Sunday, March 11, 2012

You Be the Judge

               “I took a nap in a bog one day and woke up screaming. 3796 leeches, 2910 fleas and 1044 vampire bats were stuck to my bald head drinking my blood in ecstasy. How many bloodthirsty bloodsuckers were dining on my head?”
               These lines didn’t come from a gory vampire novel bent on turning our innards inside out. Nope, not at all. Guess what? They’re a math problem. For elementary pupils. In third grade. It turned out that these and a number of other math problems containing some violent and illegal topics were downloaded by a teacher online for a class. The teacher was fired.
               I was horrified when I read the article. I am a college teacher and the idea of elementary school children being exposed to these types of materials in school alarmed me. ‘There is already enough violence in the outside world; do they have to be exposed to it in school too?’ I thought. I immediately assumed that if kids were exposed to enough violence in their everyday lives, their future is placed in jeopardy and the chances become higher of their growing up and having the same violent tendencies that they were exposed to.
               I visited the site where the math problems were downloaded. The content had been taken down and replaced by an article written by the site owner who made the math problems. After reading his article, I understood his side a bit and what he was trying to achieve with those unusual math problems.
               From his point of view, math has been a constant headache for elementary school teachers (even college, I tell you) because it has two elements that children hate: it’s boring and it’s hard. So he tried to make the first fun so that even if the subject was hard, it would still be enjoyable. And there is no denying that children like gross and gory stuff. Just take a look at all the cartoons and movies nowadays.
               So I’m thinking, there has to be some middle ground. School authorities do not approve of those kinds of materials but children love them. How do we make these two meet?

Note: Post title was taken from the website where homework material was downloaded from. To read the full article about the teacher who was fired, click here.

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