schools

Karen Allendoerfer ravena at cco.caltech.edu
Wed Aug 27 10:58:12 EST 1997


In article <5u1e5k$la4 at zam201.zam.kfa-juelich.de>,
sabine at hlrz28.zam.kfa-juelich.de (Sabine Dippel) wrote:

> All I can say is that here in Germany, the subjects you cover in school before
> University are, as much as I can see, far broader than in the US. Therefore, 
> in a way the "general education" part you have in the first years of college
> was already covered in "High school". 

Yes, I think this is true.  I assume that you went to a gymnasium,
though.  Do non-gymnasium, non-Abitur students cover this stuff too?  As I
said, in the US students aren't tracked early.  Everybody, even the
non-academic types, goes to high school.  

> When I went on a (though brief - 3 weeks) school exchange in the US, I found
> that the curricula in high school varied immensely.

Yes, that's also true.  High schools in the US vary from very good to very
bad.  My own public high school was surprising good, I now realize.  At
the time I wasn't very happy there, but when I expanded my horizons a bit
and saw what other people had to go through, I realize that my school did
a lot of things right.  I think that the US commitment to public education
is pretty woeful, and basing its funding on local property taxes has
completely screwed it up.  You get this huge variability from area to
area, and people saying ridiculously stupid and selfish things like "I
don't have kids, so I shouldn't have to pay taxes for schools."  In
California, the "proposition 13," that froze some people's property taxes
for a number of "good reasons" relating to the ownership of property, has
been an absolute disaster for the public schools. 

I actually agree with a lot of what Bart said about US high schools.  But
I think the "blame" lies at the federal level, and with conservative
politicians who encourage an "individualist" approach to education:  the
notion that parents and only parents should pay for the education of
children, rather than the notion that schools benefit society at large,
are essential for a functioning democracy, and thus everyone needs to do
their part in paying for them.  I don't think that the "blame" lies with
educators or students.  

My differences with Bart were mostly over his comments about the college
and/or university system--he said that there is virtually no lab work, and
not enough coursework.  It's there that I think he's misinformed.

Karen



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