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July 25, 2003 11:11 AM   Subscribe

A new TV series described as "Sesame Street for adults" gets a wide release next month on PBS stations nationwide. Its producers hope it will reach a few of the estimated 90 million "low-functioning" grown-ups. In 1992, when researchers last rated the skills of adults 16 or older, they found that nearly half weren't proficient in applying basic skills to accomplish daily tasks. Is this a bold step toward improving the lives of less fortunate adults, or a disturbing sign of the increasing ignorance of the American public?
posted by eyebeam (64 comments total)

 
Can anyone read the TV Guide for me and find out when it's on, the come over and hook up my cable box so I can watch it?
posted by jonmc at 11:16 AM on July 25, 2003


I can probably benefit from this television show. That is all.
posted by angry modem at 11:16 AM on July 25, 2003


This is going to be the number one show amongst MeFi readers, I can feel it.
posted by Salmonberry at 11:28 AM on July 25, 2003


This is the kind of thing that should be taught in schools. I have an advanced degree and I still hire someone to do my taxes. I suspect I'm not the only person who is horribly form-phobic.
posted by SealWyf at 11:30 AM on July 25, 2003


Link's not working for me.

No, really!
posted by widdershins at 11:32 AM on July 25, 2003


Is this a bold step toward improving the lives of less fortunate adults, or a disturbing sign of the increasing ignorance of the American public?

Huh? There sounds like a smidge of elitism in a statement like that.

More people than ever graduate high school and attend college, so I believe on the whole, the US population is on the way up (ignoring that yeah, standards are falling for academic excellence). This seems like another way to help out people that slipped through the cracks, in a non-embarrasing way. If you are 35 years old and have crappy reading skills, how likely are you to enroll in night classes (which you'll have to attend after a long day of work)?

I'd love to see what the show looks like, and hope it helps out a lot of people.
posted by mathowie at 11:35 AM on July 25, 2003


OK, it's back. It was down, I swear!
posted by widdershins at 11:36 AM on July 25, 2003


If this was surrepticiously put ito the Jerry Springer show's timeslow once a week it could put a very serious dent into the US's literacy problem :)
posted by Space Coyote at 11:37 AM on July 25, 2003


The link seems to work intermittently...I suspect they are load-balancing across two or more webservers and the file's missing from at least one of them. If you get a 404, try again immediately.
posted by uosuaq at 11:38 AM on July 25, 2003


the increasing ignorance of the American public
I strongly suspect the ignorance of the American public has steeply decreased over the last, say, 100 years, or even 50 or 30. The average midwestern farmer or inner-city laborer has far more knowledge of the world outside his immediate neighborhood than he had in the past. We've always has "low-functioning" adults--they now have a TV show to help them learn how to deal with the increasing torrent of information they need to deal with.

On preview--what Matt said.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:40 AM on July 25, 2003


i sense a tsunami of snark coming on here...i think this is a good idea -- where else could people turn for anonymous help like this? particularly the consumer protection angle is worthwhile...not everyone is as savvy as we technophiles like to think we are.
posted by serafinapekkala at 11:41 AM on July 25, 2003


If it's as entertaining as Sesame Street I'd totally watch it (and, yeah, prolly take notes while I did). But past PBS basic adult education programming has been kinda dull, like that show where Wally "Famous" Amos taught adults to read (though I wasn't really the target audience there).
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:45 AM on July 25, 2003


"They found that 90 million adults:

* Could probably read a newspaper article but might not be able to answer questions about dates and ages."


I find the irony of this story appearing in USA Today to be almost overwhelming.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:45 AM on July 25, 2003


??P? how is this different from Greg the Bunny. I loved that show to death. I was really sorry to see it get cancelled, but if that didn't draw ratings, I can't imagine this show would either.

