Saturday, August 02, 2014

doubling up on math?

A study of schools in which students were given twice the number of math classes found that the gains were only short term and by the time students reached high school, the gains were negligible. An article in Education Week, Curriculum Matters on this notes:
"Doubling up on math classes for a year may help middle school students in the short term, but the benefits of doing so depreciate over time—and are likely not worth the price of missing out on instruction in other subjects, according to a new study published by Stanford University's Center for Education Policy Analysis."
The article does not suggest a reason for the diminishing returns, but those of us who work with our hands know that we use it or lose it. Both research and experience have shown that what we learn hands-on and by doing real things is learned to greatest lasting effect. Schools would do better by giving students shop classes in which they used math, rather than by restraining children in seats for a double dose of ineffective learning. Academically trained educators without practical experience see no other way to teach than by the boring methods through which they themselves had been trained. Perhaps they are not to blame for the state of American stupidity. How can they see the comparative ineffectiveness of their own methods if they've never been required to do real things? The separation of purely academic training from "vocational training" has gone on for so long that the original purpose of shop classes, that of enhancing academic understanding and interest, has been completely forgotten. I am up early this morning with the various steps in my cabinet making class running through my head. Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. You know you're right, and I as a teacher and leader of teachers know it as well, but is anybody going to listen?
    As a teacher in the UK, all our Government is interested in is short term, vote grabbing policies. Education is seen as a device to show how 'active' they are, often pandering to the popular point of view of higher academic achievement means a more 'educated' society, often at the expense of ridiculing and undermining the teachers they expect to deliver their flawed ideas.
    Education is too important to everyone's well being to be left for governments to be in charge of, it needs to be taken out of the political area, and given to professionals. This will require a long term view to sort out, possibly decades, but we will then be left with a vision of education that is inclusive and successful rather than then the 'hand to mouth' policy we have now.