[Technology 1136] Re: FW: Kentucky Math

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Burkett, Barry Barry.Burkett at Franklin.kyschools.us
Wed Jun 27 11:33:00 EDT 2007

I would also argue that there is a fundamental difference between adult education and K-12 education, hence the struggle to achieve literacy and numeracy among adults.

It seems that the Freirian belief of teaching for the world is not central to the K-12 model, which is why students sometimes ask, "When am I going to use this in my life?"

Looking at Cindy Marston's husbands response it is a legitimate, reasoned response that does not apply to adult ed where current literature speaks to creating learning circles where each individual has valid input, versus how much an individual has learned on their own. In this new framework of adult ed there is an "un-schooling" of sorts because ABE students are used to the K-12 system that they grew up in.

Am I making sense, or just opening a can of worms that will revolve around semantics?


From: technology-bounces at nifl.gov on behalf of Cindy Marston
Sent: Wed 6/27/2007 10:36 AM
To: The Technology and Literacy Discussion List
Subject: [Technology 1133] Re: FW: Kentucky Math

Hi all,

I've been "lurking" and enjoying the conversations for quite some time. But my husband is a high school math teacher (and I had shared the KY Math clip with him) and so I asked what he thought about Tina's question. Here is his response:

What is the purpose of the problem being solved? Often the end result isn't the most important thing, it's the process. Why does the teacher want a particular method? If it's because that's the only method they know or are comfortable with, that's a lousy reason. But sometimes that method may be what's important. For example, on my tests I often say: Solve using the methods of calculus, because I want to see that they've learned calculus, not that they can get the correct answer from some shortcut they learned in Physics.

Students should be encouraged to be independent and creative problem-solvers, not just algorithm memorizers. They should see that often there are several ways of solving a problem and the best way depends on the particular problem. (Maybe the teacher wants to make sure they know several methods and asked them to use a particular method on this problem.) Also, it's not uncommon for a student not to get credit for a right answer if they don't show any work, or if they use guess and check to arrive at the answer.

I guess I can sum this up by saying, yes, in general teachers should accept (and encourage) well thought-out and explained or justified answers instead of saying, nope, that's not my method. However, there could also be a legitimate reason not to accept something different. Make sense?

Knowing what I know now (coming from training adults in a business environment to working with teachers and students in their use of technology in a school environment and being a parent), I'd be inclined to have a conversation with the teacher - to ask what the purpose was and either get a sense of peace for myself (and daughter) or at least give the teacher an awareness of other ways of approaching teaching.

Thanks to all for the thoughtful questions and the creative and inspiring ideas!

Cindy Marston

Academic Technology Coordinator

The Principia

St. Louis, MO 63131


cindy.marston at principia.edu


From: technology-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:technology-bounces at nifl.gov] On Behalf Of Tina_Luffman at yc.edu
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2007 11:19 AM
To: The Technology and Literacy Discussion List
Subject: [Technology 1125] Re: FW: Kentucky Math

Hi NIFL List,

I have a math question for you. Susan's question triggered a recent memory for me, so I am coming to you for some perspective. My daughter was taking an Algebra class with a teacher who was patient and really explained things well. As luck would have it, he got offered a six figure engineering job and left mid semester. The replacement showed what I considered to be rigidity in methodology because she marked students' work wrong if not done the way she taught the math regardless of the fact that the students were getting the right answer.

Is this practice of forcing a method widely practiced in math classes around the country? It seems that different people see different ways of solving a problem, math or otherwise, and as long as their logic achieves a correct answer, that should be sufficient. Does respecting difference in students' math processes and understanding of a means for resolution seem unreasonable for us as educators, or do you think that learning to follow a certain process is a good discipline for students, which I am sure it is, and that it is better to do as this teacher had done.

I am sure there is no right answer, but I am just feeling out your unbiased opinion as mine is obviously biased. :) To me if a student understands a concept of math, it really doesn't matter what tool s/he takes out of the math toolbox to solve it, and that creativity in math should be encouraged.


Tina Luffman
Coordinator, Developmental Education
Verde Valley Campus
tina_luffman at yc.edu

-----technology-bounces at nifl.gov wrote: -----

To: The Technology and Literacy Discussion List <technology at nifl.gov>
From: nancy.friday at alphaplus.ca
Sent by: technology-bounces at nifl.gov
Date: 06/26/2007 07:01AM
Subject: [Technology 1121] Re: FW: Kentucky Math

Hi Susan,

"how many people could explain what was mathematically wrong with their
procedure and explain it without saying "because that isn't how you do it" ?

I like the points you make here and the reverse analysis. For a higher end
numeracy class, this could be a very good activity. When you know one way to
solve something, and have to disect why another way may not work, that's when
the real thinking work begins - the reverse analysis followed by an explanation.
Sounds a lot like what teaching is - answering all those questions students

I also think it applies to policy and political analysis - one way to solve a
problem is presented and everyone in opposition strives to state why that way
won't work.

Thanks for this. I may just tackle that reverse analysis with the video and see
if I am up to the challenge!


