Breaking the Cycle of Poverty


If I had written this last night because I couldn’t shut my mind down from educational incompetence, this would have been titled “#(*^!@&^%!@$*&%@$.” Moving into teaching math was not an easy decision for me. I was not a good math student once material moved into the abstract – a combination of bad teachers, “new math,” and not being in formal operations, as Piaget would have it. And it limited my options. I chose a college major based on the least amount of math I would need to take – history. Granted, it led me into teaching (nothing else out there), but there could have been a lot more options for me as a career.

Which is what I want for my students. Options. Loads of them. And research has shown that mathematics is the gatekeeper to all else economically. Now, I don’t expect my kids to love math – I want them to know they can do it – way more important. Especially where I am now – I have never worked in a school with such a strong poverty level, where kids have to worry about school lunch being their only meal of the day. So math becomes even more important – their ticket out to something better for them economically.

But it all depends on them building a foundation that is strong – not just the little pig’s house of twigs that collapses from lack of understanding. A strong house – they may not like the decor, but the house provides all the shelter they need – and their friends, and stands the test of time. That’s called mathematical understanding, and it doesn’t come from practicing test taking so you can do well on stupid local and state tests.

Alright, I’ve said it, that’s where I’m really going with this. Learning to do something for a test will not build understanding, and it makes me NUTS when I am being forced into that role. Not what I signed up for this year in making the move to a new school. And I am being told if I don’t like the way things are going, to look for a new school. This for one of their most talented teachers (and I am being incredibly humble) who has learned oodles of new stuff to do with management and student engagement this year. So – I guess that’s the decision I will need to make – for my sanity.

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