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fgoodwin

Outlook for Citizenship MBs not good . . .

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Kudu:

According to my reprint of the 1911 Handbook for Boys there were six ranks much as there are today. The order was different as Life was the first rank after First Class, followed by Star and then Eagle. I don't have it in front of me but if I recall all the required merit badges had to be earned for Life and the higher ranks were just for additional merit badges. Eagle was a total of 21 as it is today.

 

For First Class you needed to know how to kill a mad dog and how to stop a runaway team of horses.

 

 

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I'm not an academician, as Lisa is, but I've seen enough undergraduates who are clueless about our representative democratic system of government that I agree: Scouting is one of the last bastions of imparting the truth of America to kids K-12.

 

 

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Don't know how other states are, but here in GA we have the GA High School Graduation Tests, for most required classes in high school. Since the kids have to pass the test to graduate, too much of class time is spent teaching to the test. The number one goal on my son's world history syllabus was to pass the world history portion of the GHSGT. Not to learn anything.. The same with US history this year. And we wonder why young people don't know anything. They have to learn what they need to pass the test (and yes, that means we have special editions of textbooks to help) so we don't have time to actually discuss what is happening. But that also keeps us from offending anyone if we have a thought that is different from the rest of the group. Thankfully my son is also in JROTC, where he is allowed to learn a little more of the whys of history and allowed to think.

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Florida's similar with the FCAT. They aren't graduation tests, but the scores can hold you back. In addition, it's those scores that determine the distribution for federal funding under the good ol' No Child Left Behind Act. The test is taken in 3rd grade and 10th grade.

 

My mother is a 3rd grade teacher, so I hear all about how the NCLBA affected how she had to teach her class. It's certainly not for the better. Needless to say my mother is looking forward to retiring in a few years.

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In Virginia the tests are called the Standards of Learning tests, appropriately abbreviated SOL.

 

My son and I graduated from the same high school, 34 years apart. It was and still is a very well rated high school. Much more homework is required of today's students and there is the emphasis on standardized tests. More courses are required and it is expected that a significant number should be advanced placement. An "advanced diploma" is considered basic.

 

If I were to apply to my alma mater, the University of Virginia today with the grades I had in 1971 I doubt that they would give me the courtesy of a reply. I would be lucky to get into a second or third tier school. This would seem to imply that today's students are so much smarter than we were but I doubt that many on this forum would reach that conclusion and I don't buy it either.

 

IMHO the problem is that education is being run by politicians rather than educators. Politicians decided that more homework should be mandated. This promotes busy work and rewards the organized drudge more than the curious mind. Politicians decided that there should be standardized tests and that not just students but teachers and schools should be judged by the results. So teachers teach to the test instead of teaching how to think, how to question, how to reason and how to learn. To monitor and document compliance with these political mandates the schools are putting more and more resources into administration that should be in the classroom. I doubt that the best teachers I had in school would be interested in teaching in today's academic environment. I don't have an answer as to how to fix it, I wish I did; I wish somebody did.

 

 

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I think that the NCLBA is a joke and that it is holding back many of our students.

 

Here in NC from the day that kids enter the 3rd grade, the teachers are pushing the End of Grade Testing. They tell the kids that they have to pass or they will be held back. Then when it comes time for the test the kids are SOOOOO stressed out and scared that they are failing. These are kids that have been straight A students, Honor Roll, and such that are being told that they are now going to be held back because they failed ONE test.

 

As for the rest, I think that we should have some of the true life skills brought back into the school system. We ahve gotten away from the life skills and now focus only on the books. We are having people go to college and move into the real world without the simple skills of Cooking and balancing checkbooks.

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There's got to be a better set of metrics than what we got in NCLBA. In fact, I know there are. A good friend has her EdD, and she's described a system where the student is assessed in the fall the instant he/she sets foot in the classroom. The aggregate of the assessments drives how she structures her classroom during term, accounting as well for the outliers.

 

At end of term (be it semester or year), she has another assessment ... a very similar tool to what she used in the fall. It's not part of her grade plan, it's to measure and share with future students.

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First Ed, "A literacy test for voter is not a bad idea."

Back to the bad old days of the '50s when literacy and poll taxes, etc. were used to disenfranchise those of us with 'poor quality protoplasm', as one racist described it. I remember how my grandmother, a retired school teacher, cried in embarrassment as they required her to read a passage from the Bible, as if that meant ANYTHING about her powers of reason. Ed, you need to think about these things more carefully sometimes.

 

Lisa, I am teaching freshmen and sophomores now in addition to seniors. I enjoy displaying a blank map of the world with numbers on each country. I ask the students to write the names of countries as I call out numbers. Very sad. Iraq. China. Russia. Venezuela, Argentina. Sometimes they don't even get the continent. Forget about Africa altogether, they think the Horn of Africa is near the South Pole.

I show them the video in which Harvard graduates fresh out of graduation are unable to explain the seasons...and tell them not to feel so bad. My point is that there are far more fundamental deficiencies than not understanding our constitutional framework.

 

Don't even get me started on math....

 

As for exit exams, they have their strengths and weaknesses. Weak teachers will indeed 'teach to the test' while good ones use the material to craft instruction that goes way beyond. This is always a problem even without the exams. At least the exams establish a minimum standard. From what I've seen, if someone can't pass these exit exams they have much bigger problems than failing to graduate.

 

I am sympathetic to Kudu's statements. As I see the boys in actual classrooms at summer camp, or similarly sitting idly at tables outdoors while a MB counselor lectures to them, I am REALLY sympathetic to Kudu's statements. I try my best to keep the boys in physical activity. But it seems unavoidable that they end up in these boring, sedentary, wastes of time (located strategically close to the trading post where they can OD on sugar and treats.)

I'd much rather take them into the mountains for a week on their own and let them determine their own sources of fun, using real scoutcraft, get closer to the wild type.

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Lisabob writes:How can you expect people to exercise their rights or safeguard their liberties from excessive gov't intrusions, or make good electoral choices, when they don't have the slightest idea of what those rights are, why we have them, or what government is actually supposed to do and how it is supposed to work! To maintain a functional and vibrant democracy actually requires quite a lot of a country's citizens.So what do you propose?

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Ed, you need to think about these things more carefully sometimes.

 

Sometime we over think things, pack!

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I would never accuse you of doing that, Ed.

 

Fred, how about a youth group that teaches good citizenship, which doesn't immediately hobble itself by excluding "undesirables" based on identity politics, and a long history of dishonesty? Just a thought.

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As with most subjects, I find it depends on the instructor.

 

When I was at Georgia Tech, we had a Poli Sci professor who was a fantastic teacher. Everyone wanted to take his class. He made the material interesting, even fascinating. Take the same course with the same text from another professor, and you'd be pulling your hair out from boredom.

 

Same thing will Cit. MBs at Summer Camp. I've walked by some of these sessions where they had great debate and discussion going on, with the boys on the edges of their seats. So yes, these MBs can be taught in a manner exciting to the boys. And it is one hour a day, for the 5 days at camp. Can we not ask the boys for one hour a day? Is that really too much?

 

We expect the boys to know proper flag etiquette, is it too much to expect them to know how their government works?

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Trevorum:

I don't have it with me but if I recall it was to wrap your arm with a heavy coat and while the dog is chomping on that club it with a heavy stick. At least the requirement was to describe rather than demonstrate.

 

The 1911 Handbook is available from Scoutstuff.org and makes for interesting reading. In addition to the usual stuff it includes requirements for all merit badges available at the time.

 

Hal

 

 

 

Hal

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