Posted by Charity on January 23rd, 2007

This post has a little something for everyone – a homeschool tie-in, a local tie-in, and a national tie-in, so I am posting it on She’s Right (my political blog) and Crafty Mama’s Homeschool (my homeschooling/crafting blog).

Yesterday, I was reading one of my favorite homeschool blogs, Why Homeschool, and they had a link to an interview with Oak Norton, a father of five from Utah, who is fighting to get good, old fashioned math back in the schools there.

He now publishes a single-frame comic on the website Weapons of Math Destruction.

A little background, from Norton, about the problem (from the edspresso interview):

A few years ago my oldest daughter was finishing up her third grade year and at a parent/teacher conference I asked her teacher when they were going to start learning the times tables since they hadn’t yet and I’d done it nearly thirty years earlier in third grade.

The teacher replied, “Oh, we don’t do that anymore.” [pause for picking my jaw off the ground]

“You don’t do that anymore?”

“That’s right, it’s not part of the curriculum.”

“Well then how do you expect the children to learn their times tables?”

“Well,” she thoughtfully paused, “the smart kids will just pick it up as they go.” This time my jaw cracked hard when it hit the ground and I was off to the principal’s office.

The principal explained that although this method was different from how we had grown up, there were problems with traditional math and all the research showed kids were really excelling under these discovery learning methods. I left with a serious intestinal problem and promptly purchased Singapore math workbooks and flashcards for my children to make sure they knew their basic facts.

I was reading through the WMD archive, I noticed a familiar curriculum: MathLand. Wait. That’s what they use in Burlington.

As it turns out, MathLand is one of the not-really-math math programs that is responsible for dumbing-down our kids here in America.

And they do use it in Burlington. In other words, they want us to approve a spending of almost $11,000 per pupil, but the kids will likely leave without a mastery of mathematics. (Don’t worry, I am working on a school budget post.)

Thankfully, for me and my kids, the curriculum we use, Saxon, is one of the programs recommended by the WMD site. It focuses on – gasp! – rote memorization of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts AND the correct answer matters!

Why does all this – My math is better. No my math is better – matter? It just so happens, I came across a You Tube video, called “Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth,” (Hat Tip: Chanman) where examples from two leading fuzzy math texts are given (you won’t believe how profoundly stupid this is) and the real world implications for our children’s future.

The video is 15 minutes long, but you really have to see it to believe it. It is worse than you thought.

It is no secret that the United States lags behind the rest of the world in Math and Science Education. Watch this and you’ll see why.

Both the woman on the You Tube video (which is a quality video – she’s a TV weather woman) and Oak Norton recommend picking up Singapore Math to supplement your children at home.

On a side note: Did you know there is a name for that? Afterschooling. You know American Education is screwed when supplementing your child’s education is so prevalent that there is a name for it.

3 Responses to “The "Inconvenient Truth" Movie You Must See”

  1. WMD has never, and never will be, the least bit humorous. Recall our president’s little joke a few years back where he was making fun of the fact none had been found? The body count keeps rising….what a pathetic excuse for a human being.

  2. Hey, I didn’t name the site. Not everything in life is about the Iraq War. There are still battles that need to be fought here at home.

    Here’s a list of countries we were behind in 2003 for math among 15-year-olds, based on an international test.

    Hong Kong (China)
    South Korea
    Macao (China)
    New Zealand
    Czech Republic
    Slovak Republic

  3. I am not at all surprised by this.
    I see the results daily as I interact with the output of the Vermont educational factory.