Teachers looking for fresh ways to instruct young black children might consider using travel as a theme.
There’s been some controversy this year over the questions some schoolteachers are using down South to teach math to black students.
Example: “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?”
Here’s another: “Each tree had 56 oranges. If 8 slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?”
For more on this educational fiasco, check out the Atlanta Journal-Constitution story here.
The surprise here is not that this kind of “teaching” seldom goes over well with black parents, but that there are people in 2012 who still don’t understand why.
Rather than spend too much time off-topic giving clues to the clueless, I’d like to suggest a safe and simple alternative. Why not design math questions using travel as a theme?
Here’s one easy example for elementary-age students:
“You’re walking from your house to a new school. The school is three miles from your house. If it takes you one hour to get to school, how fast are you walking?”
Here’s one for the more advanced students:
“Your Dad wants to take the family camping in a national park. The park is 500 miles away from your house. The family car holds 15 gallons of gas and gets 25 miles per gallon. How many miles can the family car travel on one tank of gas? And how many gallons of gas will the car need to get to the national park?”
Delta Air Lines flies a jumbo jet on a round-trip flight once a week between Atlanta and Johannesburg, South Africa. The plane will burn 40,000 gallons of fuel each way. The airline pays $2.75 a gallon for jet fuel. How much money will Delta have to pay for fuel on this route in one year?
A lot of parents would love to help their child with this one — or better yet, have their child help them:
Your family is flying to Canada for vacation. The airline allows each passenger to check one bag for free, then charges $25 per extra bag. There are six people in your family. You have one piece of luggage. Your older brother has two. Your baby brother has one. Your sister has three. Your mother and father each have two. How much will the family have to pay the airline in baggage fees?
But if you just insist on connecting black history to math instruction, travel is a good way to do that and keep your teachers out of hot water with parents. Consider:
- Find the distance between Atlanta and Boston.
- Walking 25 miles a day, how many days will it take the escapees to reach Boston?
- If Harriett Tubman leads 25 slaves to freedom every other month, how many slaves will she help free in six years?
It’s not just math. There’s virtually no subject taught in K-12 schools that can’t use a travel theme as a teaching aid. Think about it. English, foreign languages, science, social studies, history — travel touches them all.
When it comes to designing lesson plans and tests, the possibilities would be practically endless. Introduce the class subject to your students while you introduce them to the world and fire their imaginations, all at the same time.
And nobody gets upset.
And nobody has to lose their job.
ALSO CHECK OUT:
Travel — Do it for your kids
Edited by P.A.Rice