Dancers Anonymous > Parenting quandary(s) Need input

Discussion in 'Dancers Anonymous' started by pygmalion, Dec 21, 2010.

  1. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    honestly, we didn't think AT ALL about where our kids went to school before 3rd grade...we felt that their level of readiness was on us...not whatever system we chose for them....once it was clear that they needed more, we did what was neccessary to secure it...we were fortunate that it didn't require extra funds in Indiana, but, if it had, we certainly would have made that decision in favor of their future
    pygmalion likes this.
  2. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    All depends on where you live. My parents bought their house specifically because of the schools for that neighborhood.
    Since Prop 13 in California, it's hard to find good public schools, because of the cap in property tax increases, and the state distributes what little it does relatively evenly.
    My little one was bored in public school in the first grade, they were covering material she had already done in day care. We moved her to private school the next year.

    It feels very much like it's a two tier system. The kids in programs for bright kids are under a lot of pressure, from their parents and their peers. The kids in the "normal" programs, well, it seems like there isn't even the pressure to try to read and do math at their own grade level. I hate the standardized testing, it's a poor substitute for teaching, but it's an attempt, in some ways, to motivate the educational process.
  3. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hmm. I may be misreading your post, so please bear with me. I don't think that the pursuit of the perfect school (especially nursery school or kindergarten) is at all about expecting the school to take responsibility for a child's readiness. If my observation is anything to judge by, a lot of the parents you see running around, trying to secure a spot for their kid in just the right school are the same ones at home with their kids at night, monitoring homework, making sure to read the right books and get their kids exposed to opera and ballet and music lessons and tutoring and karate and so on and so forth ad nauseam. They're also the same ones at school, being room Moms and DOGS (Dads of Great Students,) in the PTA, going on field trips, collecting boxtops, giving volunteer hours, etc.

    It's a mindset. Only the best for my kid. I'm going to give whatever investment it takes, time, money or effort, for my child to succeed. I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing, but I do think it can be taken too far.

    I really can't speak to what "normal" school programs are like, anymore. I helped raise two of my nieces, both of whom are now in their 30s, and both of whom got an excellent education at a series of very good schools in a public school district that has been struggling for at least forty years. So who knows? Maybe it's the luck of the draw sometimes. Even the worst school systems, it seems, can have some bright spots in them. *shrug*

    But still, all that said, my perception is that, since the advent of NCLB, we have a new normal that focuses on standardized test scores, which are easy to measure, but too often miss the point in terms of actually teaching children. Just one top of the head example. Joy of learning is an intangible that test scores can't even begin to measure. I think that it's often lost because even young children have it drilled into them that so much is riding on every outcome.

    It really ticked me off, for example, when I spent the bulk of third grade doing my very best to convince DS that the TAKS test scores were nothing to stress out about but he came home stressed out anyway. His school placed such a focus on those damn tests. Weeks of prep sessions, pre-tests and practice tests. Etc. The truth, though, is that it DID matter. If DS had failed that test in third grade, he'd have been required to take "pull-out tutorials" in fourth grade -- basically getting pulled out of class to do remedial work because he'd failed one test. Hmm. Don't tell me there's no stigma attached, when there obviously is.

    I feel that kids who don't test well (of whom there are many) are at a particularly large disadvantage. As ccm and I were discussing a few days back, standardized testing involves a very specific skill set that is not, IMV, necessarily related to knowing or understanding the material being tested. So what happens to the kids who don't "get it" when it comes to those testing skills?

    I think there's something fundamentally wrong with the way we're doing things, especially in public schools, these days. The wrongness is ameliorated for kids whose parents are involved enough to know what's going on and to advocate for their kids. But still. There's something wrong. I agree that schools, teachers and students should be held accountable for outcomes, but there's gotta be a better way. Are we even measuring the right things?
  4. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Yah, it's been this way in NYC for some time...goes with the territorty of choosing to raise a family there. Intense.
  5. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    I don't think it's just schools...
    pygmalion likes this.
  6. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    actually, I have seen lots of parents who think that it is only their job to find the "right" school ...then they completely absolve themselves of what goes on beyond that....
  7. ChaChaMama

    ChaChaMama Well-Known Member

    In terms of alternate routes to education:

    1) On some level, education is already "free." There are free libraries and thank god for them! And on a more Johnny-come-lately note, there is the internet. So for a self-starter who can tackle the material without assistance, there are plenty of paths to learning. Go read Shakespeare.

    2) For those who want a more formal education, there are at least three broad options:
    -traditional, brick-and-mortar four-year institutions,
    -online institutions,
    -community colleges, which offer both two-year AA degrees which can be a stepping stone toward a BA and vocational education.

