April 22, 2022

The NYT takes a close look at those math textbooks the Florida Department of Education rejected.

Now, this is really informative! Thank you, Dana Goldstein and Stephanie Saul, writing in the NYT, for shedding so much light on what had been a puzzling subject. This post is going to be long, so perhaps I should pause and reflect on my feelings as I approach these complicated difficulties. I could rate myself on a scale of 1 to 4 — 

1 — I am just starting.

2 — I have some skills.

3 — I am almost there.

4 — I have it!

The important thing is me and my feelings. Am I confident? Am I already frustrated? Well, let's try. I have some skills. I can delay getting to the more challenging stuff by playfully appropriating this material, which, we're told, is from a geometry textbook that Florida rejected:


When the Florida Department of Education rejected the books, it said, according to the NYT, that "some of the books 'contained prohibited topics' from social-emotional learning or critical race theory," without giving much detail (just this).

The New York Times was able to review 21 of the rejected books and see what may have led the state to reject them. Because Florida has released so few details about its textbook review process, it is unknown whether these examples led to the rejections. But they do illustrate the way in which these concepts appear — and don’t appear — in curriculum materials. 

In most of the books, there was little that touched on race, never mind an academic framework like critical race theory. But many of the textbooks included social-emotional learning content, a practice with roots in psychological research that tries to help students develop mind-sets that can support academic success.

The article displays an image — "provided by the company Big Ideas Learning — whose elementary textbooks Florida rejected" — that "names the five core skills students should develop: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, social awareness and relationship building."

Until recently, the idea of building social-emotional skills was a fairly uncontroversial one in American education. Research suggests that students with these skills earn higher test scores. But right-wing activists like Chris Rufo, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, have sought to tie social-emotional learning to the broader debate over the teaching of race, gender and sexuality in classrooms. 

In a March interview conducted over email, Mr. Rufo stated that while social-emotional learning sounds “positive and uncontroversial” in theory, “in practice, SEL serves as a delivery mechanism for radical pedagogies such as critical race theory and gender deconstructionism.” 

“The intention of SEL,” he continued, “is to soften children at an emotional level, reinterpret their normative behavior as an expression of ‘repression,’ ‘whiteness,’ or ‘internalized racism,’ and then rewire their behavior according to the dictates of left-wing ideology.” 

Mr. Rufo also raised concerns that social-emotional learning requires teachers “to serve as psychologists, which they are not equipped to do.”... 

Aren't teachers trained to manage and cultivate the emotions and socialization of the children in their care? Isn't that a big part of what school is about? It's something we also expect parents to do, and they're not trained as experts in psychology. If psychology — like, say, surgery and dentistry — were reserved for experts only, we'd be doomed!

In a McGraw Hill fifth-grade book... students are encouraged at the beginning of the school year to write a “math biography” reflecting on their feelings about the subject and how they expect math skills could help them enjoy hobbies or achieve goals. One textbook prompts students to share their “math biography.”... 

Some McGraw Hill pages include social-emotional prompts that have little to do with the math problems, such as this example below from a fifth-grade book. Beneath an ordinary math problem, students are asked, “How can you understand your feelings?” A page teaching division asks students the question, “How can you understand your feelings?” A page teaching division asks students the question, “How can you understand your feelings?”

The assumption is that asking children to think about how they feel will help them with the resistance and anxiety that often comes with learning math. But I wonder if some kids will feel resistant and anxious about the school probing into their feelings. I could imagine thinking: Is this going to affect my grade? I'd better show that I have a good attitude or they're going to think I'm not a sweet, happy little girl. Or maybe I'd be tempted to write: I hate math. I hate hate hate hate hate it. There! Is that what you want? Either teach me math or don't, but stay out of my mind.

Is it right-wing to question this approach to teaching? Actually, the critique from the left is, I think, more compelling:

Some educators worried that the field of social-emotional learning celebrated behaviors associated with white, upper-middle-class culture, and paid too little attention to the kind of grit it takes to grow up in poverty, for example, or to overcome barriers of race, language and class that can make it more difficult for many students to persevere academically....

Conservative education experts... often lauded efforts to teach “character,” a concept that overlaps significantly with social-emotional learning. The textbooks that Florida rejected are filled with references to character traits like perseverance and cooperation....

Timothy Dohrer, director of teacher leadership at Northwestern University... said research showed that incorporating social-emotional learning into texts helped students learn social skills. “If you asked 100 C.E.O.s what skills they want in a new hire, the top five skills are going to be about social-emotional learning — not algebra,” he said. “Are you a nice person to talk to? Are you going to be a good co-worker?” 

I picture a left-winger sneeringly paraphrasing those questions — “Are you a nice person to talk to? Are you going to be a good co-worker?” — as:  Are you white enough for corporate America? In other words, these rejected books are not curing systemic racism. They are systemic racism! And what a devious way to get racist books into the school: Get right-wingers to reject them.

I'm not adopting that left-wing position, just highlighting it so it doesn't get lost as you try to understand the problem right-wingers have with this "social and emotional learning." I want schools to do a good job of teaching math and obviously they must also concern themselves with the socialization and emotional development of children. If I had to take a position, though, I'd say I don't think the social and emotional learning material belongs in the math textbook.

135 comments:

WK said...

Sounds like a lot of the SEL approach came from this book:
“I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!: Daily Affirmations By Stuart Smalley”

tim maguire said...

The argument here is that these skills are important. And I think that's right--they are. But does that mean the math textbooks should be teaching them? Should the math textbooks do everything? Think about this--if you crave Mexican food, would you go to a restaurant that serves Mexican, Chinese, and German? Or would you look for a restaurant that focuses on Mexican? Math textbooks should focus on math.

RNB said...

"...the five core skills students should develop: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, social awareness and relationship building." "Math" does not appear to be on the list.

who-knew said...

Like you, I don't think any thing like social emotional learning belongs in a math book. Also, I don't trust the NY Times to honestly report on the content of the textbooks in question. I'm sure that they chose the most anodyne examples in an effort to make DeSantis and Florida look bad.

Jefferson's Revenge said...

Like any sane person who reads this, I see nothing here that actually, like, you know, mentions teaching, like, you know, math. Am I missing something?

tim in vermont said...

“If you asked 100 C.E.O.s what skills they want in a new hire, the top five skills are going to be about social-emotional learning — not algebra,”

The algebra is assumed, and if you can't do it, you are out on your ass, think Kramer in "It's almost as if you haven't had any business training at all!" But if you asked Democrats what skills the want in a voter, the ability to do math does not show up at all, tossed on the trash heap of history along with critical thinking. If a kid knows his "times tables" cold, math will be easier for him the rest of his life.

tim in vermont said...

"Social awareness" is a camel's nose under the tent for liberal politics. If you don't learn it, it's off to Room 101 with you for a little re-education!

mikee said...

This attempt to kill the STEM fields in the cradle - killing academic achievement in Math in elementary school - is due to the resistance of STEM students to the utter BS spewed by those who have politicized academia, and the open contempt of the STEM students to a lot of that BS.

It wasn't the Engineering students who used to protest against US nuclear power. It wasn't the Chemistry grads who protested using paraquat on pot fields in Mexico. It wasn't the Biologists protesting GM crops.

If you can't conquer them with your ideology, destroy them before they get to college.

rhhardin said...

The motivation for math is satisfaction in the absence of feelings. It doesn't matter how weepy the girls are, you solve the problem the same way.

Attracts boys, where girls are only discovering new ways to be icky.

Sebastian said...

"Some educators worried that the field of social-emotional learning celebrated behaviors associated with white, upper-middle-class culture, and paid too little attention to the kind of grit it takes to grow up in poverty"

Grit is overrated. Control for IQ, and the effect goes way down.

