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American Education is Poor at Teaching Values

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There are many indications suggesting that American education does a poor job of teaching values. The overall picture is one in which there are inconsistent outcomes which often tend to have a sociologically identifiable basis, namely, the education level of the parents or parent.

One example of a lack of decency on the part of an educated professional is the conduct of Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, who organized a hunting expedition to Zimbabwe where the people he hired lured Cecil the lion from a protected national park to an unprotected area outside of the park's boundaries, where Palmer shot the lion with a bow and arrow, which wounded him as he continued to live until one of the hired men could finish the task. Palmer had previously gotten into trouble with U.S. Fish and Wildlife rangers for hunting a bear. Dentists are supposed to understand something about biology. They should also have a strong sense of ethics. A report on Frontline on PBS about dental clinics showed a mother who had taken her daughter to a chain of children's dental clinics that only accepts Medicaid. The dentist assigned to the case did not handle the treatment well as the child was in pain. The dentist couldn't finish the job. Another dentist was brought in, but if I recall, the filling that finally was put in later fell out. The women began to doubt if the dental work that the clinic recommended and tried to complete was even necessary. Years ago, one of the news magazine shows such as ABC News 20/20 or NBC Dateline did a report in which a correspondent went to different dentists and was given differing diagnoses of supposed cavities and recommendations for fillings. Before going to these dentists in private practice, the correspondent had an exam with a professor of dentistry at a dental school who gave him a complete assessment of his teeth. So he knew what his dental status was before going to see these various dentists. This was years ago so I don't remember the details, but it seems that many of not all of the dentists wanted to drill and repair teeth which the professor found to be perfectly normal. The report concluded that since the average dental patient has no way of knowing for sure what the x-rays show, a person is taking a chance of having unncessary work done by going to the dentist.

There are people who did not receive the best possible education and who can't see when money and influence in business is causing politicians to favor the interests of a small number of rich people over that of the majority of people, or when harm could occur to people who already are near the bottom when it comes to income, social status, and influence over public policies.

People don't seem to be objecting to how robotics is threatening the future of many, especially the most vulnerable of workers, but of some professionals as well.

Reckless driving where people are unduly aggressive and drive too fast to allow for a margin of safety, even though their impatience is not justified because their destination is not all that important, not worth getting into an accident over, and where too many people don't care about anyone other than themselves shows that education did not leave any great impression when it comes to common sense and respect for life and property, even one's own.

A lack of knowledge in America does not stop many people from being highly opinionated, even if only to repeat someone else's opionion, as factually mistaken or extreme as it may be, simply because it someone seems to be the trending thing. Individuals have trouble noticing things or appreciating the physical world of the senses that surround them. Our educational system comes across to me as having caused actual physiological developmental damage due to inadequate brain stimulation. This is often cited in connection with a lack of preschool and with children who are from lower-income families, but I am convinced that it also often applies to middle class children, who were deprived of certain developmental experiences at different points in their educational past.

The schools apparently put quite a lot of emphasis on social stratification and inequality as a measuring stick of human worth, because many base their attitudes toward others on social class, even when individuals are fairly far down the totem pole of social class and education. At times, the schools have seemed too strict when it comes to enforcing rules and discipline, and yet, they have passed some students along who didn't learn the basics and should have been held back. That would have been the more honest, if more inconvenient, route to have taken.

The idea that schools are exclusively future job training facilities will end in a low-quality of life for many people. People are not required to go to college and therefore are not forced into taking out thousands in student loans. Without education beyond high school, one's options are increasingly limited. But experts in artificial intelligence have said that even a certain number of white collar, professional jobs will be lost in the future to automation. Not everyone has the same level of intellectual capacity or ability. Differences in ability and in education have a genetic basis to some extent, but being of a working class background is a profound cultural difference from more professional circles, unlikely to be overcome in all instances if someone is replaced by automation. There is much about education and upward mobility that is not understood. No doubt, there are some important differences among people who from the standpoint of social class may seem to be alike.

