Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Visitor

An Imperial Moth, hanging out on the screen of our kitchen window.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Skip Counting vs. the Times Tables

When I started teaching Younger Daughter the times tables, she protested that she already knew them -- at least for 2, 3, 4, and 5 -- because she had been taught them at school.  It turns out that what she knew is "skip counting" -- that is, "2, 4, 6, 8, ..." (Back in my day, when we weren't dying of the bubonic plague, we called this "counting by twos.")  But if you asked Younger Daughter what 2 x 3 is, she had to think about it for a while, and the answer she came up with might or might not be correct.  (She's getting better now, after a great deal of work on both of our parts.)

There's nothing wrong with skip counting, and it's a reasonable first step toward learning multiplication.  This is typical of the new "fuzzy math" curricula (Younger Daughter's school uses "TERC Investigations") -- they include some reasonable first steps, but they don't follow through and actually teach the skills and facts you need to know. 

The first unrelated-to-me kid that I tutored had a similar problem with adding fractions.  I was impressed when she knew that 1/2 + 1/4 is 3/4.  When I asked her how she knew this, she drew a little pie illustration.  Again, this is a reasonable first step.  But when I asked her what 2/50 + 1/100 was, she was completely stumped.  That's because Trailblazers doesn't follow through and actually teach the algorithm for adding fractions.

Feh!  The bad news is that the district of Upper Tax Bracket only adopted TERC Investigations a couple of years ago -- it'll take time for any kind of momentum to build against it.  In the meantime, I'm teaching Younger Daughter math at home.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Schoolhouse Rocks!

This summer, I'm determined to teach Younger Daughter the times tables.  To that end, I downloaded a bunch of Schoolhouse Rocks multiplication songs and made a CD to play in the car.

I also downloaded songs teaching the parts of speech.  It's shocking to see what was considered basic elementary-school fare in the 1970's that is now not taught at all.  Just ask your elementary-school (or even middle-school!) kid what a pronoun is.  Go ahead, I dare you.  After she's fixed you with that dead-halibut look, play her this video:

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Drunk Hook-Up: You Call This Progress?

In the NYTimes, Sex On Campus: She Can Play That Game Too.  This was a truly nauseating article, describing workaholic young women at Penn engaged in the hook-up culture.  I have a sinking feeling that some of these young women are the high achievers of the local schools that Older Daughter won't be attending this fall.
As A. explained her schedule, “If I’m sober, I’m working.” 
The hook-up culture is fundamentally a drinking culture:
Women said universally that hookups could not exist without alcohol, because they were for the most part too uncomfortable to pair off with men they did not know well without being drunk.  
How many of these young women are present or future alcoholics?

The headline is just plain wrong; women are not playing the same game that the men do.  It's obnoxious to try to spin this as sexual equality for women, because women's sexual needs are not addressed by hook-ups.  The hook-up is defined by the male orgasm, and it's over when he's been satisfied:
One girl, explaining why her encounters freshman and sophomore year often ended with fellatio, said that usually by the time she got back to a guy’s room, she was starting to sober up and didn’t want to be there anymore, and giving the guy oral sex was an easy way to wrap things up and leave. 
Well, you can see what the guy is getting out of this deal, but what's in it for the girl? 

From a comment by dc lambert, nj:
These students think that life is a series of shallow, meaningless competitions on their race to make the most money and buy the most toys, and the only way to cope is to do drugs and avoid intimate relationships.
How do schools factor into this?  High achieving girls are the ones who constantly strive for the A and the high test score.  They're certainly not encouraged to develop their own inner compass or to ask themselves whether this is the game they want to play.  In a very deep sense, these are girls who can't say no, either to the achievement rat race or to boys.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Adult Happiness = Childhood Conformity?

From today's NYTimes Motherlode column (why do I read this tripe?), Don’t Make Your Children the Exception to Every Rule:
When we look at the research on the childhood precursors of adult well-being – the traits we see in children who go on to become happy adults – we find that the driving factor is childhood conscientiousness, not childhood happiness. Children who are industrious, orderly and have good self-control are more likely than their careless or undisciplined peers to grow into happy adults.
It turns out that adult happiness doesn’t arise from parents bending the rules to a child’s advantage; it comes from children learning the rules and conforming to them.