Thursday, May 31, 2007

Screw it

I hereby renounce all attempts to reform the American education system. Let all the other kids fail for all I care, it will just make it that much easier for my kids to stand out. Sure I will have to spend numerous hours a week supplementing their education, but if it helps my kids become successful, then it's worth it.

So go enroll your kids in progressive, project based schools with low expectations, and let them take watered-down classes. Forget about learning how to do standard algorithms, buy your kids a calculator. Some of them might succeed despite the schools, but enough will fail that my kids will have a better chance of rising to the top.

Thank you for your assistance.


Anonymous said...

Rory, I am so with you on this one.

I was never out to refrom anything but I did think that there might be other people out there interested in the same sorts of issues that I was, because I don't have the answers.

Most people who ask for advice aren't really. They are just talking. It's social. And most of the time people giving advice aren't really giving it either. (I need details, not slogans.)

Many parents aren't serious about math; they are "box checking" it as a subject. As long as the school says it's okay, then it's okay. It's not just public school parents, it's homeschooling parents as well. This is a cultural problem, not just an institutional one. Folks choose math programs not written by mathematicians, not ever tested in any school simply because it says "math" on it. And, hey, it "works" for the kids because they do well on the tests provided by the same program. The kids are engaged and that's what counts and the letters m-a-t-h show up on a transcript and that's what counts.

People talk about wanting their kids to "love" math but don't even love it enough themselves to sit down and work a few problems on their own. "Hey kid, do as I say, not as I do." I shouldn't have been shocked that it was no different in math that it is in foreign language, weight loss or weight training. Everyone swears up and down they want to do it, but very few are willing to put forth the effort it takes to get the job done. It's all hype and talk. Once people realize what hard work it is they quit and rationalize it by saying that those who are successful are "mathy" or prodigies or have special talents. So out there is some kid with great parents, great teachers, who busted their butts to make sure that the kid was learning out of a good curriculum and did plenty of homework and at the end of the day the neighbors will just say that he was succesful because he's "mathy" or came from an upper socio-eco group.

PS. And I am almost done with a unit on logic from a high school book. I've learned what the logical form of a tautology is and I'm better at recognizing the converse and not assuming it.

Keep talking about what you do with your kids.

ms-teacher said...

We need people like you who are not only willing to challenge the system, but to also be willing to listen and make reasonable judgments. Even more, we need more educators like you. I hope you were only speaking out of frustration.

PaulaV said...


I think you do a wonderful job of articulating how many people feel (screw it!). I enjoy reading your blog and always come away smiling at something you've said because I find it so incredibly to the point.

I do not want my children to love math or writing. I would love for them to be taught math and writing at their school. However, I know it just isn't going to happen.

So, okay, I'll keep taking my kid to Kumon and supplementing he and his little brother's education. However, I've realized it is useless to talk with some people on reforming the American education system. They believe the school when the school says their child is okay..."She'll be fine. You worry too much. Leave it to us to take care of."

Anyway, thanks for the blog and caring. People do care. I'm one of them.

SusanS said...

It's okay, Rory. Welcome to the Save Your Own club. Steve and I have been charter members for a while. We welcome all who can't take it anymore.

concernedCTparent said...

If I had a nickel for every time I felt the same way... I'd be able to pay for this amazing private school that doesn't subscribe to constructivist math theories.

I have a suspicion though, that you care much too much. While a "competitive advantage" would be great for our kids, where would the fun in that be?

Catherine Johnson said...

no, no, no

It's not "thank you for your assistance."

It's thank you for your ongoing cooperation and support.

Catherine Johnson said...

I thought you knew that.

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm just a natural born rabble-rouser.

I can't help it.

I never even feel **tempted** to stop barging into everyone else's Educational Experience!

Catherine Johnson said...

Seriously, though, I'm never tempted because it's become so clear to me that I can't do the school's job.

A great school is to a very important degree about great peers.

When a school drags the kids down, sure: you can save your own.

But he hasn't got the peers he could have had, and he's not going to be what he could have been.

Catherine Johnson said...

That sounds alarmist, which is no fun.

But the fact of the matter is: you run faster when you're racing someone else who's fast.

I want all the kids in my district to soar partly because I want all the kids in my district to soar AND I DON'T WANT TO SPEND $20K/YR PROPERTY TAXES FOR THEM NOT TO SOAR.

But I also want all the kids in my district to soar because that's going to be good for my own kid.

Anonymous said...

I just got done being on a full year committee to evaluate and determine which math curriculum to choose for the coming year and 7 year cycle. We have Everyday Math here in MN, and guess what? We will be having 7 more years of it. I just got published in the local paper here, exposing the process and trying to get people interested in calling and complaining to the school, not just to fellow parents. Parents don't act, but it's partly because Everyday Math does such a great job in the parent letters making the parents feel small and dumb and old school. Thanks for being there to try to make a difference, Rory. We in MN are suffering greatly with about 90% of schools using reform math. But they don't have to worry, because the MN state wide assessments are rewritten to reflect that, and we keep looking as though our kids are tops. What a joke! (by the way, I started homeschooling this year, but stayed on the committee and kept one kid in school just to be a thorn!) I am at Take care!