Author Topic: Cellar Scribblings  (Read 7221218 times)

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Cellar Scribblings
« Reply #17120 on: May 11, 2021, 12:54:32 pm »
Since I've never had a dog in the race (i.e., no kids), I've paid next to no attention to school issues. I just pay my taxes. I'm not even completely sure I understand funding. I know I pay taxes to support the local schools. School districts also receive money from the state; I have no idea where that money comes from. I know there is a perpetual conflict over funding. The claim, which I'm sure is true, is that wealthy districts (higher tax bases) receive proportionately more money from the state than they need, while poorer districts, like Philadelphia, don't receive as much as they need.

As for schools themselves, I've never got the concept of "middle school." Obviously, it works, because it's been around for, what, 40 years now? "In my day," school was elementary school (grades kindergarten--6), junior high school (7--9), and high school (10--12). I was 14 when I started 9th grade, and 17 when I started 12th grade. I've always wondered at the wisdom of having 14-year-olds going to school with 17-year-olds (because of levels of maturity, and because teenagers can be just plain awful people), but, as I said, clearly it works.

Incidentally, my junior high school is now a middle school. I graduated (actually, correct grammar is "was graduated") from high school 45 years ago next month.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Cellar Scribblings
« Reply #17121 on: May 11, 2021, 07:57:15 pm »
I know there is a perpetual conflict over funding. The claim, which I'm sure is true, is that wealthy districts (higher tax bases) receive proportionately more money from the state than they need, while poorer districts, like Philadelphia, don't receive as much as they need.

I wonder if that means not that wealthier districts receive more, but that poorer districts, with smaller property tax bases need more help? I mean surely only a pretty evil state would shower more money on richer districts. Here, I believe state funding is paid out equally to all districts on a per-pupil basis. But, I was thinking later, residents of districts do occasionally vote on referendums that would raise their property taxes to pay for school programs or equipment, and of course wealthier districts are more likely to be on board with that. On the other hand, poorer districts may qualify for special programs.

In that chart I looked at earlier, almost all districts in MN spend $10-$15,000 per student. But wealthier districts (median incomes over $100K) are at the lower end of that range, whereas really poor districts (incomes more like  $35,000K) sometimes get far more per pupil, sometimes even over $20,000. I think those are probably primarily Indian reservations that receive extra assistance.

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As for schools themselves, I've never got the concept of "middle school." Obviously, it works, because it's been around for, what, 40 years now? "In my day," school was elementary school (grades kindergarten--6), junior high school (7--9), and high school (10--12). I was 14 when I started 9th grade, and 17 when I started 12th grade. I've always wondered at the wisdom of having 14-year-olds going to school with 17-year-olds (because of levels of maturity, and because teenagers can be just plain awful people), but, as I said, clearly it works.

Incidentally, my junior high school is now a middle school. I graduated (actually, correct grammar is "was graduated") from high school 45 years ago next month.

I actually think "junior high" might have been the anomaly invented for boomers. I've read novels about early 1900s kids going to four-year high schools. I do remember walking my older son to his first day of middle school -- 6th grade - thinking he seemed like a young kid while there were 8th graders with tree-trunk legs and facial hair. My son was fine because he's not easily intimidated but I can see it being a problem for some kids. However, I think the school kept the ages pretty separate.

My junior high is also now a middle school and I also graduated 45 years ago. However, I'm not buying "was graduated" because I've hardly ever heard anyone use that form in speech or even in writing in those 45 years. Besides, the agency of graduation -- and thus the verb -- seems to belong more to the student than the school. Language has moved on.  ;D


Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Cellar Scribblings
« Reply #17122 on: May 11, 2021, 11:03:56 pm »
I wonder if that means not that wealthier districts receive more, but that poorer districts, with smaller property tax bases need more help? I mean surely only a pretty evil state would shower more money on richer districts.

Welcome to Pennsylvania. I suppose it may be proportional. They need more help but they're not getting more help. And it doesn't help that Philadelphia is solidly Democratic, while the state legislature is controlled by Republicans, some of whom come from districts in counties that have more deer than people.


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I actually think "junior high" might have been the anomaly invented for boomers. I've read novels about early 1900s kids going to four-year high schools.

I can see that at a time when lots of kids' education ended at 8th grade. My grandmother attended a one-room country school with grades 1--8. Her formal education ended at the 8th grade. (Four years later she was married to my grandfather and pregnant with my dad. I think I've told this story before. In her last year of school, my grandmother was given an award by her teacher for not misspelling a single word in spelling tests for the whole term. The award was a pocket-sized New Testament. Imagine the uproar now if a public school teacher gave a Bible to a kid.)


