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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    You all responded minutes after I posted, I am having a hard time believing that any of you read even half of it. So far only DiscoBiscuit said something that is directly relevant to the theme of my essay. Take some time to read the OP before responding to it.
    Yea I guess school is a kind of "charm school" to turn us into sheep. But it's the best thing we've come up with so far.

  2. #22
    Emerging Tallulah's Avatar
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    You can demonstrate a working knowledge of a topic, but if you cannot do something as simple as following the instructions for an assignment, and are possibly too arrogant to try, your knowledge won't count for much. I would say the ability to do what's required is at least as important in the real world as in the academic one.

    Many assignments are designed to teach a certain skill set, including those designed to teach formatting. It matters little whether the individual student sees the task as useless or not. Those who plan to go on and get an advanced degree will find that they will not get papers published in any academic journal if they are not formatted according to the journal's chosen style of formatting.

    Sure, some teachers are unable to see or recognize when a student has completed the assignment effectively, if a little differently, from what he or she had in mind. But teachers shouldn't be expected to completely change the assignment to accommodate students who personally feel the standards are stupid. If you want a good grade, follow instructions. It's not hard. Most of the time, students who don't follow the instructions given are merely lazy. Every once in a great while, I will find that a student has done the assignment extremely well by thinking in a slightly different direction than intended by an assignment. The vast majority of those who don't bother with instructions also write terrible papers, because they don't listen or care across the board.

    I find it hard to believe that any boss would embrace an employee's lack of attention to his or her instructions. Is the point that assignments given in school don't amount to much, and that the person's attention to detail will kick in when it counts?
    Something Witty

  3. #23
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tallulah View Post
    You can demonstrate a working knowledge of a topic, but if you cannot do something as simple as following the instructions for an assignment, and are possibly too arrogant to try, your knowledge won't count for much. I would say the ability to do what's required is at least as important in the real world as in the academic one.

    Many assignments are designed to teach a certain skill set, including those designed to teach formatting. It matters little whether the individual student sees the task as useless or not. Those who plan to go on and get an advanced degree will find that they will not get papers published in any academic journal if they are not formatted according to the journal's chosen style of formatting.

    Sure, some teachers are unable to see or recognize when a student has completed the assignment effectively, if a little differently, from what he or she had in mind. But teachers shouldn't be expected to completely change the assignment to accommodate students who personally feel the standards are stupid. If you want a good grade, follow instructions. It's not hard. Most of the time, students who don't follow the instructions given are merely lazy. Every once in a great while, I will find that a student has done the assignment extremely well by thinking in a slightly different direction than intended by an assignment. The vast majority of those who don't bother with instructions also write terrible papers, because they don't listen or care across the board.

    I find it hard to believe that any boss would embrace an employee's lack of attention to his or her instructions. Is the point that assignments given in school don't amount to much, and that the person's attention to detail will kick in when it counts?
    I agree with you on every major point. I also agree that attention to detail is an important skill. However, it should not be the most important skill a person should learn in the education program. The most important skill should be critical thinking and creativity. In the current education program following the instructions is deemed to be so important, than everything else appears trivial by comparison.

    Please note, I absolutely agree with you that following instructions point by point is frequently as important in the academic world as it is in the business world. In fact, I have argued that the academic world is a preparation for the business world. People are being prepared for the academic world where they are forced to follow many instructions mindlessly by being forced to do so in their schools.

    Nothing wrong with making following instructions important as long as it does not become the number one objective of the entire program.

    I note that you have mentioned that you will not get published in an academic journal if you do not follow the formatting of that specific journal. That is probably true, but unlike the way you have framed the issue, as a defense for the fastidiousness of the conventional system of education, I see this as the root of the problem.

    In this case the paper is not published not because it lacks intellectual merit, but because it does not follow a certain set of arbitrary instructions. The whole point of making students and employees follow instructions is so they produce good work, the whole process is like putting training wheels on a person who is just starting to learn how to ride a bike. However, when students and employees become more advanced, they no longer need to follow instructions point by point as they see many other ways of getting the task done. At this point, insisting that the student, the employee or the scholar ( in this case the person who is trying to get published in a scholarly journal) does not make any sense. These people are already advanced at their subjects, hence they do not need the training wheels.

    I think that an article submitted to a scholarly journal that doesn't follow the formatting should be accepted if it has intellectual merit. Similarly, an employee who gets the job done without following the instructions should be allowed to carry on as opposed to fired for not doing the job the employer's way.

