American school system

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Tide
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American school system

Postby Tide » Tue Mar 12, 2013 5:04 pm UTC

Hi everyone! I've always been a bit curious about how the American school system really works. As I've understood it, you're in high school year 10-12 too, and it's mandatory. (Unlike in Sweden where high school ends after year nine, and then comes the three year long "gymnasiet", where you chose an area to study). What I don't really understand is that I never hear Americans talk about chosing programmes (like we do for the last three years) but you still seem to study different things. For example, reading the schedule topic here on xkcd, most people here study very much math and science, and on a level I doubt every single high school student does. Is it like you don't chose an entire programme, but still chose subjects you want to have more of? Or how does it work?
I hope I managed to explain what I meant, otherwise just ask, the questions probably sounded a bit confused, as that is what I am right know.

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Re: American school system

Postby Deva » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:09 pm UTC

Varies between schools. Scheduled six classes. Required the following:
- Four years of English
- Four years of Mathematics
- Three years of Science
- Three years of Social Studies
- Two years of a foreign language
- One year of art (visual, performing, or applied)
- One year of physical education

Permitted exceptions too. Fulfilled a year of foreign language during eighth grade. Offered other classes for any open spaces. Picked those classes primarily during the later years.

Example ninth grade schedule:
1. English (Required)
2. Mathematics (Required)
3. Science (Required)
4. Social Studies (Required)
5. French I (Required)
6. Band (Required)

Example twelfth grade schedule:
1. English (Required)
2. Mathematics (Required)
3. Band (Elective)
4. Introduction to Business (Elective)
5. French IV (Elective)
6. Spanish I (Elective)
Last edited by Deva on Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:12 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: American school system

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:11 pm UTC

Most people posting here are probably college or post college too. When you apply to American colleges, you start gaining more control over what classes you take.
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Re: American school system

Postby Tide » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:09 pm UTC

Oh, thank you very much! Seems to be pretty different from how it works here, I understand that it's difficult to get something that's roughly the same as a year in Swedish school (most student that take a high school year in the US has to take that year again at home, so basically you'll have been to high school for one year more than the others). I'm in the process of deciding on a programme right now, and they differ really much. For example everybody gets to study math, but the tempo and content is different from start for say a science student and a humanistics student.
Just one more question about the schedules, everybody always posts the schedule for only one day, do you really have the same classes everyday or is this just a way of writing it?
Izawwlgood wrote:Most people posting here are probably college or post college too. When you apply to American colleges, you start gaining more control over what classes you take.

Oops, didn't think about that when I read the thread. Obviously in college you're extremely specialized too some area (it would be kind of weird if university level physics students hade mandatory dance classes, for example...) Thanks for pointing that out :)

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Re: American school system

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:35 pm UTC

Depends on the college program; some are very specialized, some are more generalized. Most college programs will have a core set of classes they require people take, such as a humanities or language requirement for STEM fields, and a science for liberal arts majors.

Most American colleges provide a more rounded education than what my impression of European university is providing. Of course it varies from school to school.
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Re: American school system

Postby Deva » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:43 pm UTC

High school: Same schedule every day. Starts and ends at the same time for all students. (Sidenote: Staggered lunch periods there, however. Ate before, in the middle of, or after the fourth class. Does not apply to all high schools.)

College: Different schedule every day. Attended a given class on either (Monday, Wednesday, and sometimes Friday) or (Tuesday and Thursday), generally.
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Re: American school system

Postby Andromeda321 » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:43 am UTC

I had different schedules every day in both high school and university- it really depends on the school.

But yes, the American system is very different from the one in Europe in that on both levels you are sort of expected to be a well-rounded scholar through the requirements- later on you can of course become specific in your interests, but even at university I was required to take courses in social sciences and humanities in order to finish my physics major.

Now I kind of like this because it made it very easy for me to complete a history minor and have a concentration in something I really wouldn't have been able to do had I just done physics- my joke is it kept me sane. :) But obviously there's a lot of complaints by many that it's a "waste of time" to do the system in such a way.

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Re: American school system

Postby Tide » Wed Mar 13, 2013 8:52 pm UTC

Andromeda321 wrote:I had different schedules every day in both high school and university- it really depends on the school.