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My junior high is also now a middle school and I also graduated 45 years ago. However, I'm not buying "was graduated" because I've hardly ever heard anyone use that form in speech or even in writing in those 45 years. Besides, the agency of graduation -- and thus the verb -- seems to belong more to the student than the school. Language has moved on.  ;D

The agency does not belong to the student. Students don't graduate themselves. The school graduates them. It gives them high school degrees.  ;D

Language moves on, just not always for the better.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Penthesilea

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Re: Cellar Scribblings
« Reply #17123 on: May 12, 2021, 04:16:55 am »
So at that point would they be about 11? Kids here start kindergarten (thanks, German language!) generally at five, so 3.5 seems shockingly early but 11 still seems like an early age to set children on their life's destiny.


Today children are around 10, when the decision is made. (starting school around 6, then 3.5 years into their school career).
Their life's destiny is however not set in stone by the recommendation/decision. Like I said earlier, they can and do move up and down between school levels.


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Here, theoretically, a kid who was terrible in elementary school and high school could go to college, study really hard and become a scientist. It doesn't happen a lot because there are other obstacles -- including the kid's own abilities -- but if it did happen it wouldn't be especially shocking.


Here, a kid who was terrible in elementary school and all the years through lowest level school, can continue school after having graduated. They need to pass the graduation, no matter how bad they pass it. Then there are specific schools which build on that. For example, instead of one more year from lowest to middle level of graduation, you take your lowest level graduation first, then go to a specific school for two more years then take your middle level graduation.

I'll give you my nephew as an example: he wasn't the fastest learner as a child. Went to lowest level school, but still had to fight hard to get medium grades. But he did it. After that he continued with two more years of a specific school, then graduated middle school. After that he went to yet another school (I forgot how many years) and finally made his Abitur (graduation from high level school) and started to study. He needed quite some additional years than the 13 regular years, but he made it!

If you start out at lowest level school and stop your school career after the lowest level graduation, you can not become a scientist. You can not go to university, you can not study, you will probably not have a successful high-level career.
But you can always add more school years on different schools to get a higher level of graduation.



My nephew is also a good example of the unfairness of our school system: he had very supportive parents. They didn't care how long he needed/wanted to go to school, the supported and financed everything, no questions asked.

Other parents, who either don't see the value in education or otherwise can not or don't want to support their children - well, tough luck for the kids. Some, but not many, can make it out of a family like that. And herein lays the unfairness. Children of immigrants with bad language skills and poor people have not enough chances in our school system.




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https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/best-countries-for-education

I have no basis for comparison. Do you remember any specific things you've heard teenagers say were easy compared to what they'd get in Germany?


Specific things:
"The US kids learn the same stuff on the same level we did 2 or 3 years earlier"
For whatever reason, Math was often an example. "What they learn in 10th class, we learned in 8th class".
Another subject was the level of knowledge regarding foreign languages. I have some direct experiences here, too. I had quite some American exchange students in my home, and none of them spoke a single word of German! They had l learned the language for some years, that was the reason they were in the exchange program to begin with. I know, teenagers can be shy, it was not a representative sample, etc. Just my experience.




Chuckie: sorry to hog your blog.

Haven't read Jeff's posts yet!





Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Cellar Scribblings
« Reply #17124 on: May 12, 2021, 08:53:51 am »
Another subject was the level of knowledge regarding foreign languages. I have some direct experiences here, too. I had quite some American exchange students in my home, and none of them spoke a single word of German! They had l learned the language for some years, that was the reason they were in the exchange program to begin with. I know, teenagers can be shy, it was not a representative sample, etc. Just my experience.

I think you don't really learn a language until you can think in it. I had five years of French (  :P  ) and two of German. I was fine reading both languages. I was even told by a college professor of German, herself a native German speaker, that my accent was so good she wondered if we spoke German at home! But that was all reading, and reading aloud from texts, not speaking it in ordinary conversation. It seems to me that if you have to think in your first language, then translate it in your head before you can say it in a different language, that doesn't lend itself very well to conversation.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Cellar Scribblings
« Reply #17125 on: May 12, 2021, 10:32:21 am »
And it doesn't help that Philadelphia is solidly Democratic, while the state legislature is controlled by Republicans, some of whom come from districts in counties that have more deer than people.

Nice of the Pennsylvania fraudsters accused of rigging the election for Biden to let Republicans win the Legislature!  :laugh:

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The agency does not belong to the student. Students don't graduate themselves. The school graduates them. It gives them high school degrees.  ;D

Language moves on, just not always for the better.

A runner is first to the finish line of a race; they don't say "the race won me." If you're learning some skill via text or videos and get to the end of one section, you graduate to the next level -- the book or video doesn't graduate you.

