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Ringo
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0 posted 05-14-2010 10:07 PM       View Profile for Ringo   Email Ringo   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Ringo

In a different thread, Bob K made the following statement
quote:
I'd like to see some education improvements myself.  I'm simply not certain what they would be.  I have no idea what the history of this stuff is that you're speaking about here.  I tend not to like the idea of taking apart public schools, though I'm certain that there are lots of things about them that need improvement, including the protections for teachers that even other teachers believe are bad teachers.  How to address these things, I don't know, but I would like to begin some sort of discussion about this stuff if we could free it from the politics of left and right.


As this is a subject very near and dear to my existence (I am studying to get my history education degree- grades 5-12), I figured I would take a side step (for about 6 posts)from the Bush/Obama basing and ask what reforms you all feel should be made.

I do have a few requests, though...
The phrase "Throw more money at it" should not be used except in cases where you can show where placing more money into the Department of Education would succeed, when it has had an increase in federal funding of 29.68 billion annual budget between 1980 and 2009, and is still in serious need of fixing.

Do not use this thread to bash one administration or another... NONE of them have done their job educating the nation's youth.

Remember... we are all (supposedly) put of elementary school. While we are talking about children, calling someone "poopie face" is strongly discouraged.

So...
What can we do to improve our children's education?

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, "WHAT A RIDE

Bob K
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1 posted 05-15-2010 11:10 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     I think that it is important for our children that our teachers learn not simply their subjects and they should be expert in their subjects but they should also learn classroom management and group dynamics, so that they are not always flying by the seats of their pants.  There should be ongoing classes as part of teacher education with a structured curriculum and lab that teaches these skills.  I recommend the management skills developed by Rudolf Dreikurs, because those skills seem to make a very large difference in how well the classes go and how well the learning progresses.  They tend to turn out decent citizens as well as good students, which seems to be a good combination.

     I'm interested in what folks think about what subjects ought to be taught, and how the subjects should be approached.

     Ringo menbtioned being in school toward teaching history, which is a fascinating topic.  Which history is the history that is the history that needs to be taught? is one of the questions that comes to my mind.  There are a lot of histories out there, some of which are in conflict with each other.  How do you deal with this somewhat difficult problem as a history teacher and as a parent and then, possibly, as a school board member?

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2 posted 05-15-2010 11:20 PM       View Profile for threadbear   Email threadbear   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for threadbear

Could the answer to our education woes be as simple as the following answer?

If you want an education system that works, look at those that DO WORK. It's that simple.  Siphon off the best characteristics of each, agree to play a non-partisan approach to curriculum (stay MOR)
Then, setup pilot programs in each of the 10 largest cities. 10 random smaller ones under 50,000 population, and another 10 in the Middle America population segment of 200,000.  Most Americans live within a city of that size within 25 miles.

You'll be testing the cream against the cream, and the results should be sweet.
Bob K
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3 posted 05-16-2010 03:13 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Interesting thought, Threadbear.

     We need to ask ourselves, "Work at doing what?"  If the answer is being able to give the right answer to a specific test, then we need to ask ourselves about what that test measures.  In evaluating education, we want to look at not only the fund of information, but the reasoning skills and the habits of thinking that we are teaching.  We want our kids not simply to be able to blurt out memorized facts, but to be able to examine facts critically, and to generate hypotheses and to be able to test them and to be able to make interesting intuitive leaps that will offer new perspectives that will allow new possibilities to be generated.  There's a matter of creative thinking to be taught as well as rote learning to be mastered as well.

     A child should to be able to master multiple perspectives at some point, though usually not until later, and to hold multiple perspectives in mind, though, again, this is something that many people never learn to do at all.  That doesn't mean that it isn't something that we should at least try to teach every child at some point in their education in the hope that they may be able to pick it up later in life.