Or, will they be doing it big brother style? 10 people locked in a house trying to figure out how to read the directions posted on the wall that will allow them to open the door, and go get food before they starve to death. If there's a naked fat guy, and a couple of really hot chicks, that show might just work.
posted by willnot at 11:46 AM on July 25, 2003


oh, almost forgot...*passes Space Coyote some Windex*
posted by serafinapekkala at 11:47 AM on July 25, 2003


"Hey, Bert! How come you're filing as head-of-household, and I have to file as single?"

"Well, you see, Ernie, I've got all these pigeons as dependents, and you've just got the one rubber duckie. It only makes economic sense to aggregate our household income to my return and offset all my deductions there, which generates the lowest tax possible. You are still able to take a standard deduction for a single individual, which exceeds the deductions you would otherwise have on account of the duckie."

"Gee, Bert! You're smart!"
posted by yhbc at 11:47 AM on July 25, 2003


I think that it's a great idea, although I'm curious as to how they're going to deal with issues like bills.

Checking that you're not over-charged by a builder etc. may be presented as, "look through your bill/contract carefully", but this logic doesn't carry over so well to phone bills. There's a lot of random sounding things on a phone bill and their amounts vary randomly too.

I have a feeling that this may have already been tested in SF, I remember seeing something like this on TV when I was off sick a few weeks ago. I think it was a walkthrough of a paycheck. When I came to the US from the UK, I ended up getting the same speech by asking many questions. (So there's two separate income taxes? etc. etc.)
posted by Flat Feet Pete at 11:49 AM on July 25, 2003


Do you seriously think that Fox News is just going to sit back and let PBS steal their primary market?
posted by sreilly at 11:53 AM on July 25, 2003


Also, it seems like a great idea to fill night slots on PBS. While they have NOVA and other great shows, the night slots are kind of erratic and I'm sure member stations would welcome more regular night time programming.
posted by mathowie at 11:55 AM on July 25, 2003


This is both wonderful and sad all at once.

It is wonderful that someone wants to make a show to help people learn to do a host of everyday tasks. It is sad that almost half of all American adults need this help.

It is wonderful that they are addressing the issue of adults with less than wonderful life skills. It is sad how many adults actually graduated high school and/or college without learning to balance a checkbook, or do a tax form, or unable to use a map for navigation, or unable to write a business letter.

It is wonderful that this is getting a little publicity, but sad that they can't do math. If there are 291,602,235 people in the United States and roughly 191,812,000 are adults then it seems a little odd to blame bulk the 90,000,000 they estimate "need" this show on "dropouts -- about 20% of Americans 25 and older in 2000." That's only some 35 million.
posted by ilsa at 11:55 AM on July 25, 2003


I think it's wonderful.
posted by dejah420 at 11:57 AM on July 25, 2003


More people than ever graduate high school and attend college, so I believe on the whole, the US population is on the way up (ignoring that yeah, standards are falling for academic excellence).

But that's not really something you can ignore if you want to talk meaningfully about education or intelligence in this country, is it?
posted by Hildago at 11:57 AM on July 25, 2003


Of all the threads to not check my typing on this would have to be the one.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:58 AM on July 25, 2003


"Hey, Bert! How come you're filing as head-of-household, and I have to file as single?"

"Because until we move to Canada we can't file as a married couple, Ernie."
posted by serafinapekkala at 12:08 PM on July 25, 2003


Well I'm torn:

Yes, there are so many idiots out there that ANYTHING we can do to educate them would be fantastic.

BUT, an important part of that education should be that TV IS BRAINWASHING YOU, IDIOTS!

What a dilemma...
posted by zekinskia at 12:09 PM on July 25, 2003


I thought "Usa Today" was Sesame Street for adults.

For this to garner a wide audience, it will have to combine elements of Fear Factor and Junkyard wars. And star Angelina Jolie.
posted by mecran01 at 12:23 PM on July 25, 2003


"USA Today" is more like "Highlights" for adults, just with fewer junior jumbles.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:30 PM on July 25, 2003


Zekinskia, that's quite knee-jerky of you. Education is not brainwashing, though TV can be used for both.

I used to volunteer for literacy (was trained and told all the basic facts about illiteracy) and this does sound like a great idea. Sad that it's necessary, of course.