Math is also overrated. There, I said it. Few people need the "skill" to be able to define parallel lines. Much of school math is just a repetitive IQ test. There, I said it.

Actually, school is overrated. At least when it comes to teaching stuff people need to remember. And is there any evidence that schools can improve character or motivation?

Mike Sylwester said...

Emotional coaching might be appropriate and effective for some students who do have to overcome emotional blocks while studying mathematics.

However, such emotional coaching is inappropriate and silly for most students.

Two-eyed Jack said...

My view is that they are enforcing female norms, interrupting everything for frequent review and discussion of feelings, and undermining male norms of focus and completion.

This approach really undermined my son in early elementary when he would shut down when asked to write things. It was horrible. We had to pull him out of the gifted program because of the view that "gifted” meant willing to write endless nonsense.

Koot Katmandu said...

Those questions look really creepy to be in a math book.

Mary E. Glynn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Heartless Aztec said...

Florida fights the good fight.

MayBee said...

I agree that it's not obvious this belongs in the math textbook. If these traits are important, presumably they can be taught on their own during the day.

I also think these textbook authors miscalculate how much children enjoy writing about their feelings. My oldest son was an amazing student, did his work all the time, and was a wonderful student to have in class. But we recently found his 2nd grade journal, and at some point around Halloween he realized he could just write whatever into the journal. So he wrote the same thing for the rest of the year. Every day, the same line about going to the Haunted House the school had put on. Because he wasn't really into writing his feelings.

He did, however, end up in the STEM field first as a bio researcher and now in tech. So he seems not to be harmed by not getting in touch with his feelings on command of his elementary school teacher.

Lyssa said...

I always found (elementary) math very easy, if a bit boring. I was always a little baffled by people who seemed to find it intimidating. But I think if I were constantly fed the idea that this was something I should have constant anxiety and struggles with, I probably would have absorbed that. Why not push the idea that math is fun and useful, rather than a source of stress?

Mike Sylwester said...

A lot of students (through high school) do not really read their textbooks. Instead, they learn just from the classroom instruction.

This is especially true about math textbooks. No matter how clearly and logically they are written, they are unreadable for many students.

I watched such a student -- a smart, teenage girl -- try to study her math textbook. Within five minutes, she was falling asleep.

That did seem to be an emotional block. In such cases, emotional coaching might be the solution.

However, the textbook should not assume that most students have such an emotional block to studying mathematics.

Anyway, many students will not read their math textbooks, no matter what is written in them.

traditionalguy said...

Mathematics are tools used by problem solvers. Problem solvers such as Elon Musk use math to stay in Reality. That is why the fatalists hate Musk and his damn tool.

traditionalguy said...

Fanaticists not fatalists.

rcocean said...

Why does the NYT's care what's in a Florida first grader textbook? Obviously, because the Republican Governor is and the whole idea of the exercise is to push back against him. This will provide ammo to the D's in Florida to attack Ron De Santis.

Same ol' NYT. DNC central.

gilbar said...

i guess someone that's learned the "5 core" math skills*, would have no problem believing that a precinct had 104% turnout, and that of those people.. They ALL voted for Biden.

Someone that wasted their math classes on useless things, like math; on the other hand

"5 core" math skills*
self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, social awareness and relationship building

Enigma said...

The biggest problem with math instruction is the teachers. Elementary school teachers often don't have a clue, don't like math, and are simply bad at math. This spills over to children. The emotional and attitude stuff is neither here nor there, as grit and perseverance were never a partisan thing until the last few decades. Leftists began to avoid all personal responsibility topics when they researched and documented sharply different attainment outcomes by race and gender (following similar and even more controversial IQ research 100 years ago). With these finding, personal factors became taboo by the 1980s and in opposition to the Moral Majority on the right. The left grossly overreacted to avoid ethnic stereotypes of laziness and crime, stereotypes of women being uninterested, etc. "Inclusivity. Social promotion."

Gross overreaction. Not news there.

Why does the UK have such strong math and STEM performance relative to is size? The people are genetically identical to many in the US, and awfully similar to French, German, and Scandinavian people.

My advice: Florida, NYT, and everyone, look at the UK's methods and copy whatever they are doing. Perhaps the UK's focused, concentrated 6 week or 12 week single-topic cycles (versus 6-8 different types of classes every day) helps with math.

https://www.familymathstoolkit.org.uk/current-teaching-methods


https://www.extracharts.com/uk-born-nobel-prize-winners

rcocean said...

I don't remember doing any math in 1st grade. It took us till 5th grade to do fractions. Algebra was given to me in 6th grade, because I was "advanced". Looking back, what is the point of math anymore? We have portable computer-phones that do that for us. And unless you're an Engineer/Scientist who uses calculus or Algerbra?

Achilles said...

So Ann pretends that you can start this conversation from the framing given to her by the NYT's.

The public schools are complete garbage.

I demand a choice on where my kids go to school. Tax dollars should be directed where the parents of the students want. Not a bunch of fascist shitheads in Washington DC.

People like Ann should have no say whatsoever in how my kids are educated.

If you start a discussion out with the NYT's position then your judgement is failed and dangerous to my kids.

Rusty said...

Boy! I tell you. I miss those engineering sessions where we, the shop section, would gather around with the engineering section and discuss how we felt about the new draft angles in the seed hopper injection molds.

Birches said...

No student wants to write about their feelings. SEL is added to textbooks so that school districts will want to purchase "new and improved" books as opposed to books that are just math oriented.

The dirty truth is that most of these textbooks aren't even used by teachers because of all the extra fluff. My kids are using textbooks and workbooks for the first time. We're at a charter that does Singapore Math. If more districts go with basic math books, they will probably be used. The money spent on textbooks will not be wasted.

rcocean said...

Algerbra/Geometry are good for logic and provide a basis for understanding science and computer programming. Finance also uses lots of basic math. I wouldn't get rid of it altogther, but its definitely been overemphasized.

Eleanor said...

The problem with teaching math in elementary school is most elementary school teachers are math phobic. People who enjoy math and love teaching it don't usually choose to become elementary school teachers. A first grade teacher single-handedly turned my daughter into a math phobe because "it's understandable that artistic kids won't be good at math". In reality art and engineering are both the study of form and function. Frequently, someone who is good at one will be good at the other. It took six years before my daughter hit a teacher who liked math and enjoyed teaching it. It's not at all surprising elementary school teachers would be more concerned about how kids feel about learning math because it terrifies the teachers themselves.

farmgirl said...

I think a kid should be encouraged to go to the teacher to evaluate how they’re doing. Self- evaluation might lead to delusional outcomes- “I got this, I don’t need help, 2+2=5 this is how I’ve always done it”. It’s perseverance interruptus. So many pitfalls.

Carol said...

Ugh I would have hated this touchy feely stuff. I didn't even know I was supposed to hate math until my mother told me in high school.

Starting with the premise that Math is Scary tells you a lot about the textbook authors and their hangups.

Leland said...

People like Ann should have no say whatsoever in how my kids are educated.

If you stopped reading her and did something else in your life, she wouldn’t have free access to you or your kids education. I doubt anyone would want to take credit for your education. The NYT article and the host both agree with Florida that these books are inappropriate for teaching the required subject matter. I’m not sure why you find that a problem.

EAB said...

I’ll tell you right now, a test probing into my feelings would have made me very uncomfortable as a kid. I would have lied or put what I thought they wanted.

Teach kids that feelings can lie. You can feel bad at math, but it may simply be that you struggle with it or don’t like it that much. Develop a kid’s skill at evaluating his/her skills objectively. To see the specifics of where they struggle or excel.

