Tuesday, September 1, 2009

School politics according to me - part 3

Private schools
I've got some reservations about this subject. First of all, I think it's great that the option of sending your kid to a private school exists if the local public school is unable to provide your kid with an adequate education. Then again I think the tax money should be spent where it can do the most good, and being that the number of students in public schools vastly exceeds that of the private institutions, that's a no-brainer for me. Letting the funding follow each and every student appears to me like an exceptionally stupid idea which will only exclude any kind of long-term planning and investments for the schools, as well as make it close to impossible to execute any budget control beyond the current semester or school year.

The main source of my reservations stems from the vague criteria which must be fulfilled, in that the private school to be must offer an alternative pedagogical approach or be based on religious belief. Neither criterion does anything to enable exertion of quality control, which must be the primary focus. Moreover, I'm not particularly keen on using tax money to fund some glorified indoctrination institutions run by the Church of the Mothership behind the Comet or some other fear-monger cult. I'm also not in favor of offering up tax money just because someone offers an "alternative pedagogic approach". If you want to dance the alphabet and claim to be able to analyze someone's personality solely by their looks, fine. Just fund the bongs, drums and absinth out of your own pocket.

Should grades be implemented in the elementary school? I don't really have an opinion of that, despite the frequent appearance of this very question in media recently. What I do have a strong opinion on, however, is the need for a universal evaluation system. Right now, grades are still where it's at. Sure, grades as a system has its flaws, but it works insofar as providing a universal platform for ranking of students, which is absolutely necessary in order to evaluate performance. What really irks me is when some pressure groups try to make political hay by claiming that we should abandon grades in favor of "alternative evaluation systems", yet never seem to suggest or substantiate any such thing. They might as well suggest that we try "something else". Until a new evaluation system has been run in parallel with the current on a statistically significant population over a prolonged period of time and has proven to outperform the existing paradigm, such a suggestion is logically flawed. If you don't at least provide a definite alternative to the existing system, yet keep whining about it, what you need to do is know your role and STFU.

The most egregious example of total logic disconnect I have had the misfortune of witnessing on this topic came courtesy of my mandatory pedagogic training. During one assembly on alternative evaluation forms, one participant from the medical faculty was strongly advocating abandoning grades in favor of a Pass/Fail system. According to him, their experience indicated that there was no need for grading medical students beyond that, and so the grading should be abolished in favor of the binary Pass/Fail. One other participant asked how the MD would rank applicants to a position based on "his" system, and he hemmed and hawed his way to explaining that such a selection would have to be done based on the interview. The other participant pressed on, asking how he'd go through with this considering the very realistic scenario of 50+ applicants for said position. Before Dr. Douchebag, M.D. could answer, I chimed in and asked him what criteria are applied for selecting students to medical school. "Uhhhh..grades, but.." I interrupted again to ask if he expected us to take him seriously when his faculty had already used grades exclusively for pre-screening the students, accepting only - one assumes - the cream of the crop? ...and he actually shut up, but he probably clasped his squash racket extra hard later that afternoon, cursing "those damn scientists with their logic and their math".

Yet another wall of text, so more to come


Anders said...

...but he probably clasped his squash racket extra hard later that afternoon

Hey, don't be a playahata...

LOL, funny stuff there, W-meister. And I overall agree with you, so I'll take your advice and STFU. :-D

Wilhelm said...

Sorry bro, I had just downed a Big Gulp of Haterade when I wrote that..

I forgot that you're a ballslapper :-)

Wilhelm said...

..besides, this MD actually brought with him a squash racket to "class" several times, and kept having to rush out early because he had "apoiontments to make". True story.

Wilhelm said...

..ooh...the grammar..my eyes, my eyes.. :-(

Anders said...

NOthing says sporty and snob as a squash racket. I should start bringing my racket with me more often...