I'm musing on how to get this advertised. Print ads won't work for obvious reasons. Do people lacking basic education watch PBS? The best approach might be to run ads on commercial breaks for lowest common denominator shows - Springer, etc. Although how do you get the other newtorks to cooperate....
posted by orange swan at 12:31 PM on July 25, 2003


OK, hold it just a second here. I thought "Sesame Street" WAS for adults.

My world is collapsing.
posted by Tin Man at 12:38 PM on July 25, 2003


It is sad how many adults actually graduated high school and/or college without learning to balance a checkbook, or do a tax form, or unable to use a map for navigation, or unable to write a business letter.

But that's not the target audience for this program. It's for people who didn't make it through high school, or, if they did, managed to barely squeak through.
posted by eilatan at 12:39 PM on July 25, 2003


"USA Today" is more like "Highlights" for adults, just with fewer junior jumbles.

But do they have
Goofus and Gallant?

Print ads won't work for obvious reasons.

Why not? This isn't for people who can't read at all -- lots of print advertising is fairly simplistic and image-driven (I'd link to some Absolut ads here, but since it's all been burned into our cortexes thousands of times over, what's the point?).
posted by BT at 12:44 PM on July 25, 2003


"Could probably write a note or letter but might have trouble explaining an error in their bill to a credit card company."

I think this really misses the point. These people aren't undereducated. They're stupid. A TV show won't fix the root problem, which is that their brains just can't keep up. In the US we want to believe that everyone is equal. It's just not true. About 1/3 (about 90 million) are just dumb.

Trust PBS (which I contribute to BTW) to not get that.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:45 PM on July 25, 2003


the show has a pretty cool website too...note that the Time Management lesson is something pretty much anybody could benefit from, and is presented in an approachable, real-life way. i didn't learn much about that directly in HS/college/law school...ditto checkbooks (let alone credit cards), tax forms (ok, i took tax law, but still...) or other life skills stuff...why are we dumping these shortcomings in the lap of the public school system, when sub-par parenting plays a role too? uh-oh, the Nanny Staters will be after me now... :-P
posted by serafinapekkala at 12:49 PM on July 25, 2003


More people than ever graduate high school and attend college, so I believe on the whole, the US population is on the way up (ignoring that yeah, standards are falling for academic excellence).

See, that's the whole problem, the US educational system has completely failed. High schools pass semi-literate, if not illiterate, students over to colleges. Colleges seem to be trying to teach basic skills, but often it seems that it's too late, the students don't care, daddy keeps signing tuition checks and eventually you've got an uneducated, ignorant, frat-boy idiot working as your project manager.
*takes deep breath*
Let me try that again. The educational 'system' in the US is so nonfunctional that I've found in professional life that one's degree has no correlation to one's level of literacy or intelligence.

On Preview: Hell, y6^3, maybe you're right, but I still wish that colleges and universities just flunked the stupid people out before they become executives and politicians.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:49 PM on July 25, 2003


Darnit, mecran stole my snark.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 12:55 PM on July 25, 2003


I've found in professional life that one's degree has no correlation to one's level of literacy or intelligence.

that may be (or it may depend on the profession -- and that's not a crack, i'm a lawyer fer crissakes), but why should that surprise us? was there ever a time when the educational system was functionally churning out non-idiots and correctly limiting degrees to only the most bright folks? i don't think "the system" can be all things to all people...some people may need extra help later on in life for whatever reason, and it's just cruel to call them all stupid. or at least, the same *kind* of stupid.
posted by serafinapekkala at 12:56 PM on July 25, 2003


I think this really misses the point. These people aren't undereducated. They're stupid.

I utterly disagree. An example: a woman I know well-- who is a native-English-speaking-and-reading immigrant to this country, in no means lacking intelligence, faces lots of problems dealing with precisely these issues: in point of fact, we had a long conversation not long ago about the terms of her (new) credit card, because with her essentially grade-school education, the legalistic language and complicated nature of the deal (grace period, fluctuating interest rate, higher rates for cash advances) seemed opaque to her.

