kitchen table math, the sequel: waiting for the teacher

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

waiting for the teacher

Allison writes:
In the last few months, I visited over a dozen elementary schools. Mostly I visited kindergartens, but whenever possible, I visited the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades as well.

Over and over I saw schools where "math class" was the same template: children doing activities from Everyday Math on their own in chaotic, loud classrooms where students didn't have individual desks but had to sit at group tables (sometimes putting up their books and folders to act as little cubicle walls) while they waited for a teacher or an aide to interact with them. Uniformly, I saw half a dozen kids doing nothing at all in those times; another half a dozen chatting or playing but obviously not doing anything, and a precious few trying to block out the stimulus. Some read cheap fiction books.

No one could have learned anything in such a room even before you find out that the task at hand is some bizarre manipulative task in Everyday Math that had no goal or explained purpose anyway.

The teacher didn't spend more time with those having trouble it seemed, either, because those having trouble weren't even bothering to do the activity.


Anonymous said...

Oh, one other tidbit: the activities in Everyday Math ALWAYS involved manipulatives being arranged in some way. That meant you HAD to stay at your table and wait for the teacher--you couldn't carry it up to the teacher's desk and show your work and ask where you were stuck because it was impossible to transport.

Unknown said...

What a good post.

I'm finding myself writing a blog post about this in the comments, so I'm just going to stop right here.