Don’t Know Nothin’ About Math Either!

The has a “Fact Check” on a claim by a member of the San Diego Board of Education that there were schools in which as few as 5% of the students are proficient at math.

The VOSD Fact Check confirmed that fact, and in actuality there is one school where the number is 1.8 %!

There were several blog entries regarding the paucity of good math education, and one that suggested that firing newer, younger teachers has a negative impact on mat teaching.

The plea for younger and more recently educated teachers who have degrees in math (rather than “education”) has a logical ring, simply because their training is more germane. While math basics do not change, their usage does and if you can’t make that usage germane to the student, only those few students with a natural propensity to learn math will test well.

Math, like many other subjects, depends upon a foundation slowly built, but most students are naturally either lazy or easily distracted — two traits that do not lend themselves to mass teaching techniques for which the student does not see an immediate and useful benefit in THEIR immature eyes!

Because math is preconceived to be hard, lazy or easily distracted students without proper inner discipline will seldom learn, or test well. Older teachers without knowledge of (or interest in) math-intensive subjects such as computer gaming, simulation, and rocket ballistics do not relate well with the math needs of students looking for future employment in fields absolutely foreign to the teacher.

Most math teachers, even those who have math degrees, got their math degrees intending to teach — not so they could solve real-world problems like design inter-stellar rockets or flight simulators or jet aircraft. While high school math teachers (and their students) don’t need the advanced skill needed to teach at the graduate levels, at least they should be able to converse about the advanced needs while teaching the basics — just to remain “germane” in the eyes of the students and to instill the students with the wonders of math.

Apparently that is not happening at a consistent level.

Math GROWS, but with the exception of theoretical math, it is taught layer upon layer. My writing of computer programs in binary (Base 2 math), Octal (Base 8 math), and Hexadecimal (Base 12 math) was done because I could competently do math in Decimal (Base 10) – and yet my high school math teachers, my Trinity University math teachers and my Academy math teachers could not have predicted my need for learning four different math systems when they taught me the basics.

There was “in the old days” little need for considering what advanced usage I might have needed in math – things did not change NEARLY as quickly as they do today. Today, computers and the computer generations coming along don’t know what they will actually be doing with their math skills, but they DO know that the layers of math knowledge are increasing and that whatever skills will be needed will be based upon the foundation of knowledge learned previously.

The students also know that there will be new and unforeseen needs – but they know that teachers who cannot use and have knowledge of even today’s technologies and needs, cannot prepare them.

Lesson Learned! (I Hope)

Interesting article on the sports page this morning about a terrific and undefeated heavyweight wrestler who wrestles for Palomar College, and the life lesson he learned after being kicked out of the US Naval Academy for academic reasons.

Sam Cervantes had won the California State Heavyweight Championship for Poway High in 2008,  had entered Annapolis, and as a varsity athlete had ignored his slipping academic grades — he is quoted as saying:

“My thought process as my grades continued to fall was:  ‘I’m a varsity athlete, they’ll work it out,’ ” Cervantes said. “I felt I was untouchable. That was a very immature way to think.”

Ahhh…yeah,  at the Service Academies. They are still pretty much “Old School” there.

Sam’s Palomar College coach says:

“He’s definitely a well-rounded young man,” Barrios said. “He’s learned how to prioritize the things in his life. Being at the academy helped teach him that. He’s grown from the experience, knows what he wants and is willing to do what he has to to achieve his goals.”

Cervantes is trying to get back into Annapolis, going back soon with transcripts, letters of recommendations and a much better attitude. I hope he makes it.
The heavyweight wrestler in my class, Pete Blair, finished third in the 1956 Olympics — and he was the strongest man I ever knew even though he barely weighed 191 pounds. He was the US Collegiate Champion, and I watched him almost daily in the Wrestling Loft — he was incredible.
We both went into submarines, and once our submarines were tied up side-to-side in Alaska. There was a narrow gangway between the two subs, and I was talking with someone on that gangway and didn’t see Pete approaching from my rear and wanting to get by. Pete grabbed the back of my heavy coat, held me by one hand as he dangled me over the icy water and slipped behind me…”Excuse me, Al”
As if I had a choice!
Heavyweight wrestlers are a different breed of cat, and I hope Sam has the same kind of success that Pete did — perhaps Sam can represent the US at the Olympics for Navy.
The article says Sam has been humbled by his “academic separation” from Annapolis. Humbling is standard fare at Annapolis — I though I was pretty smart until I entered Annapolis, and found myself surrounded by people whose slide rule I could not carry! Being a pretty smart kid from a local high school is a VERY low standard at the service academy.
My guess is Sam learned a valuable lesson almost everyone learns at Annapolis, some quicker than others.
Good Luck, Sam! I’ll bet you don’t need to learn that same lesson again.


California Trolls for Illegal Immigrants

The new Dream Act will be just one more lure of illegal immigrants, not just from foreign nations but from states where the pressure on illegals is increasing.

Actually, the Governor signed a new law that forbids local communities from seizing the cars of unlicensed drivers caught at checkpoints, so there are now TWO new lures for illegals to come to California.

The Dream Act will generate a Referendum almost immediately. I heard the head of the Howard Jarvis Tax Committee propose a compromise on KFI radio yesterday, but I doubt it will fly — he proposed that ONLY those illegal students enrolled in colleges and university programs that the nation needs — engineering, math and science — be given grants of public money. He noted that there are many degree programs that are not beneficial to the nation and in some cases not even financially beneficial to the students themselves.

While that off-the-cuff proposal may well have some merit, it does not fit well for a Referendum.

Better to just kill the Dream Act and be done with it!

As to the impound law, that flies in the face of public safety and places California in the forefront of pandering to illegal aliens.

Even in Massachusetts,  led by the governor previously described as “The Illegal Aliens’ Best Friend” — Democrat Deval Patrick — the Democrat-led legislature is responding to a spate of deaths caused by illegal alien drivers with a bi-partisan crackdown on ilegal aliens:

BOSTON (WWLP) – Massachusetts lawmakers are casting a wide net against illegal immigrants.

“They’re calling it an Act to Enhance Community Safety, a bipartisan bill sponsored by legislators who say illegal immigration is putting a strain on our state’s resources.

Senator Steven Baddour (D-Methuen) is among its supporters. “It’s that simple. If you’re here illegally, you should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This bill does that,” Baddour said.

Senator Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth) says that the current system isn’t working. “We’re lagging behind local communities in trying to give them the tools to address these public safety problems,” Hedlund said.”

I suppose in the state of California we will have to endure a great deal more crime and financial pain before we decide that we should make illegal aliens uncomfortable rather than more comfortable, and that they should be discouraged rather than encouraged.

Citizens really do get the kind of government they wish for.



Exercising Their Right To Make a Mess

The Occupy Wall Street, which does not actually occupy Wall Street but camps out on the streets and local park, is annoying the small businesses in the area.

The protestors keep customers away, use the bathroom facilities for cleaning up, and want free food from the local eateries. And Mayor Bloomberg says the protestors can stay as long as they want.

We will see about that when small businesses close their doors.

Meanwhile there is a recognition that the protestors don’t have a coherent message. There are many, many messages but basically the “movement” is a rehash of the Hippies 60s with a smattering of Socialists, Communists, and the usual Free Love and Vodka group.

They are basically harmless people, absent the spread of HIV, overdoses, and Hepatitis, but they distract us from the major debit and jobs problems — neither problem do they have a solution for– so they are not worth the airtime and column inches they get.

It gives pundits a chance to vent – no that this one ever lacks for ideas.