I admit the whole “feel” emphasis bugs me (I get that it can’t or shouldn’t be ignored.) I remember in the 2004 election people focused on “do you feel safer now than on or before 9/11?” Using it as an argument against Bush. I’d tell people I FELT perfectly safe as I headed to my job in the Trade Center on 9/11. Turns out I wasn’t. So how I feel about those things doesn’t mean a darn thing. Reality matters. How a kid feels about math is something helpful for a teacher to know. But not to emphasize…help the kid get past the feelings.

R C Belaire said...

@rocean : "And unless you're an Engineer/Scientist who uses calculus or Algerbra [sic]?"

Let's try a few for fun (algebra for sure, calc maybe):

Land Surveyors
Architects
Most building trades
Pilots (those without fancy navigation aids)


robother said...

I hear Morris Albert is in serious contention for a Fields Medal, belatedly recognizing his 1970s contribution to higher mathematics:

"Feelings
Nothing more than feelings...
Woo, Woo Woo
Feelings."

Beasts of England said...

'How do you feel about the square root of -1, Timmy?'

'I'm trying to imagine it...'

Tank said...

"Achilles said...

So Ann pretends that you can start this conversation from the framing given to her by the NYT's..."

My thought exactly. The NYT is not a legitimate news organization; it is a propaganda organ. There is no reason to trust their chosen excerpts or analysis thereof.

Not Sure said...

Few people need the "skill" to be able to define parallel lines.

I think that HS Geometry is the first class in which students learn how to construct mathematical (i.e., logical) proofs. We'd be in far better shape today if more people knew how to do that, and apply it.

chuck said...

Seems to me that the text excerpt cultivates the idea that math is hard. I remember math as fun, lots of joy to be found in algebra and geometry. And once I found that geometry provided a square root, the two could be mixed. Arithmetic, OTOH, was a drag, likewise the text excerpt.

EJEdstrom said...

I may be wrong, but some of the most successful students today were raised by Tiger Moms and Dads who did not much care about feelings.

hawkeyedjb said...

“If you asked 100 C.E.O.s what skills they want in a new hire, the top five skills are going to be about social-emotional learning — not algebra,”

If you're hiring an accountant, the top skill is "Do you know accounting?"

"I hired this really nice woman who's easy to talk to and will get along great with everyone and doesn't know algebra. She's our new accountant." Said no CEO ever.

Bob Boyd said...

If it was up to me, I wouldn't approve any geometry book that didn't ask the following essay question,

How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?

ConradBibby said...

"Aren't teachers trained to manage and cultivate the emotions and socialization of the children in their care? Isn't that a big part of what school is about?"

Yes and no. School naturally promotes socialization to the extent that it requires students to convene daily with a group of other children and adults and abide by the behavioral norms of that setting. And, in terms of cultivating emotions, part of a teacher's job is to offer encouragement or perhaps a (figurative) kick in the butt to keep a student motivated. But that's all incidental to the mission of schooling, which is to teach the curriculum. The problem here, IMO, is that people who designed these materials want to prioritize the students' emotional/social experience in performing the work over mastery of the curriculum. From the looks of this, they don't place as much importance on teaching math as they do "teaching" students how to cope with whatever emotional or psychological response they're having in learning math.

This is really a bad idea, for several obvious reasons. First, teachers aren't psychologists and therefore shouldn't undertake to "manage" students emotions. Second, all of this focus on the students' subjective emotional states consumes time that could be used to teach math (or whatever subject). Third, it sends a clear message that the school doesn't really care if the student learns math or not, only that the student has the appropriate self-esteem. Fourth, insofar as this approach tries to instill a set of moral values, it's invasive of the parents' inherent child-rearing rights (as enshrined in Roe v. Wade, for example).

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

It sounds like Althouse is “trying to understand the problem right-wingers have with this,” which just comes naturally to me, being quite conservative. I’m so conservative I’m a Classical Liberal in the constitutional tradition. Consider this:

Aren't teachers trained to manage and cultivate the emotions and socialization of the children in their care? Isn't that a big part of what school is about?

No and maybe. We might all agree that learning in groups, classes, pods and teams should help pupils develop social skills but that is a much different approach than forcing pop-psy concepts on students to manage their “socialization.” But unless teacher training and credentialing has radically changed to include basic psych courses and intensive coaching by real doctors, real child psychologists, the answer to the first question is a hard “no.” Teachers are absolutely unqualified to “manage and cultivate the emotions and socialization of” other peoples’ children. Even the extra training Special Ed teachers get, and I endured a lot of it over ten years I spent teaching these high risk kids, is wholly inadequate to the task.

Furthermore, it seems every portion of class time set aside for “training” kids to substitute facts with feelings takes away from legit learning. Maybe if government educators were already doing an outstanding, shit even a mediocre, job teaching the “three Rs” then this issue might be less controversial. But they aren’t. Every school related news story including this one is about things teachers are putting their time and energy into that takes away from traditional instruction and testing.

I’ll leave it to others to inform this crowd of the outrageous crap the NYT ignores in order to write this anodyne “news” story on the “controversy” of SEL. Please keep in mind Rufo is closer to the truth in his pithy tweets than the NYT is in the text Althouse shared.

Carol said...

I read about this SEL crap all the time at r/Teachers. Of course they're all sold on it but I don't think any of them remember what school was like before all that dreck came along.

School was a place you could come and forget all the emotional turmoil at home and be a different person, maybe glimpse the person you could be in the future. We were all equal, in theory anyway.

Now the kids are encouraged to wallow in their family trauma and think about how bad they have it...gah...

MadisonMan said...

When was the last time these Social Influencers, er, Reporters, picked up a Math Book. That is what I'm thinking as I read this.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...


seems to me the left want every subject to be a reason to inject baby-sitting.

Dude1394 said...

So do a search of “left-wing” versus “right-wing” activists in this story. I am pretty sure what will be missing.

Certainly Timothy Dohrer is alert-wing” activist.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

I was good at math for a while. A good teacher made all the difference.
One great math teacher I had - he did not baby sit, coddle and emote. No - he was just a very good and patient teacher.

We don't do this anymore. The left want a nation of Julia's and cuppy malleable HIllary Clinton lie-buying pajama bois.

tim in vermont said...

Math class teaches many skills most people never use in adult life, that is true, but society relies on the people who love it and can do it and we can’t know in advance who they are. A critical function of math class is trawling for these essential people, especially those not born into connected families. There is something to be said for over learning so that concepts one does need are driven home and so that the cells develop in the brain during these critical years to support general intelligence. There, I said it.

Jersey Fled said...

I worked with a number of younger people for awhile who were high school or technical school grads. I was surprised that almost without exception they seemed proud that they couldn't do math. It was a joke to them. As I read about this focus on feelings and social interactions it strikes me that our educational system is fostering this kind of thinking. No big deal if you can't do math. It's a joke really.

Most high paying jobs require a at least a functional mastery of math - Engineers, scientists, doctors, financial analysts, just business management in general, the list goes on... There is a glass ceiling for people without real math skills that is real and impenetrable.

The problem is that most teachers cannot teach math. In fact, most can barely do math themselves. So the work around is to pretend to teach math while filling time with something else.

Good for DeSantis for pulling back the curtain.

Ice Nine said...

>students are encouraged at the beginning of the school year to write a “math biography” reflecting on their feelings about the subject and how they expect math skills could help them enjoy hobbies or achieve goals.<

Well, this particular mental masturbation in a math class relies on the students' being able to write (coherently). Since our schools don't teach them how to do that any better than we teach them how to do math, that silly approach is a non-starter anyway.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uc9Oc8N9tc

Michael K said...

The NYT turns it laser-like focus on math textbooks rejected by Florida. Gee, I wonder why ? Couldn't be politics, could it ?

Math teaches kids logic and Democrat are really against teaching logic.

NCMoss said...

