kitchen table math, the sequel: what do children want?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

what do children want?

from Lisa:
I live in IN and went to our school system's program on our new 'tech' high school with my 8th grader. He was mortified. It was everything he hates about school now intensified. Lots of group work and projects vs tests and grades. His comment was hilarious. They showed a picture of a 19th century school room as what is wrong with schools and he raised his hand and asked where he could find a school room just like the one in the picture (everyone facing forward in rows watching a teacher at the blackboard.)
Well, at least they get to sit in chairs.


Anonymous said...

They see project based learning as the ed model of the future and it's scary how well the draft Common Core Standards support that vision once you watch these presentations.

Federalizing project based learning.

Here's a Ga presentation on a New Tech High School given to the State DOE

Slide 27- "teachers start each i by throwing students into a realistic or real world project that both engages interest and generates a list of things the student needs to know"

Slide 52- "prove mastery of Learning Outcomes through Products, Presentations and Portfolios"

These let the school "assess 21st Century Skills"

Run away! Fast!

And we're borrowing or printing the money to push these bad ideas.

Catherine Johnson said...

Nice, high tech website, too.

Very 21st century.

Catherine Johnson said...

The distinctive culture of New Tech emerged from the coalition of educators and technology and business leaders who met to discuss ways to organize a school that would address how to live and work in the 21st century.

find the missing parent

Catherine Johnson said...

And here's a photo of a New Tech High grant application!

Plus some students sitting together at a messy group desk.

SteveH said...

I went out to the NAPA New Tech High School to check out their curriculum. In addition to the regular graduation (?) requirements, students have to take:

"A third mathematics course (Higher level than Algebra I)."

I looked under mathematics and they only listed Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II.

Am I missing something? Are STEM and 21st Century Skills code words now for vocational? Do these people have a clue? Why don't they come out and tell the kids that they don't think they are smart enough for real math, science, and engineering schools, so they've created a STEM facade to make everyone feel good about themselves?

Do they lead students to believe that the high school will prepare them for any real degree in engineering?

Catherine Johnson said...

Am I missing something? Are STEM and 21st Century Skills code words now for vocational?

I've had the same thought several times, and I'm not sure what's going on.

It seems of a piece with the 'title inflation' that goes on everywhere in public education.

e.g.: "published" now means "hard copy"

John said...

Here is something that could be interesting. Attending a one room schoolhouse in Colorado.

Catherine Johnson said...

oh my gosh!!!!

What a find!!!

I would LOVE to know how that goes.

palisadesk said...

It was for summer 2008 -- wonder how it went, and if they are doing it again. Super idea!

palisadesk said...

Gimme those 19th century skills!

Ari-free said...

"Gimme those 19th century skills!"

I don't think we should go back to writing in Spencerian script. :)

Ray's/McGuffey leads up to a very high level but how many actually achieved it in those days? My guess is that most students in those days never made it to algebra and just had a very solid knowledge of practical arithmetic for use on the farm or accounting. They knew how to add 17+4 in their heads but they didn't know *math*

We need a different approach, that of simple and clear understanding of the standard algorithms, not a choice between either "ours is not to reason why, just invert and multiply" or "come up with your own algorithms."


Catherine Johnson said...

I would go back to Spencerian handwriting!


I wouldn't impose it on other people's kids, but my own kid's life would have been a lot easier if he'd been taught handwriting to mastery.

Not only did he have difficulty writing numbers in columns, etc., etc., his handwriting is so bad it makes him look not bright.

For awhile there I was trying to remediate his handwriting. Needless to say, no one in the house was especially sympathetic to this undertaking. Then C. had a birthday party and we read the cards the other kids had given him. The child with the most learning problems also had the worst handwriting - and the handwriting wasn't all that much worse than C's.

I showed it to my husband and said, "What do grownups think when they see this handwriting?"

He gained a whole new appreciation of decent handwriting in children just staring at the card in horror.

Of course, he has psychotic handwriting himself. He's got some excuse; he's a lefty.

Catherine Johnson said...

Re: what people learned in the past...I was reading Beth Fertig's book, and I came across a sentence saying that in the old days people knew how to read the Bible and that's all.

I read that and thought: They knew how to read the Bible???

The Bible is extremely difficult reading.

(I'm finishing the book of Joshua, and I'm not reading the King James Bible. I'm reading the Jerusalem Bible, which is easier.)

palisadesk said...

Re: what people learned in the past...I was reading Beth Fertig's book, and I came across a sentence saying that in the old days people knew how to read the Bible and that's all.

With respect, I doubt she has researched the matter. De Toqueville and many others commented on how literate Americans were in the 18th and 19th centuries. Yiou have only to look at the best-sellers of the era to marvel at the complex langyage and sophisticated expression. Heck never mind the written word -- the ORAL. Lincoln's speeches were for the general public and were masterpieces of elegant expression, complex thought and rhetorical sophistication.

Here's what John Taylor Gatto has to say:

Looking back, abundant data exist from states like Connecticut and Massachusetts to show that by 1840 the incidence of complex literacy in the United States was between 93 and 100 percent wherever such a thing mattered. According to the Connecticut census of 1840, only one citizen out of every 579 was illiterate and you probably don’t want to know, not really, what people in those days considered literate; it’s too embarrassing. Popular novels of the period give a clue: Last of the Mohicans, published in 1826, sold so well that a contemporary equivalent would have to move 10 million copies to match it. If you pick up an uncut version you find yourself in a dense thicket of philosophy, history, culture, manners, politics, geography, analysis of human motives and actions, all conveyed in data-rich periodic sentences so formidable only a determined and well-educated reader can handle it nowadays. Yet in 1818 we were a small-farm nation without colleges or universities to speak of. Could those simple folk have had more complex minds than our own?

By 1940, the literacy figure for all states stood at 96 percent for whites, 80 percent for blacks. Notice that for all the disadvantages blacks labored under, four of five were nevertheless literate. Six decades later, at the end of the twentieth century, the National Adult Literacy Survey and the National Assessment of Educational Progress say 40 percent of blacks and 17 percent of whites can’t read at all. Put another way, black illiteracy doubled, white illiteracy quadrupled. Before you think of anything else in regard to these numbers, think of this: we spend three to four times as much real money on schooling as we did sixty years ago, but sixty years ago virtually everyone, black or white, could read.

ChemProf said...

My students' handwriting is generally abysmal. A lot of them write like elementary school kids, and it impacts their ability to take notes, to solve algebraic problems, and to do well on exams.

The whole idea that they'll all just use computers so handwriting doesn't matter is baloney.

Robin said...

I'm at the part of Fertig's book where she's talking about what students are taught to do when they encounter low frequency words.

Context and repetition are the way to deal with such words.

Not systematically sound it out and if it doesn't align with anything in your oral memory, look up its meaning.

So sad.

Catherine Johnson said...

palisadesk - that's what I meant!

The King James Bible is extremely difficult -- and she says most adults could read it!

(I've forgotten her source; it's a 2001 book on US schools...)