the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The information age and reading, writing and arithmetic

We live in the information age, and one of the problems we have found
with the current era is that there is too much information. And we need
a way to sort and organize it. And more importantly, figure out which
information isn't useful.

In the world, Japanese students spend the most time at school. They're
second only to (South) Korea. However, they only learn "facts". They
learn to repeat reading, writing, and arithmetic. There is very little
discussion, and very little critical thinking. I talked to a teacher the
other day who is concerned about the lack of critical thinking in the
Japanese schools. He sees the problem, but he doubts the system will
change. There are too many standardized tests and other red tape holding
the system together.

On the other hand, American schools could use more standardized tests
and regulations. Maybe. This would help to keep crappy teachers in line,
but would slow good teachers down. Anyone like happy mediums?

However, "No Child Left Behind" is just stupid. Of course we would all
like to help every child, but some students will get F's. That's life.
And we can't slow down to help those students. If we do, all the other
students will get bored and get easy A's while they are waiting.
Challenge is an important part of education. Any education text will
tell you that.

When I was in high school. I wasn't all that good at communicating (or
thinking critically), and I would waged that most high schoolers now are
the same if not worse. In fact, one of the reasons I started to like
English Writing classes was because I could develop and organize my
thoughts - as well as dissect the arguments and stories of other writers.

Now we have TV's, the internet, cell phones, etc. etc. Now more than
ever, critical thinking is important. And if Japan wants to become a
world leader, again, they need to develop these skills.

However, Japan is also the fifth most peaceful nation
(http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080522a3.html), and free
thinking usually leads to unrest.

Most peaceful countries:

1. Iceland

2. Denmark

3. Norway

4. New Zealand

5. Japan

6. Ireland

7. Portugal

8. Finland

9. Luxembourg

10. Austria

2 Comments:

Blogger クリス先生 said...

I like your educational philosophy...consider staying in teaching as a lifetime career.

5/26/2008 10:51 PM  
Blogger NB said...

Well, I guess I've developed an educational philosophy lately. :)

Actually I spent most of my life trying to avoid getting into teaching, but I find myself now starting to slip down the dark path.

I want(ed) to avoid teaching because it seems to be all consuming with no tangible rewards.

For those of us from families of educators, we watched our parents give their lives and time to the school. We saw them come home tired with no energy left for us, we watched them go back to school unpaid on weekends. And what did they get for that? Budget cuts, school politics and bad management (and "No Child Left Behind").

I don't see how anyone can teach and not end up being completely consumed by it. Or if you're not consumed by it you're a crappy teacher - that seems to be the amount of effort it requires.

It seems amazing to me that educators ever even manage to have families. And I don't want to be controlled that much by anything.

However, every day teaching both gives meaning to my life, and makes me feel like an idiot.

5/27/2008 9:06 AM  

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