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John Kettler

Question on Australian educational practices

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I live in the US, and I'm a bit confounded by an Australian reality TV program which I'm watching as both social anthropology and as escape. On this show, there are a bunch of Sheilas, girls in their early 20s who are pretty-great looking but staggeringly ignorant of stuff I learned in elementary school, or junior high at the latest.

Does the Australian education system automatically promote students to the next grade/level irrespective of academic performance (some of that here, intermittently causing a scandal)? If not, would one of you kindly tell me how girls of this age, drawn, I suspect, from the entire country, don't know what a noun or adjective is, let alone a simile or metaphor? Apparently, most of them are self-admittedly "not good at English," a dislike leading some to simply duck their English classes outright. Their knowledge of geography is simply terrifying, as in can't even get Fiji in the right ocean, and I dread what ignorance horror story is coming next. I have no idea whatsoever how these girls ever graduated grammar school, let alone your next tiers up prior to going to university. I will say, though, that as of a few years ago, half of American high school students couldn't identify the Pacific Ocean on an outline map, so I'm not slamming the Land Down Under. Am simply trying to wrap my head around a situation which makes no sense to me. These girls are kind, sweet, supportive, even inspiring, but unless their job interviews were exclusively oral (no, not that kind), I can't even imagine how they managed to fill out a basic job application, which these days run pages, at least here in the States.

Regards,

John Kettler

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If it is the programme I am thinking of..... these girls have been selected precisely because they are what one might call vacuous bimbo's - they are not a random or representative selection of Australian youth!

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Stalin's Organist,

I understand the type specific casting, since it creates tension and contrast via opposite polarities, but what I don't understand is how they ever got through even elementary school (or its Down Under equivalent) without being able to do basic math, knowing what oxygen is; that the symbol for water isn't "W." Not to mention being utterly unable to correctly identify the continents or the correct locations of, inter alia, China and the US. How do these girls get through the school systems (presume several to be involved) and essentially know nothing? Mind, these are various examples of what I've seen, and some do have certain abilities in various school subject areas, but on balance, I find what I'm seeing and hearing to be outright shocking. Maybe things are just as bad here in the States, but I'm out of touch? Believe I'll talk to one of my sisters, who is a middle school guidance counselor.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Based on the quality of writing I see on this very board the schools in the US aren't doing any better. And from what is said and other evidence, what we have here represents the upper tier of what is evidenced on the internet. I have no reason to believe that these guys are stupid, quite the opposite. But somehow they've managed to get through at least 12 years of school without mastering even the basics of the English language. What's worse, they don't seem to feel that it matters and so make no effort to improve themselves. They seem to think that as long as they can understand what they have written, everybody else should be able to as well. It doesn't work that way. Clear communication depends on a clear set of rules adhered to. It has gotten to be that a majority or near majority of the posts on this board contain at least one spelling, grammar, punctuation, or diction error and more commonly more than one. If this was an English class and I were the teacher, I would have to flunk about two-thirds of the people who post here. That represents an epidemic of ignorance and it is a scandal. I suspect that the story is equally as bad in the other disciplines.

This is both alarming and sad. Gentlemen, I fear that your schools have failed you. They've pushed you out into the world without the quality education that you need to truly succeed in it. I am afraid it is up to you to acquire the tools you will need to have a truly satisfactory life. I notice that many of you have in fact made a commendable effort to pursue learning in one or another area that interests you. Well done. But you may also need to pursue knowledge in some other area that is not so immediately attractive or rewarding. But it may become exciting when you discover that it connects to something that you do have an active interest in in ways that you had not imagined. At least, I have often found it so.

Michael

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Stalin's Organist,

I understand the type specific casting, since it creates tension and contrast via opposite polarities, but what I don't understand is how they ever got through even elementary school (or its Down Under equivalent) without being able to do basic math, knowing what oxygen is; that the symbol for water isn't "W." Not to mention being utterly unable to correctly identify the continents or the correct locations of, inter alia, China and the US. How do these girls get through the school systems (presume several to be involved) and essentially know nothing? Mind, these are various examples of what I've seen, and some do have certain abilities in various school subject areas, but on balance, I find what I'm seeing and hearing to be outright shocking. Maybe things are just as bad here in the States, but I'm out of touch? Believe I'll talk to one of my sisters, who is a middle school guidance counselor.

Regards,

John Kettler

None of those are requirements for graduation from elementary school in the united states.

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Michael Emrys,

Speaking as someone who took major hits on high school papers because of the odd typo and who once worked in the rigorous financial printing environment (mandatory filings with the SEC) as a proofreader; who also peer tutored Expository Writing in college and is a multiply published author, I understand where you're coming from. I seem to have developed a kind of typing dyslexia, and I don't always catch the mistakes. I have to constantly ensure that "command," "commander" and "comment" are typed correctly to begin with, or caught and fixed if not right the first time. Else, for an unknown reason or reasons, what emerges from my fingers are: "commnad," "commnader" and "commnet." Also, for some reason, I now seem to hit the space key in such a way as to lop off the planned last letter, which then appends the putative last letter to the front of the next word, creating several opportunities for uncaught errors. For real fun, try typing a URL with a comma where a period goes, then hitting Return! I tend to do most of my posting while up way late and oft in pain, neither contributing to stellar grammar, punctuation or, embarrassingly, spelling. Am an excellent speller under good conditions. Further, I've also been known to change my thought path during a post and then fail to make certain upstream adjustments to things like number, tense, noun-pronoun agreement and such. Were I not under so much stress, often in pain and being hammered on the sleep front, I guarantee you the hobgoblin counts in my posts would drop precipitously. Nor does a resounding crack to the head help matters. Naturally, it is precisely after the posting correction clock has run out that I discover "minor" stuff, such as having left the verb out altogether in a long, complex sentence. Not good.

molotov_billy,

Here's a look at what a US 5th Grader is expected to know.

http://www.playbuzz.com/gregs/are-you-actually-smarter-than-a-fifth-grader

And if that doesn't frighten you, take a look at, for example, the 1st and 2nd Grade questions for Science here. The competitor had a 3.6 GPA in college. The intellectual mayhem begins at around 3:30.

Excerpt from the hit US TV show "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?" According to the pertinent Wiki, all questions were taken from actual textbooks for Grades 1-5.

Regards,

John Kettler

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who says you have to have any qualification to leave school?

Does the USA keep people in school forcibly past the age of majority if they do not get whatever is required to "graduate"?

I suspect not.

and it is probably no different in Aus.

Certainly here in NZ there is constant measurement of how many kids are getting qualifications at each level of high school and efforts made to teach them things that they might be interested in if not the traditional academic subjects - but some still don't get any.

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