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"Shark Tank" Competition Used To Select Education Tech

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the would-you-prefer-the-texas-school-board? dept.

Education 57

theodp writes "With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the tech billionaire-backed NewSchools Venture Fund, the Silicon Valley Education Foundation used a competition based on the reality show Shark Tank to determine which educational technology entrepreneurs would win the right to have teachers test their technology on students for the rest of the year. 'Ten companies, selected from 80 original applicants,' reports Mercury News columnist Mike Cassidy, 'had three minutes to convince a panel of educators and then a panel of business brains that their ideas would be a difference maker in middle school math classes.' The winners? Blendspace, which helps teachers create digital lessons using Web-based content; Front Row Education, which generates individual quizzes for students and tracks their progress as they work through problems; LearnBop, which offers an automated tutoring system with content written by math teachers; and Zaption, which lets teachers use existing online videos as lessons by adding quizzes, discussion sections, images and text."

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Yeah? (0)

gstoddart (321705) | about 6 months ago | (#46239139)

And who is ensuring that the companies aren't going to harvest, retain, and ultimately sell all of the data about those kids?

The answer, probably nobody.

Technology and money are fine (1, Insightful)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 6 months ago | (#46239187)

but the simple method of firing 10% of the worst teachers and reassigning their students to the rest does more to improve schools than anything else.

Most teachers know who the worst of the worst are. Principals know.

If union rules make such an act impossible, keep these 10% worst teachers on payroll and have them sit around watching youtube, but send their students to better teachers.

Re:Technology and money are fine (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 6 months ago | (#46239221)

but the simple method of firing 10% of the worst teachers and reassigning their students to the rest does more to improve schools than anything else.

If such a simple method always worked then you could apply it recursively to improve results further. Clearly, many schools need more than 9 teachers therefore the reality must be more complex than you claim.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

ranton (36917) | about 6 months ago | (#46239351)

If such a simple method always worked then you could apply it recursively to improve results further.

That is a very odd statement. If eating 10% of a box of cereal with make me full and content, doing that recursively will not improve results. It will make me stuffed and very uncomfortable.

Re:Technology and money are fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46239457)

If such a simple method always worked then you could apply it recursively to improve results further.

That is a very odd statement. If eating 10% of a box of cereal with make me full and content, doing that recursively will not improve results. It will make me stuffed and very uncomfortable.

If you had already done some work towards the goal, such as eating breakfast, eating that 10% of a box of cereal does not improve anything even during the first iteration. Similarly, it's hard to know if firing the worst 10% would improve anything, since the same problems it solves might have been already addressed using other means.

Re:Technology and money are fine (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 6 months ago | (#46239515)

If eating 10% of a box of cereal with make me full and content

That's the thing though it won't. Not always. If you're already full, eating that won't work. If you're really hungry you'll need to repeat several times.

That's the whole point.

The OP claimed it was simple. It's not because blind application of the rule does not work. In your restating of the rule, you've implicitly introduced two more conditions: that you are hungry before and theat you are not after. You understand the more complex reality so deeply that you've not even realised that you've taken it into account.

Translating what you said back would yield "if the school has 10% bad teachers, remove 10% of the worst ones".

TL;DR reality is too complex for a simple rule as proposed by the OP.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

ranton (36917) | about 6 months ago | (#46239699)

If eating 10% of a box of cereal with make me full and content

That's the thing though it won't. Not always. If you're already full, eating that won't work. If you're really hungry you'll need to repeat several times.

But I said that eating 10% of the box will make me full. I defined a theoretical situation where that is true. So I don't know what sense it makes to say that it wouldn't make me full.

You defined a hypothetical situation where removing the 10% worst teachers would improve schools. You then tried to say that if this was true, removing another 10% MUST also help improve schools (implying that if this isn't true, then removing the first 10% didn't really improve schools). My hypothetical situation was used only to show that repeatedly performing an action that solves a problem does not always continue to improve the situation.

Re: Technology and money are fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46239835)

Both of your reputations are flawed.

