Elementary School in Georgia Use Slavery in Math Word Problems
“Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?”
“If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week?”
Naturally, parents are outraged, and I am right along with them, even though I have no children and live on the other side of the country. In response, district spokesperson Sloan Roach admits that the questions were inappropriate, but Roach said she didn’t believe the teachers were being intentionally insensitive. That they were trying to use “cross-curricular” activity. Furthermore, Roach told My Fox Atlanta, “This is simply a case of creating a bad question.”
I am sorry… No, I’m not sorry. But I am NOT buying this biggest pile of horseshit of a response since Bush uttered the words, “No new taxes.”
Just ponder on this a moment, “…simply a case of creating a bad question.” In your everyday thinking, unless you are an American historian studying slavery, do your thoughts ever cross into the realm of slavery? If you were creating questions for school lessons, and wanted to use picking fruit as a central topic, since slavery has not been a part of our culture for well over a hundred years, would the picker you decide upon be a slave? Absolutely not. It took an effort to to come up with this – and there are many more social studies topics available to use. With the Republican primaries going on, this is an excellent opportunity to use this subject in “cross-curriculum.” If the primaries are not a good topic for picking fruit, then just have farmers picking the fruit… not slaves.
And “two beatings per day?” This is even worse than the slavery reference only because beatings are a sadly occurring event in today’s real world, and that is what would come to the child’s mind. The student would not tie this question to being a part of slavery history in the United States. This questions puts the vivid thought of a beating into a young child’s still innocent mind – or may be adding salt to the wound of a child who currently lives in an abusive household. Just as in the slavery question, it took an effort to use this description in the question. A more normal thought pattern would have been that Freddy ate two apples per day, so how many apples did he eat in one week. Not all questions pertained to cross-curriculum.
As far as the “cross-curricular” activity excuse, I am not buying that one either. I think it was an “after-the-fact” excuse, or perhaps an pre-arranged excuse for the teacher to sneak in some deep-rooted personal passion for slavery. Especially when subjects which may be very sensitive as this are used, it needs to be presented in such a manner where open discussion between the students and teacher are involved in order to answer any questions and thoughts which come to the child’s mind. In reference to my previous suggestion of using the primaries, a more appropriate question would be, “Each ballot box contained 56 votes. If 8 vote-counters divided them up equally, how many votes would each counter have?”
I think there is more to this than a bad judgment call, but if it truly is nothing more than a poor decision on the part of the teacher, then I truly question the teachers ability here.