Mathematical Mistakes

October 16, 2014 2 comments

Though I am currently doing some history research, I thought it would be a nice idea to throw some mathematical myths out there for some people. There are plenty of myths or mistakes to go around, but a few of these should suffice. These reside in the algebra zone but apply elsewhere.

1. ax + b = a(x + b). An easy way to check this is to apply some values. a =2, x = 3 and b = 4. {2*3 +4 = 10} does not equal {2(3 + 4) = 14}.

2. a – (b + c) = a – b + c. Again, using a = 2, b = 3 and c = 4 you clearly see the mistake. {2-(3+4) = -10} does not equal {2 – 3 + 4 = 3}.

3.(a + b)^2 = a^2 + b^2. Apply the numbers and you see these do not equal.

4. (a – b)^2 = a^2 – b^2.

5. (a – b)/(c + b) = a/c

6. a(b + c)/(b + a) = (ac)/a = c

7. a/(b+c) = a/b + a/c I’ve seen my oldest make this mistake many times.

8. (ax + b)/(ac) = (x + b)/c

9. (a^x)(a^y) = a^(xy) Keep in mind ‘^’ means raised to the power.

10. a^(x+y) = a^x = a^y

These are but ten of the common mistakes students make. The easiest to double check yourself is to apply values to the variables and do the calculation.

Who Are The Homeschoolers?

October 8, 2014 Leave a comment

Before my spouse and I began to homeschool, my opinion of homeschoolers was an ignorant and uneducated viewpoint of whackos. These people were the oddballs of society not willing to conform to the societal norms. They were indoctrinating their children with poisonous garbage. My source of the knowledge was, I believe, a biased 60 Minutes story on homeschooling and maybe another biased article or two. In reality, I had no clue about homeschooling other than what anti-homeschoolers fed me. This viewpoint changed eleven years ago when my family was put in a position of protecting our child.

The day I realized conformity was what our school systems require was when my oldest was recommended drugs by a teacher. My child was too difficult for the teacher. This child was too advanced in math for the class. This was stated by the teacher. I was told to NOT teach my child math! I was to allow the educational system take care of my child. This is no exaggeration. This teacher informed me that my son was in the top three of the class. This top three was by far way ahead of the other classmates. She was trying to dumb down these three students in order to make her teaching life easier.

My thoughts immediately went to homeschooling and thus the research began. The Educator was investigating this, too. We were researching independent of each other. It did not take long for the two of us to come to a conclusion and inform each other. Two college graduates with a child came to the same conclusion. Our homeschooling adventure began.

We are not the typical “religious zealot” homeschooling family disagreeing with the teaching of evolution. We are not the typical “prepper” homeschool nor do we belong to some “oddball” religious community or any of the other stereotypes. So who are we?

The homeschoolers I have met are varied in beliefs, ideals and reasons for homeschooling. My family is a little of both and none of them. My spouse and I have entirely different viewpoints on why we homeschool. The reason we do so today is different than the first day we homeschooled my son. We are dynamic homeschoolers in the sense we make decisions that are best for our children. We have thought about sending our last child to a private school. We even briefly considered the local public school. This evaluation is based on our child’s needs. Our religious belief has no bearing on our decision. Educational matters are a big part of our decision as well as our final child’s social development. Safety is not a big concern for us. The school district we are in does not have the high rates of issues as do some schools, and we are aware of safety issues. Opportunities for my son are better than if he were in a public school.

What about other homeschoolers?

Yes, I have met and been involved with religious oriented homeschoolers. These people have a church organization as the focal point of their homeschooling. Everyone in the church homeschools. I’ll admit they are eccentric but no different than many of the non-homeschooling families I know. Their curriculum is religious based, but they do well with educating their children. These people tend to maintain relationships within their community.

There are the religious homeschoolers who are independent of their church. They may belong to a religious homeschool group with the same religion. They are similar to the group above but are more likely to associate with non-homeschooling groups outside of their religion. Religion plays a large part of their education. An example of this are some of the Catholic homeschool groups.

