kitchen table math, the sequel: why parents pay for Catholic school

Sunday, July 5, 2009

why parents pay for Catholic school

C's summer assignments from Hogwarts:
  • read the first 15 chapters of the AP Euro textbook
  • read & outline the first 6 chapters of the AP bio textbook
  • watch Franco Zefferilli's Jesus of Nazareth
  • read 3 books for English
  • read 1 book on dealing with stress (guidance assignment)
Here's what Lefty's going-into-7th-grade son will be doing:

A Mathematical Scavenger Hunt at the Library

Go the the city library--either the main library or a branch library. Do the following activities and record all of this information in an attractive booklet or on a poster. Plan ahead since you may need more than one visit to do everything on the list

1. Draw a sketch of the front of the library on 8.5 X 11 paper. Show the windows and doors. Estimate the width and height of the building and show these dimensions on your sketch. Explain the strategy you used to make your estimate.

2. Go to a room in the library. Make a sketch of the floor plan of the room. Estimate the length and width of the room. What is your estimate of the area of the room? Explain the strategy you used to make your estimate

3. Find a section of the books that you like. Write down the types of books you chose. Place your forearm along the shelf and count how many books there are from the tip o your elbow to the tip of your fingers.

4. Estimate the number of books in this room. Explain what strategy you used to come up with your estimate.

5. Find a chart showing the Dewey decimal numbers for the categories of books in the library. Copy the information to the chart.

6. If you do not already have one, sign up for a library card.

7. Check out a non-fiction book that you would like to read. List its title, author, and Dewey decimal number.

Bring the project to school on the first day. Your teacher will use the data you have collected for class.
Left offers a suggested summer assignment for her school's teachers.


Anonymous said...

My son's list for incoming freshman (honors and regular) was a choice of three little books. He picked one and we ordered it. When it arrived, he read it in one day, then went back to the other more interesting books he was readiing.



Anonymous said...

Our high school insists on using the same reading list for honors and regular and there are only 2 tracks. The Honors class simply assigns 1 or 2 more from the same weak list.

They must not teach different material in the Honors classes so they require science fair participation or a research paper (not corrected for grammar) to justify the Honors points.

How unsurprising that the school's stated purpose is to close the achievement gap.

The saddest part is that this focus simply reenforces that what kids can be is coming from the home, not the school. The well educated, attentive parents can buy better math and science textbooks, pick out better books for summer reading, and hire tutors to teach grammar.

In the school's emphasis to obtain "equity" by just assigning work within the grasp of most kids, they perpetuate inequities and take away education as the avenue to move beyond the circumstances you were born into.

le radical galoisien said...

Hmm AP Bio ... what's their stance on evolution? Do they teach it at all in the course?

Anonymous said...

Seriously, even the regular English track can handle more than one naval-gazing coming of age mini-book.


Crimson Wife said...

7th grade? That's more like an elementary school assignment IMHO....

Anonymous said...

Hmm AP Bio ... what's their stance on evolution? Do they teach it at all in the course?

The Catholic church is officially okay with evolution. C is going to a Jesuit school, and the Jesuits are also okay with evolution. I would be very surprised if C does not learn evolution as part of his AP Bio course (assuming that evolution is on the normal AP bio list of things to learn, of course).

-Mark Roulo

le radical galoisien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
le radical galoisien said...

Well yes, evolution is a fundamental portion of the analysis of biological mechanisms.

A lot of schools understudy the last few chapters, such as ecological niches and population dynamics, but evolution is part of the AP syllabus from cellular bio (endosymbiotic theory) to ecology, and without teaching evolution kids are left in the dark about the true nature of genetics (like why are there all these VNTR repeats in the first place?), and fundamental mechanisms like selfish genes, kin selection, etc.

Well I'm just curious. See in Singapore, I went to a Methodist institution, and even though the government was hyping up the life sciences sector, they never taught evolution, at least not at secondary 1 and secondary 2. It could well be that they only introduce it later, but even in the primary school science textbook, when they refer to life it's all about "adaptation" and the "e-word" is never mentioned. (Well, unless things have changed in the last 7 years.)

