Monday, May 19, 2014

1332 Rube Goldberg in the Classroom

If you have kids in grade school or high school, be afraid.  If you have kids that have finished grade 12, be grateful.

The common core standards for math and English are going to turn today’s elementary schoolers into haters of education and then into haters of intellect.

Before that, they’re going to turn average learners into morons, morons into imbeciles and imbeciles into idiots.

Edu-fads have come and gone for years. Educrats pop them out in litters and the litters multiply like rabbits.   

We had the new math. We had the new physics.  We had the open classroom.  We had the closed classroom.  All of these gave individual school districts the green light to wreck minds.  But you could escape. You could move.  

Then we got “no child left behind,” “outcome based learning,” and now “common core.”  These three are edu-fads that can wreck minds on a national scale.

Common core turns simple basic math and language into Rube Goldberg Contraptions of such stunning complexity that they’re guaranteed to fail.  Cartoonist and humorist Goldberg made a point with his drawings. Hundreds of cartoons with the same theme.  In summary:  if you need to swat a fly, get a flyswatter and use it.

You don’t need great series of complicated steps and great numbers of moving parts to swat the fly.  And you don’t need a great series of complicated steps and great numbers of moving parts to do simple math or read and write simple English.

Of course, Goldberg gave you the finished product.  Teachers who don’t understand Common Core can’t do that.  They’re too busy dimming their own bulbs to dim your kids’.

All math is counting.  Get a bunch of blocks. Line them up. Give them numbers.  Block 1, Block 2, Block 3, Block 4. There you have everything you need to know about numbers.

How many blocks?  Four.  That’s all you need to know about counting.  Take away one block?  How many left?  Put it back in the line.  How many now? That’s all you need to know about addition and subtraction.

Multiplication is shorthand for adding.  Division is shorthand for subtracting.

C’mon, guys.  This isn’t battlefield strategy or rocket science or brain surgery or any other of the current cliches for complicated.

To teach fractions, all you need is a pie crust.  To teach decimals after dividing the pie, all you need is a ruler.

As for English: too many moving parts as it is.  All you need is some simple basics.  Words are the building blocks of sentences.  Sentences are the building blocks of paragraphs.  Paragraphs are the building blocks of everything else.

The most important sentence ever written in the English language is “See Spot run.”

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments and edu-crank blather to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2014

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