But yes, the American system is very different from the one in Europe in that on both levels you are sort of expected to be a well-rounded scholar through the requirements- later on you can of course become specific in your interests, but even at university I was required to take courses in social sciences and humanities in order to finish my physics major.

Now I kind of like this because it made it very easy for me to complete a history minor and have a concentration in something I really wouldn't have been able to do had I just done physics- my joke is it kept me sane. :) But obviously there's a lot of complaints by many that it's a "waste of time" to do the system in such a way.


Roughly half of my classes next year will be the same as it is for all students (with subjects like history, English, Swedish etc) and the rest will be more specific for my choice of program (which is a special version of the science program with extra maths), and that's not something I have issues with. On the other hand, I think I would complain if I had to study subjects irrelevant to my field of choice at such a high level as university level. But well, as you pointed out it has some advantages too, to do it that way.

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Re: American school system

Postby Puppyclaws » Wed Mar 13, 2013 8:56 pm UTC

It's difficult to even talk about "the American school system" because there almost is no such thing. The standards vary so much state to state and district to district that there is not a lot that can be said to generalize. A lot of school systems use a year 9 - 12 system, but some do use the year 10-12 system. And, for example, what Deva says is not true of all American high schools (as they noted); my school had a schedule that involved having different classes on different days of the week, and it was common for people's days not to end at the same time because students could take different numbers of classes.

In terms of how people post on the forums here, I see a lot of people just list their classes; this is not a "schedule," so it doesn't really tell you what days they have classes (but yes, in high school it is at least somewhat common to have all classes every day of the week; in college that would be very unusual, but I would not be surprised if some school does it).

In general, there are not specializations so much as individual electives. One is expected to take a certain set of core courses to fulfill the basic state/district requirements, and then the rest of your classes are individually chosen by the student; so you don't take a specialty in math, for example, you just select the individual math courses that you wish to take. The American school system assumes as its goal the production of a well-rounded individual with knowledge in multiple different areas (a philosophy generally embraced by American college undergraduate programs, also), and high school especially is seen as a time to experiment and try out things rather than a time to pick a specialization. Even college, though, your example of a mandatory dance class for a physics major would not be all that far from the truth; I know many colleges that require physical education courses for all students. And graduate programs don't always view specializing early as a good thing here; often they are looking for people who are well-rounded and took courses in multiple areas. Specialization the way it is done in European education just doesn't really occur here until graduate-level education, for most students (some schools do offer extreme specialization in certain subjects, but they are rare).

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Re: American school system

Postby Dark Avorian » Thu Mar 14, 2013 9:38 pm UTC

Tide wrote:
Andromeda321 wrote:I had different schedules every day in both high school and university- it really depends on the school.

But yes, the American system is very different from the one in Europe in that on both levels you are sort of expected to be a well-rounded scholar through the requirements- later on you can of course become specific in your interests, but even at university I was required to take courses in social sciences and humanities in order to finish my physics major.

Now I kind of like this because it made it very easy for me to complete a history minor and have a concentration in something I really wouldn't have been able to do had I just done physics- my joke is it kept me sane. :) But obviously there's a lot of complaints by many that it's a "waste of time" to do the system in such a way.


Roughly half of my classes next year will be the same as it is for all students (with subjects like history, English, Swedish etc) and the rest will be more specific for my choice of program (which is a special version of the science program with extra maths), and that's not something I have issues with. On the other hand, I think I would complain if I had to study subjects irrelevant to my field of choice at such a high level as university level. But well, as you pointed out it has some advantages too, to do it that way.


I dunno, I think people adapt to whatever environment they encounter by and large. I go to an american college with fairly stringent core requirements. I have to take basically one class of social science/humanities material every term for my first three years (of four). I also will need to take a little less than a year of biology, and a year of physics. At the same time though, I'm majoring in math and have been taking a very rigorous math and physics curriculum from the start, and will be adding a second math course spring term. By the end of my time here I'll almost certainly have taken one or more graduate classes in my third and fourth years.
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Re: American school system

