Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Blocks

August is a fruitful time of year here in the Central Valley.

Peaches and nectarines and tomatoes and cucumbers and squashes, oh my! Apples and almonds are ripening; this year has been very good for the pomegranates, which are swelling with a promise of November deliciousness. Good stuff now, good stuff to come.

August 5th was the first day of school in this school district. My granddaughter was glad to start third grade, welcoming the volume of socialization that classes would bring. I'm glad she enjoys school, and thinks her classmates are fun to be with.

Nevertheless, I have two thoughts that are less happy.

Number Two is that August 5th is too damn early to take kids away from swimming and playing in the summer weather. What sense does it make to stuff kids in a classroom during just about the hottest time of year? Gosh, the state must be lying about not having enough money for education if it wants to pay for air conditioning in August instead of the lower rate of heating the crowded classrooms in the winter!! Damn that lying state! Damn that lying school district! Both of them would rather send the kids home for a couple weeks in the fall and in the spring -- times when neither heat nor AC are usually necessary.

Stupid, wasteful, inconsiderate, and unneccessary.

But wait! There's more! If you want a heaping helping of STUPID, try this one on: students are not allowed to bring their textbooks home.


No, not even if the parents request it so that they can read the textbooks to understand what their children are going to be learning this year. Lil's parents made the request this year, and were refused. Because there is a chance of naughty students losing or defacing their books, even responsible students and parents must be treated the same as miscreants. Or so they say.

I helped Lillian with her math homework more than once last year, and once already this year, and I can confidently say that the person who wrote the courses is a moron. No repetition, no learning to memory. Memorization is Old School. Modern Learning means counting how many ones equals eight -- the "ones" symbolized as blocks.

Come on, this is third grade. Why are the kids still using blocks to count? Seriously, I'm not making this up. Learning to write numbers in the thousands, the little illustrative pictures on the worksheet (copying costs are far preferred to reading out of their text for free) literally had pictures of blocks to tell the children how many units were in the ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands columns. Now, the thousands column's number was represented by a picture of cubic figures of a thousand blocks each. Did each child count each block to make out a thousand? No, of course not. A picture of a cubic figure cannot show a thousand individual blocks. Well, the children are taught that the picture of the big block of blocks is equal to a thousand.

Let's review that quickly: the children are taught that a symbolic thousand is equal to one thousand. Isn't that like saying to the child, "This symbol -- '1,000' means one thousand." No? Did they make any of the children actually count out a thousand blocks? No, of course not, that would be a ridiculous waste of time for an eight year old.

A question on her homework this week ran something like this: "Write out the number eight thousand, four hundred, seventy-three. Explain."

WTF? Explain what? There were two whole page-width lines on which the student was to answer. My answer, when I looked at it, was, "8,473. Because that's the way it is written, Asshole."

I sent Lil with the page to Bernie to see what he would suggest instead.

I think the books are kept secret because there might be a couple parents with brains who would look at them, and either be able to explain better than the stupid teacher, or who would look at them and understand that our tax monies are being wasted on fads.

1 comment:

Tweetywill said...

Amen, Amen, and Amen. The dumbing down of America is proceeding at a frightening pace. Because dumb people are easier to control?