Friday, September 19, 2014

Day13: I Am Confused-Can you help?

So this post is not really about my classes, but it is about math education.  My sister called me yesterday to see if I could help with my niece's math homework (3rd grade.)  She is learning the associative and commutative properties of addition. She had this worksheet to do, which I actually just now found here:
These are the problems she wasn't sure about.  Now before I saw the whole worksheet, I just asked her to tell me what the examples said and she read the examples from the boxes on the first page.  I asked her to tell me what she noticed about the numbers in the example problems and she said the numbers were the same, they just either changed order or the position of the parentheses were changed.  So I asked her how that could help her figure these problems out and she got it.

Before my sister called me, she asked one of her friends.  Her friend actually got really angry and upset about the problems and sent my sister the following comments in an email. 

"This, problem, and the other, s problem, are patterns not math.
 This stupid, t and the other stupid, t are patterns not math."

So my smarty pants sister replied "well aren't patterns math?" (Yay sissy!)

And she got this reply:
"If they are, they still aren't *that* math.  I ran the problem by *** this morning to see whether she had been brainwashed at school, and she found that s=5, t=0, and u=16.  Would a teacher say she's wrong? 

That problem encourages our children to use flawed logic and leads them to believe that the answer they come across most easily (using a prescribed method) is the only answer.  That's bad enough, but they're being encouraged to think that way in other subjects, too.  Now imagine that type of thinking applied to religion, politics and interpersonal relationships.  

These are well educated, very nice people. I am suprised by their anger and response. What do you think?

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