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Education: Why?

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I have skimmed through both the math and english sections of this. I say skimmed because I find it difficult to read on a screen. I am considering getting a jump drive, bringing it to Kinkos, and printing it out (I might get in trouble for over 100 pages of material at work).

When I read through the English section, this was my first thought...

"So basically they want to get rid of Kindergarten and make it 1st grade."

I honestly have no problem with that, but I think it might be difficult to wrangle up kindergardeners and put them all at desks to learn for a full day, unless they have gotten rid of AM/PM Kindergarden.

Math, it really comes down to one thing.


When you are handed a book of algebra equations, and you can not place them to what you need in real life, it is going to be difficult to deal with. Sure if you want to be a doctor or a scientist or an inventor, you would need it. If you're goal is to have a restaurant, be a pastry chef, etc, other maths may be more viable.

I'm sorry, but I can not think of one aspect of my life at current where I would regularly use beyond basic algebra, and when I mean Basic Algebra I mean the stuff I learned in 6th grade.

I think in Elementary and middle school you should get a taste for the maths, and when you get into high school, work at what would be your focus.

I may have passed High School if they let me take Geometry right off the bat.

Instead I failed Algebra 1 (or the equivalent) 3 times, and this really shook me badly when I went into college.

My thought pattern behind this whole thing is the materials to allow it to happen. How teachers would have change, how textbooks would have to change, how parents, yes parents, would have to change. You need to be able to have an atmosphere where children will actually want to learn and in certain areas of the country, that isn't going to happen anytime soon.

I will be interested to see how this continues.

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mechanicalhyena From: mechanicalhyena Date: March 10th, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
The true problem with math is not that you'll never use it in life, it's that you use it all the time in life and noone realizes it. Math also promotes positive correlations between art and 3-dimensional space and abstract thinking. Abstract algebra (and some other gleeful maths) are necessary for accounting and chemistry, and chemistry is actually incredibly beneficial for a pastry chef.

It's not that anyone sucks at algebra. It's really that they were never taught in a way they understand. They say Geometry is the visual math, and to a degree thats true. Algebra is the visual math because you seriously need 3-d models and physical visual representations to actually grasp a bunch of the concepts.

I see the way most people teach Math in public schools, and it pisses me off. Math-linear-thinking people are not usually the norm in a child, but they're the norm in a teacher. This failure to communicate between strictly linear and multitasking-style (which is most kids, thinking of a thousand things at once) is, in my opinion, the real culprit behind math issues.

The teacher, quite literally, is speaking a different language.

/math rant
mrcorvin From: mrcorvin Date: March 10th, 2010 10:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
The true problem with math is not that you'll never use it in life, it's that you use it all the time in life and noone realizes it.

I agree, which is basically what you learn in grades K-6 IMHO.

Math also promotes positive correlations between art and 3-dimensional space and abstract thinking.

Which is why I was more of a fan of Geometry, and was able to fake my way through the trig section of the ACT.

Abstract algebra (and some other gleeful maths) are necessary for accounting and chemistry, and chemistry is actually incredibly beneficial for a pastry chef.

In the sense for a pastry chef, you see the math in action, but I don't know any full time pastry chefs that I can hand a bunch of chemistry related math problems too and have them solve it. At the same time, you get the exact drift I'm talking about.

In the multitasking style, it leads to what I say is "Why?"

If a child does not know "Why?" they won't want to even bother including it into their multitasking, unless they are forced.

Sure, I'm not speaking for all children, some might just go "Math is yummy." at the same time, Maths would give others the shits.

I remember my Physical Science teacher telling us that we would have to do Algebra in his class, but unlike the Algebra teachers, he would actually get us to understand it.

Needless to say, that portion of his class i didn't pass, because he had the world of science at his disposal, but didn't match it up to anything.
futurenurselady From: futurenurselady Date: March 11th, 2010 04:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Algebra is not chemistry related math. That's trigonometry and calculus.

The main problem is actually the textbooks, which don't put the math in context.

Graphing, for example, is incredibly useful for predicting and modeling finances. If it were taught in the context that you need it to balance your budget, it would seem way more useful.

The other thing that needs to happen is allowing use of calculators once the basics are mastered. It makes math less frustrating, and in the real world most people use calculators or excel for the numeric part calculations.

The important concepts in math are how to arrange the numbers in order to figure out the answer. That's stuff that is easier to focus on when you know the sums, quotients and products aren't going to take you 10 minutes to count by hand.
vampvixen13 From: vampvixen13 Date: March 11th, 2010 05:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Honest opinion - and I know this only addresses a tiny part of the whole, but most people have no idea in high school what they want to do "when they grow up". And a majority of them don't really even know what they're good at, just what they want to be good at, which isn't usually the same thing at all.
mrcorvin From: mrcorvin Date: March 11th, 2010 12:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

When I was in high school I wanted to do things that were based around English or history, maybe journalism, to which my mind kept going "How is algebra going to help me write a book? Will I have a villian that bamboozles the hero with algebraic equations?"