Higher education has become increasingly an instrument of social Darwinism. Contributing to the profits of corporations instead of serving more impractical but intangible goals of knowledge for the sake of knowledge, of finding ways to help the least fortunate and less talented, of creating a sense of norms and values that everyone agrees to follow so that there is a civilization that can be recognized are areas that have concerned academia in the past. Today, the funding streams and new-found ambitions of professors have moved America away from any values other than pecuniary ones. The masses have a certain level and amount of technical knowledge and skills, although the U.S. lags behind a number of other countries in terms of science and math achievement levels. In terms of appreciating life as being unique, short-lived, and therefore precious, and worthy of appreciation for its own intrinsic values and characteristics, education has significantly failed, and on multiple levels.

Robindell's picture
Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Comments

Values cant be taught. You learn them on your own by living. And you won't teach good values by teaching socialism in the schools.

Maine's picture
Maine
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Jul. 8, 2015 4:26 pm

That is quite a meandering post.

gumball's picture
gumball
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Dec. 12, 2013 11:02 am

"There are many indications suggesting that American education does a poor job of teaching values. The overall picture is one in which there are inconsistent outcomes which often tend to have a sociologically identifiable basis, namely, the education level of the parents or parent."

That's okay. No parent I know wants the educational system to pre-empt the job of instilling moral values away from their influence into those desired by programmers of the state. There is already plenty of mischief available from religious 'authorities' who want to scare people into compliance with their agenda.

oldephartte's picture
oldephartte
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Aug. 3, 2015 10:50 pm

Robindell, I think some people are seeing some of the same things you are:

http://uk.businessinsider.com/teaching-philosophy-in-schools-has-huge-im...

But in some ambitious K-12 schools across the country, philosophy courses have made tangible improvements to the way students learn.

In these classrooms, teachers tackle big concepts like ethics and epistemology. They ask, How can we know what we know? — a classic epistemological quandary — but they use Dr. Seuss to get there.

nimblecivet
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Maine:

Values cant be taught. You learn them on your own by living. And you won't teach good values by teaching socialism in the schools.

Quote oldephartte:

"There are many indications suggesting that American education does a poor job of teaching values. The overall picture is one in which there are inconsistent outcomes which often tend to have a sociologically identifiable basis, namely, the education level of the parents or parent."

That's okay. No parent I know wants the educational system to pre-empt the job of instilling moral values away from their influence into those desired by programmers of the state. There is already plenty of mischief available from religious 'authorities' who want to scare people into compliance with their agenda.

Problem is you already have too many people indoctrinated into the capitalist/fascist anti-cultural garbage put out by right-wingers who have destroyed public education. So either find a way to let parents stay home with their kids or pipe down while the socialists solve your problems for you.

nimblecivet
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Occupations are taught in school. Unethical professionals were not taught and if applicable supervised. There is agreement that schools should teach what parents may not teach, or reinforce things that many parents do teach. Education is part of socialization; that is just the way it is. As reported in the news, shootings and homocides are up in 2015 over a historic low in 2013. The people on this Webs site themselves for the most part are too misinformed or poorly educated to have knowledge of research of certain programs that have been shown to have a viable degree of success in detering young urban male students from becoming involved with crime. There are schools serving low-income students, both urban and rural, that have had success with students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

If you don't have adequate external stimulation throughout childhood, most significantly perhaps in the preschool period but beyond that as well, the physiological development of the brain is affected. People who didn't learn the basics have a higher likihood of faltering cognitively, socially, and economically later on. Public schools are not allowed to directly present a partisan political viewpoint as being the correct view to have. Knowing something about fact-checking and academic standards of research are part of what seems to be missing. When people are belligerent and ignorant about other people who they don't even know, then logical thinking has been tossed aside. Where is the proof that values can't be taught? It's just an opinion, a dogmatic, pigheaded, and possibly harmul opinion in its negativity and lack of range of knowledge regarding education. I remember certain things I was taught in school years ago. I also have some ideas of things that could and should have been given more attention. There is now a shortage of teachers. Some if it is pay, some of it is the over-emphasis on standardized testing, some of it are kids whose parents give in to them so much that they don't want to follow basic rules and pay attention in school. I know one-time teachers who complained about how difficult it is to teach kids due to their lack of respect for teachers. I read a headline in Thom's newsletter that Chris Christy said that teachers should be punched in the face. It is all part of the greed and anti-intellectual atmosphere of America, a country largely populated by unethical imbeciles. I think I would have liked it better in Germany. I know a retired teacher who was knocked down in the hallway of his school by a student who happened to be African-American. A society where there is no cohesion, no commonality, and only rebellion against the perceived establishment is a society populated by emotionally immature people. Thoughtful questioning is lacking in more than one context.

