Why Johnny Can't Balance the Checkbook
Monday, October 09, 2006
My son is in first grade, and uses "Everyday Math".

I HATE Everyday Math. I'm not the only one - a lot of teacher's aren't fans either.

It is the most dumbed down, watered down mathematics (notice I didn't say arithmetic) program I've seen.

It is disjointed. The first two weeks, he had worksheets on thermometers, clocks, calculators, and anything else that had numbers on them. There was no comprehensive goal - (this is a clock. We use it to tell time. We will work with clocks for X weeks and you will learn how to tell time.)

His homework the first month consisted of things like, "count the number of thermometers or things that measure hot and cold in your house." (Note: the definition of thermometer is not "something that measures coldness"!) In fact, you can't measure coldness, as cold is a lack of heat. So you can technically only measure how much or how little heat there is.

I digress.

The next week, he was sent home a sheet that asked him to draw a picture of a clock in his house. Perusing the curricula online, I learned that first graders will not be introduced to the minute hand, as that is too complicated at this stage. They will only read the hours.

A week later, we got a Note to Parents explaining that there would be no word problems, but instead the preferred lexicon was number story, to emphasize that it was a story about numbers. The example given? Ana has 3 apples, and Reynaldo has 1 apple. They have 4 apples. Do you like apples?

Yeah. This is math class, not peer counseling.

Last week he started bringing home blank worksheets. Monday I stared confused at a page that consisted of 20 blank pictures of hands. No instructions. I later learned that he was supposed to write a number in each hand and create his own math problems.

A couple of days later is was blank apples with lines drawn down the middle. He told me he was supposed to draw apple seeds on each side of the line, and then write the number of seeds in each apple. When I checked his work, he had written 3 +2 = 5; 2 + 3 = 5, 3 +2 = 5, 3 +2 = 5, 3 +2 = 5... Mama drew some more seeds and forced him to solve more than the 1 problem 10 times over. This child could add sums up to 20 last year, in private kindergarten. He's just sliding by right now.

What is this "make your own worksheet"? How is a child going to progress if he is never challenged beyond his comfort level?

At parent teacher conference, his teacher told me that they do lots of hands on work that is not reflected in the homework. I can understand that, and his teacher seems competent and caring. I think her hands are just tied by a combination of bad curriculum and a system that separates children based on age, and not ability.

However, she also told me the children practice math by playing card games, such as WAR but which is called something else; and other games with each other. I don't remember all the details, but one game consisted of rolling dice two times, writing down the numbers, and adding them. If you got the answer correct, you got a point. Sounds fun and probably effective, but if there are 14 groups of kids playig this game all at the same time, who's checking the answer? "Oh, they check each other." Great, the blind leading the blind! If Johnny doesn't know 3 +4 = 7, then how can he tell Sally if she got it right? If Sally has a crush on Johnny, is she going to tell him 3 + 2 is not 4? I wouldn't have when I was 7 years old.

Don't even get me started on the invented spelling. That's another post, another rant. Suffice it to say, that even though P is at school for hours each day, I find I am still doing a fair share of homeschooling.

Here's a great article, BTW, on effective hands on learning that I am such a big fan of:
Tactile Lessons from Helen Keller

Tags: Homeschooling, Mama Says
posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/09/2006 09:44:00 AM | Permalink | |