Thursday, December 26, 2013

Favorite comments of '13, cont: momof4 and Barry Garelick

Another false choice in remediation: "addition and subtraction over and over again" or Marxism and Shakespeare

momof4 said...
There are frequent discussions of Jay Mathews' "AP for all" mantra (no prerequisites) at the WaPo. A regular meme is that the kids need to take APs because it is the only alternative to low-level, boring, worksheet-based classes. To me, that's an indictment of the whole school/district. I can see no pedagogical reason that lower-level classes cannot be just as well-taught and interesting, if kids are grouped according to preparation/educational level (by subject). Shoving kids with 5th-grade reading levels (and lower writing ability) into AP English, as is apparently the practice in Prince George's County (suburban DC), means that the kids who really belong there will not get the "real" course and the other kids cannot read the material and will not get the help they need to improve. However, since PG County requires an AP course for graduation, the AP English teacher who often comments in the WaPo says English is usually the default class.
Coming from a small-town 1-12 school (about 35/grade), I had very good ES (1-8)preparation. All of the kids had decent literacy, numeracy and general knowledge, even though only 2-3 would go to a 4-year college and most would go right to work. The bottom line is that it really takes that long to develop such skills and knowledge and there really aren't any shortcuts. The ed world is now fixated on shortcuts and magical solutions, combined with totally unrealistic expectations (college for all). Also, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

Barry Garelick said...
Jay Mathews assumes that lower level classes are not taught well, as Momof4 points out.

The case for ability grouping, of course, does not enter into his arguments.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I can see no pedagogical reason that lower-level classes cannot be just as well-taught and interesting"

In AP classes you can score 70% and get a 5. That would be D territory given most districts' grading scales. You could certainly make non AP or IB classes equally challenging if districts abandoned the 60% is passing grading scale. Mathews doesn't seem to have the brain cells to figure this out.