Monday, August 29, 2005

Math is hard. ... No, really

Try your hand at 8th grade math. If you make it past the first question without turning internet tail and running as fast as your mouse can carry you, you're a better mathman than I am. Hell, I'll go ahead and proclaim you a better mathman than I am right now cuz the odds are seriously in your favor. (Ask me what I got on the Math GREs! Actually, please don't. I almost committed ritual suicide right there at the computer screen as it blandly displayed my results.)

I feel like if I were a better feminist I wouldn't be so crappy at math, or vice versa. I feel like I'm letting the sisterhood down every time I get scared my a number -- or 2 numbers -- or worst of all having to DO SOMETHING with those numbers. Maybe a number killed my mother in a past life or something, I don't know.

I can still read though! And continuing on my Burning Through Books streak (and, though coincidentally, books about love triangles and Christianity) I finished The Queen's Fool yesterday. Historical fiction about the Tudor court at a time when it was having dynasty problems. Yum.

1 comment:

rabi said...

I got them all right, but if I majored in anything related to physics, I should really be able to use a calculator, right?

those tests ARE hard, not least because they test much more than simply math. word problems are hard for kids to parse. you're not asking them to solve an equation. you're asking them to interpret a set of sentences, translate it into a symbolic language, use a mechanical device to solve the resulting equation, and match it up to a set of given answers. even in the diagram-based questions there is always more than one skill involved.

it's okay, I think, to test kids on things like this -- can you turn this word problem into an equation? for instance -- but not in multiple choice questions. for one thing, any time you have a mc question testing more than one school, you can't locate the specific breakdown when the kid gets a question wrong. total lack of response analysis capability, which means the test can't be used as a diagnostic tool. and second, it's totally unfair to the kid who can do 75% of the problem but doesn't get the last step.

... same goes for science tests, etc. as well.