     This involves not simply subject matter but learning about different styles of learning by the teachers themselves, and learning how to adapt their teaching methods to various types of learning styles.  We know enough about this by now to be able to use some of the research in learning styles to help students learn more effectively, and a master teacher should have some skill in adapting the subject matter to these different pupil learning styles.

     Part of the teacher's training should be ongoing support from the school system in doing exactly this stuff, adapting the material to the pupil's individual learning style.

     Different schools will have figured out more successful ways of doing this for different sorts of pupils, but there needs to be a partnership with academia so the teaching practice is backed with research.  
nakdthoughts
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4 posted 05-16-2010 09:21 AM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

Having taught over 30 years ago..and more recently spent time in over 13 schools substituting for one county in one state,  I and many others from then who are still teaching are always "complaining" in soft tones about the way the  school administrators/superintendents are forced to teach so that every school is practically on the same topic the same day except for  an assembly, or field trip or the occasional snow day etc...

I don't see how hard it is for someone going into elementary teaching today to do a "bad" job as the  courses and themes are literally spelled out for them.

Years ago you were given the freedom to expand on and be creative with the young minds, allowing them to love school and learning.

Today, they don't have to learn math tables since they will end up using calculators, they don't have to learn to write cursive  so that one can understand their writings since they will use computers, if they spell incorrectly during their regular reading assignments etc. it doesn't matter, they don't count spelling except for a spelling test (and this is coming from one of the best school systems, so they say, in the state of MD...recently acknowledged as a top state for academic testing.) AND that is the problem. They are more concerned today  (whoever the THEY ARE in charge) about state and national testing them they are about true learning.

They want them to be deeper thinkers and  use what they call a layering effect..so that if they don't get it  by 3rd grade, that's ok... by 12th they will know it by the repetition of the teaching year after year.

Another example: in math the other day in 3rd grade when doing a simple multiplication problem or division problem  they can'tjust use their facts if known...they had to draw group circles and then  place the  tens and ones stick counts in each one like "one for you and one for me" as if dividing cookies when little)and they did that even for something like 84 divided by 4 ...  which took up so much time.

I am all for using other means for those who have trouble learning their facts or how to solve a math problem, but for those who know and can do it in their heads and show their work...why waste their time?

