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Secondly, I would like to thank you for your comments regarding my struggle with Everyday Math. Your comments made me recall an article I just finished reading which I got  from my husband John, who will be discussing the article with his fellow teachers for inservice on Tuesday.  Let me write out part of the article, which I think is so insightful.  This may give you something to ponder when your child may lose their natural curiosity for learning, coincidently, when in third grade they start state testing. Something I am sure I will see in Sophie this coming year.  I am bracing for it and my reaction to it, to try and do a better job at dealing with it.  So here goes:

Tom Friedman on Education in the Flat World (Taken from The School Administrator feb. 2008)

A discussion with author Daniel Pink on curiosity, passion, and politics in school reform in the global marketplace.

Pink: What’s your take on how that (integration/right brained thinking) is going in the U.S. schools compared with education systems in other countries?

Friedman: What’s happening, I believe in the world, is a global convergence.  China’s rtying to get more innovative.  And we’re trying to get more rigorous.  But I’d rather have our problem than theirs because I think that this right-brained stuff is very cultura-bound and often hard to teach.

Pink: let’s go to math and science for a moment.  I find that in conversations about education, math and science is a showstopper.  It’s a trump card.  You slap it down-“But what about math and science?”-and then all of a sudden any discussion about the arts or synthesis or empahy just ceases.  Your thoughts?

Friedman: My favorite story is about Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ speech at Stanford’s graduation.  He says, “You know, I dropped out of Reed College and had nothing to do so I took a course in calligraphy.  And it all went into the Mac keyboard!”  That was not an algorithm.  That was a qustion of style and it helped define Apple’s niche.  Now, that[‘s not to put down algorithms.  Apple needed those algorithms to enable it all to happen.  It’s just you’ve got to have both.  It’s about integrating the two. 

Pink: Right.  What’s needed, some might say, is a whole new mind.

Friedman: (laughing): Yeah, exactly.

Pink: Let’s go back to Steve Jobs because I think it’s an interesting example.  He took that course in calligraphy because he was curious about it.  How are we doing on that dimension, on putting kids in contexts that allow them both to be curious and allow them to get the benefits of curiosity?

Friedman: We could be doing it better.  As you know, my equation is CQ=PQ>IQ.  Curiosity Quotient+ Passion Quotient is more important than Intelligence Quotient.

Pink: Amen.  You show me a curious, intrinsically motivated kid-and I’ll show you someone who’ll leave the kid who mearly complies with the rules and studies for the SAT in the dust.

The article goes on to say that we have such a “massively screwed up system” that schools have become the fixer of social ills.  “We’ve got hungry kids? (Pink says), Feed them is school.  We’ve got kids who don’t have a sound moral sensibility?  Time for character education.  We’ve got kids who don’t know the birds and the bees?  We require sex education.  Is there a way to arrest that and say that schools are about education and learning-and not these other problems?”

Of course, it seems like common sense, but still, school districts and state mandates keep pushing teh boulder up the hill with one shoulder.  Let’s make things so difficult and crush the spirits of all of these kids just to say we are a great state in the rankings of the public school system.  I grew up in a very wealthy town(although we weren’t wealthy), went to private school for free because my father taught there and frankly, they could make any rules they wanted.  They weren’t funded by anybody in the state, so they made their own rules, and for many things, I think I had a great education because of it.  I do think that it just makes it even harder as a parent to encourage your kids to try something new for an extra-curricular activity.  Why?  Because they think they will be beaten down with information and then tested on it!!   Thanks for listening.  I hope you gleaned something from the tid-bit of this article I gave to you, even if it was the obvious.  At least in confirms that the administrators and teachers seem to dislike it as much as we do.