How Math is (not) being taught in Massachusetts public schools
"How about count how many wives aunt Sara has ?"
My wife and I have 3 children (ages 1, 3, and 5), and we recently purchased a home in Winchester, Massachusetts, because its schools have a good reputation and its students do well on the MCAS . I looked at the "Academics" section of the school district web site and found "Math literature lists" (what happened to textbooks?) for various grades. The 4th grade list at
lists dozens of books, including
Count your Way Through Africa
Count Your Way Through Arab World
and 7 move "Count your Way" books
Amazon says the "Count your Way Through Africa" book "uses the Swahili words for the numbers from one to ten to introduce the land, history, and culture of Africa."
A school teacher who reviewed the book says
"Learn How to Count in Kiswahili! [...]
A very nice informative book that taught me a lot about the African continent and how to count in Kiswahili too! I wll share this with my class during Black History Month."
Fine, teach about Africa in social studies class, but this has nothing to with math! Even if the books were a serious effort teach kids to count, that ought to be mastered in 1st grade or kindergarten, not 4th grade. They need to work on abstract concepts such as fractions and decimals.
"Homeschool!", I hear you Freepers shout. We probably will not, since my wife is a doctor, but it's clear that if we send him to the public school, we had better take the math education into our own hands. We have been using the Singapore Math series, and our precocious 5yo is already in book 2A adding and subtracting 3-digit numbers with carry over.
Winchester is an affluent, mostly white (with some Asians) suburb of Boston, where most students do go on to college. I suppose most kids learn math anyway, maybe directly from their parents or through tutoring programs like Kumon. But what are we paying teachers to do? It reminds me of the recent article about "renegade parents" who teach their kids basic skills such as long division at home, because they are not covered in school.