Summary: Just linking to some data worth looking through. The first is a recent ranking of the 50 states (plus a couple extra) based on math and reading scores, and the other is a listing of average inches of snowfall. Which is presented in contrast to this year's heavy-as-hell snow storms.
BLOT: (24 Jan 2011 - 02:40:57 PM)
Bits of Data for You this Monday: States Ranked by Math/Reading Scores and Amounts of Average Snowfall of Various U.S. Spots
It does not surprise me that, in a ranking of the 50 U.S. states based on math and reading scores, that Alabama came in at #45 (#44 in actual states, one of those above it is kids on overseas bases). Maybe. Despite Math and Reading both being core disciplines; such a small, dedicated focus were spent on them when I was in school that I can't really imagine any student not self-motivated to care in those subjects ever would be brought to care otherwise. This is not to say that I have not seen many dedicated teachers, librarians, and other educators try to bring those subjects alive to the student, to try and find their own inner spark when it comes to learning them; but as a whole package, my schools and others I have had a chance to interact with just failed to connect the power and beauty of the topics with the children. Especially when you are talking about 4th and 8th grade children, as the above ranking is looking at.
Speaking of math and reading being poor, how can subjects like science or business, that require both, be better? A digression of sorts, but I told Sarah the other day that when I was in 5th grade, my teacher treated science as reading compression. She would give us fill-in-the-blank questions taken from the textbook, and sometimes the words in the blank were not the essential words in the sentence. Something like: "If you heat water on the [blank], it will eventually reach its boiling point." I remember getting really frustrated during one test because several times the blanks were easily answered in multiple ways, but she was trying to get us to recite what was said in the book.
What's the magic formula for the above? I don't know. There has been a tendency to blame the teachers, lately, but I'm of the stance that its a little silly. I mean, the teachers could do more, sure. Just like doctors with 16 hour shifts could do 18 hour shifts. Just like guys who hammer 1900 nails into bridges every day could nail 2200 nails into bridges every day. Money is a big deal. Our students need textbooks that don't have Richard Nixon as the current president. They need lab equipment to learn science. They need the chance to put on actual plays to learn drama, to go on actual field trips, to have projects like school gardens and community outreach after school programs that are not just about the always well funded sports teams. They need to feel that the school cares about itself as well as them. It is also hard to get more money for education in this state. Even if you could get people to give over more money for education, it would probably take a few years before turn arounds were seen, and no one is going to be willing to wait, here. I guess. Ah well.
In data less controversial, here's some stats about average annual snowfall for different places around the U.S.. Some fun stuff, if you were into picking a winter vacation. Let's see, Barrow, AK, the setting of 30 Days of Night, gets about 30 inches. That's right, it's both really cold and relatively arid. Depending where you are in New York City, you get about the same. Sarah and I have talked about moving to some place like Vermont as we finish up our current degrees/internships, but then she found out that Burlington, VT is pushing about 80 inches. Burr. Also, awesome snow-fort, dude.
Anyhow, Huntsville's yearly average is 2.7 inches. Which shows how averages are dangerous for a place like us. Our yearly mode would probably be something like half an inch. About once every ten years, we get a 10-12 inch snow dump. Maybe more than that. It averages out to about 2 inches, maybe even 3 inches, sure, but it makes it sound like Huntsville gets more than it does.
There you go, a little free math education.
LABEL(s): Education, Alabama
OTHER BLOTS THIS MONTH: January 2011