How I Know For Sure The Education System Is Messed Up

Two nights a week, after work, I tutor a couple of teenage girls in Algebra 1. The pay is alright. It comes out to an extra couple hundred bucks a month. Its good for walking around money. I enjoy the work too. Helping people find joy in learning is close to my heart. Also, it keeps me in contact with the younger generation. I can observe what they’re all about.

Algebra 1 is actually pretty easy. Math starts to get tough in Algebra 2. It gets even tougher in trigonometry, pre-calc, and calculus. Statistics isn’t too bad. But I digress.

The reason I’m tutoring these young ladies is because they think they’re bad at math. What I’m discovering though, is that they’re not bad at math at all. In fact, they’re both really smart. Within a very short period of time, they’ve been able to completely grasp Algebra 1. In fact, in a matter of hours they’ve been able to learn what months of classroom instruction couldn’t teach them.

It even seems like they’re, gulp, enjoying it. I know, its pretty weird.

So, what the heck is going on? Why can’t these smart girls learn anything in class?

One of them told me that the teacher just goes over the material real quick and then moves on. There are so many kids in class that a student who is having a hard time gets lost in the crowd.

Maybe the teacher doesn’t make the material interesting. Maybe certain students are naturally bad at math. Maybe the kids are getting so overloaded with nonsense work that they can’t focus on more important material.

To the last point, the nonsense overload point, there might be something to that. One of the girls has a seven page paper on Elvis due as her junior year project. In other words, the crowning achievement of her junior year in high school will be 7 pages on Elvis. Meanwhile, she’s struggling in math.

Hmmm, I wonder what will serve her better later on in life. The ability to work with numbers or knowledge of a 1950’s pop sensation. To compound the problem, she told me that she doesn’t even like Elvis’s music.

Alright, let me get straight to the point. If a person who previously struggled with math can learn a whole chapter of Algebra 1 in a few hours with a private tutor, that means that massive amounts of time and human energy are being wasted. This isn’t surprising given that government runs the whole thing.

But this isn’t meant to be an article slamming government.

It is meant to offer a better way. Here is a link to the Khan academy website, It has a ridiculous amount of excellent tutorials on all math topics. And its free.

My recommendation to you is this. If you have a kid who is struggling in math, tell the school to send the kid to the library during math period. Make the kid watch Khan academy tutorials for an hour a day. Salman Khan is a far better math teacher than I can ever hope to be. He is surely better than what the government can offer.

I’m not sure what’s going on in math classrooms these days. Whatever it is, it ain’t good. If your kid is struggling, get them out of there!

Two girls with a string of failing grades in math are picking up Algebra at record speed. It’s not the kids. Its the school. Think outside the box.


2 Responses to How I Know For Sure The Education System Is Messed Up

  1. Susie Cooke says:

    Great articles Adam and so true of school aged kids these days. the Khan Academy is a fantastic site to go to. About the bike helmets, Larry and I have them but hate to wear them. the government does not need to be involved. People need to make choices. I’m glad things are going well for you guys up there.

  2. Dan Pearson says:

    i read your posting and then read it to nancy. as a class rooom teach, she agrees with your point. she wanted to add that the government mandates that so many different topics must be covered and even tells some teachers how much time they are allowed to spend on each topic. we both like your idea of the free ouline learning opportunity. i like your writing style, keep it up!!

    on the wearing of the head gear, i would check to see if your insurance is impacted if you do not have a helmet. if some crazy drivers should, hit you are you still insured.

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