    My response to you can be summarized as follows. Learning to follow instructions is a useful skill in many contexts and teaching beginners a certain skill is one of such contexts. In some cases it may even be useful to be very strict about the instructions that need to be followed, however, in many cases; it is not necessary, it has the same impact as putting training wheels on the bicycle of an accomplished rider. This prevents the person in question from actualizing this potential as imposing such a rigid agenda is indeed stifling. The entire educational system has this stifling affect on most students and as a result they do not learn nearly as much as they would have learned if they had more latitude in their work. The same is true for many employees who are subjected to a rigid agenda.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

    “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”---Samuel Johnson

    My blog: www.randommeanderings123.blogspot.com/

  4. #24
    Emerging Tallulah's Avatar
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    I agree with your idea theoretically, SW. Thoughts and ideas, if they are well supported, should be the most important factor in assessing a person's body of work.

    Though MLA and other formats are and can be, for me personally and other academics and would-be academics, a giant hassle, and seemingly unimportant when compared to the hopefully new ideas contained in the paper one is writing. I guess this is where I can also look at the practical side of things, though. A typical academic journal might receive hundreds of submissions for one shot at publication. If I were the person reading these submissions, I would want them to be consistently formatted--not only for clarity's sake, but for ease in finding cited sources within the text and the full sources on a Works Consulted page. I wouldn't want to have to decipher which, if any, method of organization a particular person chose to use on a whim, or where they might have chosen to display sources. Also, I would not want to be the person on the other end that takes the contributor's work and tries to organize and make some sense of it for publication. It just seems to me that it's not unreasonable to have a standard, and to make each contributor responsible for putting their work into that standard format.

    I do agree that in the workplace, there may be different ways of accomplishing the same thing effectively. And that maybe not each and every student will have a need for knowledge of MLA, APA, etc. But I think overall, there are far fewer exceptionally bright students that don't need training wheels, and far more students that have no concept of how to organize their thoughts in the first place. And those are probably the students that, even though it's a giant pain, need the structure of the rules and formatting the most.

    My personal experience as a college comp teacher has reinforced this truth: that some students are naturals at forming original thoughts and ideas, finding adequate support, and organizing everything into an easily-understood, well-delineated argument, with little effort. Those are the students that are given a bit of slack--they know the rules well enough to break them for effect. But most students need to know what the rules are; they need the training wheels, else their writing is dang-near unreadable. Ideas are too simple, unsupported, unorganized. They often don't see the importance of even giving credit for another's thoughts and ideas. As much as I hate it, they almost beg for consequences. If they are given any slack whatsoever, they stop trying.
    Something Witty

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    Most schools are influenced heavily by politicians and businessmen who are interested in maintaining the system where people can be exploited.
    I disagree with this conspiracy theory. I believe that politicians and businessmen designed our educational system because it was the most practical and easiest structure to implement.

    It's easier to prove to the voting parents that their child is learning in school by showing them scores of standardized tests. How do you prove to the parents that their child improved their independent thinking and the school is bringing out the child's unique abilities?

    How do you create a curriculum that encourage independent thinking?

    What will the grading system be like? Wouldn't the grading be too subjective because there is no standard right and wrong?

    Will there be a high chance that the teacher will force his/her type of thinking on to the students?

    Overall I think it's nonsense to train children in schools to be a bunch of sheep. Most humans are naturally already sheeps!

  6. #26
    Supreme Allied Commander Take Five's Avatar
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    I don't agree with all this. I don't think the instructions are absurd, nor do I think they are prioritized over course objectives that are outlined on the syllabi or education in general.

    Staying on topic is good. It makes it fair to the teacher. They have creative writing classes for creative types. You can also write whatever you please outside of class. But enrolling in a course is like signing a contract, and it should be no surprise you are expected to hold your end of the deal.

  7. #27
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    To simply agree with the OP may indicate that I lack critical thinking skills. No?
    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post

    In summary, the conventional education program accomplishes the following.

    -Strips people of their dignity by robbing them of their critical thinking faculties
    Firstly, why do we observe "critical thinking" students exiting conventional educational programs if they are supposedly stripped of the ability to "critically think"? It would follow that either a) these students use their abilities to undo conventional modes of education, or b) your premise is completely untrue.

    From my perspective, there are those who aspire toward critical thinking, and others who couldn't care less. This phenomena could very well be independent of the educational process.

    One could say that the educational systems are simply tailored for the majority of students, who lacked "critical thinking" abilities in the first place. Thus, the effect has now become the cause.

    There is no need to say that conventional education causes anything but convention education, which varies from state to state, location to vocation. Therefore, your argument that all of academia is one way or another just doesn't hold true.

