Math is a subject that is bound to evolve with time; however, something, somehow, did go wrong, somewhere along the line, that has resulted in the high percentile of innumeracy in our youngsters today! The mid seventies were the years when new math methodologies were introduced. Psychologists and pedagogues started looking into how they could better the educational process by implementing unproven theories. In other words experiment with our kids.
Many developing countries, which normally follow the western trend, could not keep up with changes that involved constant adaptation of new teaching methodologies. Reprinting of new textbooks and retraining of teachers, for the implementation of those groundbreaking new techniques, were not within their budget. As a result, they had no other choice but to stick with what was working for them, and kept the ball rolling. Why try to fix what is not broken?
Today, not only are we lagging behind in adequately educating our kids but also producing math teachers who do not even major in the subject. William Schmidt, University distinguished Professor of education, found that prospective U.S. elementary and middle school math teachers are not prepared as those from other countries. “And this, combined with a weak U.S. math curriculum, produces similar weak student achievement,” he said.
The secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, stated that the American kids are falling behind in those areas and may not be able to compete globally. “It has huge implications,” Duncan said, “I think as a real economic imperative we have to educate our way to a better economy.” He added, “The solution is to adopt international benchmark and standard to build data systems to measure student success and informing teachers on how to improve the practice and turn-around low performing schools.” Source CNN.
No use crying over spilled milk! What is done is done! We have to pick up the pieces and start over again. And despite the fact that it might take at least two generations to undo the harm done, we still have to retread the trodden path.
Where to start? Perhaps, laws need to be changed for starters. Not every teacher who reprimands, punishes a child for misbehavior or other, is a psycho. Not every teacher who holds a child’s hand is a child molester. Our ‘psych’ has to change and get back to ‘normal’. Where are the days when a child would think twice before telling parents that he was punished at school, for fear of being reprimanded by them?
Two Texas University education psychologists, Willson and Hughes, say: “Parents must often shoulder at least part of the blame or credit.”
Willson and Hughes suggest that parents should get more involved with the school and their child schooling in order to reduce the risk of their child being retained. They say parents can help by communicating regularly with teaches and taking some responsibility to monitor children school work and activities. Helping children with their homework can give them the confidence they need at school.
There are greater opportunities today, more than ever, for parents to get involved in their children’s education. Parents can now use the internet as a tool which abounds with resources that were not accessible only a few years ago. Moments like we are living today is the time for reflections and self analysis; a time when we desperately need to take the actions that would help forge a legacy for us to leave behind, for our future generations.