREAT public speaker now, I know how to engage anyone in conversation and that's because I was out preaching when I was being "homeschooled."
     
  12. ASL

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    I'm pretty happy with the way I've done things. Half way through high school I started going to an Aviation Maintenance program, and finished it one year after graduating. That gave me a lot of great skills to fall back on. The only unfortunate part is that "tech" kids are sometimes still stigmatized as losers, just because they (I) wasn't taking AP bio and AP English. I did take AP calc, so I guess I wasn't too big of a loser.

    Everything in HS seems to broad, and is often poorly taught. Similarly, it is designed to prepare you for college, not life. Again, not designed to prepare you for life. It really makes no sense. I agree entirely with everyone saying there should be more basic finance classes offered, as the amount of young people starting out their careers with money troubles is astounding.

    The other thing that seems to be changing is lowest "accepted" education. For many jobs, a Bachelors degree is required, and to be competitive you really need to go beyond that. I feel that the BA/S is the new high school diploma.
     
  13. Subito

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    I think it's unfortunate how so many people look down on a lot of the "blue collar trade skills." I know I'm guilty of making fun of the kids who went to vocational school, but I think a lot of that came from my parents making college seem like the only way anyone could ever be successful. I love being hands on and working with people and I was lucky enough to find a field I could do that in athletic training, but if I had to do it all over again and didn't have parents to disappoint, I would have no problem picking up a trade like electrician. Especially since the money they can make probably blows a college grad in my field out of the water.

    So I guess what I'm really saying is beyond K-12, people should really stop placing so much emphasis on a college education being the primary indicator for success. There were hundreds of kids attending the liberal arts college I went to that cost $30,000+ a year in tuition who were undecided or business/comm majors just there because it seemed like the next step. That seems like the complete opposite of successful to me.
     
  14. sartirious

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    A few weeks ago I was heading to the parking ramp, and right next to my car was a VW Jetta with a flat tire. It's owner was standing next to the car, just starting dumbfounded - and he had been standing that way for the full five minutes it took me to walk across the ramp. I ended up changing the tire for him, since he had absolutely no idea how to do it. We chatted while I was doing all the work, and I learned he had an MBA and we worked at the same company, but he was in a role that made almost double what I make.

    Why is "Common Sense" and "Life Skills 101" not prerequisites for college admission, let alone post-graduate studies?
     
  15. Harry Coolahan

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    Some things I wish I had started earlier:

    Languages:
    I realize this is highly specific to my interests and career goals, but I'm 21 now and I know four foreign languages, and have tinkered around with three or four others. But, I didn't really take an interest in foreign languages until I was 16, and I didn't really develop the ability to learn languages quickly until I was 19. If I had started earlier, I would probably be fluent in a couple more languages, which would open a lot more doors for me now.

    Not wasting money:
    I was pretty good at business in high school, but somehow I managed to waste over $25,000 in a couple years. At 16 this was all disposable income, no real living expenses to speak of, and I could have put it all in savings. I think this can be categorized as being stupid rather than poorly managing my own money.

    Not being lazy:
    The thought of sitting down and working for 10 hours straight was virtually unfathomable for me in high school. It has been absolutely astonishing how much work I can complete when I become hyper-focused. I would be much further in life if in high school I had the same level of drive that I have now. Learning to suffer for the sake of ambitions is the best lesson I have ever learned.

    I feel like I've repeated these points in various posts in the past, but oh well. As for science, math, writing, etc., I learned those at a reasonable pace that has matched my needs, and I'm not sure more focus on these topics would have been particularly valuable to me.
     
  16. Rob4Broncos

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    This is an important point, because it's sort of the crux of the issue here. It's why I felt compelled to bring this topic up. We, as a society, put too much emphasis on things like IQ and SAT scores, even though neither are indicative of how well a person is equipped to navigate life. I suppose that's where the difference between "book smart" and "street smart" originates.

    This is simply a natural progression of the bar being raised. It's not like one person woke up one day and arbitrarily decided, "Bachelor's degrees for everyone!" It used to be that H.S. diplomas were the standard, because it didn't take much more than that to be qualified. College was optional. Competition is what motivated more and more people to get degrees, until suddenly, virtually everyone had one, and now they aren't so special any more. Next thing we know...

    100% chance that the same thing will happen to Master's degrees in 30 years, if the trend holds.
     
  17. Rob4Broncos

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    Anyway, getting back on focus, this tangent reminded me of another thing I wished was a staple of secondary education: economics. Admittedly, I have a hard-on for the subject since it's my major, but that's only because its universal application is so appealing to me. Nothing intense, nothing fancy. Just a mandatory one-year course of, "This is supply. This is demand. Here's marginal utility, and here's why you'd be a stupid motherfucker if you paid $30,000 a year for a useless degree that a bunch of other people will have."

    A rudimentary understanding of economics would help people better understand why, these days, it's better to learn a lucrative trade like HVAC than to pay 6 figures for a degree that won't give you much of a leg up over your competition. It would install an understanding of why certain actions (such as going to college) were encouraged, instead of following through with them arbitrarily "because it seemed like the next step."

    Mo' Cowbell, can I get a "hellz yeah?"
     
  18. ASL

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    I can definitely agree that the basics of economics are hugely important. But then everyone would know that their liberal arts degree isn't going to get them too far, and some of the schools would tank. Not EVERYONE can be smart and practical. That said, they could really make this a fun course. Hell, teach right out of Freakonomics, or tales of an economic hit man.

    I guess the only thing that really bothers me about the bar being raised is that the cost of post-secondary education keeps skyrocketing. With the rising cost of education combined with the flooded job market, it hardly seems worth it to spend that much time and effort in the system. Obviously you have to look past the immediate gratification of a decent job right out of school, but the whole thing seems like a giant scam.
     
  19. Racer-X

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    I think the "you've got it or you don't" argument is a facile one. Just about everything can be taught and improved through practice and a coach or teacher improves the effectiveness of practice. A lot of things would be easier to teach at a young age but if our scenario is to re-think K-12 education, interpersonal skills should definitely be emphasized. I don't know that the current "read a chapter, do a worksheet, take a test" process would work for things like this and interpersonal skills would be hard to grade but some form of structured practice would be helpful to a lot of kids, especially "indoor" kids like me.

    Focus:I'm also going to heartily agree with the practical financial classes. A friend of mine who is a lawyer recently asked why he should bother with a savings account when he already has a checking account. He was under the impression that you had to pay every time you wanted to access a savings account. I think he was confusing a savings account with a CD or retirement account.

    In the same vein of practical skills, a class in personal online security would be worthwhile. Most kids know not to open random .exe attachments or trust the prince from Nigeria but the more subtle methods of identity and information theft should be covered.

    I think I would probably take more-or-less the same classes but I would make more than a token effort in high school. Having an actual understanding of math instead of a rote memory of how to work certain types of problems would have helped immensely in some engineering classes. I still don't really "get" math the way some people do and when someone speaks about the beauty of an equation I usually get a slack-jawed look.
     
  20. Frank

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    I should have been more clear in my first post, I think things like critical thinking can be improved upon, but I think this will naturally happen while you learn more specific things like math, science and computer skills. Teaching someone what a tautology is will not make them a smarter person and knowing that word is useless (I have a math degree and I forget what it means). But I think that while you learn more specific things you can develop your skills and your critical thinking simultaneously instead of wasting time on something like a logic class that quite frankly, if it isn't common sense to you, you're just not cut out for a path that requires critical thinking.