Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Welcome to English 112!

Welcome to our class blog.  I look forward to reading your comments, which you will post after I have posed a question or invited your inquiries about a particular class topic or a paper subject.  Here are some ideas for you to mull over and perhaps respond to.  As a class we will read many essays that deal with "hot-button" issues in America, among them race, gender, immigration, and education.    We will look at the ways in which writers have crafted argumentative essays to engage with these broad topics.  Which of these HUGE topics is most interesting or important to you, as it pertains to present-day life in America, and why?  What particular element of this topic interests you and why?

24 comments:

Dunte said...

Education! The standards of education, as set by states, vary so widely that the U.S. has little to brag about regarding national potential.
The use of highway and other block grant/development funding as bribes to get states to up their standards or adapt minimally effective, temporary programs at the grade school levels seems insufficient given the present rate of international advancement.

Victory said...

Happy Labor Day!

Eric said...

Dunte, I have to agree with you. NCLB is garbage. The education system in America badly needs improvement if we expect to remain a world power "given the present rate of international advancement," particularly that of China and India. (Dunte 1)

Ian said...

Although I agree on U.S. education being abysmal (especially NCLB), I fail to see how the rest of the world has any relevance whatsoever. We should focus not on being the best educator as a point of pride, but being the best for the sake of knowledge and the discoveries that no doubt come of it. If anything, we should be glad that China, India, Japan, and the rest are ahead of us, giving motivation for everyone, not just America, to do better, as well as for the innovations and inventions that will no doubt stem from their more stringent education systems.

tim said...

While I do agree that a thirst for knowledge shouldn't exist solely for the sake of international competition, studying the success of other nations' educational systems allows the United States to identify its own shortcomings.

Dan said...

Immigration can bring in many races and ways of teaching

Falcon said...

Race shouldnot matter. If u take away the skin tone everybody is the same underneath. It should be the personality that defines a person of who they are not skin tone.

Geliebtjunge said...

I agree very much with Dunte, which is why I'm grateful for being homeschooled. I believe that home-education has been proven to be a viable alternative to Public School, at least for those who are able.

(this is John Schilling by the way... i don't know if my blogger identity has my name at all)

kimber said...

Although I agree the education system is important and indefinitely flawed, racism, especially toward Iraqis since 9-11, is still a major part of American lives. Americans have been somewhat uncivil and (has been reported) murderous towards anyone who looks Iraqi, of Islamic faith, or even if they wear a turban. Though this is just one extreme of racism in our society it all comes down to the stereotyical views people have regarding each other.

mp93 said...

I agree dunte, we should find a more direct way to encourage states to take action. We should not have to bribe them with development funding.

-Matt Paiz

Sam said...

What is to be done about America's falling grades, though? One can complain about it as much as one likes, but without a real solution, nothing can be done. Obviously, just throwing money at the problem is not producing results. Perhaps it is a cultural issue or an apathy one, which has to be rectified in order for our kids to rise above the current standards in place.

JakeD said...

Happy Labor Day.

-J.D.

Alan said...

@ian

Japan does not lead the US; they lead only in terms of primary/secondary education, and even then, their universities fall short to the superior American university system.

China does not lead the US, period -- only in population and perhaps cheap labor.

As for India, I know not enough about it to say anything worth the while.

@dunte

I'll join the bandwagon and agree with you on this one. Indeed, bribes/NCLB don't really work well at a state level, perhaps at an individual level (I'm easy to bribe), but definitely not at a state level. More than anything, focus should be placed in reforming the American high school, because, as Bill Gates would put it, it's obsolete.

There are some things that the US can brag about it, though: a powerful military, a powerful economy, and a powerful and prestigious university system.

Mike E. said...

The American education system is without question behind at the k-12 levels, but where America has an advantage over other nations is with our colleges and universities. A degree from an American university is highly sought after in many countries.

Sam said...

I agree with most of what is being said in the comments. The American public school system is falling behind when compared to other countries. This I believe has to do with the poor management of the federal government, especially the fact that Education department is under budget. Luckily we live in a free market system that allows the private sector to supplement what the public sector can not provide. This is another example where the invisible hand provides higher quality services.

jon s said...

yeah, i would agree with a lot of the stuff you all said. i think the biggest problems come from the k-12 level which has slipped a ton from what it used to be. i mean graduating high school used to mean a decent job. now everyone knows that high school does not deliver the same education it used to, making a college degree necessary for any kind of decent job. i think that k-12 standards need to be raised in order for america to compete with the rising nations like china and india.

