Sunday, August 20, 2006

Math Follies

We grew up listening to Tom Lehrer records. And one of my favorites is:

Hooray for new math,
It won't do you a bit of good to review math.
It's so simple,
So very simple,
That only a child can do it!

Here's the full song.

Now, imagine you're on the School Board of a small school district. Imagine that parents and teachers have been complaining to you for years that one of the Math Curricula is bizarre, that students who do well in the "New Math" version get great grades in Middle School and then go on to flunk basic Algebra in High School, as taught with traditional methods, because the "New Math" simply doesn't work.

Imagine that all the adminstrators (and some of the math teachers) have been telling you that we must keep the "New Math" version, because, after all, not ALL of our students are going to go on to become scientists. Really, they only need a basic understanding of math, not all that fancy higher end stuff like Calculus. (One of the MATH teachers said this to me!!) Imagine Suisan yelling at one poor administrator during a public meeting, "That is NOT an Excuse! What if they want to be Game Designers? Economists? Pilots? Scuba Divers? Think they should know about rates of change then?"

Imagine that the Math Department of the High School finally rose up and decided to scrap the "New Math" program. Imagine that they took a vote and decided to adopt an entirely different textbook series, one based on Traditional Methods, for the 2006-2009 Textbook Adoption Cycle. Imagine the School Board sighing in relief in February of 2006 when they heard that this change had come from within, democratically, and had neatly bypassed any further public arguments on the matter.

Imagine that school starts Monday, August 21.

Imagine learning that there are NO Math textbooks at the High School. Imagine learning that the District Office had neglected to...wait for it, because it's so damn infuriating...had neglected to order the new textbooks.

I guess that's one way the administration has of ensuring that its point of view is always reflected in the schools. Forget what the parents have lobbied for. Forget what the teachers and Department Heads have voted in. Simply forget to place the order.

The next person who stands in front of me, with their hand on their collarbones, eyes closed, chin tipped to the sky, and tearfully says, "It's for the children," WILL be used for target practice by Yours Truly.

1 comment:

CindyS said...

Take pictures!!

CindyS (it's for the children!)