[ale] Palladium/MS: ideas for retaliation - WAY, WAY, WAYOTnow!!!

James P. Kinney III jkinney at localnetsolutions.com
Sat Jun 29 10:57:48 EDT 2002

You really touched on as issue I hadn't in my previous keyboard
poundings on this thread. 

As the school systems lose their top students to private schools, home
schooling, mas exodus, etc., they adjust their teaching parameters to
what is left. As the content of school for the K12 age is absolutely
vital, they must teach it to the bottom 50%. Not the top 50% or even the
middle 50%. So the central, average kids get a halfway decent push in
the way of a challenge. The top 10% are bored beyond belief. 

One of the things that resulted from lawsuits back in the late 70"s was
the abandonment of the 3-tiered classroom structure. There used to be a
separate class of the top 25%. the bottom 25% and the middle 50%. This
grouping was determined back in the 40's and 50's by psychologists who
studied HOW kids learn. The boundary lines for the classes were flexible
to meet the size constraints for the individual schools. 
The upshot was, kids who had similar learning processes and speed were
grouped together and taught using a style more appropriate for their
The lower 25% got much more focus on language development and
comprehension skills for reading. The middle 50% was geared toward
concrete facts and applied knowledge. The top 25% was the abstract
reasoning skills, symbolic processing of general knowledge. As one can
guess, each of these three groups required radically different teaching
For the most part, this process worked. At each level, each student
progressed at a pace that afforded them an excellent opportunity  to
acquire as much knowledge as they could in the 12 years of school. 
Of course, there were always the losers that blew off everybody and got
nothing out of their time in school.

Sometime around the late 70's a lawsuite alleging discrimination in the
class placements was won. The basic argument was the racial and ethnic
make-up of the 3-tiered class system did not mirror the make-up of the
student body as a whole. Which was true. The top 25% was not the same
mix as the bottom 25%. 
The end result of this was that the 3-tiered system was scrapped and
replaced with a random placement of students by last name into
classrooms. This also required a radical restructuring of the teaching
methods used in this new, blended ability classroom.
So the only viable choice was to teach to the bottom 50% because that
bunch had no chance of learning it on their own otherwise. The kids in
the top 50%, and certainly in the top 25% experience school the way
Rhiannen's  and my kids do. "Why waste my time going? All I do is play
with my friends. I'm bored all day." 

The learning process has some critical events. The first, and most
important one, is the development of language. This sets up the patterns
of discriminative thinking that is essential in sorting and
understanding everything else. The principle common environmental factor
that the researchers have found in kids who are in that top 25% are
parents with good language skills. The correct use of the native
language is a complex thing. This complexity requires the brain
development to compartmentalize communication into its basic parts. The
more language complexity the kids are exposed to at an early age, the
greater number of "mental bins" they develop. It seems that the skill of
compartmentalizing is the essential step toward analysis and
recombination process that is used in communication. 

The really good news out of this is that the brain is quite resilient in
children and those skill can be easily learned up through the early
20's. After that approximate age, the ability to develop the
compartmentalization skill declines rapidly. So kids who are having
problems can be taught the skills they are missing even if they miss it
during that critical age of 12 months to 3 years. 
The bad news is there are very few teachers with the training to perform
this really difficult process. There are even fewer schools that have
the resources to support such an effort. 

The long range solution to the decline in public school education is
going to involve not a lessening involvement, but a much greater
involvement in the learning process of children. We all know that there
are huge numbers of parents who are truly not qualified to raise
children in any form. And we also know that they tend to have more than
1 child. The rapid rise of the technological systems in this country
require an even more intellectually functional population than what we
have right now. 

There are two current modes of thought on a solution to this problem.
One mode is that the parents, and thus the kids, are on their own to
make their way in this world. Societal contribution is a one way street
that runs from the individual , not towards the individual. In this
mode, society has no responsibility to improve the life of the
individual who does not already meet the standards of society.

