Monday, January 14, 2008

Diversity vs. Math

Jay P. Greene and Catherine Shock wrote Adding Up to Failure for the City Journal. They conducted an interesting study. They looked at the courses to prepare teachers at many of the nation's top education universities. They compared the number of diversity courses to the number of math courses and found the average was 1.82 diversity courses for every math course.

Stop and think about that for a minute.

The article started off with:

"A good education requires balance. Students should learn to appreciate a variety of cultures, sure, but they also need to know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide."

I would have changed it slight to:

"A good education requires balance. Students should learn to appreciate a variety of cultures, sure, but they also need to know how to first add, subtract, multiply, and divide."

It is these kinds of articles that point out one of the strengths of homeschooling. Parents aren't distracted from the core of an education. Children who are homeschooled have a solid foundation. They know how to read, how to write, and can handle the math. From there they can then move on to other things like appreciating other cultures. Unfortunately children in public schools never get the foundation.

(Hat tip: Friends of Dave)

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Crimson Wife said...

I don't understand why there has to even be a separate "diversity" or "multiculturalism" course. Yes, the student population today is often very diverse. But I believe teachers should learn about those issues in the context of subject matter courses. For example, a unit on multiculturalism within a literature or history class. That would keep the focus on academics rather than on political ideology.

Henry Cate said...

Last year some time Janine meet a school teacher. The teacher was a first or second grade teacher.

The teacher said something like she only taught the lower grades, the fifth grade math was too hard for her.

I still struggle with what in the world is this woman doing teaching children if she can't handle basic, basic math.

Mrs. C said...

Henry, check out this video on how to teach "Everyday Mathematics" in public schools. I'm telling you, the WAY they teach the math is so backward and mind-boggling, I don't know that I could teach it in the upper grades, either. I stopped at basic algebra in high school, but I can multiply, divide etc. and MORE importantly, figure out how to solve a problem.

(If it doesn't work, come visit my blog, scroll down a bit and find the link. I know for sure it works there.)

But not with their system. I got the curriculum for free from our district b/c they were pitching it in favour of a new version. It's kind of me dumpster-diving, but it's nice to know what others are studying even if I teach it totally differently. I supplement with Horizons and flash cards, etc.

Crimson Wife, I've seen a lot of the "diversity" woven into the math. Now instead of Jane and Bob going to the store, it's Taneesha and Juan. Which isn't *so* bad except it just seems like they're going out of their way to think of ethnic and strange-sounding names to put in the word problems, and "Jack" gets to be a token sometimes LOL!

Henry Cate said...

Mrs. C thank you for the pointer. That is a great video. I've added it to our blog.