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Topic: re: Wrong Answer: The Case Against Algebra II
Replies: 1   Last Post: Aug 29, 2013 12:15 PM

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kirby urner

Posts: 1,703
Registered: 11/29/05
re: Wrong Answer: The Case Against Algebra II
Posted: Aug 24, 2013 8:09 PM
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att1.html (4.3 K)

I like that the title uses Algebra II instead of Algebra 2,
as that gives the flavor of how musty-dusty is so much
of the heritage here. I also like that he keeps bringing
it back to Chicago, where I also lecture on curriculum
sometimes, with another workshop coming up shortly.

What I don't like is the willingness to keep math in
its box (as "high school math" -- a schoolish fiction)
and to accept the rubric of its littler boxes: Algebra I
(OK?), Geometry (also hated), Trig, Algebra II, then
maybe calculus or statistics.

There's no effort to address the question "what about
SQL HTML CSS LAMP bash?" That's obviously
"computer science", an elective, an implication
I consider a product of trashy / sloppy thinking (are
the Russians also this dumb?).

Baker's proposal that 9th graders be more actively
recruited with a more gee whiz preview / overview course,
that cultivates brand loyalty, to be followed by electives,
is constructive, insofar as it goes, but is also consistent
with state statutes that keep to "at least three years" of
mathematical subjects.

Suppose your state agrees with making Algebra II an
elective *and* mandates three years of math.

Take something else if you like.

Semi-numeric algorithms?

Mathematics for the digital age and programming in
Python?

Recipes in STEM (includes "home ec" concepts)?

Your school might have quite a smorgasbord of offerings,
from robotics to 3D animation to web development, all of
which, guess what, count as credit towards your "math"
requirement.

What's pathetic about North Americans' education, at
least south of Canada and probably there too, is the
mindless acceptance of crappy categories. "This
is math and this is not".

So much art and music that could have been kept. Such
a pile of dead bodies, destroyed careers, all based on
timidity and reverential acceptance of the
"K-through-Twelve Code" (scholastic, antiquarian,
wimpy, dust-covered, parasitic -- nothing so useful as
Da Vinci's).

What I recommend as a way of countering all this
idiocracy is that language teachers not sit on the
sidelines and watch it go down. I urge language arts
teachers to start helping themselves to unclaimed
content.

If the "math" people won't touch the Document Object
Model (DOM) and if HTML is less important than
polynomial equations, then lets bring these in, along
with Internet topologies, as topics in the Humanities.

The Romans had similar templates, would recognize
XML as more Latin grammar. Lets pioneer a civilization
wherein we stop waiting for "math" to keep up with
technology. They had their chance. Lets make
engineering more literary as a consequence, with
"pure math" for those with the least gift of the gab.

And that's where I think Baker's article arrives victorious.
Baker himself is not a math teacher. He's a smart guy
who out-witted the test makers and now writes literary
pieces for a national magazine.

We're learning more about what the old farts were
trying to teach us from little essays like this one, than
from several weeks slogging through Pearson.

He has written a history and developed a debating
position. He is armed and dangerous (figuratively,
polemically) and in that sense he's doing well.

Lets piggy back on Baker's position and make similar
gestures of disrespect towards the Core Standards
movement.

The "plan to jam" as in "jam it (Algebra II) down our
throats" is soon to be disrupted -- I think that's what
this article foretells.

Kirby



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