Also  in each subject it is DAY 1 including an assessment(test) after each lesson, DAY 2, DAY 3 etc...so that you can't go ahead  you need to do as the lessons are set up for Math, Reading and Science/Social studies.
~~~~
You would have to be pretty bad to not be able to teach today, since everything is spelled out around the edges of the books and teachers guides in elementary schools.

They get new text books every few years whether needed or not. Math doesn't change that much, neither does basic reading or science...you should see the storage closets filled with books that will never be used again.  The children in many schools can't write in their workbooks and the amount of  copy paper used is amazing and wasteful.


They have paid mentors today within the schools...teachers to teach the teachers...  hmmm what seems so wrong about that? Especially since you are always taking courses as a teacher to stay certified and many are in house classes.

They spend  hours a week in  meeting for special needs children or for parental conferences pulling teachers out of the classrooms and needing substitutes (which do a good job..teaching what the teacher leaves as plans) but costs plenty of money.

They spent the  past 2 weeks Dibble testing ( and they do that 3x a year)..there have been  at least 6-8 subs a day in the schools each day. And before that for over 3-4 weeks they were  doing MSA's the state  testing of 3rd and 5th graders with subs being hired to take over other classes while the regular teachers and specalists monitored the testing.


This is what is wrong with the schools today...all the mandatory testing and teaching to the tests so that the  counties/states etc. can show improvement to warrant getting more funding..or if Title 1 and having more needy students...getting more funding for specialists etc.

Do you want to know why they don't suspend as much? I was subbing one year in a different state and even when a child was suspended they counted him in class because their funding  was based on student numbers attending school.

So they now have in school suspensions and separate rooms strictly for that and might have only one child  in that room for that time period.

I may be stepping on a lot of toes, but the  coddling of children and their actions or inactions and the many parents who aren't parenting needs to be addressed in order for the schools to be able to teach the way most children wish to learn.


Sorry about the length~~ This is why I know I could not go back into teaching fulltime. I disagree with so much of what they are doing today and when there subbing I try to do it with the attitude that learning CAN be fun and I hope the children leave me feeling good about themselves and with a little more knowledge than before I got there.

M
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5 posted 05-16-2010 10:46 AM       View Profile for Ringo   Email Ringo   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Ringo

M- I completely understand, and that is one of the reasons that I am looking to go into teaching... I see the books that the kids are bringing home, and I talk to the teachers...
There are precious few that are ctually attempting to challenge the students, and force them to learn. Any idiot can spout off that the Civil War was fought between the North and the South between 1861 and 1865. How many are able to tell you what the series of events were that led to the conflict, how it affected the American (and Confederacy) population, and what does it mean for America today: parallels and conclusions. THINK
How is it that President Obama (and Bush, and Clinton, and Nixon, et. al.) are simply rehashing that which has gone before? What "new" initiatives are being presented by the current administration, and where did they come from? Who did them before, and what was the outcome, and what is going to be different this time? Anything? Nothing?
Once again, in a word... THINK

Bob- The history I am going to attempt to teach before losing my job for feeding the high schoolers the state approved pablum is the absolute truth... good and bad. I firmly believe that this is still the greatest country that has every existed; however, we have presidents who are people, with human faults and actions:
Lincoln didn't care about the slaves in the very least, and forced his generals (in many instances) to return "freed" slaves to their owners. He is one of our most beloved presidents, yet he did more to wipe his backside with the Constitution than any President had until that point.
President Nixon is forever going to be remembered for Watergate (which he should), and yet, no one is going to remember that he normalized trade with China, and opened them up to American Markets.
President Adams (the 1st) made a large amount of 11th hour appointments to the federal bench... a move he was not Constitutionally permitted to do...
And beneath it all, I want the kids to be able to tell me how each of these occurrances changed the country and made it into what it is today, and how it influenced the generations to come behind them.
The history book that my 9 year old is being taught from has 6 1/2 pages on how the hispanics influenced the founding of our nation, and only 3 1/2 pages on the British, and 1/2 page on the french, with the Dutch and Germans garnering 1/2 page each... When the majority of our "founding fathers" were British subjects.
I am tired of the kids being fed whatever the majority mind-think is wanting them to learn... I want them to learn that Thomas Jefferson was a great leader and a world class thinking, even by today's standards... but he still owned slaves and had a child be one of them.

Anyhow, I am almost positive that this is all pie in the sky thinking, and that I will be sat down and talked to like a backwards 1st grader that I am going to be required to teach out of the book that they feel is best for the young minds to be molded by.

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, "WHAT A RIDE

Bob K
