kitchen table math, the sequel: Bake More Cupcakes

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bake More Cupcakes

Anonymous can't seem to deal with real questions and comparisons of math curricula even though there are lots of threads talking about details.

"Maybe, just maybe, a majority of parents are satisfied with the status quo. There are always a few crusty bitter people who are never happy. I am sure your next target is the health care system, then social security. Endless things to complain about."

"Boo hoo boys, the education system is here to stay. Keep complaining and baking cupcakes!"


There you have it. Everything is fine, so just go away. Marginalized and ignored and still no process or choice. Your tax dollars in action.

32 comments:

Catherine Johnson said...

Anonymous is back?

Catherine Johnson said...

sheesh

Catherine Johnson said...

well all I have to say to anonymous is: the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Catherine Johnson said...

Or so I'm told.

Anonymous said...

Some people don't like conflict. For a few of them, it might have to do with childhood isses. Possibly too much conflict in their home.

But conflict and differences of opinion, and the right to voice them, is part of what makes America great.

It's interesting to note that vocal conflict avoiders do create conflict in their own right--but it's not about an issue. Rather, it obfuscates an issue.

It's the worst kind of conflict.

If I met anonymous in person he/she is probably an awfully nice person who just doesn't know what to do when things aren't peaceful.

I can relate. I don't like it either. But I know enough about math and pedagogy to know there's something terribly wrong with reform math, and I want to help get it straightened out.

I think reform math has more to do with providing the appearance of educational equity than it has to do with trying to be a good math program.

In other words, it's political. And that's wrong. I will stand up for what I know is right, even if it's uncomfortable to do so.

SteveH said...

"I am sure your next target is the health care system, then social security. Endless things to complain about."

How about global warming? Is it OK to complain about that? When does advocating become complaining? I guess it depends on which side you're on.

I've run into people who, rather than discuss the details of an issue, turn the discussion into politics. It seems hard for some supporters of reform math to see the issue as non-political.

Anonymous obviously doesn't like Singapore Math, but won't discuss real issues brought up on KTM, like mastery in Everyday Math or the simple fact that EM is a mile wide and an inch deep. I'm tired of vague, general discussions on topics like balance. I want to discuss details.

Anonymous said...

I want to help get it straightened out.

So I blog about it?
So I slag teachers like Ms. K?
So I heap criticism on schools (but not the people who work in them)?
Maybe this collection of math reform wizards should get going on writing the KTM Guide to Improving Math Instruction in the USA. Chop, chop! We are all waiting for THE answers. I guess teachers and administrators are too stupid to figure it all out, so make sure you use really small words in your detailed plan.

In other words, it's political. And that's wrong. I will stand up for what I know is right, even if it's uncomfortable to do so.

Just as fuzzy math parents do? Darn, I forgot. KTM holds the monoply on being right. Any research/project/document that suggests otherwise is bunk. The KTM Highway must be a long, loney road to travel.

But I must leave you now to travel my own road. Having so much time off affords me the opportunity to travel. Six weeks of snapping pictures in Africa shall be a lot of fun. It would have been all eight weeks, but then I couldn't afford to holiday in St. Kitt's at Christmas time.

PS. I have my Masters in Mathematics. I do a hell of a job teaching math to kids. I think if you got rid of the pissing and moaning this site would be better. You have lost sight of goal. Maybe this is part of our inferiority complex culture. Who knows, but sitting around crying about it isn't going to help any of you, especially your kids.

bye!

Verghis Koshi said...

Well, he certainly scores high on self-esteem.

SteveH said...

"I do a hell of a job teaching math to kids."

Do you think this is what it's all about? More than a wee bit defensive, aren't we?


"Just as fuzzy math parents do?"

Please show me a blog of parents supporting fuzzy math and complaining about higher expectations?


"You have lost sight of goal."

What goal is that? Baking cookies?

Anonymous continues to ignore all of the specific discussions on helping parents deal with bad math curricula.


"... but sitting around crying about it isn't going to help any of you, especially your kids."

Completely clueless. KTM is all about helping our kids because schools can't or won't.

SusanS said...