She didn't master the details after one conversation, but got the basics, and is now more skeptical of the process, and asks more questions. She's not stupid in the least -- but without much of an education (like many people in this country), and only basically literate (like many people in this country), she doesn't have fantastic tools for dealing with the legal, financial and technological complexities of society. A show like this offers some of those tools.

I'm tempted, y6y6y6, to conclude that your dismissal of her and others like her is not particularly good evidence of a high degree of intelligence. But maybe you just work hard all day and your education, like hers, was limited?
posted by BT at 1:08 PM on July 25, 2003


If you are 35 years old and have crappy reading skills, how likely are you to enroll in night classes?

Better, how likely are you to watch PBS?
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:08 PM on July 25, 2003


Better, how likely are you to watch PBS?

If your kids like Elmo, I think the chances aren't all that bad.
posted by BT at 1:10 PM on July 25, 2003


serafinapekkala: I'm probably speaking out of turn. I'm just frustrated these days. 'Stupid' is a cruel label to put on someone, even if they are an idiot.

That said, I don't think this show will work. First off, how entertaining is watching someone explaining the phone bill?
"See this is your federal excise and it's 3%! that comes out to 73¢! And this is the county: 3.71%! And then the franchise, that's just a percentage you pay that allows the phone company to charge other percentages of the earlier percentages but through lines they leased through a municipality and that comes in at 3% too. Then there is a 75¢ charge for statewide 911 service, but don't call 911! They won't answer! Budget cuts. etc. etc."
The second problem requires that people admit they are ignorant. People don't want to admit they're ignorant, they want to believe they are smart and everyone else is ignorant. Why does right-wing radio do so well?

On preview: BT makes a really good point. I just need to take a walk and blow off some steam.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:10 PM on July 25, 2003


There sounds like a smidge of elitism in a statement like that.

Odd, since the poster is only a 15Ker...
posted by mookieproof at 1:10 PM on July 25, 2003


When Sesame Street debuted in 1969, it was originally targeted specifically to disadvantaged kids in the inner city. There were claims the show would wipe out urban illiteracy, but instead it's a show that the entire mass American audience watches and illiteracy in the inner city is still a problem. I worry that TV411 may fall into the same problem. If it's as entertaining or popular as Sesame Street, the show may get so co-opted that it's no longer targeting the people it was designed to help. On the other hand, if it isn't at least somewhat entertaining, who would watch it in the first place?
posted by jonp72 at 1:30 PM on July 25, 2003


Elwood, how exciting is it to hear someone explain the alphabet, or what you must first put down if you want to play the saxophone? Or whether or not 'C' being for 'Cookie' is good enough or not?
posted by Hildago at 1:31 PM on July 25, 2003


Wow, approximately 50% of adult Americans are functionally illiterate!?!

Suddenly Jay Leno's "Jay Walking" and the Bush approval ratings make so much more sense.
posted by gruchall at 1:32 PM on July 25, 2003


"An example: a woman I know well........"

Who is in no way related to the 90 million people the linked article is talking about. I'm talking about those people. I have no doubt there are many highly intelligent people who can't manage a credit card bill due to particular circumstances. The TV show isn't targeted at those people.

"your dismissal of her and others like her is not particularly good evidence of a high degree of intelligence"

Nice try little camper. I think a big chunk of the population is dumb, so I'm not educated? Please oh please explain the magical logic you used to come up with that. Brainiac.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:38 PM on July 25, 2003


I've found in professional life that one's degree has no correlation to one's level of literacy or intelligence.
how to read the directions posted
Notice in general people have trouble with directions; notice too most skip them until they have a problem and want a solution.
My testament: most here know my grammar sucks with a capital S, yet always aced the referenced exams growing up with minimum previous coverage. So from my point of view: not sure if filling out a check or a form is something that takes a lot of education. Just an example first which will lead to one's self-confidence in trying. Trying is a hurdle in life but once done make it easier with each try.

