Q&A #2916

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Accelerated Math program

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From: david glenn <david@glennweb.net>
To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2003040912:27:30
Subject: Accelerated Math Program Parent

I have a 12 year old who has been in AM math for 3 years. She has some
difficulty with math in general (mostly computation) and we have
worked to overcome that (calculator, etc.), so she isn't necessarily
working on the objectives that the majority of the class is working on
at the time (though we have worked hard and she is now ahead of most
students). However, this means that AM math, for us, is basically Math
home-schooling. So here's my beef(s):

- AM drives a subconscious level of 'you will never do/be good enough'
attitude into students. When a class is working (all) together the bar
is set, collectively. When a student gets a grade he can generally
feel his level from that collective. However, with AM math, the
student can never achieve a feeling that he/she is 'at collective
level'. There is always more, no matter how hard you work, you don't
reach a small plateau where you can take a breather. I am glad my
daily software development job isn't that stressful, sometimes it's a
big climb, but there are rest periods where work is a bit mundane/easy
because of mastery of a certain kind. What kind of math torture are we
putting kids through with AM?

- AM sets up a great deal of 'extra' work for everyone (students,
parents, teachers). I am sure grading is a pain, but automating
grading of multiple-choice questions is hardly the answer (or really
math for that matter). We have a two-earner family and we certainly
resent the sometimes large amount of homework we must see/help our
daughter plow through (which always includes 3-8 pages of AM
problems/reviews/tests -every- night). If I had an 8-hour per day job
with 2-3 hours of homework, I'd be looking to move on PDQ. Why can we
subject kids to more than we would be willing to take money for?

- The technology tug-of-war. Here, do your AM on the computer, it's
great. Oh, you can't use a calculator. Umm, can we not be so
schizophrenic here? (Hey, maybe you shouldn't use a glorified
calculator to grade my math then!?) Face it, calculators are a part of
life. We should evolve our computational teaching to admit it. And, of
all things, calculators should be at the core of AM.

- The lag of daily objective teaching and AM work. The student hardly
ever is at the AM level that is being taught daily, in our experience.
Which means the student has forgotten completely (due to lack of use)
the new AM objective when he/she gets to it. Ah, the parents can fill
in again...

- And finally, I am a CS major (22 years in software dev.). I have
learned/used my fair share of higher level math. So, when I am the
at-home resource for math 'difficulties' every night, I can deal with
it. What about the average parent? Since AM doesn't (necessarily)
follow a book or available math resource, how am I expected to deal
with concepts I haven't used in years? (Why should I be expected to at
all?) To the AM producers, where the hell is the parent's resource for
your fine product?

-frustrated AM parent

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