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6 posted 05-18-2010 04:42 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     History is a difficult subject to teach, simply because almost everybody has their own correct version of it.  So often history changes depending on who's grading the exams, and Oh-so-often depending on which State you study the facts in.  When I was growing up, my parents had a copy of a book in their Library that was called The Dixie Geography.  It was a history of the United States written for Confederate Children during the War Between The States, and you wouldn't recognize the the country as being the same one whose history you studied growing up.  

     If the South had won, that would have been their version of history today, or something close to it.  It reads a little bit like some of the Texas history lessons, except it was a bit more forthrightly venonous about President Lincoln.

     I wish I still had the book, myself, but my folks sold it off as a rare book a good 30 years back.
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7 posted 05-18-2010 02:35 PM       View Profile for threadbear   Email threadbear   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for threadbear

the problem lies in the simple inability
of people NOT to set aside their politics
and make the BEST decision for the children
without sliding political correctness measures.
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8 posted 06-06-2010 04:01 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     Threadbear, I think I agree with you, but I think that your comment is correct in both directions.  That may be exactly what you were saying, and I may have missed that part of your message because of the way the term "political correctness" has been taken over by the right.  But if you mean that ideologues from both sides have been pushing versions of American History that seem somewhat on the inaccurate side because they have their own historical versions of events they want to sell, then I'd have to agree with you.

    I want the version of American history that our kids get and which our adults understand to be significantly more nuanced than it is.  There are a lot of lies and half-truths floating around that give us a very confusing picture of our history and of who, as a result, we are today.  Much of it is as close to myth as it is to history.  Much of it is constructed as we look backwards from who we are today and reconstruct history to support the way we think things ought to have happened to make the way things are now make more sense than they do...

     Just a few thoughts for you and Ringo, specifically, and for whomever else is interested.  It's a topic that's had my interest for years from one direction or another.  Much of the problem seems to come from the economics of the issue; that is, the publishers will print the versions of the truth that the school committees are willing to buy, and those do not always have to do with the truth but with the political correctness of who's on the school boards in Texas.  That is, in itself, a horrible thought if you think about the value we're placing on the education of our kids.  

     Says Bob, of course, who happens to believe that Jefferson was a great man, if flawed, and who believes that slavery was a terrible thing and that segregation was bad, and so on.  Not to mention who doesn't share the religious beliefs of these folks.
nakdthoughts
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9 posted 06-07-2010 07:02 AM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

While you are speaking mostly about history Bob, the problems in education and educational reform deal more with the basics and political correctness and lawsuits. And begins in the early years.

Parents are  quick to sue for the tiniest infractions for their children's behaviors and learning.

Children can't be held accountable and neither are parents. You can send home work or tests or letters to be signed and you are lucky if they ever come back the next day without having to recontact the parents or guardians who all seem to be too busy to care about their children's education until they are forced to come to conferences (if they show up at all).

Children are brought to schools long before learning begins, to have morning care and/or breakfast supplied by the government rather than have parents spend the time with them and feed them at home.

Every school has  guidance counselors that are constantly teaching morals in general and behavioral management to the classes and are dealing with arguments between them all day long.

You try to teach diversity and acceptance today and it all looks good and sounds good but if it isn't continued in their outside school lives, it is hard to maintain it in the schools.


Where does the responsibility lay for having children today and in the last 20 years or so? It always comes down to blaming the teachers who not only have to meet the states requirements and continue their own educations but also have to discipline and "parent" these young children.

The school systems have a need for improvement but it can't be done without the combined effort of a society that shows it really cares about its youth in totality.

M
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10 posted 06-07-2010 12:45 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I think the library has the best principle.   At the library there is only one main prerequisite: that you are able to read.  With that met, all can choose whatever and however many subjects they desire, have all their teachers in bondage (as books bound), experience many different ones on the same subject, experience them at their own pace, take them home, take a break whenever they want; their learning is at "leisure" again, the original meaning of the Greek word whence our word "school" comes in the first place.  Build upon the idea of a library and extend it to something further, with professors on hand available to help people of all ages, with laboratories for scientific experiments, personalized and standardarized tests available when people want and request them, special groups dedicated to studies that people can join if they wish, then, then, I think there would be a good education system.

 
