Funk & Wagnalls defines Education as “a systematic development or training of the mind, capabilities, or character through instruction or study.”
When looking at the following examples, please keep this definition in mind.
Here is an actual example of a math problem given to a 4th grader:
First of all, there is no “strategy” to multiplication. That is like saying there is a strategy to eating a cookie. Plus the word “strategy” is not defined for the student, nor are the strategies given a clear definition. (Already the author has taken a simple task such as multiplying and turned it into an unnecessary complexity.) The concept that all multiplication is basically a short-cut to addition can be demonstrated but in reality, one must memorize the basic facts. The way the student is required to write the solution to 9 X 6 is again too complicated and in my opinion, the author(s) are intentionally confusing the student.
A simpler way to have a student truly understand the concept of “multiplication” is to give the student 9 paper plates and have the student put 6 buttons on each plate. There are many ways to get a 4th grader to fully understand and know how to multiply but the above example is NOT a workable one and should be deleted from use.
This is a math problem from the third grade FCAT*:
The problem starts off fine but quickly goes off the rails. The focus of the problem is completely incorrect. The student should be able to identify 75 cents but instead has to name the fewest coins available that equals 75 cents. (I seriously doubt the bus driver cares how many coins it takes to pay a 75 cent bus fare as long as it is paid.) Further, most third graders cannot yet express themselves in writing and demanding a written explanation for a bogus problem is ridiculous.
Here is an example of what I consider the utter destruction of reading and language arts:
A “Daily Warm-Up” is the name of a series of reading comprehension and language arts pages. The student has to complete one Daily Warm-Up per day for homework.
The quality of writing is very poor, making me believe that the author of this article does not really know what a paragraph actually is because what is written are NOT paragraphs. Yet this is the “writing standard” for a second grade student. What is written about Denzel would be acceptable if the author was in the second grade, however, this article was written by a teacher and completely unacceptable.
The following are actual quotes from a book on how to turn bullies into your friends:
Under the section titled “Why You Are Picked On
Page 7 “The real reason they bully you is because you get mad and try to stop them. Without realizing it, you are actually making them bully you.”
Under the section titled “Stop Thinking of Bullies as “Bad Guys”
Page 28 “We may not want to admit it, but bullies tend to have a trait we admire: courage.”
Under the section titled “What Bullies Want”
Page 28 “Remember, the best way to have power today is by offering carrots. If you understand what bullies want and make them happy, they will stop making you miserable. They can even become your friends.”
Page 28 “Bullies want respect. Everyone does. If you get mad at them, you are disrespecting them.”
Under the section titled “Treat Everything as the Words of Your Best Friend”
Page 36 “If someone calls you stupid, tell yourself they are saying it not because they want to hurt your feelings but because they want to help you be smarter. So how could you be mad at them? Or if they call you a fatso, it is because they are trying to encourage you to go on a diet. So be appreciative.”
Under the section titled “Don’t Defend Yourself”
Page 43 “If you don’t want to be the loser and you don’t want to have enemies, you must decide not to defend yourself when someone attacks you.”
The book is 107 pages of similar statements, including advice to the reader to not tell on bullies. The author boasts that he has successfully cracked the bully situation and is an adviser to mental health practitioners and schools across the United States.
Frankly, I would not let this man walk my dog. The statements in this book, in my opinion, are disgusting and grossly irresponsible.
The above are just a few examples of how the educational system in our country is getting it wrong (my opinion).
Any material that is confusing, over complicated and does not contribute to the student mastering a skill should be considered ineffective and in my opinion, dropped from curriculum.
In this country, we operate under the arrogance that our educational system is perfect. Yet every day, children are diagnosed with various “learning disorders” without anyone ever challenging the tests or materials being presented. (What would the pharmaceutical companies do if schools found fault with the lessons and not the children?)
What is needed is a change. Change means “completely new.” And when one changes a flat tire they do not keep ANY of the old tire. Our school system desperately needs a change, not more of what doesn’t work.
*FCAT (Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test)
The FCAT is an annual test given to students in grades 3-11 that measures their skills in the areas of reading, math, science and writing according to Florida’s Sunshine State Standards. Just to organize a concluding paragraph provides consulting the professors.