The schools cannot perform miracles, but there is more that they could do.

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Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Some in higher education have said that the future of a college education, espcially in the humanities, is interdisciplinary studies. The curriculum will be reorganized. There will be a new type of analytical thinking that will emerge from this. To accompany and accomodate the structural changes, there will have to be a new way of writing. The strange thing about Americans is that they are often willing to embrace technological changes, but refuse changes in social institutions and communications. Major changes in technology effect society, in how people live. There is a failure to accept changes that inevitably will go along with the changes in how technology has already affected and will continue to affect various aspects of life. The dilema that underlies this conservative tendency is that people tend to be closed-minded and dismissive of ideas that may not even have been tried, or are too new to be comprehended, while being rebellious or resentful against authority. There seems to be a move toward tearing down established practices without any real thought as to what will take their place, and how the replacement might work. Despite the conservative nature of American society, little thought is given to stability or continuity. Short-sightedness is often the prevailing perspective. People, including educators, who in many instances have become less ethical than in previous times, embrace the latest new gadget, but given little thought to more abtract, social or communicative changes that are pressing on established patterns.

There is this artificial compartmentalization in the attitudes of many between home and school, between parenting and teaching, and between cognition and emotions. Parents are supposed to complement and support what the teachers are trying to accomplish. In too many instances, when the parents are poorly educated, the parents act in isolation from the school and from teachers. Driving a car in a safe, non-reckless, legal manner may seem like a matter that applies to someone's personal life, but how someone behaves in one sphere of life may very well say something about their attitudes in another sphere. There are many people who earn money driving a vehicle, truck drivers, delivery drivers, cabbies, and Uber drivers. Business people who have poor relationships with their family members and relatives may also have problems treating people appropriately at work, be they co-workers or "subordinates." Alternative models of organizing businesses such as co-operatives or simliar forms of worker participation in decision-making don't seem to be taught in schools. I wonder if health classes are still required where many kinds of conditions and disabilities and their consequences could be discussed, as they once were. Information about health care and how people pay for it would have improved the intellectual climate when it came to passing some kind of health coverage legislation.

The idea that everything comes from one source of information is all too typical in American society. What the parents do is done in complete mental isolation from what teachers teach in school, as if the kid is divided in half. At least they may be teaching kids how to check multiple sources of information on the Internet, but of that I am not sure.

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Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

You might be interested in this, I don't think you need a subscription to read this article. It looks to me like some of the fundamental principles behind the changes you referred to happening at the college level in the humanities could also spur changes across the board. The article is about testing but mentions a lot about "metacognition", etc. The idea is not to support standardized tests but to use tests and quizzes as learning practice. This would give teachers more control over the content as opposed to testing companies. Remember that Jeb Bush scored big after No Child Left Behind because of his stake in such a testing company which operate as national corporate authority.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/researchers-find-that-frequent...

nimblecivet
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

It was recently reported on the news that SAT and ACT scores in America are once again down. I don't know for sure if it is a relevant factor, but a majority of the states are controlled by Republican governors and have Republican majorities in the state legislatures.

In dealing with people in different contexts, in person, on Web sites, or in traffic, one observation I have is that Americans have grown to be absudly dogmatic. When people have something to say, they often feel a need to act as if they are right and any other view is completely wrong. The Spainish philosopher Ortega y Gasset once wrote that there is a little truth in everything. What is it about American education that puts so much empahsis on self-confidence that people form opinions, often based on assumptions that go unquestioned, and then express those views in ways that are stylistically dicatorial. People these days take partial facts or realities and blow them up out of proportion. They stick to what they believe without considering new, additional information. Spin is everything. No wonder our political situation is stuck where it has been for many years. Linguist Debrah Tannen wrote about some of these tendencies in her book, The Argument Culture.

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Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

And a little short on teaching - or fostering - critical thinking.