Integrating feelings into math (or other) curriculum has more to do with "social promotion" than comprehension. As far as left and right side of the brain go, emotion participates in a very small way.

D.D. Driver said...

Are we signalling to kids that they should be stressed out by math? Seems like a self fulfilling prophecy.

Temujin said...

Here's the thing. A phrase like " a practice with roots in psychological research", referring to social-emotional learning is a nebulous statement of expertise which everyone is just supposed to accept as a standard practice that is for their own good.

Of course. Because education became a test zone for psychological research, theories, hypotheses over decades now. And we've all just accepted these theories that come and go, rarely questioning why a new one suddenly shows up after a few years and the other Great Theory on Education disappears down the hole. And some of these theories may have had some research done on them, but who knows how detailed, how rigorous, and how thoroughly checked? We don't know. We just send our kids there and assume that Educators are educating. But secretly- for years now- we've known this all stunk like a bad egg. So it's just coming to a head.

It should not be unrecognized that our education curriculum is typically, as shown by numerous studies over decades now, the least rigorous of any at a university, and on the average, holds the lowest SAT level students in it's curriculum. Now- here's my disclaimer. There are brilliant teachers out there, obviously. And there are probably some schools that have a decent education department, though I'm not sure who gets to assess that these days.

That said, on the average, the lowest level of student is taking the least rigorous curricula to be sent out into the world, armed to the teeth with more social engineering theories than hours in math studies, and they are tasked with teaching your kids. And not just about math, but about how to feel about math.

And in the end this is all bullshit. There is too much social 'medicine' that has taken over education. They're not learning. They're being moved into categories, taught to accept certain dogma. And every class, every course is a piece of the larger whole. So while math may or may not incorporate obvious racial re-education, it most definitely will incorporate some sort of social engineering.

But this is math. Remember when "Follow the Science" was all the rage? It is clearly not so in our schools. Math is about exactness. It is not muddy, not like the Left loves to make so many subjects. It is an exact science. Particularly at the most basic levels. 2+2 is always 4. No matter how you feel about it. Just on sheer idiocy and muddying up the subject to the students, these books should find the garbage bin.

FWBuff said...

My 3 daughters went to our neighborhood public elementary. All 3 were fortunate to have the same 2nd grade teacher. Each of them would say that she was probably one of the best teachers they had during their K-12 experiences. Her approach to math? Lots and lots of practice, including homework, with "Math Facts" every day. Sheets and sheets of addition and subtraction problems, memorizing the multiplication tables through 12, having parents review and initial homework. I'll admit there were some tears at the time, but each of my daughters grew up to enjoy math and confidently completed advanced math courses throughout high school and college. I attribute that largely to the excellent math foundation from Ms. Daniels' 2nd grade class. Never once did she ask them to explain their feelings about math. Not that it should matter, but she was black.

Maynard said...

The only reason for Math textbooks is because there are few teachers able to teach Math.

My first ever Math textbook was for Advanced Calculus my freshman year of college. I dropped the course after two weeks. My SAT-Q score was in the 98th %ile, but could not follow the rote by-the-book instruction of college Calculus.

On a separate note, kids develop confidence in their learning abilities when they can successfully demonstrate learning. The SEL approach is just another example of the educational establishment failing at instruction, but wanting to be psychologists.

tim in vermont said...

Nurses need math, BTW. Can we afford to not educate nurses? Therapists need math too, no MSW without statistics, to name a couple touchy feely careers that require the dark art (2nd mention.)

Some would argue that if you can't do statistics, you can't really think about the world effectively, and are relegated to consulting your feelings to make many important decisions. Issues in tatistics and probabilities are often subtle, creating traps and counterintuitive results, such as *always* switch doors on "Let's Make a Deal". This coaching should be reserved for those who need it, and not slow down the instruction of the kids who can do the work.

J Melcher said...

Why does the NYT's care what's in a Florida first grader textbook?

Exactly. A math book, a sex book, a history book, a cook book -- the local school board and the local community are responsible for stocking the shelves, and higher authorities should keep their busy-body noses OUT!

A few years back there was a Texas mom who volunteered to serve on a local textbook selection committee (such committees being mandated by state law, largely to take the heat off the legislature, state board, and -- "blame the committee" instead -- even local boards). One major publisher who had a work approved at the state level provoked her ire because there were no representations of women in the traditional roles of mothers, grannies, or even "pink collar" workers like nurses and waitresses. All women were illustrated in careers wearing business suits or the sort of protective gear appropriate to a construction site. And she objected. "Not realistic in the first place, and offensively denegrating to women who choose the tradtional paths." Okay, agree or not, the publisher called her out to the national news and the story of the day provoked social media response. "Can't we point and mock such idiots out of 'our' schools, yet?" Etc. A woman took time out of her life to serve her community and was "Justine'd" by the tolerant progressive mobs.

I object to the Florida governor arrogating to himself the role of the local boards. But as an opinion or advisory, the governor is exactly right.



Anthony said...

tim in vermont said...
Math class teaches many skills most people never use in adult life, that is true, but society relies on the people who love it and can do it and we can’t know in advance who they are. A critical function of math class is trawling for these essential people, especially those not born into connected families. There is something to be said for over learning so that concepts one does need are driven home and so that the cells develop in the brain during these critical years to support general intelligence. There, I said it.


I agree with this. It's not always the material itself that will be useful, but developing the skills to learn and master the material. No, not everyone will end up using algebra, but many will and the others will benefit from learning how to manipulate numbers and symbols to get a correct solution. Same with, say, English: not everyone will love The Classics but over-learning how to read things that are more complex than "See Dick and Jane run" will give you a leg up in figuring out other written documents. Or, to decipher the BS that one reads in newspapers. . . .

Michael said...

Did the guys who invented the atom bomb endure these gentle approaches to mathematics? The guys who built the rockets that took men to the moon and back? The designers of the interstate highways? We are so utterly fucked by pretending there are no thick children, that we are all exactly the same if only….

effinayright said...

"Math is also overrated. There, I said it. Few people need the "skill" to be able to define parallel lines. Much of school math is just a repetitive IQ test. There, I said it.
*********************

That's a completely wrong way to look at math.

It's like saying the alphabet is over-rated. Nobody needs the "skill" to be able to recite the ABC song.

But people need to be able to USE the building blocks of words, in order to spell, write, and read.

People need to be able to USE math, to prepare food, to make things, to calculate amounts of "stuff" they need to complete a project, to figure out their budgets and finances, and especially.....to be able to reason numerically.

p.s. "defining" parallel lines is not a skill. Making sure you can draw parallel lines when they are needed, is.

Randomizer said...

Math textbooks should explain a concept, provide examples and have a bunch of problems for students to complete. That's it. How is a publisher supposed to differentiate their textbook from the other textbooks and their own previous edition? They add superfluous content like cultural context and social-emotional concepts. With digital open-source textbooks and Google Classroom to distribute worksheets, why would any district ever buy another textbook?

For years, I have provided my students with a Quiz Reflection similar to the checklist you posted. The intend was to get students to reflect on their deficiencies to guide their preparation for an upcoming test. I'm a professional, I can produce and assign a tool like that if it may be useful. The textbook is a resource available to a teacher, but only one of many.

Matt said...

The key questions seem to me to be are the kids learning math and can they successfully do whatever it takes to pass a basic math test by the end of the year? If they can do that then that is all that matters. If the social and emotional learning approach works then that’s not a bad thing. SEL on top of math skills can be a win-win. If however this approach makes kids touchy feelie but fail at basic math then take it out. The idea that SEL is a gateway to anti-racist, CRT indoctrination seems a stretch.

R C Belaire said...

Back in the mid-60s, during a recitation class in 1st year college calc, the instructor actually singled me out, yelling "Hell's Bells, Belaire, why can't you get this?" I was a bit humbled, but vowed to study harder... No bad feelings.

