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RockTheTassel
10-03-2011, 03:21 AM
I can honestly say I never use science for my work, but proficiency in Spanish will help my coworkers in accounting get assignments for they have Spanish speaking clients.

I'm not saying all careers require a complete knowledge of high level math, english, and science. But you're much more likely to need a strong background in those subjects than you are foreign language.


Does senior ENglish literature really make or break one's career? Not to diss Eng lit for I love it, but there are education systems that don't make literature a senior course and the kids do just fine.

I said English, not English literature. I don't think four years of literature is really necessary either. Most people I know did not take four years, they took a year or two in addition to other English classes. Perhaps this varies at different schools.


I agree, except what you said applies to all subjects, including foreign language.

It does apply, but it's usually not the center of a job. I agree that some foreign language is useful.


If you don't use math or science or read literature then how is it easy to retain? :confused: I don't remember any more Math or science than I do Japanese. And I don't use any one of them on a regular basis. And I say that for the people I know too.

I agree that if you don't use the skills you will forget them. But people use high level math, English, and science much more often in their jobs than they do a foreign language.

As I've said before, I completely understand why being bilingual is a valuable skill. It just isn't nearly as important as skills in at least one of English, science, and math.

Prancer
10-03-2011, 03:39 AM
My view is based on a lot of traveling in the US. Many people have asked where we are from and not heard of Vancouver, British Columbia - those who have heard of it are definitely in a minority. I've been particularly surprised that people in Oregon and California haven't heard of it, as Vancouver is on the same coast. That's why I said 'even Californians' by the way.

There are several thousand American members of this board, representing every state in the US. How many of them do you think have heard of Vancouver? Would that number be higher or lower than all the people you have surveyed while on your travels in the US?


Actually, we don't - I don't, at any rate. And I never made that assertion. I've heard the odd story of people who've had Americans come to visit them in the summer with ski gear, but that has never happened to me. I do think that would be the exception, though. Most people who travel anywhere learn about what weather to expect.

It wasn't that particular story, but rather the attitude that I was referencing.

jlai
10-03-2011, 03:44 AM
I'm not saying all careers require a complete knowledge of high level math, english, and science. But you're much more likely to need a strong background in those subjects than you are foreign language.

I have friends who came from education systems that required them to specialize in subjects early in high school. And those who didn't choose science or heavy-duty Math do just fine now in their career. My sister in law not long ago told me she forgot all about her geometry in high school, and she was in IT for a while.


I said English, not English literature. I don't think four years of literature is really necessary either. Most people I know did not take four years, they took a year or two in addition to other English classes. Perhaps this varies at different schools.

iN my state, 4 years of lit is part of the recommended curriculum. That being said, I think the quality of your language education counts more than how many years of English you had.


It does apply, but it's usually not the center of a job. I agree that some foreign language is useful.

Same goes for other skills like writing or understanding of chemistry or physics or precalculus.


I agree that if you don't use the skills you will forget them. But people use high level math, English, and science much more often in their jobs than they do a foreign language.

I've never used anything beyond basic algebra. In fact, I had friends who went to tech schools for engineering /tech careers who said they have never
taken calculus (or precal). Granted, they aren't college grads but they're professionals.

Anyway, I think what interests us is what becomes important to us, and that in turns shapes our career paths and employment opportunities. Of course, that in turn influences our thoughts of what's important in our education. For example, if you like talking to people but hate Math and decide to become a social worker, then of course you'll tell me that Math isn't useful to you. Same goes for people with different interests in different subjects.

ETA: One of the biggest bosses in our office is a Latin American studies major. And no she's not teaching. Another coworker of mine, who does audits, says her anthropology degree helps her more than her CPA education. Just saying...

Really
10-03-2011, 04:17 AM
I would expect that schools (in general) in the US might give more than lipservice to Canada's history for a couple reasons -- first, we share the longest international border in the world, and second, Canada is the US's largest single-nation trading partner. It can't hurt to be more than just familiar with those with whom you do the majority of your business.

Although I do wish you'd quit changing things around down there...it's only a mild pain in the ass to have to toss out the brand new text book a year into a new program of studies because you went and elected a president who tried to bring in a more 'socialist' form of health care...

