What sort of things should be taught in High school?

So, this year I’m apart of the GK-12 NSF fellowship and this requires me to learn a heck of a lot about the politics of teaching as well as the reasoning behind why we teach mathematics the way we do. My advisor asks us to write prompts on things like “What mathematics would you teach to someone never taking math again?” and such. We also have to read papers on different teaching theories as well as differing points of view on what mathematics are important to know before a person graduates.

Which leads to the question, is it reasonable to have Pre-Calc and Calc be the last math courses one learns in high school? Or should we try to adapt a different system? Why do we in particular focus on building up to these courses?
It seems silly to label math courses with the name math when they are primarily computation based. They should at least include some theory and expectation of understanding if we’re going to teach it. But it is rarely taught like that.
Of course these questions can be extended to all the subjects, but since I’m not familiar in any other areas I really have no input there.

At least in Ontario, I’d like a math curriculum that isn’t retarded and aimed at underachievers. It’s just been cutbacks after cutbacks.

Move somewhere overseas and go to school there.

First of all, elementary school should be entirely replaced with a strict regime of 3 hours of memory excersizes, 3 hours of math, 3 hours of english. By the time a child goes to middle school he should have a trained photographic memory, college level math and english and be able to write in short hand. parents would have the option of forcing their child to learn other languages using rosetta stone soft ware that would be provided by government funding. In class all students will have a device like a ipad, for three hours memory excersizes will be done on this device, it’s kind of like memory game from mario bros. 3 but becomes more difficult as time goes on. It will eventually flash an image for a second and the child has to pick what is different about the picture. And stuff like that. And math will be an interactive program starting with simple arithmatic, explaining the problems as time goes on, it will slowly become more difficult until the child is doing insane shit. And english is just like, reading and caligraphy (learning to write with a pencil even though they never will need to) and learning short hand because short hand takes 10% of the time to write as long hand, and is fucking awesome. So by the end of elementary school a child will have read books instead of dicking around.

Then using the new memory training, they will be able to assimilate any knowledge faster and easier, and so middle and high school will be able to cram more classes and information especially since all classes will be turned into theaters where standardized lessons will be taught to every student in the school, and lessons will be accessable via a website, so even if a kid is “home sick” they can still watch the lesson. All lessons will be in depth videos using computer animation and visual aids, because kids these days are fucking retarded and need something to keep their attention, but maybe the thing I planned for elementary school will make them not total fuck tards. Anyway, middle school will consist of everything learned in middle school AND high school. And then High School will be basically a preparation school with a focus on whatever field the kid wants to be in. If a kid has no idea what he wants to do, or major in in college, there will be a broad range option that basically gives a more well rounded education instead of the focus idea i had. the main focus plan is like, if a kid knows he wants to be a lawyer or cop, then they would have several law oriented classes as well as the standard general education. P.E. will be like if you saw the new Karate Kid, how they’re all doing shit in unison, and its awesome, student will do taichi and learn to excersize properly like when you go to the gym and they let you talk to a trainer for free for a day but they talk to you for 10 minutes while you do what they told you to do then they ignore you till you leave. I don’t know if I would make them learn martial arts because then people would always get their asses kicked, but since all schools would have a star trek style jump suit uniform, and not be allowed to wear and distinguishing apparell like earrings or necklaces, the whole “cool kids” things would probably be less apparent. Anyway, middle school and highschool would be all done with interactive software and video presentations, the software would keep track of what the student understands and does not understand and then go back to what they do not understand until they understand it, there would not be an stress to get things done fast to catch up with the rest of the class, a person will graduate when they have passed all the classes, even if takes them an extra year or whatever. There would be added classes specifically to make kids more aware of other countries beliefs and shit, and teach kids to be more tolerant of other cultures and less ignorant fucktards that we are. And all lunches would be like, in pill form. anyway, gotta go. I wrote the next thing earlier. BYE!

Anyway, highschool should be Math, Science, ,Lunch, English, Social Studies, P.E. Elective

I’d say arithmetic, basic calculation and statistics for everyday use. Calculus for more advanced uses and as a hint of the potential of maths.

What is the point of it all anyway?


This. Basic calculations as well as statistics are important. What’s even more important are application problems, or “world problems”, yeah those dreaded things. The more a student is introduced to those the more they’ll realise that math will be used a lot through out their lives.