We both know the GP was talking about a refinement process, and how it's a slippery slope to "simply remove X%. "

To adapt your cereal example: Say your favorite sugar cereal has 100 different types of marshmallows in it. But you don't like some of them. So you pick out the 10% that you like the least. But wait, there are still some that aren't as good as others! Okay, take out some more. And more. You can eventually proceed to the point where your cereal no longer fulfills its original purpose (there isn't enough of it to fill you).

The other poster's point was that it's hard to determine when to stop, or what arbitrary amount to adjust. The situation is more complex than implied.

Re: Technology and money are fine (1)

ranton (36917) | about 6 months ago | (#46239963)

Both of your reputations are flawed.

To adapt your cereal example: Say your favorite sugar cereal has 100 different types of marshmallows in it. But you don't like some of them. So you pick out the 10% that you like the least. But wait, there are still some that aren't as good as others! Okay, take out some more. And more. You can eventually proceed to the point where your cereal no longer fulfills its original purpose (there isn't enough of it to fill you).

Yes, go ahead and adapt my example in any strange way you want and then use that strange example to somehow say that my original argument was strange. Why didn't you add some unicorns into your adaptation and then argue that unicorns aren't real so my example doesn't hold water?

I agree that he was using a form of the slippery slope fallacy. That is exactly what I was pointing out. I figured just saying it was a slipper slope fallacy wouldn't help at all since he pretty obviously thinks that using this tactic is useful and wouldn't take it as a criticism.

Re: Technology and money are fine (1)

Ultracrepidarian (576183) | about 6 months ago | (#46241179)

You're probably better off without the marshmallows anyway.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 6 months ago | (#46244239)

You defined a hypothetical situation where removing the 10% worst teachers would improve schools.

No, I didn't. The OP claimed that in reality removing 10% of the worst teachers would help, unilaterally. He gave no conditions that are required for this to be successful.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 6 months ago | (#46239923)

You are asking the wrong question. The question you want to ask is: For each dollar spent, what has the higher marginal effect, 1. Hiring a few high quality teachers or 2. Hiring more low quality teachers. (Or you can ask the question in reverse.).

You want to ask the question at the margin because if you do a regressive approach either way you are going to get nonsensical results – either 1 highly qualified teacher for a entire school or a school staffed with a bunch of minimum wage teacher’s aids.

From the studies that I have read on the US adding more teachers (i.e. reducing class size) does not have much impact – it is the quality that we should be forcing on – so I am with the OP on this.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

ranton (36917) | about 6 months ago | (#46239755)

but the simple method of firing 10% of the worst teachers and reassigning their students to the rest does more to improve schools than anything else.

If such a simple method always worked then you could apply it recursively to improve results further. Clearly, many schools need more than 9 teachers therefore the reality must be more complex than you claim.

Just because a problem is complex doesn't mean that you have to throw out simple solutions. Many complex problems can be helped with simple solutions. Usually not 100% fixed, but certainly improved. We can't let perfect be the enemy of good.

Re:Technology and money are fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46239291)

If union rules make such an act impossible, keep these 10% worst teachers on payroll and have them sit around watching youtube, but send their students to better teachers.

Immediate backfire. When you reward the failures for failing (paycheck and no work), you just get more of those who could succeed deciding that it is better for them to join the failures.

As seen elsewhere, the 'dump the bottom 10%' should also be tempered with a condition of 'if their performance is significantly below the median.' This could lead to schools of slackers, where everyone teaches poorly because they don't want their loser friends fired, but then those become known and (if parents had any option short of private schools or moving to a different city) avoided.

Stack Ranking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46239331)

Stack Ranking employees: the surest way to success!

Re:Stack Ranking (1)

ranton (36917) | about 6 months ago | (#46239773)

A one time firing of the worst teachers in a school is not stack ranking. It is acknowledgement of past failures in hiring and incentive policies and an attempt to solve that problem.

Re:Technology and money are fine (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 6 months ago | (#46239349)

If union rules...