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11 posted 06-07-2010 05:13 PM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

"available when people want and request them, special groups dedicated to studies that people can join if they wish,"

then you would find  a large majority of children and probably even adults not choosing to learn at all.

If many didn't have to come to school, they wouldn't...and that is proven by the low graduation statistics in many area schools.

And I do agree that reading is of the main importance, for without that, it is hard to learn from books and much would have to be hands on ( which isn't a bad idea for some). There use to be a lot of Vo-tech schools for high school and even those are disappearing...where apprenticeships for plumbing, and electricians and building skills were learned.

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12 posted 06-08-2010 07:01 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



     I don't know about parental responsibility as far as education goes.  I used to think that  parental responsibility was something very important and I feel fairly guilty for feeling differently about the subject now, but I do.  If a 17th or 18th century kid got some education, it was pretty much an all day affair.   It involved a lot of recitation and memorization and translation from early on.  Part of the point was to teach a large body of knowledge, yes, but perhaps more important was the skill of rapid rote memorization and quick internal mental operations of one sort or another.  Translation taught the ability of shifting from one frame of reference to another rapidly and accurately.  Math taught quick computational skills.  Much of the stuff we now work out on paper, kids two hundred years ago were taught to work out in their heads or on small chalk boards.

     The skills were emphasized.

     Teachers had to spend a fair amount of time dealing with very large classes, and the discipline was often physical.  My understanding is that parents were expected to be running things at home and that there wasn't time foir them to go to a school an talk with teachers unless the parents had a lot of money and free time, in which case they might be expected to be able to hire private instructors for their children.  Talking with my own grandparents about their schooldays before world war One in Boston and New York, the classes were often close to a fifty kids, and they were frequently on the verge of falling asleep in class because the ventillation wasn't necessarily very good and there wasn't always a good air flow.  Many of the kids didn't have a lot to eat, so nutrition was occasionally a problem.

     Teachers fequently didn't go to college, but instead went to Normal School, which was a sort of teacher's college  or slightly augmented high school education.  My understanding is, however, that a high school education was somewhat more difficult at that time, and that it required some academic chops to finish.

     Keeping the classes in line and moving seems to have been a steady issue in this country, and we can see writers in Austria and Germany writing about class management in the early part of the 20th century.  Rudolf Dreikurs and Alfred Adler both had some interesting stuff to say about class management, and their methods were tested out in the U.S. as well as in Austria, I'm told, with some success.

     I suspect that schools that kids aren't strongly motivated to attend will probably have a hard time doing a good job in educating them in the long run.

     My conclusions and observations are probably scattered all over the landscape here.
nakdthoughts
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13 posted 06-08-2010 08:07 AM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

Bob, you are going back too far. There was much improvement in our generation (I am supposing you are close to the boomer age). We can't go back to our parents who may have had to quit school to go to war or were drafted or our grandparents who were coming from war torn countries to a new way of life. Their educations were cut short but not by their choice.

By the way, I went to a "normal" school or State Teacher's College in the late 60's early 70's and it wasn't just an extension of high school but probably did a better job of teaching teachers than what the universities are doing today.

Recently it has become a university, as  have so many community and local  colleges today that have diversified in order to capture more money from the government and collect more students who have nowhere to go for jobs in the past few years.

Classes were larger when I was a child and after I began teaching, but parents had a right to discipline their children and children were afraid to do wrong  because of the repercussions.

Today sending a child to their room for punishment gives them a world of entertainment. Telling them they can't go out or that they have a curfew  doesn't matter since many don't even socialize outside of a computer or an ipod, ipad or any other technological devices.

My parents would show up at PTA meetings and there were 5 of us children from the ages of elementary to high school. You can use as many excuses as you want  but if a parent cares enough and the schools are accommodating they should be there for their children.
Meetings use to be in the evenings  but now they do them during the school day to make it easier for families although if you wanted to, you could schedule an after school meeting. After all, whose  responsibility is it to be with their children after school.

Some or many children are not even in their own homes until ( if lucky) after 6 pm until 6 am when they  are to have a quick dinner, do homework if at all and then play on the computers or games until their eyes are so red and tired  that their bodies force them to sleep. They come to school exhausted.

