On the importance of Genre analysis in mathematics curricula

This Common Core thing is really interesting. A bunch of people are debating how to change education for the better in America, which is all to the good, since John Dewey, inventor of the Dewey Decimal System and the American education system, was about as effective at one as he was at the other. Surely anything would be an improvement on a system designed by a man who couldn’t decide if he was an engineer of children’s minds, or just a plain old communist. And it’s also a pleasure to watch from an amused distance, knowing that my kids will endure no such thing, and that the results of any foolish ideas their teachers do come up with will be evident to their parents immediately.

So I’m all in favor of nationalized testing. Unless, of course they’re testing for something stupid. In which case, stupid tests should be no inhibition to a good education. I’m all in favor of teaching kids to think, instead of mindlessly repeating rote information.  Rote information is boring, in the true sense of the word, and boring is a bad motivator.  Of course, being an engineer in a cubicle is also boring, especially compared to bomb disposal, so there’s something to be said for skill, which takes practice.

But, when it comes to comparing our education systems historically, maybe A Christmas Story is not the best basis of comparison.  Ms. Watson makes the caveat that she knows “that a screenshot from a Christmas movie isn’t a fair representation of the curricular scope covered in the 1950s,” but it still creeps me out a bit.  I have never seen the movie.  I never hope to see that movie, because every impression I’ve ever gotten is that its humor is derived entirely from people behaving like nincompoops.  I wasn’t there for 4th grade in the 50s, but my guess is that 3-digit addition may have been another attempt by the director at being funny.

Doug Wilson against Homeschooling

Or at least the digital kind? Well, maybe not exactly, but he still thinks a classroom is best, if it’s a good classroom.

Myself, I’m inclined to think that classroom education is the sort of thing you should break into gently, and not really experience full-bore until college, which college should start around fourteen.

But I like the idea of shyness as a virtue

Ran into a blog on teaching from my sister. This post piqued my interest and had me nodding in time to the music, until I got to the last quote:

But don’t children need to play with one another? We have to see the difference here between what children want and what they need. The play that children need for healthy development is emergent play, not social play. Emergent play (or creative solitute) does not involve interacting with others… If playmates are involved, they stem from the child’s imagination… The parent is always the best bet for this kind of play, serving as an attachment anchor–although even the parent must not overdo it, lest the emergent play deteriorate into social play, which is far less beneficial. Children are not able to serve the function of an attachment anchor with one another, so their emergent play is almost always preempted by social interaction. Because of the strong emphasis on peer socialization, emergent play–play arising from the child’s creativity, imagination, and curiosity about the world–has become endangered.

I’m the last guy in the world to advocate children spending most of their time surrounded by other little children. But this sounds like somebody advocating for homeschooling and single child families!