Friday, September 23, 2016

Casual Friday, Comprehension, Polynomials, Common Core #IRLToday

As a adult employee for a corporation, I was "required" to wear company attire on casual Friday. On the contrary, I was recently told that my business writing style was too formal and lacked brevity. Contradictory, eh?

If I were to rewrite that paragraph in the language today's "adults" comprehend it would look something like this...

We had to wear company polo shirts on casual Friday. Why so formal? You just told me my writing was too formal and too long for business emails.

Yes, it's unfortunate that most "adults" these days can barely comprehend writing beyond the 8th grade level and from what I understand, most prefer to read at a 5th grade level. Some call it common English. I call it a downgrade in our expectations of society.

Of course, I have to play the devil's advocate here. I get the efforts of our educators to try and thwart this, but I think the verbiage in textbooks is a bit more wordy that it needs to be.

I'm looking in my 17-year old son's Algebra II e-book, so I can refresh my knowledge of polynomials. In other words, what the hell is a polynomial? It's been over 20 years since I've been in high school. I see the eight "goals" of the unit as described by The Common Core Georgia Performance Standards for Mathematical Practice and it's definitely not written in common English.

The language might make more sense to me if I was still in high school and only had a few month gap between Algebra I and Algebra II, but 20 years....C'MON. Some kids are better at math. For Algebra, many kids need help that they can't get in class. Teachers have to cater to tons of different learning styles, whereas the parent, who should know their child, does not (unless we're talking about Kate and her family 8 or that family of 19-ish).

So, here's my beef. If parental involvement and support is needed to cultivate our children's knowledge of topics like Polynomials (and Advanced Algebra on a broader scale), tell me the goals in common English and use real life examples in the textbook.

Instead of "Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them", you could say "Work through several steps to make sense of and solve problems". Maybe? I don't know. I have no idea what I'm reading.

The second goal is to "reason abstractly and quantitatively." What does this mean? I'm an intelligent person and there's a good chance I do this every day. I'm pretty sure that's not what I call it these days. (I'll delve into what abstract and quantitative reasoning is later, as soon as I figure it out, though I'm pretty sure quantitative has to do with numbers).

Just like learning phonics, after a while you just know how to do things. Assisting in teaching my child to understand phonics was one of the hardest tasks I was faced with. I can't tell you why certain letter combos make certain sounds. I just know that they do and I sure don't refer to it as phonics.

Another example is goal #5, which is to "Use appropriate tools strategically". This is starting to sound like a resume for a job-hopper seeking a position in a field they don't qualify. What are the tools? What is the appropriate use of these tools?

Can you please explain this so I move on from the table of contents for Unit 2 Module 3 of the Holt McDougal Advanced Algebra, Georgia Edition?

Why is there is a Georgia edition? Is Advanced Algebra different in other states? Even (way) before the introduction of "Common Core" I personally experienced differences in education when crossing state lines.

When I was eight years old, we moved from Michigan to Georgia. In Georgia, they were already teaching cursive in 3rd grade. That ought to tell you my age. Fortunately, I'm a quick learner.

Our future generations have the attention span of a squirrel thanks to technology. Quite frankly, technology also affects our current generations. I applaud the efforts of the primary and secondary education institutions, but what they have to understand is that, especially in the public school system, the parents may not be in a position where subjects like Physics and Algebra II are required in their day-to-day existence.

To the educators, the educational publishers and the legislators....if you want me to be involved, help me understand because this is all Greek to me. I use information I learned in primary and secondary education all the time, but not Polynomials. I'm not even sure what career paths use Polynomials. On the other hand, I know Physics in happening all around us, but when I drive a car, I'm just driving a car. I'm not analyzing the Physics all around me.

If you want our future generations to grasp this information, make it relevant. Tell them WHY and do it in a language they can understand (excluding Language Arts which is not meant to be altered despite the fact that we've already butchered it by altering comma rules and adding "words" like LOL and OMG to the Oxford-English dictionary).

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