Birches said...

My daughter's 3rd grade teacher admitted to not learning her times tables until college.

That's one reason why we're not there anymore.

PatHMV said...

It's not that these concepts (perseverance, understanding feelings, knowing that you have some skills even if not a total mastery) are not good; they are. It's that kids don't learn them this way. An earlier commenter alluded to Affirmations by Stuart Smalley. That's funny not because self-esteem isn't important, but because vacuous self-affirmations, not accompanied by any actual accomplishments, are absurd and don't work.

My wife and I spend a lot of time helping our 3rd grader with math homework these days. The actual math, she usually gets pretty well. But the touchy-feely questions drive us all around the bend. We normally leave them blank, because you have no idea what answer the teacher (or the curriculum-writer) really wants.

Yes, in lecturing and interacting with the class, asking questions, giving positive reinforcement about the part of problem-solving they got right (even when they got the final answer wrong) is good, and helps the kid learn without making them feel like a failure. But writing it all down and specifically working on that as a skill in and of itself doesn't actually accomplish the goal.

Dude1394 said...

I loved the anecdote of the parent with the three girls and the disciplined 2nd grade math teacher.

It brings up something that I found interesting about the way the khan academy teaches subjects, all subjects, not just math. You do not move on to the next topic until you have mastered the current one. In most school settings you have a topic of the day or week. You spend time on it and you either get it right away, never get it or somewhere in between. Then the teacher must move on to the next topic. For those that didn’t get it, it is a hole in their base skill level that will hold them back possibly forever.

The second grade teacher gave those subjects such a solid base of math skills that they were able to move right into more difficult items.

Ann Althouse said...

"So Ann pretends that you can start this conversation..."

Pretends?! I obviously did. And you're one of the participants in it.

gahrie said...

My daughter's 3rd grade teacher admitted to not learning her times tables until college.

Ask any teacher to diagram a sentence. I taught English at the Middle school level early in my career. When I brought up sentence diagramming as a possible strategy, half of the English teachers didn't even know what it was.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Math class teaches many skills most people never use in adult life

Not in primary grades. Every single math concept is important and so is the rote memorization in order to train the brain to internalize. Later in HS that math-acclimated brain *should be* able to estimate mathematical outcomes, something we started doing in the 90s, helping to hone estimation skills.

gahrie said...

2+2 is always 4.

Only in racist, patriarchal, White Western civilization.

gahrie said...

Looking back, what is the point of math anymore?

If nothing else, it trains the brain to work logically and rationally. (Cue the irrational numbers jokes)

Achilles said...

Ann Althouse said...

"So Ann pretends that you can start this conversation..."

Pretends?! I obviously did. And you're one of the participants in it.


This is part of your problem. You and the NYT's think you are more important and more correct than everyone else.

Your post is replete with garbage and a false premise. You believe you should be a part of a discussion about what kids are taught in school and that all kids should be forced to learn what you want them to learn. We are not funding education right now. We are funding a grooming gang of perverts trying to teach our kids anything but actual math.

I want to choose where I send my kids to school so people like the NYT's have no say in what they learn. I want them to learn math. Period. Not how they "feel" about it. This is a bunch of teachers who don't know math trying to change the subject.

You don't want to address the fact that you are trying to force my kids and us to pay for this lie and the elitist garbage you people are spewing. Thus you start out from the point of view of the elites talking down to the rest of us.

It is time for you people to go mind your own business. School choice is the only answer.

Nancy said...

I love reading the back and forth on Althouse! But I am consumed with curiosity about the comments removed by the blog administrator.

Jupiter said...

"Aren't teachers trained to manage and cultivate the emotions and socialization of the children in their care?"

For sure. That's what the condoms are for.

Narr said...

I'll have to come back to read others' comments, but this is what is wrong:

Tests within tests. Stress within stress.

In my day you did the math problems and wrote correct sentences but nobody cared about how you felt. And in truth most normal kids feel fine most of the time and just want to get done with the BS.

Yancey Ward said...

Do you trust the writers of this article to be telling you the truth about what is actually in the textbooks they reviewed? How do you know they aren't just selecting the most innocuous parts to mislead the readers? The same question applies to the people who chose not to use the textbooks- they could be lying, too, but I see no reason to have more faith in the honesty of the journalists here- indeed, my default position is the journalists are lying until they prove otherwise.

Jupiter said...

Since you all seem determined to take this ridiculous exercise seriously, I will just point out that young children are no good at math. But they are very good at learning language, and pretty good at rote memorization generally. So, yeah, learn the multiplication table through 16's (That will come in handy when you need to do hexadecimal math to read computer dumps).

Sebastian said...

@various commenters:

"Math class teaches many skills most people never use in adult life, that is true, but society relies on the people who love it and can do it and we can’t know in advance who they are"

Fair enough. But umpteen years of required math ed for the general student population is a very inefficient way to find out. IQ and aptitude tests early on have high predictive value.

"There is something to be said for over learning so that concepts one does need are driven home and so that the cells develop in the brain during these critical years to support general intelligence. There, I said it."

Yes, doing math for the sake of doing math makes some sense, simply as a form of mental exercise. But when I said that math is "overrated" I did not mean that it has no value. Not sure anyone has shown what "concepts one does need" or the likelihood of them sticking, across the general student population, in relation to the amount of time devoted to math. Perhaps there's actual research--I am open to it. How many actual mathematical "concepts" could a reasonably competent adult articulate anyway? And articulate in a way that would satisfy a basic standard of mathematical competency?

"developing the skills to learn and master the material."

Sure, but what is the marginal utility of x years of math ed, controlling for IQ and conscientiousness?

"over-learning how to read things that are more complex than "See Dick and Jane run" will give you a leg up in figuring out other written documents."

No doubt. How many students achieve that in math, thanks to math ed? How much better do students perform at 18 compared to at 12, controlling for basic psychological variables?

"Math is overrated . . . It's like saying the alphabet is over-rated. Nobody needs the "skill" to be able to recite the ABC song. But people need to be able to USE the building blocks of words, in order to spell, write, and read. People need to be able to USE math, to prepare food, to make things, to calculate amounts of "stuff" they need to complete a project, to figure out their budgets and finances, and especially.....to be able to reason numerically."

Of course, in saying that math is overrated I am not saying it has no value or that math should not be taught, counting basic arithmetic as "math." How much do people in fact "reason numerically"? How many "math" tools do they in fact use that go beyond the very basics of the first few school years? How much do adults relearn on the fly, having forgotten all but rudimentary arithmetic?

"p.s. "defining" parallel lines is not a skill. Making sure you can draw parallel lines when they are needed, is."

The defining parallel lines example came from the post. How many people can "make sure" they draw parallel lines when needed thanks to having taken math in school? How much "math" do they use in drawing such lines? Outside of any academic or engineering field, does anyone ever employ an actual proof?

Again, I am not in any way denigrating math as such. As a field and creation, it is a triumph of human ingenuity. I only take issue with some aspects of the conventional approach to math (in) education. Much of which isn't "real" mathematics in any case.

n.n said...

A nominally "secular" church, religion, and ideology partially obfuscated under a veil of expertise. The most expensive educational product in the world, a secondary education... every child left behind with high self-esteem, and progressive productivity.

Rabel said...

"If I had to take a position, though, I'd say I don't think the social and emotional learning material belongs in the math textbook."

That's a 4.

Jon Burack said...