Also notice children usually participate above their ages in life, this show will strength a lot of youth and adults by giving confidence in seeing a example. monkey see monkey do and monkey does because he can too.

Just an example first
Notice too, directions are horrible lately and make comprehension impossible; if you have ever put together a child's toy. Hope they include model building in the show as it taught me to improvise as a youth. If you want figure something out, start at the end and work your way forward.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:39 PM on July 25, 2003


it can too... told you my grammar S
posted by thomcatspike at 1:42 PM on July 25, 2003


The popularity of reality shows, the fact that the average adult in America watches four hours of TV each evening, I would say it's a "disturbing sign of the increasing ignorance of the American public?"
posted by munger at 1:44 PM on July 25, 2003


My testament: most here know my grammar sucks with a capital S...

Actually your grammar has moved to a unique place beyond the one where descriptors like "sucks" apply. It's a fascinating little language in and of itself (though a little bewildering at times).

/OT
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:49 PM on July 25, 2003


This program sounds like a great concept. In fact PBS is currently running a show called Standard Deviants TV. It 's a good show that in 30 min. manages to break down and explain subjects ranging from Shakespeare, Spanish, Physics, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and HTML programming language in an entertaining manner. It gives you a brief but good primer on certain subjects that makes you want to learn more them.

And yes, the elitism factor was way to high in the initial poster's statement.
posted by beatnik808 at 1:51 PM on July 25, 2003


huh?
wuzzuh?
posted by quonsar at 2:28 PM on July 25, 2003


From the linked article --

Could probably write a note or letter but might have trouble explaining an error in their bill to a credit card company.

From y6y6y6:

Who is in no way related to the 90 million people the linked article is talking about. I'm talking about those people. I have no doubt there are many highly intelligent people who can't manage a credit card bill due to particular circumstances. The TV show isn't targeted at those people.

That was my point, y6y6y6 -- the program clearly IS targeted at those people.

Your made-up figure about the proportion of irredeemably stupid people doesn't, as far as I can see, have any evidence to back it up.

The blithe way in which you consigned those who might be benefitted from this program to a fate of eternal ignorance got under my skin; I largely think the folks you are dissing have gotten shafted by a society that doesn't on the wuold do a good job educating people. You may think differently, but a loud assertion of the opposite doesn't make your case.

I shouldn't, however, have gotten all sarcastic in my last paragraph -- however much I disagreed with your post, it was bad manners to let my temper flare. Apologies. We are all God's Little Campers, in the end.
posted by BT at 2:45 PM on July 25, 2003


Beg pardon there -- that should be "doesn't on the whole do a good job..."
posted by BT at 2:46 PM on July 25, 2003


First off, how entertaining is watching someone explaining the phone bill?

How entertaining is going to school and learning how to add and subtract, and yet we force kids to do it every day. I don't think the point is for it to be entertaining. PBS = educational TV, not entertainment TV.

I went to a good high school, and moved on to a good college, but coming from an undereducated and poor family ... I had never even seen a blank check or bank statement until I was 19 and got my first job (that didn't pay cash - like picking peaches or doing housework). Hell, I had never even been IN a bank. Filling out my first tax form was sheer hell, and the first time I encounter legal paperwork I thought my brain would explode. My parents couldn't teach me about these things growing up, because they either had never encountered them themselves, or they were just as confused as I was by it all. It didn't make them stupid, and it certainly didn't mean I was stupid for not knowing how to do things that no one had ever taught me about and that I had no experience with. This show would have been great for me, and I have several younger relatives that are getting out on their own for the first time that I am going to suggest it to (so I don't have to keep explaining things to them).

Now I am learning about the Social Security and Medicaid system so I can explain it to my mom. She's not stupid because it confuses her ... it IS confusing, and it's not like they send you a textbook or give you a class when you turn 65 that explains the stacks of paperwork that is required and what it all means.