Postby econogirl » Fri May 10, 2013 7:16 pm UTC

I agree that it is difficult to talk about an "American system" because schools are organized here on a local level. There are many school districts and private secondary schools that offer specialties, however. Many cities have "magnet" schools for junior high and high school. Those schools specialize, so there may be a "Science and Math" magnate school and a "Fine Arts" magnate and a "Humanities" magnet. These are public schools but students have to apply to get in and they take only the top students. In our city, several private schools are designed around special circumstances. There is an "International" high school for example, and there is a charter school that meets half a day so that students can organize the rest of their day as they see fit, practicing violin or gymnastics or studying chess, etc. When I was in high school, there was a Math/Science track that students could choose if they were so inclined. There are also, of course, many religious schools.
Last edited by econogirl on Thu May 16, 2013 8:46 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: American school system

Postby Puppyclaws » Sat May 11, 2013 2:42 pm UTC

econogirl wrote:I agree that it is difficult to talk about an "American system" because schools are organized here on a local level. There are many school districts and private secondary schools that offer specialties, however. Many cities have "magnate" schools for junior high and high school. Those schools specialize, so there may be a "Science and Math" magnate school and a "Fine Arts" magnate and a "Humanities" magnate. These are public schools but students have to apply to get in and they take only the top students. In our city, several private schools are designed around special circumstances. There is an "International" high school for example, and there is a charter school that meets half a day so that students can organize the rest of their day as they see fit, practicing violin or gymnastics or studying chess, etc. When I was in high school, there was a Math/Science track that students could choose if they were so inclined. There are also, of course, many religious schools.


While this is a good overview of "magnet" schools (not "magnate," sorry, it's the pedant in me), it is not representative of all of them. For example, I attended a magnet school that did not take the top students; rather, it used a lottery system, picking people who were interested in attending at random. Before that it used a system where people would line up and the first people there got in, but this devolved into the students with parents who had the resources to stand in line for a week being the ones who got in, so they put a stop to it and just went to picking names out of a hat. This sort of thing is not uncommon among alternative magnet schools built around ideas about how to educate rather than organized around a particular subject matter. Ours was organized around a philosophy of open "classrooms," so you could apply for credit for getting your next door neighbor to teach you to fix cars or a local graduate student to teach you about philosophy of science. And while we were required to take the same number of specified credits in certain subjects as dictated by state law, we had a lot of non-traditional choices that students in other high schools typically don't (e.g. Japanese Literature or Science Fiction for English classes, no real "English I"). Thus, showing how very very broad and difficult it is to pin down what an American education is like, even if we restrict it to public schools.

But, a lot of them operate exactly like econogirl describes above. In Boston this seems to be the way most of them are, although some of the prestigious ones have been forced to take a semi-lottery system recently for admission as well, as I understand it.

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Re: American school system

Postby econogirl » Thu May 16, 2013 8:49 pm UTC

That was a funny mistake, thanks for the correction. If income distribution trends continue the way they have been, we may yet call them "magnate" schools, ha ha.

I haven't experienced the lottery system, but I would bet that it is going to become increasingly popular as population rises relative to public expenditures. Sigh.

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Re: American school system

Postby MisterCheif » Thu May 30, 2013 10:49 am UTC

There is quite lot of variance between college's in the US. A lot of you are mentioning US college's requiring well-roundedness, which my college, a tech school does as well, in a different way. We just have a general humanities and arts requirement, with a requirement of 6/3 units on it (most classes are 1/3 unit), where at least 5/3 are in the focus of the HUA, and at least 1/3 is in a breadth (ie, something different). So, if you like literature and writing, you could complete your depth in that, and take a breadth in music, or german, or something.

I personally don't like writing, so I'm completing my depth in music performance now in London. My last English class will have been in high school, and the rest of my education is focused on the specific fields I'm interested in, robotics engineering, and computer science.

I do believe my school is an exception to the rule of requiring a certain amount of english, a certain amount of etc, (through we do need 2/3 units of social sciences - can't have us engineers not be socially well adapted).
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Re: American school system

Postby eSOANEM » Thu May 30, 2013 11:05 am UTC

MisterCheif wrote:There is quite lot of variance between college's in the US. A lot of you are mentioning US college's requiring well-roundedness, which my college, a tech school does as well, in a different way. We just have a general humanities and arts requirement, with a requirement of 6/3 units on it (most classes are 1/3 unit), where at least 5/3 are in the focus of the HUA, and at least 1/3 is in a breadth (ie, something different). So, if you like literature and writing, you could complete your depth in that, and take a breadth in music, or german, or something.