The other thing though is whether bio teachers in some faith schools would insightfully teach evolutionary mechanisms with a passion or whether they would teach it because they have to ...

Catherine Johnson said...

what's their stance on evolution?

They're Jesuits.

They practically discovered evolution.

Catherine Johnson said...

That's a joke, but it's a serious joke.

The Jesuit and the Skull: Teilhard de Chardin, Evolution, and the Search for Peking Man (Hardcover)
by Amir Aczel

Allison said...

Catherine, that's not a good example. de Chardin was once almost kinda considered a heretic....not that the Jesuits cared.

Seriously, Roman Catholicism is pro evolution--micro, macro, natural selection, drift, etc. The Jesuits are a, shall we say, progressive set of Catholics at that, whose charism is education and they would not tolerate any deviation from the scientific truth as they saw it, and they don't mind if their views differ from that of the Bishop of Rome and the Magisterium, which is a sore point for many other Catholics.

Allison said...

btw, de Chardin's almost heresy was in his theology, not his paleontology.

Catherine Johnson said...

All the Jesuits were considered heretics eventually!

Inspiring other people to see you as heretics seems to be a Core Feature of the Jesuits.

Catherine Johnson said...

oops - I see you've already covered that!

You should fill us in on the Jesuits --- I'm deeply curious about them.

Am reading God's Soldiers now.

Don't think it's a particularly good book (not that I can judge - it's a history) but it's worth my time.

Catherine Johnson said...

Catholics figured out science/religion quite some time ago, right?

If I knew the first thing about history, I wouldn't have to ask that question.

Catherine Johnson said...

radical - that's very interesting (the Methodist school in Singapore).

I wish I knew more about this.

I'm a Methodist; my great granddad was president of the first Methodist college in IL.

But until just a few years ago I didn't realize there were two branches of Methodism: "liberal Protestantism," which is the branch I grew up in, and....a fundamentalist branch? (I think the word is 'fundamentalist' as opposed to 'evangelical.')

I still don't know.

I wonder whether the school you attended was part of the 'other' branch.

Ed says the book to read about the Methodists is E.P. Thompson's Making of the English Working Class.

Crimson Wife said...

Except for that nutso Austrian Cardinal Schönborn...

Catherine Johnson said...

He was trying to explain the Methodists to me. I can't remember his words today, but what I took away from it was that the Methodists were revolutionary but not radical - if that makes sense. (It does to me.)

Oh - check it out: here is William Wilberforce.

le radical galoisien said...

I should say I went to two Methodist institutions.

I went to Fairfield Methodist Primary School, which is a government-aided school, with a reputation above that of a neighbourhood school but not extremely selective. Nice and homely.

Then after I took the PSLE my mother decided my first choice of Fairfield Secondary wasn't good enough and somehow got me into Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), or ACSI.

Both were fairly nurturing schools, and both were fairly mum on the topic of evolution -- like neutral neutral. I'd say ACSI has socially conservative administrators -- boardroom type of people who return a brief dignified nod as you pass them by on the hall way. I don't think the administration was even united on doctrine, because in sec 1 we watched a religious documentary from the 1980s about the dangers of rock music, but we never really had that many restrictions on youth culture (like you know, the rules that were enforced were pretty standard -- no profane T-shirts, etc.)

Singapore's education system is sort of complex to explain, because there is no simple public/private distinction for schools in Singapore. There are like a dozen different classifications, like autonomous, government-aided autonomous, independent, government-run, something along the lines of semi-government-run, and then I think there's a classification that's like legally-under-the-government-but-more-like-a-charter-school-for-day-to-day-affairs and I forget what all the others were now.

So ACSI, despite being independent, got occasional government subsidies for some of its programs. I guess it couldn't have been too conservative intellectually, because we scored well in national rankings for science and innovation and our bio lab produced its own enzymes (and this was back in 2003-2004, before the current era of Paq polymerase) and carried out really cool research. I don't know what my sec 2 bio teacher's stance on evolution was, but I think she went to med school, though she loved to inject little bits of Christian pastoral care into the classroom.

le radical galoisien said...