    3) My husband and I work in the education industry. I work in the traditional brick and mortar four year end, and he works in the online sector.

    As a broad, broad generalization, students at traditional brick and mortars tend to be predominantly 18-25 and tend to want the whole campus experience: the opportunity to live away from home and make friends f2f with people from around the country and the world, sports teams, clubs, internships, volunteer projects, study abroad trips, etc. (Not all of them want all of these things, but most of them want at least some of these things.)

    -->Thus, for example, even though fascination's daughter could take highly sophisticated classes online, she could not be in a marching band online.

    Online education students, by contrast, often are older and have full-fledged lives: jobs, kids. A sizable percentage are in the military. They might enjoy being part of the Hispanic-Latino Alliance if that had time for that...which they DON'T! Flexibility is very important to them, as taking classes MWF 10-11 is not on the table as an option. Unlike some 18 year olds, these adult students are usually pretty clear about why they want a BA and what they would like to study. (Many 18-year-olds think that they are too...but change their minds. And I think that's fine and great. Why get rigidly locked into an idea of what you want to do when you are 17?)

    4) Also as a general rule, 4 year colleges tend to offer somewhat more liberal arts fare than do the onlines, which tend to be more career oriented...though they do offer some liberal arts fare as well. (My husband's PhD is in a very traditional liberal arts subject, philosophy.)
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    What you're describing is quite the opposite of anything I've seen, although I'm sure that there are parents who want to farm their kids out to hired professionals.

    If anything, I wish there'd been a few more uninvolved parents (Moms in particular) in our world, especially when DS was little. Where we live, it is more like a competition to be the most demonstrably involved parent.

    "I'm a litigator on sabbatical raising my triplets. In my free time, I volunteer at the school four or five days a week." "I have one child in elementary, one in middle school and one in high school, so I volunteered to be PTA president at all three schools." These are women I know (not necessarily like, but I do know.) (Like really?!? You have 6-year-old triplets and WANT to go to school with them? Can't you just get a mani-pedi and a nap like any normal person would? :D)

    Of course, many of these were women who had either given up or taken time off from high-powered careers to do the full-time Mom thing and for whom it became a source of pride and accomplishment. And of course there were quite a few Dads, too -- many of them self-employed and/or with flexible work schedules.

    But I have not seen a large number of people abdicating their responsibility toward their kids, just because their kids are in good schools. It got to the point, during elementary, where the teachers actually had to have a lottery to see which parents would be allowed to go on field trips. There were always too many volunteers. And at school Field Day, there were almost as many parents in attendance as there were kids. Etc.

    In our world, getting into a great school is the beginning of the battle, but by no means the end.
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Thank you! My thoughts exactly. If my education had stopped when I graduated many moons ago, I'd be in poor shape indeed.

    I think there are a couple themes floating around in this thread that have not yet been fully addressed. (IIRC bia brought up both questions.)

    One: What is education/what is the purpose of an education? Two: Is an education that is obtained by non-traditional methods useful in today's marketplace? If not, why not and how could usefulness be improved?

    (Not intending to put words in your mouth, bia. Please correct me if I'm wrong. :) )
  10. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Education and the "quality" of your degree are not the same thing, by any stretch of the imagination. And that's where the pressure is. I can get all the lecture notes and course material for an MIT class online. I can go through 4 years worth of classes that way. It won't get me a BS from MIT.

    On a certain level, if you have the degree, it doesn't actually matter if you remembered anything you learned, because you have the degree.

    And the selectivity and name recognition of the school is critical to the value of the degree. I'm not convinced the education I got at my Ivy league school is better than I would have gotten at the state school, but my grad school prospects and job prospects certainly were better. You're kind of better off being a MIT dropout than a SUNY graduate, because you showed you were able to get into MIT.
  11. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Bill Gates did drop out of Harvard.
  12. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Steve Jobs dropped out of college, as well. Both support sami's case that, a lot of the time, it's about being able to get the job done.

    My concern is that, in order to prove you can get the job done, you have to get in the front door. IMO, a lot of the time, people in the position to open doors aren't willing to open them for people without the requisite piece of cardboard.
  13. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    Yup. And I agree with the questions you raised yesterday. I wouldn't always judge the gatekeepers for relying on the piece of paper for the first step of evaluation, because I think it's often a necessary efficiency. You just can't get to know every applicant at the level of detail you'd need to find out their competence, flexibility, creativity, etc., so you use the diploma/certification as an abbreviation for basic knowledge so you can narrow down the field to the most likely suspects. The piece of paper is not the same thing as the learning, but it's the responsibility of those in education to keep them related. Now, if you're going out on your own, like these famous drop-outs, all that matters is the learning, because you're not trying to go through those guarded gates in the first place. And if you make it that way, it's extremely impressive. But if you're looking for the most likely route to success/employment/fulfillment, I don't that's it for the vast majority of people.
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  14. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    It brings to mind the argument I had with a cousin in Europe. He's very stubborn, and insists he wants to get a job on his own merits. He refuses to use recommendations to get jobs, which, where he lives, means he won't get work.