  8. #28
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    Mmm. To be honest, I haven't truly found this to be the case, with the exception of first-year undergraduate. A good number of professors, especially the older ones with more experience and wisdom, seem to love it when you give a perspective that is both correct and not-extremely-bookish. Younger ones less so, but you know why? Because the homeworks & exams aren't even graded by them, they're graded by their assistants.

    However, salaries tend to be slightly flatter in Italy; only industrial families and politicians have a substantially higher salary (a CEO will probably get around 200'000 euros a year, not "millions" - and bonuses are mostly absent, so the salary is not strongly influenced by the success of the firm/bank - this is also why our banks didn't have a lot of problems during the 2008-2009 liquidity crisis); this probably lowers the incentives towards the attitude described by the OP.
    ENTj 7-3-8 sx/sp

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tallulah View Post
    My personal experience as a college comp teacher has reinforced this truth: that some students are naturals at forming original thoughts and ideas, finding adequate support, and organizing everything into an easily-understood, well-delineated argument, with little effort. Those are the students that are given a bit of slack--they know the rules well enough to break them for effect. But most students need to know what the rules are; they need the training wheels, else their writing is dang-near unreadable. Ideas are too simple, unsupported, unorganized. They often don't see the importance of even giving credit for another's thoughts and ideas. As much as I hate it, they almost beg for consequences. If they are given any slack whatsoever, they stop trying.
    I have exactly the same experience teaching college biochemistry. Original thoughts and ideas are well and good when you understand the main point of what you're doing and are able to link everything together. The problem is that most people don't understand what's going on and merely want to hand in something. As a result I get disorganised, completely illogical reports with maybe one or two "interesting" facts dropped in that had nothing whatsoever to do with the experiment or the point of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Solitary Walker
    I think that an article submitted to a scholarly journal that doesn't follow the formatting should be accepted if it has intellectual merit. Similarly, an employee who gets the job done without following the instructions should be allowed to carry on as opposed to fired for not doing the job the employer's way.
    Hah. Nice in theory, doesn't actually happen in practice. My ENTP supervisor has been trying for months to get his groundbreaking technique published. If used, it could revolutionise the way that what we're looking at is studied. Unfortunately, because no one else has the combination of technology that we have to do the same thing, journals are incredibly suspicious of what we've found. On the other hand, my honours work is nowhere near as new, or as complex, but got accepted to a high impact journal because it was easily validated, followed all the "rules" and would be easily used as a selling point for pharmaceuticals/supplement production.

    The way that I see it, we need people of both types - those who follow the rules and do well, and those who don't follow the rules and do well. They each create a market for the other and are very complementary.

    FYI, I never did particularly well in college because I could never see the point of following convention or doing things that seemed repetitive and boring. My general intelligence saw me through university, but I hated studying. It was during honours that I began to stand out because of my "originality" and problem-solving, and it was only after I started teaching that I saw the benefits of following rules and understanding them. I can now flip between one mode and the other, and "sell" my creative thoughts in conventional ways, thus giving me the best of both worlds. That, to me, is being adaptable and "creative".

    Though to be quite honest, I think it's much easier to teach someone to be conventional than it is to teach someone to be "creative". I can see the merit in trying to teach someone to think critically/creatively, but I don't know how that would be implemented in a practical sense especially with the years of indoctrination of teachers to think/teach in a specific, narrow manner. Moreover, there would be no "fair" means of grading and grade separation, because there is no objective criterion on which to grade "creativity" and "critical thinking". Also, critical thinking requires that we identify and attack underlying assumptions of theories. If we did succeed in teaching students to do that in a general sense, the education system would descend into anarchy with students' complete deconstruction of established dogma (the curriculum). In which case, you have to wonder at what ends such an "education" would serve.

  10. #30
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    Though to be quite honest, I think it's much easier to teach someone to be conventional than it is to teach someone to be "creative". I can see the merit in trying to teach someone to think critically/creatively, but I don't know how that would be implemented in a practical sense especially with the years of indoctrination of teachers to think/teach in a specific, narrow manner. Moreover, there would be no "fair" means of grading and grade separation, because there is no objective criterion on which to grade "creativity" and "critical thinking". Also, critical thinking requires that we identify and attack underlying assumptions of theories. If we did succeed in teaching students to do that in a general sense, the education system would descend into anarchy with students' complete deconstruction of established dogma (the curriculum). In which case, you have to wonder at what ends such an "education" would serve.
    I know that most recent teaching psychology (I've been told by a friend that is getting his PhD in the US, teaching undergraduates in the meanwhile) tend to consider comprehension and learning as disjoint from testing. Tests are a standard procedure to check if you can at least repeat and apply the tenants of the matter; since a personalized approach is considered as excessively time-expensive.
    I personally consider this attitude as fair, as long as it's openly stated at the start of the course.
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