In fact (though I believe Ann slides past this), Christopher Rufo is right about SEL as it is morphing today. It was those brainless CASEL 5 competencies, but not now. The National Association of Scholars Civics Alliance has a good report on the way SEL has changed to incorporate the woke agenda of racialist claptrap about equity. Here, from their report, for example:

"Schools and school districts increasingly emphasize a new theme in their SEL programming: equity. CASEL leads the charge. CASEL now touts the connections between SEL and equity. . .. This new focus on equity came after CASEL released its 2018 issue brief on equity and SEL, which explained how schools can evaluate the CASEL 5 competencies through an 'equity lens.' The authors list potential 'equity concerns' related to each 'competency,' along with 'potential opportunities' to promote equity. For instance, they warn that the self-awareness competency can be too closely tied to 'Whiteness.'”

Available at:
https://civicsalliance.org/social-and-emotional-learning/?utm_source=NAS+Email+General&utm_campaign=daa98715fe-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_03_17_02_15_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_407924b2a9-daa98715fe-208699310

realestateacct said...

In a system where 60% of students can't perform at grade level in reading or math, something is seriously wrong and I don't think it's the kids' emotional state.

The desire to apply therapeutic approaches wholesale in place of measuring and rewarding or punishing school administrators' and teachers' results is destroying us.

I went to a school where even the special ed kids were able to read a newspaper and make change by the time they graduated.

tim in vermont said...

I think a lot of this stuff is motivated, at some level, by a desire to freeze our class system into a caste system, where only the children of connected people get a decent education. People at the very top know what it takes to educate a child, and keep their own children out of public schools.

Some educators worried that the field of social-emotional learning celebrated behaviors associated with white, upper-middle-class culture, and paid too little attention to the kind of grit it takes to grow up in poverty,

I grew up in poverty, thank you very much, (I will spare you the details) and it seems pretty plain that the people who disparage the kinds of values that can get you out of poverty, black or white or other, have no idea what it is like to be poor. These are the same people who think that getting cops out of poor neighborhoods is to do them a favor. The fundamental assumption that drives this thinking originates in CRT, that outcomes in America are driven almost exclusively by racial identity and therefore teaching character is racist because it denies this self evident 'fact.' Tell me again that these texts are not founded on CRT.

CRT and MMT, two of the seductive mind viruses that bid fair to destroy the United States, are just versions of "The Secret," that con that sold so many books to people who wanted so badly to believe it was true, well "The Secret" did work... for the author and the publisher. Just like communism worked for the Castro family.

Smilin' Jack said...

“Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house.”

Robert A. Heinlein

tim in vermont said...

Sorting kids by IQ before they have had a chance to develop character is dystopian.

MikeDC said...

https://twitter.com/RichardHanania/status/1517373907522572289?s=20&t=zoOTw1_9WxPDF3mcDqa6Tg

Looks like these textbooks have a pretty straightforward political bent: If you're conservative, you're racist.

Not very subtle.

Freder Frederson said...

But they are very good at learning language, and pretty good at rote memorization generally. So, yeah, learn the multiplication table through 16's (That will come in handy when you need to do hexadecimal math to read computer dumps).

This is such bullshit. Memorizing times tables is not learning math. It is rote memorization, and while learning the multiplication tables through 16's might have some benefit, rote memorization is of no use if you are confronted by 21 X 17.5.

I demand a choice on where my kids go to school. Tax dollars should be directed where the parents of the students want. Not a bunch of fascist shitheads in Washington DC.

No, you should not be demanding a penny in tax dollars if you and you alone, get to decide what your children learn.

It is time for you people to go mind your own business. School choice is the only answer.

If you think that you, and you alone, should decide what your children learn, then what on earth does what you choose to teach your children have to do with me? I am fine with school choice, but pay it out of your own pocket, don't pick my pockets (especially if I don't have a say in what your children learn) to educate your children. Without public schools, what possible reason could there be to tax people to support the education of children other than their own?

My first ever Math textbook was for Advanced Calculus my freshman year of college. I dropped the course after two weeks. My SAT-Q score was in the 98th %ile, but could not follow the rote by-the-book instruction of college Calculus.

Well, you are lying about something here. You are right, calculus can not be taught rote by the book, but if you were in a advanced calculus coarse, how the hell was that your first Math textbook? What math did you have in high school that didn't require a textbook? I took calculus in high school (got through Algebra in 8th grade, then it was advanced algebra, geometry, pre calculus and calculus senior year)

It wasn't the Engineering students who used to protest against US nuclear power. It wasn't the Chemistry grads who protested using paraquat on pot fields in Mexico. It wasn't the Biologists protesting GM crops.

ALP said...

“If you asked 100 C.E.O.s what skills they want in a new hire, the top five skills are going to be about social-emotional learning — not algebra,”

CEOs don't know SHIT about hiring. They are too far away from front line workers. CEOs are the last people to ask about hiring.

ALP said...

I do think there is some value in focusing on feelings in math. If only to teach kids that it is normal to be frustrated by Math, because Math is Math - a perfect system unlike us messy flesh sacks. We are humbled before it as we should be. We are so unlike Math and Math is so unlike us - there may be some uncomfortable conflict before understanding happens, and this is normal, not indicative of a lack of skills.

I may have had a better attitude about math had someone told me my frustration and shitty feelings about it were NORMAL.

Art in LA said...

In college, my freshman (1980!!) calculus class used the textbook authored by our professor. Kind of self-serving, right?

Back then I wondered why we even needed new math textbooks. Have there been any recent calculus discoveries made in the last 100 years?

tim in vermont said...

https://twitter.com/RichardHanania/status/1517373907522572289

Holey Moley, game, set, and match DeSantis, if that's true, and it looks true.

Michael K said...

I spent the morning at a tire store waiting to have a nail taken out of a tire. I brought my book but the TV was tuned to NBC News. From time to time I would look at it. I think 98% of the "News" was about Florida and all the terrible things that will happen because of the feud with Disney. Nonsensical stuff like how everyone in Orlando will have property taxes rise because the Disney district was cancelled. Of course the Orlando guy interviewed was a Democrat.

Godot said...

The volume and depth of commentary on this post ‘makes me feel’ conservatives have done their maths for the 2022 midterms.

effinayright said...

Sebastian said...
@various commenters:

"Math class teaches many skills most people never use in adult life, that is true, but society relies on the people who love it and can do it and we can’t know in advance who they are"

Fair enough. But umpteen years of required math ed for the general student population is a very inefficient way to find out. IQ and aptitude tests early on have high predictive value.
********************
Almost no student is America is required to take "umpteen" years of math. Most STEM students might, but for everyone else it's just a few years of basic math in late-elementary and junior high, and one year of high school.

That covers only arithmetic, maybe geometry and elementary algebra.

I have a friend who cannot scale down a recipe, as she cannot figure out how turn instructions calling for one cup of rice to be boiled in 1.5 cups of water to feed four people, to cooking enough for just three people.

So she just makes enough for four.

And whatever you do, don't ask her to convert pints to milliliters!!

effinayright said...

tim in vermont said...
Sorting kids by IQ before they have had a chance to develop character is dystopian.
***********

OK, I'll bite: what are the metrics for "character"?

pacwest said...

Few people need the "skill" to be able to define parallel lines.

The rest of us would appreciate it if you stay off the roadways, but if you can't manage that then for God's sake at least dont change lanes!

Michael K said...

If you think that you, and you alone, should decide what your children learn, then what on earth does what you choose to teach your children have to do with me? I am fine with school choice, but pay it out of your own pocket, don't pick my pockets (especially if I don't have a say in what your children learn) to educate your children.

Classic leftist fallacy. Freder, you should have taken a few math classes. You'd sound a bit smarter.

Vouchers send the money with the child. They DO NOT take money away from other children's education. If DC schools spend $16,000 per child per year, and get shitty results, as they do, why not let some kids escape those schools by sending some of that money with them to the school of their choice? Maybe the school Obama's kids attended cost that much but I am sure good schools would appear for less then that annual fee.

Narr said...

