Thursday, December 29, 2011

Deirdre Mundy on Accelerating within grade level with new new new Math


Deirdre Mundy said...

The other thing is that while "going deeper" might be entertaining for geomerty or precal or calc when the kids get older and can have fun with proofs and whatnot, there's not much place to go with elementary math.
If the class is calculating areas and volumes, well, sure, you can give the brighter kids irregular shapes and have them try to figure out the areas---but once they've mastered the technique for that, where do they go?
If the class is working on multi-digit addition, and the kid's mastered it, what are you going to do? Just tack on more digits? In many cases, going "deeper" instead of accelerating just means soul-crushing busy work and more practice with the same algorithms the kids have already mastered.
On the other hand, it's easier for a teacher to just give MORE work than it is for her to give harder work, especially if she's not particularly math-inclined herself.

The funny thing is, at least when I was in school, the teachers claimed that making us help the slow kids helped teach us 'compassion.'
As a fifth grader, I didn't have the maturity to learn 'compassion' from that. I just resented them for their slowness and ended up doing the work FOR them so that I could get back to reading whatever decent book I'd hidden in my desk.

All that it taught me was snobbery. We would have been better off with a lecture on how different people are better at different things, and that sure, I could do school well, but Suzy Slowpoke could embroider and I couldn't even sew a button without impaling myself. And then the teachers could have HELPED SS THEMSELVES instead of having another little kid do it! (who admittedly, was sort of socially retarded, so maybe if I'd been a normal 10 year old I would have been better, but looking back, I was more like a 6 or 7 year old on the whole 'dealing with others' thing)

Anyway, the other problem is that for a lot of the smarter kids, they CAN'T help the slower kids, because they literally can't understand how someone could fail to grasp something so intuitive. I mean, how many pictures do you have to draw to get someone to realize that 1/2=2/4=3/6=7/14 etc. etc. As a ten year old, all you want to do is scream and impale your head on a spike so the stupidity of it all will stop making your brain hurt.

As an adult, dealing with the same sort of things, I realized that some people just take a LOT more time and repetition to grasp things than others do... but as a kid, you really do assume that everyone's brain works like yours and that if they can't remember something it's because they're deliberately forgetting it.
Maybe instead of "going deeper," they should just make all the advanced kids work on motor skills.... it would probably be more helpful in the long run.....

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