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December 15, 2005

Comments

odocoileus

I would make a huge difference in the hood, since so much of the problem stems from sexual competition.

Uniforms too have been tried, with success, in some US schools. Here in LA, elementary school kids wear them, but not necc. middle school kids or HS kids.

You would not BELIEVE what some high school girls wear to school in LA public schools. You have to wonder how they keep themselves covered when they sit down. Not that I'm complaining. Actually, I am complaining. It's quite the distraction when I'm driving to work in the mornings.

Jim

"the ridiculous notion that the classroom is a place for teaching "social skills" rather than for academic instruction"

The classroom is the place for preparing people for adult life, specifically employment. And what do employers look for, and complain that they have a hard time finding? They want employees are skilled in "oral and written communications", "effective communication" or some equivalent formulation. Last time I looked, communcation is a social rather than an academic skill. And when it comes to effective communication, being wonderfully articulate or having a dazzling vocabulary may a fall woefully short of the required level of function. Effective communication depends on monitoring what you interlocutor is comprehending and how he is reacting, so that you can adjust as necessary for greater effectiveness. That is a social skill, and a highly developed one. Something else employers want is employees who can function well in self-supervising work groups, groups that don't require a lot of expensive supervision. That requires a high level of social function. A candidate may have the best possible academic preparation and be unemployable. Of course all this is even truer for people going into managerial positions. These two skill areas are not mutually exclusive, nor is one more type of skill more valuable that the other - it depends on the requirements of the job.

Then of course there is another area of adult life beyond work. They used to call this "citizenship" when I went to school. You can pooh-pooh this as a waste of time, but teaching kids how to function in a class meeting, to vote and respect the outcome even when it goes against them, to respect each other across ethnic and class lines, which we all know is as natural as flying backwards for humans, pays off in the long run in election violence avoided, other bloodshed and so on. It may not be an academic skill, but without these skills the most academic skills will get you is a way out of the hell.

Abiola

"The classroom is the place for preparing people for adult life, specifically employment."

What a lot of bollocks.

Kevin Donoghue

Your use of the term "unisex" is pretty much opposite to what I normally take it to mean. I seem to recall reports (from the UK?) of schools where the boys got their act together when they shared classes with girls (the girls marks did not improve however). Of course that's wouldn't be conclusive proof of anything either, even if I could fin a cite. But I suspect it all depends on the local culture, particularly on whether girls are thought to admire brains rather than guys with attitude.

Abiola

"Your use of the term "unisex" is pretty much opposite to what I normally take it to mean."

Er, yes, now that you mention it, you're right. An etymologically-founded brainfart.

"I suspect it all depends on the local culture, particularly on whether girls are thought to admire brains rather than guys with attitude."

Yes, again you're correct, but seeing as this *is* America we're talking about, it's safe to say that this is not an issue any of its schools really need worry about.

Jim

"The classroom is the place for preparing people for adult life, specifically employment."

What a lot of bollocks."

That is a minority opinion, and since you're not paying for those schools, not a especially significant one. You have held the Chinese attitude towards education up as a model in the past; you might look at what Chinese parents choose to have their children educated in - certainly not the the Confucian classics, classical poetry or how to write the kind of eight-leg essay that will get them a good ranking in the Imperial Examinations. Because, after all, that kind of education will not get you anywhere in the world today, however erudite it might make you or intelligent it might make you feel. The "fragrance of inherited culture" counts for less, apparently, than preparing yourself succeed out in the world.

dsquared

[The classroom is the place for preparing people for adult life, specifically employment. And what do employers look for, and complain that they have a hard time finding?]

People with basic literacy and numeracy for the most part, isn't it?

Phil Beadle (Guardian Teacher of the Year 2004, appears on telly a bit) reckons that the problem is usually to do with boys having their egos knocked by not being as good as the girls, and thus stopping trying in order to rationalise to themselves why they weren't as good as the girls. His tip to teachers was to always try to arrange the seating plan so that the potential problem boys are sat next to girls of slightly lower ability. Then they can help the girls (and presumably try to pull them) and will make the effort.

Jim

[The classroom is the place for preparing people for adult life, specifically employment. And what do employers look for, and complain that they have a hard time finding?]

People with basic literacy and numeracy for the most part, isn't it?"

No, they say they want more, at least around here. For one thing, they can't afford to have workers making racist or sexist remarks that the get employers sued into the ground, among other special akills. And that idea about coddling the boy's egos by ensuring they don't have to compete with smart girls sucks. Nuff said.

dsquared

Make up your mind. If you think that the purpose of a school is to train children to be workers in mildly-PC service occupations, then I've suggested a way in which it can be achieved. If you think that the purpose of a school is to carry out your politicised vision of what does or doesn't "suck", then stop pretending it's got anything to do with what employers think.

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