I remember the mandated and often-clumsy attempts of elementary teachers to incorporate mathematics with other subjects in my children’s lesson plans. Good teachers do this as a matter of course.
They’ve gone on beyond clumsy in Gwinnett County, Georgia, however. A recent attempt at Beaver Ridge Elementary school in Norcross to merge math and social studies yielded homework problems like this on the subject of the Peculiar Institution: “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?”
Parents complained, failing to see either merit or humor in the homework assignment—which didn’t teach anything about slavery except that Frederick was going to get 14 whippings that week, whether he needed them or not. (That is one recalcitrant bondsman!)
There are so many better questions they could have asked, like: “If Jim loses a thumb or finger every time he gets caught teaching Sally to read, how many lesson plans should he prepare after he’s been caught a third time?”; “If William and Ellen escape from Macon on Monday and travel 20 miles a day, how many days will it take from them to reach Philadelphia, north of the Mason-Dixon line?”; or “How many amendments to the U.S. Constitution (or battlefield casualties) did it take to abolish slavery?”
WSB-TV has the story. The offensive assignments were reportedly shredded. Meanwhile, I suspect some parents are miffed about the lesson plans because the schools are teaching about slavery and it isn’t even Black History Month yet.
By the way, if you really want to learn a lot about the African-American experience in Georgia, and not just how many beatings it takes to get through the week, check this out.