Thursday, March 8, 2012

Schools today and my frustation.

I know this is way off topic, but seeing as I'm not blogging much anyway I thought what the heck...vent your frustrations about the public school system. Also sorry if this is a bit rough, but I wrote it rather fast with my limited time.  

I have two kids, a 17 yr old boy and an 11 year old girl, both of them have dyslexia type problems. I have more trouble than you can imagine when it comes to education for my kids. There have been times when I have homeschooled them. I have had more time to homeschool my son (at the time I was still married). When he was eight years old he wrote most of his numbers backwards inconsistently. He moaned and groaned a lot, but I didn't give up on him.

I enjoyed homeschooling because I like to teach and I did 3 different phonics programs with him, vision therapy and a cognitive training program called Audiblox. All of these programs helped. These are programs I found out about from networking with other homeschoolers. Most teachers look at me oddly when I tell them the programs I've done with him. He now reads at grade level and is only considered to have a learning disability in math. I home schooled him for second, third, half of 7th and all of 8th grade.

Thanks to state laws and "The no child left behind law" he has been forced to take algebra, geometry and is now in algebra 2. Guess what? He does not retain this math. (A lot of people don't) I wanted him to be able to just take business math instead of the other types of math that he will never use, but even if he did take business math he would still have to take the others up to algebra 2 because they are required to graduate. But I will say that he has a very good math teacher since he's been in high school, so he has been passing these classes.

I have also homeschooled my daughter for Kindergarten and part of 2nd grade. I wanted to do more, but haven't been in a situation where I can. Anyway...she had a good teacher for 3rd and 4th grade. This year, however, has been a complete waste because of the teacher. She is a nice person, but she is completely disorganized. Spelling lists are sometimes given on Thursdays..the tests are sometimes on Tuesdays...but not necessarily. Sometimes she forgets to give the test completely. My daughter does okay on spelling tests because I have a method that works and I teach it to her.

The biggest problem is math because of the curriculum called "Everyday Math" It's a huge concern. I feel like my daughter is not even being taught math at all thanks to this curriculum. This program focuses on critical thinking skills rather than repetition or a focus on mastery of any kind. Then the critical thinking is just insane to what they expect a 5th grader to be able to do. So for grades 3rd through 5th now my daughter has not done much of basic adding/subtracting/dividing or multiplying except with me. If it wasn't for me, she wouldn't know how to do it at all..because those problems are just grazed over.

This math programs avoids basic problems and goes all the way around it. Estimating, math riddles...for example. Here is one thing they wanted them to do. Think of a 7 digit number that 7 goes into evenly. (and they had this from numbers 5 to 9). This is for fifth grade and my daughter brings this home to me and I have to use a calculator.

You should see how they taught them to do multiplication in 4th grade. Here is an example.

Lattice Method for multiplying

In the real world, who is going to draw these boxes just to multiple? 

They also teach kids 2 to 3 different ways to solve problems. One daughter comes home clueless about how to do rounding when I knew she could round. Come to find out they taught her another method, which completely confused her. I had to re-teacher how to round.  

So now I am having to teach her regular math at home, after work, after school...when nobody wants to do anything.

Other than one math genius in her class, all the students are doing horrible and are confused. I know this because a mom who volunteers in the classroom told me. But do they change anything? NO.....because the teacher puts no thought into the assignments. She has to be aware of this and yet does nothing. I've met her in person...she's nice to talk to, but I just don't get it.

She just hands them out. At this point, I've given up on the insane homework and give her my own worksheets.
No child left behind is all about forcing higher curriculum on students whether they can do it or not. So it does just the opposite. But no..oh no, they will not leave you behind even if you don't learn. They will will not teach you at your level, but we will push you through. It's so sad..and I can't homeschool anymore.

I went searching and found an article about Everyday Math if anyone is curious about more details about it.

Lastly, when I did the Audiblox program with my daughter I learned a lot about the learning process. There is a foundation of skills that have to be mastered before you can even begin to do any critical thinking skills, and it takes repetition to build those skills. I ended up becoming friends with one of the owners of this program, and I learned a lot from her (they live in South Africa). Her family has helped a lot of people with this program..even the severely impaired.

Note: Once your child reaches a 4th grade reading level you don't need this program.

Anyway, I could go on and on about schools. I wish we would just stop worrying about how other countries are beating us. Most of these countries are only reporting their top students. The slower kids go out and work in a field or something. Geniuses like Edison and Einstein didn't do well in school (Einstein was terrible at spelling and he hated school). Stop putting people into boxes. Not everyone learns at the same rate. If only schools would focus on motivation and the strength of each individual student.

Have a great weekend everyone. Meanwhile, I will be looking at those Everyday Math worksheets that got sent home for the weekend. Not sure what I'm going to do with them, but I know what I would like to do and it's not pretty.  


Jeremy Bates said...

My heart goes out to you. I am also a part-time teacher on occasion and have had some students with mild dyslexia type problems.

It appears as if you are very dedicated with your approach to assisting the kids, so hat's off to you. I have found that many parents do not take a hands-on approach, thus their children suffer as a result.

As for public school curriculum, a lot of it is trash. In fact, some of it actually complicates something that is normally much simpler. Keep plugging away; your devoted time is not wasted!

Grumpy Bulldog, March Madman said...

All those boxes for the multiplication look weird. I remember we had a great toy at home where there were all these little doors in rows and you'd pull down a door on the X axis and Y axis to see what two numbers multiplied to. Of course now they have computers and all that.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I have several friends who are teachers and they complain about the No Child Left Behind program. Really sorry your kids aren't getting the best education they could - or that you can't still home school them.

Rusty Webb said...

Sorry it's been frustrating to you. I know school is a lot harder now than it used to be... well, I think it is anyway. Then again, my kid spends most of his school day tweeting nonsense and making honor roll, so maybe it isn't harder, the teachers just act like it is.

J.A. Beard said...

My oldest brother is a teacher and is constantly complaining about the various assessment tests they are trying to calibrate the schools to.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I've never seen that lattice/box thing to do multiplication. In my day, we memorized what equals what all the way through to 13 times 13. I think our school system sucks right now. There's not enough money in it to hire quality people. So our children are getting taught by individuals who don't have the necessary skills, intelligence, and ability. It's a sad state.

Cindy said...

Jeremy: Thanks, I considered being a teacher once, but knew I would be bound to all the rules and state regulations. I wouldn't be able to teach anything my way.

Grumpy: I remember that toy. It was a multiplication table of some sort.

JA: The administrators at my son's HS spend most of their time fearing for their jobs because last year they were rated as a failing school. The principle left last year or he may have been fired (and I thought he was good). Where I live there is a mix of rural students and a small town with a poorer population. The town used to have a foundry where those people once worked.

Rusty: My son sees kids like your son and says "So and so doesn't study...why do I have to!"

Mike: When I went to school they offered a wide variety of classes as far as math, but now they can only afford to offer the state required ones. Also when a public school teacher is bad it's extremely difficult to remove them because of their union. (I used to work for a public school district and it took them forever to fire an alcoholic teacher, plus they had to send her to rehab classes.)

I recently saw on TV (I forget it was a show like 60 minutes or 20/20) a school that hired only the best teachers and it wasn't unionized, but it was free for students in a poor area. They went through a extremely hard screening process before hiring a teacher. The end result was that it didn't make any difference in test scores. Some of the teachers were fired and they didn't care because they were working 24/7 trying to meet their standards. They were glad to have it over with.

In general, I feel it's more about what parents can do rather than teachers. Teachers can't be responsible for everything and they can't raise your children.

Thomas Cuevas said...
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