Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

June 24, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

SCIENTIFIC NOTATION....Today the Washington Post takes a look at looming teacher shortages caused by a wave of retirements among baby boomers combined with NCLB's requirements that all teachers have degrees and be credentialed. And I supposed I'd comment on that if I had anything intelligent to say on the subject. But I don't, so instead I'm just going to highlight this sentence that comes about halfway into the story:

Math teachers now face more pressure to engage students, to get them to really understand and enjoy scientific notation and exponents — something [Debbie] Valcour worked hard to do on a recent warm afternoon in a room full of 24 chatty sixth-graders.

Damn. They have to enjoy scientific notation? That's rough.

And while I'm at it: Scientific notation? In sixth grade? I don't remember exactly when I was taught scientific notation, but it was nowhere near sixth grade, that's for sure.

On the other hand, thanks to the New Math, I learned the basics of set theory in fourth grade. I could have corrected Mitt Romney's "null set" nonsense when I was ten. So I probably have the little beggars beat on that.

Kevin Drum 1:39 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (48)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

You're ahead of me, I never DID figure out set theory.

But I don't need it to know that anything the Mitt has to say is nonsense.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on June 24, 2007 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

And yet, for all the need for new teachers, the government is making me pay for my degree in science education (H.S. Physics and Chemistry) out of pocket.

Posted by: pansauce on June 24, 2007 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

The feds can mandate all they want, but if they want to improve education in the US, the way is to increase teachers' salaries to being on par with other professionals like doctors and lawyers, like most modern nations who care about their future and aren't counting on immigration to make up for internal brain drain.

Posted by: Disputo on June 24, 2007 at 2:09 AM | PERMALINK

Enjoying scientific notation sets a rather high bar, I'd say. Still, it's not a particularly difficult idea to get across once you've established a decent foundation with decimal notation and powers of ten. Scientific notation shouldn't be out of the reach of sixth graders.

Of course, I talk big. I have to admit that my algebra students in college never seem to be too jazzed about scientific notation themselves. Its coolness factor may not be high enough.

Posted by: Zeno on June 24, 2007 at 2:19 AM | PERMALINK

We had set theory in fifth grade (New Math) and scientific notation in 7th. This was in 1979-81.

Posted by: brooksfoe on June 24, 2007 at 2:24 AM | PERMALINK

Well, first you have to learn the concept of a line--like thin, straight, and somehow has no ends, but somehow the zero is always in the middle. New math, 1962.

Posted by: bobbyp on June 24, 2007 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

We had various forms of set theory in early grades, complete with venn diagrams and the empty set and all the rest. As I recall, I never found it all that difficult to grasp, but I also never really saw the point of it. As a logic-chopping tool, it never really seemed to tell you anything you didn't already know.

Posted by: jimBOB on June 24, 2007 at 3:08 AM | PERMALINK

Scientific notation is easy, and besides, kids have computers and are faced with rediculously large numbers every day.

Do we really want to go back to a time when not only was it hard to fire bad teachers, but the PhysEd teacher could teach Biology or Math, just because they were a teacher?

Posted by: Crissa on June 24, 2007 at 4:42 AM | PERMALINK

This is another example of the growing disconnect between the ever more advanced math standards and the math ability of the current generation of public school student.. In the LA public schools, for example, only 1 out of 12 scores 1000 or higher on the SAT (Math + Verbal), which would be only 890 under the tougher scoring in place until 1995. Yet, the LA school board has mandated that the high school freshmen entering in September must pass in order to graduate Algebra I, Geometry, and -- new for the class of 2011! -- Algebra II. That's a recipe for even higher high school drop out rates, which are well above 50% in the LA already.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on June 24, 2007 at 5:19 AM | PERMALINK

Methinks I learned scientific notation 6.02 x 10(exp23) femtoseconds ago.

Posted by: Randy G on June 24, 2007 at 6:11 AM | PERMALINK

This one always makes me nuts. People use exponential notation ALL THE TIME. People shopping for a house talk either in ^3 (150) or ^6 (1.5). When Bruce from Bayside calls up the sports talk station to bitch about player salaries, he talks in ^6.

When newspapers report on the government spending, they write either in ^9 or ^10.