The schools aren't teaching these things, and parents can only explain the things they have personally had experience with. A show like this is a great idea.
posted by Orb at 2:58 PM on July 25, 2003


"I shouldn't, however, have gotten all sarcastic in my last paragraph"

Damn. I try to troll and you get all nice. People with depth of character like that REALLY PISS ME OFF!!!!

"the folks you are dissing have gotten shafted by a society that....."

Yes, we do indeed take antithetical positions on this issue. In my opinion the main problem here is that we expect too little of the individual, and too much of the society. It is a very rare circumstance where people can't educate themselves without any help at all from society. Of course some can't, because they have learning disabilities, but this program isn't targeted at them.

The program is targeted at lazy dumb people who we seem to be too ashamed to call lazy and dumb.

Elitist? Most probably. But taking the alternate route - that individual shortcomings are the responsibility of the society - is patronizing and worthless.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:22 PM on July 25, 2003


For a long time I've though that school needs a radical re-design towards an individualized, highly interactive computerized self-contained curriculum, prepared by an educational corporation to be suitable for a given situation. Not the random research of the Internet, but a television-blended-into-computer system, selected by schools and parents. In early grades, students would learn multi-dimensional memorization techniques, so that the lowest-level learning, memorization, could be handled at the maximum rate a given student could upload data from computer instruction, unhindered by the learning rate of the rest of his/her class. Evaluation would be constant and interwoven with learning, adjusting the rate of instruction for a given student. Different subjects could be tendered in ordered blocks, so the learning tempo of a subject could be maintained without a break for a new subject, classroom or teacher. Foreign language(s) would be simple to integrate.
Even motivation could be provided by the computer, encouraging a student to develop attention span and enthusiasm, or at least fending off disappointment and frustration. And, importantly, to be able to allow for a burst of creativity in a subject, so that if a student really cared, and were able, they could follow a subject all the way from elementary grades through college level without hindrance. Or they could just progress through the required subject without digression into sub topics.

The amount of time saved alone would permit curriculum expansion to cover dozens of neglected topics, and would give the best students the opportunity to shine, while insuring that poor students had essential information and skills strongly incorporated.

The value of this for teachers would be that, by eliminating memorization, they could concentrate of higher-level educational experiences, such as cross training, how to analyze information, constructive criticism, data discrimination, and how to synthesize new information.

Students would progress through grades independent of their social progress, so a 3rd grade student studying at the 5th grade level would still be with his 3rd grade peers.

The biggest educational crime ever promulgated is to waste a student's time. It must stop.
posted by kablam at 7:12 PM on July 25, 2003


I like the irony that this article is from USA Today, which is written for a fourth-grade reading level.
posted by Down10 at 7:31 PM on July 25, 2003


Aren't most newspapers, Down10, written for an elementary/primary school reading level? It's news, the paper is printed everyday, and is arguably out of date in twenty-four hours, so most readers don't want to struggle with for more than a couple of hours. Most people read the paper while doing something else (drinking tea, eating, riding the metro or tram, while watching the little ones) and if the paper were too complicated, these people wouldn't be able to read it.
Journalists also have deadlines: maybe two hours after the press conference/accident/event/play/concert has occurred, the story must be written and filed. Writings for a uni-level reading skill would take weeks to write, edit, assemble and print. And then it would no longer be news.
I don't see your irony.
posted by philfromhavelock at 9:08 PM on July 25, 2003


elwood:
That said, I don't think this show will work. First off, how entertaining is watching someone explaining the phone bill?"See this is your federal excise and it's 3%! that comes out to 73¢!

The problem, of course, is that a whole bunch of people don't know what a percent means. Really. I teach "Basic Math" at the local community college, and every section of the class is full, every semester. People that are otherwise functional, that don't know that percent is literally, "divided by one hundred". Don't know what a fraction means. Cannot add numbers whose sum is more than twelve. Have never learned that to add decimals, you line up the decimal point. Negative numbers are a foreign concept. We have to teach them that the number 245 means "two hundred forty five". Etc. Those who have put forth the claim that the education system is failing in its mission are right - while some of my students are 35+, coming back to school after an absence, many are fresh outta high school. (Don't get me started on the ones that don't know what a noun is...)
posted by notsnot at 9:16 PM on July 25, 2003


Oh boy, kablam.

