A while back, I wrote about information that Dreambox and XtraMath send to parents about their child’s progress. Now I’d like to share some more actual feedback, but with a different contrast, brought to my attention by an alert reader.
I will keep the source anonymous by request.
Consider these two year-end summaries, both for the same child. One is by the child’s regular classroom teacher, and the other is by the child’s math teacher. This is a school where children are shuffled for math instruction.
[Child] has worked hard in third grade to increase her literacy skills in becoming a life-long reader and writer. She’s a mindful reader when choosing books of personal interest and challenge level. She reads with superb confidence and stamina. As a reader and writer of nonfiction, [Child] researched an animal of interest and published a book that demonstrated expertise of the topic. She crafted nonfiction text features that reflected her individual voice. She read and analyzed poetry—then applied the tools of a poet to craft individual poems. Wow! You’re an amazing reader and writer! Way to go, [Child]!
[Child] has made progress in math this year. She should work on learning her basic subtraction and multiplication facts over the summer. I have enjoyed having her as a student! Have a wonderful summer, [Child]!
I understand that these are different teachers, and I understand that [Child] probably spent quite a few more hours with the literacy/home teacher than the math teacher. But I don’t think those are the major things at play here.
The difference in the richness of the description of [Child]’s current literacy and growth from the description of [Child]’s mathematical knowledge and growth reflects the ways we view these two subjects in American schooling.
Throughout my own children’s elementary schooling, I have seen deep and rich attention paid to their learning to read and write, and surface, fact-based attention paid to their learning math.
Literacy is about power and beauty and self-actualization. Math is about memorization and speed. These are the ways we represent these subjects to parents, teachers, and children.