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Stupid education fad of the day: “Mayan Math”

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By Michelle Malkin  •  January 25, 2010 04:04 PM

Longtime readers of this blog are familiar with my critiques of Fuzzy Math, New Math, New New Math, Everyday Math, Chicago Math, and every other social justice-tainted effort by educrats to corrupt and undermine rigorous math education in this country.

Today’s stupid education fad of the day?

“Mayan Math.” I kid you not:

Math has moved beyond numbers and formulas at Mesa School in Somis.

A group of sixth- and seventh-graders still crack open their textbooks and practice regular math skills most days. But once a week, they turn their math attention to history, culture and places far from Somis.

Teacher Jill Brody’s class started learning about Mayan math in September, part of the school’s efforts to incorporate “ethno-mathematics” into some of its classes.

Ethno-mathematics links math with culture. Some educators say it can help kids feel more connected to the subject and better understand the why and how behind the skills they learn in school.

“Math is not usually treated as a subject with a cultural context,” said Faviana Hirsch-Dubin, a former elementary school teacher and lecturer at UC Santa Barbara who is working with Mesa on the special math lessons. “Being able to feel some cultural connection to math or other subjects can enable students to feel more ownership of the subject matter.”

This is creepily similar to the idiotic “lattice multiplication” lessons in Everyday Math that justify using incoherent, inefficient methods of multiplying because that’s the way the ancient Egyptians did it.

Once again, the educrats heap scorn on drill-and-kill, traditional rote methods because they’re too “narrow” and boring. God forbid we teach our children to compute without developing a social conscience first!

Ethno-mathematics is not the norm in public schools, said Hank Kepner, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, but it can be a powerful tool for getting kids motivated and engaged in math.

“It can help kids feel that they’re part of the mathematics world,” Kepner said. They learn where various math skills came from historically and the many different ways people have looked at math. “It’s sort of a motivation for kids to make sense of mathematics.”

In many schools, there’s too much emphasis on testing, Kepner said. Getting the right answer is important, but that’s too narrow. “Math isn’t just rote answers without understanding,” he said.

Perfect dogma in the Age of Obama: Feeling over facts. Cultural connection over competence. Diversity uber alles.

Johnny won’t be able to add. But he’ll be more ethno-mathematically correct than students from around the world.

Welcome to the Post-Accomplishment Generation.

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