19 June 2012

American Schools are NOT Declining!

In fact, they're just the same as always, really.  Getting better teachers and changing the curriculum won't do jack diddly.  It's been done before in the 1960's, so might as well forget it unless you're willing to actually spend more money on teachers AND make children actually practice their math and science more.  In other countries, failure is perceived not as a lack of aptitude, but of effort.

I'm not sure that I agree with many of the premises of this article, and I've only outlined a couple here.  It seems to me that the "new" or "fuzzy" math is actually quite harmful, especially to boys.  We've gone from "Add 3 +2" to "Write a number story about 3 +2."  My homeschooling child is actually quite advanced in math, but I think he'd FAIL these classes.  You could pay his teacher a billion dollars and he'd still fail if that sort of curriculum is used.

Though I can't say that I necessarily agree with others, especially in the homeschooling community, that we should just dig up some textbooks from 1842 and use those instead.  You know the type.  Everything after about 1909 is just morally bad.  Colonial or prairie settings in every book and good, wholesome plotlines involving dinner buckets and spotted cows abound.

Meh.

9 comments:

  1. I swear, I am SO SICK of hearing how underpaid teachers are. It's like an urban legend that won't die. The teachers I know are paid quite well, especially considering they only work 8 months a year. (yeah, they grade homework at night too... blah, blah, blah. cry me a river. Lots of jobs require more than 40 hours a week.)

    Furthermore, if we want our kids to have better math and science teachers, why don't we PAY math and science teachers more? We should incentivize some of these subjects. A person teaching high school physics should earn more than a kindergarten teacher.

    Also, New Math is the devil, clearly invented by a bunch of people trying to justify their paycheck.

    gah. ok, I'm done now.

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    1. It IS like an urban legend that won't die. Snakes in the ball pit, RUN!! :/

      I do think in some ways more experienced teachers and teachers of difficult subjects should have a pay raise. I see where the author is coming from; make this a CAREER. Which should mean some possibility for pay raise. Which means maybe lower starting salaries, right?

      The unions know that these jobs are not moving to Mexico or India, though...

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  2. I hate fuzzy math--I watched what it did to my oldest son and how far behind he was when he went to college.



    My third born is a good student--chooses to take weighted courses. Fortunately he missed out on Missouri's brief love affair with Integrated (fuzzy) math. He's taken French for two years and learned enough of the language to speak it in a fairly smooth, fluid stream (I'm impressed). However I get so frustrated with his teacher who bases a remarkable amount of the students' grades on--of all things--art projects. That's right. Learning to speak French=art projects. Joe is not artistic, not even a little bit (stick men are more his speed). No matter how hard he tries to meet her highly detailed requirements for these assignments the best he's gotten is a B. I've been sorely tempted to step in and do his art projects for him. He talked to her about it and asked her why so much of their grade is decided by these projects when he's making As on the tests. Her reply? "This is how my French teacher in college did it." And she showed him her binder full of arts and crafts projects. Most of the boys are in the same shape Joe's in. The girls? Most of them are making As. Gee, I wonder why.

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    1. I would be tempted to go right over the teacher's head. She can ruin Joe's lifelong love of the subject with just a little more effort...

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  3. True story... boy fails several high school classes and will not graduate. Boy's mom pays to send him to homeschool cover-school to finish.

    Boy takes new final exams for all failed classes and gets A's. Why did the boy fail again? Easy... dumb criteria that has nothing to do with knowledge.

    Boy get's accredited diploma from cover school less than one month after he should have graduated.

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    1. Egg-zactly. I'm sure the "dumb criteria" thing has been handed down through the ages.

      For example, my father was supposed to watch Batman for his high school math class. Fer reals. And allegedly, this guy was one of the best teachers in the entire world, graduate of Harvard, bla bla bla.

      I remember having him for study hall and he screamed at one young girl for talking and called her a "virgin cockroach." He was a mean nasty man and everyone thought he was the greatest.

      Um, ok.

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    2. oh my gosh... you don't even want to know how I was treated by "the world's greatest teacher" in my high school... well here goes. How about a daily pinch and comment that "ooooh, she's pretty, let's see if she smart too".... the guys idolized him. I hated math for years after that.

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    3. What a great guyyyy! *shudder* He sounds like just the type who could turn on and off the charm and use the system to his advantage... I sure hope this creep is long retired/dead by now.

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  4. he was wealthy... didn't HAVE to teach. He retired a few years after I graduated, but is still worshiped today. I think enough girls called him out for him to leave. That year another girl injured his leg. I got an F 3rd semester after threatening to re-injure it. We all ended up having a nice pow-wow with my parents and administration.

    I am pretty sure that this and other incidents helped plant the seed of homeschooling.

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)