This can't be hard to teach. People do it all the time.

Posted by: jayackroyd on June 24, 2007 at 6:19 AM | PERMALINK

Kids today learn PowerPoint in first grade.
It's one thing to 'learn' something, set theory, scientific notation, whatever, another to understand it.
Net commenters probably skew to the geek side, and stuff like this likely seems basic. But as we all should know, ignorance of science (facts) is no bar to electability. In some cases, it's a requirement.

Posted by: sal on June 24, 2007 at 6:25 AM | PERMALINK

Here is where I break from both parties... this should be an issue of education rather than credentialing. In fact, credentialing in my opinion tends to keep away the brightest. Who in their right might mind wants to take education classes? Sure, having a PhD does not necessarily make you a good teacher, but it seems insane that someone with a MS in education can teach physics in public schools, but someone with a PhD in physics can't (without taking education night classes in a community college)!

Posted by: Cornfields on June 24, 2007 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Since this is Washington Monthly, I wonder what percentage of public high school graduates in the District of Columbia would even recognize scientific notation? I would guess less than 5%.

Posted by: superdestroyer on June 24, 2007 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

I have never understood the reasoning behind teaching set theory, groups/rings/fields etc. to grade-schoolers, or even to high-schoolers.

I did not understand the significance of these concepts until I was in graduate school in philosophy, studying the foundations of mathematics.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on June 24, 2007 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry to re-direct here, but the issue is not when kids learn scientific notation, but the looming crisis in public education, due to teacher shortages.

There are no doubt many causes, but why would anyone want to be a public school teacher these days, when they are under constant attack by the rabid right-wing? They are underpaid and now have to constantly defend themselves against attack by right-wing doorknobs who haven't set foot in a public school in decades. The only good thing that can come from this is that it may bid up the salaries of teachers and draw more people back into this noble profession. Liberals should see this as a cautionary tale that conservatives have nearly succeeded in destroying public education and turning America into a bunch of mindless retards who get all of their misinformation from goons like Rush Limbaugh and Michael (Weiner) Savage.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on June 24, 2007 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

I learned both set theory and scientific notition when I was about 8 or nine years old. But then again, I was homeschooled, and not inculcated in the secularist public school systems.

Posted by: egbert on June 24, 2007 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

>"The feds can mandate all they want, but if they want to improve education in the US"

I wouldn't make that assumption. Do you really think the current power structure in the United States wants an educated electorate?

>"... percentage of public high school graduates in the District of Columbia would even recognize scientific notation?"

Better question: What percentage of the members of congress would understand scientific notation, basic principles of physics, chemistry etc.?

Hmmm... if there can be mandatory testing for public schools, why can't we have mandatory testing for congress. Flunk and you're out. Of course, based on recent events, cheating would be rampant.

Posted by: Buford on June 24, 2007 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Egbert homeschooled? You wouldn't suspect it, due to his abject stupidity. Then again, it was probably a good thing. I can imagine him being taped to the tetherball pole on the playground by the other kids. Every. Single. Day.

Posted by: DJ on June 24, 2007 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

I was born in 1955. I learned scientific notation in the sixth grade. It was the 60s, we were going to the moon, we had a pretty good astronomy unit.

Posted by: James E. Powell on June 24, 2007 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Sailer, above, is right. There is a complete disconnect between those who set ambitious state standards and the students who are expected to master them. And this is not limited to math.

Most college graduates I know cannot meet the California ELA content standards for 9th and 10th grade. Here's a reading standard:


Narrative Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text

3.3 Analyze interactions between main and subordinate characters in a literary text (e.g., internal and external conflicts, motivations, relationships, influences) and explain the way those interactions affect the plot.

3.4 Determine characters' traits by what the characters say about themselves in narration, dialogue, dramatic monologue, and soliloquy.

3.5 Compare works that express a universal theme and provide evidence to support the ideas expressed in each work.

3.6 Analyze and trace an author's development of time and sequence, including the use of complex literary devices (e.g., foreshadowing, flashbacks).

3.7 Recognize and understand the significance of various literary devices, including figurative language, imagery, allegory, and symbolism, and explain their appeal.

