Saturday, February 06, 2010


–adjective 1. not hard or difficult; requiring no great labor or effort: a book that is easy to read; an easy victory.
2. free from pain, discomfort, worry, or care: He led an easy life.
3. providing or conducive to ease or comfort; comfortable: an easy stance; an easy relationship.
4. fond of or given to ease; easygoing: an easy disposition.
5. not harsh or strict; lenient: an easy master.
6. not burdensome or oppressive: easy terms on a loan.
7. not difficult to influence or overcome; compliant: an easy prey; an easy mark.
8. free from formality, constraint, or embarrassment: He has an easy manner.
9. effortlessly clear and fluent: an easy style of writing.
10. readily comprehended or mastered: an easy language to learn.
11. not tight or constricting: an easy fit.
12. not forced or hurried; moderate: an easy pace.
13. not steep; gradual: an easy flight of stairs.

In my Foundations of Math Class, we study a unit on statistics. We look at studies and talk about the way these studies are conducted, the way the results are interpreted and presented. We talk about the differences between qualities and quantities and how hard it is to measure a quality. We discuss words like "beautiful" and "happiness" and the kids come to the realization that these things are not easy to measure as qualities are in the eyes of the beholder.

Now, all this brings me to the word easy. I heard an English teacher complaining about a young woman in his class who would not read an easy story. The story might have been easy for him, and it certainly might have been easy for an honor student, or even an average ninth grader, but for a girl with a fourth grade reading level, for her, the book was not easy and she could not read it. I've heard the same comments about math. Our four term algebra class is easy, easy for kids operating on a middle school level but not so easy for kids who lack basic arithmetic skills, and reasoning skills. Packemin HS offers two levels of advanced placement calculus, and a non AP calculus class. The non AP class is easy, yet I am willing to bet that most English teachers could not survive in it as they lack (or just don't remember) the necessary skills to succeed. It should be "easy" to see that closing schools is not the same as improving them, but Mayor Moneybags can't see this. Heck, it is supposed to be easy to put on eye make up, but I can't do it properly.

I try not to use the word easy in my classes. A kid who cannot master an easy concept might feel like a loser. Instead, I tell my class one topic might be easier than another, but it is still not easy.

We, as educators, have to realize all students are not created the same. Easy for one could be extremely difficult for another. We should not assume that a child who is not doing an easy assignment is just lazy or rebellious. Many (not all) just can't do it.


Ricochet said...

Since ALL of the students I teach are math challenged, I am careful with easy for all of the reasons you mention.

I tell them I will help make my class POSSIBLE.

Dragonrider said...

Very well put. I just discovered your blog and it is absolutely right on!

Anonymous said...

You should have been a special educator. We have teachers who teach students with special needs who call kids "lazy". I just want to die.....thank God people like you get it!