:P

Prancer
10-03-2011, 04:53 AM
I would expect that schools (in general) in the US might give more than lipservice to Canada's history for a couple reasons -- first, we share the longest international border in the world, and second, Canada is the US's largest single-nation trading partner. It can't hurt to be more than just familiar with those with whom you do the majority of your business.

I think both of my kids spent quite a bit of time studying Canada in, oh, fourth grade. And then they promptly forgot it all, or most of it.

It's not that Americans don't like Canada or aren't aware it's there. It's more that we take it for granted. Canada is peaceful and stable, so doesn't call attention to itself. We have a good and cordial relationship, so there's no real impetus to work at it. We do share a lot of history and the cultures, while far from identical, aren't all that dissimiliar and our differences aren't particularly drastic, so there's no exotic factor. There's no substantial immigration between our countries, so very few people are interested in Canada as their mother country. I have never known anyone to go to Canada and not enjoy it and think it's a great country, but I've also never known anyone here to dream of visiting Canada as they do other countries. It's too familiar and has always been too easy to get to.

Now should we take Canada for granted? Of course not. But who do you pay more attention to in your neighborhood--the friendly but busy people who live next door on their neat and well-kept property or the feuding people down the street who are visited regularly by the cops and have wild parties every weekend?

pat c
10-03-2011, 05:04 AM
Now should we take Canada for granted? Of course not. But who do you pay more attention to in your neighborhood--the friendly but busy people who live next door on their neat and well-kept property or the feuding people down the street who are visited regularly by the cops and have wild parties every weekend?

Well dayum, we think we are wild and crazy. ;) We take great pride in knowing that only Aussies can outdrink us on transatlantic flights. Some countries study the wrong things obviously.

Japanfan
10-03-2011, 05:31 AM
wow - I am not sure who or where you visit that people don't know that there is a Vancouver Canada.


I share your 'wow' - this has been true of my experience everywhere I've gone in the US. Though, not surprisingly last year after the Olympics I noticed that people had heard of Vancouver.



Some, not all, NYC people told us that they expected teepees and saloons on the main streets in Nebraska because that is what they saw in old western movies and tv series.


That's another wow.



Are you resentful that as a Canadian you had a great deal of United States history in your course of education and that United States student didn't have the same amount of Canadian history? If so, that is something to take up with your school boards and not lash out at US posters.

Um, this thread is discussing history (and geography) education in the U.S. and I have shared my experience of it. I can't say I resent American's lack of knowledge about Canada - I don't think of it much and am very accustomed to it. And I don't think it says anything about Canada itself.

Japanfan
10-03-2011, 05:33 AM
There are several thousand American members of this board, representing every state in the US. How many of them do you think have heard of Vancouver? Would that number be higher or lower than all the people you have surveyed while on your travels in the US?


Much higher - because a) following figure skating leads people to become acquainted with different countries and cities, and b) discussions with people from different parts of the world leads people to become acquainted with different countries and cities.

Vagabond
10-03-2011, 05:58 AM
Now this of course creates a chicken and egg problem, in which no one learns languages because no one teaches languages and then there is no one to teach languages because no one has learned (to put it very simplistically). But what should be done about this?

This is one interesting proposition, but I don't see too many countries following in China's footsteps: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/education/21chinese.html

Here's an article from 1998 about how the New York City Board of Education was hiring math teachers from Austria: http://www.nytimes.com/1998/07/11/nyregion/low-on-teachers-new-york-scours-austria.html?.scp=1&sq=math%20teachers%20austria&st=cse.

It would probably be even easier to import language teachers because, as native speakers, they would have an advantage over candidates born in the U.S.

Prancer
10-03-2011, 06:28 AM
Here's an article from 1998 about how the New York City Board of Education was hiring math teachers from Austria: http://www.nytimes.com/1998/07/11/nyregion/low-on-teachers-new-york-scours-austria.html?.scp=1&sq=math%20teachers%20austria&st=cse.

It would probably be even easier to import language teachers because, as native speakers, they would have an advantage over candidates born in the U.S.

But we're talking elementary schools teachers here, not specialist high school teachers. Most elementary school teachers teach everything, not just one subject. So you could either lay off masses of regular teachers to replace them with foriegn teachers (that will go over well) or you can have schools hire a few language specialists each and add them, along with more classes that would, by necessity, have to take the place of some other subject.

