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They’re Catching Up!

We get a quarterly mailing from our local school system.  We live in a rural area with a consolidated middle and high school that serves parts of two counties.  Not a huge school, but bigger than the less-than-500-total K-12 school I attended!

This issue was about math. 

Now, I’ll be the first to say that I know there are many wonderful, caring teachers in many schools.  I don’t fault them.   It’s the system that isn’t always in the best interest as someone in Washington tries to “standardize” academic learning as if children are widgets on a factory conveyor belt.

The title of the main article was how mathematics proficiency is about understanding and application.

I certainly agree with that!

This particular paragraph amazed me, and then tickled me.

We know that what children need to learn in mathematics today is vastly different from what they needed to learn only a few years ago.  Computation, basic math skills, and memorizing formulas remain important, but math proficiency today is all about understanding and application.  Students must be able to connect mathematics to other subjects and the real world….”

I found myself scratching my head that until today, apparently, understanding and connecting math to the real world wasn’t as important?!  I don’t think that’s what the writer really meant….was it?!

I know when we used Math-U-See,  Steve Demme had shared how some of his students in class knew the basic operations, but not when to use them.  Both are important! 

A few paragraphs later:

Schools in the United States traditionally teach mathematics an inch deep and a mile wide while schools in other countries teach for a deeper understanding.  We can no longer teach as we have always taught.  Today’s children must be able to apply mathematics skills to everyday situations; they must know how, when and why to do it.

Again, I find myself wondering…what have they been teaching?  And up until recently we haven’t taught this way?

I think if we look at the history of education, someone may find that 100+ years ago math was taught quite differently in our schools.  A quick look at Ray’s Arithmetics, which were finished in 8th grade, would show that they knew their math waaaayyyyy better than most college bound seniors today!

I agree that schools teach math (and other subjects) an inch deep and a mile wide–it’s the nature of the system.  There have certainly been strides in many schools to change some of that, but quite frankly, you can only do so much when you have a student for 1 hour a day, in a class of 20-30 students with all their varying degrees of need and abilities of understanding.  I have learned from teaching piano that you can’t go home with the student and motivate them–especially if they don’t have the support at home.  I really feel for public school teachers who really care and try–they have a hard job!

I think the acknowledgement of needing to teach math differently and make sure it applies is commendable. 

I also think homeschoolers have been doing this for a long time!  

I am perpetually “behind” in math, it seems, yet my children have always seemed to have a strong conceptual understanding.   I always felt if I had to err on one end of it or the other, knowing the when and why was a bit more important than speed. 

Soon I’ll be reviewing a new math program we are trying and are really liking!  One that I believe fits the criteria the article in our local school’s mini-magazine is looking for, but this one was developed by a homeschooling mom for use by homeschoolers (although those wanting extra help remediating math could use it, too!)  Stay tuned in a few weeks for the review!

It was funny how the captions to the pictures all involved math–a young man saying how music helps him with his math, another saying, “Believe it or not, there’s a lot of math involved in sewing!”

Not news to us!  :D

I’m not knocking the school–kudos to them for trying to do a better job.

It just makes me feel good to be able to homeschool and be on the cutting edge–even ahead of the public school!

I think I might keep this one and put it in my “Why I Homeschool” file!   If I’m ever questioned, I can show how we were doing this before it was the “going thing”! 

Isn’t it nice to know the public schools are catching up to us?!   ;)



4 Responses to “They’re Catching Up!”

  1. Heather Croswhite says:

    Can’t wait to see the new cirriculum you’ve come up with ! Have a blessed day :)

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Math-U-See, Lisa Boyle. Lisa Boyle said: RT @mathusee: Found this blog post, "They're Catching Up to Us" math in public schools vs #homeschool http://bit.ly/gnx20m ^ED […]

  3. AprilS says:

    I completely agree with you! Kids always complain “When am I ever going to use this!?” and if you can show them, they gain an appreciation for what they are learning.
    I work for an online video curriculum company and funny enough, we get the biggest complaints from students when we have problems that ask them to apply the concepts they just learned. Despite the fact that it is showing them how they will use this information in the real world, they just want someone to tell them how to do it instead of making them think. Which goes to show, kids are just the same as they ever were. We just need to make sure they are still learning at a high level and not just skimming the surface to cover as much as possible as many of the public schools do now.

    • Trisch says:

      April, you are so right! Let’s face it–thinking is work, and I think we all at one time or another have wanted out of that one!

      I think I’m guilty even as an adult! ;)


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