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Alberto Ceras 2
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Dec. 9, 2012 9:14 am

Barbara Byrd Bennett was the previous CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. Byrd Bennett has been indicted by the federal government for a kind of kickback scheme. Before working for CPS, she worked for a suburban-based educational company called SUPES Academy which provides training seminars to principals. After she was appointed as the head of CPS by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the school district took on a no-bid contract with this company to provide training seminars to school principals, some of whom said that these seminars were a waste of time from which they learned nothing. The Chicago Tribune reports that there were an email log shows that, prior to the SUPES countract being approved by the Board of Education, there had been a number of emails, which suggest that Byrd Bennett resisted pushback from city hall staffers against the SUPRES contract. In an email to one of Emanuel's staff people, Byrd Bennett complained that she didn't like being "micro-managed" by people who have no experience in management. The paper also mentions that a non-profit had a contract with SUPES to provide training to mid-level school administrators, but the organization did not renew and extend that contract. Byrd Bennett had some kind of agrement with SUPES, which has been sued by federal prosecutors and has been ordered to pay back money to CPS, in which she would have some kind of relationship with them, such as a job, after she left the Chicago Public Schools. As I understand it, there was some kind of scheme to pay her back for helping them to get the no-bid contract with the Chicago school district. The federal prosecutor said that it was her intention to not reveal her financial relationship with SUPES even before she officially become the head of CPS. It is likely that she will be found guilty and will have to spend something like seven years in prison. Today, she appeared in federal court and plead guilty to a count of bribery, and apologized, saying that the students of Chicago deserved better. With the history of prosecutions in Illinois of city and state officials, and knowing that Byrd Bennett has a background in education and education administration, you would think she would have known not to do something like this.

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Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

It is just too coincidental that the decline in the U.S. public education system pretty much begins when the the U.S. Dept of Education was created.

Kilosqrd's picture
Kilosqrd
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Sep. 5, 2014 3:22 am

Gasp! You mean the degrading of education began as far back as 1867 !!!!!!!?????

rs allen
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Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

You are a buffoon, rs allen.

Previous Dept of Ed created in 1867, was demoted to office level in 1868.

U.S. Dept of Education, signed into law in 1979. By Pres. J Carter. But you knew that already, right? But maybe not, which clearly demonstrates you must be a product of the current education system under the U.S. Dept of Education. By the way rs, how many people, (children or adults) have been educated by the U.S. Dept of Ed since it's creation? I'll give you a hint. It is less than one (1).

U.S. Dept of Education stated mission: to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.

Kinda sounds like they are falling way short of achieving their goals.

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Kilosqrd
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Sep. 5, 2014 3:22 am

And the department has existed since 1867. How and what is taught in schools is largely left to individual states and localities with the only direction coming the feds are general standards and accrediting criteria. The fed is not charged with teching squat. If you've got a bitch about the schooling in your area take that up with the local school board as the federal government has little to nothing to do with it.

And whatever schooling you've had kilo obviously taught no values.

rs allen
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Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

There are many success stories in education. Most Americans do o.k. This Kilosqrd is a bigoted, manipulative hack and an academic quack. The New Child Left Behind law was mostly the idea of the George W. Bush Administration. The education department allows schools to function by providing federal funding. One area that they help fund is special education for disabled students. The U.S. has fallen behind other countries in the number of students who attend and graduate from college, especially with a bachelor's degree. This Kilosqrd is too dishonest and ignorant to know or otherwise admit that many states in recent years have cut back on funding for state universities, thus causing tuition to rise. Private universities have also raised their tuition, and all of these increases I believe is greater than the rate of inflation during this same period. Republicans and some federal judges have supported for-profit, or proprietary colleges and career schools that take in students who are not always adequately prepared for college and then offer substandard instruction in many cases. Their industry spends a tremendous amount on lobbying Congress. They have a higher rate of failure than do non-profit universities. The education department tried to implement some modest safeguards, but a certain judge made an adverse ruling, and Republicans have been very supportive of modest reforms for proprietary colleges. Researchers have found that the education level and socioeconomic status of parents is the most important predictor of the educational attainment of children, and that there are signifcant differences between low-income or working class families in communication than in middle class families. Uneducated conservatives don't care about empirical research or child development, and talk about education even though they themselves tend to be distorted and in many ways uneducated. I appreciate the very articulate and correct statement above in post 16 by Mr. r.s allen.

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Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

No More Presidential Immunity!

Thom plus logo When Richard Nixon committed multiple Felonies, including accepting bribes in cash in the White House, Jerry Ford chose to pardon him.

When Ronald Reagan committed treason in 1980 to get elected, Attorney General Bill Barr shut down the investigation in 1992 with five pardons.
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