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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I spent many years within the American educational system: elementary school, middle school, high school, undergrad, graduate school. My primary complaint was (and is) that students who honestly want to learn, and love to learn, shouldn't be placed in an environment where competition with other students is the primary focus. This was especially true in grad school, where it seemed to me that some classes were specifically designed to weed out students that the university considered unfit.

I recently signed up for a lecture at a college I have never visited before:

http://www.ncf.edu/about/index.html

What is delightful about this college is
Quote:
Non-graded, narrative evaluations encourage exploration and mastery instead of competition.
YES! This is what education should be! We should teach our children to love learning and then let them loose, not subject them to wave after wave of standardized testing to ensure that they've absorbed those precious little memes that the authorities have deemed valuable.

OK, enough ranting for today.

 

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Originally Posted by RunsWithFoxes View Post

My primary complaint was (and is) that students who honestly want to learn, and love to learn, shouldn't be placed in an environment where competition with other students is the primary focus.
I think that students who honestly want to learn, and love to learn, should do better research on grad schools so that they don't end up in an environment where competition with other students is the primary focus.

Once you get out of high school, your life is in your hands - you get to do research on where you go and what fits you best. And should. No capable adult should rely on others to make those decisions for them.

Some people thrive on a competitive environment. Others don't. You get to pick. Viva la freedom of choice.
 

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Nice idea, except that in my chosen field - engineering - and my time period - early 1980's - there was no such non-competitive option (as far as I know). Maybe things have evolved since then.
 

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Likely, and there are a lot of schools with engineering programs out there - I'm sure you can take your pick these days. Top schools, of course, are going to be inherently competitive. Not to weed people out, but to push them to their intellectual limits. Some people won't be able to handle it, and will drop out our opt for another program. But, presumably, they knew that was a possibility when they enrolled and had a backup plan in place.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by RunsWithFoxes View Post

I spent many years within the American educational system: elementary school, middle school, high school, undergrad, graduate school. My primary complaint was (and is) that students who honestly want to learn, and love to learn, shouldn't be placed in an environment where competition with other students is the primary focus. This was especially true in grad school, where it seemed to me that some classes were specifically designed to weed out students that the university considered unfit.

I recently signed up for a lecture at a college I have never visited before:

http://www.ncf.edu/about/index.html

What is delightful about this college is YES! This is what education should be! We should teach our children to love learning and then let them loose, not subject them to wave after wave of standardized testing to ensure that they've absorbed those precious little memes that the authorities have deemed valuable.

OK, enough ranting for today.

That's how my undergrad was. We weren't graded, we got page long evaluations from our professors about our work. www.slc.edu

Now that I'm in grad school they're all back to grading again. LAME. I'm like "Wtf does an A mean? GIVE ME CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM!!"
 

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yeah, i don't know about that is pits people against each other (although i think as you get higher up that becomes more and more true) but i personally found grades to be pointless. i wanted to learn because i wanted to learn, not because i got an A. but maybe that's what you mean.

but i don't think that that competitive atmosphere is limited to the educational system in america.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by RunsWithFoxes View Post

My primary complaint was (and is) that students who honestly want to learn, and love to learn, shouldn't be placed in an environment where competition with other students is the primary focus. This was especially true in grad school, where it seemed to me that some classes were specifically designed to weed out students that the university considered unfit.
First, that would have been like death to me. Testing motivated me, competition motivated me. Testing and structure is what I needed. Everytime I got 100% I felt that adrenaline through my veins. When I didn't get the best grade in the class and lost out to someone I hated, I studied all the more vigorously the next time. And I love to learn. I just need structure and motivation to do so efficiently. Different people are different.

I'm going to rant here, but please don't take it as anger towards you, it's just my own strong feelings!


As for grad school- if they plan to go into academics, they better damn well be able to compete. Everything is competition, competition for money, recognition, tenure, publication, everything! And that is the same for many fields of employment. Grad school isn't for people who can't compete, and yes, a lot of it is to weed people out. That's how great schools earn their reputations. If someone wants to learn grad school level stuff in a less competitive environment, there are schools with students of different degrees of ability, or heck, the library!

My main complaint about the education I had was that I wasn't given appropriately challenging material until 7th grade when they separated out different groups. And no, they didn't only allow certain kids in honors, they encouraged as many kids to be in it as possible, including the kids no one might have guessed were smart, and it was their choice to drop out or not. I saw a lot of great students drop out to join easier classes.

The biggest problem with education in America- anti-intellectualism, low expectations, and not understanding that learning requires work. Parents pay only lip service (tell kids to do homework, but they never read or show interest in learning themselves.) and teachers have to bow to the lowest common denominator and angry parents.

People whine that kids shouldn't have to spend hours on homework or read the book or teach themselves some things on their own. Parents check all their kids math problems and practically do the work for them. Kids threaten to sue teacher if they get a bad grade (yes, this happens.)

I know someone who works at a college. She says people come in for tutoring who haven't even tried a single problem or opened the book. They complain that the tutor isn't helping them when they refuse to try. It's like they think learning is like the Matrix, it all gets spoon fed into your head.

And don't get me started on how these High school grads do on simple placement tests. Half of them don't even show up with pencils!

If anything, the schools need to start giving people a swift kick in the ass.
 

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I've got to agree with Thalia. I'd get lazy if I wasn't working for that 'A'. Although, the method Rabid_Child's UG professors used probably would work for me too--I hate getting bad criticism, especially when I know I hadn't turned in my best work, so I'd probably work very hard because I knew I was being 'graded' with words.

I guess I just need something to aim for. I like learning, but without a concrete goal I'll spend all my time studying only what interests me and completely ignoring what does not. I'm not sure how non-graded systems work, so I couldn't say for sure what I think of them.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thalia View Post

As for grad school- if they plan to go into academics, they better damn well be able to compete. Everything is competition, competition for money, recognition, tenure, publication, everything! And that is the same for many fields of employment. Grad school isn't for people who can't compete, and yes, a lot of it is to weed people out. That's how great schools earn their reputations. If someone wants to learn grad school level stuff in a less competitive environment, there are schools with students of different degrees of ability, or heck, the library!
emphasis mine.

why does it have to be? i hate competitive environments and feel that things should be more collaborative. does that mean i shouldn't have pursued my PhD? that i don't belong here in grad school?
 

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Originally Posted by Iria View Post

I've got to agree with Thalia. I'd get lazy if I wasn't working for that 'A'. Although, the method Rabid_Child's UG professors used probably would work for me too--I hate getting bad criticism, especially when I know I hadn't turned in my best work, so I'd probably work very hard because I knew I was being 'graded' with words.

I guess I just need something to aim for. I like learning, but without a concrete goal I'll spend all my time studying only what interests me and completely ignoring what does not. I'm not sure how non-graded systems work, so I couldn't say for sure what I think of them.
i got lazy working for the A. for most of my schooling getting an A was no effort and no more was encouraged.
 

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Originally Posted by catswym View Post

why does it have to be? i hate competitive environments and feel that things should be more collaborative. does that mean i shouldn't have pursued my PhD? that i don't belong here in grad school?
No, it means that you should pick a grad school that suits your learning style & development.
 

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