The other mode of thinking is one where society has a responsibility to
to itself and that extends to support the members of society who are not
as proficient in the processes that are required for full and active
participation in society. This process is more of a two way street
between the individual and society at large.

Mode one, the me-and-mine mode, is an essential part of the expansion
process to settle and develop a new area. It tends to foster competition
over cooperation. 

Mode two, the we're-in-this-together mode, is an essential mindset to
survival of large groups of people in close proximity. It involves large
amounts of dialog coupled with incremental changes that support growing
a common base of understanding between dissimilar individuals. It is
much more a give-and-take process than the hands-off process of mode

If the kids are going to be prepared to function in this changing world,
they are going to need a better set of tools than they have now. Since
the learning process for the most critical skill of language occurs,
currently, before the public school process, maybe society should
investigate a public school process that begins at that age.

Would all kids benefit from it equally? No. Some kids are going to get a
better head start from their parental involvement. So for them, let them
get the heavy parental involvement that will benefit them the most in
the long run. But since we know we have a huge, and growing, population
of kids being born to parents who can't be effective teachers at that
critical time, society has a responsibility to itself to make the
environmental changes that will allow for the optimum growth and
learning opportunities for its newest and youngest members. Learning
begins at birth. We need more qualified teachers at that age level. 

On Fri, 2002-06-28 at 23:54, rhiannen wrote:
> Well, I can't stay impartial on this one.
> We pulled my (honor student from day one) older son out of school in the
> 10th grade when his grades went from 97+ to 50- across the board in one
> quarter.  Teaching to the lowest common denominator just got to be too
> much.  After filing out all the necessary paperwork, he took the first
> available GED and aced it.  At 19, he's now doing very well for himself
> doing game level and texture design for a rather well known gaming
> company in Texas and making as much as either of his parents.  
> The system failed him, but he didn't fail.
> His school situation opened my eyes and made me look into the public
> education system:  Gross mistakes in science books, revisionist history,
> no logic courses, poor facsimiles of higher math, soporific class
> exercises, miserable excuses for essays getting A's, extremely narrow
> (and slanted) reading lists, zero-tolerance idiocy, pathetic discipline,
> the list goes on.  Things are very, very different from when *I* went to
> school.
> My younger son, who was "part of the in crowd" was cruising,
> unchallenged, bored, and getting away with handing in crap in the 9th
> grade that wouldn't have gotten me a passing grade in the 4th.  So, we
> yanked him as well - this time in favor of homeschooling.  It's harder
> on us, the parents, but much, much better for his education, which is
> what matters.  Because of his age (now 16,) we placed him on the honor
> system and both of us continued working.  I set his curriculum, give him
> his assignments, then we go to to our jobs, he does his 4.5 hours of
> work, we review it when we come home.  (Well, before summer break and my
> back injury late May.)  
> He was well on the way of passing through school and receiving a
> diploma; I've been astounded at all the things I had learned by 10 or 11
> that he didn't know at 15.  We basically have had to backtrack and cram
> about 4 years of knowledge into the past year just to get him up to
> speed.   
> And he's thriving.  His attitude and self-image, along with his critical
> thinking and communication skills, have improved logarithmically.  
> If I had to do it all again, I think I'd pull them both after the 2nd or
> 3rd grade, once they'd had the early social interaction and were just
> settling down into more complex reasoning skills.  Actually, I'd
> probably just give them the early years in a private setting, and avoid
> the indoctrination centers like the plague.
> -- 
> rhia
> knowledge is power - arm yourself
James P. Kinney III   \Changing the mobile computing world/
President and CEO      \          one Linux user         /
Local Net Solutions,LLC \           at a time.          /
770-493-8244             \.___________________________./

GPG ID: 829C6CA7 James P. Kinney III (M.S. Physics)
<jkinney at localnetsolutions.com>
Fingerprint = 3C9E 6366 54FC A3FE BA4D 0659 6190 ADC3 829C 6CA7 

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