Ah, yes, because in a field where most of the workers are barely scraping by on $30 - 40K a year, not to mention spending a fair amount of their own money on school supplies that their employer should be buying, obviously unions are the problem.

Dude, get real - this ain't the AFL-CIO, protecting the $75/hr rate of guys who rivet 1 body panel into a Chevy. Maybe if folks such as yourself spent more time trying to help teachers, rather than bitching about the fact that "OMG they have a union," education wouldn't be in such a piss-poor state.

Re:Technology and money are fine (3, Insightful)

aicrules (819392) | about 6 months ago | (#46239409)

Hey the fact is union contracts do prevent VERY bad teachers from being fired. And the net result can be very GOOD teachers get let go instead. Just because one teacher has worked for 20 years doesn't mean they should be automatically kept instead of the 2nd year teacher. Especially if the 20 year teacher is TERRIBLE.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 6 months ago | (#46240127)

Hey the fact is union contracts do prevent VERY bad teachers from being fired. And the net result can be very GOOD teachers get let go instead. Just because one teacher has worked for 20 years doesn't mean they should be automatically kept instead of the 2nd year teacher. Especially if the 20 year teacher is TERRIBLE.

Fair enough, I just get fed up with the constant union-bashing by people who have no idea what they're on about - they just heard a politician they think they agree with say "dur, unions bad" and parrot that line to the end.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

cbeaudry (706335) | about 6 months ago | (#46242805)

dur, unions bad... from personal experience.

Unions, had a place, and still do, but not in their current form.

They are a plague on public finance and a plague on private productivity nationwide.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

ediron2 (246908) | about 6 months ago | (#46240607)

Sorry, not even that is 'fact'. It's a conservative contention that has plenty of disagreement.

Also, I'm immediately suspicious of any round numbers, so where did this magical
'Firing 10% helps' plan come up with that 10%? Another conservative meme: fire some people = save money, make everyone else work harder out of fear, and claim success.

As for resenting a factory worker getting $75 an hour, I vaguely recall that being bullshit, too. Something akin to the anti-USPS accounting tricks conservatives like: the shopworker gets far less, plus overtime bonuses, decent benefits and a pension, which with some seriously questionable math tricks is ginned up to a thrice-questionable estimate.

Last of all, if a union lead (decades experience plus management plus education, in other words) before reaganomics was getting $30 an hour, they SHOULD be getting $75, just due to the more-than-double cost of living increases over 40 years.. That people aren't ever seeing that sort of money nowadays is not his fault. Everyone else is getting screwed. Dozens of studies show wage stagnation problems.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

nmr_andrew (1997772) | about 6 months ago | (#46241705)

Hey the fact is union contracts do prevent VERY bad teachers from being fired.

I'll ignore the issues implied by the rest of the quote which are somewhat valid, but this is flat out wrong.

What the contracts do is make it difficult to fire bad or very bad teachers, but it 100% can be done. The trick is that administration has to actually make the effort to document the bad performance and make at least some attempt to allow that teacher to improve. But if a teacher is bad, firing them is mostly an issue of dotting the is and crossing the ts, plus being willing to stand up in the nearly inevitable hearing and provide the documented proof.

This isn't limited to teachers either, btw. My dad used to, as one aspect of his job, have to run disciplinary hearings for civil servants that could result it suspension, loss of pay, or firing. If the supervisor recommending discipline had good records and had followed the correct procedures, there was little problem with any of this. If not, the supervisor usually got chewed out for not doing HIS job properly and wasting everyone's time.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about 6 months ago | (#46239467)

That's all true, but on the other hand, Americans give a shit about cars whereas we really don't care about education. If put to direct vote, I'm fairly sure that the majority would vote to get rid of education completely and just replace it with daycare, if it would save a couple of bucks.

salary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46239605)

WTF? $30-40 is "barely scraping by"? $40k in the midwest is a damn good starting salary. Firmly middle class.

Big city markets and expensive cost-of-living areas also pay teachers more than that starting. My wife's first pay was $36k full-time in the midwest. My starting pay as a web developer was $38k. That $36 for my wife is for ~10.5 months of work. She actually made more than I did starting. And that's a programming tech job vs those "low paid teacher salaries".

