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Monday, February 8, 2010

Two of the three R's are missing

Why do we always see educational reform centering on Math & Science? Is it that they are easier to assess than are the Humanities? Two of the three R's are missing in our current educational reform movement. Maybe we should take a lesson from Super Bowl XLIV. More on that later. Ever since Sputnik, we have concentrated on the sciences and rarely if ever on the humanities when it comes to educational reform. I know this is a mistake. When we consider educational reform we must, we have to consider the whole child and all the disciplines because they work together to make the whole child. Just as we study the brain in education as it helps us with the teenagers, we need to use this knowledge to help us in our reform. Literacy is a whole package and not just the math & science part of our brain. I know that I have been very helpful to students in the sciences with my etymology study of words. VETY is the program that features the root words derived from Greek and Latin. These words are crucial in the sciences and by knowing them much of the verbal problem in the sciences is aided because of the humanities. Being able to read the science books or word problems is learned in a humanities class not in the science or math class. Success in the sciences alone will never happen without the humanities. During the 90's, science oriented schools in NYC were criticized by the receiving colleges because the scholars lacked language arts skills. Basically these science scholars were deficient in two of the 3R's and therefore suffered in their non science classes and required remediation. Currently there has been an astonishing case in Seattle, parents sued to stop a math program that was too hard because it required reading skills. "Apart from finding the Discovering material generally inferior, its detractors also claim that its more verbal approach to math discriminates against students who aren't fluent in English." This is a serious problem. Perhaps one of the reasons we seem to be lacking in the sciences is that we have spent so much time just on them without also concentrating on the basic idea of literacy, the key to understanding text and in conveying our thoughts to others. The sciences are merely a part of the picture.

The current administration continues governmental shortsightedness with Educate to Innovate. Only one part of the brain is being stimulated.Don't forget the importance of the 3R's. The humanities aspect is surely missed in the current economic woes we are currently experiencing. Concentrating on the numbers alone has caused us to make mistakes and not to get us out this mess. It's not just about the numbers, it is also about the people, the human element we keep missing. The banks don't need saving, the people need saving.

Why are most of our stories of success or lack of it seen through the math lens? Once again it is a math story, not a language arts story as seen in a recent article in The Atlantic that relates and informs the current reform movement. We need more than just one of the three R's. We need all three working together to move this country forward.

Reform must consider and follow the practices of brain study. The study of both halves of the brain has been crucial in bettering teaching practice. By concentrating just or solely on the sciences we are denying the importance of the humanities, literacy skills that will help make us excel in the sciences.

We have dropped Latin and Greek from the curriculum. We have lost grammar, diagramming, spelling, and so much more from Language Arts, that we have become illiterate. It is time to put as much educational emphasis on language arts and literacy as we do on math and science, otherwise we will continue to get the same dismal results. We need to nurture, massage, stimulate both sides of the brain in order for the whole brain to be effective.

Coach Cowher was correct in his Super Bowl XLIV prediction of the New Orleans Saints winning because he considered the humanities aspect of the game, not just the numbers. It seemed as if the all the predictions had the Indianapolis Colts winning because the numbers told the story. Cowher however introduced the humanities element and was right. Sure other pundits from the President to the lowest of commentators wanted the the Saints to win because of the story of New Orleans, the human element, yet they relied on the numbers and abandoned their emotional side and chose the Colts. The Saints win is a good example of why we need to consider the 3 R's in any continued educational movement. Congratulations and thanks to the New Orleans Saints for bringing the humanities back to us and perhaps leading us by example to reconsider the 3R's in educational reform. You proved it is more than just the numbers in your win over the Colts. Congratulations and thank you.

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