Americans deserve the bad rep

The common perception of Americans is that we’re fat, smelly, and stupid.  I can confirm the fat and stupid parts.

I’ve not yet met a Canadian who thinks that Canada and the United States are part of the same country, yet I meet gobs of Americans who believe this.  WTF?  Seriously?  I bet these are the same people who can’t name their congressmen or senators or the three branches of government in the United States.  Anyone who can count the fifty states should realize that the ten Canadian provinces (and three Territories) aren’t among them…

Yet another reason to be ashamed of ourselves and our public education system (which used to be one of the best in the world and is now one of the worst).

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  1. #1 by Phillip on May 7, 2010 - 5:03 PM

    You’re anti-American!!

    Ok, now that’s out of the way. Yeah, people here are stupid, but we’re not the fattest worldwide. That, I believe, belongs to Samoa, so yeah, technicalities. We’re pretty high up on the list regardless. But the fact of the matter is that there really are people out there that can’t afford decent food. I’m not saying that’s an excuse because they could do other things too to help maintain a healthy weight (btw, research has shown that being slightly overweight is beneficial to your health.. http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20090625/study-overweight-people-live-longer ).

    You know, I really would like to rag on our public education system, but in all honesty, I can’t say that it’s failed me. Bjorn went to TM and I went to Bay View, and our curriculum were more or less identical with only a week apart in some lessons. I know at BV it was a matter of getting into the better classes, but, I would say that most of the classes were geared toward people that are less able. One of my memories is that in my English class freshman year we were reading Romeo & Juliet. There were days where we would literally only get half a page in because my classmates could not read. I know for a fact that the introductory math and science courses were easier than those I had at St. Vs, but I also know that once I jumped into calc, physics, and chemistry it was a bit more advanced. The physics I learned at BV were actually harder than what I got out of UWM. The calculus was actually about the same.

    But, back to my original point; there’re certain subsets of America that thinks if you’re saying anything negative about America that you’re against America. Of course, they were completely disregarding the fact that dissent leads to thinking, and that leads to new ideas, and new ideas occasionally lead to new countries. Such as our own.

  2. #2 by Anonymous on May 8, 2010 - 5:56 PM

    I am one of the 54% of the population over 50. I attended Catholic grade school at Blessed Sacrament, them Pulaski High School. I attended school when nuns used corporal punishment, and teachers at Pulaski used to stuff students-head first-into garbage cans.
    When I attended Pulaski we were so over-crowded that we were bussed for half of the day to an old Army Reserve barracks that used to stand on 27th Street where Toys R Us now stands. We attended Home-Ec and Shop and gym at Pulaski and then the core classes, math, english, etc at the barracks. Every day for two years we rode a bus down 27th street to go to school.
    I spent 13 years working for Greenfield School District. I have a son, and grandchildren.
    I can tell you from experience that the schools have dumbed down tremendously. I can see and hear the difference between what I learned, how I learned it, and how I use it and what the grandchildren are learning today. I know that this is going to sound like a prejudice, or even mean-spirited, but when they introduced the concepts of mainstreaming and no child left behind, all they managed to do was make it more difficult for the average child to learn anything.
    I see too much of the feel good, everybody wins program and not enough of the sometimes you lose and personal responsibility.
    I guess after all this commentary my point is I disagree with Phillip says.

    • #3 by Phillip on May 9, 2010 - 9:40 AM

      My entire point was that if you got the right classes, public schools were as good as private schools. Beyond that, I really can’t attest to how education has changed, before or after, I was in the system.

