Monthly Archives: August 2014

My Oatmeal Cake has no filling and my pencil has no lead

I just left a professional development session where teachers were introduced to the discussion of HS Traditional Math Path and Integrated Math.

This is a prelude for district math “textbook adoption”. 

It was portrayed as neutral; however, the guided exercise was designed to point out the discontinuous nature of the current math standards and the traditional path. (The conspicuous absence of the F.IF (CCSS) in the current Geometry Standards) 

Following the meeting, I had lunch at a very old and established restaurant in our area, Ankars Highway 58 , renowned for the consistent quality of their food and their marvelous onion rings. 

My lunch companions were two veteran teachers. One teacher is consistently involved in High School and Community college education and the other, an ex-McKee Bakery engineer is teaching advanced math in our High School.  

We ordered our food, we received what we ordered according to specific requests, our food met our expectations and we provided the Owner/Manager our endorsement that we were satisfied with the product his team had delivered that day (as they had always done in prior visits).

As we talked about how our students arrived in our classrooms lacking skills necessary to succeed in our particular course work, I do not believe we could have offered an endorsement to our Owner/Manager that the products we were receiving (students) met our expectations.

I came back to something I had learned in my business experience. 

Everything is a process.

From the simplest task to the most complex product assembly is a delivery process.

Sitting at the table in Ankars, what if two of us opened our food and did not receive what we had ordered?

 What if I bought a box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Cakes (McKee Bakery), and out of the dozen, only 7 of them had cream filling? 

What if I purchased one hundred pencils for use in my classroom and only 33 had graphite included in the wooden shaft ready to be sharpened by the end user and put to use?

In much the same way as the quality of American product suffered in ‘50’s and fell into disrepute, the same thing is happening to our “deliverable”, our students. 

Our process is suffering and pressure is coming to bear on teachers to rectify the problem. 

Major industries are being negatively affected by the lack of a quality workforce. 

Education reform appears to be coming from sources not associated with industry. 

The initiatives are met with political pushback because it is an easy target and results are not overnight. 

However, one key opportunity presented itself in this professional development presentation, a change in math education process (again) and “textbook adoption”.

This district decision to be made by October, 2014 should be given the appropriate description. 

It is not “textbook book adoption” but “math education process adoption”.

If we do not set the correct expectation we will not receive it.