"Susan Jones" <SUJones at parkland.edu> on 06/25/2007 12:47:51 PM

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Subject: [Technology 1111] Re: FW: Kentucky Math

If they had the 25 cents and were holding it, they'd be more likely to "get"
that it was a nickel apiece because they would have to get the change to split
it up.

It has finally ceased to amaze me when explanations of math end up being further
manipulation of symbols - often in the language the confused person doesn't
understand. I'd have whipped out twenty five pennies from the bottom of my
purse and said "split 'em up into five groups." Of course, that wasn't the
point of the comedy :=)

Now, another question is: how many people could explain what was mathematically
wrong with their procedure and explain it without saying "because that isn't how
you do it" ? The people who could would be more likely to be able to deal with
a different culture's methods.

Susan Jones
Academic Development Specialist
Academic Development Center
Parkland College
Champaign, IL 61821
sujones at parkland.edu
http://www.resourceroom.net <http://www.resourceroom.net/>
http://bicyclecu.blogspot.com <http://bicyclecu.blogspot.com/>

>>> <nancy.friday at alphaplus.ca> 6/15/2007 1:25 PM >>>


This video has circulated in Canada as well, because I have seen it before.
Interesting, I can't recall if when I received it if had the Kentucky label
attached. If it had, I would have ignored that part and just focused on the
video. I love the creativity in the solutions (even though they aren't
correct). I like the fact that the man and woman are confident in the face of
the man in the suit to stand up and assert their perspective and apply the
knowledge that they have (because they do know adding and multiplying). I
really like the fact that the couple reject the system and do things their own

My hope would be from a learning perspective that the couple would be open to
seeing that their reasoning isn't correct. If they were holding the 25 cents
and had to divide it, they might re-think their reasoning. Which makes me this
as perhaps a power issue - who holds the money?

This clip also make me think about an experience I had when I worked front line
in a community-based literacy program here in Toronto and was engaged in
training new literacy volunteer tutors. We were showing some ways to approach
math - particularly long division. Normally in tutor training we would go into
the details of long division, but we had a cultural point to make. Many
students and volunteers in our program had come to Canada from a range of
Caribbean countries. Tutors who went through the Canadian school system
learned long division just one way and taught it that way. Tutors and students
from the Caribbean, I believe an example came from Guyana, learned long division
another way. When the Guyanese way was demonstrated, the Canadian-born tutors
were clearly shocked. The point was to take cues from the students in terms of
observing how they approach tasks, be aware and respectful of cultures not your
own, and be open to learning in new ways. Neither way of approaching long
division was wrong - both came to the correct answer - but forcing someone to
learn a way that doesn't come from their experience or previous knowledge, can
be counter productive.

I know that's not the case in this video - but the clip did take me back to that
long division place.


"Burkett, Barry" <Barry.Burkett at Franklin.kyschools.us> on 06/15/2007 09:33:33 AM

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Subject: [Technology 1065] FW: Kentucky Math

Hey guys,

I know we focus on literacy, but recently I have been putting time into
researching numeracy as well. A student forwarded me this clip, it is
from a B&W television show, but I do not know its name.

2 things to focus on, first the creative way to solve the problem and
second the comments that came along with the e-mail.

On another path, the self-deprecating way these Kentuckians pass the
video around because it is funny, even though the tag is intentionally
labeled to degrade us, and give those outside of Kentucky a negative
view of Kentuckians... why do we intentionally set ourselves up to be
labeled ignorant?

And one more thing to notice, how dissimilar are the "incorrect"
mathemateers from our ABE students? In my experience it seems that it
is not that the majority of students do not know how to apply
information they know, it is that apply it incorrectly... early
misconceptions in both math and reading become amplified and detrimental
to the adult as they move through life.

Your thoughts?

Barry Burkett, Adult Educator
Thorn Hill Learning Center
Frankfort, KY

"Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are
incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful
beyond imagination" - Albert Einstein

"While adult education should be viewed as a right, not as a stigmatized
second-chance program for those who have failed or dropped from out
school stystems, at the present time lifelong learning is only being
given lip service" (Askov, 2000, p. 259)


From: sammdean40 at aol.com [mailto:sammdean40 at aol.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2007 1:46 PM
To: SDBROWN412 at aol.com; redneckgirl060 at yahoo.com; mooremn774 at aol.com;
janglin216 at yahoo.com; brock1050 at hotmail.com; deseree.thompson at ky.gov;
Burkett, Barry; shoppergirl at myway.com; vsw74 at yahoo.com
Subject: Fwd: Kentucky Math

-----Original Message-----
To: suzanne ; pam bardis ; sammdean40 at aol.com
Sent: Thu, 14 Jun 2007 1:13 pm
Subject: Fwd: FW: Kentucky Math

Ha Ha that's the way to count it huh?

Note: forwarded message attached.

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Subject: FW: Kentucky Math
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2007 13:00:01 -0400
This is too funny! I know two kids that would try to pull this off at

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