Calculus may not be as important for general stream high school, but it was optional in my school anyways. I think it is important to have at least two strong steams of math in high school: one for students that just want to get out of there, and one for students who plan to pursue the sciences and other fields using advanced mathematics.

Screw that. I’ve taken four fuckin math classes already. I’d rather nail my ears to the wall than take another one. >_<

As it stands, a lot of people leave high school without even basic elementary skills. I agree with Klez that something needs to be done about the endless dumbing down of standards.

I have yet to see a high school curriculum that requires calculus. I’m not saying this because it should. I’m saying this because of the way Kairi has framed the question. Calculus is useful when going into the sciences. If one is not planning to do so, its not really worth taking. I think there should be 2 paths for people to follow, where one actually teaches people skills they require to manage their finances and the going-about their daily lives, and another for people who actually need to understand stuff like this.

This assumes high schoolers who plan not to study science will not do so. In reality, most university students change their majors multiple times. Changes from humanities to science are not uncommon, as students realize they want to make money.

But studying “Finances in Daily Life,” rather than Pre-Calc and Calculus, would make the transition to the sciences much harder and less likely. Science-major Physics is impossible without Pre-Calc, and a waste of time without Calculus, so catching up in math would delay Physics by 1-2 semesters. Likewise, A.P. Physics requires calculus, so “Finances in Daily Life” students couldn’t take it. They’d miss the most advanced high school science class and one of the best chances to become interested in science. All else equal, universities will take the Calculus student over the “Finances in Daily Life” kid, even if he’s 100% sure he’ll enter the humanities, because Calculus develops broadly applicable thinking skills – so the smart kids will take A.P. Calc anyway.

I certainly see the benefits of skills-oriented teaching, but I think it should be reserved for students with little aptitude in any academic field. In other words, daily-life sciences should be reserved for overall poor students, rather than those who express little interest in science.

Meanwhile, high schools should struggle to separate the “wheat from the chaff.” Too many non-academically-oriented kids go to dubious colleges to get useless degrees, which are only helpful as resume-filler because everyone else now has useless degrees too. But rather than abandon these kids, schools should develop apprenticeship programs with local businesses, which allow networking and real-world learning. Despite our high unemployment rates, amazingly, there’s a shortage of skilled workers. Kids who do poorly in school should take these well-paying jobs, rather than waste time and money at the local C.C.

On the other hand a person who does find him/herself desiring a change in direction in academics should be able to pick up on whatever they’ve missed in highschool. No one can truly predict their future and trying to cover everything, and its not like covering or skipping anything in highschool is going to matter that much in collage. It’s really up to the student to cover what they missed, skipped, or lacked (although this doesn’t excuse schools for coddling under-stimulated man-babies and teaching them only how to be ineffectual and demanding).

Xwing: I agree with what you said. I actually nearly wrote a paragraph on vocational training as a follow up to my statement, but opted otherwise to avoid getting too off topic. I stopped at daily life for the simple reason I recall reading an article in the distant past on how a substantial portion of high school graduates were incompetent at doing something as basic as their groceries (cost) efficiently. School should above all allow people to become independent and this was a clear and shocking failure.

Ironically, since I majored in Biological Sciences, I saw more people defect from science to the humanities to evade the rigor science demands. I have seen it go the other way, but much less frequently. My bleak view on life tells me that there are far more academically inept people than otherwise. Our opinions may differ as to the actual proportion of poor students there are.

Did your zealous parents tell you to write that, Chinaman?

I’ve got to say I am one of those rare instances of a humanities student switching to sciences and doing well. It took me several semesters to catch up with Math, Chemistry and Physics, but now I’m getting A’s in courses that are the almost opposite from what I was taking before. So it is possible for students to switch and do well, but like Sin said it isn’t as successful as often as switching from sciences to humanities (which would be challenging then if you are geared towards a certain way of thinking).

lol ye

seriously though last time I heard they were thinking of taking out pre-calc too

There should be a complete overhaul of the education system.

I love calculus so much it hurts me sometimes. No lie.

But yeah, calc is pretty much useful in so many fields it’s ridiculous. More than just the sciences like physics and such, it’s useful in financial maths for so many reasons that I’d pretty much put it as the most valuable course from secondary school. Anyone hoping to do anything outside the humanities should be able to find some use for it. If anything, I feel it should actually be more stressed, at least here, as everyone I’ve talked to who has to use maths in college requires calculus.

For anyone who doesn’t want to, fuck off down to ordinary level.

This thread makes me want to go back in time and do school the right way.