I personally don't like writing, so I'm completing my depth in music performance now in London. My last English class will have been in high school, and the rest of my education is focused on the specific fields I'm interested in, robotics engineering, and computer science.

I do believe my school is an exception to the rule of requiring a certain amount of english, a certain amount of etc, (through we do need 2/3 units of social sciences - can't have us engineers not be socially well adapted).


This is all vastly more well-rounded than the UK system for instance.

As an example, a history major (in the US terminology) would apply for a history course were they here in the UK. They would then study history. Some universities may allow them to take a very small amount of lectures in some other subject but they will still be studying history rather than liberal arts and majoring in history. Likewise in STEM, if someone applies for physics; that is what they will study. It's also possible to apply for even narrower courses than that (most of the courses I applied for were some variant of "theoretical physics" or "mathematical physics").

Yes there is variation within US colleges in terms of specialisation but it is certainly the case that the US is more breadth-oriented than the UK.
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Re: American school system

Postby Ixtellor » Thu May 30, 2013 6:31 pm UTC

MisterCheif wrote:I personally don't like writing, so I'm completing my depth in music performance now in London. My last English class will have been in high school, and the rest of my education is focused on the specific fields I'm interested in, robotics engineering, and computer science.


Is it possible that this diminishes your ability to communicate your idea in a manner easily/best accessable by your intended audience.

So if you attempt to write a peer-reviewed article on a major breakthrough, are you not presumbable at a disadvantage?

I am a huge proponant of a classic 'liberal' education.

I additionally, think there are other aspects of life that become diminished as the cirriculum is reduced. It could be basic like not getting a reference. "I'm stuck in the 9th level of hell with these new protocols."
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Re: American school system

Postby eSOANEM » Thu May 30, 2013 7:13 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:Is it possible that this diminishes your ability to communicate your idea in a manner easily/best accessable by your intended audience.


No.

The last English lesson I had was 3 years ago when I was 16. My English classes have not been about how to communicate in English since I was 10/11. They have been about literature and being told the definition of an adjective or how to use commas again and again for 5 years.

There is a reason that, even in the UK system, English is effectively compulsory up until 16 but (and this is a big but), those lessons have stopped being about actually communicating by then.

Furthermore, I suspect that, if a native speaker has not managed to learn to communicate effectively by the age of 16, a few extra years of English lessons are not going to teach them.

Ixtellor wrote:So if you attempt to write a peer-reviewed article on a major breakthrough, are you not presumbable at a disadvantage?


No; what will give me an advantage is having read more peer-reviewed articles (because there is a very particular register employed in such articles which I'm unlikely to pick up on by taking a literature class). As such, being on a dedicated physics course gives me a significant advantage (beyond that you'd expect due to the speed at which depth is acquired) in writing a good paper than someone majoring in physics in a more US-style system.

Ixtellor wrote:I am a huge proponant of a classic 'liberal' education.

I additionally, think there are other aspects of life that become diminished as the cirriculum is reduced. It could be basic like not getting a reference. "I'm stuck in the 9th level of hell with these new protocols."


I think it has advantages and disadvantages and the balance is dependent on many factors (particularly the field you want to specialise in and whether you believe a degree should prepare someone for the job market or for academia.

I believe that, in this day and age, with so much information so readily available and the job market developing so rapidly it is unreasonable to expect universities (some of which think on timescales on the order of centuries (in response to cuts in funding for arts research, Oxford I believe had a fundraising drive to provide funds for two new professorships but, instead of these funds being large enough to pay for them for a few decades or even a century or two before running out, their goal was to raise enough money that, using long-term inflation and interest trends, the fund would never run out)) to prepare people for a market they cannot possibly respond to (if nothing else, the course must necessarily lag 3 years behind innovation). As such, it is my belief that higher education ought to aim to prepare people for academia (or at least give those who might consider entering it a taste and a bit of preparation).

Furthermore, we no longer live in an age where one person can know everything there is to know about every subject. We no longer even live in a world where one person can know most of what there is to know on any subject or everything there is to know on most subjects. If I want to be an English Lit professor, having done a history class (or loads) is very useful; the one informs the other. If, on the other hand, I want to become a physicist, taking a biology class is not going to help me.

