Category Archives: big brother

I found Ciedie Aech. Now you have.

Well, actually, she commented on a comment of mine on someone else’s blog, which led me to finding her book, here:

https://ciedieaech.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/why-is-you-always-got-to-be-trippin2.pdf

Have you seen it yet? Have you read it yet?

It is a brilliant first-hand account of the school “reform” process from the receiving end, with a logically presented sequence of analyses, intertwined with actual happenings and incidents which make your hair stand on end.
The often believed statement “Corporate school reformers were once open about their belief that public education was hopelessly broken” she argues is simply untrue, but that this was what they wanted others to believe. They didn’t have to.
Her story covers the years from 1995 to the present, and shows the full depth of mayhem caused by the “reform” movement.

Her account of the not too imaginary classroom where all the time is taken up following all the edicts and mandates that there is no time to actually do any teaching. It is priceless.

Here is a section on one of the many stupidities encountered:

Flying Blind
Frantically written upon demand by an evidently unbounded
wellspring of young hires, a torrent of suddenly created
district exams gushed up in a manner which soon began to feel
truly magical. And, as was becoming rapidly apparent, actually
understanding many of these precipitately manufactured tests?
Called for just a touch of magic as well.
Pushed repeatedly into the role of test graders, it wasn’t long
before a diversely collected school personnel began to comment
upon, and even argue about, not only the point value attached
to student responses but, more and more frequently, to the
tangible intentions behind the intricately worded test questions
themselves.
“Help!” I whispered to a grading partner one afternoon.
“Do you have any idea what this means?”
Sliding a test booklet across the table, I pointed to an essay
prompt so convoluted that I could make little sense of it:

“In what way does this story’s diction create foreshadowing while
working sympathetically inside the author’s choice of syntax?”

My students – well, if we were being very optimistic, at
least a couple of them – possibly knew what diction, foreshadowing,
and syntax meant. But even I didn’t know how to combine
these three uniquely discrete elements in a logical response for
this tortuous prompt. I struggled with my conscience, tempted to
give full credit to the student who had written simply, and I thought most reasonably:

“I don’t know what the fuck this is talking about.”

Another student, less inclined to waste words?
Had printed more succinctly: IDK.
I Don’t Know.
Well damn, kid, me neither.
Holding little patience for those old-school processes so
monotonously tied to a methodically careful (and oh-so-tedious)
analysis, as the years bent to the magic of no-waiting transformations
systematically edged out an educator resistance, it was
rapidly determined that a test question ambiguity (up to and including
plainly misleading typos) did not, actually, invalidate
tests. Nor, subsequently, nullify an endlessly collected testing
data. Specifically hired to address issues of examination, testing
experts were ready to advise; expressly versed in party line, assuredly
and absolutely they always knew the answer. Every single
time.
Oh, it was magical.
They could simply walk over and show you. “See?” Here
they could point with an absolute confidence to the official answer
sheet. “It’s right here,” they could tell you. “The answer is: D.”
Or: Two.
Or: No change.
In years now gloriously imbued with the high brilliance of
an instantaneous reformation, all you ever really had to do? Was
close your eyes. And, then, clicking your heels together: Believe.
Believe, as you took your first frightening step over an unknowable
cliff; believe, as anxiously you began to flap your arms; believe,
as apprehensively you started to fly alongside in a blind
obedience:
Believe, absolutely and without reservation?
In the answer sheet.

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Filed under big brother, education, horrors, school, teaching, testing, tests, Uncategorized

Gross misuse of + and – and x and the one that’s not on my keyboard

Arithmetic is the art of processing numbers.
We have ADD, SUBTRACT, MULTPLY and DIVIDE
In ordinary language these words are verbs which have a direct object and an indirect object.

“Add the OIL to the EGG YOLKS one drop at a time”.
“To find the net return subtract the COSTS from the GROSS INCOME”.

In math things have got confused.
We can say “add 3 to 4″or we can say “add 3 and 4”.
We can say “multiply 3 by 4” or we can say “multiply 3 and 4”.
At least we don’t have that choice with subtract or divide.

The direct + indirect form actually means something with the words used,
but when I see “add 3 and 4” my little brain says “add to what?”.

There are perfectly good ways of saying “add, or multiply, 3 and 4” which do not force meanings and usages onto words that never asked for them.
“Find the sum of 3 and 4” and “Find the product of 3 and 4” are using the correct mathematical words, which have moved on from “add” and “multiply”, and incorporate the two commutative laws.

If we were to view operations with numbers as actions, so that an operation such as “add” has a number attached to it, eg “add 7”, then meaningful arithmetical statements can be made, like

“start with 3 and then add 5 and then add 8 and then subtract 4 and then add 1”

which with the introduction of the symbols “+” and “-“, used as in the statement above allows the symbolic expression 3+5+8-4+1 to have a completely unambiguous meaning. It uses the “evaluate from left to right” convention of algebra, and does not rely on any notion of “binary operation” or “properties of operations”.

If we want to view “+” as a binary operation, with two inputs then, yes, we can ascribe meaning to “3+4”, but not in horrors such as the following (found in the CCSSM document):

To add 2 + 6 + 4, the second two numbers can be added to make a ten,
so 2 + 6 + 4 = 2 + 10 = 12. (Associative property of addition.)

If + is a binary operation, which are the two inputs for the first occurrence of + and which are the inputs for the second occurrence of + ?
The combination of symbols 2 + 6 + 4 has NO MEANING in the world of binary operations.

See A. N. Whitehead in “Introduction to Mathematics” 1911.
here are the relevant pages:
whitehead numbers 1
whitehead numbers 2a
whitehead numbers 2b
whitehead numbers 3a
whitehead numbers 3b

And here are two more delights from the CCSSM document
subtract 10 – 8
add 3/10 + 4/100 = 34/100

In addition I would happily replace the term “algebraic thinking” in grades 1-5 by”muddled thinking”.

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Filed under arithmetic, big brother, Common Core, language in math, operations, subtraction, teaching

School——>PARCC tweet———>suspension———->and then?????

Thank you Audrey Watters for leading me to this exposure of the behaviour of testing corporations.

These two are MUST READs, and should be passed on to everybody:

http://www.bobbraunsledger.com/breaking-pearson-nj-spying-on-social-media-of-students-taking-parcc-tests/

http://kengreenwood.com/pearson_spying_on_kids/

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Filed under big brother, education, testing