Dunte said...

My personal view, in response to a few statements noting the merit of an American university education versus that of an American grade-school education:

In the exception of the most exclusive schools, and excepting most true engineering universities, where diversity is reflected in each graduating class and the standard of those admitted is considerably higher than the average American HS grad, a significant number of American universities have to start training at the bottom level. I have friends at a variety of general study and liberal arts universities taking nearly remedial courses in the primary maths and sciences, as well as fundamental facets of English.
These persons are taking courses that, by any reasonable expectation, should have been completed two, three or more years before finishing high school. I find it hard to exclusively sing the praises of the American university when there's so much wrong at the bottom of the pyramid.

Consider this: if we fixed the flaws, or even massaged them slightly to yield more benefit, in the grade school system, imagine the standard deemed "acceptable" to enter an American college. And consider, then, how rapid the pace of learning could be at that college level. We could be successful not only in presenting culturally-rich, informed college graduates against the present international standard, but could become the new baseline for education everywhere.

@ alan:
The U.S. economy is only as strong as its trade industry at present; though modern economists suggest we are only "near recession" a bit of study can verify otherwise, according to definition. On that note, the only item that spared us a full declaration of "recession" about 18 months ago was the strength of our export industry. The products that we manufacture and export are produced, largely, by the students that do not pursue university study in the U.S. So, how can we not say that grade level education is directly associated with the strength of our economy? If those industries should crop up in regions with much more substantial populations and less need for post-secondary study, where is the dependance on the U.S. for that product?

We would be failing in the long term to try and balance our public education deficits against our economy.

Del said...

Hi everybody! Dunte, in your last comment you brought up a good point.
I was born and raised in Romania, a country which has the stringent educational system you were talking about. The high-school curriculum includes 14 or more courses per semester. Letting aside other aspects, the general impact this has is to send more people to college. However, since every society needs some kind of uneducated workforce, the only ones that would have to suffer are the college graduates. A degree would be worth less, entry-level wages would decrease and, what's worse, the 'low level' job positions would then have to be filled by people with a higher education. Many European countries are trying to deal with this issue right now.

Eric said...

I like what was said about the need to improve education in America simply for the sake of the benificial knowledge and discoveries that would no doubt come as a result. In a perfect world, this would be an ideal scenario. Education would thrive because of students' thirst for knowledge and all the meritorious consequences of education. However, this obviously isn't adequate motivation as evidenced by our education system. Fear is the best motivator. And the thought of being less educated and technologically infurioror to countries who do not have the best interest of America at heart is a little frightening. I don't think there is anything wrong with using foreign competition and the interest of national self preservation as motivation to improve education in America.

nikki said...

I agree that our education system, especially in grades k-12, is lacking. However, I don't believe that we can entirely blame the government for our lack-luster performance. I believe that the root of the problem lies with parents who don't supplement their child's education. A teacher's sphere of influence can only go so far. In order for a child to flourish, they need the help and support of a caring parent. In many cases, if this support is absent, the child falls behind in class and loses the motivation to succeed. I believe that the building blocks of a sound education can be found in many classrooms across America. Sadly, they are ignored because many students don't receive proper instruction and encouragement at home.

Alex said...

Wow, everyone here has obviously thought a lot about the education problem. I simply believe that it needs work, particularly in High Schools and in Middle Schools. I wasn't aware thought that the our Universities were that sought after either, except for Harvard, MIT, CalTech and others.

Alan said...

@dunte:

"I find it hard to exclusively sing the praises of the American university when there's so much wrong at the bottom of the pyramid."

It's a good thing the American university doesn't sit on top of that same pyramid, huh?

The high school system is fubar, but the university system isn't. It's a bit unfair to scold the university for something the high school is largely responsible for, no?

You'll find that our high schools and universities are very, very, separate entities.

"We would be failing in the long term to try and balance our public education deficits against our economy."

Well, so far, not balancing our public education deficits against our economy doesn't seem to be working.

Danny said...

Good post, would read again!

roryrowley said...

Guess my comment didnt post last time!