Do read this excellent article from the New York times which emphasizes what I've been saying for long..... The criterion for a country to succeed int his century is education, not war, nor natural resources.
Excerpt: "Add it all up and the numbers say that if you really want to know how a country is going to do in the 21st century, dont count its oil reserves or gold mines, count its highly effective teachers, involved parents and committed students."
Yes, I've complained myself that our public education system has declined so much that we are graduating students that can't do simple math or write a coherent sentence. It's just good that as our people have gotten dumber our machines have gotten smarter- computers do spelling corrections and cash-registers tell cashiers how much change to give customers because they couldn't figure it out themselves. It one of the many ways the U.S. has declined since I was a young man some forty years ago.
Yes, when we discussed this subject before Marseil said the same thing has happen in France. I just know whenever they do tests comparing scholastic ability of American students with others in the developed world we do rather poorly now. I can think of some reasons it happen here but that doesn't explain why it's happening in other western countries too.
We have discussed this before and I agreed with you that American education is missing the boat by not focusing more attention of building basic skills, such as reading, writing and making calculations. I think there is definitely a place for time- and labor-saving devices, but not at the expense of the skill itself. If I have a lot of calculations to do, I will use a calculator, but for the less-involved taskls, I try to do those things myself with paper and pencil. First, I don't want to lose such skills. Second, it is good for your brain to do such work. Third, as you noted, I don't want to find myself in a situation where the labor-saving device is not available and I cannot do the tasks otherwise. To me, it is simply about being a competent citizen, that you are capable of reading with comprehension, writing with proper spelling and sentence structure, and making basic and accurate calculations without need for electronic assistance.
While I don't disagree with anything in the original article, he says nothing about getting from point A to point B. There are certainly plenty of people in this country who believe in education, that's for sure. Yet at the same time, education seems to be in the middle, taking it from both sides.
There seem to be those in the United States who believe, apparently, that eductation is a privelege, though none would admit it, of course. Even more seem to want government (especially the federal government) to get out of eductation. Believe me, that won't leave much if that happened. But maybe we're going about it the wrong way to begin with. For example, the biggest reason to take math in school is so you can take even more math in school.
What's missing, I believe, in education (beyond the primary level) in the United States is the potential employer. Supposedly, if what I read in the papers is so, there is a shortage of skilled workers here. Where is the input from those industries the see that our education system is providing people with shop floor skills that can do the sorts of things they are looking for? Surely such jobs would be better than working at McDonald's.
I suppose the difference is in our unplanned capitalist economy. There is absolutely no form of planning that goes beyond a year in this country, or so it seems. Any form of higher management is shouted down as socialism. The country is being driven with very loose reins, in a manner of speaking. The horses are running things, not the driver. We might at least do better if we had mules, who have more horse sense than horses.
However, I also realize any form of career management, to include apprenticeships, is contrary to the American dream (and those from abroad who aspire to the American dream). But it only sounds like it.
It seems illogical that as our machines get smarter the people who use them are getting dumber but it's true. When I was in school we had no calculators or spell-checkers or Google to look stuff up on. We HAD to know how to do math or spell words because there was no other way. These days kids routinely use calculators for math and don't think correct spelling is even important. I see terrible spelling and grammar on internet forums but if someone points that out they are attacked as being prissy. And now with everyone "texting" messages- writing has been reduced to acronyms like "LOL", "TTYL", "BTDT", etc. See- www.webopedia.com At the rate things are going conventional writing may become obsolete.
I disagree (and you probably thought I would, too). No, spelling still isn't all that important. Most people are smarter than you think, only maybe just not about what you think is important. That isn't the same as being educated and sometimes it seems like ignorance is catching.
Think it's more that they are taught to pass exams relying on machines.
In the state that I live in in Australia they are talking about letting the students use word processors during exams because they can not write the answers out in long hand.
I've heard some American schools have stopped even teaching cursive writing. Penmanship is a lost art. Calculators use to be banned in schools- now they are SOP. If a EMP event ever destroys our electronic gadgets (which is possible) we will be back in the Stone Age.
Don't confuse education with itelligence and don't confuse education with training. It doesn't take a college degree to operate either a dumb machine or a smart machine. It takes a skill. A little intelligence helps, too, not to mention experience.
I think many skills are under-appreciated. I believe that because perhaps most people have never done very much with their hands, not only do they not appreciate how difficult some things are to do, they also do not appreciate it when things are done well. That applies to bigger things, too. I'm not surprised when some people think that the pyramids in Egypt and Mexico had to have been built by or with the aid of outer space aliens. This it not to say it was easy and after all, there were only three really big ones in Egypt. Maybe they ran out of rock or something.
When I was in college, it was fashionalble in a sense, to say that American car makers didn't really know how to build a car and anyone could do better. So some college kids carried forward to build a car on their own and show Detroit how to make a car. I don't know how far they got but later, one of those involved in the project said, "You know, it's really hard to make those doors fit."
No, I've never been in a car factory but I consume much more of other products than I do car. You probably do, too. There is still a surprising amount of handwork that is required for many products. When those intelligent machines break down, do you call a yet more intelligent to come and fix it?
Sure, some work is still done by hand but less and less all the time. In practically every business, machines are replacing people. In my business- the typical station now has half the number it did 30 years ago. Many job positions- film loaders, tape editors, switchers, studio cameramen, transmitter attendants just don't exist anymore. And this is true of every other business. Computers and automated machinery is doing the jobs that people use to do. Yes, it requires people to repair the machines, but far fewer than the number of people that the machine replaces. So while the number of people continues to grow, the number of jobs for them to earn a living continues to shrink. This is major dilemma for society.
Makes you wonder who's buying whatever all those dumb/smart machines make. But in any event, I'm not so sure the fact that there's fewer jobs is because machines are replacing them. It is just as likely in a lot of cases that the ones that are left (the people, that is), are doing more work and working longer hours.