And, of course, I paid $350 month for insurance and she paid nothing, until last year were she pays $30 for a high-deductible plan that was similar to mine. So, I was making less and spending more on benefits by about another $3,000.

The real difference is, my wife is still making about the same amount 5 years later, were I'm making $60 now, 8 years later.

My wife will have to get a masters degree and a PhD and do all kinds of other things to raise her pay scale.

But $40k is a good salary and can provide for a family. So this idiotic statement that $40k is a bad salary is just that.

Re:salary (1)

quetwo (1203948) | about 6 months ago | (#46239947)

$36k is pretty measly for what they have to do. When I was teaching, I ended up having to buy about $1,200 to $1,500 in materials and stuff for the kids in my class each year. About $200 of that is tax deductible. Turns out, not many kids are fed when they show up to school. And their parents would rather go gamble than buy them the required things -- like pens, paper, folders, etc. Each one of my class periods had at least three or four kids that didn't have the basics -- yet I'm still responsible for them to pass. The school didn't provide any of this. Hell, at the end of the term I was forced to buy copy paper to print quizzes on because I ran out of my allotment of 500 sheets of paper per month. For 160 students.

I also had to pay into health insurance, and I missed the pension system by a few years (they offer a 403(b), but no matching for the first 10 years).

And sure, they work "10.5 months", but they also put in well more than 12 hours per day, plus weekends. It averages out to 12 months of work of 8-5 crammed into fewer months. I was usually in by 7am and left no earlier than 6. Then I still had to correct papers, do my lesson plan, speak with parents, etc.

And you are lucky if you get a 1% raise. Scratch that, you are lucky if you kept the same salary as you had the year before.

Re:salary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46239979)

$40k was middle class 10-20 years ago. Not anymore.

Prices have gone up on everything, and you are expected to have a cell phone, internet access, and other expenses. If you have two incomes, it is fine, but not if you are single and aren't just starting out. Saving for retirement, house, cars, vacations, and other expenses will be pretty hard. Just buying food and normal supplies becomes hard at $40k, even in the midwest where I live.

Re: salary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46241321)

Its a good salary in some places. In 90% of California teacher salaries are not enough to raise a family with without extra income, until you reach the 15-20 year mark. Don't be so geographically narrow minded.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#46239939)

Barely scarping by? where I live that's an excellent wage, the average wage for a teacher in my state is $55k... AND they get summers off!!!

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 6 months ago | (#46240143)

Where do you live that $30K/yr qualifies as an "excellent wage?" Because I live in one of the most wage-depressed parts of the nation, on the Ozark Plateau, and I can tell you for a fact that 30 grand ain't shit after Uncle Sam takes his cut.

Then again, who am I to argue with the man that brought us hops?

Sorry, but I've been wanting to use that one since I first saw your screen name.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 6 months ago | (#46240499)

You don’t want to ask if the pay you are offering is sufficient for a middle class lifestyle, the question you want to ask is if the pay is drawing candidates that meet your qualifications.

High quality teachers can often make more in the private sector. Teachers tend to be drawn from the bottom half of the college graduates. This tells me something. Also, most teaching positions offer high benefits, such as generous pensions, tenure, and salary advances, which tend to be back loaded - which tend to draw in the risk adverse.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 6 months ago | (#46240559)

You don’t want to ask if the pay you are offering is sufficient for a middle class lifestyle, the question you want to ask is if the pay is drawing candidates that meet your qualifications.

High quality teachers can often make more in the private sector. Teachers tend to be drawn from the bottom half of the college graduates. This tells me something. Also, most teaching positions offer high benefits, such as generous pensions, tenure, and salary advances, which tend to be back loaded - which tend to draw in the risk adverse.

Got any source citation for those claims, or am I supposed to take your word for it?

