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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-18-2006, 10:33 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Math and Confidence

This just proves my assertion that in the US we tend to lie to ourselves and pretend that we are on top of the game. Gone are the days when we took math seriously and studied it as a discipline rather than teach it to suit our "knowledge" of this world. I think we need to get off the "touchy/toushy feely" train and get serious or we are screwed.
From: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...701298_pf.html

Quote:
For Math Students, Self-Esteem Might Not Equal High Scores
U.S. Lags Behind Countries That Don't Emphasize Self-Regard


By Jay Mathews
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 18, 2006; A02

It is difficult to get through a day in an American school without hearing maxims such as these: "To succeed, you must believe in yourself," and "To teach, you must relate the subject to the lives of students."
But the Brookings Institution is reporting today that countries such as the United States that embrace self-esteem, joy and real-world relevance in learning mathematics are lagging behind others that don't promote all that self-regard.
Consider Korea and Japan.
According to the Washington think tank's annual Brown Center report on education, 6 percent of Korean eighth-graders surveyed expressed confidence in their math skills, compared with 39 percent of U.S. eighth-graders. But a respected international math assessment showed Koreans scoring far ahead of their peers in the United States, raising questions about the importance of self-esteem.
In Japan, the report found, 14 percent of math teachers surveyed said they aim to connect lessons to students' lives, compared with 66 percent of U.S. math teachers. Yet the U.S. scores in eighth-grade math trail those of the Japanese, raising similar questions about the importance of practical relevance.
Tom Loveless, the report's author, said that the findings do not mean that student happiness causes low achievement. But he wrote that his analysis of the international math assessment, the 2003 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, shows that U.S. schools should not be too quick to assume that happiness is what matters in the classroom.
"It is interesting that people grasp this notion in other areas of self-improvement -- eating healthy foods, getting exercise, saving for retirement -- but when it comes to education, for some reason, the limitations of happiness are forgotten," Loveless wrote.
Several countries in Asia and some in Europe tend to beat the United States in math scores, even though their students show less satisfaction with performance and less love of math, and even though the lessons they receive are less "relevant," the report found.
The report is likely to stoke a debate over teaching math and other subjects that has divided the United States for at least a century. Progressives say that what students choose to study and how they feel about education should matter as much, or more, in the classroom than test results; traditionalists say that gain requires some pain and that tests matter.
Alfie Kohn, a progressive author and lecturer, questioned the findings. "Let me get this straight," Kohn said. "Kids who get higher scores on standardized tests are unhappy and self-doubting, so that means we should question the importance of happiness and self-confidence, rather than the importance of these tests?"
Gerald W. Bracey, an educational psychologist and columnist for the education journal Phi Delta Kappan, said the report overlooked countervailing trends in Japan, Singapore and other countries that do better than the United States on eighth-grade math tests. Officials in those countries say their education systems are not yielding graduates who have the same level of creativity as American graduates. Some Asian nations have begun to copy aspects of U.S. education, including the emphasis on letting students search for answers rather than memorize them.
The Brookings report notes that in most countries, including Korea and the United States, students who like math and think they are good at it have higher math scores than those who don't. Perspective matters, Loveless wrote: Japanese students who would be considered good at the subject if they were in the United States think that they are not so good when compared with their peers in Japan.
The international test results from 2003 and related surveys from 46 countries show that the world's most confident eighth-grade math students are found in the Middle East, Africa and the United States. Of the 10 countries with the highest levels of student confidence, only Israel and the United States scored higher than average on the international test, and their scores were far below those of the much less confident students in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The surveys asked teachers in each country whether they relate math lessons to daily life at least half of the time. In Chile, 87 percent of teachers answered affirmatively, the highest mark on the relevance scale. Japan was at the bottom of the list.
"The more relevant the math, the lower-scoring the nation," Loveless wrote.
Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the D.C.-based Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, said the report shows that schools need not be fun to be effective. "Schools should work on academics, not feelings," Finn said. "True self-esteem, self-confidence and happiness are born of true achievement."

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-18-2006, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Professor
.... "toushy feely" ....
There's the problem. These kids need to spend less time feeling their toushy and more time on their homework.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-18-2006, 10:38 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by GermanStar
There's the problem. These kids need to spend less time feeling their toushy and more time on their homework.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, I need to get into remedial English and wear a yellow tag like this school does:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...701478_pf.html
Quote:
School Colors
Md. Students Say Coded ID Tags Reinforce Divisive Labels Instead Of Creating Community Identities


