September 10, 2006

No Truer Words have Ever Been Written

In response to this inane remark made by the principal of High Tech High:

"It's not about memorizing certain algebraic equations and then regurgitating them in a test," Grover said. "It's about thinking how math might be used to solve a quality-of-water problem or how it might be used to determine whether or not we are safe in Philadelphia from the avian flu."

Rightwingprof responds:
Of course, what this brain-dead principal misses — what all educrats who spout the "higher level thinking" line miss — is that you can't do those things until you've memorized those algebraic equations and regurgitated them on a test. What part of that is so hard for these idiots to understand?

Here's the part I don't understand. If the kids were really developing super higher-order thinking brains with these new-fangled progressive teaching techniques why are they unable to use those super brains to solve algebraic equations on a simplistic multiple choice exam? Why are they unable to higher-order think their way to the correct answers on lower-order basic skills exams?

And, while you're answering those questions, please point me to one credible scrap of evidence that indicates that the kids who've supposedly gotten their higher-order skills honed, but who don't do well on basic skills test, actually have acquired the higher-order skills and can demonstrate proficiency on a higher-order skills test.


Anonymous said...

I can't even imagine what would be on one of those "higher order skills" tests, since so far, nobody has given me any kind of definition or example of "higher order skills," other than spouting the PC party line on some issue or another.

It's the Steve Jobs theory of education. "Oh, you don't need to know that because this cute little Mac does it for you, so you can spend your time on more important things!" Of course, Jobs and his crew have never explained what those more important things are, but there you have it.

Instructivist said...

"It's not about memorizing certain algebraic equations and then regurgitating them in a test," Grover said.

I have never heard of memorizing algebraic equations.

Maybe this moron principal meant formulas. If that's the case, you need to know formulas to solve problems, e.g the distance formula.

Anonymous said...

Of course, you do. I'm sure Robert at Casting Out Nines -- though he would never say so -- feels that those of us who teach applied math are somehow inferior to teaching "real" math, but even if we do use Excel, they have to know the math in order to konw what formulas and functions to use, much less just set up the spreadsheet.

Anonymous said...


Which formula isn't an equation?

y=mx+b ?

m=(y1-y2)/(x1-x2) ?

x= (-b +/- rad(B^2-4ac))/2a ?