And that's only looking within arts/within sciences. Taking a lit class doesn't help my physics just like taking a physics class wouldn't help my lit. In science, depth is the necessary condition to be an academic. Breadth can be useful in certain interdisciplinary areas but generally, the extra time required to achieve depth whilst maintaining breadth is just going to reduce the amount of time you can spend making useful contributions.

So, I think a broad approach is useful in humanities because they tend to inform and aid each other. In the sciences though, I think specialisation is definitely the way to go.
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Re: American school system

Postby MisterCheif » Fri May 31, 2013 10:46 am UTC

I'm going to have to second what eSOANEM wrote. I enjoyed English classes when they were about learning how to write well, and helped you improve you're writing skills. Once I was in high school, the curriculum devolved into reading and analyzing literature, which I'm not so much a fan of. Picking out obscure symbolism in novels that may or may not be there does not increase my enjoyment of the novel, and it certainly does not improve my technical writing. Any focus on actually improving our writing was at the teacher's discretion, mostly by having multiple opportunities to return our research papers to the teacher for proof-reading and meeting with the teacher for advice on how to improve it. Not all the teacher's I had in high school did this.

And at least at my university, there is a significant focus on writing technical papers within the core engineering courses. As a robotics engineering major, in each of the five robotics engineering courses we have a final project. I've only taken the first, in which we built a robot for a modified version of Savage Soccer, and wrote a paper presenting our robot, detailing the design process, our calculations, testing, any flaws in our design, the code used, and in the final version, it's final performance when tested in the competition.

So no, I don't think the lack of having to take any English courses diminished my ability to write the kind of technical papers needed in robotics and computer science. And it provides me with the space in my schedule to do look into what does interest me in the humanities and arts, namely, music. (There is actually a new course available even more relevant to my interests, which is on creating music with robots!)
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Re: American school system

Postby Ixtellor » Fri May 31, 2013 1:02 pm UTC

MisterCheif wrote: Once I was in high school, the curriculum devolved into reading and analyzing literature, which I'm not so much a fan of.


What % of students change their major?
I was confident I wanted to be a business major, until I was exposed to a variety of classes I never would have taken had I not been forced to.

I wasn't trying to say English is the most important class, but I do believe that having a well rounded liberal education will make you a better, more complete, and more educated human being.

Psychology might not help you build robots, but it will help you deal with your boss.
World Civ might not help you invent better circuits, but it will make you a better voter.

If your desire is to be Shelton Cooper, then I agree with you. But if you want to live in society, having more/broader knowledge is advantageous.

Maybe your "Communisms impact on depression era literature" Course will help you make a friend or pass the time while waiting in line at the DMV one day.

You have your entire lives to specialize in a field, arguing that 2 years of classes that might profoundly impact, if not completely alter, your life... I believe is naive.

Also, the argument that you learn everything about writing you need to know in the 8th grade... Writing like anything is about practice. It sounds like both of you are saying you don't think you can learn anything about improving your writing.
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Re: American school system

Postby eSOANEM » Fri May 31, 2013 9:35 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:Also, the argument that you learn everything about writing you need to know in the 8th grade... Writing like anything is about practice. It sounds like both of you are saying you don't think you can learn anything about improving your writing.


Not at all. It's just that, beyond that stage, the sort of communication it becomes worthwhile to become practised in changes. As such, it is no longer necessarily worthwile to study literature when studying the scientific literature may serve you better.
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Re: American school system

Postby MisterCheif » Sun Jun 02, 2013 9:25 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:
MisterCheif wrote: Once I was in high school, the curriculum devolved into reading and analyzing literature, which I'm not so much a fan of.


What % of students change their major?
I was confident I wanted to be a business major, until I was exposed to a variety of classes I never would have taken had I not been forced to.

I wasn't trying to say English is the most important class, but I do believe that having a well rounded liberal education will make you a better, more complete, and more educated human being.

Psychology might not help you build robots, but it will help you deal with your boss.
World Civ might not help you invent better circuits, but it will make you a better voter.

If your desire is to be Shelton Cooper, then I agree with you. But if you want to live in society, having more/broader knowledge is advantageous.

Maybe your "Communisms impact on depression era literature" Course will help you make a friend or pass the time while waiting in line at the DMV one day.

You have your entire lives to specialize in a field, arguing that 2 years of classes that might profoundly impact, if not completely alter, your life... I believe is naive.

