Friday, November 09, 2012

Root Words, Math Facts, and Cursive

I'm ashamed to admit that there was a time (earlier this week) when I would have agreed with the research supporting having students memorize and perform such "old school" activities, but now I see them as nothing more than a way to keep minority students down:
Kids Should Learn Cursive (and Math Facts, and Word Roots), writes Annie Murphy Paul in Time. New research supports the effectiveness of “old school” methods such as “memorizing math facts, reading aloud, practicing handwriting, and teaching argumentation,” she writes.

Suzanne Kail, an English teacher at an Ohio high school was required to teach Latin and Greek word roots, she writes in English Journal, though she abhorred “rote memorization.”
That's not progressive, that's looking backwards.

I cannot support requiring black and brown-skinned students to memorize partial words from old dead white people from Greece and Italy.  This is what is meant by "institutional" racism.

Update, 11/15/12:  It was all a joke, I didn't really turn liberal :-)


Anonymous said...

The real racism is in forcing oppressed people to attend school in the first place. Their great great great great grandparents picked cotton for the master, hence they should not have to do anything now but get money from those who have the audacity to think work is important

Larry Sheldon said...

I didn't see the sarc tag so I don't know.....

But I do know that I and my three daughters can document cases where we were able to blow off SATs, understand papers that "were over our heads", and on and on.

Because we have a vocabulary of word roots and can take a word we don't recognize apart and make a reasonable run at understanding what the word means.

C T said...

Indeed. Melanin is highly relevant to the ability to learn vocabulary. Ask any albino.

Mary J said...

I had to do a double take to make sure I was reading the right blog a couple of days ago. It was late. I was tired. And I was enraged by the end of your entry... Until I clicked out of Google Reader to leave some incendiary remarks, only to find it was your blog, of course. Perfect. :)

Happy Elf Mom said...

To my mind, all students ought have at least rudimentary cursive training and a basic understanding of many Latin root words. I also fancy that they ought be able to read and converse in the English language tolerably well.

I don't even understand how this training keeps anyone down, if these are the sorts of skills the children will need to take their rightful place in the world as adults (!!??). I'm sure I'm missing something here, because I don't support "institutional racism" either, but don't see how this is it.

I'm glad to see from your blog title that you're being sarcastic, but wow. Could you imagine keeping children ignorant in order to "combat racism?"

Bill Beeman said...

So we have produced a generation that can't do simple mental arithmetic, fails to have any concept of phonics, and don't have a clue of the roots of our language.

But they've had a perfectly good 'modern' education.

By the way, the most useful language class I ever had was two years with Miss Campbell in Latin I and II.