Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Passing the Slave Math Test

I really want to understand, and those who know me know I'll give folks the benefit of the doubt -- liberally. Still, I'm struggling to understand how anyone could think that using references to the darkest day in our nation's history, to cross-pollinate social studies and math was a good idea.

"If Fredrick got two beating per day, how many beating did he get in one week? Two weeks?"

First of all, the fact that Fredrick was a slave should give the teacher pause. At that point I would think an educator would say to himself, or herself, "what the hell am I doing?!"

Still, in the Atlanta area, a teacher resigned last week after admittedly failing to exercise good judgement, or common sense (my words), in giving a class of largely black and brown children a test with the aforementioned question and other equally galling story problems. If ever a Millennial WTF? response was appropriate, dare I say this is one of those instances.

A local station in Atlanta reported the story and included some of the questions, which were posed to third graders at an elementary school in Georgia. Another read “Each tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?”

I get the fact that we need to reform public education in this country, and I understand that desperate times call for creative measures. I also understand that lack of racial sensitivity is more prevalent than most people know. I'm not calling that teacher a racist, but I am suggesting that if you don't realize that black people are not deeply scarred by the slavery, and the vestiges it wrought, then there is something wrong with you.

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