"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What Degree Does Your Kid's Middle School Math Teacher Have?

Click on the link below to read an interesting summary of teacher preparation for Math and Science in public schools.

The most disturbing sentence jumped out at me in only the second paragraph. "Just one-third of middle school math teachers have a degree in mathematics or math education, for instance, according to the national survey of nearly 7,800 educators, including elementary teachers as well as secondary math and science teachers, issued last month. Fewer than half of elementary teachers feel "very well prepared" to teach science. And just one in five K-3 educators teaches science every day." This is so disturbing on so many levels that I am somewhat speechless. You all know how hard it is to render me speechless. So why do we keep blaming the uncooperative parents, the unsupportive home life and the poverty of the student when two thirds of the teachers instructing your middle schooler in Math don't have a degree in Math or Math education.

Then there is my passion, science. Wonder why so many kids are left behind there? Again, the proof is in the data and not in any slacker parents out there. "Another issue the report identifies was how little time science gets in the early grades. Averaged across a week, it amounts to 19 minutes a day in grades K-3, compared with about 90 minutes for reading/language arts and 54 for math. "We have to get more time for science," Mr. Reiser said."

We take a subject that children are naturally adept at, Science, and allot anywhere from about a third to about a fifth of the classroom time devoted to the other core subjects. Anybody who disagrees that children are natural scientists need to spend an afternoon watching a baby struggle as he or she learns to turn over, crawl, walk, climb your bookshelves, use your computer when you think they're napping. I only discovered this after becoming a parent and it was an amazing discovery. It sure made parenting a lot of fun. That natural curiosity is extinguished unless there is some counter effort by parents and the schools to celebrate the wonder that our kids embody. I think this study begins to reveal why that could be. As an instructor of fledgling college Chemistry students, I can tell you that there were some times I was uncomfortable teaching certain materials and I had a degree in Chemistry. I cannot begin to fathom somebody with a degree in oh, say English, feel comfortable teaching seventh grade math.
This is very likely where all the math and science phobia comes from. They are simultaneously depriving our children of enthusiastic instruction in some of the most exciting areas AND passing along their own fears about these subjects. This needs to stop and I hope the common core initiatives in Wisconsin puts the kibosh on this practice if it is currently going on here.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My high school algebra teacher had a minor in math, he was really the gym teacher. He was a super nice guy but I really do not think he should have been teaching math. At times it felt like he was learning it with us. But he worked with everyone until we all understood it.