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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Comments

Tara

Don/Dan makes an excellent point. I enjoyed the phrase "desk murderer" - and will probably steal it for myself sometime. His position that eduland perpetuates something that does hardly anybody, hardly any good can be proven. Moreover, his thoughts that there were Nazis who truly cared about their families, children, and warm, fuzzy puppies must be true, too. Why more people don't see that, yes, the professors may be very nice folks (though perhaps a bit batty) and proclaim to care about kids...yet refuse to see the facts AS THEY ARE and work to bring about change, is beyond me. I appreciate Don/Dan's desire to bring this into the limelight, like our good friend, the inimitable Professor Plum. It's always nice to see kindred spirits out in cyberspace. ;) Thank you.

Garbo

"I guess most of us think of evil as exciting..."

That is precisely what makes the banal variety of evil the most dangerous--we are much less likely to recognize it until it has inflicted massive damage, if then.

Evil lurks in the dullest places; for example, Colorado's Mathematics Content Standards. Here's an excerpt:

"Second grade students will, using objects and pictures, represent whole numbers including odds and evens from 0 to 1,000."

"Third grade students will, using objects and pictures, represent whole numbers including odds and evens from 0 to 10,000."

"Fourth grade students will, using objects and pictures, represent whole numbers including odds and evens from 0 to 1,000,000."

Reread it, carefully.

This is typical of what schools and teachers in most states are REQUIRED to do to kids. (Fortunately for the kids, most of us refuse to carry it out.)

The potentially enormous quantity of wasted time and lost opportunity for learning real math is a legitimate but secondary concern, as is the practical impossibility of these tasks. The most dangerous problem: This activity is the EXACT OPPOSITE of the math-learning process, in which students progress through increasing levels of GENERALIZATION AND ABSTRACTION. Our children are not simply being led through idiotic activities, they are being taught anti-math instead of math.

(For excellent analysis of and commentary on math standards, see the Fordham Foundation's "The State of State Math Standards 2005" by David Klein et al, from which I lifted the above excerpt:

https://www.edexcellence.net/foundation/publication/publication.cfm?id=338)

Don/Dan, I share your concern about going to extremes, or being perceived as going to extremes, in naming the ills of education. If I went to a math curriculum meeting and called the standards evil, I would be thrown out and lose one possible venue for bringing about change.

But you are not "over the top," you are right--it IS evil. There is no other word for damage to children intentionally inflicted by adults in power. Thanks for recognizing it, naming it and posting it.

Rock on, Don!

plum

Please elaborate, Garbo. Tell us what's wrong with those objectives and how they (and others) are anti-math.

JennyD

Dan, I am a teaching assistant for a group of undergrads who are a few years away from being in a classroom alone. The professor who does the main lecture started his talk the other day by asking us to consider the guards at Abu-Ghraib prision. "They are all probably decent people who wanted to do the right thing," the prof says. But over time, the demands of the system of being a prison guard, the skewed sense of right and wrong and acceptable, make it possible for these people to engage in behavior that the rest of the world found shocking and horrible.

The prof used that in order to get the students to consider that the "education" system, the groupthink and ideals and all that, might do the same thing to them.

Interesting.

David Foster

It may be going a bit far to compare the Educrats with the Nazis. I compare them with the generals of World War I (on all sides)...who simply found it too painful to *think* and consider that there might be better ways of doing things than to have men walk s-l-o-w-ly into machine gun fire. Although the failing involves a lack of empathy, it is primarily about extreme mental rigidity.

reelman in La.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Teachers are the not lone "success key" in the four part educational equation (students, parents,teachers,admins).

When are those "professional" (now there is an abused term) administrators going to face the fact that its poor parenting plus cultural influences (lawsuits, lack of shame/respect and material distractions) that have trashed achievement the past 30 years or so?

Education was once about career success and character building. Now its about the "daily happiness" of students and inflating grades to keep parents (and often admins) happy.

How about extending the "freedom to fail" from the real world (or sports world) to the high school? Why not give them the grades they earned and send those home who sleep or otherwise disrupt the teaching-learning process? Some even say that the time to end compulsory attendance is now (send them home to the sorry parents who are a huge part of education's problem).

The clueless keep having meetings as they "pretend" to have found a new path to student success (again). District admins also travel the country monthly to bring more fads home to their district. Unless you hold (lazy spoiled) students and (weak) parents accountable, its all just expensive fad after expensive fad. All you can do is all you can do. Like football, the fundamentals never change and we all should know what they are by now.

If sports had been as dumbed down as most school academics the past few decades, it would be 5 strikes for an "out" and 7 yards for a "1st down". On second thought, why not have that? Then players and parents would be so much happier...and that (plus $) is what education today mostly is about.

Why not "re-norm" sports (because more kids play) like they did to the A.C.T. in 1991 so 17 became a 20 and 28 became a 30 (because more kids took it). Now the S.A.T will have an subjective section. The key word is "subjective". More educational "smoke and mirrors" to avoid reality and inflate success.

I only had 33 years in the classroom so forgive me if I just "don't get it".
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