I live in a part of New Zealand where there are both many immigrants whose first language is not English, and many poor people (Newtown, Wellington, for any Kiwis reading).

My daughter attends a primary school where perhaps quarter of the class started school with no English, and another quarter come from households with no reading material at all.

Basic numeracy and literacy for all are still huge challenges. While your vision of the future is devoutly to be wished for, it is a long way away, even in the so-called developed world.

And I can't help but think: if both parents work, and they're shagged when they get home, and children don't work with their parents any more, who does teach those children adult survival skills?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:36 AM on July 26, 2003


i_am_joe's_spleen: actually, the hardware for such a program is well on the way to deployment in the US--Internet ready schools. The problems are first and foremost the concept: if the fundamentals of your curriculum are taught by computer, teachers, unless thoroughly retrained, are caught off guard and are afraid of twiddling their thumbs.
A good analogy is the function of the teacher solely as a disciplinarian, when a class is assigned to read a book--in class. This wastes a teacher's time, but is all too common.
Once students *can* read, for them to use class time *to* read is a waste. (This is not to say that discipline isn't important, just that it isn't the same as teaching.)
(I would also add a note that it is imperative for schools to diagnose if a student suffers from dyslexia or other condition that makes reading uncomfortable--wildly underreported, this ruins many otherwise good students.)

The next level, beyond maintaining discipline, is often where teaching *stops*, that is, memorization. And many, many teachers confuse memorization with "learning."

So if students are doing ordered, complex, multi-dimensional memorization (having learned how to, instead of just linear memorization, as almost all of us learned it),
the teacher is more active, not teaching what the computer is teaching, or evaluating what the computer is evaluating, but in taking students *beyond* that, into the realm of critical thinking and analysis.

The second problem, a truly odd one, if you think about it, is that there really is *no* existing integrated audio-visual curriculum available! Nobody has ever created a complete, interactive elementary and/or secondary curriculum! I don't even think anyone has made a low-tech TV program-like version. And this perplexes me, given the number of home study students in the US.

The bottom line is that the concept of a "class" is outdated and wasteful. Students do not progress at the same rate, and they learn in fits and starts at that. Taking these things into account with a tailored education produces scholarship leaps and bounds beyond existing schooling.

As far as the multilingualism problem is concerned, it is a problem here, too (AZ, US). However, an interactive A-V curriculum could easily incorporate multi-language without making it a separate "class"-- and with audio, maybe even a microphone set up to check student pronunciation.
Fully integrated into all studies. And with vocabulary building skills, integrated grammar, composition, all patched in with the constant "evaluation" done by the computer over the curriculum material.

Last but not least, students that move with their families a great deal would be able to basically carry their education around with them, perhaps on a zip disk. The disk would remember exactly where they left off on every subject, so they wouldn't be utterly perplexed at their new school. They could just plug in their disk and continue on, without having to take over subjects they knew or drop out of subjects they weren't prepared for with prerequisite learning. (There are millions of such students in the US.)
posted by kablam at 8:07 AM on July 26, 2003


this far into the thread and no reference to avenue q? for shame.

"come." "...mitment!"
posted by pxe2000 at 9:12 PM on July 27, 2003


And I can't help but think: if both parents work, and they're shagged when they get home, and children don't work with their parents any more, who does teach those children adult survival skills

Feel reading to a child helps by building reading skills, as I said above it is an example for their mind to follow and builds confidence too.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:17 AM on July 28, 2003


Potential TV411 features:

Which of These Deductions is Not Like the Others

Count Von Accounts Receivable

La-la-la-la-Legal Disclaimer

SuperGrover Confronts The Bus Schedule

C is for Cost-Benefit Analysis
posted by basilwhite at 12:13 PM on July 28, 2003


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