Next are the independent homeschoolers. This is a wide variety of homeschoolers. My family can be considered as independent. Generally speaking, they homeschool because of safety, poor quality education in public schools, evolution issues, health and even sports. Looking at a few of these people you see a huge difference.

I know of families who homeschool because of health issues. These families are forced to homeschool for the current education system is incapable and may never be capable of dealing with the child’s needs. It may be as simple as an allergy to more severe health reasons.

One family I know of homeschools because their child was having difficulty in a school setting. They took their son out and have homeschooled. Interestingly, their second son is going to a public school. They are religious, but religion isn’t the primary reason.

Another family homeschools because of sports. This family is not religious. Indeed, they call themselves atheists. This is a perfect retort to those who say homeschoolers are religious fanatics. There is no religious association with this family, and they homeschool. I’m very certain they do not believe in creation.

I know I have not mentioned all of the groups out there, but this listed group displays a variety especially if you include my family. What is evident is we are very different.

Who is educating the children?

The level of parent education is varied. I know many former teachers and some families with college professors. In fact, I can name three families with a parent that possesses a PhD. College graduates are the most numerous. As I look at the families I am aware of that homeschool, I can say three or four that are without one of the parents having a college degree. This would place the percent somewhere around 2% of the homeschooling families. The number can be lower if I continue to rack my brain for I came up with another PhD parent as I am writing. Throw another PhD parent in this to make it 5. I know of West Point graduates that homeschool.

Homeschooling families are not some unique, outside the norm group of people. These families come from different backgrounds, ethnic groups and beliefs. They are like the families with children attending public and private schools. The only difference is where homeschooled children are educated.

Categories: Homeschool Tags:

Real World Math

October 3, 2014 Leave a comment

My sons have been involved in various STEM activities at various points in time. Few of these activities were realistic or even a sample of reality. The mathematics was limited. Nothing in the world of STEM informed my sons of the importance of mathematics. I don’t have a problem with this. These programs were an introduction to some part of science for my sons in order for the Educator and me to determine the level of interest.

There has been talk talk about using “real world” applications for math classes. This I find laughable. I have studied math and have a career where mathematics is used. Within my job are different mathematical requirements. Most of my use are your standard adding and subtracting. I thought about my work as well as those working around me. What math do we use?

The largest use of mathematics are the simple computations. These are addition, subtraction and multiplication with division a distant fourth. Seldom do I see calculators used. There is no time for a calculator check. Even when we go to the store, we do not use calculators to determine if we have the money. To me this is fundamental math. The real world of this usage is rather boring. Calculating tax on a purchase or determining the amount of money left over after a purchase. Even calculating how many miles I can go when I buy a few gallons of gas. These are the same calculations I do at work. Interestingly, I use estimations more than exact values.

I do use algebra for my work. Little of it is very complicated. My co-workers utilize algebra as much as I do. There are a few who use algebra extensively. Calculus is seldom used. I believe there is one or two people using calculus but not a daily basis. There are times I use calculus for my work. The real world application for us is no different than using the standard integration you see in college. Matrices are used by a few. Geometry is not used by me. Drafters may use it. Linear algebra is more common than most. This depends upon what the individual’s job is. Trigonometry is the big item in use. I use this to calculate volumes and other such requirements. I set the work up on excel and plug in the values. Quite a number of people use trig. We do not do research and therefor do not require what many would call higher levels of math.

This is a sample of the useage of mathematics. The reality is we are not tasked with paragraph lengthed mathematical problems. There is no hunt for what we want. What we do have is a basic understanding of math. We know how to add or do algebra. We know most of the trig functions and formulas. It is our basic knowledge that allows us to apply critical thinking to math.

When task with find the volume of a cylinder between two heights, I had to develop the method of finding the answer. My familiarity of trig and geometry allowed me to solve the problem. I understood the formulas and what they are.