T-shirts? I should say bracelets, or something of the sort. All Singaporean students wear uniforms, even if you go to a nonreligious government school. When the teachers weren't around we swore all the time of course, and sometimes the especially bold ones would swear with teachers present and no one would bat an eyelid.

ChemProf said...

Part of the deal with Methodist schools is that Methodists were active missionaries in that part of Asia. My great-grandparents were part of that movement, and their kids were born in Kobe, Japan.

The Methodist split goes way back. Remember the church is now the United Methodists, which formed when the Methodist Episcopals (liberal protestants) merged with the Southern Methodists (more conservative, but also more active in missionary activity).

Catherine Johnson said...

Here's the AP bio book at Hogwarts:

Biology Fourth Edition by Neil Campbell 1996

ISBN: 0-8053-1957-3

Catherine Johnson said...

wow - the reviews are great

here's one:

I used this textbook in AP Biology almost a decade ago and I still have fond memories. It is concise and well written. It's also a good basic reference but perhaps not as detailed as Alberts Molecular Biology of the Cell. Unlike Alberts, you can read this one cover to cover!

Catherine Johnson said...

ok, this is interesting

(well, possibly not riveting for you - interesting to me....)

I just looked through my list of biology books: this is the list of possible-to-purchase books I keep.

Turns out that the Neil Campbell text is the one I chose as a biology textbook for me.

Catherine Johnson said...

that nutso Austrian Cardinal Schönborn

ding! ding! ding!

And another historical reference sails over my head!

Catherine Johnson said...

she loved to inject little bits of Christian pastoral care into the classroom

Tell us!!!

Catherine Johnson said...

chemprof - thank you!

I remember when the "First Methodist Church" became the "United Methodist Church," but of course I had no idea what that meant until this moment.

Catherine Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catherine Johnson said...

rg - are you in college????

Tell us what you're up to!

Anonymous said...

The Jesuits are pretty interesting. The wikipedia page seems like a good starting point. Note the references to "The Black Pope" and to the 20ish years when they were surpressed. Robert Drinan was a Jesuit priest who also served in the U.S. congress (quite unusual).

An old Maryknoll priest I knew (and liked) used to refer to "when the Jesuits used to be Catholic."

-Mark Roulo

Catherine Johnson said...

btw, chemprof was right about the AP bio book: it opens with a 100-page unit on "The Chemistry of Life:"

Chapter 2: The Chemical Context of Life
Chapter 3: Water and the Fitness of the Environment
Chapter 4: Carbon and the Molecular Diversity of Life
Chapter 5: The Structure and Function of Macromolecules
Chapter 6: An Introduction to Metabolism

here are the rest of the Units in the book:
Unit 2: The Cell
Unit 3: The Gene
Unit 4: Mechanisms of Evolution
Unit 5: The Evolutionary History of Biological Diversity
Unit 6: Plants: Form and Function
Unit 7: Animals: Form and Function
Unit 8: Ecology

Catherine Johnson said...

when the Jesuits used to be Catholic

You've just reminded me of one of my favorite (brand-new) stories about the Jesuits.

A family we know has been contemplating sending their son to Hogwarts. This was a huge step for them because both parents are Jewish, as opposed to just one parent in our case. When this all came up (it was their son's idea), the mom, who is a cheerful, optimistic, athletic sort of person, called me and said half-laughing and half-horror stricken, "We're not like you. Half our family died in the Holocaust."

The dad, whose family is in Israel (their son was bar mitzvahed there), was having a very tough time with the idea of his son attending a Catholic school, so the mom was doing all the research.

She's an attorney who works in an office filled with primarily Catholic attorneys, I gather. One of them, who is quite conservative, told the mom, "Don't worry, A. It'll be fine. My mother would never have allowed me to go to a Jesuit school."

Catherine Johnson said...

Interestingly, the mom got 'on board' for the idea right away. Her dad, who grew up in Boston, I believe, equated Hogwarts with Boston Grammar (I hope I've got that right) and was either in favor of the idea or not remotely not-in favor. (Can't remember which. I think he was in favor.)

