On Jul 8, 2013, at 10:32 PM, GS Chandy <email@example.com> wrote:
> So how would you go about teaching a student who hadn't been able to master 'completing the square' because he/she had already been turned of all of math by previous incompetent and ineffective 'teaching'?
I would do what I have done before, I would talk to the student and find out what they know and what they don't know and start there. I am pretty damn good at uncovering the holes and unless they are just plain belligerent I can generally get through "dislike". I use my wit and charm. Fortunately, with young people, even if they are having problems with math and think they dislike it, they are not disgruntled. They are not old enough to build those impenetrable barriers. I am not saying that I will always succeed. I am saying that as long as the point is to teach mathematics I will not quit and teach songs instead.
> Is it that he/she is 'intellectually incapable' to master 'completing the square' - or is the underlying problem something else entirely?
Could be a number of reasons.
> In your own words, what the heck good is any more 'conventional teaching' going to do for that student? (More of the same stuff that had already turned him/her off is clearly not going to work!!)
How many times have I or others here talked against just passing students along? I have said many times that the only intervention I see possible is to take the student off track and work with them more closely. Maybe one on one or one on two or one on what ever number it is that still allows you to deal with the subject more individually and personally. But you have to be honest. The student at some point needs to be able to get back on track and join that conventional class. Tutoring with no end is also a fail.
> I AM suggesting that the teacher has to be able to find out just WHY a particular student may have a negative attitude to math - and then the teacher may well be able to work out a practical means to help overcome that attitude.
That is what most teachers already do. You don't have to be a teacher teaching children very long to figure that out. But it is one teacher and 20 or more students. There are practical limits to what one teacher can do and when the parents are absent in this process that leaves a big hole. Nonetheless, most teachers DO NOT quit and teach songs. They strive. They really do.
Finally, there needs to be options for those students that, for whatever reason, don't thrive with mathematics beyond arithmetic. There are a lot of them and right now there are no options for them until they drop out of school. Even though, it is easily proven that most people do not use algebra (or beyond) in their work or lives. However, I see some signs of change recently. I see states at least rescinding the requirement that all students take algebra 2, and I see a few states replacing that with vocational options. Will this catch up to and overtake the college juggernaut that started in the 90's? I don't know. I hope so.
If education stopped passing students along, provided a chance of intervention to all students, and when all else fails, provided options, would there be any reason for Richard to quit trying to teach completing the square and teach a song instead?