Then there's the issue of magnitude. In very rounded and inexact terms: There are roughly 67,000 public elementary schools in the US. The mean number of students in a US elementary school is something like 500. The average class size is 25. Each school would need about four language teachers, presuming that those teachers could teach at all grade levels within the elementary school. We would have to import more than 260,000 teachers.

If my math is off, feel free to correct. I am, after all, a product of American public schools :P.

This would be unlikely to happen even if the schools weren't struggling financially. But since they are and since non-core courses are being cut as a result, as discussed in my 2011 article, it is even more unlikely that this would even be considered now.

Vagabond
10-03-2011, 07:04 AM
But we're talking elementary schools teachers here, not specialist high school teachers. Most elementary school teachers teach everything, not just one subject.

The Austrian math teachers were hired to teach in secondary schools. Hiring foreigners to teach language classes from, say, the seventh-grade level on up would be a step in the right direction.

I'm sure things vary widely by district, but, there are elementary schools that employ teachers to teach one subject -- art, music, reading development, P.E., etc. There probably already are districts out there where elementary teachers are hired just to teach language classes.

Also, schools might develop programs where two teachers share teaching responsibilities, and some of the instruction in non-language subjects is done in, say, German or Japanese instead of English. Again, this probably already happens.

taf2002
10-03-2011, 04:55 PM
I share your 'wow' - this has been true of my experience everywhere I've gone in the US. Though, not surprisingly last year after the Olympics I noticed that people had heard of Vancouver.

This statement is actually pretty insulting. When Sochi was announced, I'm sure a lot of people (including me) had to look up where that was. I'm confident that very few if any Americans had to look up Vancouver.


Um, this thread is discussing history (and geography) education in the U.S. and I have shared my experience of it. I can't say I resent American's lack of knowledge about Canada - I don't think of it much and am very accustomed to it. And I don't think it says anything about Canada itself.

OP obviously resents it. Apparently we aren't educated enough about Canada, therefore our education system sucks, therefore we aren't as educated as Canadians. And it's ok to say that. If someone started a thread stating how ignorant Canadians or Russians are, it would not be acceptable, but you can say anything you want about Americans.


The Austrian math teachers were hired to teach in secondary schools. Hiring foreigners to teach language classes from, say, the seventh-grade level on up would be a step in the right direction.

Yes, because so many nations import foreigners to teach their schools, right?

julieann
10-03-2011, 05:05 PM
Washington, D.C. -- According to a Gallup/Harris poll released Monday, a full 37 percent of American citizens are incapable of identifying their home country on a map of the United States.

82% of all statistics are made up anyway....

My dad would always get frustrated with me because I had so much homework in History, he said it should be pretty easy...yeah, easy for someone who graduated in 1950 but I had 40 more years of history than he did and 3 more wars to learn about. My kids have 20 years more than I did. Unless kids are kept in high school until they are 25 or 11 hours a day, education will always be lacking.

Vagabond
10-03-2011, 05:30 PM
Yes, because so many nations import foreigners to teach their schools, right?

You are aware of the Peace Corps and missionaries who teach in schools all over the world, aren't you? And those Peace Corps teachers (volunteers for the most part, of course), are, by and large, teaching in public schools, not the Togolese equivalent of Brearley.

The United States isn't Togo, and it doesn't need to rely on volunteers. It has the money to pay teachers (not as much as they deserve, but that's another story). We import people to fill all sorts of jobs that we can't fill domestically -- everything from farm workers to software engineers. Why not language teachers too?

jlai
10-03-2011, 05:48 PM
OP obviously resents it. Apparently we aren't educated enough about Canada, therefore our education system sucks, therefore we aren't as educated as Canadians. And it's ok to say that. If someone started a thread stating how ignorant Canadians or Russians are, it would not be acceptable, but you can say anything you want about Americans.

Taf2002, I can honestly say there's plenty of bashing of Chinese education/Russian education/other countries' education--it's just that they are usually in a forum where people write Chinese or Russian or their native language, not on FSU where there're so many American posters and much fewer Chinese and Russian posters. :) Heck, I myself engaged in a thorough trashing of Chinese history education not so long ago. ;)

I think there was a Chinese thread not so long ago where the American living standard was upheld as a benchmark or a model. So discussions about America aren't all trashy. Being the "elephant in the room" really goes both ways. :)

FWIW, the author of the WSJ article is a former under secretary of the Army