Monday, December 31, 2012

Favorite Comments of '12: AmyP, cranberry, Leigh Lieberman, and Anonymous

On Why Johnny can’t do math

AmyP said...

If the kid is going to be used as a math tutor, he deserves a prorated salary (which should offset the cost of getting his math elsewhere).

Also--kids tend to hate know-it-all smart kids, and being a quasi-teacher will make it very difficult for this child to be treated as a peer by his classmates. What a social death warrant this plan is! Do these people know nothing about tween social dynamicsAnonymous said...
This is my kid. I have asked for years for some research data that this kind of group activity promotes social skills development and the school has never provided it. I eventually did the lit search myself and found out that there really isn't any, although there is some anecdotal information about these kinds of small group activities without teacher supervision promotes bullying. When you try to talk about it with school administration what you get back is a combination of ethereal edutheory, wishful thinking and happy talk.

cranberry said...
Amy P, I don't think the principal really believes what he/she states. It's just the politically acceptable line. "Yes, your kid is smart, but working with others will develop his social skills. Working in groups with others teaches valuable communication skills and social understanding."

Blech. What it really teaches?

1) The teachers don't care. They might care, but they don't act on it, which in a child's honest estimation is the same thing.

2) The teachers set you up for social bullying, then walk away.

3) Any complaint will label you a "whiner" in the teacher's eyes, and a "tattletale" in the other group members' eyes. I suppose that's "social skills," but cynicism and a distrust of others and the entire system is too high a price to pay, IMHO.

My eldest child had to deal with groups which spent much of the class period debating whether they should put their names on the top of the paper. In middle school.

One of my kids has a wonderful time in group discussion of math. It's called Math Club, or Math Team. His advanced math class also had a wonderful time making up challenging problems for each other. Here's the rub: the ability range and range of interest in math were much narrower than permitted in a heterogeneous, mainstreamed, classroom.
Leigh Lieberman said...
When it became clear that the school was more interested in using my mathematically hot kids to compensate for the lack of mathematically qualified elementary school teachers and/or ability grouped classes, I settled for
“How much work could it possibly be for the school to just let him sit in the back of the room and do a certain number of pages every day?”
AmyP said...
There's a fantastic place available to learn social skills. It's called a "social skills class."

One of the many ironies of Johnny's situation is that his math teacher probably isn't qualified to lead a social skills group.

Anonymous said...

The vogue of constructivist math and group work has made it much worse than it used to be for smart kids under the desk squadron - memorization regime of old. And it was bad enough then. The gap between the kids who (against all odds) actually learn math and the rest of them is greater, and the opportunities for bullying and ridicule are enhanced by having the bullies lead the class. It's enough to make one wistful for the dunce cap.

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