An elementary school right outside of Atlanta, Georgia, Beaver Ridge Elementary School, recently made the news for something unbelievable. A third-grade math teacher asked his students to answer word problems involving slavery. One question was, "Each tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?" Another question asked, "If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?" Ridiculous, right? The parents of these children were surprised and displeased to find out that their children were answering questions like these. One of the school officials tried to help the situation and said that the problems were part of a "cross-curricular" activity combining math and social studies. Administrators are now saying they will more carefully review assignments before handing them out and said that all of these math problems have been shredded. But, this event still should never have happened. The teacher who assigned these problems has still not been announced to the public. The author of the article believes that it is a good idea to incorporate math and social studies, but not like this.
The author of this article, Mary Elizabeth Williams, thinks that this third-grade teacher was completely wrong. She makes this very obvious with just the title of the article. Williams says, "Sadly, too, the whole screw-up reinforces the stereotype of what a poster at the New York Daily News referred to as "The New South [that] still has people who loved the Old South." She clearly states here that the whole situation was a screw-up and basically, that it enforces the idea that there is still racism occurring. I found this article to be very interesting and was surprised that a teacher would even think about passing out questions like these to third graders.
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