Monday, January 9, 2012

Bad Example

No one likes homework. And you know what people like even less than homework? Homework where the word problems use slaves and slavery as an example. For reals.

Let's go down to Norcross, Georgia and head on over to Beaver Ridge Elementary School. It is there that we learn from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the math worksheet that some third graders received. Apparently, some dimwit teacher down there decided that it would be a good idea to use slavery as the basis for some of the word problems. That's right. Slavery. Now, I don't know how anyone could think that would be a good idea to begin with. It's not as if there aren't a gazillion appropriate topics to choose from in the first place. But that someone would actually knowingly go with the slavery reference is really a head scratcher. Nothing else sounded good, eh? Puppies? Flowers? Trucks? Decided to go with slaves, huh? All right then. Interesting choice. And just what were some of the questions. Well...

"Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?"

And...

"Frederick had 6 baskets filled with cotton. If each basket held 5 pounds, how many pounds did he have all together?"

And...

"If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week?"


Let's see, two beating per day...is this your standard 5-day work week? What's that? Oh, right. Slaves. Yeah, so seven days. Time two beatings per day. That comes out to be the most ridiculous example that a particular educator could have chosen for a third grade math problem. For cryin' out loud, what is wrong with people?

And it's not just the person who put that on the worksheet whose sanity I'm questioning right about now. I'm also wondering about the mental status of the district spokeswoman, a one Sloan Roach, as she said, “Clearly, they did not do as good of a job as they should have done." Well. That seems like a pretty dumbed down understatement if there ever was one. Oh, wait. No, I was wrong. This Roach person added, "It was just a poorly written question.” Really?! I don't know, I think that this involved something just a little bit more than just poor writing. Someone had to think of it first! That involves poor thinking! I love how this woman is just trying to blow this off as if someone forgot the "I before E except after C" rule.

(I do want to just interject here and say that I'm glad that none of the articles that I read about this referenced the race of anyone. I'm so glad that this didn't turn into a story about racism when it is clearly a story about stupidity. Just thought I'd mention that. Carry on.)

But it would seem that this sort of asinine thinking is common in that particular school district. I say that because, in regard to what is going to be done about this, "...district officials said the elementary school's principal will "work with teachers to come up with more appropriate lessons." Work with the teachers?! Are you kidding me?! I'm just going to go out on a limb here and say that if the teacher can't figure out on their own that it is inappropriate (at the very least) to include slavery references in math problems, then I don't think that they can be helped. Seriously, that seems like the most basic of all basic common sense things that you would have to noodle through at some point as a teacher. I don't know that they have enough gray matter to work with. Give them some severance pay and send them on their way. Perhaps direct them to a nice community college. Or a store that sells helmets. But you can't teach a pig to sing. It frustrates you and annoys the pig.

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