By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 18, 2006; B01

The last thing any high school student wants is to be singled out.
So students at Montgomery County's largest high school are in an uproar over a new policy that requires them to wear color-coded IDs -- black for seniors, white for magnet kids and a particularly loud shade of yellow for students of limited English proficiency.
Ninth-graders at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring took particular umbrage at being forced to advertise their status with bright red badges and optional matching lanyards. Last week, after all, was Spirit Week, otherwise known as Freshman Hell Week.
The campus has been thrown into a state of rhetorical turmoil over the IDs, issued two weeks ago in 11 colors to denote various smaller learning "academies" within the 3,000-student campus.
The new policy "tags us like dogs," wrote Breton Sheridan, a junior, in one of hundreds of postings to various school Web sites.
Or, as sophomore Aisha Michael put it, "We look like Skittles now."
By color-coding children, school officials hoped to build a sense of identity -- and security -- in a school whose students have been divided into several smaller learning communities: maroon for future scientists, purple for diplomats in training, dark blue for entrepreneurs and so forth.
"What we did, we thought we were doing a good thing," Principal Phillip Gainous said.
But the new color system brought unintended consequences.
Students say the system amplifies differences that already divide teenagers of different academic and socioeconomic stripes.
As the staff of the Silver Chips student newspaper opined in an editorial, "Self-segregation is already an issue in the student body, and the formal distribution of color-coded IDs has essentially institutionalized the phenomenon."
At least three freshmen reported various forms of hazing: One was jumped at a bus stop; another was encircled by a menacing mob of upperclassmen; the third victim would not relate his sufferings in detail, Gainous said.
But the principal said freshmen actually suffered fewer hazing incidents this year than last. He doubts the color-coded badges were responsible.
"Every student in here knows who the ninth-graders are," he said. "They don't need an ID to tell them."
Students are required to carry IDs in a wide range of Washington area high schools. But Montgomery Blair is one of just a few that require students to wear them. An informal survey of local school systems uncovered just one other school, Gov. Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, with such a rule.
Montgomery Blair students have been told to wear their IDs for several years, Gainous said. The concept of color-coding arose as a way to link students within the school's five academic academies.
The palette had to be broadened to accommodate this year's seniors, who do not participate in the newly formed academies; freshmen, who have yet to choose academies; students in two magnet programs and in the English-learners program; and staff.
Students were involved in those decisions, Gainous said.
Students in two advanced magnet programs at Montgomery Blair, who are screened for academic ability, say their brown and white badges only alienate them further from a school population already sensitive to such distinctions. Students in the English for Speakers of Other Languages program said they, too, felt singled out; Gainous allowed them to adopt the freshman red.
"A lot of these kids, they just want to keep a low profile and blend in," said Jeanne Philbin, whose daughter, an academically advanced sophomore, has taken to hanging her colored badge from a length of string rather than a color-coded lanyard.
Gainous said he believes that much of the student wrath is directed not at the colored badges so much as the penalties for not wearing them. Under the new rules, a student who leaves a badge at home faces a series of consequences ranging from a verbal warning to an in-school suspension. A student who intentionally defies the rule is considered insubordinate and faces much stricter penalties: detention for the first infraction, suspension for the second.
More than 600 students answered a pair of online polls by the student newspaper assessing the new policy. The largest group of respondents in one poll, nearly two-thirds, declared it a "hideous embarrassment." The opposing view, "awesome," garnered 6 percent.
© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-18-2006, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Professor
This just proves my assertion that in the US we tend to lie to ourselves and pretend that we are on top of the game. Gone are the days when we took math seriously and studied it as a discipline rather than teach it to suit our "knowledge" of this world. I think we need to get off the "touchy/toushy feely" train and get serious or we are screwed.
From: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...701298_pf.html
I am living with this right now. My 8 year old daughter and I have been "flash carding" her multiplication tables since I discovered that she was answering her math questions based upon adding/subtracting from the answer to the right or left on her homework page. This has earned her the distinction of "top math whiz".

But she and the other kids can't answer the question "What is 7 x 8?" unless "6 x 8 and 9x 8" are right there on the page.

My contention is that there is a place for rote memorization.

Her school just combined the "succesfully meets" and "frequently exceeds" "grades into one category. There is no distinction on the report card beyond "meets the minimum requirement for the grade level".

The teacher's union is constantly pushing for less and less accountability. The teachers in a certain grade all use a "team approach" so that no "best teacher" can be identified. Now the teachers don't have to grade the kids, either.

By the way, our school is as good as they come in the public school arena and we are generally very happy.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-18-2006, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveN007
I am living with this right now. My 8 year old daughter and I have been "flash carding" her multiplication tables since I discovered that she was answering her math questions based upon adding/subtracting from the answer to the right or left on her homework page. This has earned her the distinction of "top math whiz".

But she and the other kids can't answer the question "What is 7 x 8?" unless "6 x 8 and 9x 8" are right there on the page.

My contention is that there is a place for rote memorization.

Her school just combined the "succesfully meets" and "frequently exceeds" "grades into one category. There is no distinction on the report card beyond "meets the minimum requirement for the grade level".

The teacher's union is constantly pushing for less and less accountability. The teachers in a certain grade all use a "team approach" so that no "best teacher" can be identified. Now the teachers don't have to grade the kids, either.

By the way, our school is as good as they come in the public school arena and we are generally very happy.
Stories like this make me feel glad I live in Oklahoma. Laugh if you want.

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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 10-19-2006, 01:55 AM
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