My sister was a teacher, see, and although she graduated at the top of her class, she chose to take a lower paying position as a special education teacher in a public school, so my experience is probably colored a bit differently than yours.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 6 months ago | (#46240839)

Let’s see – you sister graduated at the top of her class and was a teacher? What is she doing now? And why are extrapolating from a single data point? That could be dangerous. But since you wanted evidence.

The countries where pupils do best, such as Singapore, Finland and South Korea, draw all their teachers from the top third of the academic pool. In America three-quarters of teacher-training colleges accept students who graduate in the bottom half of their class.

http://www.economist.com/news/... [economist.com]

By the way, I have a pretty good idea what Special Ed teachers do, and I greatly appreciate what they do, but of the 40 or so that I have meet none of them graduated from the top of their class or from top schools. That’s my antidotal evidence.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 6 months ago | (#46241121)

Let’s see – you sister graduated at the top of her class and was a teacher? What is she doing now? And why are extrapolating from a single data point? That could be dangerous. But since you wanted evidence.

She's no longer on this plane of existence, but I get your point about small data sets.

The countries where pupils do best, such as Singapore, Finland and South Korea, draw all their teachers from the top third of the academic pool. In America three-quarters of teacher-training colleges accept students who graduate in the bottom half of their class.

http://www.economist.com/news/... [economist.com]

By the way, I have a pretty good idea what Special Ed teachers do, and I greatly appreciate what they do, but of the 40 or so that I have meet none of them graduated from the top of their class or from top schools. That’s my antidotal evidence.

Here's the problem: I looked up the group who did the "research" cited on that page, the National Council on Teacher Quality, and their credentials are shady at best. Some resources:

http://www.sourcewatch.org/ind... [sourcewatch.org]

http://www.washingtonpost.com/... [washingtonpost.com]

An excerpt from the second link:

Several months ago, U.S. News & World Report announced that it planned to rank the nation’s schools of education and that it would do so with the assistance of the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

Since then, many institutions announced that they would not collaborate. Some felt that they had already been evaluated by other accrediting institutions like NCATE or TEAC; others objected to NCTQ’s methodology. As the debate rated, NCTQ told the dissenters that they would be rated whether they agreed or not, and if they didn’t cooperate, they would get a zero. The latest information that I have seen is that the ratings will appear this fall.

Rating schools as a zero because they refused to co-operate? Way to screw up your own results, NCTQ.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 6 months ago | (#46241525)

My condolences on your sister. Special Ed is one of those fields where it is hard to retain high quality teachers.

As for the NCTQ, I think you criticism are slightly off point. There are 2 separate issues here. The first is the objective fact that most teachers are drawn from the bottom half of their class. If you don’t like NCTQ I can find other sources. That is a input – not a result. Your point is that some colleges don’t want to be evaluated is a different question - and is a different bucket of data.

While you might not find it fair to treat nonparticipating colleges with a zero, the report does break out those colleges so you can do your own analyst.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 6 months ago | (#46241585)

Fair enough. I guess my experiences with bad, intentionally-skewed-as-to-produce-the-desired-result "research" over the past couple decades has left me quite jaded and unable to trust any research group to not show some sort of confirmation bias.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 6 months ago | (#46241949)

Fair enough. A intelligent man knows that ½ of what he is told is false, a wise man knows which half. I trust the Economist but I recognize that is a bias. Always good to check out the primary source data and evaluate it for yourself.

Re:Technology and money are fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46239577)

Why not go with a program with a proven track record like Kumon math? It doesn't require employment of a full time teacher; only instruction when new concepts are introduced. This new concept introduction is where the technology/innovation can happen.

Re:Technology and money are fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46239653)

Unions are the reason teachers aren't being put thru mental, as well as skill evaluations, not just at a state level but it would also appears to be at the national level. [unrelated, why property school taxes are spinning out of control].

The school systems aren't being used to "teach", monopolistic companies want to use them a training program for worker drones. Having said that I think you will see a very low rate of IT/programming skilled students, since they more then likely get bored with this, and decide to move onto some other career. I'm sure companies will pay off teachers, school board members, and other school staff to talk students out of perusing a different path.