I stick to a belief of knowing how to do the basics especially without calculators. If you understand the topic you can solve the problem.

Categories: Homeschool, Math Tags: ,

Do I believe in Common Core?

September 25, 2014 Leave a comment

When first hearing of Common Core, I thought it was a positive idea. The first signs of it not being so was the negative comments made about the Common Core. I researched articles and found most being very negative about Common Core. The few positive articles were not enough to keep me in the educational stance I had at the time. Those involved alienated me further. This would be the government (I have not trusted the government for some time), academics with something to gain, big businesses and people with money. All I saw was a method of education to benefit everyone but those that mattered. Yes, Bill Gates is one of those people with money. When you have money, you have a political or ideological agenda.

Looking more deeply into Common Core, I found much of the educational pathways to be different than what I believe. This was not an ideological or political or even a religious disagreement but an educational one. From my perspective, I saw failure and an agenda even if that was not the original purpose of Common Core. This is no different than the health care mandate. What I saw were people attacking and supporting Common Core based on politics as well as ideology. The supporters were ignoring who would benefit why the detractors bought into every exaggeration or myth.

I still believe Common Core is flawed and wrong. The idea is not. The United States would benefit from a standardized education mathematics and science. A better methodology could be used to teach these courses but not in the way we are trying. The other subjects can not be standardized and should not be. History and the study of literature can vary and there is nothing wrong with that. I do recommend we study the classics as a mandatory curriculum. History poses a different problem. History can and is warped according to ideologies. Another problem with standardized education is the fact not everyone is destined for college. Why should a tradesman study calculus or even chemistry? They should not be held to these standards. Your history and language arts have a different use and requirement, thus this needs to be taught but not on a standardized level. Again, ideology skews the learning of these two subjects. There are other class subjects that do not require standardization such as a computer science class or even physical education.

The reality of high school education is not everyone needs to abide by the standard and standards are not required for all subjects. It should be simple to break down what subjects require standardization. How the subject is taught is not necessarily important. Everyone learns differently and a standard teaching methodology is not the best way.

If we can exclude those that profit from Common Core, it can become a viable method of education. I guess that would mean we would have to remove the majority of teachers in our schools as well as corporate sponsoring – bye Apple and Microsoft. Government, mess up something else.

Homeschooling has an advantage over any type of Common Core. There is an inherent desire for the student to learn and curriculum can be adjusted to the student’s future desires.

I am supportive of a Common Core system but not the way it is being pushed. Until we eliminate ideologies, politics, greed and any other selfish desires; we can not have a successful education transformation. All we need to do is look at our own government and the people that fight over it.

Education or Social Interaction?

September 22, 2014 2 comments

The last of my children was not ready for this school year. The Educator and I decided to amp up his work to a college-like level. My son didn’t believe me all summer as I warned him. Now he is at a C grade and is being warned of losing privileges. I’m not worried at this. He’s a smart kid and will bring the grade up. He may lose a privilege here and there before he is on board.

Yesterday, he had a few friends go somewhere. These friends go to a public school but have become close to him because of soccer. They contact each other most evenings and spend time discussing teenage topics. The occasion yesterday was a rare opportunity to spend time with two friends. There was one requirement and that was writing two papers for me to review. How was he going to accomplish this with a high school soccer game Saturday?

He began the first paper Friday evening and finished it after the game on Saturday. The second paper was now next in line for him. Saturday evening was not planned for work in his mind. I was expecting to tell my son he could not go with his friends. He feverishly worked on the paper and finished it late Sunday morning. He completed the task of writing the paper but was it worthy of my acceptance? My expectations were low, and I was steadying myself for a cancellation. I read the first paragraph and was amazed at his imagination. I was going to allow my son to go. Can’t tell you how happy I was to allow him to go.