Also, the argument that you learn everything about writing you need to know in the 8th grade... Writing like anything is about practice. It sounds like both of you are saying you don't think you can learn anything about improving your writing.


Ultimately, my school focuses on letting us become well-rounded in the way that we feel would be the best for us. For me, that is focusing my humanities and arts on music, and going to London (where I am now) to get out and actually play publicly , as well as learn about the culture, etc of London, and the UK and general. There's the same sort of focus for your junior year project, with the majority of project sites being located elsewhere in the United States, or internationally. The senior year capstones are generally located on campus, but you are working with, or are sponsored by, a company or the government to create something, whether some new program, or a robot.

The whole idea is to allow you to specialize, while also getting you contacts with corporations, or the government, or even successful alumni that could help with your career (in my case, there are going to be a lot of alumni from the London area at the presentation, many of them very successful.) It's a lot more hands on and project based.

And like eSOANEM has said, at this point, if you are going into science or engineering, studying scientific literature is more valuable than, well, literary literature. In my first robotics course, I spent a lot of time poring over the 100+ page design document of a senior robotics MQP from a previous year, as one of our assignments was to create a presentation on it. Reading the large parts of that paper, and then writing a 20 page one for our final project of the term on a robot we built certainly helped improve my writing, and my ability to collaboratively write than a class on romantic literature would have.

Ultimately, I think it's down to personal preference. And the focused nature of my school benefits me more, as I frequently read for pleasure.
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Re: American school system

Postby doogly » Tue Jun 11, 2013 1:17 am UTC

I am fond of goals of breadth and exposure for high schools and a high degree of specialize for college / university. I think that sort of splitting works well. If anything high school needs significantly more breadth though. There are entire departments, entire fields of inquiry, that high school never touches. There is essentially 0 social science, given that the methodology of "history" is fairly humanistic. I'd probably give all freshmen a thorough, dedicated course in statistics such that they could take a year each of sociology and economics. That would be lovely.

And maybe one year of works originally written in English is sufficient. The other 3 years I'd require comp lit courses.

I think you actually get a lot more dedicated writing in technical fields in a UK style system. In the US, writing courses are required in college and are taught by faculty mostly with English or another humanities background, and the techy kiddies don't take them too seriously. Maybe not with active disdain, but they're certainly not going to prioritize an evening of studying for that class over studying for a major class - rightly so, after all. Makes sense. So if I read, say, a lab report, or some other bit of writing I've assigned in a math or physics class, I get one of two things:
- precociously bright kids who think writing like Tolkien or Dickens is at all appropriate
- dismally illiterate kids who drop their jaw at the notion that anyone would scrutinize their language in a science or math course

Integrating writing more intimately to the major field of study makes a great deal of sense.
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Re: American school system

Postby Bakemaster » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:21 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:What % of students change their major?
I was confident I wanted to be a business major, until I was exposed to a variety of classes I never would have taken had I not been forced to.

I wasn't trying to say English is the most important class, but I do believe that having a well rounded liberal education will make you a better, more complete, and more educated human being.

Psychology might not help you build robots, but it will help you deal with your boss.
World Civ might not help you invent better circuits, but it will make you a better voter.

Good lord. I find myself agreeing completely with Ixtellor. (As it happens, there are very few job opportunities for true savants, and even fewer for garden-variety smart kids with poor communication skills.)
doogly wrote:I'd probably give all freshmen a thorough, dedicated course in statistics such that they could take a year each of sociology and economics. That would be lovely.

That could also weed out a lot of unprepared students, though. Freshman year of high school takes an amalgam of students from many smaller middle or K-8 schools. Take the overlapping sets of students who have the aptitude and students who have been adequately prepared with prior concepts - you want the course to be effective for all the students in the first set, right?

I think HS students should be offered a course designed to give them the ability to effectively assess risk throughout their lives. Statistics are important tools, but so formal - the application of concepts from statistics outside an academic context completely escapes many of my (high-achieving) peers. A more general course in risk might incorporate formal statistics as one of a few central modules, along with e.g. psychology, econ/finance, personal health. With case studies up the wazoo, not only to illustrate applications but also to identify limitations of presented concepts and motivate further specialization and in-depth study. The world doesn't present itself in neat elements, it gives us a context; I'm not sure why public high schools are so attached to compartmentalization. Administrative convenience? Standardized testing? Who or what can I blame, here?
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