If you think these governemnt breakfasts are anything healthy or even better than  something a parent can come up with, you need to try one. They are usually poptart type danishes, or  donuts or dry/wet sugary cereals and chocolate milks.

Even if a parent works they certainly should be able to make a bag lunch and  a cereal or egg breakfast for their own child since the microwave makes everything almost timeless today.

I have even seen parents come in and sit in the cafeteria and watch their child eat there ...why not do that at home? There isn't much difference between free lunches and breakfasts and WIC subsidies that could be spent and eaten as a family at home. A lot of this is pure laziness.

I guess I see too much of waste and inconsideration for children today and  think too much is put upon school systems which are there for learning and not the "be all to end all" of living.


You need to visit or volunteer at an elementary school to see how so many children
are lacking the love and care that they deserve.

By the way I was told in one school we are not allowed to hug a child. That  if they hug us fine, but  keep our arms  in the air and don't hug back because  there is always the possibility of an accusation of impropriety.

It is so hard to do that when a child just wants and needs a little bit of caring shown to them.


I am getting off topic now...but as you can tell  this is a very sore subject with me and I think that the curriculum designers and
administrations need to realize that especially at the younger ages, kids are just kids and need some real time play instead of cramming so much structure and information in them at such early ages that has no use to them at 3-4 and 5 years of age.

I think I have exhausted my time on this subject. Thanks for indulging me as I get ready to go to school.
M
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14 posted 06-08-2010 12:40 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

quote:
then you would find  a large majority of children and probably even adults not choosing to learn at all.


I know you will dislike the idea right away, but what would be wrong with letting people grow up the way they want to, even if it involves going to school far less?    Saying they wouldn't choose to learn "at all" I think is quite an underestimation of people.  Sure, many might learn far less of many things that others want them to learn, but I think they would probably learn far more about what they they did care about and wish to learn because they would have  time and room to pursue it more personally.

Between going to school almost as early as possible and getting a job, there isn't much time left for one to cultivate his own personal pursuit, something that he/she wishes to do most.  He is forced altruistically to serve others, be milled through the demands of others, in deadlines and expectations of others, that limit his room to pursue something the way he wishes.  Then eventually high costs come into play to make it even more of a burden.  Everything acts, it seems, in a way to make education a burden.  

Not only that, but eventually children usually move away from their parents, by process of time.   Parents/elders should be able to spend far more time with their children when they are still living together.  This nonsense of sending one's children to others as soon as possible and sometimes almost as often as possible is faulty.  If time were used more wisely the basics of reading, writing, and math and some science wouldn't need to be much more imposing than Sunday School.   There isn't really a need to make it a full time job and rush it.  If people have more time on their own, they will pursue something on their own, which will require things like reading, writing, and math, and scientific knowledge, and therefore, indeed, they will make these things their own interest or priority and pursue them more personally as well, but according to how important certain things are in their life, and the more freedom and means and access they have to pursue things personally, the better.  School should be there as a helper to that pursuit, it should not take it over and dictate the pursuit itself.  


nakdthoughts
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15 posted 06-08-2010 01:52 PM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

"Parents/elders should be able to spend far more time with their children when they are still living together.  This nonsense of sending one's children to others as soon as possible and sometimes almost as often as possible is faulty"

I  agree with the above statement and think I have been saying that all along. It's the parents  who send their children to daycares and nursery schools and kindergartens etc earlier than they should. All children are not ready  to  sit through structured learning at those ages.
Then it is the governments demanding of curriculum that is so strenuous and always changing that even parents can't always help their children understand their homework when needing some extra help. That is why so many are home schooled today. There is a tremendous waste of time in schools...


And Ess, I could agree with the rest if  you didn't need money to live today.

So while someone just goes about enjoying life with no responsibilities how do they expect to  do this without a paying job or someone's good heart to support them.

My brothers did their running around in the 60's and 70's to their hearts delight but at some point they had to stop chasing the gurus in Europe and find a way to live unless you think someone else was going to support them.

There are basics that need to be taught to survive in this world...one being math ( to handle money to your advantage) and the other reading, in order to go to those libraries and  absorb personal interests.

Other than those I can see just going wherever and whatever your mind and heart and body allow you to go and do. But you do need to settle down at some point doing something and  make a living to survive.
(unless you know of some other way to survive without  being dependent on someone else)
M

 
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