Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Comparing the basic structures of the German and American Education Systems (Student POV)

To start off, this blog is based off my personal experiences in two German secondary schools and this online article: Demystifying the German educational system.

Over the past school year, I attended a German secondary school and encountered many experiences that are vastly different compared to an American high school. However, from my point of view, both systems have their flaws. The article in the link above is written from a standpoint of an educator and this article is written from a student standpoint.

german school system.jpg
Source: Demystifying the German educational system

In the United States, the public school system is rather simple. Children typically begin education at the kindergarten level and they attend the public school their municipality offers. Students are not sorted into different schools at any point between first grade and twelfth grade. In addition, institutions of tertiary education within the American education system tend to only evaluate grades in high school (9-12 Grades), therefore grades before ninth grade are technically unessential and it is only a readiness indicator for high school.

In Germany, the system is a bit more complicated. Children within the same municipality do not always attend the same school as one another because they are sorted into different schools based on ability levels beginning in fifth grade. Due to the ability level sort starting at fifth grade, grades actually matter in the long term at a much younger age within the German system.

Contrary to the article, my opinion is that the structure of the American education system is better than the German education system because it essentially allows students to have a clean slate going into high school.

Some people may question why having a clean slate in ninth grade is important, but my answer to this would be because educators need to put students on a fair playing field. Kids mature at different times than one another, especially boys versus girls. The German education system diminishes the potential of students that are simply maturing at a later point in their childhood. This is a major flaw within the German educational system.

In addition to the point regarding maturity, I believe that children between the ages of 9 and 10 are not ready to undertake stress. Some will be pressured by parents to study hard and to forget the essentials of being a kid due to the long-term ramifications of being sorted into a lower level school. In my point of view, being a kid is special because it is the one point in your life when you can be carefree, such as having no bills to pay and having very little responsibilities. This only happens once in a lifetime. Within the German educational system, childhood experiences are reduced.

All in all, this is not just a German problem. In general, educational systems around the world have a more similar structure to Germany than the United States. Many Americans take the American education system for granted and fail to realize that America's educational structure is actually very unique relative to the rest of the world. Not every country in the world has an educational environment where children CAN be children.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

What is Education actually?

In MY mind, the concept of education covers just about anything that sparks your interest enough that you will use the tools available to LEARN about that subject. Even if it is done to just satisfy your curiosity.

Whether it is work/profession oriented education that helps you add to your skill set in your profession; or simply education that supplies information and training to improve your understanding of a subject or shows you the steps to develop a hobby.  (Crocheting as an example.)

Wikipedia helps me understand the relationships of bird species, the various lines of mustelids, and ever helps me better my understanding of which mushrooms are used in the kitchen and many other passing interests.  It is all “Education”.

Includes: anything that will, at small or no cost, help me to acquire the basics of a language Iʻm interested in, whether or not I will ever be conversational in that language, or even a musical format that will allow me to learn the basics of how to play the Guitar or Ukulele.

Internet Search engines alone are educational in that they help ME find and understand developing advances in my choice of digital devices as well as other subjects I run across by chance in the course of a day.

To ME, it is all education!  However and wherever itʻs found.  Online, a magazine article, a book reference that sparks me to delve deeper into something needful or to satisfy a personal hunger for knowledge.

Example: Free Online Ukulele Lessons by HawaiiMusicSupply

By Bill Martin

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Flipping the classroom???

Something that would really interest me and would really help me in writing this blog is something about YOU, the reader. More specifically, the age demographics of the readers on this blog. However, I am unable to see this and I am going to proceed with an assumption that there are readers on this blog who grew up in the pre-"technology in school" era. As a graduate student in a school with extensive use of educational technology, my goal in this blog is to share with others who did not have this experience growing up. 

Below is a video about the theory of continental shift. This is something students nowadays typically receive as educational tools from teachers, especially for homework. Sometimes the teachers make the videos personally for use as a classroom tool and sometimes they are shared by other online users. An additional item that usually comes with these videos is a worksheet with questions to guide students towards key points in the video. As previously stated, my goal in this blog is to share an experience with those who did not experience this growing up. So I encourage the reader to watch the brief 3 minute video, an attempt to complete a short video guide I have created below. Please feel free to pause the video at anytime or rewind when a reiteration is needed.

                                        Source: Sierra Adler at the Centre for Communication, University of Otago, New Zealand   © 2018  SIERRA ADLER   ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Theory of Continental Shift Video Guide
***To view the answer, please highlight the text in between the arrows. The answer is hidden under the font color.***

1) What is Gondwanaland?

Answer:---> A super-continent that existed about 400 million years ago. <---

2) What did Abraham Orthelius notice in 1587 and then proceeded to suggest?

Answer:---> The shapes of the current continents today fit together and that the continents drifted apart from one another<---

3) Who suggested the theory of plate tectonics?

Answer:---> Jack Oliver<---

4) In what way was it described for tectonic plates fitting to one another?
Answer:---> Like puzzle pieces <---

5) How does magma move?
Answer:--->  By convection (heat rises) <---

6) What shifts the tectonic plates?
Answer:---> Convection currents in the mantle of the earth which are heated by the core of the earth <---

7) What is it called when plates move away from one another? When they move together?
Answer:---> Respectively, Divergent and convergent boundary <---

8) How do seafloors spread? What makes mountains? What causes earthquakes?
Answer:---> Divergent boundaries spread seafloors. Mountains are created by convergent boundaries. Earthquakes are caused by transform boundaries <---

9) How fast are continents moving today?
Answer:---> As fast as our fingernails are growing <---

10) Will earth look the same in another 400 million years?
Answer:---> It will once again be completely different <---

Thank you for completing the video guide. This is something students today receive on a regular basis. These videos along with a video guide for homework are a wonderful educational tool because of the video's ability to be paused and rewound, something that is not always possible in a classroom setting. It ensures that a student is able to "catch" every single point of the "virtual" lesson.

In my senior year of high school, I had a wonderful Calculus teacher by the name of Dr. Fishman. Likewise, he frequently made excellent math tutorials on YouTube for his students. He called his theory behind doing this "flipping the classroom". Instead of instruction during class time, class time is used for exercise problems or something like homework and the actual instruction was done prior to the class by a YouTube video this fabulous teacher created for his students. In addition, to ensure his students attentively watched his YouTube videos at home, he would create a video guide that we would have to complete as a small quiz for a small grade during the beginning of class. This method was extremely effective because we had the ability to review the instruction from the video as many times as we desired.

In conclusion, I hope you enjoyed this small trial that I made for you. It is something students nowadays are using and it is innovative and effective. Just food for thought for educators on this blog.

Alvin Cheung