I"m not much of a baseball fan, but I watch games occasionally. I recently went to a Packemin game and watched one of my students get two strikes, followed by a bunch of balls, which walked him to first base. He eventually made it home and won the game for his team. I'm glad baseball has that three strike rule. If he didn't get a chance to try again after his first mistake, the game would have been lost and he wouldn't have gone home a hero.
Math at Packemin doesn't follow baseball rules. Here kids get one strike and they are out of the game. Friday, I happened to be talking to the business math teacher and she told me how great her class was this year. The majority of the kids are kids who either failed geometry or trigonometry and were then dropped from these classes. Their chance of getting the winning hit, an advanced regents diploma or just a little more math education is gone forever.
There are many factors that lead to failing grades. It could be the teacher, the chemistry between the teacher and the student, lack of maturity, lack of interest, outside influences making it hard or impossible to study, the need to hear things more than once before the concept sets in or it could be the student just does not have the intellectual capacity to grasp the material. But, in this day and age of No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top, shouldn't these children be given the opportunity to keep on competing?
No one expects baseball players to have .90 or even a .65 batting average to be considered good. They are allowed to mess up and then improve. Why can't kids get this same opportunity in math?