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One of the things that Iíve learned is what homeworks are good homeworks to send home and what homeworks we really need to do in class because of parent frustration. Last year, not yet knowing this, I sent a homework home and got back such venomous mail: ďWhat is this? Why are you asking my 3rd grader to do this? If you ever send another magic square home, I am pulling my child out of the school. I canít do this, and neither can he.Ē So now Iím just making better choices on what to send home.
I think we can all agree that it's important for teachers to make good choices (pdf file). But why any parent would object to an 8-year old child being asked to construct a magic square for homework is beyond me. After all, think how much conceptual knowledge that child will have after his mom has looked up Magic Squares on the internet and helped him draw one.
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C, I think probably this was a parent who was VERY sensitive about her own math background. It's just not normal to threaten to pull your kid out of a school because they came home with math that you couldn't do. -- CarolynJohnston - 05 Jun 2005
I wouldn't necessarily assume this parent feels bad about her own mathematics skills. Any time you activate the 'mama bear' you can get very angry reactions. We've had an uproar this year over the Phase 4 6th grade class, which, according to the parents, has been giving kids work that's way over their heads on grounds that 'we want to challenge your child to solve problems in real life.' (I went to the big public meeting about it, and heard the we-want-to-challenge-your-children rationale myself.) The parents are incensed, and that includes parents who have math careers themselves. (This may be a bad generalization, but I think I see that mathematically confident parents are more likely to get ticked off than mathematically intimidated parents . . . ) If Christopher had been in that class this year I would have been happy to threaten to pull him out of the school because they were sending home problems I couldn't do if there were any chance I'd actually make good on the threat. Unfortunately, it's not legal in NY for me to homeschool just one subject, and I'm not going to be spending $26,000 a year on top of our property taxes to send him to a private school, so we're stuck. This year the Phase 4 class spent a full month, at the beginning of the year, giving the kids word problems they didn't know how to do. A month. No textbook, no instruction. Just problems nobody knew how to do, including most of the parents, who were frantically calling all the other parents trying to see if anyone knew how to do the stuff. In retrospect, that provided everyone a Prime Networking Opportunity that didn't work out too well for the school. -- CatherineJohnson - 07 Jun 2005