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January 26, 2005

Outsource the Math Teacher

OK, so some of you may have noticed recently that I'm a bit peeved at the state of education, what with Anti-Racist Math, a feminist curriculm that focuses on reading about domestic violence, alcoholism and other domestic ills, (see this article and see Randall Parker's take on the issue) which seems to thoroughly turn young boys off from reading, and let's not forget the pablum they serve up as content for graduate students in education. It's all enough to make a parent consider outsourcing their child's education to someone who is actually competent - perhaps to a private school, if one could afford it, or to take on the task oneself, provided of course, that one can afford the time. However, when I wrote outsource, I actually meant outsource. Now you can have your child tutored in math by a professional in India for a fraction of the cost charged by local tutors:

Twice in a week, Ann Maria, a sixth grader at Silver Oak Elementary School, California logs on to the internet from home after school hours. Ann is not chatting up her friends. She is connecting to her personal tutor, already online, armed with headset and a pen mouse sitting in a call centre like cubicle almost a timezone away in Panampillynagar, Kochi, Kerala. Your neighbourhood tuition teacher, riding on the Information Technology Enabled Service (ITES) wave, has gone global and his monthly pay packet turned meatier __ the 17 teachers who work with the Growing Star Infotech (P) Ltd would testify. The firm a subsidiary of California-based Growing Stars Inc went online in January last year. ``We started with three teachers and around 10 students. There are 17 teachers now and around 160 students,'''' says Bina George, Manager HR and Administration. The service is for students from grade three to grade twelve and those who take the Scholastic Aptitude Test for college admission. The business, a brainchild of US-based NRKs Biju Mathew and Saji Philip, is rapidly expanding and is in a hiring mode. Growing Stars currently has a 57-seater facility, but feels it may need more space as they expand. The shift starts at 4.30 in the morning and ends by 12.30 pm. One reason for the high growth rate could be that personalised tuition in US is highly expensive. ``We started of with Indian students. But we have now around 60 American students and every one is happy because they are bettering the grades,'''' says Bina. The only hitch is the accent of the tutors which is being taken care of with help from a language trainer. The approach to the students and teaching is also different. ``We have asked them not to shout at or scold the students,'''' says Lila Bai Nair, Academic Director. here is a huge demand for Mathematics and recently for English. tuition in science subjects started recently. The whiteboard software interface that is installed at the student and tutor ends help in easy exchange of voice and data. The pen mouse along with the writing tablet offers an interactive atmosphere where teachers can view and correct what a student writes.

And before you think about hiring a local teacher to tutor your child in math, read this harrowing account of how math phobic many teachers really are:

As I may have mentioned before, one of the sections I teach is Math for Elementary Education. Anyone who is arguing about the best way for elementary school teachers to teach math should talk to my students: a very large fraction of them can't do elememtary-level math. Don't think that it's just this section of my students this semester; this is a systemic problem.

Most of my students are undergraduates who plan on becoming elementary school teachers. I struggle with this class: what I'm supposed to be doing is teaching my students the why behind the math, explaining how the algorithms work and proving things that are normally just stated in school mathematics. About half of them want no part of this. For these students, their goal is to learn the material at the level at which their future students will be asked to perform. They tell me which grade they think they're going to be teaching, and explain that they don't need to know the material past that level.

Be sure to read the comments for even more insight into how the fall of our civilization began. Thankfully we have the internet and tutors in India to which we can turn for salvation from social constructivist pedagogy aligned with the lowest IQ students in university.

Posted by TangoMan at 07:11 PM