I love it when people trot out RAH as if his was the word of God. He was so historically ignorant that he railed against Dr. Samuel Johnson's aphorism on patriotism and scoundrels without considering the context.

When I go to the Kroger deli for some ham and turkey slices, I generally ask for "a little under half a pound--about point four."

The most common result is that I get a quarter pound. You can see the logic, to minds that may have never been exposed to percentages. The saddest part is that even after being 'splained to, some of them don't get it, or forget by the next time.

It fell to me in junior high school to teach my next brother the New Math. This would have been in the mid 60s. I wasn't any math mind myself, and avoided it as much as possible for the rest of my very extended education in fuzzy humanist subjects, but I was able to help him understand.

The only summer school class I ever had to take was for Algebra I, and I got my C. I did better in Geometry the next year, but was only three or four weeks into Alg II when I concluded that the class time would be better spent as a study hall for the stuff I needed to graduate, and in some cases even enjoyed learning.

My university math requirements were met by jock physics, symbolic logic, and some geography labs; library masters required a stat course, dumbed down appropriately for the students and our future needs.







holdfast said...

This crap is absolute poison for kids who are mildly autistic. Not severely autistic kids, but the ones who are capable of functioning in a mainstream classroom with a bit of support. They can do the math, but being constantly interrupted to “search their feelings” and then write out complicated sentences will mess them
up completely.

So this is just another case of neurotypical people creating barriers to mess up the NNT folks.

Jersey Fled said...

“If you asked 100 C.E.O.s what skills they want in a new hire, the top five skills are going to be about social-emotional learning — not algebra,”

Not quite.

Three most frequent college degrees for Fortune 500 companies CEO's are engineering, economics and business management. All math intensive.

A brief sample:

Elon Musk (physics)

Jeff Bezos (electrical engineering)

Bill Gates (pre-law but took graduate level classes in mathematics and computer science)

Tim Cook (industrial engineering)

Mary Barra (electrical engineering)

Sunday Pinchai (metallurgical engineering)

The list goes on.

Jersey Fled said...

Sorry, that was Sundar Pinchai, CEO of Alphabet.

I hate spellcheck

Jersey Fled said...

Sorry, that was Sundar Pinchai, CEO of Alphabet.

I hate spellcheck

wildswan said...

SEL in arithmetic is a lead-in to "early intervention." A child gives sadz answers about the times tables and gets assessed on those answers. Too many sadz feels and the child becomes "at risk." In other words, evidence exists that allows the state to categorize that child as a potential social danger - either anti-social or a likely failure. Then social workers, psychiatrists, etc. pour in on the family. Drugs are supplied, I mean, prescribed. The family never again escapes the tentacles of the social "services."
What we, as citizens, need to know is the exact meaning of each answer in the table of "normal development" against which each answer is registering. In SEL environments, there is such a table, there is a file being built on each child. Know the meaning of your child's answers.
Or, better yet, do it the Florida way - don't let your school district ask the questions; don't let your local school form a Social credit dossier on your kids starting in childhood just because the school used used a few good words. i.e. "social", "learning" to cover up the start of the dossier. Don't be China.

Aught Severn said...

This is such bullshit. Memorizing times tables is not learning math. It is rote memorization, and while learning the multiplication tables through 16's might have some benefit, rote memorization is of no use if you are confronted by 21 X 17.5.

Memorization makes it easier to do arithmatic so that it becomes almost a muscle memory. I can not answer your problem without some thought, but I can get damn close without thought (2 × 17, add a 0, + 17, add about 10)

Memorizing the times tables in my mind is similar to going from sounding out each syllable to being able to read and speak whole words at a glance. It is part of the foundational skill set everyone really needs to have in a technologically advanced or advancing society.

Rollo said...

We need a major government initiative to solve the fundamental problem: math is boring.

The task before us will not be easy. Not like just putting a man on the moon.

Achilles said...

Freder Frederson said...

If you think that you, and you alone, should decide what your children learn, then what on earth does what you choose to teach your children have to do with me?

Because you are a fascist piece of shit trying to teach my mixed race girls they are racist and are actually boys who like to talk about sex with their grade school grooming teachers.

You are just too dishonest to admit it.

chuck said...

Have there been any recent calculus discoveries made in the last 100 years?

Lots, but a math major will get you up to about 1900 while omitting much of the complex analysis that dominated the last half of the 19th century. A masters might get you up to around 1950-60 in some parts of the subject. The part that is probably closest to current is applied math because, hey, computers. And even there it probably ends around 1980-1990. What newer texts covering basic math add is pictures and biographies of women. The pretty women anyway, Kovalevskaya who did some good work on hyperbolic equations, maybe Sophie Germaine. Noether is missing, also Emilie du Ch√Ętelet. Anyway, the main change is pedagogy, not content. I think there are open source texts available that would be perfectly suitable for calculus and linear algebra. Maybe used texts. I note that Amazon rents texts.

Of course, if you are a mathematical genius, things are different, but even von Neumann only claimed to know 30% of the math of his day, and that was a lot.

Rabel said...

“Forty-eight percent of my Democratic colleagues in the Senate vote with me 94 percent of the time,” Biden said today.

You don't really need good math skills to rise to the top.

effinayright said...

Rollo said...
We need a major government initiative to solve the fundamental problem: math is boring.

The task before us will not be easy. Not like just putting a man on the moon.
**************

ISWYDT.

tim in vermont said...

Freder doesn’t think that having facility in multiplication and division allows for a student to be able to focus his brainpower on the conceptual part of a new equation, for example, which goes to show that Freder most likely has never studied advanced math of any kind.

3X + 12Y = 96 solve for Y without knowing that 8*12 is 96.

I once did some sample questions on a Wunderlik(sp?) and if you didn’t know your multiplication tables cold, it was going to cost you time, even as they threw you bones, by using perfect squares, etc.

Aught Severn said...

Thinking about this topic and where primary math skills apply in today's world also reminded me of my former job where they are directly applicable. It is called mental gym in the submarine force.

When looking out of the periscope at visual contacts, you need to estimate range by multiplying an estimated mast head height by the number of visual divisions, then by a factor depending on what magnification you are using. That gives you range. From there, you determine how long until you have to look at the contract the next time, to ensure that between looks she doesn't point right at you and run you over at max speed. This involves estimating your speed in the line of sight based on relative angle of the contact, her top speed, and her current range. There are a few other, similar calculations you do for various other important parameters. All done to maintain safety of ship. All done in your head in about 10 seconds or so, and all done while you continue to sweep around and look for other visual contacts. You will have a team backing up your calculations as you shout them out, but there is no way to be able to do that job safely without being able to do the arithmetic in your head very rapidly.

tim in vermont said...

Try to play piano or guitar well enough that anyone would want to listen to you without rote learning of scales to the point where you don’t have to think about them and can think about other things in your performance.

effinayright said...

What Aught Severn said...
******

Once I took my kids outside to see the Space Station pass overhead.

I mentioned that it was traveling at about 18,000 miles an hour, and at that speed we could go from home to our cottage in the Poconos in.....about 48 seconds.

They asked how I could possibly know that.

I said "18,000 miles/per hour is 300 miles a minute. The cottage is 240 miles away. 240miles/300miles/min = 0.8 min x 60sec/min = 48 seconds."

No genius abilities, no algebra, no calculus. Just solid basic arithmetic used in many ways my entire life.

TENS OF MILLIONS of us can do that. It's utterly trivial.

p.s. I have to admit that I have blown the "measure twice, cut once" carpentry rule many times.



Joanne Jacobs said...

Immigrant students who know very little English can excel in math, the universal language. But the "new new math" requires more reading, writing and verbal skills that many students possess. You not only have to learn to add, you have to learn to write about how you feel about it.