The math that I do on a day to day basis, if I can't do it in my head, I can always bust out a calculator.

tiffbert From: tiffbert Date: March 11th, 2010 01:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

I promised I would respond, and respond I shall!

OK, i'm about ten pages in, and i don't know where you're saying they're changing the nature of kindergarten. As I remember it, story time was one of the biggest parts of kindergarten, and the teacher would point out each word as she read it to us. In the reading section at least it seems they are proposing nothing that forces kids to sit in desks and be there all day.

As for having standards, these remind me a lot of the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning that I studied a bit last year. The only difference is this is coming from the government and not from an alliance of professional organizations, which is a bit troubling to me.

Your problem seems to be with education in general, as opposed to these specific proposals.

Math- The profession based model you suggest reminds me a bit of the German system. What would make me worried is, like someone pointed out above, most people don't know what they want to do age 13/14 (it's funny to me that you raise this point, because you were just pointing out the other day about how of your friends in high school only one was doing what they thought they would be doing, and that's another 4 years beyond when you're suggesting that the decision be made). I'm also kinda skeptical, because this math idea of yours really seems to be hippy/liberal "oh let the CHILDREN decide" brand bullshit. My teachers in middle school spent their entire time trying to give us a taste for algebra, there is simply no way they could give an honest idea of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, pre-calc and calculus in three years. And like I said on the phone last night, a lot of math is sequential by nature.

You have to realize that the standards are intended to prepare students for college, not for the life thereafter. Looking through this lens, we have to consider ACT/SAT prep, which if i remember correctly is mostly algebra with a bit of the others sprinkled in, making the very thing you struggled with crucial

By and large, the materials that allow it to happen is entirely teacher-based. Parents need to take a more active role than they have now. This entire paragraph of yours is well-intentioned, to be sure, but i'm not really sure what your point is. Any suggestions of how to make students learn? If not, you're simply spouting platitudes about how the system needs to change. Having worked a year in a school (albeit a private school), teaching is a series of trials and errors, and you keep the things that work for most students and change the things that don't. The people who know most how teachers should teach are teachers, which is why having a more experienced teacher at least as a sounding board, and hopefully as a mentor is the most useful resource for anyone starting out.
mrcorvin From: mrcorvin Date: March 11th, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I promised I would respond, and respond I shall!

When I was in 7th grade, we went through some of the basic maths,to get a taste for them. I knew I liked Geometry coming out of 7th grade, and when they put me into Algebra in 8th grade, it was because they told me "It's got alot of geometery in it."

Which of course, how Algebra is taught, there isn't. I didn't see one shape.

I'm not really talking about the reading section, I'm talking about the other sections for english that they are going through.

Are you telling me you never selected any of your courses in High School? I don't know about you, but when I was in high school I actually chose the courses I wanted except for the required credits. I'm not saying don't have a kid take 3-4 math credits, but with more of a selection and prerequisites (can't take Algebra II before Algebra I, you have to take Informal Geometry before Geometry), and having people say "You can do this, but not knowing this this and this may affect your SAT's", you know, what a Guidance Counselor's job is, would work out in that regard.

You need to show Students how this will go in there life other then "it will help you get a job, it will help you on standardized tests, it will help you in college." You need to show how things directly correlate into life, especially with math. History, well, the correlation in that is, "learn from the mistakes of the past."

Teachers have to learn that there roles are not just teaching subject matter, but having an environment that promotes learning, including attitudes in bullying, and how they promote themselves to everyone in the class. If a child can not believe that the teacher can back them up to help them with a proper learning environment, they are not going to trust the teacher. Call the parents, start suspending kids that are bullying and teasing kids for no good reason, start forcing the parents hands on their children's behavior for the good of all students, not just some.
kahlan_amnell From: kahlan_amnell Date: March 11th, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I went to full day Kindergarten, so that bit is not surprising to me.

I'll read through these standards fully when I get a chance. (Right now I'm really busy with work for classes, and getting my apartment in a fit state for my parents to see when they get here today.)

These standards sound like an interesting idea, but some states will never give up the power to make their own standards, even if they are offered a lot of money. Doing this in a time when education is hurting for money is a fairly good plan, because a few states that aren't sure might accept out of desperation. However, I doubt that certain states (like ones that insist that they won't teach evolution in school) would ever accept national control of standards unless they are forced to.

Edited at 2010-03-11 03:11 pm (UTC)
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