Wow. Someone's off their meds.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is really defensive for sure -- I wonder if he THINKS he's teaching math to kids - but alas his standardized test scores came back and lo & behold, the kids didnt score well ...

good grief ...

everyone in the education system are quite defensive

they want everyone to LEARN but when a parent RIGHTFULLY points out SOMETHING IS NOT WORKING the teacher gets all defensive

get over yourselves

you are a teacher

you will reach some children
never ALL

and when a parent wants to be involved or questions something - ITS FOR THE CHILD'S sake

remember - the child - the one that MAY NOT BE LEARNING WITH REFORM MATH

good grief

you know why teachers like a spiral curriculum -- because they can spiral a kid forward and not have it as their problem any more -- spiral, the kid will learn it in the next class year .. really .. trust us teachers

anonymous -- enjoy your trip to Africa, hope you get time off for St Kitts at the holiday season

but truly - get over yourself

and just a thought - did you manage to learn math (all the way to your masters) pre-TERC days?

wonder how, if pre-TERC and pre-REFORM was just kill & drill, had children checkng their brains at the door

amazing

really ... simply amazing -- and your only a teacher ...

SteveH said...

I just realized what I wrote.

Is "a blog of parents" like "a murder of crows"?

SteveH said...

After studying this math problem for 6 or 7 years now, I keep looking to see if I have missed anything. I remember when I first found out that our public schools were using Mathland. I was stunned. I had issues with the math I grew up with, but this was going in the completely wrong direction. It all came down to low expectations and less mastery. They were redefining math.


It would be nice to have proponents of TERC or EM explain their position and reasoning instead of ranting and getting defensive. Unfortunately, these people don't respond to the threads that raise specific and detailed questions, such as whether it's even possible to come anywhere near finishing what is in the EM books when so much class time is taken up by kids doing their own work on Math Boxes.

Then there is the issue of skills versus understanding. What seems to be a focus on understanding in reform math is really all about going more slowly and providing more (and repeated) introductory explanations. It's not about an absract mathematical understanding that comes from mastery and application of the basic math identities. A curriculum can go more slowly, but something has to be sacrificed, and slow means lower expectations.


But, the rules of the game are that the schools decide on the curriculum and everyone else has to PROVE that they are wrong. They get to decide based on opinion, but others need research-based proof. We at KTM have suggested that larger schools have no excuse for not providing two different tracks for math and letting the parents decide. This should never be a big issue. Why is it?

The Crustiest of the Bitter said...

"I think if you got rid of the pissing and moaning this site would be better. "

Anonymous clearly doesn't understand that the pissiest of the moaners (like myself) have flipped the public (and private) schools the bird and are homeschooling. The pissiest of the moaners also don't bother to blog about what we perceive to be a hopeless cause. I live in a district that recently lost it's accreditation, and while the district stagnates in it's failure the elected board and the appointed board fight over which board gets to control what. Compared to the fur that flies daily in this town on the subject of public education, KTM is a model of civilized, diplomatic discourse.

"We are all waiting for THE answers. I guess teachers and administrators are too stupid to figure it all out, so make sure you use really small words in your detailed plan."

In my district, it is very clear that the teachers and administrators ARE too stupid to figure it all out, and using small words wouldn't help since several of the major players barely speak comprehensible english. And if Anonymous is still waiting for the answers, they just haven't been paying attention. KTM has been an invaluable resource for me, even (perhaps especially) as a homeschooler. Just because I homeschool doesn't mean I don't care about public education. I consider it one of the most important problems our society faces today, and I appreciate the honest, 'boots on the ground' reporting I find here. I visit every day, have ruthlessly plundered the archives, and daily (shamelessly) implement at my own kitchen table some of those 'nonexistent' posts on the 'nuts and bolts' of teaching not just math, but reading as well. Thanks to KTM, its a lot easier for me to save my child from people like Anonymous, who think I'm too stupid to know when I'm being snowed. Keep up the good work, KTM.

Catherine Johnson said...

So I slag teachers like Ms. K?

You may have missed the fact that Ms. K's most vocal critic in our community is a New York state mathematics teacher with 34 years experience.

Catherine Johnson said...

mpg?

is that you?

Catherine Johnson said...

Is "a blog of parents" like "a murder of crows"?

Hey!

What is a murder of crows!

I need to know!

(I'm reading two books on crows right now! Or I'm supposed to be....)

Catherine Johnson said...

wow!

crustiest!

THANK YOU!!

Catherine Johnson said...

Of course, and I've said this many times before, I feel the same way.

ktm has been a lifesaver for me - and for C.

Verghis Koshi said...

A murder of crows is like unto a pride of managers.

SteveH said...

