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Thursday, Sep. 18, 2014

Public School Curriculum and common sense

Posted Thursday, January 10, 2013, at 10:08 AM

Let me preface this blog with: I am not talking about Spencer Schools only. This is a state and federal issue.

Algebra, Geometry, Consumer Finance, Industrial Arts (shop), Family & Consumer Science (home ec)...so many choices and those are only a few of them but which ones make the most sense for students?

Let's start with middle school. I'm not sure when they decided that it would be a good idea for girls and boys to both take home ec and shop but I believe it is a good idea. I think the curriculum should reflect everyday living rather than skills that are optional according to personal preference. I just don't believe that learning to sew or woodworking are pertinent to everyday living for most people. Cooking, household budgeting, grocery shopping, laundry, basic car maintenance, changing a tire, household or outdoor maintenance of homes and the things that go with them...that's pertinent to everyone.

Let's talk about HS curriculum. I will never understand why it is more important for a student to learn Algebra before personal finance. Wouldn't it make more sense to first teach them how to work out a budget and a checkbook first? What about teaching them the ins & outs of car loans, home mortgages, rental agreements, and employment tax forms etc. Why not save Algebra, Geometry and Calculus for those who want to choose those as careers? And who came up with the idea of making them requirements for college? If a student is of the creative nature and will go on to study for a more creative job, why waste time with Algebra? Take those in college after the decision is made.

It just seems to me that we would have young adults much more prepared for adult life if changes were made to such things as these. Any thoughts?


Comments
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While I agree with what you are saying, I myself have used Geometry and Algebra in everyday life and no its not my career and I can't count the times someone has asked me to sew a button on for them so I also think sewing is important.

-- Posted by joev on Thu, Jan 10, 2013, at 10:17 AM

I feel that the middle school and high school objectives are to give students the basics in varied subjects and preparatory instruction in skills. This allows them to develop a plan for what they would like to do as an adult. If you do not experience these courses how would you ever know what to go to college or not go to college to become? I agree with your thoughts about life skills though. When I was in school we did have a classes that taught us those skills. I guess I just figured it was still part of the curriculum.

-- Posted by deweyh on Thu, Jan 10, 2013, at 11:13 AM

deweyh, Our schools give an amazing selection of varied courses but my problem is what is required vs. what is actually necessary and pertinent to get into college. I have six kids all with varied strengths and weaknesses but if they want to get into college they are put into a "cookie cutter" mold that doesn't necessarily fit them. I think that requirements for admission to college should be more general and not so specific. Once again, why does a person who is creative and going into a like field need to take something like Algebra?

-- Posted by Leah Cauthron on Thu, Jan 10, 2013, at 1:57 PM

Cooking, household budgeting, grocery shopping, laundry, basic car maintenance, changing a tire, household or outdoor maintenance of homes and the things that go with them.

Why would you have teachers teach these skills when parents should be the educators of these tasks.

If it wasn't my junior high teacher pushing me to do algebra. I would of just done the bare minimum to get by for math.

-- Posted by retiredarmysarge on Thu, Jan 10, 2013, at 2:12 PM

Great point retiredarmysarge. Parents rely way to much on the school to teach their kids life's lessons. Isn't that what a parent is for? My parents taught me to balance my check book and helped me with my student loans for college and getting my first car loan.

-- Posted by joev on Thu, Jan 10, 2013, at 7:18 PM

Very well said retiredarmysarge. Life skills should be taught by parents. Now I also know that some parents don't have certain skills, but that is what family is for right? lol

Anyways, algebra is used in every day life. I do want to say that it cost $225 thru the college to do math classes. Why not do it for free in H.S instead. Does not matter what field your in, most colleges require that you have 4 years of math, 4 years of science, 3/4 years of english, not sure on history. You also have the choice to have your kids to do college classes thru the H.S for free in math and english as long as they pass. Otherwise you must pay the $225.

We need to learn to push our children to strive to be better than what we were and to want better for themselves. Giving them the laxy daisy side of life is what is destroying us now.

-- Posted by acerdj on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 6:26 AM

As far as the shop and home ec courses -- I think if everyone knew some basics in repairing of clothing, and even how to make some simple things (pajama pants that fit -- simple shorts for summer) there would be less discarding of clothes that would be perfectly good if repaired, and less running to Wal-Mart for something not really necessary (which would help with budgeting).

Woodworking -- I think everyone should have the option of making some simple furniture for themselves and also repairing. Again, if you make the mistake of buying (or inherit) a cheap dresser, for example, and the drawers never work right, you can make it quite serviceable if you know how to fix the drawers and bolster where the drawer bottoms meet the edge so they don't keep falling apart.