If a student does everything required to graduate (to be graduated?) from a school, takes all the required classes, gets good enough grades, school officials don't get to decide whether or not to give them a diploma and "graduate them." They have no agency at that point; the effort that got the student there was on the student's part. (Teachers make an effort too, of course, but their effort is on behalf of all the students, not individuals'.)

Casting the school as the active agent sounds funny when the sentence isn't in passive tense. You're driving with your friends and pass your high school. You don't say, "There's the school that graduated me." Or maybe you do?



Offline serious crayons

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Re: Cellar Scribblings
« Reply #17126 on: May 12, 2021, 11:26:56 am »
If you start out at lowest level school and stop your school career after the lowest level graduation, you can not become a scientist. You can not go to university, you can not study, you will probably not have a successful high-level career.
But you can always add more school years on different schools to get a higher level of graduation.

Here, it's technically never too late. Occasionally you hear of someone -- sometimes even people in prison -- who drop out of high school but later get their GED (equivalent of a high school diploma for which they study on their own). With a GED they can go to college and from there go as far as they want, and can afford, to go. So theoretically you could drop out of high school and later get a PhD (highest graduate degree) and become a scientist, college professor, lawyer, etc. It wouldn't necessarily require any more years than for a non-dropout. I've met people who dropped out of high school without graduating ("being graduated," as Jeff would say  ;D) and later went on to successful careers in all kinds of fields.
 
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Specific things:
"The US kids learn the same stuff on the same level we did 2 or 3 years earlier"
For whatever reason, Math was often an example. "What they learn in 10th class, we learned in 8th class".
Another subject was the level of knowledge regarding foreign languages. I have some direct experiences here, too. I had quite some American exchange students in my home, and none of them spoke a single word of German! They had l learned the language for some years, that was the reason they were in the exchange program to begin with. I know, teenagers can be shy, it was not a representative sample, etc. Just my experience.

You're definitely right about languages. Part of the problem is American parochialism. Part is that many or most schools here don't start teaching languages until kids are at least 12 or so, which scientists say is past the optimal language-learning window. Part is that students often aren't required to learn a language to "be graduated." And part may be that if you do take a language, you don't have many opportunities to practice it.

But also, which language to take? In my schools, you could take French or Spanish starting in 7th grade, German starting in 10th. But there's no one language that everybody takes. I don't know what European schools offer, but when I've been there, I've noticed that not only do many people speak English, but also that when Europeans with different native languages talk to one another they speak English. Here there's no lingua franca, so to speak.

It makes the most sense to study Spanish because you'd have the most opportunities to use it in this country. I took French, which I used on the seven days I spent in Paris in 2013 (almost 40 years after graduating), and occasionally in New Orleans and rural Louisiana -- not in speaking, more like understanding local lingo -- because they were developed by French speaking people. I took one year of German in high school, which came in handy for several days in the Czech Republic, where fewer people know English but many know German. I started telling food servers in restaurants "Ja, Ich spreche Deutsch!" though really I only knew enough to stumble through ordering a meal.

My older son took Spanish starting in fifth grade (during our two years in a Chicago suburb where schools started languages right away), took it all the way through high school and maybe into college. He's pretty adept -- he can speak and understand it when occasionally needed -- but would say he's not fluent because, as Jeff mentioned, he doesn't think in Spanish.

One more anecdote: When I was in school we had a foreign exchange student from France. He was pretty popular, and everyone very cleverly called him "Frenchie"  :laugh: . He arrived here knowing no English, departed being quite adept and probably fluent.


As for the other stuff, it's harder for me to evaluate. I'll take your word for it, but I guess the big question would be what does the average German kid finish school knowing that the average American kid does not know. (Not saying it's not possible -- there are plenty of Americans who seem poorly educated, for sure.)


Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Cellar Scribblings
« Reply #17127 on: May 12, 2021, 12:52:13 pm »
A runner is first to the finish line of a race; they don't say "the race won me." If you're learning some skill via text or videos and get to the end of one section, you graduate to the next level -- the book or video doesn't graduate you.

I don't think these are valid comparisons to academic graduation, so I'm not going to address them directly. I think a more apt comparison to graduation may be something like baptism. You don't baptize yourself (maybe some non-mainstream cults do, I don't know). Even in conversation, that's always passive: "I was baptized."

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If a student does everything required to graduate (to be graduated?) from a school, takes all the required classes, gets good enough grades, school officials don't get to decide whether or not to give them a diploma and "graduate them." They have no agency at that point; the effort that got the student there was on the student's part. (Teachers make an effort too, of course, but their effort is on behalf of all the students, not individuals'.)