3.8 Interpret and evaluate the impact of ambiguities, subtleties, contradictions, ironies, and incongruities in a text.

3.9 Explain how voice, persona, and the choice of a narrator affect characterization and the tone, plot, and credibility of a text.

3.10 Identify and describe the function of dialogue, scene designs, soliloquies, asides, and character foils in dramatic literature.

And don't overlook that first line about grade-level-appropriate text. Only a handful of my 10th grade students can read grade-level-appropriate text.

Don't get me wrong, I think it would be great if all high school graduates could meet these standards.

Posted by: James E. Powell on June 24, 2007 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Under NCLB teachers don't necessarily have to have a degree in a subject to teach it at the high school level but they have to at least pass a test in the subject area. So, someone with a major in, say, biology could teach physics if they passed their state's test for physics. (They also have to meet their state's requirements for teaching in an area, and that may require additional course work.)

One of the problems with math education is that the teachers teaching it at the elementary and middle school level don't have to have a decent education in math. They just have to qualify under their state requirements for elementary school teaching, which almost everywhere includes passing a test that covers language arts, math, and some social science. I'm betting most of the tests aren't that hard.

Wonkie complained that:
The science teacher can't teach a section of math, for example, withhout a math degree in addition to the science degree. I have three university degrees, but no longer qualify to teach basic reading and writing to special education students.

Wonkie was mixing some of the requirements. Special education requirements are completely separate from other academic requirements. It's hardly asking too much to require teachers who are teaching kids with disabilities to have some training in teaching them effectively. We've not done that in the past, and many of those kids did not get anywhere near the education they could have.

Posted by: Lucy B on June 24, 2007 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

I and my brother recall learning scientific notation in middle school. I think that might be kind of a guess for both of us. But anyway we're both 28 (fraternal twins) so it may be something that came after your day, Kevin.

Posted by: Swan on June 24, 2007 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

I wrote some kinda related comments on this post about a kinda related porblem on the Carpetbagger Report the other day. A couple things I could have added about public schools and that I think strike to the heart of the problem with public schools are: a) it's more of the inner-city (de-facto black segregated) public schools that are the big problem and supplying the worst statistics (so anecdotes and statements about suburban, white public schools are of limited applicability). You can say that public schools in different areas are being funded or governed in the same way, so the problems should be able to be addressed in the same way, but of course children in the innner city face different problems outside of school and those schools drawn from a different hiring pool, so these schools face entirely different problems. b) IN the course of acknowledging that it's the inner-city public schools that are facing the brunt of the problems, we have to acknowledge that to improve performance, tinkering with the way the schools are run can only do so much, and we really have to worry about addressing the social problems that traditionally have afflicted African Americans and still do- making it possible for people to have effective labor unions, making sure that each and every prison does not turn out its inmates as much worse people than they were when first incarcerated, and supplying a positive environment in the community. Then black communities won't be producing so many men bound for prison anyway. Of course a big part of the problem is that ever since the Civil Rights movement, schooling policy in the ex-Confederate states is largely a game of trying to figure out how to screw over black students as much as possible while staying within the confines of the civil rights law.

Posted by: Swan on June 24, 2007 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

If you want to 'enjoy' scientific notation, here's an abridged version of the classic:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmdIbp87KLg

Each circle is a power of ten smaller than the circle before it.

Here's a more recent version:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNaMLu-Wf-w&mode=related&search=

Posted by: reino on June 24, 2007 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

From the linked WaPo article:
"Three-quarters of the nation's more than 3 million public school teachers are women, a figure that has changed little over four decades. But in that time, women have become more educated, with more career choices than ever."
::
"Overall, the proportion of women who pursue teaching after college, as well as the caliber of recruits, has declined significantly since the 1960s."
::
"The number of college-educated women in the United States tripled from 1964 to 2000, according to a 2004 study by University of Maryland economists, but the share of those graduates who became teachers dropped from 50 percent to 15 percent in the same time. And although in 1964 1 in 5 young female teachers graduated in the top 10 percent of her high school class, the ratio was closer to 1 in 10 by 2000."