When I picked my son up in the evening, he said something I won’t forget. “Thank you for letting me go with my friends.” I learned a lesson. Sometimes the education is not as important as the social bonding required. My focus on education blinded my need to balance education and social interaction. The next time I’ll evaluate everything differently. This doesn’t mean I won’t say “No.” What this does mean is I’ll be more lenient and less rigid when it comes to these situations. He’ll still have to pick up his grade or risk losing privileges. There will be some privileges worth allowing for my son to continue to grow.

Categories: Homeschool Tags:

Agenda Directed Education

September 13, 2014 Leave a comment

My college direction was towards engineering. The liberal arts were the necessary evil I had to go through in order to achieve a degree. History was the only class I truly enjoyed while psychology, sociology and the other courses were considered as a nuisance. I was supposed to be getting a rounded education by taking these “extra” courses instead of math and science courses. I graduated and was considered well-rounded.

Looking back on my college education, I was fortunate to never encounter professors such as Mireille Miller-Young. My religious studies professor never indicated a preference to any belief or ideology. Indeed, all of my professors displayed a religious and political neutrality even during discussions or debates. These professors allowed me to grow and developed my own beliefs whether it was opposite of their beliefs or not.

You would believe a student going to college would be well educated but that is not the case. Students are indoctrinated with the professor’s belief. This I have mentioned in the past. It is difficult to get a true education when the student is encountering such professors. Even in the science world, there is a problem with ideology. All one needs to do is look at global warming. If you are not a believer of human caused global warming, success becomes very difficult. You must join the global warming cult in order to succeed. The same applied to string theory in physics. If you didn’t subscribe to the string theory belief you were ostracized.

There is another distorter of the college education. It is money from groups that demand their ideology to be taught. We can look at the Koch Foundation as an example. A university must align their education with the beliefs of this foundation in order to get the money. If you think this is a conservative issue, you are gravely naive and blind. Liberals have been doing it, too. These groups do not care about education, only ideology.

How can we expect a college graduate to be educated? How can you understand if all you know is one side of a topic? Our educational system is quickly degrading and hurting the American student. This decay ranges from high schools to our universities. There are professors educating without displaying a bias. I just wonder how long they will be there.

Categories: Education Tags: ,

Parent Responsibility

September 9, 2014 Leave a comment

Growing up in a small town outside the big city, my parents knew my every step. They didn’t have to follow me around or even have me call them to say where I was. There was no need. A network of communication was in place to do that for them. If I caused any trouble they knew about it minutes after I was involved. These were my “nosy” neighbors. This and my parents rules to go along with a curfew kept me in line. My friends around the block had the similar rules.

I see little of this today. Children are given responsibilities far beyond their developing brain. You see ten year old children staying home while the parents either work or go out. In my youth, I was sent to a neighbor’s house with explicit direction from my parents. I would not cause any trouble nor ask for anything. My task at the neighbor’s was to be seen, not heard.

Today we have teenagers causing problems on a consistent basis such as the teen mob attacking people at a Kroger grocery store. What is going on with not only these teenagers but their parents? If you see the video of this event, you see no respect for humans. This is happening at night no less.

I will not claim this as a modern incident. There have always been teenage violence and mayhem. It is the scale of this event as well as the frequency that makes it disturbing. You could blame the herd mentality but that is not the cause. The cause is from multiple areas such as the reduction of religion in America. Religion is losing the grip on society as an important moral institution. Another cause for concern, is the availability of materialism. Materialism isn’t old but easier to be involved in. Years ago, it was expensive to be materialistic. Today, both parents work in order to accumulate recreational goods. I would even blame the internet as another source. Teens do not engage in human interaction. They engage in electronic interaction where they are not accountable for their actions. There is a sense of narcissism with these teens.

I find teenagers with parents that have rules to be more successful. When education is emphasized in a family, there is fewer unacceptable incidents. Families showing respect to their children have responsible children. Parents involved in their children’s life have fewer issues with their children.

As parents. As adults, we need to display a positive lifestyle for our children to emulate. We need to provide rules and boundaries for our children to adhere to. We need to respect our children and listen to them.

Categories: Family Life
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