"mpg? is that you?"

I had the same "rational" thought. The style is the same, but if it is, then there is not much left to his arguments.

annoyed said...

why don't all of you quit your jobs and start teaching math? stop complaining and do something about it!!! let's see how long you'd last. the first parent to complain will remind you of the exact way you're acting.

SteveH said...

The arguments aren't getting any better.

Anonymous said...

Dear annoyed,

Are you a teacher? You could use a makeover. Give yourself a rational name, instead of an inflammatory, affective one.

Then, instead of taking a reactive approach to what you're reading, why not regard yourself as a dispassionate intellectual? See if you can discern what could be wrong. Help us solve the problem!

Your current emotionality shows just how off the course education in America has become, in that educators don't seem to care that they come across as highly emotional, reactive people instead of pensive, measured ones. When did teachers stop being intellectuals? You could change course mid-stream. It's an admirable thing to do.

I like to think your defensiveness and non-intellectual apporach do not represent very many teachers, but in truth, this is all too common.

Find some pride, and represent teachers better than that.

I know that there are true intellectuals in my child's school. I've met them and admire them greatly. For those of you who know who I am, one of those teachers has the initials AB.

AB is able to handle the debate nicely. It doesn't matter that AB and I disagree on the issues. I have a great deal of respect for AB for being able to see the issues instead of protecting their own ego and getting all defensive.

Your choice of words on this comment thread fails to represent such teachers, but you could take a new approach at any time. Watch how quickly and positively the concerned parents here will respond. We're starving for some recognition of the problems, and we're drowning in a sea of defensiveness.

Do you not see how frustrated parents have become? We need your help. Take the high road. We would be so grateful.

Barry Garelick said...

why don't all of you quit your jobs and start teaching math?

I am planning to teach math in about 3 yrs when I retire.

mpg?

is that you?


The only thing missing from the MPG M.O. is that he seems to get quite rankled at people who post anonymously, calling them "gutless" and so forth. So MPG would never post anything anonymously, now would he?

SteveH said...

Unfortunately, there may be no common ground due to different assumptions, expectations, and goals. This is not about a balance between skills and understanding as if they are two equal, but different approaches. This is about low expectations versus high expectations.

This is a major issue that has been going on nationally for many years. Schools decide on curricula with little or no input from parents and professional mathematicians and scientists. When issues about assumptions and beliefs are raised, many in the education community get very defensive. Calculators or which basic algorithms are used may be easy focal points, but they are only symptoms of the underlying problem; low expectations.

The only common ground I can see is for larger schools to provide two types of math programs in the lower grades and let the parents decide. There will still be problems, but curriculum will be removed from the equation.

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm seriously thinking about teaching math down the line,....after I finish algebra 2 & go back to college for a mth major, that is.

And get this: I'm interested in teaching middle school math.

Which means I will be PAYING IN BLOOD for all the complaining I've done here!

Catherine Johnson said...

Your current emotionality shows just how off the course education in America has become, in that educators don't seem to care that they come across as highly emotional, reactive people instead of pensive, measured ones.

This has been a revelation to me - both in general and in particular. I've always thought of teachers as professionals or close to (I am PRAYING no doctor starts writing a rage-driven blog any time soon).

The silver lining is that my appreciation for my own district has risen. Teachers, administrators, and board members here maintain a professional demeanor and approach.

The web has been both revealing and reassuring in this respect, I must say.

When you read teacher blogs like instructivist, RedKudu, ms. teacher, and so many others (sorry, can't name them off the top of my head - !)....they're pretty great.

You see why Ravitch says teachers shouldn't be the unit of analysis for businessmen holding conferences on What's wrong with K-12 schools.

Catherine Johnson said...

This is not about a balance between skills and understanding as if they are two equal, but different approaches.

I'm going to be hitting this point as hard as possible.

I don't want to hear "balance" as a rationale for anything EVER.

The very term "balance" implies you can have "too much" skill.

No one can have too much skill.

It's not possible.

Catherine Johnson said...

Balance also implies skill and comprehension can be taught separately.

Oops!

We've spent 45 minutes on skill!

Time to get out the Cuisenaire rods and teach some meaning!

Catherine Johnson said...

The problem isn't lack of balance.

The problem is no one's doing precision teaching - precision teaching meaning the concept of measuring and assessing to see whether kids are learning what you've taught.

Catherine Johnson said...

Also low expectations!