I confess: I fear algebra

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I wonder if I would be better in math if my teachers thought more like this?

“Macklemore is going to the Thrift Shop down the road. He only has $20 in his pocket. He has enough money to buy a velour jumpsuit, some house slippers and a pair of velcros. The velour jumpsuit costs three times as much as a pair of house slippers. The velcros cost $5 more than the slippers. Write and solve an inequality that represents the maximum amount of money the house slippers, velour jumpsuit and velcros can cost.”

Isn’t that freakin’ awesome?

Admit it. You were humming along in your head.

Night after night, we fight with homework in our house. Some people fear snakes and spiders. I fear algebra and geometry, because I am terrible at it. (For the record, I also fear snakes and spiders.)

As my kids get older, the frequency and intensity of homework gets worse, but thankfully, each comes home happy from the day at school.

That is a credit to all involved in our local education process.

The world has an insatiable appetite for innovation, and I’m happy to see that in Covington County, we foster that in our students.

On today’s front page there is a story about Red Level agri-science students creating habitats for bluebirds in the Conecuh National Forest.

To me that kind of thinking is innovation in teaching.

In my ag class, the most interesting thing we did was build a heart-shaped side table. Incidentally, Mr. Johnny Harbuck would be pleased to know my mother still has mine.

In our schools, we have robotics, cake decorating, home interior design, welding and believe it or not, even airplane maintenance.

And while one may argue that those are not skills today’s students need, I would disagree. Today, more than ever, workers are being asked to do more with less and to utilize skills long forgotten.

Right now, there is a bill, which was passed by the Alabama House and is set to go before the Senate, would allow for waivers from state education policies and laws to put control back where it belongs – at the local level.

Under the proposal, schools could do things like get permission to shift financial resources or hire a professional musician to teach a music class. Waivers would have to be approved by both the local and state boards of education and the state superintendent of education.

This is the kind of innovation that lets us not forget about those students who don’t want to be doctors, lawyers and teachers.

To me, that’s just smart thinking.