"look this is were the future is" without informing them of the dangers that come with it. You read them on /. all the time, after you reach a certain age, salary a company has no problem dumping you off, and good luck trying to re-educate yourself, via online, or physical college courses, to further your "skills" in hopes of keeping your job, or trying to update your skills at that trigger age to find another job.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

brunes69 (86786) | about 6 months ago | (#46239869)

Its not as easy to figure out who the "best teachers" are though.

What do you base it on? Standardized testing? We all know that is garbage. Student surveys? Then the most "popular" teachers would walk and the least "popular" ones would get canned... effectiveness is not always a popularity contest.

It is hard to define what a good teacher is other than someone who really cares about students and puts in genuine effort. You know it when you see it but coming up with a way to measure it objectively would be difficult.

Of course, as someone who does not live in the USA I can tell you right now what your countries biggest problem in education is - teacher salaries and how you fund schools. The amount you pay your teachers in the US is shameful. No wonder you get so many bad teachers - what respectable, educated professional would want to teach and give up their whole future livelihood, it is an awful big ask to say we want the best but are unwilling to pay them for their effort.

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

rdelsambuco (552369) | about 6 months ago | (#46240023)

Source? If so, why not fire the bottom 10% of all occupations? What's your plan for those folks?

Re:Technology and money are fine (1)

The Cat (19816) | about 6 months ago | (#46240363)

Why not send the 10% of teachers to training where they can learn to be better teachers?

business (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46239269)

One does have to ask in purity of education as a discipline--why involve business? I know businesses can be a important stakeholders in education, but are we losing sight of education as a whole when we involve businesses to defining principles for educators--I mean businesses' sole purpose is financial, which isn't exactly the same purpose of education (or according to Silicon Valley... it is).

Re:business (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 6 months ago | (#46239367)

One does have to ask in purity of education as a discipline--why involve business? I know businesses can be a important stakeholders in education, but are we losing sight of education as a whole when we involve businesses to defining principles for educators--I mean businesses' sole purpose is financial, which isn't exactly the same purpose of education (or according to Silicon Valley... it is).

The public school system doesn't give a flying fuck about education. It cares only about enrolling a many kids as possible, making sure they attend every day, and then shitting them out the door ASAP by coaching them on the various required standardized tests. (Protip: They care about these things because they secure their funding.)

What a Surprise (2)

sexconker (1179573) | about 6 months ago | (#46239335)

All the winners are things that let teachers shit out more auto-generated homework, quizzes/tests, lessons, and tutoring.

Here's a solution: Hire teachers who know the subject and are willing to teach children. Pay them decently, and fire the teachers who can't teach. Tell the unions to fuck right on off.

While you're at it, fire the students who screw over other kids because they can't behave like a human being for a few hours a day. Tell their parents to fuck right on off, too. "You're child was expelled for being a fucking nuisance. Correct the behavior or have fun homeschooling the little shit yourself." And hold all the stupid kids back, too. "Your child failed to learn anything and will not advance to the next grade."

It's fucking simple and it'll fucking work, so it'll never fucking happen.

Re:What a Surprise (1)

jhujoe (579368) | about 6 months ago | (#46239479)

Exactly. All of this stuff just distances teachers from students even more and makes education less humane. There should be NO computers in classrooms. They are a huge distraction. If "education" is about filling up brains with facts, we don't need teachers at all. The public school system is broken. Children need role models and human teachers who look them in the eye and care about them as human beings. Public school teachers haven't done anything like this in decades. This is just the next nail in the coffin.

Re:What a Surprise (1)

werdnam (1008591) | about 6 months ago | (#46239723)

I think you're being a bit unfair towards some of the ideas. I see a lot of potential, for example, in being able to generate randomized, individualized, instantly-graded homework sets for students. A lot of these systems are pretty "smart," and can identify a student's individual weaknesses and give them more practice where they need it. They can also let students zip past the parts they already understand and so get to harder material as appropriate. The teacher plays an important role in being able to provide assistance to the students that are stuck. With a classroom of 30 students, expecting a teacher to generate this level of individualized work for each student on their own is impractical.