    There can be many applicants to any job. There could be many recruiters trying to get their cut, and as many of you know, most recruiters have very little clue about the jobs they are recruiting for. They just play buzzword bingo.

    A hiring manager could be flooded with hundreds or thousands of resumes. If resumes are all she's got, she's got to filter them. Good cover letter is one filter. School from which the candidate got a degree is another.

    But none of this compares to a personal recommendation. The two best things you can do are to become a good networker, or impress a good networker. I've been riding my degrees and resumes to get interviews. I have a good friend that got recruited by an insider who knew them and their work for every job they've worked for the last 20 years, and that's been with about eight different companies.
  15. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    It certainly holds water in our culture. But personal recommendations can be utter political bull-kaka, easy to be had by the very types I'm wary of bringing into my team.

    And I'll never again allow a recommendation to usurp my own instincts about someone when hiring. I did that earlier this year -- two well-respected colleagues from another department raved about a candidate they had previously wanted to hire, and less than 5 months later I fired her with great relief. I definitely allowed my hiring decision to be swayed by their feedback, but she was a very poor fit, in the end. Live & learn...

    I did quite a lot of hiring last year, doubled my staff into a great team, and I've found a rather non-traditional approach to interviewing has yielded the best results, for my purposes.
  16. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Understood. I wouldn't hire on recommendation. I would interview on recommendation.
    samina likes this.
  17. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Have you ever read "What Color Is Your Parachute?" Awesome book, all thirty-something editions of it.

    In it, the author, something Bolles, ** says that, based on his decades of research, most job seekers prefer to look at jobs from the exact opposite direction than most employers. Most job seekers want to start with the easy and impersonal --in job postings on the internet, for example. Most employers start looking for potential employees among the people they know and ask for personal recommendations. That's why Bolles recommends that people learn to network. I don't remember the exact stats from the last time I read What Color Is Your Parachute, but, from what I remember, networking was something like 70% percent effective in helping people find jobs. Online classifieds were around 5% give-or-take, depending on the discipline.

    Yes. Another tangent. Just figured I'd share. :D

    ** Richard Nelson Bolles How could I forget that?
  18. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Okay. So I'm going throw down the gauntlet.

    The reason I want DS to go to college (other than getting a job so he can pay for his own stuff lol) is that I want him to be exposed to random ideas he wouldn't otherwise be exposed to that challenge his world view. I think that's valuable, in and of itself.

    What's funny is that I've forgotten much of the subject matter of employment-related courses I took. It's been umpteen years. Of course I've forgotten stuff I don't use. But there are a couple of core courses I took that seemed totally random and that shape who I am to this day.

    If it weren't required, how many business majors would take psychology? How many engineers would take philosophy? Etc. Some, for sure. But I think that a broadened world view would help a lot of people, particularly the 18-25 year old people who are in most college classes, trying to figure out who the heck they are.
    ChaChaMama likes this.
  19. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    I very recently read an article online by a professor, responding to many VCs talking about the benefits of skipping college. His main point was that by trying to answer difficult questions in many different fields, students learn how to think, how to learn, and how to persevere. And this was much more important than any facts retained.
  20. ChaChaMama

    ChaChaMama Well-Known Member

    I completely agree with this point of view.

    I'm also going to tell you that one of the more famous recent alums from the college where I work is the lead system designer for World of Warcraft. A lot of people would probably assume he was a Computer Science major. Nope. Biology and Philosophy. It gets even better: he got a PhD in Marine Sciences and was a professor at a research university. Then he got sick of spending so much time applying for grants and did a massive career change. He had NO experience in game writing when he started...but he was bright and adaptable.

    The president of my college cites a statistic that the average person will have seven jobs in his/her life, and a sizable percentage will have them in fields that didn't even exist when they went to school. The theory, then, is that adaptability, thinking skills, and learning skills are more important than specific knowledge garnered.

    Sure, if you are going to med school, it's probably a good thing for you to have done a dissection as an undergraduate before you get to your first cadaver. But on the other hand, you are going to learn most of your specific job related skills in med school.
    samina likes this.

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