Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Everyday Bullstuff

A few years ago, a neighbor of mine asked me a question. She was sending her kids to the local, parish school (the one I had attended, by the way) and was confused as to why they were starting to teach this thing called "Everyday Math". It was the first I'd heard of any such thing and decided to check it out. My neighbor was on the education advisory committee for the school at some point and tried to buck the system, but there was NO bucking the system. "When the kids go on to public school in the 7th grade (the parish school is only K-6) they will be learning with the public school children who learned "Everyday Math" so we might as well prepare them for THAT." was the standard line of reasoning she had been given.

Her son was having great trouble with this "new math" and had always excelled at math before. She asked me to take a look at the book and see if I could help him (and her) understand it a little better. Another neighbor (one of my best friends)'s child had recently enrolled in the local public schools and she, too was befuddled by this "new math" so I checked out HER book too.

(This, whole thing is pretty funny since I'm not exactly known for my wonderful math skills. I never learned properly myself (just wasn't that interested in math) and I totally regret that I didn't pay more attention to this day! I think they just wanted an "alternative schooler's" point of view or something like that.)

Even a dummy (in math) like me could see that this program was incredibly STUPID and a waste of time. I sat there absolutely STUNNED that someone would invent such a way to confuse children and NOT teach them the basic facts. The books were SO bad that I could only encourage the parents to fight it with all of their hearts and not give up. I told them to teach their children the way THEY were taught and maybe the kids would "go along to get along" but at least would learn the easier/more efficient/old-fashioned way and have a CHANCE of understanding how math really works in the end.

The whole experience made me REALLY happy that I decided to homeschool, but it made me extremely sad for the parents who don't really feel that they have that option and are forced to capitulate to the school's demands that their children receive a sub-standard education. If the parents went to the teachers (and they did) and demand to know why their child is learning this non-sense, or complain that they find it impossible to help their children with their homework...they were encouraged to "learn the new method themselves" and that was pretty much IT.

I'm all for adapting and learning new things, but RE-LEARNING something that you ALREADY KNOW one, really efficient way is like...

Let's say I am a hairdresser. I've been a hairdresser for 30 years and I'm really good at it. I have lots of repeat customers and new customers who LOVE me and my style. Now, the state recommends that I take a remedial course to learn basic, hairdressing skills in order to keep my license. "No big deal!" I say, figuring that I have the experience and knowledge to do quite well. "Oh, by the way..." says the state, "you'll have to learn the 'new hairdressing' wherein you actually do all of your haircuts with a manicuring scissors instead of a full-size one, you have to do buzz cuts with a nose-hair trimmer instead of that Wahl that you're used to, and you MUST use toothpicks instead of perm rods from now on!". "Gee, that's kinda stupid." I say. "WHAT?" says the state, "These, new methods work just FINE. We have been testing them and teaching them for over 4 months to the new hairdressers-in-training and we are finding that they work. If you rock the boat, or refuse to learn the new methods...well, I'm sorry, but you'll just have your license taken away. End of discussion."

Crazy analogy? Tell me what YOU think after viewing this video I just found on this post at Michelle Malkin:

I watched the WHOLE THING with my mouth on the floor.

There is hope. This is a portion from MM's post:

But don’t give up and don’t give in. While New York City remains wedded to “Everyday Math” (which became the mandated standard in 2003), the state of Texas just voted before Thanksgiving to drop the University of Chicago textbooks for third-graders. School board members lambasted the math program for failing to prepare students for college. It’s an important salvo in the math wars because Texas is one of the biggest markets for school textbooks. As Texas goes, so goes the nation.

God bless Texas!