kitchen table math, the sequel: In A Nutshell

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In A Nutshell

In the course of my daily procrastination, I clicked through to this Inside Higher Ed piece on affirmative action. I'll save the debate on racial preferences for later, but this particular comment caught my eye:

as an education professor, my goal isn't to teach the students who all score the highest on the SAT. perhaps Roger and "Common Sense" posters want that, but i find that having a diverse class helps me teach my curriculum far more effectively. we are required by our accrediting body to prepare teachers to teach in a heterogeneous world and having a homogeneous student body runs counter to our goals. i can try and prepare my students to teach in an inner city school but it's far more effective if a student actually attended this school who can share her experiences and give that extra rationale for the classroom management or learning strategies i am teaching. the same can be said for having students who attended a private Christian school or a school in a rural setting, etc. -- the diverse student body helps the curriculum i teach and that value is lost if a university goes on test scores alone.


The educationists are living in a completely different universe from the rest of us.

8 comments:

Paul B said...

Yup! They don't even have caps key on their computers.

Anonymous said...

as an education professor, my goal isn't to teach the students who all score the highest on the SAT.

Given the composition of education programs, that's probably a good thing. He'd be awfully unsatisfied if he wanted to teach those who scored highest on the SAT.

Anonymous said...

If you are now eligible to receive PhDs in education from nationally ranked ed schools for writing a paper as a group project that summarizes the results of a survey you sent out, how would you ever learn to value individual academic excellence?

Is it any wonder such a "doctor" would be horrified with the idea of honors classes or genuinely believe that the stronger high school students should stop their own learning to tutor their less able classmates?

Maybe the duty of an educationist is to level society with schools and curriculum as primary tools.

Sara R said...

Their job isn't to teach those who score highest on the SAT. Their job is to devalue intellectual achievement with comments and attitudes like his, creating an anti-intellectual climate, leading smart people to leave the teaching profession or never enter it in the first place.

SteveH said...

"Maybe the duty of an educationist is to level society ..."

"devalue intellectual achievement"

Interesting comments. I've always felt an undercurrent of dislike for smart kids. It started in Kindergarten when my son's teacher hit us with a preemptive strike about how some kids could read an encyclopedia, but they don't know what they are reading. I felt like asking her whether they tested our son for comprehension, or whatever happened to "learn to read - read to learn".

Then there was his first grade teacher's comment of "Yes, he has a lot of superficial knowledge." when we talked about how he could find any country in the world. She was the one who talked about trying to help first graders find their "voice" in their writings. This was first grade.

They don't like smart kids. They think there has to be some other kind of authentic learning that is more equal for all kids.

Now, in middle school, we are dealing with differentiated grading. The teachers give out difficult or open ended assignments and then give out grades based on what they expect from each child. In a recent social studies paper, my son got a 3 out of 5 on the rubric, even though he met all of the criteria of a 5. Well, that's not true. A '5' is defined in such a way that it could mean anything. He got a '3', but the teacher said that was "excellent". How could he improve? She came up with some vague reason. The goal is not to teach, but to put pressure on the kids.

Alan said...

National math test scores continue to be disappointing. This poor trend persists in spite of new texts, standardized tests with attached implied threats, or laptops in the class. At some point, maybe we should admit that math, as it is taught currently and in the recent past, seems irrelevant to a large percentage of grade school kids.

Why blame a sixth grade student or teacher trapped by meaningless lessons? Teachers are frustrated. Students check out.

The missing element is reality. Instead of insisting that students learn another sixteen formulae, we need to involve them in tangible life projects. And the task must be interesting.

Project-oriented math engages kids. It is fun. They have a reason to learn the math they may have ignored in the standard lecture format of a class room.

Alan Cook
info@thenumberyard.com
www.thenumberyard.com

SteveH said...

"The missing element is reality. Instead of insisting that students learn another sixteen formulae, we need to involve them in tangible life projects. And the task must be interesting."


Wow! And he has the solution for only $19.95! And the free download includes at least 50 formulas, conversion factors, and charts.

Paul B said...

George:

Is your link broken? I clicked through and got an affirmative action article but it was not at all like the block quote. I couldn't find the block quote at all in the linked article.

BTW the linked article is very very interesting, enough so to deserve its own thread.

Check it out.