I've since seen the same thing in another East Coast Jewish family: the grandfather in the second case absolutely knows what a classical education is & what a Jesuit education is; these categories are available to him in a way they have not been to me. The grandfather strongly wants his grandson to go to Hogwarts, & we're all waiting to see if he gets in. (He applied after the deadline --)

Back to my first story: The dad who took his son for his day-at-Hogwarts, and we were all a little worried about that: it IS a Catholic school, regardless of how heretical the Jesuits have been over the centuries. There's a statue of the Virgin out front & a chapel just inside the front door. It is **so** different from a public school.

So I was thinking: hmmmm.

The dad loved it. He came home wanting his son to go to the school.

Now the son says he's not going.

Catherine Johnson said...

Love those teen years!

Amy P said...

My experience with American Jesuits is that they come in all possible theological varieties, but they almost all wear plaid shirts.

Catherine Johnson said...

plaid shirts?


Haven't seen any plaid shirts at Hogwarts.

Now I'm going to be on the lookout.

Anonymous said...

Catherine, Campbell is a very good Bio book. I used it in college. In HS here I used Miller/Levine to teach Bio honors and regular. Also not a bad one.
Also, I taught evolution in a Catholic HS - both as a "major line" through the course and as a separate unit. NO problem. Public schools (some of them:-)) have more problems with evolution then catholic HS do. When I was interviewed last summer for a position in Paterson HS (totally terrible, gangs, police on every corner, metal detectors, 2-meter tall students in saggy pants demonstrating underwear... I just went for the sake of an experience, I would NEVER able to work there...). Anyway, they were asking me "questions". Such as: "What is your response going to be if your chairperson calls you to tell that a parent reported you for an abuse of religion rights - by teaching evolution?"...


Catherine Johnson said...

wow - that's interesting

I had no idea you might get asked a question like that.

Yes, Catholic schools are going to teach evolution -- I just wish I knew the history better. A Catholic acquaintance of mine once told me exactly when and how the church worked out its relationship to science...and I just can't remember what she told me.

Her point was that the Catholic church had a position that they developed at least a hundred years ago.

Catherine Johnson said...

I wonder if the church has an official position?

Here are a couple of things: Pope: Creation vs. evolution clash an 'absurdity'

Pope says evolution can't be proven

That second headline is a bit misleading -- the article is worth reading.

Many of the Jesuits were scientists.

Catherine Johnson said...

I have a vague memory that science developed out of the work of the scholastics.

In other words, science developed out of religious scholarship.

Time for some fact-checking.

Catherine Johnson said...

Catholic Physics: Jesuit Natural Philosophy in Early Modern Germany by Marcus Hellyer

With their dozens of universities and colleges, the Jesuits held a monopoly over higher education in Catholic Germany in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries....Marcus Hellyer traces the development of science instruction at these institutions over a period stretching from the Counter-Reformation to the height of the Enlightenment. He argues that the Scientific Revolution was not an all-or-nothing affair; Jesuit professors enthusiastically adopted particular elements, such as experimental natural philosophy, while doggedly rejecting others, such as mechanical theories of matter....Jesuit colleges were still actively confronting, rejecting, or absorbing crucial components of the Scientific Revolution when the Society was suppressed in 1773.

Here's a very "Jesuit" passage:

[C]ensorship of natural philosophy by the Jesuit hierarchy in Rome was a negotiated process in which Jesuit professors accepted the necessity of censorship, yet constantly sought to circumvent regulations imposed on them by teaching controversial questions such as Copernican cosmology. After the Galileo affair, Jesuit physics professors made sure they declared that heliocentrism was wrong, but they also taught their students the advantages it held over the rival cosmology sanctioned by the Catholic Church.

I love the Jesuits.

We had a conversation similar to this with the Director of Admissions at Hogwarts the first time we met.

He specifically raised the issue of how much 'say' the Pope has over what they do: not too much.

Catherine Johnson said...

I knew nothing about the Jesuits until the day I walked into Hogwarts, and about 5 minutes after the Director of Admissions started telling me who the early Jesuits were & what they believed, I felt I'd come home.