Q&A #2916

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Accelerated Math program

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From: david glenn

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 ~dave

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