Re:What a Surprise (1)

jhujoe (579368) | about 6 months ago | (#46239825)

I agree with your premise (that it's impossible to expect a teacher to individualize education for 30 students) but disagree with your proposed solution (technology). The real solution is the CHANGE THE SYSTEM. 30 kids to one teacher is a horrible system. 20 kids to one teacher is a very bad system. 10 kids to one teacher is BARELY workable. That's if we care about children getting a good education. Clearly, we don't.

Re:What a Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46240399)

This is one of the main reason why myself and my wife have held off having a child yet, we are saving a little more so we can private school him/her and after school private tutors, I Do not trust private school systems to actually educate my son/daughter in fact its more likely that they will hamper his/her learning.

Re:What a Surprise (1)

ranton (36917) | about 6 months ago | (#46240075)

If "education" is about filling up brains with facts, we don't need teachers at all.

Children need role models and human teachers who look them in the eye and care about them as human beings.

It looks like we agree on almost everything, except perhaps the solution. I agree that the filling up of brains with facts and skills does not require as much teacher interaction as it does now. I also agree that teachers should be spending more time understanding students, motivating them, guiding them, and supporting them. Instead of just lecturing facts.

But my solution is to use more automated technology to impart facts so teachers can be freed to be more like personal coaches to the students. Why do we need 50,000 unique 5th grade math lectures on fractions each year, each taking up 50,000 man-hours per day to perform, when a few dozen lectures should handle many ranges of learning techniques and methods? I would love it if in 20 years teachers forgot that in the past teachers were actually expected to waste their time lecturing instead of having more human and personal interactions with their students.

Re:What a Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46239527)

Here's a solution: Hire teachers who know the subject and are willing to teach children. Pay them decently, and fire the teachers who can't teach.

Who's deciding who can't teach? If you do it by teacher popularity, the result will not really represent ability to teach. If you do it by grades, good luck with even worse grade inflation.

While you're at it, fire the students who screw over other kids because they can't behave like a human being for a few hours a day.

If a group of children are messing around, how do you know who is the main cause? If you fire them all, you end up with collateral damage.

Re:What a Surprise (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 6 months ago | (#46239875)

Here's a solution: Hire teachers who know the subject and are willing to teach children. Pay them decently, and fire the teachers who can't teach.

Who's deciding who can't teach? If you do it by teacher popularity, the result will not really represent ability to teach. If you do it by grades, good luck with even worse grade inflation.

While you're at it, fire the students who screw over other kids because they can't behave like a human being for a few hours a day.

If a group of children are messing around, how do you know who is the main cause? If you fire them all, you end up with collateral damage.

Who's deciding? How about the administrators who are already tasked with evaluating teacher performance?

It's like you've never dealt with children. It's trivial to determine which kids are the troublemakers. You look at them. Class clowns, bullies, etc. aren't exactly subtle. It's also plainly obvious that Amanda likes Chris, but Chris likes Denise and that's why Amanda and Denise are fighting.

Re:What a Surprise (1)

neo-mkrey (948389) | about 6 months ago | (#46240057)

Yes! Yes! and YES!!!

Need to drop the College for All idea and have (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 6 months ago | (#46239753)

More trades / tech schools
Or even a bigger push to go to Community College

If software engineers were paid teacher salaries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46240067)

wonder if they would stop bitchin' about teachers and then maybe teachers might bitch about why the parents are not spending enough time with the kids. Also, maybe if software engineers paid taxes rather than non-profits, there would be better budgets for public schools.

Did someone say... (1)

carrier lost (222597) | about 6 months ago | (#46240183)

...Shark Tank [botaday.com] ?

Much better than the original idea... (1)

turrican (55223) | about 6 months ago | (#46242881)

...being "Shart Tank".

Shark Tank (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46244079)

I think the authors are referring to the popular UK TV show "Dragon's Den", which has a poor-quality US spinoff named "Shark Tank".

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