It's not new. When my daughter was in seventh grade, 28 years ago, the "problem of the week" included a question: "How did you feel about this problem?" She always wrote: "I felt it would be easy" or "I felt it would be hard." I happened to tell this to the assistant secretary of Education, who was a Stanford education professor on leave. He said, "That's ridiculous!" I agreed.

chuck said...

I have to admit that I have blown the "measure twice, cut once" carpentry rule many times.

I have that as "read twice, post once", but still fail.

effinayright said...

tim in vermont said...
Freder doesn’t think that having facility in multiplication and division allows for a student to be able to focus his brainpower on the conceptual part of a new equation, for example, which goes to show that Freder most likely has never studied advanced math of any kind.

3X + 12Y = 96 solve for Y without knowing that 8*12 is 96.

I once did some sample questions on a Wunderlik(sp?) and if you didn’t know your multiplication tables cold, it was going to cost you time, even as they threw you bones, by using perfect squares, etc.
****************************
I'm not seeing how you can solve for two variables in one equation w/o knowing one already.

In your equation X would have to equal Zero for Y to be 8.

But what about X= 8 and Y = 6 ? 24 + 72 = 96. No?

Or what about X = -16 and Y = 24 ?

Or (3)(-16) + (6)(24) = 96

I'm not trying to be a smart-ass, just pointing out that you need two equations, solved simultaneously for X and Y, to get a definitive answer.



Greg The Class Traitor said...

Aren't teachers trained to manage and cultivate the emotions and socialization of the children in their care?
1: No, they aren't
2: That's not their job. Their job is to teach the subject
3: It doesn't matter how you feel about math. it matters wether you can solve the problem and get the correct answer
4: Focusing on anything else takes away the time from actually learning the math

It's something we also expect parents to do, and they're not trained as experts in psychology.
We expect parents to do a lot of things for their kids, that we don't let anyone else other than trained professionals do
Their love for the child is expected to overcome their lack of training

Greg The Class Traitor said...

"How can you understand your feelings"

Who gives a shit? It's math class, not feelings class

Greg The Class Traitor said...

effinayright said...
I'm not trying to be a smart-ass, just pointing out that you need two equations, solved simultaneously for X and Y, to get a definitive answer.

Nope.


3X + 12Y = 96 solve for Y
Y = 8 - X/4

You've now solved for Y, and can replace it in any other equations

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Some educators worried that the field of social-emotional learning celebrated behaviors associated with white, upper-middle-class culture, and paid too little attention to the kind of grit it takes to grow up in poverty, for example, or to overcome barriers of race, language and class that can make it more difficult for many students to persevere academically....

Conservative education experts... often lauded efforts to teach “character


Um, the reason why those character traits are "associated with white, upper-middle-class culture" is because those character traits make it more likely that you will be successful in life.

ESPECIALLY if you're growing up in poverty.

"I want schools to do a good job of teaching math and obviously they must also concern themselves with the socialization and emotional development of children."

Given that they've proved incompetent at teaching reading, writing, and math, the idea that they could teach far more difficult concepts like socialization and emotional development is ludicrous.

If they want to be trusted with anything else, first they have to teach the basics right

Yancey Ward said...

This why Freder has a tip calculator.

Greg The Class Traitor said...

"Math is also overrated. There, I said it. Few people need the "skill" to be able to define parallel lines. Much of school math is just a repetitive IQ test. There, I said it.

Yes, and it's a very stupid thing to say

Are you going to live in a house where you might do some repairs? You need math. you need to be able to understand some basic geometry. Do you need two column proofs? no.

But you can't even shop effectively if you can't do math. Do I get 3 of this box, or two of that box? For what I need, which one costs more in total?

Are you trying to control your intake of carbs / sodium / something else? So I can have X of this one, or Y of that one.

you can not be a functional human being without some ability at math.

It's like saying "I'm not going to be a full time author, so I don't need to know how to write

tim in vermont said...

"I'm not seeing how you can solve for two variables in one equation w/o knowing one already."

Ya can't, and I never said you could, as pointed out above you can still solve it, *but* I did that comment from my phone and I would have done something neater if it had been easier to edit, but instead, I just pressed publish, us sexagenarians are not great a phone typing.

Tina Trent said...

Why would you trust/fall for the Times' article? Rufo and well-respected institutions such as the American Principles Project at Princeton, City Journal, and the National Association of Scholars have done extensive research into the wildly biased political impositions, corrosive emotional manipulation, inappropriate sexual content, and anti-white, anti-male, anti-western culture prejudices larded into modern K-12 textbooks and teaching methods.

Why did we have to pass a law for parents and other taxpayers to even be permitted to see the books and online materials being used in our classrooms?

It's sad that your father thought it was acceptable to keep photos of naked women in your living room. Where did he keep the Hustlers?

effinayright said...


Blogger Greg The Class Traitor said...
effinayright said...
I'm not trying to be a smart-ass, just pointing out that you need two equations, solved simultaneously for X and Y, to get a definitive answer.

Nope.


3X + 12Y = 96 solve for Y
Y = 8 - X/4

You've now solved for Y, and can replace it in any other equations
*********************

You haven't "solved" for Y! You've just rearranged the furniture!

All you've done is offer another equation for Y being equal to another unknown value of X.

sheesh

Freder Frederson said...

Vouchers send the money with the child. They DO NOT take money away from other children's education. If DC schools spend $16,000 per child per year, and get shitty results, as they do, why not let some kids escape those schools by sending some of that money with them to the school of their choice?

Apparently, you missed my point. Achilles is not paying $16,000 a year to educate his children. He is relying on other taxpayers to subsidize his little brats' education. If I (assuming I contribute to the tax base for his school district) have no say in what his kids learn, why should I be paying towards their education? Maybe I would not have heartburn if he was able to use whatever portion of his taxes that go to public education for vouchers, but not a penny more. Public education is a public good that we all benefit from. Private education is a personal choice and the taxpayer should not be required to subsidize it.

Freder Frederson said...

Ya can't, and I never said you could,

No you did not. But you implied I know nothing about math if I couldn't solve it. What is the difference?

MikeR said...

Echoing other comments: “If you asked 100 C.E.O.s what skills they want in a new hire, the top five skills are going to be about social-emotional learning" heh. My son-in-law is looking for a job and they are giving him four-hour skills tests. Obviously they want to avoid obnoxious creeps as well. But the top skill required - absolutely required - is whatever you're being hired for, and whoever wrote the article never bothered to ask any C.E.O.s.

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Yancey Ward said...
This why Freder has a tip calculator.

Yancy wins

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Freder Frederson said...
Apparently, you missed my point. Achilles is not paying $16,000 a year to educate his children. He is relying on other taxpayers to subsidize his little brats' education. If I (assuming I contribute to the tax base for his school district) have no say in what his kids learn, why should I be paying towards their education?

Why Freder, what an amazing comment!

So, when the Democrats say that Parents have no say in what the schools teach, your response is therefore that none of those people who "have no say" should have to pay taxes to support those schools?

How radical of you!

Do you want to collect social security one day? Did you provide the US enough kids so that they will work and completely pay for your SS?

No?

Then you need those other people's "brats" to be educated, so that they can pay the SS taxes you need to collect

You can have a moral right to demand that they are successfully taught State required skills.

You have no business deciding what else they're taught, or how they're taught

khematite said...

Blogger who-knew said...
Like you, I don't think any thing like social emotional learning belongs in a math book. Also, I don't trust the NY Times to honestly report on the content of the textbooks in question. I'm sure that they chose the most anodyne examples in an effort to make DeSantis and Florida look bad.


The NY Post finds a less anodyne example in another math textbook rejected by Florida:

https://nypost.com/2022/04/22/floridas-banned-math-textbooks-include-racial-bias-graph/amp/