A hard lesson

Cross-curricular teaching attempt was thoughtlessly offensive

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Here’s an easy math question for you:

Let’s say teachers at an elementary school give third-graders some story problems using examples of slaves picking fruit and getting beatings. How many ways is that stupid?

Answer: Two.

Pretty, and doggone.

Yep. Easy.

Yet, that’s precisely what some third-grade teachers at Beaver Ridge Elementary in Norcross did recently – giving students homework with questions such as “Each tree has 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?” And the ever popular, “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?”

The questions provoked outrage and protest in the community, as they should have. How tone-deaf and insensitive can these folks be?

To be fair, it doesn’t look as if there was any ill intent. It appears it was an overzealous attempt at cross-curricular teaching: an attempt to raise the kids’ awareness of black history while teaching math.

But if you can add one and one, you now know just how dangerous that is: pretty and doggone. Imagine if these teachers’ math problems had used the example of, say, Jewish concentration camp inmates or U.S. POWs in World War II. The slavery example is no less offensive.

While teaching kids about awful things, one cannot use trivial circumstances – such as math problems or picking fruit. It only serves to desensitize the kids to such horrors as slavery. It completely erases the awful context.

Some called for the teachers’ firing. Unless more damning evidence points to it, that may be an overreaction. Some sort
of discipline ought to be sufficient. It’s likely those involved realize what a colossal bonehead move they made. And now their story has been told far and wide, and forms a cautionary tale. We need to be careful not to create a chilling effect that has teachers paralyzed with fear about losing their jobs over innocent mistakes, however repellent.

But let this be a hard lesson learned: You cannot use an atrocity as a prop.

Comments (18) Add comment
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copperhead
1035
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copperhead 01/12/12 - 03:34 am
0
0
Here's a math question-if

Here's a math question-if your car gets 25 mpg,how far will it travel on 10 gallons of non-existant fuel?

carcraft
28625
Points
carcraft 01/12/12 - 05:30 am
0
0
Easy copperhead- less than

Easy copperhead- less than your volt will when it catches fire!

Riverman1
94426
Points
Riverman1 01/12/12 - 06:16 am
0
0
If Obama takes $1000 from

If Obama takes $1000 from capitalist pigs how much can he give to each of 10 deserving union brother socialists?

augusta citizen
10075
Points
augusta citizen 01/12/12 - 06:55 am
0
0
If former Democratic Governor

If former Democratic Governor and Senator Jon Corzine misplaced 1.2 billion dollars over 20 months, what is the average amount he misplaced per day?

copperhead
1035
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copperhead 01/12/12 - 07:01 am
0
0
If a volcano erupts twice in

If a volcano erupts twice in 24 hours,who pays the fine that the epa imposes?

Riverman1
94426
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Riverman1 01/12/12 - 07:24 am
0
0
Okay, maybe we can turn this

Okay, maybe we can turn this around. How would Bob Jones University ask questions?

If you sinned with a harlot once, and she took $20 from you, but you still had $50 when you went to church, how much should you tithe?

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 01/12/12 - 07:29 am
0
0
If the epa impoeses a $1000

If the epa impoeses a $1000 fine per day for a business not using a non-existant biodiesel,how long will it take for the business to fail?

dichotomy
37672
Points
dichotomy 01/12/12 - 07:43 am
0
0
"If you sinned with a harlot

"If you sinned with a harlot once, and she took $20 from you, but you still had $50 when you went to church, how much should you tithe?"

Too hard of a decision. I had $70 to begin with. Easy. I would have sinned 3 times, spend $3 at the dollar menu at McDonalds, and tithed my 10%.

seenitB4
98771
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seenitB4 01/12/12 - 08:03 am
0
0
You guys are too funny this

You guys are too funny this am.....

No...don't fire the teachers---heck everybody is talking now about math---the kids need to learn it can be interesting---besides this is Gwinnett county...:) We sho can stir the ole pot.

augusta citizen
10075
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augusta citizen 01/12/12 - 08:28 am
0
0
If Solyndra was loaned 535

If Solyndra was loaned 535 million tax dollars in March 2009, and given 25.1 million in tax breaks prior to their bankruptcy in August 2011, how much did we save in utility costs over using that stinky old coal?

allhans
24988
Points
allhans 01/12/12 - 08:30 am
0
0
You would give the church the

You would give the church the remaining $50.00.

wondersnevercease
9218
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wondersnevercease 01/12/12 - 08:35 am
0
0
excellent
Unpublished

excellent responses................

Chillen
17
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Chillen 01/12/12 - 09:20 am
0
0
If obama continues to bypass

If obama continues to bypass Congress and stomp on our Constitution, how many days until our republic totally breaks down?

And a follow up question. How many liberals, socialists & communists are cheering the process?

augusta citizen
10075
Points
augusta citizen 01/12/12 - 09:30 am
0
0
re: the non-existent fuel

re: the non-existent fuel copperhead mentions; when over-weight couch potatoes have to walk everywhere and can average 100 yards per day, how long will it take them to get to Kroger?

Jane18
12332
Points
Jane18 01/12/12 - 09:41 am
0
0
Chillen: question #1- If he

Chillen: question #1- If he is not gotten out of the White House by the next election---not long! question #2- all of them!

kmb413
533
Points
kmb413 01/12/12 - 11:27 am
0
0
How much money would the

How much money would the over-weight couch potato actually spend or would it all be food stamps? That is once they finally get to Kroger.

specsta
7185
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specsta 01/12/12 - 03:03 pm
0
0
This is a pretty serious

This is a pretty serious incident that happened in Norcross and instead of discussing the possible effect on these kids and their view of the atrocity of slavery, I am reading "jokes" on this message board.

This is one of the rare instances where I agree with Chronicle editorial board with their views on a news story. Any attempt to discuss slavery as something that can be characterized as a math problem is downright ignorant. That stain will forever tarnish our nation's history and is not something to be taken lightly.

shrimp for breakfast
5641
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shrimp for breakfast 01/12/12 - 06:39 pm
0
0
You guys are hilarious! If

You guys are hilarious!
If two witches were watching two watches which witch would watch witch watch?

harley_52
26123
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harley_52 01/12/12 - 07:06 pm
0
0
You messed it up,

You messed it up, Shrimp.

.....which witch would watch which watch.

eagle
94
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eagle 01/12/12 - 10:32 pm
0
0
I can see the caffine really
Unpublished

I can see the caffine really kicked in today!!!

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