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- Flashback to 1920 Public Education – A Breath of Fresh Air
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## Flashback to 1920 Public Education – A Breath of Fresh Air

Some provocative thoughts crossed my mind the other day that might be worth exploring for the sake of public elementary and secondary education in the United States. I suppose memories of my childhood learning experiences will always play a role in how I perceive solutions to basic and advanced mathematical, logical, and scientific inquiries generally encountered in life, which are generally posed as to solvable problems in an educational application. The way I learned to explore, intuit, deduce (or induce) and solve simple math and logic problems, which were the same methodologies for solving other later, more complicated problems, was the way my mother learned to do – it under the direction. of a master teacher in a one-room schoolhouse eight miles south of the East Texas town of Chandler. This master teacher, a future United States senator, insisted that all his students learn the rudiments of numerical operations in order to logically solve mathematical and conceptual problems in a systematic and intuitive manner. This particular teacher required daily class recitation and memorization of rudimentary conceptual and numerical facts, and required his students to stand up and pronounce orally.

In the equivalent of fifth grade, my mother, Dessie, was tasked, at age 10, with the following math problem, which was basic to the agrarian requirements of a rural farming community in 1920. Some of today’s educators and philosophers of education might say that what was basic to mathematical problem solving in 1920 is difficult to apply to a modern technological classroom of 21st century fifth graders, but no I totally agree. The problem that was put to him was like this:

A farmer sold his crop for $100. After deducting 4/5 of the amount of seed and fertilizer, what percent of the total amount was your net profit?

If the typical 21st century American fifth grader, finishing his fifth grade, was given this very basic problem to solve in class with only a pencil and a clean sheet of paper (no calculator) on his desk, it would be random. student, graduating sixth grade, will he be able to solve it? Well, I have my doubts. Because? My mom taught me times tables (through 12) and fractions at home before I was eight, and she was only in sixth grade. She made learning fun for me. Today, in the 21st century world, very, very few high school and college educated parents spend time at home in the evenings or on weekends helping their children learn basic math, and the majority (75%) of seventh grade students in public. schools do not know the multiplication tables by heart by the end of the seventh grade of public education. That’s because pocket calculators have replaced rote math in the classroom, and multiple-choice tests in young minds have replaced the requirement for paper-and-pencil calculations where students must show their step-by-step processes in a computational solution.

To solve the above problem, the student must be able to understand fractions and divide numbers. The intuitive student, who understands how to multiply and divide, will tell himself that 4/5 of 100 equals $100 x 4/5, which equals $100 x 4 divided by 5, which equals $400 /5, which equals $80. Now, the student looks at the problem again and says to himself, that the calculated $80 is the amount of money the farmer spends for the seed and fertilizer. So $100 to $80 equals $20 or the farmer’s net profit. Now, the student can solve the problem after determining that the net profit, $20, is a certain percentage of $100. So the student creates a basic equation, Percent = $20 divided by $100, or 20 percent. In terms of sensing the percentage, the 1922 fifth grader who understood fractions was logically able to see that 100 percent of $100 is $100, so logically 10 percent of $100 is $10 and 20 percent of $100 is $20, and so on for fractions. and the percentages go hand in hand.

A famous math and physics tutor, who was very successful for 25 years helping high school and college students, who did not learn their fundamental number operations in elementary school, stated that the reason most students from the 21st century to middle and high school, college, and universities have difficulty with basic and advanced algebra is simply because they cannot factor numbers; and not being able to factor comes from not knowing how to basically multiply and divide whole numbers and fractions. This is a poor claim for the validity of public education today. Also, extending this criticism, I very seriously doubt that even two out of ten random American eighth graders in the 21st century could correctly solve the above problem, solved by a typical fifth grader in 1920 who only he was left with pencil, paper and his, or her, mind.

A return to the old 1920’s one-room school approach to teaching might be just what the doctor ordered to cure ailing public school systems. With master teachers who consider memorization, oral recitation, and understanding of fundamental numbers and logic facts to be vitally important in a student’s education, and attentive parents who regularly spend time at home with their elementary school children, helping them learn times tables and how to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers, such a beneficial step back in time would be a breath of fresh air in a 21st century America that calls systematic regression of students and intervention federal in the progress of independent state education. Such a shameful and stagnant place, where society does not expect public school children to develop and properly use their God-given reasoning faculties to intuitively solve mathematical and conceptual problems that will be encountered regularly throughout life. of adults, it seems to be the America in which we now reside.

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