Well, I think that sums it up quite well. Talented women are choosing higher paying alternative careers instead of teaching (IMO primarily due to barriers to entry being diminished since the 1960's). Pay is going to have to go up to market levels for good talent. One possible solution is to write-off student loan debt in exchange for a minimum no. of years in teaching.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on June 24, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

It's been a long time since I was in k-12, so I don't remember when I learned scientific notation. But I didn't really have to use scientific notation until I had to figure out where to put the decimal point when I was using my father's slide rule: recast the calculations in scientific notation, and use the slide rule to do the calculation, and then add (if a multiplication) or subtract (if a division) exponents. It worked every time.

Posted by: raj on June 24, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

?

Posted by: luci on June 24, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

When students at Liberty U attend science class they take copious and detailed scientific notation.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O in 08! on June 24, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Math has a grammar, like language. The two grammars should be learned simultaneously.

For example, Dick and Jane is learned along with X + Y.

Then Dick and Jane play ball. Does Dick play ball and Jane play ball?

(X+Y) * Z = X*Z + Y*Z

And so on. Mathematics is just a formalization of instinctual notions found in everyday grammar.

Word problems are tough for kids who have had their math and language grammars taught separately and at different rates.


Posted by: Matt on June 24, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

I teach math at the university level, and have to undo a lot of damage from the lower levels. There are some good reasons for why we want mathematics teachers with degrees in mathematics, even though the degree covers a lot of seeming useless things (rings, groups, fields). Teachers that have just basic math skills have a tendency of teach "the correct way" of doing things. Thus, when a student does a problem using another perfectly valid technique, this teacher will tell them that they did it wrong. Math problems may have only one answer, but there are many ways to get there. The "one true way" approach is very, very destructive on a student's problem solving skills. But, in order for a teacher to be able to recognize equally valid approaches, he/she must have a pretty strong grounding in math.

As for the question above on why students should see groups and fields: this a pretty good question, and it is somewhat a controversial fad. However, it is grounded in the observation that mathematical abstraction is foundational to our "knowledge economy". Students with strong abstraction capabilities tend to be better problem solvers and designers. Nevertheless, whether these topics are the right way to do this is unclear. The fact that some school districts have chosen abstract algebra at the cost of geometry -- which is more concrete, but is an excellent area for developing formal proof skills -- is a bit troubling to me.

Posted by: Walker on June 24, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

The reason we ask future math teachers to learn about rings, groups, and fields is that nobody has worked out a more appropriate curriculum for them, or the ones who have worked out a better curriculum have been ignored.

There is a text called Mathematics for High School Teachers: An Advanced Perspective (published by Prentice Hall) which is designed to teach topics in the high school curriculum with much greater depth so that high school teachers will be better able to teach high school math. It is only a few years old, however, and many people even within the field of math education don't know about it.

Future junior high math teachers should be able to take courses that go through the topics of junior high math but cover them in a depth appropriate for college students.

Education schools, however, are much more interested in making money and giving credentials than they are in training teachers. Most of the people involved do not have the intelligence and will to put together a good curriculum, oftentimes because training math teachers is one of several jobs they have.

Posted by: reino on June 24, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Teachers that have just basic math skills have a tendency of teach "the correct way" of doing things. Thus, when a student does a problem using another perfectly valid technique, this teacher will tell them that they did it wrong.

Walker sums this up pretty nicely, I think. When I was young, I was smart but I had a psychological block about doing math and didn't do well in the classes. I easily zoned out and became discouraged. When it was time to take the SATs, I got a good math score just by kind of figuring the problems out on my own based on the bits and pieces of math that dripped through my malaise in class, even if I couldn't get the way the teacher wanted me to do the problems straight.

When I got older/college aged, and realized math was more like Walker is describing-- innovators learned new ways of doing things by means of creativity and everything could be approached in a way that made mathematical sense, even if we don't use the same precise order/formula for the same kind of problem every time-- math started to intrigue me more + made more sense to me.

Posted by: Swan on June 24, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

"The reason we ask future math teachers to learn about rings, groups, and fields is that nobody has worked out a more appropriate curriculum for them, or the ones who have worked out a better curriculum have been ignored."

It is a little more complicated than that. Establishing that something is a "better curriculum" is very difficult. Inventions tend to do best in the hands of their inventors, so what is a good curriculum one place is horrid another place. This is often the case because people focus on the technical topics (rings, groups, and fields) that are taught, as opposed to the basic thinking and problem solving skills. Add on top of that the known quantity of rings, groups, and fields, together with the fact that education fads come and go, and you understandably get some resistance.