I'm not convinced that's really the case, that it's really that automatic, that the school has no agency. Graduation is not something you do to yourself. It's something that is done to you. If it were, why bother with brick and mortar schools and in-person learning (maybe the world is moving in that direction anyway)? Kids could just do everything online, progress at their own speed, and when they finish, get a diploma (maybe the world is moving in that direction, too).

I think there'd be a hell of an uproar if the school didn't award a diploma, I'm sure, but I'm not convinced the school is actually required to. It's not like it's the law the school has to do it.

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Casting the school as the active agent sounds funny when the sentence isn't in passive tense. You're driving with your friends and pass your high school. You don't say, "There's the school that graduated me." Or maybe you do?

I don't think I know anybody who speaks formal, written English in ordinary conversation. Maybe people who are giving speeches do, especially if they're reading from a prepared text, but that's not conversation.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Cellar Scribblings
« Reply #17128 on: May 12, 2021, 02:12:40 pm »
I don't think these are valid comparisons to academic graduation, so I'm not going to address them directly. I think a more apt comparison to graduation may be something like baptism. You don't baptize yourself (maybe some non-mainstream cults do, I don't know). Even in conversation, that's always passive: "I was baptized."

Sorry, I think my comparisons are more valid than baptism. Of course infants don't baptize themselves. They are literally, entirely passive -- held by someone else, baptized by someone else, by someone else's choice. They don't know they are being baptized or even what baptism is. So of course passive voice is correct, grammatically and literally. Schools, obviously, require a student's more active involvement.

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I'm not convinced that's really the case, that it's really that automatic, that the school has no agency. Graduation is not something you do to yourself. It's something that is done to you. If it were, why bother with brick and mortar schools and in-person learning (maybe the world is moving in that direction anyway)? Kids could just do everything online, progress at their own speed, and when they finish, get a diploma (maybe the world is moving in that direction, too).

You can buy a book from a brick and mortar store, or you can buy a book online. Either way, you don't have to say "I was sold a book," even though you would not have acquired the book without the store's involvement.

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I think there'd be a hell of an uproar if the school didn't award a diploma, I'm sure, but I'm not convinced the school is actually required to. It's not like it's the law the school has to do it.

I don't think it would just be a hell of an uproar, it would be a hell of a lawsuit, even if there's no existing legislation. If a kid met all the requirements for graduation that other students did, followed all the rules the other students did, but the school would not let that one kid graduate without evidence of the kid's underachievement or misconduct, I don't see that going well for the school in court.

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I don't think I know anybody who speaks formal, written English in ordinary conversation. Maybe people who are giving speeches do, especially if they're reading from a prepared text, but that's not conversation.

Agreed about actual conversation, but I've written the verb graduate approximately one million times (give or take  ;D) for newspapers and magazines. Those contexts aren't especially formal -- the usual goal, in fact, is to be conversational -- but they do require (if not always achieve) correct grammar.

"Was graduated" to me is like saying "an historian." Is either outright wrong? No. But to me they sound old-fashioned and trying too hard to be formal.

A quick google finds this:

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The passive “I was graduated from” version is old-fashioned. It is not used nearly as often as the active “I graduated from” version. The American Heritage Dictionary provides good usage information and background about the verb “graduate”:

The verb graduate has denoted the action of conferring an academic degree or diploma since at least 1421. Accordingly, the action of receiving a degree should be expressed in the passive, as in She was graduated from Yale in 1998. This use is still current, if old-fashioned, and is acceptable to 78 percent of the Usage Panel. In general usage, however, it has largely yielded to the much more recent active pattern (first attested in 1807): She graduated from Yale in 1998. Eighty-nine percent of the Panel accepts this use. It has the advantage of ascribing the accomplishment to the student, rather than to the institution, which is usually appropriate in discussions of individual students. When the institution’s responsibility is emphasized, however, the older pattern may still be recommended. A sentence such as The university graduated more computer science majors in 1997 than in the entire previous decade stresses the university’s accomplishment, say, of its computer science program. On the other hand, the sentence More computer science majors graduated in 1997 than in the entire previous decade implies that the class of 1997 was in some way a remarkable group. •The Usage Panel feels quite differently about the use of graduate to mean “to receive a degree from,” as in She graduated Yale in 1998. Seventy-seven percent object to this usage.


We probably shouldn't get into the subject of Americans leaving the article out of "in the hospital" or "at the university."  :laugh:



Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: Cellar Scribblings
« Reply #17129 on: May 12, 2021, 04:02:30 pm »
Sorry, I think my comparisons are more valid.

No. I think comparing running or winning a race to receiving an academic diploma or degree is comparing apples to oranges (except metaphorically).
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.