Monday, December 24, 2012

Favorite Comments of '12: Anonymous and kmtex

On Letter from Huck Finn: Navigating the Connections Between Algebra and Tomato Paste

Anonymous said...
Translating word problems into mathematical language so that Algebra can be applied, instead of guess and check, is a laudable approach.

However, instead of teaching pupils to read, reading instructors often resort to their own particular brand of guess and check, where the pupil is supposed to guess what a passage of text says not by sounding the letters making up the words, but by guessing what is written based on illustrations or other clues. On the whole, a rather sorry and reprehensible abdication of responsibility by teachers to their pupils.

kmtex said...
Unfortunately, the "guess and check" method, along with some of the other "new" ways to have children "flail with numbers" (I really like that phrase!) is being pushed on teachers by curriculum specialists in our school districts, who have been directed by Curriculum and Instructions Superintendants, who in turn are bombarded by state education agencies, who have been pressured by reformers and researchers and federal ageny people.

Believe it or not, as a teacher, I have little to no say in how I teach a concept to my students. When schools spend money on the latest and greatest program, and you aren't following the rest of the herd, then you are in the wrong. Even if you can point to results and say, "Look, this group mastered this concept in half the time and at 96% compared to this other group using this other method," you can be accused of "kill and drill" or rote memorization, and not teaching "conceptually" or with "rigor."

If the fed would get out of my classroom, and corporate figureheads would stop spouting nonsense about things they know little about, and states would devolve responsibility back to local school boards where it belongs, maybe my 6th grade students could write legibly in sentences that actually make sense, could solve math problems and talk about how we could use it to solve an everday life problem, and explain the history of out state or nation.

Instead, I have students whose handwriting I cannot decipher, who cannot solve simple f=ma prblems, and cannot read various scales (graduated cylinders, rulers, thermometers).

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