I am not taking a side here. I have seen bad teaching in both directions. For every "useless" math class, I have seen an "applied" math class taught so concretely that the students got absolutely nothing out of it other than a collection of algorithms to use (leading to my "one correct way" post above). An awful lot depends on the teaching style of the instructor, and the learning style of the students.

Back before students got too old to be familiar with the reference, I used to do a lot of "Karate Kid" jokes in class. Anytime that something seemed to abstract, I would say "wax on; wax off" (and then make sure to come with a lesson for next time to show exactly what skills I was building).

Posted by: Walker on June 24, 2007 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

I'm pretty sure I remember scientific notation, but I have no idea what jackackroyd is talking about. Are there some non-printing characters that would make his mathematical expressions parsable?

Sets are convenient and easily understood by fourth and fifth graders for sure - the basic idea is a fundamental notion in our speech and thought. They are mainly useful in elementary school mathematics for understanding the slightly less intuitive notion of function - the gateway to most of mathematics.

Too much abstraction too early is likely a bad idea - notions like groups and fields are only appropriate if you plan to use them for something. I'm not sure why one would want to introduce fields before one studies the reals and complex numbers.

The worst thing about math teaching today is the promotion of pernicious fads by textbook publishers and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Posted by: CapitalistImperialistPig on June 24, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Too much abstraction too early is likely a bad idea - notions like groups and fields are only appropriate if you plan to use them for something. I'm not sure why one would want to introduce fields before one studies the reals and complex numbers."

While I am a big fan of abstraction, I actually agree with this. Everything has its time and place.

"The worst thing about math teaching today is the promotion of pernicious fads by textbook publishers and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics."

Amen.

Posted by: Walker on June 24, 2007 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

About that teaching of set theory: it should be taught, but what is even more important: kids should be taught reasoning principles, fallacies, induction, etc. in general much more than they are. Too many people are fodder for the deceptive arguments of the Bush shills, creationists, global warming doubt-mongers, the right-wing noise machine, Cato et al, and the left when they too deceive.

Posted by: Neil B. on June 24, 2007 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

I think fads are fine. Who knows what method will work well? What I don't approve of is teachers who get locked into one method over others---for instance the Discovery Method. This has its place, but it is pretty limited. I say that as someone who has experience using it at the college level.
Similarly, I don't see why children can't learn phonetics AND look-see for spelling, although of course mastering English orthoepy is a severe waste of time.

Posted by: Marky on June 24, 2007 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kids are taught scientific notation because they use calculators for arithmetic and need to know what happens when you exceed the capacity of the display.

I learned my arithmetic before calculators (I'm not that old, 36). Often you don't have a calculator with you and need to know how to multiply and divide on paper, or at least eyeball a 20% discount while shopping.

Posted by: sara on June 24, 2007 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

Teachers should have content area degrees, period. Education majors entering a classroom with a BA or BS are effectively without mastery of high level concepts or systematic college-level comprehension of *any* subject.

Then there's the guys who are really hired to coach basketball or football and are allowed to waste a year's worth of learning time of their students who sit in a history or science classroom.

Posted by: zenpundit on June 24, 2007 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Walker's response to me above.

There is a small movement in math education now, called the Math Circle, which involves teaching a lot of very abstract math to elementary school students. The movement is very successful with the students it has, though there are serious doubts whether it would succeed on a larger scale. On a small scale, however, they have shown that young students can get excited about very abstract mathematics.

Posted by: reino on June 24, 2007 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

I bet you could boost the 'enjoyment' of scientific notation by asking kids to copy out numbers with large exponents straight.

Write 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 a few dozen times, and using scientific notation starts looking pretty nice.

Posted by: biggerbox on June 24, 2007 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

zenpundit--

It's not that simple. For one thing, getting an Education degree normall means completing at least the equivalent of a minor in the subject you are going to teach.

For another thing, one size fits all statements generally have a lot of exceptions. What about the state math champ who decided to major in Education? What about the MBA who wants to teach algebra? What about the person who read 200 books on the subject?

