Friday, January 31, 2014

High school selections

Here's another one about high school. (Don't blame me, if you believe Hollywood, most Americans do what they do to impress their high school pals, even 20 years later.)

It's clear that in the US, geeks and artists and such have a hard time in high school, and are not "popular" (a concept I never really understood. It seems you can be "popular" even though nobody likes you?).

My experience was opposite, I found it far easier to fit in when I went to high school, because only those who didn't hate school too much, went. I think less than thirty percent at a rough estimate went on to high school. So while the environment was perhaps not exactly "intellectual", it was a lot closer, and I didn't see anybody get hassled.

I wonder, in the US, is there another system, so that most everybody goes to high school, no matter their desire or aptitude for learning? That would explain that difference.


Bruce W. said...

The US does have a different system. Education through high school (grade 12) is compulsory. It is possible to "drop out" of high school, either formally or informally, but high schools and the school administrators are evaluated on the "drop out" rate. Too high and they are in trouble. The net effect is you end up with lots of kids who do not want to be there, get bored and make trouble for those who are there to learn.
I think Europe generally has a different system that tends to make us of various apprenticeship programs.

Kent McManigal said...

There is also home schooling and unschooling as alternatives to compulsory attendance. But you usually have to get "permission" to stop attending the government schools.

So, yes, there are a lot of kids in school who don't want to be there, refuse to learn, and disrupt the learning of those who want to. But schools are less about education and more about indoctrination anyway.

John Krumm said...

Ah,in the U.S. we would call that a 70% dropout rate for high school. Our rate is somewhere around 10% (our graduation rate is much lower than 90% though, often 60-70% graduate). And of course like you say, they don't drop out so much in Europe, they go into trades. But it does show how useless it is to compare test results between different countries except perhaps at the lower grades.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

"Education through high school (grade 12) is compulsory."

Aha. Yes, that explains a lot.
I never really suspected this. 12 years forced is a lot!
And then some go most of a decade to College! How do you keep up your sap?
I think work and study should be mixed through all of life.

"I think Europe generally has a different system that tends to make us of various apprenticeship programs."

Yes. Technical schools, specialized.

William Kazak said...

In America, it is common to go to high school even though you know very little or nothing about it or what to expect once you get there. The recruitment day speeches given by each high school gets a youngster "fired up" toward a school, especially when the red faced football coach is talking to prospective students. The walking tour, the cafeteria and the color of the drapes helps to finalize a decision.

Anonymous said...

But schools are less about education and more about indoctrination anyway.

The people who say things like this are usually the people who didn't do very well. Of course it's not due to a lack of anything in the person, but some failure of the system! Of course!

Tom Strong said...

So what kind of job can someone get in Denmark who doesn't even have a high school education?

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Welder, mason, bus driver, store clerk, etc etc.
I think in any company with room to move up, if you prove worthwhile and competent, you will move up, cert or not.

I think also a lot of rather successful people, particularly if they started their own business, never needed the certificate for anything.

Anonymous said...

It's not the certificate. If you don't go to high school your knowledge of things like math, science, etc. will be pretty minimal and limit your ability to move up in any company or even to get in on the ground floor. Not to mention the lack of interest would indicate low intelligence and the inability to advance anyway. Plus, those jobs you mentioned are all dead-end and low paying.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Yes, I honestly have not studied these huge issues in depth.
But Denmark, during the 20th century, somehow managed to become one of the most affluent countries in the world despite no natural resources, less interest in school and hard work than in some countries. I admit I can't explain that.

Anonymous said...

Well, a hundred years ago they probably weren't, but countries with no natural resources, etc. have other things now they can make money on. I'd be surprised if Denmark got many tourists, though, everything is 20 times as expensive there as in Europe, where everything is already two or three times the cost it is in the U.S.

SJ said...

I can't understand all of the social issues from experience. (I spent most of my school career at home, and then attended University at a Tech-and-Engineering school local to me in the U.S.)

I've heard many people say "kids need an education to succeed".

I saw a noticeable number of smart kids, who had prepared for college-level work, do well after they mastered their subject. College may have helped, but the self-discipline and focus that they brought to their studies would have stood them well, even if they didn't go to college.

I've also met people who came out of High School with most of the knowledge they needed for life, and gained little while spending four years in college.

I've met college students who came out of High School unable to master the mathematics and language skills that they were supposed to learn in High School. I was tutoring them while I worked in a Learning Center at the University I studied at.

What does a diploma mean if 20% of the recipients haven't mastered the skills that the diploma is supposed to signify?

What do compulsory-attendance schools do with children who don't want to learn?

Anyway, about schools, bullies, and perception: I do think there are a couple of things happening.

1. I suspect that movie/TV-shows create stories about "popular jerks" while they are telling the story of the underdog.

The story is about the underdog; the story is told so that the audience has empathy for the underdog.

How does the audience know that they are seeing an underdog? Someone who is socially-superior to them treats them badly.

It's a story-telling trope.

2. Sometimes teenagers form cliques around socially-dominant individuals. The center of the clique keeps the clique together by treating insiders nicely, and treating outsiders badly. The rest of the clique members follow that lead, at a lesser level.

It seems everyone in America has heard stories of such things, even if they didn't experience it directly.

Which kind of ties in with my comments about movies/TV above.

It becomes one of those things that people know is true, even if they've never seen evidence for it. Even they can't explain what would cause it.

Kelly Trimble said...

My friends always say it is a bad thing to get me on the subject of American education, but I just couldn't resist. I'll try my best to stay off of the soap box and just clarify a few factual items.

First of all, in the US, education is not exactly compulsory, and to the degree that it is, it is only compulsory up to grade 6, 7, 8, or 9, depending on the state. However, a full high school education through grade 12 is provided by the states free of charge (sort of) to all residents under a certain age, usually 20, though it is up to the student to actually pass the classes and get a diploma. The student may 'drop out', though there are some rules about getting guardian permission in some states because they are usually under the age of consent.

If one has dropped out, or simply did not meet graduation requirements, they can get a 'GED' or graduate equivalency degree (I think) which amounts to an exam that is now administered on a computer and costs a few hundred bucks, though they seem to jack the price really hard each year.

You can also be home schooled. The local school district is supposed to provide some of the required materials, which they usually balk at, and the student can self pace the instruction to a degree. There are two main areas where this is done. Kids of celebrities or kids that have a serious occupation, such as teenage movie stars or rock stars. The others are fundamentalist religeous families who believe public schools are run by Satan, or whatever, and want their kids to be taught a different way.

There are also private schools that are usually more serious, very expensive, and much more rigorous than regular high schools.

American High School should not be confused with European High School, which is more like what we might call a general associates degree. You can get out of an americn high school with one basic math class of some very simple algebra, you have to pass the class on american history and pass the exam on the constitution, and you have to have a couple of basic english courses, though you don't have to actually speak english to pass them. Pretty lame by European standards where high school requires some serious algebra, probably some light calculus, enough english class to have writing skills, some serious history and sociology, etc.

In the US, if you don't have a high school degree or a GED, you are assumed to be either really stupid or some sort of problem person, and it can be VERY difficult to get employed as anything other than a minimum wage porch monkey.

The public schools are sort of like the american healthcare system. We spend more on it than anybody else and get crappier results.

Anything I might say beyond this requires the soap box.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Thanks, Kelly. Quite enlightening.

It's pretty remarkable that there is such a big difference in results even though both of the educations take 12 years.

Doug Hoffman said...

Kelly doesn't seem to be able to resist too many subjects, but she should try harder - for both her sake and ours.