"Why Americans Stink at Math" . . (way OT)


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Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
Maestro, Ecosystem Ministry, Fatcrackistan
Aug 6, 2014 - 06:57am PT
It seems patently obvious that socioeconomic status affects both the school's readiness to teach and the student's ability to learn. Also the participation of the parents has a huge impact too.

In fact it takes a village to raise a child. If one lives in a shithole expect shithole schools. There will be exceptions of course, but if the citizens of a given school district simply don't give a sh#t, and there are millions of such people, then the schools will reflect that attitude right back to the citizens.

I would say that failures in American education system are not due to government nor teacher malfeasance. There is no single point of failure, no one thing you can point to and say, "ah HA, there's the problem!"

It is a lack of will and a lack of priority.

My only stake in this debate is that of a reasonably intelligent parent with two high school grad children. Oh and the fact that I or their mother were at most every parent/teacher meeting since kindergarten through 12th grade. In kindergarten, a lot (not all) of parents show up for school participation in various forms. By 8th grade parental participation seems to have dropped off significantly, but it also seems High School is where a lot of parents stop participating at all.

So for parent/teacher night in the 12th, when we visited each teacher for a few minutes of what they had going on, etc. and there were maybe 5-7 parents attending each meeting, for class sizes of 30 or more.

Normal, I suspect and my parents weren't much different in this realm. I was a good student but I strayed in High School and they were asleep at the switch.

I think involved parents who set high expectations of their kids, make the key difference and the lack of involvement, for whatever reasons good or bad, leads to a degradation of the school system itself.

Parents..... and their kids. It all starts there. A public school system cannot fix a bad parent through the child. Of course a good educator can make a huge difference even there, one kid at a time. But a school system can't do that.



Trad climber
'cross the great divide
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 6, 2014 - 11:43am PT
That's the spirit wbw. IMO public education needs teachers with your kind of attitude.

Thanks Yanqui. That is a very nice compliment.

I think one of the ideas behind the Common Core (at least as it is playing out in my district) is that kids will have the same book, and that all classes are at more-or-less the same place, so that a student could move from one school to another, and get the same academic experience at any time. But this defies Common Sense.

At my school, we have an International Baccalaureate program, and have for years. That program pulls in hundreds of kids from out of the school attendance area. Because it is such a challenging program, most of those kids have done well before open enrolling into my school. This has the effect of helping my school to attract and retain good teachers, because the parent population demands it and because teachers want to teach students like this. This has an additional effect of attracting (mostly) good administrators. I have seen poor administrators run out of my school by teacher pressure. We have an administration that is very creative in problem solving, and actually supports creative methods in the classroom, even though many of us are more traditional in our methods than not.

Some in my district are critical of my school, saying that we "steal" their best kids from other schools.

Well, to that I respond that you can sit on your ass and wallow in mediocrity, or you can get up and get to work on giving kids the best possible education that you can, however you can. At my school, it is considered cool to be smart amongst the kids, so this also has a very broad and positive effect on the learning environment.

Dingus, you hit the ball out of the park on that last post. Parents and their appropriate involvement in their kid's education has BY FAR the biggest positive effect on their kid's education. BY FAR . . .
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 6, 2014 - 12:39pm PT
I believe the first study says that access to more math classes is the strongest correlative to success in advanced math. They also observe that students learn math at school, not at home. Parental expectations correlate, not parental tutoring.

The second study correlates student performance with the school'a SES and finds that "poor" schools indicate poor student performance. The first study also makes the observation that in poor schools the number of math classes available to the students is less than "rich" schools.

At least one of the ideas is to bring the curriculum to a standard for all schools. Presuming local, state and federal support for that standard which includes funding.

I believe both studies are optimistic regarding the remedy, which is adequate support for schools to offer more math classes.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Aug 12, 2014 - 09:42pm PT
Top Math Prize Has Its First Female Winner


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