Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Real Or Imagined Problem?

Dyscalculia. An inability to deal with numbers.

This article says it's a genuine condition. I'm willing to concede that it might be, but I'm also willing to go out on a limb and say that an overwhelming number of Americans whom doctors might say have this condition actually don't. Math is harrrrrrd, and part of our culture allows and even sometimes celebrates a lack of facility with numbers; most Americans who do poorly in math don't put forth the effort. Gawd, if I never again hear, in one of my lower-level math classes, "Oh, we have a test today?" it will be too soon.

If this condition is real, mark my words--it will be overblown. How can it not be, it's the greatest "Get out of jail free card" in the history of school. I dread the special education and disability accommodation nightmare that will occur when this diagnosis makes its way into the school system. Seriously, we may as well just give them all A's (because that's all too many parents want) just to shut them up, as people will be beating down the doors with IEPs and 504 Plans for dyscalculia.

I would hope that if this diagnosis gains traction, California would eliminate its graduation requirement of passing Algebra 1. I don't think it's out of bounds to expect seniors to pass a class that Singaporeans pass in 7th grade, but if we're going to have to water it down even more to pass the dyscalculics, it would be better just to be rid of the requirement. Bring back the old "consumer math" if we must, but please, let's not do any further damage to the teaching of Algebra 1.


Anonymous said...

I've got a condition, I-think-math-is-fun-itis. Is there a cure?

Tam Tam said...

It is getting so bad I don't want to teach math anymore...when will we get past the idea that math is some innate, magical power that only a few "select" possess? I was not the best math student in my younger years, put with some hard work and great teachers, I got better. Much better. I guess no one wants to work hard anymore...