Solve For X

I never had a head for numbers. The most significant contributory factor in my departing high school for Greenwich Village was algebra. I didn’t so well in my other subjects either. I was the despair of my English teacher. My Spanish teacher alienated me right off by insisting that anyone with a last name like mine should be excellent in Spanish. It was attitudes like his that gave me the idea that I didn’t belong at George Washington High School. I wasn’t ornery, and it wasn’t that I needed challenging.
Over the years, gradually, I discovered that I needed undoing. The methods, approaches, and attitudes used to teach me didn’t work and needed undoing.
Perhaps undoing is needed by many people habitually labeled, sorted, and discarded. We have been weighed, we have been measured, and we have been found wanting. The culture supported by educational systems still seems to be stuck in preparing us for factory jobs despite years of talk about new modes of education for the new workplace.
If the “new” is so important, why are arts, social studies, and libraries consistently so low on the priority of educational needs but so high on the list of things to be cut back on in times of tight budgets? I’m going to go for a cheap shot here, but Man does not live by STEM alone.

I’ll probably get some rain on my parade for some of my comments, so I’ll get out my waterproof foul weather gear. Years ago, I worked doing some social sciences curriculum development for a high school program: the aim was to integrate arts, maths, sciences, and social studies into a holistic construct. The program, in my recollection, was a success but needed versatile teachers and support from more traditionally-minded educators. It didn’t last.
I thought highly of the approach. Of course, I was prejudiced. It mirrored my path from high school dropout to college graduate to a professional practicing in several realms.
Of course, my algebra teacher still thinks I’m a failure; I still can’t solve for x.


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