Trivial Pursuits

As schools open around the country, this retired teacher has questions about some of the changes occurring in curriculum. Are schools still approaching the sequential learning of a given topic from basic facts to thoughtful reading, processing, discussing and writing? Or do random tidbits look more like Trivial Pursuit?

I recently had lunch with a veteran math teacher. She described Math 1,2, 3, and 4 as the course offerings at her high school. I said, “Is Math 1 really algebra, Math 2 really geometry, etc.?” 

“Not exactly,” came the reply. It turns out that students get short units in algebra, geometry and “math principles” in each of the 4 math years. Thus, we cannot assume a student showing 4 math credits during high school gets through calculus! 

Pupils have what I now call “sound bite”math. I used to refer to this kind of education as Swiss cheese learning; it leaves a lot of holes in a student’s knowledge of any given subject! Grab a factoid, YouTube video, or movie quote, and you become an authority, gaining the laughter and admiration of others. 
As a follower of Christ, I usually thought that math and science showed their hand as far as their world view. Darwin identified himself clearly; you could have discussion,  debate, seek information and form a thesis.

In the fields of English and the social sciences, however, Eden’s deceiver slithers through the classroom with much greater stealth. Let’s consider AP Human Geography. Depending on the world view of the instructor, a student can receive an agenda rather than an education. Socialism might suggest redistribution of wealth and resources, making American students embarrassed and guilt-ridden.

 Shake the system, indeed!

After completing the course, I might correctly answer, “The dingo is a free range dog found mainly in what country?” (Australia) 
I also might draw a map of the USA through the eyes/mind of a New Yorker, as seen in this humorous image. 

 Somehow, I always viewed education as more than a trivial pursuit… sigh…


2 thoughts on “Trivial Pursuits

  1. Indeed be a learner, and keep learning! The men of Issachar were commended for understanding the times — Soundbytes are good as long as we will take the time to ask the context behind them. Oh wait .. . what does CONTEXT mean? :-/

  2. You so clearly explained the problem and its serious consequences for our children and our country. Thanks for sharing.

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