Additionally, there are valid lessons that teachers should learn as part of their training. How do you deal with students who learn differently than you? What are some different ways to structure a class? What goals should a teacher have beyond the obvious content of the curriculum? There is a lot to learn about teaching beyond what you teach. Majoring in Education can be a good thing.

(For the record, I am a math teacher who majored in physics.)

Posted by: reino on June 24, 2007 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

I learned all my math from Martin Gardner, so I'm perhaps not qualified to talk about this.

But one of the best things we ever did in elementary school was to go out on the playing field and actually portray the Solar syatem to proper scale.

If the Earth is a golf ball (~1 in. diameter), then the sun is a sphere 8 1/2 feet wide--and a thousand feet away.
(Jupiter was 5,000 feet away. We didn't get that far.)

Posted by: pbg on June 24, 2007 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know what education classes reino took in college.

What I do know about education courses I gleaned from sample questions in the major texts at teacher's college. Most of it is an enormous amount of inane, insubstantial drivel, heavily fortified with megadoses of the most outlandish political correctness in the academy, on a par with the English Departments. If somebody is wants to keep bright and ambitious people out of the classroom, the best way to do it is by forcing them to take these vapid, tendentious, agonizingly stupid courses.

The "education curriculum" is a perfect example of one bureaucratic hand washing the other; teachers' salaries are artificially inflated by forcing candidates to funnel their finances into worthless "education institutions" like TC, and thus limiting the supply of labor to those who's need for summers off and job security is so great that they are willing to endure them (or to people who are actually stupid enough to confuse what they teach there with actual knowledge and skill.)

The whole thing has to be radically overhauled, the sooner, and quicker, the better.

Posted by: BC on June 25, 2007 at 3:02 AM | PERMALINK

When I was an undergraduate at Brown, I took a few education courses. One involved spending about 20 hours observing high school classes in Providence and reading material written primarily by students and teachers about issues that came up in the classroom. (20 years later, I have trouble remembering exactly what those issues were, but I thought the class was interesting at the time.) Another class was taught by Ted Sizer, a very well-known education reformer, and centered on the shortcomings he found with our educational system. The main problems he sees are that teachers see so many students every day and have so much to cover as part of their curriculum, so teachers do not focus on what he considers to be authentic learning--there's no time to let students design their own labs or to let teachers read significant amounts of student writing.

I also took a few classes at Illinois. One of them was in Special Ed, where we were taught about the educational implications of some special ed issues, what the law states, and some strategies for mainstreaming students. One was on designing projects in which teachers from different parts of the country could work together using the internet (which I didn't use because it was the 1980s, five years before I bought my first modem). Another was called Educational Psychology, which taught me that a lot of people in Education are not so bright (though that wasn't the point of the class). I've now been a teacher for 16 years, and I've never met a group of teachers whose stupidity could compare with that group's.

A few years later, I got my Master's at Northwestern. It was worse than BC describes. I had a good Methods course that covered some of the issues I would see as a math teacher and a good Student Teaching experience. Student Teaching is the only reason that many Education Schools should continue to exist. I took several courses that literally made me seethe with rage whenever I thought about the fact that I was paying over $100 per session. I also got into a shouting match with the counselor who told me about all the classes I would have to take to meet Illinois certification distribution requirements.

I had to take a writing course even though I had already taken one and went to a college that involved a lot of writing. I had to take a political science course even though I had already taken one and had spent many hours on political campaigns. I had to take a course that would expose me to Asian culture even though I meditated every day. I had to take a course on physical fitness.

Enough of that--if I think about it too long, I am going to end up punching somebody.

I can't complain, though. I have my summers off and job security. With three small kids and the projects I agree to, calling my summers off is a little bit of an exaggeration, but at least I'm not jealous like BC is.

Posted by: reino on June 25, 2007 at 7:27 AM | PERMALINK

More power to reino!

I'm not jealous, and I've known several dedicated teachers who put up with the coursework for just that reason. It just wasn't for me, and I've also put up with the other kind.

Posted by: BC on June 25, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

The sad part is that sci-notation isn't anywhere near as useful for sixth graders as engineering notation.

Posted by: s9 on June 25, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly