Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Righteous much?

We’ve all run into those righteous people. You know the ones who are so unpleasant, insist they are right, and believe that unless you agree with them you are going to Hell, or at the very least purgatory, and you can’t wait to escape them as soon as possible. Or the ones who act as if you are stupid because you disagree with them.

Well, the other day, while volunteering at my daughter’s school, I was one of them. I didn’t mean to be. I’d like to blame it on the insomnia that’s hounded me lately, but honestly, I can’t. Just as I won’t allow my daughter to blame poor behavior on being tired (even if it’s true in her case, but no excuses please), I won’t let myself do that either. Yup, yesterday, I turned into one of those nasty people because someone dared to disagree with my assessment of how they teach math in schools these days. With my wet hair pulled tightly back in a pseudo bun, I am sure I resembled that graphic, except my hair isn’t gray, I’m not as old, nor do my boobs sag. (They might if I had more, but I don’t, so they don’t.) Perhaps as unpleasant, but certainly not as old or saggy.

The scene went something like this:

Me: “My daughter brought home a math test the other day. This whole time change has been a rough transition on her. She’s been so tired. She usually gets 20/20, but this one was 13/20.” (This whole time change is another rant, but I doubt I’ll be able to change that.)

The mom nods in sympathy. She doesn’t see it yet, but soon I’ll turn into a raging righteous person. Poor woman!

Me: “Her teacher sent home a blank version of the test so we could go over it together. There was one problem that didn’t belong on there. It was something like this:

“There are 10 bowling balls. Jerry knocks down three with his ball. His friend Peter knocks down more. How many total do Jerry and Peter knock down?

________ + ___________ = ____________

“Now, there are four possible solutions to this problem. How the hell can you expect a 6 year old to get that when they are just learning math? My daughter asked me, ‘Mommy, am I supposed to guess?’”

The mom murmurs an agreement, but then makes a fatal mistake by saying, “Well, as an adult, I would assume that you’d take the 10 and delete the 3, and there’s your answer. Perhaps that is what they were wanting the kids to do.”

Perhaps that is what they were wanting the kids to do? Perhaps? Where the hell does “perhaps” factor into math? And the unpleasant righteous person rose in my breast, breathing fire to get out. It overcame all common sense, and I couldn’t help myself. I pounced. How dare she disagree with me? I am right! I am always right. No one should be allowed to live who doesn’t agree with me on this subject! To hell with you, stupid woman! (No, I didn’t say any of this, but I am sure my face spoke volumes.)

Me: “Except you don’t make assumptions in math. And teaching kids to make assumptions in math will only lead to problems.” I tried to say this in a pleasant voice. I don’t think I succeeded.

The other mother: “I don’t really think it’s that big of deal, and I am sure they don’t mean it that way.”

Me: “Well, I don’t know. I don’t think I’d feel very comfortable if my brother or sister-in-law who are aerospace engineers made an assumption when designing a missile.”

The other mother, disdain dripping from her voice: “There is a big difference between a six year old and an aerospace engineer.”

In my head, I’m thinking, but someday she could become one and this is what they are teaching? Me: “Well, I grew up in a family of engineers. My grandfather was an engineer, my father was an engineer, my uncle was an engineer, as is my brother. I almost became an engineer, so I was taught in no uncertain terms that assumptions in math are not acceptable.”

The look on her face finally registered in my frenzied brain. (sigh) I had alienated a mother, and rightly so.

I tried to back pedal, but it was too late. Do I still disagree with her? Yes. I firmly believe you begin with teaching children how you intend for them to go on. It’s much harder to unteach something that is wrong than to just start them with the right way from the beginning. I mean, seriously, think about it. (And away we go. I will do my best not to preach, but I have a feeling I’m going to do it anyway. People who know me know to just nod and agree with me when I get like this. grin Advice: Just nod and agree. ;) ) Do you wait until your children are teenagers to teach them manners? Because that’s what some idiot expert advised parents to do a few years back. Since a small child doesn’t understand what saying, “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome” mean, it’s best to wait until they can. The same goes with “sorry.” (snort) And how successful is that strategy?

(Breathe, Marci! Breathe! I will not turn into righteous lady. I will not turn into righteous lady. I will not turn into righteous lady…)

Sigh. I don’t think it’s working. I can’t help myself. I’m sorry. Perhaps I just need to go sit in a corner until I can mellow out. It may take a while. Excuse me.

Do you have a topic that turns you into a righteous bitch/asshole? Please share. I don’t want to be the only one. And know this is a safe place to do it. I won’t judge you unless you are wrong because I disagree with you and I am the only person who can be right....ever. (g)


Faith said...

Government policies and laws, greed, and school issues. OMG, I'll get on a soapbox about those things that has people diving for cover!

Tess MacKall said...

Well, you happen to be right. Math is not a guessing game. How can it be? You're either right or wrong. There might be several possible solutions to a problem, but you can't leave one possibility out in favor of another unless the question calls for you to do that.

As far as the way math is taught in schools these days? Basically, it leaves parents out of the equation altogether. The books no longer give examples so a parent can work with a child at home. The SOLVE METHOD is all the rage and while I dealt with it, worrying like crazy, and I see how it forces a child to work with different strategies, critical thinking, at the same time, it's not the way parents were taught, and therefore hinders a parent from helping a child.

What I love about the math classes I've seen in the past few years, lol, started when my kids entered sixth grade, is the way they have an "essential question" each morning. And that EQ leads into a quiz. And that quiz is usually two math questions. If you get one wrong, you're screwed. You have NO choice but to get both questions right or you can expect your child's grade to go down.

No amount of complaining does any good. And the parent you talked to is just clueless. Because it DOES matter.

Melissa Bradley said...

Oh I can empathize. I absolutely get fire-breathing righteous and rude over political issues concerning women and women's issues in general. There is only one opinion and that is mine. It is right and therefore you are wrong, wrong, wrong. (Insert jumping up and down, arms waving). My friends and family know better than to even start this discussion.

Anthology Authors said...

I'm so with you there, Faith. Notice how I avoided some of those. (g) I avoided politics, too, but it doesn't always do me any good. LOL

Anthology Authors said...


I was tutoring a 5th grader in math. One of the word questions again required him to make an assumption. This ticked me off. No assumptions allowed. You either give them enough information to solve, or you screw them over. That particular one had four possible answers, but at 6 when they are just learning math, this will most likely confuse them.

The books are there to help you. I have some of my father's math books from the 50s. You want to see some awesome books that are simple to understand, those are them. Working with different strategies is great, but you need to give them something work with first. Kids are smart, but if you don't tell them to look before they walk into the street or they'll be hit by a car, they will most likely do so not knowing the dangers and get hit.

I don't know the SOLVE METHOD. Probably by the time my daughter gets to 6th grade, there will be a new method of teaching. They change methods like they change underwear.

Anthology Authors said...

Melissa, I am so there with you. (g) I have a feeling you and I are on the same page about women's issues. If we aren't, sorry, it's my blog. I'm right. You can be right on your blog. (g)

Sarah Masters said...

AHAHAHAHAHAHA @ They might if I had more, but I don’t, so they don’t.

Anthology Authors said...

Sadly, it's true, Sarah. LOL I don't even have enough to sag. (g)

Faith said...

My oldest dau is in her last course of geometry and is about to start calculus. I hate math with a passion, always have, but she insisted on showing me how to do a problem. I understood what she showed me and gave her the correct answer (shocking her that I caught on so quickly, but like I said, I hate math with a PASSION). However, if I try to do it by one of the infernal text books, I am clueless. I can't help my youngest dau with math for this very reason. The damn books make absolutely NO sense!

Melissa Bradley said...

LOL!! I have a feeling we would agree.

Anthology Authors said...

I tell you, Faith, my dad's books make so much sense. They are easy. God forbid we make math easy though!

Anthology Authors said...

I think we must might, Melissa. (g)

Cora Zane said...

It happens, Marci.((hugs)) If no one left bleeding or in a cop car I wouldn't worry about it too much. :0)

The only thing that truly engages my bitch factor is someone trolling in order to deliberately inflame, embarrass someone else, and/or make them feel inferior. NOT cool. That brings my claws (well, okay, my mothering instincts) out.

I've been in that kind of uncomfortable situation before, but I do pick and choose my battles.

Like when the little old lady at conference last year told me I was evil, filthy, and going to hell for writing erotica. Totally stunned me, especially since I was a volunteer and HELPING her at the time. She was dead serious when she said it, even nodded at me for emphasis, but I simply let it ride.

In retrospect, I feel sorry for her. What a limited view of life she must have. I'm so glad I didn't let my anger take root over such a ignorant, flash pan judgment.

It has to be pretty major - or annoyingly obvious - for me to say something, I guess, but when that moment comes...oh boy. Yeah. :P

I don't know if that has people diving for cover, but I'm sure there have been a few that wanted to hit me with a big stick over the years.

Anthology Authors said...

I try to be circumspect most of the time, Cora. This has been brewing for a while. My daughter has brought home math homework with confusing concepts. Not just that it wasn't how I was taught, but the grammar is completely wrong. Things like 2 less than 11 is 9. Well, my daughter had 2 less than 1 is 3. I know she was completely confused. Or show a number three different ways. Huh? Do you mean show a representation of a number three different ways? Oh, well, that's a bit different.

Ugh! I'm doing it again. Most things I let slide. Okay, maybe I don't, but I don't usually go off like that. I try not to anyway. The mother wanted to argue with me, but we had to go our separate ways, which was a good thing, I think. LOL

About that woman: just wow. People are amazing sometimes, aren't they?

lizzie152 said...

When it comes to most issues, I'm fairly easy going when others have opposing opinions. I respect their views, and agree to disagree.

When the source of the opinion is ignorant, I let it lie simply to avoid an argument. I've made it a personal rule never to ague with stupid... it's a waste of time.

The only thing that turns me into a fire-breathing beast is my kids.

Bottom Line: If you don't know my kids - or worse yet - if you don't have kids of your own... I DON'T WANT YOUR OPINION!
Heh hum *clears throat* thank you, I feel better now ; )

Elizabeth Bellows

Dee Julian said...

I absolutely agree with you, Marci! On all your rants! Just think how unstable our houses and other buildings would be if the architect guessed on the math or used the "close enough" method.

Speaking of know what used to set me off during certain times of the month? My son yelling upstairs to my husband "Hey, Dad! Mom's off her meds again!"

Anthology Authors said...

Before I had a child, I would have been one of those people to give an opinion and you would have been yelling at, Lizzie. Now that I have a child, I am with you. (g) There are days we go shopping and the child is a holy terror, not because I'm not a strict parent, not because she's not disciplined, but because she's tired or she needs more food, etc. Sometimes, there are just days. Now, when I see a parent with a difficult child, I get it. It's hard to get what you've never experienced.

Anthology Authors said...

HAHAHAHAHA, Dee! I am sure there are times of the month my husband and daughter wish I were on meds. (g)

Abigail-Madison Chase said...

When it comes to decisions that I make about how to discipline my kids I will stand on my any street corner and rant and rave until the cows come home!

Anthology Authors said...

Good for you, Abigail-Madison! We have to be passionate about something, or we might as well be dead. (g)

Faith said...

Abigail, when we moved last May, it put our younger two kids in a dif school district. This school has adopted at state-run program involving truancy (trying to reduce absenses) and has made it exceedingly difficult on parents when a child is sick and can't get h/her in to see a doctor. Well, as another result of this program, parents who want to participate in various school activities with their kids (or whose kids have missed a lot of school due to illness) are FORCED, yes, forced to participate in a parenting and discipline program.

OMG, I blew a brain gasket over that. The state board of education already knows me well from the last school my kids were in (I'm very vocal about blatant stupidity in the government, especially when it hurts my children), but now, with the state gov telling parents what they can and can't do re their kids, everyone might see me on the six o'clock news one of these days when I stuff a state program up someone's ass.

I've had it with people messing with tried and true (old school) practices and interfering in how we raise our children, the beliefs we instill in them, the manner in which we help educate them, and so on.

Sorry, Marci. I'll get off my soapbox now. I already have a hot soapbox topic to post tomorrow as it is, lmao!

Cassie Exline said...

With you there, Marci. When we're passionate about a topic, we feel it in every fiber. I've been out on that limb a few times without a net. But what concerns me is why are Jerry and Peter bowling? Shouldn't they have jobs or be in school?

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right, Marci.

All they are doing now is confusing the students which will make them hate math because they won't understand what the hell is going on.

Is there really a book out there that says you're not supposed to teach your kids to say "Thank you", "Please", etc until they're teenagers? If we shouldn't teach them these things when they're little, then does that mean we shouldn't potty train them either until they turn, what, 16? Or are we supposed to just let them piss and shit all over the place like a pack of dogs?

There's all sorts of things that make me growl. My mom turns off the news if I happen to be there when it comes on because all I do is yell at the TV. She immediately puts in a Disney DVD to keep me quiet.

Anthology Authors said...

Faith, last year when I took DD out of school to go to New Orleans for a week, we received a truancy letter. I had told her teacher she would be out. To me, going to some place like New Orleans is a lot more educational than a few days of missed school. And she was in kindergarten for Pete's sake! So, I went to talk to the registrar about it. Who said, "Oh, she's in kindergarten. Okay. Well, I'll take this OFF HER RECORD." WTF? Off her record? Has she become a criminal because I, as her parent, thought New Orleans where we went the zoo, the aquarium, some plantations, rode the trolley, had beignets, and experienced a different culture would be a bit more educational than school? Push me far enough, and I'll take her out completely and home school her! It's ridiculous. And you know it's not about their education as much as it's about the money they receive when the child attends. That's the sad part. Many don't give a darn about the kids.

Anthology Authors said...

HAHAHAHAHA, Cassie. If it's a sanctioned field trip, Cassie, they can go bowling. (g)

Anthology Authors said...

Well, I may have used a bit of hyperbole there, Casey, but I am certain the child psychologist said that we should wait until they are at least nine or ten to teach them manners and never make them say "sorry" if they don't mean it. All of which is a bunch of crock.

The Disney Channel isn't safe for me. LOL The stereotypes are enough to make me want to smash my TV in. My husband wouldn't like that too much. (g)

C. Zampa said...

I have many topics tht turn me into a bitch!

But I'm still trying to figure how a child can come up with a total when it didn't say how many Peter actually knocked down. Just 'some more"? LOl...

As infuriating as it was, the blog was humorous!

Thanks for sharing this!

Lisa Alexander Griffin said...

Marci,in my state, they send math home for the kids to do. sigh...and like someone else said, there are no examples in the book to illustrate the correct steps. I'll try to solve the problem, get the right answer and Morgan says, "But mom, that's not the right way to do it." I've completely stopped helping. Seems to me, the school system pays the teachers to teach, but the teacher leaves it to the parents to teach. In my mind, that just isn't right. I've been tempted to home school myself.

Fiona said...

Lots of issues send me on rants! AS I like to say, I have a million opinions and all of them are free! But some real hot buttons:
1-women's rights...keep your damn hands off my body parts!
2-Tenure for teachers...I can't get a job teaching writing because the students I sub for have teachers who don't care about writing, don't give them any feedback, and tell them they are "too busy" to look a paper over before it's due. Then they hand it back with a grade and no comments, so the kids have no idea how to improve, and in some cases the teacher didn't even do the grading, which I know for a fact because I've been paid $6 per hour to grade their papers when they were "too busy" to do even that! So exactly WHY do they have a job and I don't?
3-Out-sourcing jobs to other countries to create bigger profits for the CEOS, and a middle class in the other countries. But we are jobless back home. That's wrong on SO many levels, yet no one seems to care!
PHEW! I'd better stop now and have another glass of wine! ;-D

Anthology Authors said...

You know, C, this isn't the only topic that makes me rave, but it just happened to be the one that did it that day. (g)

Yeah, there are four correct answers. An adult, or even older child, would see that, but a 6 yo just learning math? Not likely.

And it should have been bowling pins, not balls, but hey, whatever. LOL

Anthology Authors said...

Lisa, that's just stupid. Or maybe they don't want you to be able to help them because they want that to be all on them. When new math was around, my nephew came home completely confused over Algebra. So, my brother Rich and SIL Katy showed him how to solve the problems. Richie was amazed at how easy it was. He completed all of the problems, took it to school, and came home with it covered in red marks because "he'd done it wrong." I don't remember if it was Rich or Kathy or both who went and spoke to his teacher. (Mind you, these are both electrical engineers who design little things like satellites and missiles and other things they can't speak about or they'd have to kill us.) They argued with the teacher, whose answers to the problems were wrong, by the way. The teacher insisted. :-O You can imagine how angry my brother and SIL were. New math really screwed up my nephew with math. Bright kid. Stupid system.

Anthology Authors said...

Fiona, I can go off on those, too. Another hot button for me is health care and insurance and the government trying to control every portion of our lives. That kind of crap drives me nuts.

Anthology Authors said...

BTW, C, I knew I'd crossed the line. While it was very awkward at that time, I did want to approach how I'd reacted with humor. As it is, I take myself, and life, too seriously sometimes. It doesn't hurt me to laugh at myself. :)

BrennaLyons said...

If we're talking about teaching...

Teachers that don't know their subject matter. My youngest, in third grade, proved she understood concepts her teacher did not in math. Rolling eyes. It's not the only time one of my kids has proved a teacher wrong, and I lived to do it in school.

Text books that are wrong. I've found spelling errors in the spelling books. In the spelling word lists, no less. And don't get me into the history and science errors in text books.

Teachers that don't use common sense. Two of my kids have been on behavior mod systems since toddlerhood or preschool era. Teachers that do things that SPECIFICALLY undermine the mod system hack me off. The child's rewards and punishments are specifically based on his/her behavior and accomplishments...not on the behaviors of others in the group, not sporadically, and not on the teacher's whim.


Tess MacKall said...

In response to truancy...

First off, never tell a teacher you're taking your kid out of school for a trip or anything other than sickness or family emergency like someone died.

I took mine out for a family trip a few years back and told the principal who happens to be a friend and he clued me in. He was fine with the absence and said the education the kids received from it would be invaluable--travel alone is an education. But he said that the rules were in place because otherwise a parent could use any excuse in the world to take a kid out of school---shopping trip, for instance??? I get all that.

The public schools encroach on our personal lives way too much. Parents are taken out of the equation altogether. Some times a kid is too sick to go to school, but not the kind of sick that warrants a doctor visit--so NO doctor's excuse. Which is what a school seems to want these days. I told them last year that I'd be happy to take my kid to the doctor if the system wanted to pay the bill. Bottom line? As long as a kid is making pretty good grades, the system should NEVER worry about their absences. It's when the kid slips down into all Cs and Ds and Fs they should take a closer look at what is going on.

But when has the system ever looked at anything with common sense?

BrennaLyons said...

Oh, you said it, Tess.

My kids are almost never out, unless they are sick, having surgery, etc. My son has missed two and a half days this year, but he had surgery, so he missed the pre-op day, surgery day, and half a day for the suture removal and recheck. Last year, he missed eight days, but he was sick twice (doctor sick once) and missed a day to have two teeth pulled. Eight days was completely understandable, and they were all "excused absences."

But I am taking my oldest out for two days to go to EPICon this year. She will be spending those two days taking classes on writing and publishing, touring Colonial Williamsburg (we have three-day passes), and so forth. Since the schools themselves have educational trips (two of which she MISSED, because the school side screwed up the trips for her class those years) that take them out of the classroom for a day or more (up to 5 days for the most intensive ones), I fail to see how this is any different. If they CHOOSE to call this an unexcused absence, let them. It will be the only two days she has unexcused in a year, and she's a straight A student. In fact, all three of my kids are.

But I never feel bad about the sick but not sick enough for the doctor thing. I just point out to them that the school district code says: "No child in school with a fever over 100.4. No child in school who has had diarrhea or vomitting in the last 24 hours." If I can attest to any of the above, they don't want the kids in school anyway.


Anthology Authors said...

I agree, Tess. There are parents who take their kids out and shouldn't be. (Eg. Grandma can't speak English and has weekly doctor appointment, so they take out the girl, not the boy, child to translate once a week because her education is less important than her brother's. Rather than punish the child for being a girl, the parents should learn the language of the country they live in. There are lots of free programs out there available and... I am moving into a different soapbox. I will stop now. LOL) And then there are the average parent like you and me who view education as important, but may not always agree with the system. For instance, taking kids on family vacations while school is in session.

Anthology Authors said...

See, Brenna, I would love to bring my daughter with me to EPICon. I think she would love Williamsburg and would gain a lot from it, as much or more as she did from New Orleans, but I just don't see it happening this year unless something changes. (sigh)

And, I agree, the school should be encouraging a trip like that, not punishing a child for an amazing opportunity to learn something she can't in school.

Nicki said...

In my English II class I had a teacher, who was an "Elizabethan MAY-JUR", the way she said it.

She called Polonius, Hamlet's uncle, "PolEEnius." Note that 1: Polonius has no E, and 2: the movie was saying "PolOHnius", which is the correct pronunciation.

Her offense would've been excusable had not a state test deliberately placed the "Poleenius" spelling in as a wrong answer, and fourteen of nineteen students had selected it.

That's correct. Her offense led five of those students to flunk that test----and yet, I was informed she had tenure. I didn't hear of her being denied it, though there were many years that 67-year-old "ELIZABEETHEN MAYJUR" flunked students with her own mispronunciations.

And when a student wrote "Poleenius" on the board, I told the teacher that Polonius had no E in his name, and was kicked out of the class for a week.

Note, I did not get to make up tests, and the dean said he couldn't do a thing about it.

That teacher was a Philistine. >:V