      I wouldn’t say, in those instances, that the standards have been lowered. I remember in high school, I had my physics class. Part of what we had to do was figure out the Cd for a rocket, cross-sectional areas, thrust at various altitudes, everything really. The day of the launch, each team had their own, we had to predict where our rocket would land, taking into account everything that could affect it. If one wing was misshapen, or if there was a gust of wind, and you couldn’t predict where it would land, you’d fail the project; and given that it was a half a mark period, that wasn’t so good for grades. I can pretty much guarantee you that neither my grandparents, nor my parents, took any class like that. I remember taking my calculus class at BV too; it was only offered 1 period out of the day, and there were maybe 20 of us, out of a school with 1200 students, in there. I realize that my case may possibly be an exception, but my brother is attending BV right now, and his curriculum is more or less exactly like mine. I’d say it’s still possible to get a good education, the resources are out there.

      I do agree that “No Child Left Behind” was stupid to pass. My last year at BV, I didn’t need to go for any standardized tests; I passed them all the first time I took them. My brother needs to take them every year. The teachers have to devote time to getting students to pass the exams, the students have to devote education time to taking the exams. The exams, when I was there, took a week or a week and a half. It’s just a no win situation.

      • #4 by Anonymous on May 9, 2010 - 9:57 AM

        You don’t realize it but you are actually agreeing with me. You mention that only 20 out of 1200 qualified for that calculus class. Why not all juniors or seniors? Why are the rest of the students that far behind. My son also was one of the fortunate bright students who qualified for AP classes and physics and all the cool classes, but at the same time he went without most of his friends because they weren’t “quite as smart” or “quite as motivated”. Way back in “the day” my senior year we all had calculus. The core program told us this is what you get. Algebra, geometry, advanced math, calculus, US history, World history, American history, and four years of English.
        I totally agree that more time now is being spent teaching to the “standardized” tests than to actually teaching the students. That was a factor in my leaving the school system.
        But at least we agree that the system is failing. Maybe we don’t agree on which points it is failing, but we found common ground.

        • #5 by Phillip on May 9, 2010 - 10:55 AM

          I got the agreement gist, it was just a different framing. But, I know at Bay View, and this was incredibly common, we would have upwards of 30 students. I mean, 36 wasn’t all that uncommon in some classes. If you went back half a year later, you’d see maybe half of them if you were lucky. For all we know, one of them could be the next Hawking or Einstein, but if they don’t show up they can’t get the grades and end up going into the less challenging classes.

          There’s a million different ideas, but it’s not just something that we can easily say it’s this and only this because we simply can’t do the testing for that. We can make broad strokes about how socioeconomic status influences something, but you always have the outliers, and the same really goes for anything that can relate to education. So, who knows. It’s a never ending battle.

        • #6 by Chadwick on May 9, 2010 - 10:11 PM

          For what it’s worth, in my public school, I had more math education (just in the regular program, too) by eighth grade than my father (currently 54) did by the time he graduated high school.

          The curriculum you outline there is actually exactly what I got (though I had the algebra down before HS), but the education is a lot different than what my parents got when they were in school. Their education would much better fit most of the standardized tests I’ve taken, with its focus on memorization.

          The education I got, meanwhile (particularly in the History dept.) was focused much more on the reasons for why things happened; examining the causes behind major events, or doing more in-depth work examining the background of the literature, rather than working more on the technical functions of writing. Which I suppose shows quite a bit in writing today, but then I think part of the problem is simply the accessibility of Word and equivalents making people lazy on that front.

          Basically, I guess I’d just like to say that it’s not so much the entire system that’s failed; there’s still a lot of very good public schools. But the ones that’re bad can get really bad. The schools I attended in Watertown were fantastic. The facilities and materials were top-notch, and the teachers were excellent and really cared. When I transferred to Oconomowoc, it was kind of a mixed bag on the teachers (mostly they meant well, but they seemed really beaten down, and considering the way most of the people in Oconomowoc tend to be when I interact with them, I can’t blame the teachers much), but the facilities and materials were all kind of crap by comparison. Though that was largely the people of the city regularly voting to slash the school budgets so they could cut their property taxes. The newest building in the district was built in 1954.

          Anyway, yeah, even since I’ve left, things are looking a bit worse, particularly with the NCLB stuff. I mean, it was well-intentioned, but completely failed in the implementation.

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