I also agree that parents should be going over student loans, mortgages, checkbooks, grocery shopping, etc. Grocery shopping, especially, can help kids to internalize concepts like popcorn (real, not instant) is a semi-healthy, economical snack. The latest name brand, artificially flavored goodness you just saw on TV is not only very expensive per unit, but not worth it on many levels. Why do we slow cook an arm or rump roast instead of buying tenderloin or steaks very often? Is there that big of a difference in taste and quality between store brand or name brand? Do you want to pay for some big company's advertising? Those are life lessons learned from bringing a child from age 10 or so (maybe earlier) to the store.

This will free up the teachers to teach algebra, geometry, English, etc.

Though on the topic of learning Algebra and Geometry, I am told one math teacher at the high school told someone that it's Cognitive Tutor's job to teach, and the teacher's job to guide. Anyone with a high school student should look in to whether other teachers are open to having a computer do the teaching for them. This hit us hard at home as my older children had a seriously hostile relationship with Cognitive Tutor. My autistic son just had a hard time navigating it and received no help. My gifted daughter (who was first put in Geometry as an 8th grader until she found it socially stressful and we pulled her back to Algebra with her friends) just found it frustrating and mind-meltingly boring.

-- Posted by AmyPeterson on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 8:21 AM

I never said that our children shouldn't be challenged. I just don't agree that all students fit into the same mold and they shouldn't be made to fit. For example, there are several different math classes for kids to take but only a few are accepted by colleges even if that particular student chooses a major that is not math oriented.

-- Posted by Leah Cauthron on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 8:21 AM

P.S. -- Leah, I completely agree that more creative people should not have to suffer through Algebra and Calculus; conversely, an engineering mind should not necessarily have to learn foreign language for two entire years as it will just be a period of suffering through and trying to pass and not necessarily a valuable learning experience.

-- Posted by AmyPeterson on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 8:22 AM

I may not have been clear in my statement Leah. What I was attempting to point out is that with out the varied and required course load the students may not realize what their varied strengths and weaknesses are. A student may not delve into an area that they are not comfortable with and miss out on a great opportunity. I on the other hand would like to see the materials presented in a more user friendly way. When I was in Algebra it was not presented in a way that showed an actual use. When I once again had to take Algebra in college they presented it in a way that used real life scenarios. This was very advantageous to my mind set to see how the information was pertinent. Although I do understand that everyone learns in a different manner and it is hard to develop high school classes around everyone's learning style.

-- Posted by deweyh on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 8:52 AM

Knowledge is power. Never limit it.

-- Posted by sammyjr on Fri, Jan 11, 2013, at 12:52 PM

My first reaction to this was: OK another parent who doesn't understand how to do their children's homework. My second reaction was: We need our young citizens to be proficient in more than one thing so they will be able to get a job in a global economy.

My third reaction was: How will they know if they like/dislike something if they are never exposed to anything outside their normal sphere? Having read all the above statements, I'm with sammyjr. Knowledge is Power. I also agree with deweyh in that sometimes it's not the message, it's how it's presented.

-- Posted by luvboji on Mon, Jan 14, 2013, at 9:58 PM

Exposure is good but requiring it to move on...is oppression.

-- Posted by Leah Cauthron on Tue, Jan 15, 2013, at 1:29 PM

Oppression is defined as "Prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control". Requiring someone to learn math can hardly be considered cruel and unjust, especially when it is a requirement for a diploma.

Algebra teaches more than just math. It teaches a linear, organized thinking process. It is not important that (x + y) = (x -- y) + (2xy). What is important, is that when someone is faced with something foreign in their life, they know that with a disciplined approached, decisions and solutions can easily be obtained.

-- Posted by sammyjr on Thu, Jan 17, 2013, at 12:00 PM


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Leah Cauthron
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My name is Leah Cauthron. I was born and raised on a farm near Cushing, Iowa. My parents still live there. I am a conservative Catholic. I have been married to Randy for 22 years and we have six children. I received my degree in Criminal Justice from Eastern Wyoming College and as a mother of six and a daycare mom, I have used probable cause, reasonable doubt, search and seizure, Miranda rights, submission, arrest and interrogation technique as a part of my daily life. I can also shoot a .357 magnum with deadly accuracy. I have lots of opinions on lots of things. I am not an expert on anything but I read a lot and will gladly share that information if I find it accurate. I have a sarcastic nature and for the most part I have pretty thick skin and most things don't bother me for long. I don't like mudslinging or name calling so keep negativity of the personal nature to yourself. Enjoy and welcome to my opinion.
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