Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Teacher Fired for Making Math Homework Exciting

I just love the headline of this brief snippet of an article. Essentially, a teacher went online and downloaded math problems from the Singapore math website (Singapore Math is popular with homeschoolers). Problems aimed at 4th graders included zingers like this one:

My grandpa and grandma had the same number of strands of hair in their nostrils. I volunteered to pull out their nose hair with my trusty tweezers. I removed 201 strands of hair from my grandpa's nostrils and 185 strands of hair from my grandma's nostrils yesterday. My grandma had thrice as many strands of nose hair as my grandpa after that. How many strands of nose hair did each of them have in the beginning?

This is awesome. Just the right level of gross for a 4th grader, and it is interesting (see the whole worksheet here). I am not sure who complained, or why the teacher was fired; hopefully (?) it was just the last in a line of issues and not another case of micromanaging curriculum and teachers. My guess is the latter, but that's just based on 12 years of experience with edu-crats and how they work, so I might be wrong.

How about this math problem:

Bob the Administrator had one problem with Jane the Teacher - she taught outside the norm and did not agree with standardized testing, even though her students always did well on The Test at the end of the year (students: as an historical interdisciplinary study, please trace the development of the teaching profession over the years and write an argument for or against having an inordinate number of female teachers managed by an overwhelming number of male administrators. Please reference recent comments from Rush Limbaugh regarding the worth of women as well as the movie trailer for the documentary Miss Representation in your argument.). Bob felt handicapped and oppressed by the teacher's unions (or at least, public opinion of the teacher's unions), so he knew he would have to find another way to fire her. If Jane does her job very well (but not as Bob feels she should do it), how long will it take Bob to find another reason in the media to fire her? Consider that the school year is between 178 and 190 days long but getting shorter as awful teachers like Jane are furloughed to pay Bob's salary.

Please present your answer on a PowerPoint as well as an Excel spreadsheet and cross-reference Race to the Top.

Happy computation!

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