Saturday, 2 October 2010

Math examiners fail logic

Mathcounts is a US national mathematics competition for grade/ year 6 to 8. ChristianNewsWire reports on a bizarre decision.
Math Counts, a national math competition for teams and individual students in grades 6-8, will not allow homeschoolers to form teams and compete in the 2010-2011 school year.  The Math Counts board unanimously decided to exclude homeschoolers in response to a few situations in which "super teams" were formed by pulling certain gifted students from public schools and labeling them as homeschool teams.
So a group of public schooled students lie by claiming to be homeschooled. Presumably this is to get bright kids from different schools on the same team rather than under the banner of their school? And the decision is not to punish the dishonest public schooled children but the honest homeschooled children.

Clearly the idea of banning every school which has a student claiming to be homeschooled required exceptional intellect and was not considered.

4 comments:

  1. That's ridiculous, but not surprising. Some of it is prejudice against homeschooling. Some of it is simple lazyness (like zero tolerance against fighting is school. Sounds great, but I once got detention for getting punched and then not doing anything because "I was involved in a fight")


    That said, I was in that competition when I was a kid. It was fun.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting. Abuse was pretty rampant, from my experience here. It seems they would need to target more than just home-schooling though. The real challenge is in enforcing that each student has only one affiliation, and that the affiliation remains stable.

    As an example, there are 3 schools -- 1) a private Japanese school with lots of Chinese students, which is known for the best math and science in the region (where my kids go). Their after-school chess and math club can have students of public schools attend. 2) a local, well-funded public school with a gifted program that sucks away the best from the local private schools, when parents are looking to save money. Their math club is taught by some of the brightest Ph.Ds in the area who have lots of experience in IMO and similar competitions. Their after-school math club can sometimes have attendance from students who go to the private schools. 3) A Chinese school set up to teach Chinese language and culture mainly on weekends, but with week-long programs and some sort of accreditation.

    So, when it comes to sending teams to MC, several students have multiple options of affiliation, and each school will want to put together the strongest team. Students and parents are incentivied to align with whatever team gives them the best chance to compete. Imagine the Chinese "clique" at the public school's math club bragging about how they are going to dominate the other kids at that school at MC, since the Chinese kids are playing on behalf of the Chinese school's team.

    Personally, I love that sort of creativity, swagger, and competitive hunger. But I can see why parents and schools want to shut it down. I'll be interested to understand the details of this new ruling.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Joshua, I think team competitions are frequently unnecessary. I think competitions should be between individuals unless the nature of the competition really calls for a team.

    JCF, that is grossly unfair, not to mention clueless.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Joel,

    It is also common. My friend, who lived in a different city, but it is also in NY state, had a similar kind of experience. A kid attacked him, and he continually blocked it but never fought back, and he got detention. Another time, a kid insulted him, he walked away, and then the kid attacked him with a lacross stick, so Chris punched him, and then, again, got detention (for defending himself when being attacked with a weapon).

    Let me think. I think there was another time when I was pushed down some stairs and got detention. Yeah, go Zero Tolerance. I don't know if it is the same in other states though. To me, this isn't trying to stop fights; this is laziness.

    ReplyDelete

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